Education is a vast and passionate subject for any parent of a GuruKid. I have spent much of my time researching the globe for options to best help my own child. Here are some of my thoughts:
How does one educate a child in a system that is not set up for Gurukids?
Some schools almost get there, but I have yet to find a school that hits all the marks.
For my own case, I covered my bases by doing everything I could to set up my child for a successful and harmonious school life.
An open minded school, with a curriculum that honors the traits of the child. I considered mainstream British curriculum (I am British), Steiner worldwide, Montessori worldwide and IB. Do your own research here as there will be aspects that will suit / not suit your child from each curriculum. For me, the hands-down winner was IB Primary Years program. Both my daughter, and I, loved this program and she blossomed through it.
Honest dialogue with her teachers, before the school year started. Reach out and ask if you can meet with the teachers before your child starts school. I did this every single year, and had no push back at all. On the contrary, the teachers were glad to have the heads-up and I had piece of mind that my daughter's beliefs would be honoured.
Input into new class-year placing for your child. This is difficult as head teachers can often become defensive when parents start "interfering" as they see it in a child's placement for the new year. However, if you tackle it the right way, and come at it from a place of collaboration and trying to get the best possible placing that is suited TO YOUR CHILD, then it will save the head teachers headaches later on. You know your child better than anyone, but also appreciate that the head teacher knows the school teachers & set up better than you, so be willing to really collaborate here.
If you are in any school system other than IB, Steiner, or Montessori, you will have standardised curriculums working against you. I say that, because no matter how nice the teachers are, you will still have your child going through multiple tests, and graded purely on his/her ability to pass the test. Coursework factors in various degrees, depending on the school itself. So try to opt for a school that has a higher percentage of coursework versus tests/exams - this will help and not put all the emphasis on a particular day of the year to determine your child's next steps at the school.
Finding the right primary school for YOUR child
It is imperative that you spend time and energy on finding the right school for your child. Please be open to the fact that this may not mean the most expensive, biggest, or most highly acclaimed school in your area. You need to find the RIGHT school. A school with green pastures or wide open spaces, bright airy classrooms, open minded teachers, sometimes smaller schools with smaller class sizes are better for these children. As soon as you can, find out who your child's teacher is going to be for the coming year, and really feel comfortable that it is going to be the right match for your child.
These kids want to run free, they know what they need to learn deep down inside their souls, but well-meaning adults all around them are preconditioned to think that education for a child needs to be exactly how it was for us and our parents, and our grandparents etc etc. It goes on.
There are some wonderful Primary schools in the world, that are not part of the IB, Steiner, and Montessori style of teaching. Find the one that really gels with you. Go there, and try to visualise how you would feel if you were to go to school there. Then think of your child, can you see him/her being happy there?
Do your homework. For example, check - do they have open spaces for your child to run around in, is there a balance of outdoor versus indoor activities, how much hands-on participation do the children have versus learning from a text book, what happens if a child will only learn from sitting on a chair rather than the floor, how do they deal with children with a high EQ, how much testing is there, how much homework is there etc.
Primary schooling life is much easier than secondary, and there are more programs to choose from. When you get to Secondary, it is harder. So when you consider your Primary school, also consider whether the Secondary is a place you would be happy for your child to continue in. Moving schools is tough for Gurukids, as when they form bonds, they are deep, and it can be an emotional wrench to separate them from their friends and the familiarity that they know and depend on.
How can you facilitate a successful schooling experience for your child?
Speak to your child's main teacher(s) prior to the school year starting, to educate him/her about your special GuruKid. I have done this every year and some had heard of these children, some hadn't. But all agreed to my request to respect that she will talk about angels, and give healing to anyone who falls down and scrapes their knee, she will sit and meditate if the energy in the room requires uplifting. And she can never be told "angels aren't real" or "Fairies don't exist". I really wanted to avoid that.
Be respectful - I was very careful not to ask the teachers to believe in the same things we did, but to respect that my daughter did, and to be ok with that. They agreed, and it has made all the difference to her schooling experience. On the flip side, I have also had to deal with a match-not-made-in-heaven with one of her past teachers, and how frustrating that was for me as a parent, and particularly my daughter as a student. Aged 5, my daughter suffered with daily stomach aches, low self-esteem, frequent statements of "I want to leave Earth and go back to God", was irritable, depressed and it almost seemed as if her senses were dying. She literally hated going to school every day and I spent frequent mornings exasperated and at a loss as to how to make it better. Thankfully we managed it, but it was draining for both her and I to have to go through that.
Some children have a hard time listening and concentrating in the class room. Consider the addition of essential oils to help (under the supervision of an Aromatherapist. They made a huge difference to my daughter, and some of her teachers ended up using them for the entire class.
GuruKids often have a hard time sitting for long periods of time, and concentrating and learning in the traditional ways that we were taught as children. For example, sitting on the carpet at story time is something teachers often do. GuruKids will often not like this, and become fidgety - it's not that they can't sit still, it's that they really think the carpet is very dirty. Simple. Ask the teacher if it is ok for them to sit on a chair instead - most will be perfectly ok with this.
GuruKids often have a sense of entitlement, and they can come across as rebellious with their learning, or refuse to listen in certain subjects. There is a reason for this, but it causes issues with the teacher, who will over time, likely ask you to get your child "tested" for the Autism spectrum. The truth is, in some subjects, these children have no use for what is being taught to them, it is not only boring to them, but they don't understand what use it will be to them later in life (don't forget, a lot of them know what their life purpose is very early on so they can size up pretty quickly whether a particular subject or topic is going to be worth their time to listen to).
When GuruKids "astral" travel to other places in their dreams at night, they learn everything they need to know. Therefore our earthly topics of maths, english, geography, science and the curriculums that are taught (a lot are the same as when us parents were their age) are not stretching their imaginations. It is boring to them. In addition, when they are in these situations, and craving creativity, their minds often wander and they day dream. I call it "zoning" - they sit and stare out at space as if they are miles away. They are not actually, they could be doing all sorts of big, amazing energy work at that point, or sending their minds to a different, happier time that engages their creativity.
Teachers wrongly assume that these children have attention difficulties, and here we enter the controversial world of ADD and ADHD. Years ago and certainly when I was younger, these conditions were not widely known and I didn't know anyone with either of these when I was younger. Why then is it such a problem now? Food, pollution, uninspiring learning environments? Doctors are very quick to medicate them with Ritalin and other drugs, but if the drugs calm down the children and allow them to focus, they also dull their senses and many of these children have reported feeling slow and lethargic. I am not saying that you shouldn't medicate your child, you have to make that decision, but I would urge you to, BEFORE you go down the route of medicating your child, please explore in minute detail, other areas that may be contributing to your child's diagnosis e.g. your child's diet, has there been a change in the child's living arrangements, divorce/separation, diet, a death in the family, money worries.....all of these things can radically affect your child.
How can you help if problems at school occur
I can't stress this enough, if your child is a GuruKid and he/she is having these issues in school, please talk to the teachers about GuruKids and educate THEM about your child.
All too often there is a one-way dialogue from teacher to parent, but teachers became teachers because they love children, and want to part of their successful journey into adulthood, so they are often open to discussing alternative ways to help your child.....which will in turn help their classmates, and them to have a better classroom experience.
Discuss how your child is being taught i.e. is there is any variety to the teaching, is the teacher doing the same as what he/she has done every year previously? These children crave creativity/fun/variety/outdoor activities so how much of this is in his/her daily class? This doesn't need to be a battle between parent and teacher, it can be very constructive and empowering for all, as you both have a shared common goal of giving your child the best school experience he/she can have. I would say though, that I have come across many instances where parents have been told that their child cannot listen for very long, cannot sit still, is a problem in class, and the parents immediately think that their child is a problem, and the onus is on them to figure it all out......my answer to that is GuruKids are different children....you can't put them into a box and have them sit still for an hour with no creative stimulation at all. It simply won't work. It is not automatically the child's problem, it could be that the teaching environment is not the right one for the child.
So if you are getting comments on your child's report card along the lines of "X doesn't listen in class, or is disruptive in class, or seems to be disconnected in class" then HOORAY, chances are you have a GuruKid in your family, and you have an important job to do as their parent.....help them find the RIGHT school, the RIGHT foods, the RIGHT way of living that is right FOR YOUR CHILD.
Please forgive me for being so blunt here - it is not about you anymore, it's not about how you were raised or how your parents/grandparents/friends think your child should be raised.....you have been chosen by your child to be his/her parent and teacher of life, you have a duty to do just that, in the best way you can. And my sense is, you already know that deep down....
Your child is sensitive to food additives, and may have allergies as a result, which can exacerbate moods and cause hyper-activity. Please see the page on nutrition for more info.
In my own harrowing (yes, harrowing) search to find the right school for my daughter, I've come across a few that come close to the mark for GuruKids. I found options very limiting but I personally loved the Asia experience that my child had. It hasn't been easy to live away from our families but in terms of her schooling, it has been the best decision. I am positive my extensive search found the best school for my daughter. She is at a small school that is accredited to run the IB (International Baccalaureate) program.
There are IB programs run in schools all over the world, check them out and see if they might be a fit for your child - www.ibo.org
I've searched globally for schools to help my daughter......one of the schools I've viewed on line is Summerhill in the UK www.summerhillschool.co.uk/ and I've visited the Green School in Bali http://www.greenschool.org/ There may be many more out there, so if you find a great school for GuruKids, let me know by using my contact form.