Here is the sweet and surprising story of how and why Kes (unschooled for 3yrs boy aged 8yrs) now loves the TV show My Little Pony, and it all came about thanks to his close friends little sister who came to hang to with us one day recently with her brother and mum.
After lots of fun in the park by the riverside and trampolining in the garden, our sweet little friend asked to watch TV, and was very clear that she was wanting to watch something she likes, something with unicorns & rainbows! So Karl found My Little Pony on Amazon prime and thought this sounds like it might have ponies and rainbows in it – and possibly even unicorns…and an excited little girl sat down to watch.
Well, right there next to her was a slightly tired kes who was also wanting to watch TV. So intrigued, but possibly just more like it was on - and so he watched it, he settled down next to her and started to watch….. And so began Kes’s wonderful, joyful discovery and immersive viewing and learning from ‘My Little Pony’!
He is so absolutely and passionately ignited by it, and so excited and talkative about it! It is truly wonderful to see and hear. That night he chatted away to Karl about it all while he was drifting off to sleep, and was busy making plans for the next day to watch the whole of season 1.
So the following day he did indeed chose to watch the whole of season 1 straight through, and then over again and again, and then he asked us to upload season two for him, so we did. He has watched MLP almost non stop for two weeks over and over, he has eaten slept and dreamt MLP.
Kes often does an initial period of immersive learning like this when he has discovered something new that interests him and ignites his imagination and curiosity – Spongebob, Minecraft and GTA spring to mind, and of course all of this uncontrolled and unrestricted, no limits to how long he viewed, or how many times he repeat watched, and we took food and comfort to him and sat and watched alongside as much as we could.
This one feels very special and so magical and joyful and very connecting, and he has learnt so much from it. So special because it could so easily have not happened for so many reasons if he were not being allowed to enjoy it and learn from it so naturally and freely…..Lots of things struck me. The absence of the influence of peer pressure…The absence of any gender issues. He basically has no idea that it is aimed at girls, and has no idea that others may have something to say about it….And thank goodness because what struck me most is how engrossed he has been in the stories, which are very good and very detailed, how much it has grabbed his attention and imagination, and how he has relayed these story’s to me and Karl (even though we were right there with him most of the time :-) ) with such detail, passion, understanding and insight. Sam said at one point “You know what Mum this is actually really good, the stories are great.” How sad if he had missed out on this special find that has opened up so many connections, brought him so much joy, and got him really buzzing, and best of all tripping over his words through excitement when relaying another discovery he has made, or new piece of info from the stories.
We did try to find season three for him but it isn’t on amazon oddly, so we tried other places and found that it has its own channel on TV – but after watching a few Kes wasn’t keen on that because the episodes are all mixed up he said, and not running concurrently so therefore messing up the story thread. So he went back to watching seasons 1 & 2 again, and either one or both of us, and even sam at some points, were right there watching it with him basking in his excitement and joy and learning right alongside him, and connecting! Lovely lovely connections for all 4 of us and such joy! Did I say that already.... :-)
Best of all for me I think was that he spent a long while explaining each ponies (and unicorns and serpents etc...) interests and attributes to me, and their weaknesses too , the friendships they share, and their knowledge, back stories, and magical powers. He picked a pony that he thought best represented each of us and then told us why and explained fully that for example ‘Fluttershy’ is your pony mum because of her affinity with animals “she can talk to animals just like you do mum, and she is very kind, and she is a Pegasus which is very special and only a few ponies get to be one”. He told me all about ‘Rarity’ and her generosity and how she gives things away to strangers and those in need, and always shares what she has. He particularly loves ‘Applejack’ and her commitment to the orchard and how hard she works. Rainbow dash too because he is always quick to help and wants to help everyone, and make things better, and he is also a Pegasus.
The narrative is even quite dark in places, and doesn’t shy away from showing good and evil, weakness and strengths, and is magical and earthy all at the same time. ( he is not so keen on the songs - but only some of them, he leaves the room if one is too much for him :-). The flash backs and history of how they became either Pegasus’s or Princesses has captured him, and also their responsibilities to their community, and the finale of season four when they connect to the Harmony rainbow and send it out to the world to remind the ponies of the world that they are all connected is very special indeed, and he totally got the message and meaning of that.
(and it also reminded him of Kermit's muppet song ‘Rainbow connection’
All that from a TV show….a show that I know for many boys, and especially due to the 'girls only tag' so prevalent in the mainstream, would get them belittled and ridiculed for watching , and for girls too so easily dismissed as rubbish, and limited and even stopped from being watched altogether….How easily it could have been missed - this wonderful connection with him, and witnessing this wonderful area of growth and learning for him. And for Kes how easily he could have missed out on it due to fears of what others might think…. This show that Kes has been able to fully immerse himself in and for as long as he needed without any fears shaming ridicule or negativity attached to it. A TV show that has given us all such immeasurable joy and unmeasurable learning, and another deep and treasured connection with our little boy who is equally as happy playing Minecraft, Roblocks or GTA, or watching ‘Five nights with Freddy’ and 'Gotham' as he is watching MLP…. In fact we have often in these last fews weeks, and since receiving a lovely new gaming computer for his birthday which we have set up in the TV room for him, seen him playing GTA on his computer, with MLP on the TV, and pausing between heists to watch his favourite bits :-) Really who would have thought! I am beyond words almost at the joy of unschooling and the wonderful treasures it conjures up almost daily.
Also the 10yr old home educated brother of the little girl Kes originally watched MLP with for the first time (and close friend of Kes's) said this to his mum recently when they were having a late night cuddle "Mum I have a secret to tell you...I actually really enjoy watching MLP...and the only friend of mine who I think would understand is kes :-)
My Little Pony rocks!
Ps. He had the best surprise ever on his recent Birthday too – that made him so happy he declared it right there and then as the best birthday ever! Season 4 of MLP was uploaded onto Amazon on his birthday!!! He was beside himself – we all were!