This is a post for my homeschooling mothers today…
Welcome to Planning! Now is a great time to start thinking about your planning for fall if you are in the Northern Hemisphere.
Here are the steps:
Know your laws of your state and your country – at what age do you need to start reporting? I see a lot of mothers of small children completely stressed out about “homeschooling” their five year old and their state reporting laws says they don’t have to report until the child is 8 years of age. Know your laws! How many days do you have to homeschool, how many hours a day, what subjects, is there testing or a portfolio? If you are Waldorf homeschooling, you still need to have the sense of the bigger picture of homeschooling in your area. You are a HOMESCHOOLER.
Take out a calendar. What are your start and end dates? Your vacation times? How many days a week will you be homeschooling and how many weeks of the year? Most homeschooling mothers plan anywhere from 32 to 36 weeks total.
While you are looking at that calendar, get out a big piece of paper and divide it so you have six squares on one side and six squares on the other. Write one month of the year in each square. What does each month bring up for you? What is going on seasonally? If you are religious, what is going on in your religion each month? Write it all down. Any favorite traditions, songs, verses, crafts, activities by month? If you are looking for resources for some of these things, I recommend A Child’s Seasonal Treasury, Earthways, the Wynstones books by season, and any number of the seasonal books such as All Year Round, Celebrating Irish Festivals, etc.
When thinking about the year, also think about yourself. What will you do to learn this year and further your knowledge? When will this happen? When will you take care of yourself – when are the dentist and doctor appointments, time to exercise, time to plan without the children – start thinking about these areas and use this little planted seed as you look at the year, the week and the day. Self-care is not selfish!
LOOK at the child in front of you. Where are they developmentally? Are they at a transition point? Are they in their body? What sort of life skills are they able to do and assist you with in the home? Have they had prior school experience that they need to come off of? How and what in the curriculum and in Steiner’s indications would BEST meet your child? During the first few early grades this may actually be difficult to discern, but it gets easier the more experience you have in teaching.
If you are teaching the grades, what blocks are you teaching? If you are teaching upper grades, how far and where did you leave off in history (grades 6-8)? If you are teaching the early grades, do you know what blocks you are teaching? You can try sources such as the AWNSA chart or curriculums, but know that you need to adapt things for your seasons, your geographic area and YOUR CHILD. Jot down what blocks you think you will do and how many of that block. For example, in first grade how many language arts blocks, how many math blocks, how many form drawing and math blocks? In the upper grades, how many blocks of history or physics? Do the blocks “make sense’’” for you, what you can do, your home environment? This is especially important in the upper grades to think about. This step may really take some time and thought and you may have several (or more) revisions. I think I have switched around what blocks I am going to do in eighth grade and their order about twenty-five times right now, but I think I finally have it!
And a quick paradoxical note on the Waldorf World – it is always said to look at your child, your geographic location and adjust the curriculum for your circumstances. However, if you go too far off course, people will argue it is “not Waldorf”. Conversely, if you just follow along the pages of a curriculum, then some will deem that “not Waldorf”. I have seen homeschoolers do really weird things and deem it “Waldorf” when it absolutely is not related to Waldorf education at all!. I have seen homeschoolers really need to adapt things for their child or family and are afraid to do so. Again, I think this is an area you get much more comfortable with over time and with experience. Not everyone has the opportunity to do a Foundation Studies course or teacher training or even workshops, but those can help. Reading Steiner is a must. You have to understand why, developmentally, why you are doing what you are doing and then you can choose to tweak it with that understanding! If you are inexperienced and need direction, you can talk to a Waldorf consultant. Please just make sure it is a someone who has experience in Waldorf education! Hopefully that someone has also had teacher training or at least Foundation Studies and subsequent workshops, and has had experience in actually not only homeschooling but also in teaching groups of children that are not their own children for a length of time!
Tomorrow we will talk about what to do once you have decided what blocks you are teaching.