Friday was another of our parties. This one Spring/Easter. There were close to a dozen #LittleHumans from six to twelve or thirteen. About half of them were neurodivergent. Including a family of four who had not been able to make previous parties.
A few weeks ago I joined another online forum. This one is international around self-directed education. It was recommended by one of my gurus…Dr Peter Gray. Dr Gray builds a strong argument that #LittleHumans are more than capable of educating themselves.
One of his strongest points for this is based upon an anthropological understanding of our early hunter-gather societies. He has done a literature survey of those which survived into the 20th century. Specifically, he was interested in the education and parenting styles. This chapter from a book that he co-authored on the subject lays it out much better than I can.
When I read a similar chapter in his book Free to Learn, I was shocked and pleased to realize exactly how much like one of our #HomeCrazzyHome parties those early societies truly were. Sort of like a bad 50s black and white television Western. With the little Native Americans running wild through the camp, playing war games, and shouting/screaming as the adults go about their business.
That pretty much describes a #HomeCrazzyHome party.
And it works. Surprisingly well. Even for the neurodivergent.
I have been having these types of parties for almost thirty years now. Yes, even in the heart of London…in that dinky little flat…I still had them several times a year. But since moving to #HomeCrazzyHome, it has become an even more crucial part of PanKwake’s learning. And my own…
Each month we spend hundreds of £££s and hours/days in planning, preparing, and cooking so that our little humans can run wild, laugh, play, and do whatever they want. I have several activities per planned…dyeing eggs, pinatas, egg hunts, hunted houses, pumpkin pies including vegan ones, science experiments, the list is endless. But those are options…resources. The little humans choose what they do or don’t do. Not everyone does the same things at the same time. Except for group things like the pinatas, but even then not everyone participates…and no one is made to.
It is two to five hours of free-for-all fun. The adults sit and chat. Maybe one or two of them keep a watchful eye out for the most dangerous of activities…the trampoline for instance. And the little humans are always welcome to interrupt the big ones. Their needs come first. Parents mostly look after their own.
It is a good thing that #HomeCrazzyHome is built of 18 inch thick stone walls. Because the noise is deafening. I do though set aside a quiet room…in anticipation of the completion of our actual sensory room. Anyone…not just the neurodivergent or little humans are welcome to use it whenever they become overloaded.
I admit that at first even I had concerns. One of the primary reasons that we removed PanKwake from school was bullying. But it did not stop there. Even in parks, more than once I found myself needing to ‘defend’ my little human from nasty, hateful little monsters.
But in the fifteen months and dozen parties that we have had since moving into #HomeCrazzyHome, only twice have we needed adult intervention. And both times it has involved schoolers. Once when a schooled neurodivergent little human verbally harassed a younger one.
And once when a schooler played the victim. By that I mean she came running to her Mom claiming that a boy hit her. Five minutes before I had watched this girl sword fighting with a group of boys. She had applied a school/societal paradigm…i.e. they were supposed to be gentle/let her win because she was a girl. Where I come from we have a saying…if you can’t run with the big dogs, stay on the porch.
And certainly…there has never been any instances that I know where neurodivergent have been victims. I say that tongue in cheek because I know that there are many situations which the little humans handles themselves. As it should be.
So I was gobsmacked and upset when I saw a thread on that forum asking how a SDE/unschooling group could be more inclusive…without sacrificing the needs of the ‘normal’ children? How could they keep those children safe from meltdowns and work with them if these other children needed more attention?
My gut reaction was…just how self-directed was any of it if the adults had to spend so much time ‘teaching’ the ‘normal’ children that they did not have time to meet the additional needs of the few?
I spent close to an hour of my time responding. Writing the story of how our parties did just that. Only to have it all lost when I tried to post it. I did respond with an abbreviated version. But I thought that this week I would answer that question here…to demonstrate how it is not only possible but natural for unschooling groups to be truly inclusive.
So what makes our parties so unique…so like those hunter-gather societies? Let’s begin with a comparison against the key characteristics that Dr. Gray attributes to play and learning in those societies…
- Indulgence of children’s wishes
- Unlimited time and freedom to play
- Exposure to all aspects of the adult culture
- Continuous age mixing of children and adolescents
Over the next few days I will do just that…