Dec 20, 2023
“Freedom is man’s capacity to take a hand in his own development. It is our capacity to mold ourselves.”
- Rollo May
Just over a year ago I shared a story about triplets that delved briefly into the lives of Tania and Jake Wall from Coleman and their three amazing girls, Ocean, Triveni and Vienna. The girls, whose names all relate to water, just turned 8-years-old and Tania is judiciously guiding their educational development.
She has chosen to home school this threesome and this time of year they take a long break from “bookwork” type learning to enjoy the season. Tania said, “During the month of Christmas we like to slow down on academic learning and take-in the winter solstice and Christmas traditions. In the Crowsnest Pass, the Municipality, the Lion’s Club, the Library, Brighter Futures and other community resources give us so much to look forward to during the Holidays: Tree lighting, sleigh rides, Santa visits, and you name it. For a small community the Pass certainly gives back its fair share and then some. After all, in the spirit of Christmas, giving is better than receiving, (serving others, volunteering and giving back to the community is one of the notable core values in Home Education).”
Tania has told me a great deal about her schooling process and shared a quote from the Home School Board –Gilbertine Academy that reads, “School is derived from the Latin word Schola, meaning leisure devoted to learning. This is how school began, and this is how school succeeded for many centuries. Like playing with Lego, learning comes naturally, and is intrinsically enjoyed if it occurs within the context of leisure.” Tania says, “that is exactly what they like to do, learn through play and interests”.
For Tania and Jake the Crowsnest Pass is an amazing place for families to Home Educate. They get to enjoy many outdoor activities like skiing, swimming, hiking, fishing and camping and also get to witness the unique wildlife, forestry and mountains. For them it is a great way to experience life.
The Home Educators, that they gather with, range between a few stretched out communities from Pincher Creek to the Crowsnest Pass to the Elk Valley in BC and sometimes can expand even further, to country-wide or world-wide. Home Educators are always planning and creating fun, meaningful events for like-minded families to gather at. Tania says some of their favorite meet-ups have been simple nature walks, swimming, ice skating and visiting a variety of museums and the local Firehall.
According to Tania home school techniques vary from family to family and child to child... “Education is not a one size fits all.” Although they do study academics like Math, Science, Language Arts, Social studies etc, the approach mostly follows the interest of the children. She says, “I’ve been told that I have an “unschooling” approach whereas I trust my children to learn through leisure”.
Her Education Plan follows the Alberta Learning Outcomes and Tania does parent-led homeschooling so that her Education Plan can be a “living document”. This essentially means that they can change their resources or curriculum to best suit the child and the child’s needs. She says she finds a personalized curriculum builds a love for learning and takes away the stress and pressure of a set curriculum. Each child is unique and learns in their own way. There are so many different ways to learn: Audio, visual, hands-on, etc...
I had a look at her Education Program Plan that covers categories like English/Language Arts, Mathematics & Logic, Sciences, Social Studies, Physical Education, Home Economics and Industrial Arts, Art and Music, Character and/or Religion and, interestingly enough, Volunteerism and Donations. Each category has a schedule with columns for learning outcomes, goals specific to the child and activities to achieve them.
When I studied just one subject area for triplet Ocean Wall here is what I saw in the schedule under Art/Music. Of course, the idea with this particular subject is to learn to enjoy both with specific goals. To do that the outcome is to be able to recognize differences in music genres, experiment with a variety of instruments (drum, keyboard, piano, recorder etc) and embark on simple instruction. Also another listed goal is to exercise dexterity in drawing, colouring, clay, painting, crafting and in the process to learn to convey her own artistic expression.
Her family are members of the Wild + Free Livingstone community, an emerging group of mothers and homeschoolers who want their children to not only receive a quality education, but also to experience the adventure, freedom, and wonder of childhood. Recently one of their members created “The Little Christmas Market” held December 9th at the Compass Fellowship Church in Blairmore. It was opened up to public school children also and was specifically for entrepreneurs in the community 18 years or younger.
The Wall family enjoys the spirit of giving and in past Christmases have donated food, toys and treats to the Pincher Creek Animal Shelter. Donating is integral to their spirit and it is part of their curriculum to volunteer and give back to the community. It happens all year long but at Christmas they find a little extra for things like the Food Bank, Humane Society and places like the Children’s Hospital and the library. Anywhere there are fundraisers they make sure to help out in one fashion or another, be it monetary, giving their time to others. or gifting gently used items.
The four Wall children, which includes a young 4-year-old boy named Biggs, are busy crafting their own Christmas decorations and writing letters to Santa. Like most families they will celebrate Christmas at home in the traditional way. Tania tells me the girls are teaching themselves how to play Christmas songs on the piano and that they regularly play piano, guitar and take voice lessons.
It seems that when one looks closely at the Wall family one finds the true spirit of Christmas is alive and well. Tania, Jake, Ocean, Triveni, Vienna and Briggs Wall have asked me to send a special message out to everyone. It is, “May the spirit of Christmas infuse your life with the twin glories of generosity and gratitude. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from our home to yours.”
Author’s Note: A tongue in cheek comment from Tania Wall is that, “not all schools have four walls but I do have four little Wall’s”.