Yesterday my kids all woke up early on their own. They got dressed, fed themselves, packed their bags and brushed their teeth (or so they told me).
I watched my son tuck and untuck his shirt several times before settling on “tucked” and he put on his favourite sweater and pushed up the sleeves. Just as I was about to ask what he was doing, he turned to me with excitement.
Him: “Is this what it feels like?”
Me: “Is what feels like?”
Him: “The first day of school.”
I smiled. He has never been to school. Actually, my youngest two children have never been in school. Yesterday was the closest thing to it for them, hence, the meticulous choosing and arrangement of his outfit.
Seven months ago, I had a vision. A rather BIG one. I really wanted to ignore the vision but I couldn’t. I had a responsibility to share this vision so I had I reached out to other families who might be able to see what I see. They were intrigued. We all reached out to other families who again might be able to see what we saw, and they too were intrigued.
And yesterday, that vision that was in my head, that vision that I had to somehow describe to other families less with words and more with my heart, the vision where I couldn’t nail down the details of how it would work, the vision that allowed me to see other children feel as free as my children, the simple vision was this:
I simply saw a circle of families that came together to create with love and who are connected by trust in their hearts.
Introducing MORPHO – a community space organized by families.
Some kids homeschool. Some kids don’t. Some have big families. Some have small families. Some speak one, two, three, four, and even five languages. Some have babies. Some have teens. Some were born in Costa Rica. Some were not.
What we all have in common is this vision – this vision of another way of learning and sharing, an opportunity to create what works for your family.
My family and another family arrived at the space early to organize some of the day’s opening events. There would be games, crafts, and time to get to know one another.
I had a chance to walk through the space of this former alternative school. I walked in and out of the classrooms. It felt like a blank canvas. It felt like these rooms held possibility and potential. They were all “rooms of requirement” – they could be whatever we required: a library/quiet workspace, a free play/art room, and workshop spaces where one could share any skill, talent, or information.
The vision was becoming clearer – I could see members of all ages reading together, working together on projects they envisioned too, creating together, making mistakes together, learning together. Each of these rooms were intended to be spaces where people could flow in and out and where anything could be learned.
But they were empty still and furniture needed to be moved and floors needed to be swept. (My specialty.)
I began to get nervous. Would anyone show up? Did I imagine all the gatherings leading up to this moment? Did I imagine the anchor families who first believed in this vision? Did they still exist? Maybe everyone had cold feet and just didn’t believe in what this could be.
We all moved tables into the open area where we set up a craft station and a place to sit and meet all the families. My kids set up the “demo” craft – a Morpho butterfly of course. My 11 year old (#4) took a blank sheet of paper and drew her vision of the school and listed all the things that she wanted to learn and to do. My 13 year old (#3) and a 15 year old friend organized the “family scavenger hunt” – copying down the instructions in English and in Spanish.
I figured that once all the families had a chance to walk around and feel the space, we could organize the rooms according to our needs. I wasn’t going to decide what went where or set everything up. This wasn’t a ready made package to be delivered all prepared- this was a place where we were going to shape and form it together.
That was the theory if people showed up. Gulp.
As families started to trickle in, I exhaled. We hugged each other in excitement and wonder. We truly wondered what this was going to transform into, how our families would transform, and how our ideas of learning would also transform.
After most families had arrived, we formed a circle. This was not a hierarchy. Each family held a space necessary to the function and organization of this learning space. We would meet and discuss and model to our children how to solve issues with a compassionate yet direct focus.
One of the first things we did after we opened the space with a circle was play a game – “Everybody’s IT.” It was an epic game. It was the perfect beginning of our non-school year – a multi-aged activity based on laughter and fun. It was more than fun.
There was pure joy and delightful play – the essence of childhood and the foundation of true and lasting learning.
Next was the family scavenger hunt where your family had to find other families that fit a particular criteria on a list: families that had more than two boys, families that liked ice cream, families that has at least one dog, etc. You couldn’t use the same family twice so you would have to introduce yourself and ask the questions.
Some adults naturally headed to the kitchen to cut up some fruit to share and the kids meandered over to the craft table where there were already some teens crafting. Other kids, teens, and adults stayed on the field to play.
Families signed up for organizing duties and we all hung out.
Then we went home. The kids were exhausted. They chilled and chatted and everyone was too tired to even have dinner. By the time I remember to ask my son how his first day went, he was fast asleep. My good friend – who is one of the families that also believed in this vision -messaged me and said she loved seeing my son’s face, how happy he was and it reinforced her belief in this project, this experiment. He really loved it, she said.
I am asked to define this project. I am asked what this will look like. I am asked about structure and schedules. I can tell you what I see and what the ideal schedule for my family but I can’t speak for you or your family. This works only if every family takes personal responsibility to create their schedule, ask for support, and find creative ways to participate. Each family and each member needs to define this for themselves.
I love the Morpho butterfly. There is one that flies across my deck every day. The caterpillar completely liquifies itself inside the chrysalis before the butterfly emerges. But the Morpho is special. In their vulnerable chrysalis stage, they protect themselves from predators. The chrysalis of this butterfly emits a repulsive ultrasonic sound when touched, which drives predators away.
We are in this stage right now. The chrysalis. The precious potential. That look on a child’s face when they are on the cusp of learning – joy made tangible. We know this is a vision that may not fit yours or it’s difficult to understand because of its unique form.
When I am asked about whether this will work or whether my children will learn what they need to, I will say with pride and for our protection, “I don’t know” because these three words seem to repel everyone that wants something I could never satisfy – a definite answer.
Sorry, we are busy living the questions.
Special thanks to all the anchor families who initiated discussion on the possibility of this space…it was an amazing planning process and a deep practice of trust and collaboration.
And a big thank you and heartfelt gratitude to all the pioneer families who signed up and showed up ready to imagine, to clean, to play, and to create. You are all my heroes.
And for those curious or interested, we are working on our website and I will post a link soon…for now, check out our FB page: