Most parents worried about their child’s first day away at nursery or school, and in that respect I was no different from any other mother stood at the Gate those mornings. What was different was that I wasn’t worried about them, the girls were so self confident and quite independent, although the skipping off into the distance without a single goodbye stung a little, I was worried about how they would react to an education system which leaned heavily towards Christianity.
Quite a lot of pagan parents have similar concerns, worried that their child will either be confused by mixed messages or be unduly influenced in some way. These are just some reason that home schooling is popular amongst pagan. Apart from being an unequivocally unqualified as a home schooling parent this route didn’t fit with my desire for the Girls to mix and learn about other cultures and religions. My worries stemed from the fear that my strong willed daughters, particularly the ED, would say something that would really stir the pot.
At these ages children tend to speak their mind, lacking the skills to filter information to their audience and ED had a knack for dropping me in it. Fortunately anything said at nursery were generally accepted under the heading of ‘kids say the funniest of things’ and swept under the carpet.
We also found that there was no confusion or conflict. Whether it was because they were too young to really appreciate difference or that they accepted it when we said ‘people do things in different ways’ I am not so sure. I certainly had no need to make any bald statements either to them or anyone they came into contact with.
I think the best advice here is to be led by your child and their development. You really don’t need to explain your patenting methods to every person you meet if you don’t see a need to. If anything comes up just be ready with some general, open responses about modern paganism. I prepared a little document / cheat sheet for the ED entering primary education which I will add to my next parenting post looking at ages 5-8 but for today I want to concentrate on the fun stuff and throw out some fun activities I tried with my girls.
Activities and Ideas
I didn’t really get in to arts and crafts in my last post but of course anything I mention here could be moved up or down the age scale. To find other posts on the subject search the blog for the pafenting tag, or any that appear below the post. I am pretty consistent in my tagging structure… usually.
Woodland walks are magical in themselves but can be great at providing materials and inspiration for thinks to do. Dead fall branches and sticks make great wands and can be left barked, and decorated with ribbons and glue, or striped and painted. Leaves can be used to make rubbings, pressing into clay and then turning them into bowls or even turned into a collage in autumn. If you have never seasonally foraged in your local area I highly recommend, but getting on a good guided walk it a must. You will be surprised at all the sweet and savoury treats you can make and older kids can get involved with the preparation and cooking. Rosehip and Rowant berries are a particular favourite of ours and are avaliable in our suburban setting.
Baking and cooking
This brings us neatly onto the next set of suggestions – Baking. Cookies, cakes and beads can all be great activities ahead of seasonal celebrations. As well as providing snacks for gatherings you may be attending later the process of preparing the food and the time it takes to cook it gives lots of opportunity to talk about the ingredients and their magical associations as well as why you are baking it in the first place. It is a good opportunityto talk children through concepts such as the Wheel of the Year however don’t get too caught up in trying to do the activity on the day and think or abandoning the plan if you can’t manage the timing, the closest weekend will do. In most cases a simple cookie recipe can be ‘sasonalised’ by adding minor ingredients such as seasonal fruits and herbs. There is a plethora of recipes out here on the world wide Web, with Google being your friend, but at some point his year I will create a full list of seasonal recipes for you.
Arts and Crafts
Sticking with baking Salt dough modeling is a good standby for pretty much all seasons. It can be used for model making and hanging decorations which can be adapted for the season. It can also be whipped up in a pinch. All you need is;
- 1 cup plain flour
- 1/2 cup salt
- 1/2 cup water
Combine the salt and flour in a large bowl and slowly add the water until you have a dough like consistency (you may not need all the water). Flour your work surface well and away you go. If you find the dough gets stick add more flour.
Once you have your creations you can put them in the oven on a low heat. If you use a higher temperature make sure you watch it to avoid burning. Alternatively zap them in the microwave for around three minutes.
Of course anything flat shape you make can be modeled using something more edible than salt dough and bread is also a really good idea too.
The most magical thing about children is their imagination. It is a double edge sword sometimes, my kids can come up with some really imaginative ways of getting in to trouble, but it should definitely be encouraged. This could be anything from making up stories about magical creatures, dressing up and fairies tea parties. Our family favourites were dance interpretations of the sun and Moon, closely followed by lesson on planetary progression (aka the ‘Spinny Round Dance’).
The Sun and Moon stand as the most obvious things in a child’s awareness to represent how nature and the world change. With the Sun we can discuss the changes of the seasons. In our dances the speed and motions changed depending on the season; bold and strong for hotter months and slower for when it was colder. The Moon helped the ED understand that change can occur on a smaller scale than the seasons and her dances were generally slow and measured but the size of her gestured changed to show the waxing and waning. Each child’s interpretation will be unique to them but again it a perfect time to simply talk and throw around ideas which can slowly seep in.
Goodnight Sun Hello Moon
At this age I didn’t pursue any format of ritual involvement, despite the begging of the ED, but we did have a bit of a night time/morning salutation which they enjoyed up until the Year turned four. It was inspired by the CBEEBIES bedtime hour song ‘Goodnight Sun Hello Moon’ which the ED insisted on singing on her way to bed each night. We tweaked it a bit and then adapted it to create a morning version. So as we were going to bed we would sing…
Goodnight sun, now the day is done it’s going to be night time soon.
Goodbye sun we’ll have more fun tomorrow now it’s time to say hello moon.
Goodbye Sun, Hello Moon.
… and as we were getting up we sang …
Morning Moon now the night is through its time for play and having fun.
Goodbye Moon there’ll be more dreams tonight now it’s time to say hello Sun.
Goodbye Moon, Hello Sun.
We would sing the songs as we were getting in and out of bed at the appropriate time and it only stopped really when they decided that it was too babyish for them. Despite that they still love to Moon spot at either end of he day and on more than one occasion the ED has made ‘Moon Wishes’.
With a lot of the things we have done as a family I have let the children’s interest need. I broadly operate a policy of ‘if they are old enough to ask they are old enough to know’ but not everything extends to ‘do’.
In the next instalment I will be talking about entering mainstream education and some of the Issues that can be encountered during that process.