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The Green Parent

By The Green Parent

14th November 2020

Teal McGurk has two children aged two and one. She lives with her family in Northern Ireland and is on a path to being plastic-free. Here she shares her concepts for a nature-based approach to education and toys.

The Green Parent

By The Green Parent

14th November 2020

The Green Parent

By The Green Parent

14th November 2020

As a family with two children under two years old, school and formal education isn’t a concern for my husband, David and I, yet. David grew up in Northern Ireland so he understands it but I’m still trying to wrap my head around the education system here compared to what I knew growing up in Canada. In Montreal, education is bilingual and much less selective than here. Pupils are not classified into high school or grammar school based on grades and academic performance in Canada. To me, the fact that that happens here seems illogical and totally unfair at the age of eleven. I’m a teacher by trade and for that reason I tend to look at it through a magnifying lens. With Silas and Aura, I really haven’t a clue what direction we’ll head in. I have considered homeschooling them because I feel they’d be given the opportunity to grow as individuals and learn things that school doesn’t teach like exploring the outdoors and general life problem solving. On the flip side, I’m worried about the isolation homeschooling may bring. I do know quite a few home ed families here and they make up quite a great community together. It feels as though schools mould children into a system and focus solely on being book smart. One really important part of educating my children is that they are bilingual. I grew up speaking two languages and went on to learn four more so my kids having access to two or even three from a young age is a priority for us as a family.

Choosing ethical

Although we don’t have to worry about education right now, toys are certainly a big component in early education for our kids. When Silas was born last year, one of the first things David and I tried to do was to crack down on the ridiculous amount of toys and stuffed animals that can be accumulated, especially in the first year. We told family and friends we either preferred wooden or second hand toys. We discovered two pretty cool brands for relatives who found it challenging to buy used items - Plan Toys and Green Toys. Both companies make new toys from recycled plastic from oceans or around the world. One of the best toys you can give a child is the outdoors. With a little imagination, they can create a world of their own and learn so much more. I’m sure like many of you who have tried to lead a minimal waste lifestyle, one of the hardest parts has been teaching other family members about our lifestyle. From clothes to toys, they ALWAYS want to buy more for the kids and at the end of the day, it ends up unused or in the charity pile. I’m keen to hear how other readers tackle this.

Get in touch with Teal on Instagram @doyourbit.ni to share stories and tips

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