I have been talking to more and more mothers regarding planning for the upcoming school year, and one theme has been recurring: they want simple.
- They want curriculums that take into account that most mothers are time-constrained, either by activities or by having multiple children.
- They want to know that when they spend a lot of money on a curriculum, that the curriculum is planned out. Most mothers seem to want a day by day plan.
- They want ideas for the magical parts of homeschooling – movement, drawing, music, painting, modeling, and how to bring the academic ideas to life through these vehicles.
- They do want academic progression
- They want to know how to take their spiritual and religious life and help their children absorb that in an age- appropriate way in the home environment
- But most of all, they want simple.
In some respects, many people homeschool, not because they want to make life harder or to stress themselves out with having more complex days, but because they wanted a slower pace of life that allowed for more time and more connection with their children.
I think simplicity can actually start in planning. Planning helps ensure that you are not doing too much, but yet that some of your bases, especially for those past the age of ten, are covered. For example:
- When you plan, it means that you will have enough money for all that homeschooling entails to your family – whether this be classes, activities, memberships to the nature center, curriculum or primary sources and supplies. If you are on a tight budget, it is more important than ever to plan ahead, utilize the possibility of holiday or birthday gifts, and to make your purchase decisions count.
- Planning means you can take the best of the ideas in curriculum but you can pare it down to a simpler level that actually works for your family and not feel smothered by it. There is nothing worse than feeling that you have to do everything because you simply don’t . The kiss of death is to not leave enough time and space.
- Planning means that you can see the areas in your life that are challenging – for example, if you can’t even find fifteen minutes each day to plan that is a challenge! – and work on this and adjust it. Change it, renew it, make it better – this is the joy of being a homeschooling family.
- Planning gives you a form, not a “perfect day” to check off. Keep is simple, and adjustable.
I don’t honestly think Waldorf Education has to be as daunting as many make it. I think it can be simple. At its heart, in the home environment, (not the school environment), there is freedom in it to meet so many of the practical life arts – cooking, gardening, music, handwork and the fine arts too. There is freedom to do it together, you just have to stop reading and spur yourself to action to try to paint or draw. Try it! There is movement, so lovely in the home, and there are stories on the couch. And there is academic progression, starting in an organized but organic way in the early grades and leading into serious academic work in the fourth and fifth grade and up. Your children will learn. They will be well rounded and have a high knowledge of history, math, science, how to write a paper, how to spell, and vocabulary. Hang in there, and make it your own. But keep it simple!