There was a very wise post this morning on the firstname.lastname@example.org list by list owner and veteran Waldorf teacher Marsha Johnson. You will the entire post for your reading pleasure below, but I wanted to add a few comments.
I agree and feel the same way as Marsha Johnson: I think community is so important. How homeschoolers get this community may look different from homeschooling family to homeschooling family. Some homeschooling families get this through a place of worship and that is their community that they see numerous times a week. Some get it through a homeschooling group. Some get it through a large extended family with many brothers and sisters and cousins, and some get it though a neighborhood setting. I too, feel sad to hear of homeschooling children who are all alone or older homeschooling children who never have contact with children their own age. It is one thing to say that homeschooled children do wonderful with people of all ages – they typically do, and that is wonderful!- but they also, as they get older need time with other ten year olds and other twelve year olds and as much as they love their brothers and sisters, they will welcome some time to be with children their own age without smaller ones about.
As you plan for fall, please be sure to put in community. Time for you to have community and time for your children to have community. We are not fully human until we can look each other in the eyes and be together. It is so important, and should be an important part of your homeschooling plan: movement, art, the academic pieces, practical work and community. Together, this makes a wonderful homeschooling experience and also eases many of the pangs of the ages of development change.
Here is Marsha Johnson’s post:
Thank you for writing….my favorite subject: children!
I do think we need to be sure to schedule in social and gathering time with friends, for all ages, including mamas and kids and even the family dog……setting up sessions of play time on a weekly basis, this can be in a community setting like a park or a space perhaps in a church, and then of course to host children over to your home for a couple hours and send your beloved over to someone else’s home….the child around age 4 really can begin to really play WITH someone else for a period of time, prior to that they tend to play BY one another or NEAR one another in their mutually pleasant imaginative explorations..give or take a few interactions related to who actually has rights to use of certain desirable items, lol which we see so frequently in the 2 year olds who ‘play’….
But when I do see photos of children five and up, homeschooling, and all alone, so much of the time, it does tug at my heart because we are social beings, made for community and it is good to gather, and gather again.
This is part of the Shining Star Mission here, to gather and assemble and convene and sip tea and knit and camp and sing and self-educate and explore. We are community beings and we can lead the way for a life of happy interactions with both intentional activities at time and at other times, restful vague even indolent visits where we rest upon the beauty and quiet of one another, in a setting on a porch, and speak softly while the babes nap in thick quilts on the grass nearby and the older ones make fairy houses and enjoy tea time.
With only 3-5 families, we can create a circle of fun, where we go to someone’s home each week and visit and share, bring a healthy snack, dye some silks, bake some bread for supper, knit quietly and plan for a spring party outdoors or a camping trip. Playing for a couple months worth of visit, then take breaks for holidays, kind of like terms, is a good idea and leave it open, do we still wish to gather, and the kids grow up and pretty soon you are all out exploring local sites for state history in grade 4.
…..Avoiding the kinder-cization of the school aged child is often hard for the mamas, with the smaller ones, they want to nurse and nest until the sun wears out sometimes, and the bigger kid is shouting for MORE and then we must rise to the occasion. If not, they can get kind of grouchy at times and kind of verbally snappy, a bit too long in the paddock and they need to stretch their legs and kick up their heels and have a real adventure and go on some explores. Meeting the needs of the changing child is a challenge and the shifts fluctuate and the wise mamas has in her hand a hug and snuggle as well as a rope and carving knife for the active 6-7 year old who is like the baby bird, right on the edge of the nest, wanna fly, wanna stay…
Developing a very strong capacity to ignore and become like stone is very good for the parents of this age, let those snippy rude little moment slide away into amnesia and catch the brilliantly warm glitter of unshed tears, without looking, and hold the child in your heart of hearts, knowing that she must pass thru the sticky wicket of growing up and with compassion, perceive the fatigue and pressure that the child begins to carry and be near, restful like a big old stone boulder whose weight is love, who never moves from that position of rounded maternal hope and belief, and go without saying the obvious to the child, but keep the bright flag of wishes and wonder held high at your house and avoid those who insist on the ‘real world’ and drag the child further into self-doubt and self-hatred.
The child is going through some tremendous changes at this point with shifting forces from body growth into facial widening and enlarging, increased brain case capacity, released from the midsummer night’s dream of the Fairy Queen, and stepping out of the mist, to find a thin slice of reality along the way, and these forces are freed now as if in a new birth, for memory work, for concentration, for learning, and while eager, these forces also sting a bit as they incarnate.
The solution is strong rhythm, keeping the stony boulder of the home and its rhythms, resolute and pragmatically dedicated to all the household routines and rhythms and warm suppers and expectations as well as strong participation in helping the young child to clean, to care, to follow through.
We must not think we can operate on voice control, that the children are voice-stimulated robots or something. We are working with living souls and therefore we respect that soul and move ourselves to work with that soul in some pretty mundane earthly tasks and we make it part of our own work as well.
Come, we can mop the floor together!
Over and over until the child is really up there at 10 or 11 and can really take up the work and do it very well.
Ok, quite a mouthful here.
Many blessings, and for more of Marsha Johnson’s wisdom and to view all the wonderful free files for homeschooling each grade please see her Yahoo group as referenced above.