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The official mascot of our homeschool is the Bonsai tree.  While planning and researching a field trip to the National Arboretum, I was struck by the metaphor of how cultivating a bonsai held many parallels to cultivating children. It was also great to give the kids a concrete example of the different ways they could end up in life [who wants to end up looking “windswept” in life?!!]. As we tell the children…”we are doing formal upright in the village”

Out came the costumes and accents and a powerful symbol of our vision was born. So much so that each child will get their own bonsai when they leave home as a reminder of, as Lela would say, the “good soil” they were cultivated in and the direction in which they should continue to grow.

Below is a quick summary of what we go over in our village….

The art of growing and cultivating Bonsai trees, called shin-Zen-bi, literally means truth, goodness and beauty. Growing Bonsai require time, patience and dedication.                    

The Formal Upright … this is the most common and basic form of the Bonsai. It is easier to nurture than the other Bonsais and it is the one that will grow the fastest… When fully matured, it will be somewhat rounded and have a nice balance and form.

As we say to the children:”You are being staked to grow Straight and Tall”




The Informal Upright … this form of Bonsai tree is similar to Formal Upright with one noteworthy difference. Its top branch doesn’t extend upright. Instead, it simply bends forward.



Slant …This type slants in one direction while its lower branch reaches out in the other direction. Picture it this way: a cartoon stick figure with.




Cascade …. The tree has a sloping effect that occurs because the trunk grows vertically and then turns allowing the branches to extend below the surface of the tray or container, a result that creates a “cascading effect.”



Semi Cascade … this near-twin to the Cascade-style Bonsai is different in only one way: its trunk slopes gradually so that when fully mature, it looks somewhat different from the Cascade.



Windswept …. It has a unique windblown appearance and looks as if it had just resisted gale-force winds.

Our favorite example besides Cascade when trying to illustrate the long range consequences of our decisions in life.  



Be Inspired!  ~ Pam