Mom explains why she ‘wild schools’ her kids
"A lot of cases of anxiety and depression in adults are linked to the traditional school system."
By Amy Reast via SWNS
A child development expert decided to 'wild school' her children - homeschooling them using nature while traveling and living out of a van.
Birdie Wood, 28, from California, used to work as an early childhood education teacher and saw how formal schooling could leave children "burnt out."
So, when it came to her daughters - Fifer, four, and Mavie, two, she chose to homeschool them, but in a unique way.
The single mom opted to 'unschool' her little ones - a method of homeschooling with no set curriculum where she lets them study "whatever they want."
The family lives in a van and travel looking for natural spaces to settle where the kids can learn and do whatever they like.
Birdie says people criticize her choice and claim she is 'setting her children up for failure' - but she says they just don't understand it.
She believes it's the best way for children to be raised, because "it protects rather than damaging children's mental health."
Birdie, also a full-time content creator, currently living in Eureka, California, US, said: "When I was getting my education degree, I was really interested in learning what creates wellness too."
"A lot of cases of anxiety and depression in adults are linked to the traditional school system.
"I was looking for alternative education for my own children and I decided on unschooling, or wild schooling - letting my children follow their own interests.
"It could be anything - nature, crafts, reading, languages - and we learn things like maths and spelling around those interests.
"My eldest daughter loves space at the moment, while my youngest currently loves animals - so we do maths and science based on that.
"They love it and they're so happy - I think part of the reason depression and anxiety are so high is that we are so disconnected from nature."
"People often have very black-and-white thinking and say my children will struggle but they'll have just as many opportunities in life."
Birdie first decided to wild school when her eldest daughter, Fifer, after years of working as a parenting coach and teacher taught her the potential risks of mainstream education.
She said her research for her master's degree in childhood development taught her that rates for anxiety and depression are higher in adults and children currently than in the past.
She said: "I learned that lots of people working in education with PhDs were choosing not to send their children to public education.
After also having her second daughter she continued wild schooling, and one year ago, after separating from her husband, Birdie bought a van for them to live in.
She and the girls began driving around the USA exploring the world and learning.
Birdie explained: "We do lots of nature outings and crafts like painting.
"Or look for animals - my youngest daughter loves snails so we count them and use them to do maths and science.
"Using activity books and games, I could teach a whole unit on botany by going on a nature walk and identifying plants and insects."
With a background in early education, Birdie said she created her own curriculums based on what's going on in the world - such as Halloween and autumn.
She says it can be tiring juggling her own business - a blog called Rooted in Abundance Farm where she posts about 'unschooling' and sells courses and workshops.
"It might take me months to finish a project," she said.
"But I make sure to take slower days, so we don't feel burnt out - as long as the girls are always in a learning environment."
She said: "I went to public school and was bullied a lot - I was academic and suffered with a lot of anxiety.
"I felt my whole life was to be productive and get As, and it was very damaging for me - why would I want to teach my children that way?
"A lot of people make wrong assumptions and think we don't do anything - but that's educational neglect.
"I do child-led education - it's not an excuse to just not educate my children."
She explained that when the time comes, her children will still be able to go to college if they want to because they are still able to get a high school diploma through homeschooling.
Following the local policies and state laws of wherever they are living at that time, Birdie's homeschooling curriculums will set them up for whatever career they choose.
Birdie said: "I don't plan anything, but I definitely think my oldest has artistic tendencies.
"My youngest loves nature and science. She might want to go into something like farming.
"Whatever they want to do, my teaching will give them just as many opportunities as others - along with good mental health and coping skills."
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