One of the things that mothers become the most anxious about with Waldorf homeschooling is how to create Main Lessons for multiple ages, and what to do about outside activities.
I recently saw this post from over at Christopherus regarding “Devising a Schedule That Works”: http://christopherushomeschool.typepad.com/blog/2010/08/devising-a-schedule-that-works.html
This post was really something I needed to hear (again). It is very easy to get caught up (at least in my area) with all the wonderful activities available to homeschoolers, plus all the extra things that life brings such as going to a place of worship, running errands, having play dates with friends.
I am still working it all out for my family and I don’t have all the answers yet, but I wanted to share with you all some of my thoughts as I work through this.
1. I have thought long and hard about sports. I personally think around fourth grade that some sports really can begin (and yes, even sports where one loses and one wins on a smaller scale), but some folks put the times to start competitive sports later. You can see one perspective here: http://www.movementforchildhood.com/sport.pdf I do think one thing sports help with is learning not only how to be a gracious winner, but also a gracious loser. I think it also helps develop the will to not quit the minute you are not perfect at something on the first try!
The other side of sports though, even just sports through the local recreation program, is that most of the grades-aged sport practices are at dinner time. In this regard, one has to be really mindful of the trade-off of dinner time as a family, and the drain bringing one child to sport practices and such is on the smaller children. On the other hand, some nine and ten year olds may be ready to “do something” and I think sports is a nice thing to set up before the twelve-year old change, when children become more heavy and often more sedentary.
2. Music typically branches out into a second instrument other than recorder during the Third Grade (typically a stringed instrument). Steiner talked a bit about picking musical instruments in relation to temperament in “Discussions With Teachers”. An interesting read there! Again, the benefits of musical instrument practice has to be weighed against the needs of the whole family.
3. I have said this before, but will mention it again here: the nine-year change is a VERY important time for laying a foundation of spiritual practice and for really helping to shape a child’s beliefs as they struggle with the feelings of isolation, of difference, with questions of life and of death at this age. Please, please, please consider how you will bring this to your child in an active way.
What activities are your children involved in? How do you balance the needs of all of your family members?