August Mama Message

"Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire."

William Butler Yeats

Happy August everyone!  This is the month where we all begin to feel those waning summer days…  Whether we are ready or not, the light is changing, the pace seems to shift a bit, and our thoughts turn to fall planning.  School decisions, job plans, fall harvest… no matter what your field, there are actions to be taken!

This month I want to focus on our decisions about educating our children and ourselves.  I have been an educator in public, private, charter, outdoor, and homeschool settings, and appreciate and respect the choices that we have in this country for education.  There is no one perfect educational setting, and I work with families to help them make decisions based on what is best for their individual child or children.  I am also an advocate for life-long education for all of us!  When I look at the difficult issues that we are dealing with these days, I am aware that education is part of the answer for every single one of them, and it is never too late to continue our own education!  The foundation of democracy is an educated citizenry, and we can’t take this for granted.  There are many countries where children are denied the opportunity to go to school, and I firmly believe in education for children around the world.  I support several organizations that work to offer opportunities to educate girls and women. The Central Asia Institute and Days for Girls are two that are making a difference in unique ways, and there are so many more that need our support so that we can affect positive global change.  

I always encourage families to spend as much time as possible together.  This time is precious and flies by way too quickly!  With that in mind, homeschooling is a wonderful choice for families that have the ability to do so (and I have seen single working moms and dads successfully homeschool their children).  There are programs that offer curriculum and parenting support from a variety of philosophies, and homeschooling allows the family to develop and grow together in so many different ways.  I feel as if my homeschool journey with my children was one of the best experiences for them as well as for us as parents.  It allowed us to focus on strengths, develop areas that needed more support, and to learn in a very wholesome way, spending a great deal of time in nature as well.  Truly living, loving, and learning together…!

When our children were ready for a more structured school experience, we discovered Waldorf education.  The Santa Cruz Waldorf School was a wonderful place for our children as they grew older.  The philosophy and pedagogy of Waldorf education are so developmentally appropriate, and truly suited both of my children.  I encourage you to look at this model if there is a Waldorf School near you, whether you homeschool or are ready for the classroom.   I feel that there is a thoughtful focus on social interaction that is very unique in school environments, and is definitely worth researching!  By the time our children were high school age, they chose a blend of independent study, public high school, and international study in Spain and Mexico, then went on to community college, the UC system, and private art school.  

I fully support public and private education and feel that these decisions around schooling are personal family discussions.  One of my mentors shared years ago that people continually asked if she homeschooled her children.  She always answered “Yes… and they go to public school too!”  This illustrates the point that it is the parent’s philosophy about education that is one of the most important factors in a child’s educational success.  Whatever your choice, it is your encouragement, attitude, and focus on how your child learns that will make a difference in how they respond to their school experience.  Staying positive and engaged with their journey is so important.  It is also important for parents to be active members of their children’s school community, and to share in the decision making at all levels. There are opportunities for learning all around us, and if we keep an open mind and a curious nature, our children can’t help but learn from us in every setting we experience.  

You can find out more about education and other topics on our new podcast!  This summer my friend and colleague Sheila Walsh Dunton and I launched our podcast “The Moms I Know” on Itunes and more.   You can access it here: and we welcome your feedback and questions for future episodes!  We are committed to engaging parents in thoughtful discussion about family culture and daily living, and to encourage mindful and joyful family journeys.

Whatever your education choices, my essential oil choice for this month is On Guard, which is an immune support blend of wild orange, clove, cinnamon, eucalyptus, and rosemary.  As we gather together in learning settings, and the weather starts to change, we all need immune support.  On Guard is fabulous for keeping our families healthy and ready to learn!  A drop of On Guard on the bottoms of our feet at bedtime can be a fabulous way to support our entire family’s health.  Whatever your educational choices… bring inspiration and joy to the learning journey. 

Have a wonderful and healthy month!

Maria Fahrner