Even before the covid-19 pandemic, conscious parents had a sneaking suspicion: there was something wrong with the current school system.
And now, they’re almost certain of it.
But in a world where so many parents are eagerly willing to subject their children to questionable mandates and one-size-fits-all curricula, conscious parents can feel isolated and without many options.
Other than homeschooling, what other options are there?
Well, recently, I’ve learned of a term that’s new to me (and perhaps new to many): learning pods.
What’s A Learning Pod?
Well, this definition may not apply to all learning pods, but think of a learning pod as a smaller, household-led approach where a small number of children (maybe up to 6 children) are educated at the home (or farm or property) of a family, or anyone who’s willing to donate a small area.
Learning pods, from what I know, are a bit of a challenge to set up, but the great part is that, for conscious parents who find the right group of parents, you’ll be setting up a learning option with others who share the same vision as you.
And, if you’re lucky, it might not be as daunting as you think, especially if you know of someone like the guest of our February 3rd, 2022 Think Tank session: Stephanie Alvarez of Roots and Wings.
The evening that this recorded meeting happened, I sent an email to Stephanie, asking for an interview (which ultimately led to this article being written).
My Visit to a Roots and Wings Learning Pod
The following Monday, the 7th of February, 2022, I met Staphanie at one of Roots and Wings’ learning pods here in Montreal.
We had a great conversation, and I really got a good, clear picture of Roots and Wings.
One thing that Stephanie wanted me to emphasize (and which may not be quite as apparent in the video above) is that Roots and Wings is infused with a spiritual approach to life.
We’re all here for a Divine Purpose, and each individual has a divine role to play.
The public school systems, by and large, often ignore that.
With Roots and Wings, the belief in a Divine Purpose is where it really begins.
It’s this belief that guides the holistic approach to learning–not just for your child, but for the custodians, as well. (Custodians, in the Roots and Wings world, are parents, teachers, and others who may have a direct effect on the education of the child.)
With this belief comes the understanding that it’s not just enough to cater to the child’s intellect, but also, to the child’s emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being.
That’s what’s meant by a ‘whole child’ approach.
Catering to the Whole Child
So, how does Roots and Wings cater to the emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being of the child?
Well, since Roots and Wings takes a very holistic, ‘whole child’ approach to education, and because the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual are all interconnected, it’s hard to delineate between them.
That said, during the Think Tank (video above), Stephanie mentioned something about tools (or methodologies) that children can learn. These methodologies can help children to self-regulate. Self-regulation, in this context, has to do with helping a child to better understand and navigate through their emotions.
Roots and Wings Avoids Inflicting a Dangerous Blow to Your Child’s Self-Image
As for the mental well-being of the child, there are many things that come to mind, but perhaps the most important one is that Roots and Wings doesn’t feel that it’s necessary to rush a child into learning something if the child isn’t ready to learn it.
That’s a sharp contrast to the public school approach, which, as you know, uses a grading system based on the child’s age, and basically says, “Your child should be learning X, with the rest of the children their age.”
But we all know–sometimes painfully–that such insistence, especially if it causes a child to have a lowered self-image due to ‘falling behind’–is potentially psychologically dangerous.
Favourable Student-to-Teacher Ratio
Instead, at a Roots and Wings learning pod, the student-to-teacher ratio is much more favourable to the development of each child. (The one I visited had 6 students and 1 teacher.)
It’s easy to see that with such an optimal ratio, each child is given more individual attention by the teacher. And, interestingly, it’s not always the teacher leading the education. On the notepad I used when I interviewed Stephanie, I wrote, ‘Kids lead the curriculum.’
Rather than a top-down, iron-fisted approach coming from a distant school board, I like to think that Roots and Wings children are guided along a path that gives them many options.
(Of course, at some point, your child will have to learn how to read and write. It’s just that with Roots and Wings, they learn to love learning, and they learn to read and write when they have a natural inclination to do so.)
As for the physical well-being of the child, breathwork (which also helps emotionally) and yoga are common activities that are blended into the flow of the day. (In the video above, Stephanie says, “…we call it a flow because we avoid the stop-and-go and the rigid schedules.”)
Don’t Forget The Custodians!
This article’s getting long, and there’s more that I can write. I’ll briefly say that Roots and Wings understands that parents who are new to alternative education options may have some questions. Currently, there’s an offering from Conversations With Spirit, which aims to help Roots and Wings parents better navigate this decision and plan for the future.
If The About Page Speaks to You…
If you’re looking for a conscious approach to holistic education that doesn’t just develop your child, but also focuses on the personal development of the custodians (parents and teachers), you may consider reading the Roots and Wings’ about page.
If it speaks to your heart, then you’ll probably know that it’s for your child.