GRADES TO GAPS: Our School Journey

My daughter just graduated high school. In addition, being highly involved in her educational journey, this feels like a graduation for me, too.

It’s hard to believe, but unlike the prior decade and a half of summer holidays, we are no longer on a countdown to go back to school in September…it’s a wrap!

While it’s exciting that new space is about to open up in our lives, it’s also surreal as we are letting go of a very familiar structure that our lives revolved around. Doing something like school for an extended period of time, becomes more than an ingrained habit, it’s a way of life.


Prior to becoming pregnant with my daughter, I was interviewing many holistic educators and homeschoolers on my Wellness TV program, including Wendy Priesnitz. She is a well-known alternative education advocate, who focuses on lifelong learning, biomimicry, and child-led education.

A cookie-cutter, ‘one-size fits all’ approach to anything, especially education, has never resonated with me. Our personalities, needs, interests, goals, and brains are unique. If that is not accounted for in the learning process, then the joy and natural interest will be shut down and the person will be left behind. So, when it was time for my daughter to enter the school system, it had been one of my top priorities as a parent to ensure she enjoyed it and thrived in a way that was meaningful for her.

Before entering the public school system, my daughter attended (for one year) a part-time Casa Montessori school. This education method emphasizes the child’s natural interests, self-directed learning, collaboration, critical thinking, and developing real-world skills. My daughter thrived in that environment, and I would have happily kept her in this education stream, but paying on-going private school fees was not an option.


Synchronously, however, we discovered a holistic-alternative public school that was opening near us, just as she was entering Junior Kindergarten. Their focus was to support the ‘whole child’ in their learning experience, to incorporate lots of movement, arts, and outdoor education, as well as to emphasize self-care, mindfulness, and nutrition. On various occasions I shared Brain Gym® and Brain Fitness with their staff and students.

In conjunction with emphasizing hands-on learning, each class started their school day outdoors in a Circle. As well, they often went on local walking excursions and on many field trips. While it took extra time and energy on my part as a frequent volunteer, I’m grateful I was able to do that throughout her public-school years, JK to Grade 8. In fact, my daughter recently said that she can’t remember a single special event or field trip they went on, that I didn’t take part!


Midway through her elementary school experience, at the beginning of Grade 3, we moved out of the city for a year, as my father was ill. This required organizing my daughter’s homeschool education in a variety of creative ways. For example, her paternal grandmother jumped-in to teach for a period of time, and then we hired a retired public-school teacher to cover various subjects. Plus, we went on plenty of library excursions to gather books for learning and enjoyment, along with visits to the community centre, and participation in an array of sports activities. Most, important to my daughter, however, was the daily volunteering she did at a nearby horse farm that included weekly trips to the grocery store to acquire almost expired apples and carrots for her equine friends.


Years later when she went into high school, there were no longer parent volunteer opportunities. However, I knew firsthand what was going on in her classes, as I gave regular homework support. The most unexpected and intensive part of high school was during Covid when classes went online for one-and-a half years. Shifting to learning at home on a screen definitely flew in the face of my desire to provide a holistic, hands-on education for my daughter! Not to mention, my homework support grew into an educational assistant role. (I’m sure there are parents out there reading this, nodding and relating to this juggling act!)

Doing my best to meet the daily demands of running a household and my business, of parenting during a pandemic, and then this supporting education role, truly stretched me beyond my capacity and comfort zone. Of course, growth often happens under pressure. Since ‘necessity is the mother of invention’, I was on my own significant learning curve to being more adaptable, resourceful and to maximizing my time in ways that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I have no doubt that my Brain Fitness strategies made a big difference in my ability to manage it all. 


Ultimately, she and her classmates were able to finish the last year and a half of high school in person. I’m so proud of all the energy and effort she put into it: making up for lost time by involving herself in sports, extra-curricular programs, founding the Drama Club, starring as the lead role in the High School Musical, and acquiring the grades required to continue into the program of her choice.  

More schooling however, will wait for now. Instead of going immediately into post-secondary education, she has decided to take a ‘gap’ year to explore her many options, work in a role that she is considering as part of her career path, travel (because who doesn’t want to see more of the world?!), and volunteer for an organization that is near and dear to her heart.

As you can imagine, in my opinion, this is an ideal choice. And, I have no doubt that her learning curve will continue to flourish, because Life, as we all know, is the best teacher.

To Your Fit Brain & Fit Life,