Get Real: Homeschooling/Learning

Wow, there’s so much to say here, and so many ways to put my foot in my mouth, lol.  Our plan has always been to homeschool our children – both my husband and myself feel strongly about the state of our industrial school system, and our desire to find a different way.  From testing to Grade D meat served at lunch to a lack of real-world experiences and the high ratios of children to adult role models, we have a lot of reasons for our choice.  But, as I mentioned in my post about Work, my daughter has spent this half of her kindergarten year at our local Waldorf school.  After this, she will be home again, which we are all (even her!) excited about.  I think every family needs to choose for themselves (and some families don’t have many choices), and that children learn a lot and find their way, and are shaped by their experiences no matter what.

Given the choice, I choose to (with the support and participation of my husband) teach our children, using Rudolf Steiner’s (Waldorf) educational guidelines as a light to guide the way.  I found Waldorf, actually, mostly through the blogosphere – one of the unexpected things I’m grateful for.  I feel very strongly that there is a lot of wonderful insight, truth, and beauty to be found in the Waldorf system, and I also believe (as Steiner himself did) that as the teachers, my husband and I have to decide how to use those guidelines in our teaching, with our particular children.  Teaching and learning are alive, and must remain living and fresh and changing, if they’re to have any chance at all.

I think a lot of homeschoolers hesitate to post details about what they do or don’t do, for fear of being judged.  Which is pretty funny, frankly, considering how much time is wasted in school walking in halls, doing worksheets, on the school bus, etc . . . I have learned so much from Steiner’s teachings already – I believe in going to the source, so I am reading his lectures, including Kingdom of Childhood, Discussions with Teachers, and Rhythms of Learning.  In my daughter’s early years I used guides from Christopherus, A Little Flower Garden, and Little Acorn Learning to help me learn about bringing Waldorf home to small children, and to give me ideas to use with her for songs, stories, games, and crafts.  Mostly, I try to keep things very simple, especially since she is still so young.  Next year she’ll enter first grade, and things will get more serious!  We did some of her letters last year, but next year we will learn them all, and more.  (I plan to use Christopherus’s First Grade Curriculum, as much as I think it’s amazing when homeschoolers put together their own – at this stage in my life, I am very grateful to have a guide that I can edit and expand as needed.  I also always get a lot of inspiration and ideas from Carrie at the Parenting Passageway, and I’m on Mrs. M’s yahoo list, waldorfhomeeducators.)

One of the things I am most excited about with homeschooling is the opportunity to learn with my children – to learn again, as an adult, and in a whole different way, about history, geography, math, literature, nature . . . all of it!  I’ve already learned a lot about how to create flow in my days, watercolor painting, seasonal festivals, drawing in a way I had never done before, etc . . . My husband and I are both passionate learners, who definitely don’t believe learning stops when school does, and that is one of the things we most want our children to “learn” – how to love the pursuit of knowledge.  By being home with us, they get to watch us learning new skills like knitting, shearing sheep, pruning fruit trees, sewing a dress . . . they also learn how to scrub toilets and how to make lunch!

Ben wants me to add that one amazing thing about homeschooling in our current age is the access we have to so much knowledge, mostly for free.  And it’s true, that we have so much at our fingertips, which is really incredible.  This daily rhythm, which I made this winter before Ella started going to school, is what our school days have looked like in the past, and what they’re likely to look like again in the future.  When I sat down to make this, Ella came over and wanted to help – so she drew most of the illustrations, and wrote some of the words, as you can see.  I think knowing how the day will look is crucial for everyone.  Balance between outside and in, activity and quieter times, balance between days at home and days out in the world, all of these are elements I consider.

I think that’s all, although I could surely go on!  Feel free to ask questions, and have a great week, friends.  Make sure you read the thoughts from these other awesome mamas:

13 Responses to “Get Real: Homeschooling/Learning”

  1. 1

    I agree about all of those good reasons to choose to home school! I am wondering if you live near Montpelier? I know there is a Waldorf school there. We have friends up there and my oldest has relatives-in-law who live in Hardwick. She’s actually going for a visit this weekend. Anyways, a few years ago we were brianstorming to move to that area, and my mind always starts wondering where the closest waldorf school is at. If I were ever to send my kids to school, I think that would be what I would choose. Maybe in my next life ;)


  2. 2

    It’s been so nice to watch you adapt to a semester at school, with the intention to return to homeschooling next year. It is that kind of flexibility in our thinking that empowers out choices. I couldn’t agree more with what Ben says about the level of information that is available. Because of that, I also found my way to Waldorf (I think through you, via parenting passageway).

  3. 3

    Thank you so so much for this…

    “Teaching and learning are alive, and must remain living and fresh and changing, if they’re to have any chance at all.”

    We have always homeschooled following Waldorf, this year 2nd grade and 6th grade. It have seen it meet my girls needs so just right over the years, it really works very well for our family. So many years into this, and with our oldest daughter now in middle school grades, what you explained in the above quote is so important to where we are at in our homeschooling right now.

    Oh, and we used Christopherus for 1st grade, and liked it very much, even though I changed/added/did our own thing quite a bit. It gave us such a good foundation that after that I found it easy (sometimes easy, always fun) to plan the next years on my own.

    Wishing your family much happiness and beauty on your homeschool journey!

  4. 4

    That is one of my favorite parts about learning at home too – getting to learn with them!
    tThank you for sharing Adrie -

  5. 5

    Thanks Lisa! We’re near the school in Hadley, MA – Montpelier is several hours north of us :)

  6. 6

    Thanks Lisa! We’re near the school in Hadley, MA – Montpelier is several hours north of us :)

  7. 7

    Thanks dear one! It will be so interesting to see if you homeschool at some point, or if school is the best place for your girls (and your whole family) :) I have this vision that if you don’t homeschool, you’ll end up becoming a teacher there, too.
    With love,

  8. 8

    Thanks so much Renee, and thank you for sharing your family’s story!

  9. 9

    Thanks Tonya!

  10. 10

    I love this, Adrie!
    It really is mind blowing, the level of information right at our fingertips, compared with a decade and two ago. . . it makes me imagine how different it would be to home school then!

  11. 11

    I totally agree that learning alongside your children is one of the best parts of homechooling! Good for you for blogging about this! You are strong and brave!

  12. 12

    I enjoy reading your posts. They are always so positive, yet not upbeat in the false, take-a-glimpse-only-on-the-good-days sense of some blog posts.

    We homeschooled our two children until life took a very sudden and unexpected turn on us. I don’t know if it is this post or another, but you recently wrote that you and your partner are slowly building the life you envisioned. My partner and I had envisioned a life so very different from the one we are living, yet those core values are still there. We intended to homeschool, grow as much of our food as possible, buy a bit of land, grow more food, raise animals, etc. but life had other plans.

    My children are very much a part of the public school community, and while that was quite painful at first, I have learned that working with the schools gives the children more than I originally thought. I don’t grow most of my food, but I have a tiny garden in the back and a CSA subscription. I still don’t own land – I don’t know when that will happen – but I teach young adults about the land, water, and all that nature can bring in the course of teaching them writing and critical thinking skills. I am also completing an advanced graduate degree and am the sole breadwinner, things I never thought I would be doing. While I would like to get every meal on the table and have it come from local sources, cooked in my kitchen, etc., there are some nights I can’t accomplish every ideal and keep my sanity.

    I used to get quite upset thinking about how different my life is from the one I envisioned, but there was not a lot of use in being depressed about something that is not viable for me. I have been far more successful embracing this path and doing the best I can with what I have.

  13. 13

    Thank you so much for sharing Jen – indeed, we never know where life will take us, best to dig in and do our best.

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