After yesterday's rant and fears, I want to balance it out. School is not everything. School is not their only education. School is not their only influence.
I am a huge believer that experiences are just as important, if not more so, than school. Due to that belief, and my own childhood within Girl Guiding, it seemed a bygone conclusion that my children would continue into it.
It began with B. We found a rainbows unit, and she loved it. She slotted into the activities and it continued from there. She has people who know and love her. People who understand her quirks and often allow for them and pre-empt them far more than I do. It would never have occurred to me that before her first time on a plane, which was with Guides, that I should show her flight safety videos on YouTube so she didn't panic on the plane! She's learnt life skills, she's learnt about other people, and she has gotten so much independence from it. Here she is in Holland... she left the country for the first time, not with her blood family, but with her guides one. She did activities she would never have had access to otherwise, and with the amazing connectedness of the community, a woman I have only known through my computer was actually on the same trip, and was able to find my baby and take a photo of her for me!
She's currently camping in the garden for the week, and when we went to LARP she took over most of the camp cooking!
Then came the Dude. He was so bouncy and adventurous that there was no doubt about him enjoying Scouting. Through Scouting he shines so brightly. He's not only learnt camping and survival skills, but he's learnt about working with other people. He has learnt compassion. He's developed a confident openness that I would never have created alone. I know I can send him to meetings in a low mood, and he will return mended. He has adults that he can open up to, trust, and love as family. He has such a pride in his achievements and his unit that it is amazing to see.
He becomes a Scout next September and I have explained that being a Scout involves an extra step to presentation (the uniform becomes more maintained with each level), and that I will not be the one to iron his shirt or polish his shoes, that that will be part of being a Scout. He accepts it wholeheartedly.
Then came Strawb. I enrolled her in Rainbows as she is the "princess" type child so it seemed logical that she would prefer the more girl-streamed group. But each week she didn't want to go, she was "tired", or she wanted to be with me. We had a chat and I discovered something... "Did you know they don't even go to Butcher's Coppice?!?!?!". She had spent her life taking Dude back and forth to places, seeing all the outside things that Beavers and Cubs did, so the more sedate activities of Rainbows were a soul crushing disappointment. I suggested maybe she want to try Beavers?
She loved it. She walked in and got hugs from the leaders who have known her since she was a baby. She got to run outside. She got trips to Butcher's Coppice. It turns out that my delicate little baby girl is way more a Scout than a Guide!
Again, I see her growing. I see her trusting and loving her Scouting family. I look forward with anticipation to seeing how she shines.
Amazing men and women give up so much of their time to make my babies shine, and I can never thank them enough for it. They don't care if they can read well, or where they rank next to the child next to them. They care about them and what is inside.
It doesn't have to be Guides or Scouts, but something that gives them that life and education outside of school and home is an incredible thing.