31 August 2009

Unschooling on zenhabits

'...learn about what interests you, gets you curious, gets you excited. Figure out where to get the information you need. Read about it, talk to someone about it, find out about it. Try it. Do it, make mistakes. Figure out how to correct the mistakes. Figure out how to solve the problems you encounter. Repeat.

In other words, find problems that interest you, and figure out how to solve them.

Sometimes, you’ll have to solve problems that aren’t so interesting, just to solve problems that do interest you. That’s OK. That’s how things work.

And here’s a secret: we already know how to do this. From birth. This method of learning is innate in all of us. It’s built in.'
Education Needs to Be Turned on Its Head
by Leo Babauta,

*Operation You is the home of Inspirational Monday. You can get more inspiration there and are invited to stop by and post your links of inspiration.

30 August 2009

Snapshot Sunday in the garden

Visit Sarah at The Napping House to play Snapshot Sunday and read an explanation here.

Today's Flowers

My Today's Flowers posts are dedicated to Canana, as I heard that you like to see the blooms here in the UK.

A present from Nozy

See more flower pictures at Today's Flowers

Breastfeeding Slogan t-shirts and more all half price at Lactivist

"From now to the 1st September 2009 just quote ‘bankholiday’ at the checkout at to get 50% off your order of funky slogan t-shirts, badges, bags and postcards that promote breastfeeding and gentle parenting."

Note: I've featured this product because I liked it and wanted to tell others. I haven't been asked, or paid, to do so.

29 August 2009

What We Need Is Each Other

'...we are local people who must raise our children. We all say that it takes a village to raise a child. And yet, in modernized societies, this is rarely true. Instead, we pay systems to raise our children—teachers, counselors, coaches, youth workers, nutritionists, doctors, McDonald's, and MTV. We are often reduced as families to being responsible for paying others to raise our children and transporting them to their paid child-raisers. Our villages have often become useless—our neighbors responsible for neither their children nor ours. As a result, everywhere we talk about the local "youth problem." There is no "youth problem." There is a village problem of adults who have forgone their responsibility and capacity to join their neighbors in sharing the wealth of children. It is our greatest challenge and our most hopeful possibility...'
What We Need Is Each Other
No matter how hard they try, our very best institutions cannot do many things that only we can do.
by John McKnight
posted Aug 05, 2009

John McKnight is a professor at Northwestern University, where he is Co-Director of the Asset-Based Community Development Institute and Director of Community Studies of the Institute for Policy Research. He delivered this address to the Coady International Institute in Nova Scotia.
YES! Magazine

April 2009

Preschool Political Ad

I would prefer not to take your test

Invitation to an Open Conspiracy:
The Bartleby Project
by John Taylor Gatto

The Bartleby Project is taken from Mr. Gatto's book, Weapons of Mass Instruction, New Society Publishers 2008.

28 August 2009

Reclaiming Our Freedom to Learn

'When we all request education and institutions where our children and young people can stay and learn, we close our eyes to the tragic social desert in which we live. They have no access to real opportunities to learn in freedom. In many cases, they can no longer learn with parents, uncles, grandparents—just talking to them, listening to their stories or observing them in their daily trade. Everybody is busy, going from one place to another. No one seems to have the patience any more to share with the new generation the wisdom accumulated in a culture. Instead of education, what we really need is conditions for decent living, a community.

“True learning,” Ivan Illich once said, “can only be the leisurely practice of free people.” '
Reclaiming Our Freedom to Learn
by Gustavo Esteva
posted Nov 07, 2007

Gustavo Esteva wrote this article as part of Liberate Your Space, the Winter 2008 issue of YES! Magazine. Gustavo is a grassroots activist and deprofessionalized intellectual. Author of many books and essays, former advisor to the Zapatistas, and member of several independent organizations and networks, Mexican and international, he lives in an indigenous village in Oaxaca, in southern Mexico.

Back From The Future
by Gustavo Esteva

Notes for the presentation in “Schooling and Education: A Symposium with Friends of Ivan Illich” organized by TALC New Vision, Milwaukee, October 9th, 2004

UniTierra: Our Roads
Participants and co-creators in Universidad de la Tierra in Oaxaca, Mexico, discuss their experiences with learning and unlearning. In Spanish with English subtitles.

*The inspiration for Conscious Friday comes from Se'Lah at Necessary Room.

27 August 2009

Junk models

Sunnyboy has been very interested in art and crafts recently and has discovered the joys of Junk Modelling. On the left is Buzz Lightyear and on the right is an aeroplane.

Click here to see the play, crafts and learning ideas blog link-ups we share at.


Looking at the sky from our garden after we got home from work this evening.

See more skies at Skywatch Friday

Big Brother 2009

Last nights Big Brother show was my favourite episode of this series. If you missed it, here are some clips.

Housemates escape!

escape escape
by mrmarky

Aliens in London

lisadavid lisadavid
by mrmarky

Gift of Jewels

Jacqui at Corridor Living has been to an amazing place called Jupiter Artland and she's posted some fantastic pictures. Nozy, when you get your campervan would you take us there please?!

We won't be going to Jupiter and beyond just yet but I am looking forward to receiving a "gift of jewels" from a blogger in another part of the world. If you'd like to take part in this project, and send and receive a greeting card in the post, then call by at Se'Lah's Necessary Room and leave a comment at her gift of jewels post by Friday 28th August.

26 August 2009

Letting go of 'bedtimes'

I love this gorgeous post about letting go of 'bedtimes' by Debs at muddy bare feet.

Is the summer bad for your child's brain?

What about the rest of the year?
'Last week, I asked "Is the summer bad for your child's brain?" Peter Darby, founder member of online home education group, Action for Home Education explains how summer wasn't the problem....
"It wasn't the summer that worried us. It was the rest of the year." '
School Gate, Times Online
August 26, 2009

Night Cars

This looks like a wonderful children's book. Night Cars by Teddy Jam and Eric Beddows, reviewed on Boing Boing.

At the Winter Fair

Sunnyboy at the Winter Fair (27 months)
December 2008

The wildlife park

The weekend before Sunnyboy's birthday Nozy took us to a nearby wildlife park.

Most of the animal pictures were taken by Nozy.
See more outdoor pictures at Outdoor Wednesday
See more Friday's Nature Tables at The Magic Onions

Wordless Wednesday

25 August 2009

Radical Parenting

A "Radical Parent" quote at living our own lives.

Rocking and Swinging

Here's an interesting post at The Wonder Years about Rocking, Swinging and Brain Development.

Dayna Martin on Holistic Family Heritage Talk Radio Show

Holistic Family
Radical Unschooling with Author, Speaker, and Mother Dayna Martin
25/08/2009 20:00 - 1hr30min
Unschooling philosophy holds that children are natural learners, they learn all the time, and they learn most effectively through inner motivation. Unschooling children may use a variety of methods, including the use of conventional educational materials, to accomplish their learning goals. The key is that it is child-directed learning, or natural learning. The role of an unschooling parent is to support their children's interests, trust their children to make decisions for themselves, and help their children accomplish their goals, which may include answering questions, finding answers, giving instruction or guidance, and locating apprenticeship opportunities or other sources of knowledge and experience. "Radical Unschooling is an evolution of our understanding about learning and the rights and respect of children. We are on the cusp of change and many people are looking for alternatives to the traditional schooling model. With Unschooling, we are reprioritizing. We are taking back our freedom and putting happiness, connection and family first!" Dayna Martin.

The preschool years

'The preschool years are not the time to teach reading or math. We should use life’s most impressionable years to teach life’s most important lesson: how to be happy!'
-Richard and Linda Eyre, in 'Teaching Children Joy'

More Good Quotes at Homeschooling (Home Education Magazine blog)

24 August 2009

A babywearing doll

Another of Sunnyboy's birthday presents was this adorable African doll which we found in a charity shop. This Mama Doll with apron and baby on back was made by a Zimbabwean mother and originally sold by Batsiranai (a women’s handicraft project that supports mothers with disabled children in Harare, Zimbabwe). “Batsiranai” translates “helping each other”.

Links to more babywearing dolls:
African babywearing dolls from Batsiranai
Peruvian babywearing dolls from The Natural Child Project
Peruvian babywearing dolls from Inca Kids
Babywearing dolls from SlingoMama
Babywearing dolls from Etsy
Babywearing dolls on Flickr

See more secondhand treasures at 2nd Time Around Tuesday

Click here to see the play, crafts and learning ideas blog link-ups we share at.

Richard Scarry's Best Storybook Ever

One of Sunnyboy's birthday presents was Richard Scarry's Best Storybook Ever (another five pence charity shop book).

'August is steamy, hot, ice-creamy.
Maybe you'll visit the seashore...
Play under the garden hose...

Swing in the hammock with bare toes.
Summer is nearly over, and birds stay up late.

Suppers are hot-dogs, cooked out of doors-

So good you can hardly wait!'

Find out more about Book Sharing Monday at Serendipity.
To see what other people are reading this week go to The Well Read Child.

Presents, a party hat and a cake

All of the presents I gave Sunnyboy for his birthday were secondhand from charity shops, except for the little red trolley which we bought from a community shop. I have a larger trolley that I use for grocery shopping and so Sunnyboy was delighted with his own child-sized trolley with an elephant picture. As we're usually together when shopping Sunnyboy had seen some of his presents before but had been quite happy for us to 'hide' them in the wardrobe until his birthday, and once we'd hidden them he forgot all about them. I wrapped his presents in reused wrapping paper and bags.

The day before his birthday Sunnyboy said he would like a party hat with a string to tie under his chin, so after he went to bed I made him a party hat and left it in the living room for him to find in the morning.

Because Sunnyboy had been given a birthday cake at work the day before his birthday I decided not to make another, and put his wooden cake out for him instead. On the morning of his birthday though two of our young neighbours came round to play and asked if he had a real cake, so I put together a make-do cake and Sunnyboy blew out the candles.

Walking home from the shop with both of our trolleys:
Me - "Your trolley's nicer than my trolley."
Sunnyboy - "Yes it is mama."

See more Make-Do Mondays at Ann Kroeker's blog
See more colourful pictures at Color Carnival

It's worth waiting for

I'm dreaming big.

'There will be a time, not so far from now, that you will look back on this phase of your life and instead of condemning it or beating up on it... Instead of blaming or guilting, you will feel appreciation for it, because you will understand that a renewed desire for life was born out of this time period that will bring you to physical heights that you could not have achieved without the contrast that gave birth to this desire.'
- Abraham, excerpted from the workshop in Boston, MA on Saturday October 4th 1997

*Operation You is the home of Inspirational Monday. You can get more inspiration there and are invited to stop by and post your links of inspiration.

22 August 2009

Sunnyboy is 3 years old

This week was Sunnyboy's 3rd birthday and he's been learning to climb trees.

We started Sunnyboy's birthday celebrations last weekend when Nozy took us to a nearby wildlife park (I'll be posting pictures of our day out on Outdoor Wednesday). Then the day before his birthday Sunnyboy had a surprise at work when he went to the tea room and found the lights switched off and a cake with candles for him. Our work colleagues all sang Happy Birthday and gave him some nice presents.

On the morning of his birthday there were presents on the table in our bedroom when he woke up and more presents, a party hat, a wooden cake and a heart-shaped balloon in the living room (I'll be posting more about Sunnyboy's presents on Make-Do Monday). Our young neighbours knocked on the back-door after breakfast and came in to play with Sunnyboy, and later Little Friend and Little Friend's Mum arrived (with a present!) and we went out for lunch with them. In the evening there were even more presents, and a parcel from Canada (thank you 'Canana'!), when Nozy got home from work. It was a really lovely day.

Tomorrow we're going on a boat trip with Sunnyboy's Nana and Grandad, and next week we'll be having some friends round for a tea party. Duba is taking us out for the day next weekend to finish the birthday celebrations.

The last 3 years (and 9 months) being with Sunnyboy has been the best time of my life. Every minute of the years of waiting for this miracle was worth it.

Two blogger friends are also celebrating this week. Congratulations to Green Mamma who has a new bundle of joy called Levi and to Renegade Parent who also gave birth to a gorgeous baby boy. Both of these beautiful babies were born at home.

"Mama, Buzz is stuck in the tree. I'm worried about him."

21 August 2009

Preschool or Not?

'Preschool is socially unnatural. By taking young children away from their source of power – mother – and putting them together in a group of similar ages (unable to help each other), we render them helpless. In this impossible and unnatural setting, they fail to socialize on their own and depend on adult control to be able to function and stay safe. Such experience teaches the child to see herself as socially failing and dependent on authority.
...home, play, music, dance, art, books and Nature are all she needs; expose her to what you love and what she shows interest in, and don’t impose any teaching.'
Ask Naomi Aldort: Preschool or Not?
What do you recall from age four? Nothing you know today relies on what you learned in these early years in a school. Instead, it relies on how you felt about yourself. Read the full article at Natural Life magazine, July/August 2009

A Homeschool Curriculum for Preschool and Kindergarten by Lillian Jones
Much Too Early by David Elkind
A Gift of Time by Sue Smith-Heavenrich
Let's Not Institutionalize 3, 4, and 5 Year Olds by Larry and Susan Kaseman
Open Letter published in The Times Educational Supplement by the Open EYE Campaign
Early Learning Policies Should Not Be Imposed by the Open EYE Campaign
Old-Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills by Alix Spiegel
Grow Slow by Vicky Allan
The Wild Child by Scott Noelle
Unschooling Nurture by Laureen (Life Without School)
Alliance for Childhood
Universal Preschool: the universe is our preschool
Open EYE: campaign for an Open Early Years Education

Universal Declaration:
The Preschoolers' Bill of Rights

Proclaimed by Tykes On Trikes, 2006

WE, the preschoolers of the world, have determined that parents who abdicate their responsibility to raise, educate, and care for their own children from birth to age five, jeopardize children's lives and endanger all of humankind - and we have had enough! We are tired of being handed over to transient strangers, so-called child "experts," daycare providers, teachers, preschools, corporations, government agencies, and special interest groups in the name of social reform and the global economy.

Our parents and other adults, many the victims of abandonment in daycare centers and preschools themselves, have forgotten or dismissed the worth of the developing child.

We have determined to do what adults should have been doing all along - protect all tots and demand a better quality of life for preschoolers in liberty and freedom through this decree.

WHEREAS, young children, by reason of their physical immaturity and vulnerability and precisely because they are the future generation, need special safeguards and care, parents have a moral duty and noble obligation to provide their children the best they have to give.

WHEREAS, preschoolers' brains develop at astounding rates and are capable of assimilating vast amounts of information, it is the duty of parents to protect developing minds and keep them independent from government control and indoctrination with standardized curriculum and testing.

WHEREAS, early education and learning are not at all the same thing as "schooling" or the act of attending preschool,

WHEREAS, most preschool programs are based on fads and not on well-established knowledge of how young children learn best,

WHEREAS, interest-initiated learning including open-ended creative and imaginative play, exploration of the environment, hands-on experiential learning, and interaction with caring adults (preferably a child's own parents), in the safety and security of their own homes is the best model for early childhood education,

WHEREAS, parents should respect and strengthen a young child's natural ability and desire to learn,

WHEREAS, preschoolers are being expelled in alarming rates from preschool and daycare programs due to the current trends of forcing academics that lead to undue stress and pressure resulting in physical, behavioral and learning problems,

WHEREAS, play that children can control is central to the physical, social, emotional, psychological, and intellectual growth of a young child - contributing to their language development, social skills, and problem solving capacities that lays a foundation for later academic learning,

WHEREAS, too early separation from parents has been shown to be harmful to the developing child,

WHEREAS, academic instruction, even at Kindergarten level, has been shown to be harmful to the developing child,

WHEREAS, the politicians who push for social reforms, including universal preschools, are more interested in getting elected, re-elected, grabbing power, or making money than with what is best for young children,

WHEREAS, publicly-funded programs usurp parental authority and promote an entitlement mentality,

WHEREAS, it is clear that the strongest motivation of the proponents of publicly funded preschool programs is access to taxpayer monies,

WHEREAS, savvy marketing and slick corporate styled publicity campaigns are purposely making parents feel that they are incapable of teaching their own young children, and falsely suggest that children who don't go to preschool will be unemployable or wind up in prison,

WHEREAS, parents are capable people who should accept responsibility for their children's education and can be effective without the enticements of a government preschool, government "experts," testing and other government interference,

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that there should be no voluntary or compulsory government preschool programs,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Tykes on Trikes, on behalf of a united coalition of young children throughout the world, hereby reclaims childhood with the Preschoolers' Bill of Rights to the end that each child may have a happy childhood and enjoy the rights and freedoms herein set forth, and calls upon parents, all citizens, organizations, local authorities and national governments to recognize these rights and strive for their observance in accordance with the following principles:

Principle 1

Every child shall be entitled to and enjoy all the rights set forth in this Declaration, without exception and without distinction or discrimination on account of race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, or income or class status.

Principle 2

The child shall be given opportunities to enable him to develop physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, morally, and socially in a healthy and normal manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity. The best interests of the child shall be the paramount consideration.

Principle 3

The child shall enjoy the benefits of a family. A child of tender years (ages 0-5) shall not, save in exceptional circumstances, be separated from his or her mother and father. The child needs love and understanding and shall, wherever possible, grow up in the care and under the responsibility of his or her parents, and, in any case, in an atmosphere of affection and security.

Principle 4

The child is entitled to receive an education or early learning opportunities that are in the best interests of the child. The responsibility for the child's education and guidance lies solely with his parents. The child shall have full opportunity for interest-initiated exploration, play and recreation facilitated by caring adults (preferably the child's own parents), and public authorities shall protect and promote the enjoyment of these rights.

Principle 5

The child shall be protected against all forms of neglect, cruelty and exploitation, including, but not limited to, enrollment in government funded daycare and preschool programs.

BE IT KNOWN that Tykes On Trikes, on behalf of children ages 0-5 throughout the world, now proclaims...

The Preschoolers' Bill of Rights
Everywhere in the world preschoolers, children ages 0-5, are oppressed.

This document seeks a beginning to redress that imbalance.

1. Preschoolers have the right to a happy childhood.
2. Preschoolers have the right to a loving, functional family.
3. Preschoolers have the right to be cared for and nurtured all day and everyday by the people they love and want to be near the most - their own parents.
4. Preschoolers have the right to hear, "I love you" from their parents frequently throughout the day.
5. Preschoolers have the right to receive plenty of hugs and kisses from their parents.
6. Preschoolers have the right to have parents who have not been intimidated, invalidated, and undermined by so-called experts who fill them full of diaper-doo about how they are incapable, unqualified, and unprepared to give their child what he or she needs.
7. Preschoolers have the right to live and learn in the comfort and security of their own homes.
8. Preschoolers have the right to play and should be encouraged to do so by everyone.
9. Preschoolers have the right to be read to.
10. Preschoolers have the right to be sung to.
11. Preschoolers have the right to ask questions, receive answers based on facts, clarity and honesty, and engage in endless discussions with their parents.
12. Preschoolers have the right to explore their indoor and outdoor environment under the loving supervision and guidance of their parents.
13. Preschoolers have the right to lap time, not circle time, and should be cuddled in their mothers' and fathers' laps frequently throughout the day.
14. Preschoolers, in recognition that the concept of "quality time" is a meaningless fabrication by adults to ease their guilt over forsaking "quantity time" with their own children, have the right to demand abundant amounts of undivided time and attention from their own parents.
15. Preschoolers have the right not to attend preschool.
16. Preschoolers have the right to be heard and heeded, and as the largest minority on earth, reserve the right to speak for themselves especially when their parents, duped into compliance with government and private entities, are incapable of it.
17. Preschoolers have the right to resist any school, daycare, or government or private institution that tries to dumb them down with standardized curriculum and testing.
18. Preschoolers shall have the right to be free from measurement, assessment, evaluation, comparison, labels, diagnostic testing, ranking, and grading, except as chosen by their parents in the interests of the child's health and development.
19. Preschoolers have the right to disobey parents, teachers, politicians, and special interest groups that attempt to enroll them in government subsidized preschool programs against their will.
20. Preschoolers have the right to take class action suits and rise up against misguided parents, educators, celebrities and politicians who attempt to confine them in government funded universal preschools.

This Preschoolers' Bill of Rights is international in scope.

You are welcome to copy this in its entirety as long as you include this credit line:

Copyright 2006, Tykes On Trikes, All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with Permission of

*The inspiration for Conscious Friday comes from Se'Lah at Necessary Room.

20 August 2009

The Ultimate Self-Education Reading List

'If you want to know more about self-education, your best bet is to start reading...'

A Bibliography for Lifelong Learning Enthusiasts at Self Made Scholar.

Dayna Martin on Law of Attraction Radio Network

Radical Unschooling: Dayna Martin leads a Revolution
19/08/2009 19:00 - 1 hr
Just back from the first ever Unschooling Conference in London, Dayna shares the radical concepts based on the belief that children learn best when internally motivated. As keynote speaker of the conference Dayna is an expert on a movement that trusts children's ability to learn through their passions. What? No more tests? What a concept! Join us as we learn the connection between The Law of Attraction and Radical Unschooling.

17 August 2009


'When the contrast gets greater, the desire gets greater too, and that's what miracles are from. A miracle is nothing more than a terrible situation that has caused strong desire and then somehow an alignment of Energy with the desire. Every day life creativity, that's all that it is.'
- Abraham, excerpted from the workshop in Chicago, IL on Sunday November 2nd 1997

'You are magnificent beings, in the perfect place at the perfect time, unfolding perfectly, never getting it done, and never getting it wrong. Be more playful about all of it. "Today, no matter where I'm going, no matter what I am doing, and no matter who I'm doing it with -- it is my dominant intent to look for that which I'm wanting to see. I'm wanting to find thoughts and words and actions that feel good while I'm finding them. For in doing so, I am, in the moment, practicing the art of allowing all that I've been telling the Universe I'm wanting, for all of the days of my existence.'
-Abraham, excerpted from the workshop in Asheville, NC on Sunday October 29th 2000

'Let what you're living right here and now in this environment be the process that evokes the desire that summons the Life Force that provides the creation of anything. Whatever you have the ability to conceive, this Universe has the ability to provide. Anything, without exception. So your work is on the conjuring of the idea, period. The Universe has the stuff to deliver the goods, and will.'
- Abraham, excerpted from the workshop in Phoenix, AZ on Saturday April 4th 1998

*Operation You is the home of Inspirational Monday. You can get more inspiration there and are invited to stop by and post your links of inspiration.

Near Mama's Heart

Near Mama's Heart, a children's book about breastfeeding by Colleen Newman.
Near Mama's Heart, with real pictures of nursing babies and their families, describes the power of breastfeeding from a child's perspective. This must have book perfectly demonstrates the beauty and importance of the most natural and precious gift a child can ever receive.

'What kids (don't) see in their picture books. And why it matters.' - Helen Jeffcoat and Emily Dickson, Reproduced from 'Essence' magazine Volume 42, Number 2
Children's Books that support breastfeeding and attached parenting - Kellymom
Children's Books illustrating attachment parenting in practice - The Natural Child Project
Breastfeeding Books for Kids - Attachments
Children's Books with Positive Breastfeeding Images -
Children's Books for Breastfeeding, Co-sleepers and Slingers -

Find out more about Book Sharing Monday at Serendipity.

The Philosophical Baby

The Philosophical Baby: What Children's Minds Tell Us About Truth, Love, and the Meaning of Life
by Alison Gopnik

The Philosophical Baby - about the book

'Your Baby Is Smarter Thank You Think'
Alison Gopnik, The New York Times, August 15, 2009

'Babies' brains are more sophisticated than we ever believed'
Alison Gopnik, The Times Online, August 15, 2009

'From butterfly to caterpillar: How children grow up'
Alison Gopnik, New Scientist, August 4, 2009

'Amazing Babies: A Talk with Alison Gopnik'
Edge (Interview), August 11, 2009

16 August 2009

For the Sake of Our Children

For the Sake of Our Children
by Léandre Bergeron
translated by Pamela Levac
foreword by John Taylor Gatto

"You are about to encounter the amazing tale of Léandre Bergeron and his three born-at-home daughters as they educated themselves on the family farm. If you attend sharply while you read, you will discern under its quiet style a profoundly revolutionary narrative which, if imitated widely, would turn the North American education world (or any other) upside down, with incalculable effects...Bergeron’s commitment to full human rights for the young is so unstinting it challenges many child-rearing conventions that most of the rest of us take for granted. In that very surprising commitment resides much of this book’s power. It inspires reflection, causing the reader to ask as he or she might have done on their own account long ago: 'Why are we doing this?' 'What do we hope to gain?' Bergeron’s text compels such introspection."
John Taylor Gatto
Author, Dumbing Us Down, Weapons of Mass Instruction
Excerpts from For the Sake of Our Children
Natural Life magazine, September/October 2009

For the Sake of Our Children - about the book
'A powerful description of a life led respecting and trusting children, from the naturalness of home birth and breastfeeding on demand, through learning by living and working together on a small farm and in a natural food store. The author's passionate ruminations about his strongly-held philosophies of attachment parenting and self-directed education are woven throughout a series of journal entries describing the daily life of a family of three unschooled teens. The result is a wonderfully warm, sometimes funny, always wise potpourri of advice and inspiration about natural parenting and unschooling from a father who writes, "I believe I have broken free from my complicity with other adults. I have chosen to remove myself from this adult world to side with children." This book provides both rationale for and proof of the wisdom of choosing a path that is so little trod upon in our world, the path of freedom, of respect for our children, of trust in them and belief in their ability to regulate and educate themselves.'

The Baby Bond

The BABY BOND: The New Science Behind What's Really Important When Caring for Your Baby
by Linda Folden Palmer

"Babies would tell you to buy this book!"
Jan Hunt, MSc

Script for "Meant to Be Held" Video:

The BABY BOND: Meant to Be Held

There are those who have said that babies should not be held often... that their cries for attention are merely means to manipulate their parents. There are those who have said that babies should not be held often because they need to develop independence.

Quite contrary to the popular idea that babies are out to control their parents, babies are truly helpless immature beings with feelings and instinctual drives for survival and social imprinting, designed to develop powerful bonds with their primary caregivers.

Babies thrive when they are tenderly cared for, nursed, and closely nurtured.

In fact, it has been found that the level and quality of maternal care, especially during the earliest months, provides an incredibly consistent indicator of a child's future behavior and socialization.

Well-bonded, securely attached children are more responsive to parental requests, a kind of “dependence” that is preferable.

The outcome of DETACHED parenting is most clearly seen during adolescence when poorly attached children often exhibit highly destructive behavior toward themselves and others.

Furthermore, many adult diseases, both mental and physical, as well as the now common inability to form long-bonded marital or partner relationships, stem from this lack of strong early attachment.

Leaving babies crying alone in cribs and otherwise maintaining physical distance through propped bottles, playpens, and plastic baby carriers, contributes to poor attachment. Those who study the functioning of our nerves and hormones have now demonstrated that a hormonally conducted bonding occurs when parents consistently touch, protect, and care for their baby, and that the infant's brain patterns are permanently altered by bonding patterns between parent and child.

Most would agree that children probably do not consciously remember the way they were treated during early infancy, BUT, it can be shown that while the specifics may be lost, unconscious memories are developed on neurological and biochemical levels from birth – a baby's brain develops according to its environment, from day one.

And, as far as the coveted independence goes, it has been shown that those who receive the most affection early on display the highest levels of independence as adults.

It has been proven neurologically and biochemically that the health, behavior, intelligence, and success of our children, and the adults they become, can be positively influenced by the earliest parenting choices.

When you pick up a crying baby, you provide security and comfort and build the baby's trust in her caretakers. An infant who is fed when he is hungry feels satiated, loved, and respected, and trusts that he is safe. A baby whose parents respond to her feelings knows she can confide in them.

I once witnessed an older pediatrician strongly disapprove of the way a toddler clung to his mother and demanded that she hold him while the doctor examined him. He said to the mother, “It all starts the first day you pick him up when he cries.” My only answer to this is, “Yes, it does.”

The Baby Bond - about the book

Mothering Denied

Mothering Denied: The sources of love, and how our culture harms infants, women and society.
by Dr Peter Cook
Forward by Steve Biddulph

"In this book Peter Cook has created something of great value. He summarises much research, making it accessible to those who wish to know more, as he draws on over half a century of thinking and learning about human infants and their mothers and fathers."
Steve Biddulph
Psychologist, and author of Raising Babies

"I urge everyone with a social conscience to heed Peter Cook's sage words about early childhood. Failure to do so can only result in further damage to the young and the fabric of our society."
Forrester Cockburn
Emeritus Professor of Child Health
University of Glasgow, Scotland.

"When will the logic and evidence marshalled by Peter Cook in this book have its influence on the world of new babies? Not until all of us opt for a way of life beyond the envy and greed of consumerism, and revalue the many things that matter most for human wellbeing."
Elliott Barker, MD.
Forensic psychiatrist, editor of Empathic Parenting
Founder, Canadian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children


Mothering Denied
The sources of love, and how our culture harms infants, women, and society

Although the word ‘mothering’ has become politically incorrect, the facts of life remain unchanged. Five different lines of evidence now converge to show that there is a natural, biologically-based, best-fit pattern of human mothering, and it includes breastfeeding, carrying, secure attachment, mutual rewards, enjoyment, and empathy—meaning a mother’s sensitivity to her baby’s feelings and an ability to respond accordingly. Mutual playfulness and joy help to sustain healthy development if the environment is supportive and meets basic human needs. These five lines of evidence coming from different directions and disciplines, each supporting the same conclusion, give it greater validity.
Part One: Five lines of evidence for natural, 'best-fit' mothering

Firstly, by considering the direct maternal pedigrees of each person alive today, we can deduce some important facts about human beings and human nature, and the characteristics that must have been essential for the survival of all our maternal ancestors, as they lived in tribes of hunter-gatherers, and each baby girl successfully passed her genes on to the next generation. Through this process we received our genetic inheritance, and we cannot change it.

Secondly, there is much evidence that only human breast milk perfectly matches the needs of human infants. This has far-reaching implications for healthy development, including helping to achieve full intellectual potential.

Thirdly, secure and unfailing bonds of attachment between a mother and her baby have been essential for the breastfeeding and survival of all mammals. Disruption of these attachment bonds—being life-threatening—normally causes acute distress, and if prolonged, it can be damaging. For most of the time that humans have lived on earth, the support of other females in the group, and preferably that of the father also, has been necessary for survival.

Fourthly, the hormones and brain activities involved in human mothering are now known to be much the same as in other mammals. The patterns of normal mothering behavior that are common to all mammals depend on the same parts of the basic mammalian ‘maternal brain,’ but they require the right conditions to function well.

Fifthly, there is increasing evidence that disrupting natural mothering behaviors and relationships can cause harm in a variety of ways, leading to disturbed development, especially in the capacities for healthy and empathic emotional relationships.
Part Two: When the environment does not match early needs

Disturbed development can arise when departures from natural patterns of mothering create environments that fail to match the biologically-based needs of mothers, babies, and very young children, in ways that disrupt important biological mechanisms that are based in the human genome. Such ‘eco-genetic mismatch’ can be especially harmful during pregnancy, childbirth, and early childhood. This mismatch often stems from teachings and practices that neglect human needs and arise from ignorance and misconceived ideas about the nature of the human infant. However well-meaning, these can lead to disturbed development and a variety of emotional and physical disorders.
Part Three: Conclusions and what can be done

To put into practice some steps towards more healthy families and to improve their physical and emotional mental health, it is important to distinguish the needs of children nearer school age from those of infants. An infant’s primary need is for nurturing and early mothering within a supportive environment that preferably includes a loving father and an extended family and/or social group.

To achieve this, we should seek to create societies that are in better harmony with the human biological ‘givens.’ We cannot change these ‘givens,’ and we would therefore do well to accept them. This involves supporting healthy mothering, breastfeeding, and attachment, with generous maternity leave. Models exist that offer many benefits—even for ‘the economy.’ To promote health and wellbeing in young children, their mothers, and society, we must work with Nature, not against her. Prevention is better than cure. A healthy mother-child relationship is a love affair that needs the right conditions to flourish.

Infancy cannot be re-run later.

© 2009 by Peter S. Cook. This Abstract may be reproduced in full, as above.

Download Mothering Denied

Peter Cook Library at The Natural Child Project

14 August 2009

Informal Learning: An Interview With Dr Alan Thomas MSc, PhD, FBPsS

*The inspiration for Conscious Friday comes from Se'Lah at Necessary Room.

The Museum of Zoology

Last week we went to the Museum of Zoology with Little Friend and Little Friend's Mum. The Museum of Zoology is home to a huge variety of recent and fossil animals. The displays trace the evolution of animal life, with intricately beautiful shells, a comprehensive collection of British birds, and many large skeletons of mammals. Hanging above the entrance is the skeleton of a giant Finback Whale, which sadly washed ashore dead on Pevensey beach in Sussex in 1865. 40,000 people went to see the sight at the time, and the Museum later purchased the skeleton.

See more Friday's Nature Tables at The Magic Onions

13 August 2009


You Capture is a weekly photo challenge at I Should Be Folding Laundry. This week's challenge is Motion.