This week, we have been discussing freedom a lot. We have discussed the importance of the words of the Declaration of Independence. We have discussed how so many people have been willing to die to ensure that we keep our freedom; and that these people deserve our thanks and respect. We have discussed what it really means when we salute the flag or sing our national anthem.
On Wednesday of this week, we did something unique for our freedom study for the 4th of July. We discussed that one God-given freedom that we all have is the freedom to be different than one another. We completed a fun activity from the In the Hands of a Child project pack "Everyone Has Different Abilities" that presented the idea that all of us do have different talents and interests.
This summer, I have quite a few children in childcare that are from public schools. And, as is natural, sometimes they do not understand the way Taliesin and Nathanael do things. They do not have to learn anything by a certain time. They do not have to memorize sight words or multiplication tables or feel pressured to learn in ways that do not fit their learning styles. And sometimes, despite my best explanations, Taliesin, especially feels different than the others. He does not want to change the way we do things. He has just the amount of structure he wants with using Five in a Row and lapbooks, plus our unschooling learning activities. He does not want to attend a traditional co-op. And he definitely does not want to go to a public school. (He considers them boring from what the other children have told him). But sometimes it is just so obvious that he feels different. When the others begin discussing what they "had" to do at school at one time or another, he has nothing to add to the conversation and usually goes off to play by himself. Not only this, but Taliesin does still have an imagination - something that many of the boys in my childcare that are his age do not use anymore. I, personally, believe that is a direct result of too much testing in schools - forcing children to take on stress and worry that they should not have to. But I could be wrong. But sometimes others do not know how to take the way Taliesin plays imaginatively.
Yesterday evening, something wonderful happened. There is a new city art program in Salina - Arty the art van travels from park to park, place to place, showing children how to do art projects other than drawing or paiting. Well, any readers know, this is right up Taliesin's alley. He loves art, and he loves to use his imagination. So we went to one of the events. Taliesin started a weaving project, and one of the organizers of the event (an art student at a local college) complimented him on his work. I had to brag a little on my little artist. I told her he started drawing when he was two - he drew a picture of a person and put on eyes and a nose and ears. He hasn't stopped since then. She looked at Taliesin and said, "You're a lot like me, then." Taliesin asked her how. She told him she started doing art when she was little, too, just like he had been doing. And now she is studying art in college and working as an artist. Then she started playing and using her imagination. She took pipe cleaners and showed him how to make a mustache. They made mustaches and used different voices for each mustache for quite some time. I have not seen Taliesin so happy in a long time. He literally began skipping around the park shelter. He would make something unique and run over and show it to this lady. She would compliment him, and he would skip around again. Once I even told him to settle down a little; and he informed me, "But mom, I am having fun." No matter how much Kelsey or I would tell him that it's okay to use his imagination or encourage his creativity, even if others do not understand; I think what he really needed was a stranger to tell him, to show him.
Before Taliesin and Nathanael left, the organizer took a picture of them with their artwork. I think she gained a life-long friend, and Taliesin gained his freedom - the freedom of truly being able to be different and knowing that it's okay.