Greetings to you dear reader,
I imagine that if your curiosity brought you here, either you are homeschooling or you have a desire to know more about it. We are a family of five with three boys whom have never gone to school. We have always known that we wanted to homeschool. Allowing our children time to grow into strong, confident beings so they can become the people they intended to be, was probably the most important reason of all.
In our present day society it seems we never have enough time, children unfortunately are the casualties to our over scheduled lives. Most have to spend the best hours of the day in the care of strangers, getting very little personal attention. In addition, we (the parents) place them in a variety of extra curricular activities hoping this will give them the best exposure in life. Unfortunately, this allows very little time to recharge, be their own company and fully discover who they truly are and what they most desire to pursue. My personal journey about homeschooling started when I was a full time early childhood educator. Our eldest son Tristan then 2, was registered in the same educational daycare that I worked at, although not in the same class. I was in charge of 9 rambunctious 3 and 4 year olds. It fit me like a glove. I love being surrounded by all those round, rosy, dimpled-cheek, bright eyed children. Part of my duties were to write out a curriculum filling it with a variety of songs, crafts, stories and games revolving around the monthly theme. I spent most of my days there sitting on Thumbelina’s chair where each morning these sweet little faces would run and greet me with great big bear hugs. This came as a realisation about my own boy if I were to continue living and working in this manner. Primarily, I would be missing the bigger part of my son’s childhood and strangers would be reaping in the benefits of each moment that he discovered about himself, in short strangers would know more about my son then I would. Each day the nagging doubts set deeper into me making it undeniable what I needed to do. My second son came along at probably the right time, I was already deep in thought about the subject, granted with maternity leave gave me a large window of introspection in understanding what I was feeling. I had pulled him out of the daycare since I’d be home but I felt a necessity to register him in some sort of educational program to keep him stimulated. It’s rewarding to look back now at the journey that brought us to where we stand today.
Along with the half-day preschool, he was registered into tiny tots gymnastics and swimming lessons. I was living a very typical modern lifestyle but I must say I was always carrying doubt about it all. The closer I got to the end of my maternity leave, the more I desired to be home full-time with my boys. Several years back while pregnant with Tristan I first got a glimpse 0f homeschooling. Never before this point had I heard of the term. The seed was planted in 2000, when I had read an article about it in the April issue of Parents’ Magazine. In fact it left such an impression on me that I had tore the pages out and have kept them to this day!
While watching Tristan’s gymnastics one day, homeschooling became the topic of discussion. One of the mothers (a former elementary teacher) was about to start homeschooling her daughter and told the rest of us the details about the advantages. She gave me all the pertaining information and directed me where to begin my research. At that time both Dave and myself were coming to a undeniable understanding of who we were as individuals and what we desired out of life. It was evident we were headed for a fork in the road, two choices would be offered, one that answered our hearts (soul) and the other our heads (logic). Needless to say, we chose to follow our hearts and leave our two secure employments, fast-paced over scheduled city life, extended family and many friends to live 3 hrs away in the woods ,to live a slower paced lifestyle. Despite earning a smaller single income, we were able to watch our boys grow up and took an active part in their childhood.
In those first years in our new house, life was very easy. We went with what the day would offer us and did what we pleased. My two boys were young, my eldest was about to be 4 and Evan, my middle son was just a newborn. We continued the second year the same way as the first, but since I was officially starting Kindergarten, Tristan had a variety of workbooks, worksheets and crafts to do as well. I romanticized homeschooling with visions of strolls through the forests hand in hand naming animals and plants along the way, teaching to read under a big oak tree in the park while the autumn leaves danced around us, playing and making games for counting. I imagined days where Tristan would come asking how to spell this or how to make that. I followed a standard Canadian kindergarten curriculum, learning to read phonetically and writing the alphabet in upper and lower case. We learned numbers up to 20, sequencing, color recognitions and so on. Halfway through the school year Tristan’s desire to do ‘school’ began to fade and I had to coax him with rewards to finish his work. This is when I started looking for alternatives.
Prior to having children in 1998, Dave and I lived briefly in British Columbia. We met someone who inspired us in many ways, a key individual who has shaped us in who we are today. Because of my experience with children and my extensive knowledge with art, he had suggested that I look into an artsy school that was located in the Okanagan Valley, by the name of Waldorf. Funny at that time, I thought it simply as this particular school’s name, not a philosophy known across the world. In the end, I never did visit that school and forgot all about it until I started looking for alternatives and google fished it out from the search engine. I realized at that moment looking through the dozens of Waldorf sites, that had I gone to see that school 7 yrs back, I might not have been on the road I was on today. Waldorf spoke to my soul, it answered my needs of what I wanted for my sons. It was so gentle in format, followed the cycle of nature and was surrounded by art and imagination. I was happy, my romance once again could flourish. After reviewing the selection of available curriculums, I decided on Christopherus. I liked Donna Simmons format, it wasn’t too rigid and systematic. It seemed to meet right in the middle between the style of Oak Meadow and Live Education. Donna offers structure with her lesson blocks but leaves room for individuality where you can rearrange the blocks in an order that suits your family best. Oak Meadow works on a set daily schedule, very much like traditional school, with very little wiggle room for creativity. Live Education is just the opposite. There seems to be no schedule or time frame to gage your pace with, so you need to incorporate a lot of your own creativity. You also need to be efficiently organized. After several years, I have a better understanding about Waldorf education. Teaching it must come from within you and not from others, from ones own understanding, colored with inner creativity and imagination. Live Education does right by offering their lessons in such a vague manner, they are not intended for copy but rather for inspiration, to awaken your soul and let it speak to your child. Embarking with Waldorf homeschooling, is embarking on a soul’s journey. It’s remarkable where it will lead you. I can say that at this point, Live Education could work for me, but it sure was not the ideal curriculum to start with. I think I made the right choice by going with Christopherus, it has certainly changed a lot of my perception with school and over the years my own way started to emerge. Each year I gain more confidence with Life and I now have an understanding of how synchronicity works. There is no need for control, and I think that has been my biggest struggle yet, letting go and going with the flow. Ironically, prior to school this was the way we lived! It’s not the destination but the journey that’s important, we are so hardwired with seeing results, yet they come naturally with patience. Learning happens everyday in every manner and life will offer what you need when you need it. Time has taught me this and I trust it without a doubt.
We are not puritans to Waldorf education but simply inspired by it’s wondrous understanding of human development. We use it as a tool but allow the days’ mysteries to unfold around us while taking steps towards a life learning lifestyle we hope to embody someday 100% .
I hope by sharing our homeschooling journey with you , that it will help and inspire you to embark on your very own.
“Knowledge which is acquired under compulsion has no hold on the mind. Therefore do not use compulsion, but let early education be rather a sort of amusement; this will better enable you to find out the natural bent of the child. “- Plato
Best of luck,