If you have been reading this blog for a while you’ll know that over the past few months we’ve changed our educational style from semi-structured (with me teaching) to autonomous (with me facilitating). It’s working rather well I think, the sausages are engaged, the desperation for things which may have been restricted a little before (telly/tablet) is starting to wane and I’ve subsequently found myself becoming more intrigued by unschooling methods and wondering whether they could be applied in other aspects of our lives, namely FOOD.
This weekend I decided (after discussing with J) to do a MAJOR overhaul of the sausages’ diets. Their diets aren’t the worst in the world: D has quite a nice range of food throughout the day although she eats Linda McCartney sausages and potato waffles 5 nights a week; M has a VERY limited diet and eats the same 5 foods for weeks on end (currently peanut butter on toast, cornflakes, salami and breadsticks) until she gets sick of something and starts eating something new for the next few months. M’s saving grace is that she will taste almost anything new, most of the time it is rejected as disgusting but she is brave to try anyway.
I (almost) never ask them to eat something they don’t want to eat (I slip up when feeling desperate that no veg has been eaten in a while); I never say ‘eat this and I’ll reward you with this’; and I don’t use food to comfort them. All pretty healthy ways to view food? But still, I get groans if I restrict chocolate/biscuits/crisps and groans if they get a vegetable on their dinner plate. That is not what I want for them: I want them to be so in touch with their bodies that they can think “what do I feel like eating today” and know that they’re eating what their body needs. I want them to view eating chocolate in the same way as they might view eating an apple, for example. I can’t help feeling that if chocolate/biscuits/crisps aren’t restricted then they will lose some of their appeal, in the same way that the telly and my tablet has.
I’ve been reading John Holt’s How Children Learn recently and something he said really struck a chord with me:
I do trust the sausages to a certain extent, I now trust them to know what they need in terms of their education. So how about trusting them to know what their bodies need? Over the next few months J and I will be giving the girls the freedom to choose what they want to eat. And by that, I mean total freedom. I have been given a few ideas after posting a question about food and unschooling on Facebook. The ones that I think will work for us are:
- Take the girls food shopping and let them choose a few items for themselves
- Have a range of food out ready for them to choose and graze from
- Let them forage for food (a bit far fetched for me but I think they’d love a ‘pick your own’ farm
- Cook and bake more
- Give them a ‘stash’ of their own food, perhaps a space on a shelf, with a range of food to choose from including some junk food (eek!)
- Offer food I would normally restrict, as well as what I would normally offer
I have also been recommended to read a couple of books:
I have to say, I am more than a little scared by this new strategy and I feel it’s an enormous leap of faith, much like deciding to home educate. I will be posting regularly on our progress so if you wish to see how we’re doing please follow me or link up on Facebook!
On another note, but linked to trusting them more – I let them both help with the decorating today – they did really well for their first attempt!