Hello! I’m Jen Mendez – wife, mother of two, permaculture enthusiast and certified designer, professionally trained, successful educator gone a bit rogue, and the founder of PERMIE KIDs. My family and I live in Maryland where we have a couple acres. Hands down, the 150 year old hickory nut tree was one of the biggest selling points for us (flabbergasted it wasn’t mentioned on the real estate listing).
We worked with nature to transform a two acre property full of nothing but grass to mow into a playfully inviting food forest. Our kitchen garden is right out our front door and people can’t help but pluck off a fresh pea pod or two in summer to snack on as they walk up to the front porch. We often look out and see the children dancing on the stones of our herb garden and ducking into natural playhouses crawling with pole beans. We have a small flock of chickens that free range around our food forest helping us manage any unwanted pests and ensuring nothing goes to waste.
My children and husband are the delight of my life. We have so much fun growing and learning together. Just as we co-designed with nature our backyard, we see ourselves as co-designers in an emerging learning landscape. I have a Masters in International Education, based in the International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme, and I have had the honor of learning with and mentoring children both here in the US and all over the world from early childhood through upper elementary age. My experiences living and learning within a variety of places, cultures, and learning communities around the world has shaped my beliefs and values about the amazing interconnectedness within this world. The primary goal in my family’s educational design is to nourish life.
Work with the patterns in the natural flow and order that already exists within communities of learners and let the patterns reveal the natural details that are within our lives. Especially in the younger years, children need to playfully explore and experiment while developing nurturing relationships with those who can model and mentor them on their journey.
Rather than being concerned with what is being learned, I believe it is much more important to help children learn 1) how to learn and 2) how to combine their developing academic “know how” with the traditional wisdom of “knowing how” to ethically use knowledge, skills, experiences and relationships to better care for themselves, others and the earth. Cultivating life skills including metacognition and self-regulation, resiliency, a love for the earth and a mindfulness about our role in and within the world, and an innovative mindset and playful attitude helps our children to become responsible individuals and members of their community.
What sort of education do I strive to provide my children?
People often point to two different Latin roots to the English word “education.” The goal to nurture life doesn’t make us choose between these two roots, but rather integrate into an emerging design. The Latin root “educere” means to bring or lead forth. It is our role as one of the many elements in our children’s learning landscape to help them emerge from the me to the we by fully embracing their authentic selves.
On the other hand, the Latin root “educare” means to mold or train. We do not see this as an excuse to impose or forcefully make children fit into a predetermined form. Rather like peas that by nature climb, vine, and thrive when integrated into an environment that provides a trellis to express this natural form of play, so to do our children thrive when all the natural relationships integrate into a supportive design and proper conditions to nourish learning and life.
I chose to take responsibility for my family’s future. I chose to empower the educator within and value a rogue story of what it means to learn and educate. I chose to empower my children in learning and life. Come along with me for this journey!
How can I be soHelpful in your journey to empower the educator within?