I started mentally planning for our homeschool year in May.
Brainstorming activities continued while driving across the country and back. I managed to sketch a decent outline during the summer- not so arduous of a task since I’m embracing Waldorf pedagogy and there are many curriculum guides and ideas to turn to for help. Plus, I’ve been preparing for THIS for years and taking the advice of those more seasoned: layer slowly, each year. It is hard not to try to do it all immediately because it is just so EXCITING! Im homeschooling my girls, a dream only so long, now coming true! Having patience with this decision, to layer appropriately, not to jump ahead and introduce too much too soon, has been just one of my many edges of my growth. With regards to planning- at times it has been truly agonizing. I’ve gone back and forth on what to cover (what NOT to cover), how much, when, and how to juggle the great variety of recreation (homeschool gatherings, museum outings, art classes, enrichment days through the public school, horseback riding, dance, etc.), then the AFTER school activities, social engagements, Quaker Meeting, and so forth. As a close friend of mine would say “cheekishly”, if we had everything we wanted, where would we put it??! Once again I’ve decided less is more. Furthermore, I’ve been reminded of the importance that there is plenty of time ahead for cerebral pursuits, academic forays and structured activities. They’re SIX years old! I can say with certainty that the lack of intellectual foundation in my early years fortunately did not hinder its development in the latter years. : ) I’m finding that with the decision to take on less, I have so much more. I’m not the first to have this eureka moment, but nonetheless it has been so invigorating. We’re not doing dance, art classes, nor riding lessons. No enrichment days. Instead we have time for lessons together and PLENTY of time for birthday parties (complete with with cake and candles) for their “babies”, playing with the cat family, yogurt parfait while it rains, early morning drawing and doodles, baking for neighbors, time to play at the creek and leisure walks with “our dogs.”! Time to spend looking at pictures of hummingbirds (and paint them) and reading about the frontier people of Colorado.
The present moment, the current year is about continuing with our rhythms — knowing that from the predictability of our daily, weekly, and seasonal rhythms we find comfort, peace, confidence, less stress, and increased time to focus on what’s meaningful! We will continue this through our routines, various celebrations (seasonal, birthdays, religious holidays, Saint’s Days, travel trips, etc.), and our practical “work” such as handwork, hiking and nature, the arts and baking. Yet, also begin to scaffold new skills such as those in reading, mathematics, second language, and music. All the while I will pay attention to their interests and carry on with my work in mindfulness, compassion, and balance. With home as the center, family as the heart, less is more as the mantra, we’re starting off on the right foot.
The choice to homeschool has been driven by several forces. Some intangible, some black and white. There’s been a force within me, even before the girls were born, that has been leading me to the homeschooling path. Sometimes it is hard to explain when folks ask– especially since I was a high school teacher, part of the “establishment.” How can I explain that sometimes I feel there’s no choice, that it is just what I am meant TO DO right now. There’s also the current state of education -very disappointing to keep it simple– especially in the early, elementary years with excessive emphasis on technology and testing coupled with a lack of practical skills, creative outlets and freedom.
“I found my purpose and it was to become a physician. My intent wasn’t to save the world as much as to heal myself.”
This line is from the novel Stone Cutter which I just started; it resonated immediately. Not about being a physician, but a teacher to my children. There’s a strong undercurrent of self-healing in this journey, which began years before the girls, at a momentous juncture about 10 years ago. The turning point was brought on by a crisis, one that changed me profoundly. This loss, ushered tremendous tumult, question and confusion and I came out of it KNOWING that my life had to change. Now, to be frank, my life was very, very good- stable and full, but it lacked a certain comfort, passion and a personal depth, which only became unearthed by this loss. It was within all the time, but hesitant and scared to surface fully. I’m not entirely sure. However, I don’t think i would be homeschooling today without the events and change and growth that occurred those years ago.
And time to eat our cake, too.