This is the time of year when some families are deciding to just not send their children back to school after the Holiday Break and are getting started homeschooling. Have hope!
I have heard from parents who have taken the child they had the most difficult relationship with and brought that child home (and many parents with this same situation in the past have told me this brought the most wonderful changes and a forging of a close, intimate and healthy parent-child relationship). Have hope!
I have heard from parents who want to switch to Waldorf homeschooling from another method of homeschooling. The number one complaint I hear is that the other methods are “so dry”. Have hope!
I have heard from parents who want to switch to Waldorf homeschooling because they felt some of the methods they used in the past really pushed their early grades child and now at age 9 or 10 their child is completely burned out. Have hope!
I have heard from parents who have not yet pulled their children out of school but really, really want to. They have collected curriculum and just need to find the confidence to get started! Have hope!
If any of the above scenarios represent YOU and your family today, I have good news for you!
This is the good news: you CAN do this, you will be successful, it will be okay. Your family relationship will be stronger. You will grow as a mother and as a human being. You will discover your children are lovely to be around. Your family will also grow in grace and love!
This is not to say there will not be growing pains, or days of wondering why you decided to do this. This is not say that you will not have to WORK – work in planning for your school days, work in planning how to do school and housecleaning, and this is not to say there will not be time when you have to make hard decisions about extra-curricular activities….but I am here to let you know that these growing pains will be worth it. Completely and utterly worth it!
Have the courage to pull your children out of school, or to switch methods if that is what your family needs.
If you have been collecting curriculum, sit down and plan out a rhythm for a week and get started! Your curriculum does no good at all sitting on a shelf.
Here are a few of my tips to get started:
- Start with planning for this week – many of you are just waiting for the right moment to start homeschooling. There is no right moment, you must jump in and do it. Plan a week, then plan two weeks, then plan a month. Just get started! I like to plan day by day for my year over the Summer, so I start early, but mothers do it all different ways. Find the way that works for you (but in order to do this you must start somewhere!). You are not re-creating school in your home, here is a lovely article by Donna Simmons about the bringing Waldorf Education into the home: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/08/25/bringing-waldorf-to-homeschooling-by-donna-simmons/
- Plan that your children may need up to a whole school year to really settle in. Many mothers have told me that after they pulled their child from school the first year was just hard. Don’t be discouraged. Keep reminding yourself that what you are doing is enough: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/08/05/do-you-ever-worry-your-homeschool-teaching-is-not-enough/ Homeschooling is first and foremost about family!
- Do have a support system for those hard days that you can call on (people who will NOT tell you the answer is to put your child back into school!) Be careful what you can share with who. Sometimes if you complain too much to family members, they lose confidence homeschooling is the right choice for your family and will start to pressure you about putting your children back in school. Know who you can trust with what information!
- Figure out about life and homeschooling, smaller children — errands, cleaning, meals. How and when is this going to happen? What will the smaller children be doing whilst you work with your older child? How can you balance needs within your family?
- Work on YOURSELF. I see so many mothers carrying around these really negative images of themselves – I am so disorganized, I can’t get up, I can’t stick to a schedule, ….What do you need to do to forgive yourself, to celebrate yourself, to lift yourself up? http://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/11/27/forgiving-ourselves/
- What is your spiritual path and what are you doing for spiritual work and personal development? Some mothers I know found success with this little book, I gave out several copies at Christmas because I personally liked it so much (Christian perspective, but okay for those raised in Christian faith and wanting a little jump start back into something spiritual): http://www.amazon.com/Moments-Peace-Presence-God-Morning/dp/0764207768/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1294856068&sr=8-1
- If you are Waldorf homeschooling, I encourage you to actually read some Steiner. Kingdom of Childhood is a good place to start, very accessible. Here it is for free: http://steinerbooks.org/research/archive/kingdom_of_childhood/kingdom_of_childhood.pdf You don’t have to agree with Steiner’s personal worldview to use Waldorf Education; you can bring Waldorf elements to your homeschool no matter what methods you use. (Here is a post on infusing Waldorf methods into Christian homeschooling: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/05/20/infusing-waldorf-elements-into-your-christian-homeschool/) You take what resonates with you and leave the rest behind, but I think Steiner fleshes out a curriculum so in synch with the developmental stages that also mesh with what psychologists such as Gesell and Piaget have said of the child people are foolhardy to ignore this system of education. You can read why I personally like Waldorf Education here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/11/06/wonderful-waldorf/.
- Here is a whole post that rounds up some of the back posts on coming to Waldorf late: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/12/03/coming-to-waldorf-late-2/
- Get help! If you need help, how about using a Waldorf consultant?
Just jump in and get started, you will be so glad you did!