Are you a parent? How about an Auntie, uncle, grandparent, guardian, or caregiver? Most of us will have had at least some experience with the challenges of raising and guiding a child. But how do we know how to get it right?
Trick question. We can’t really know, and we won’t get everything right. We are all on our own learning journey and inside the confusing jumble of natural instinct and learned behaviour, generational patterns, subconscious blind spots, cultural influences, societal “norms” and a gazillion others, we are trying to find our way.
There is, however, one other influence on the way we parent. Our children spend so much time in a learning environment, and that is a major influence to be considered. In the olden days, parents and schools could bond through the norms of “discipline” and “structure” (an old-timey word for rigidity and compliance). Things have changed.
Learning environments increasingly explore values, and what it means to be a person in this world. The world around us is hugely volatile, and an adaptive learning environment will dig deep to support learners to find their footing, their voice and their sense of purpose.
This is a huge task, and it does not stop at the doors of the learning space. Learning is life wide, and so we see parents and caregivers as partners in the learning journey. We work best together.
Conscious parenting as part of the learning journey
For some time now it has been common for mainstream schools to ask parents to support certain aspects of a learner’s development at home. This, in our experience, has always been tentative and well-intentioned; avoiding the impression of giving “advice” on parenting.
This is understandable, but it does not embrace the commitment to lifelong and life-wide learning at the heart of the new learning paradigm we so desperately need.
Everyone, from learner to Learning Guide, policy maker to parent, has to be comfortable with constant growth, development, adaptability and openness in order to serve our community best. True learning has no hierarchy or linear roles, just as no individual has the answers. Together, as partners and equals we will find them.
There is a fitting humility in this as we share our own perspectives and learning with others, and co-create the most supportive environment for the next generation. In this spirit, we are excited to be offering Thrive Workshops for parents in our learning community.
Learn together, Thrive together
Thrive is a series of four workshops, designed to build outwards from the Learnlife environment to the home environment and back. By sharing a deeper understanding of how we learn at Learnlife, we aim to build with parents a sense of how that can be supported and reflected at home so that the learner experiences and overall learning journey have a 360-degree sense of consistency and support.
At the time of writing, we have just finished the first session. We asked Learning Guide Devin Carberry for his take on how it went, and this is what he had to say:
"It was a great success. The parents reflected on aspects of their parenting that are helpful and ones that might not be, which helped us then practice skills that help empower rather than control learners (we all agreed that telling learners what to do just doesn’t work). We explored ways to help children feel accepted and listened to by their parents, and then we practiced how to have a metacognitive conversation instead of a managerial one. This meant parents practicing questions about how the learner learns, is motivated, makes decisions, etc., much as a coach would, in order to help learners become aware of how they think, emote, and choose. We role-played all of this to build techniques in empowering learners to self-reflect and make their own choices. These are highly interactive sessions, where parents leave with skills and approaches they can put into practice right away."
In the next sessions, we delve into collaborative problem solving to help teens grow healthy behaviours. Building skills such as emotional self-regulation and metacognitive processes to self-reflect and track changes are so important to thriving as a purpose-driven member of society.
Learning is not only lifelong, but also life-wide, and so the more spaces in a learner's life which support and reinforce this learning, the more opportunities we all have to grow.
Our final session is on mindfulness and conscious parenting. Teenagers are experiencing a great many changes to their sense of identity and their relationship with peers and the wider world. Conscious parenting is about embracing transformation, awareness and an openness to reexamine some of our beliefs to see how they hold up.
As a parent, stepping back at this point may often feel counter intuitive, but in embracing trust and compassion we can build a healthy foundation for the future relationship with our children at this critical juncture in their development.
We mean what we say: we are all learners on a shared journey, who do better together. Learning is lifelong and life-wide, and when we embrace this we embrace change and uncertainty as constants, to the betterment of our ability to thrive in a volatile world.
We also learn, that come what may, we can know ourselves, find our purpose, and while we are empowered as individuals to make our own choices, we can also know how to support others along this shared journey.
Visit our online shop to find out more about our Thrive workshops series and other Online Afternoon Programmes.