I see a lot of parenting theories and parenting advice articles and hear a lot about people practising different parenting methods, these baffle me as much as the theories on educational styles....
I hear about peaceful parenting, free range parenting, attachment parenting, positive parenting, tiger parenting the list goes on and then we have Montessori, Waldorf, etc.... They all make my head spin.
If I had to put a label on my methods they would be the project method for education and Authoritative parenting, both are child centred approaches.
My educational philosophy allows the twins to solve problems with as little direction as possible. I am seen more as a facilitator than a deliverer of knowledge and information.
My parenting style is the Authoritative parenting method in that I have high expectations for the twins, I also try to give them the resources and support they need to succeed.
I have not 'chosen' these methods, they have just evolved... probably due to having older children I have learned lessens and developed my understanding of what being a parent is and how that affects children in their long term prospects.
My other two children where brought up with an authoritarian approach, what I say goes, with no compromise, my rules or no rules. I find these traits creeping in sometimes with the twins but through their personalities they tend to deflect those quite effectively.
I tend to find when I am stressed those authoritarian traits come out but the twins have a good knack of telling a joke or doing something silly that soon brings me back down to earth.
The twins can sometimes be hard work, there is no doubt about it, due to the nature of the twins sometimes their behaviour is magnified with what I term Twin Escalation Syndrome, and they are rarely calm, Oliver's high intelligence can be demanding and draining at the same time, both are always on the go and up to something, their imagination and creativity blows me away, they are so much fun to be around, we laugh every day, and fortunately they are good as gold.
The main problem we have in this household is mess, probably the same as most people out there who have active kids, mess is the bane of my life and I really have not got to grips with how to control mess that the twins create.
I often hear myself asking them if they know what a bin is and if they know how to use it, or if they run out of clothes I say 'well I did tell you to put your clothes into the wash basket'. I laugh at this one because they sound like teenagers already, I often get 'mum have you washed such and such a thing yet'... my reply is often 'no, but if you put it in the wash basket instead of on your floor then it might get a chance of being in the next wash'.. I really do have mini teenagers already in the house....
"'Put the pots in the sink", "pick up those clothes", "put the toys away", "who left the crisp packet on the floor?".... It is relentless in this house, I actually don't mind a bit of mess, but rubbish and dirt drives me nuts.
This is probably the main situation when I find myself becoming that authoritarian parent, I really cannot stand the state that the house gets into sometimes, I find myself barking orders at them to clean their mess up, I have to check what I am doing and then tend to switch to the authoritative parent and explain that the environment we live in is important and more so as we work and play here much more than the average family does, due to them being home educated and also with my work from home, so it is important for us all to make an effort to keep our environment clean if not perfectly tidy.
I used to be one of those people that could go through 10 bottles of bleach each week, which has been abated since the arrival of the twins, messy, I have always been messy and a bit disorganised but I enjoy a clean environment.
I know a lot of people 'clean up' after their kids, my theory is that they make the mess they can clean it, I have enough to do as it is, particularly being a single parent, juggling all and every aspect of our lives with no one to take the strain now and again, does not need an unneeded added pressure of wasting time cleaning up, after all it is a groundhog task, something that will never be completed, it is just something to maintain, none of us like doing it, but it is a necessary part of life that needs to be done, we are all responsible and so we should all take responsibility as a family to ensure we all enjoy a nice environment.
For me I am teaching them to take responsibility for themselves and others, to not be selfish and understand that we all have feelings, it is 'ok' to have our feelings respected but it is also necessary to take others feelings into account also including mine. For example, if their room is a state then they have to take my feelings on it into consideration, mess in their room has consequences for me too, I get moaned at because washing has not been done, they moan because their clothes have not been washed so the consequences for them putting clothing on the floor instead of where it needs to go is that we all get upset over it in one way or another.
The bathroom is another place they like to be messy in, although we have a small bathroom they can never just 'pop' their clothes into the wash basket, despite it staring them right in the face' screaming' "please use me".. they never do... wet towels and clothes are a common feature of the bathroom floor. and the bath water, they never pull the plug after a bath... small things but they drive me nuts...
These messy times are the only time really that my authoritarian side comes out.
Both Oliver and Olivia's curiosity about the world gives me a good grounding for the project style of education, they constantly question things, not just 'what time are we having tea', but how is that made?, what is in that? where did that come from, why is it called that? and so on, they question all the time which complements my personality, I love to research things so it has devolved into what it is by me saying 'well go and find out' or 'let's see what we can find out', they find it exciting and interesting that whatever the question there is usually some kind of answer but in addition they can always find something else out that they never thought about before, every day they come to me with random topics they want to explore more.
It never gets boring in this house, always something to find out about or experience that leads onto other learning experiences, all directed and pursued by the twins.
I often find myself thinking of topics to cover and creating lesson plans but then they soon get rejected by the twins and I get the 'eye roll', so I find I get better responses from them when they direct their own learning and bring their ideas to me, to help them follow up in whatever way they need.
The issues I face doing this is that often the topics they choose I can usually only find resources that are way above their age and heads so I have to tweek what is available for them to follow up with to something that they can understand and they find stimulating and enjoyable, but at this age they skim a lot of topics, they become aware of something but do not have a full understanding, it works like building blocks, they find out and they then get a greater understanding until it is built upon again at another point in time or if something does take their interest they stick at it until they are bored and move onto something else.
The only issues I find with this are rooted in my own insecurities, I want them to 'do exams' when they come of age, this is not to say they will want to do any, or that we will even be able to afford to do them, but I have that in mind all the time, that they need to achieve a certain level in comparison to school kids so that they will be capable , but I always check myself and think well if they where to do a certain exam with their curiosity and drive they should be able to just do what they need to do when the time comes, learning the way they do may create issues on rote learning that school kids do to pass a certain exam, so I do tend to mix in some things that are rote learning systems such as with times tables, but I have learnt that even that has a better method and that rote learning really is not necessary, create a passion and rote becomes null and void.
I learn lessons all the time from watching the way the twins work, I would never have believed the way we work could have worked, but the proof is in the pudding and I watch it unfold day in and day out, no signs of phonics in this house but they can read, how?, I have no idea but whatever we are doing it works.
Parenting can be difficult at times for me, but that is more down to stress of being a single parent, daily life can get heavy at times and stress creeps in and self doubt, that is what makes it difficult, dealing with those emotions can make anyone exhausted so it can be argued that it isn't parenting that is difficult but the way I deal with stress is and it interferes with my parenting.
Self evaluation is so important on many issues in life and my evaluation of my parenting and educational philosophies may change in a few months or even years but this is where I feel we are up to at the moment.
Parenting eh.... who would ever be silly enough to do it?....