This year, as many of you know, has been a super tough year on my family. We began homeschooling for the simple reason of wanting our children to have health in all its forms, and to choose a developmental educational method. This year, health hit us all in the face over and over as one thing after another happened that involved a sick horse, sick extended family members, and accidents that required lots of follow-up appointments. I gained a completely newfound and amplified respect for mothers who homeschool through chronic illness of themselves or their children. The lack of rhythmicy was okay for a few months but honestly drove me (and my children) insane after the first few months.
I think if you homeschool long enough (my oldest at this writing is 16 and a half), at some point you may just hit a year like what we had. Maybe it is illness or divorce or death or just one thing after another where the hits just keep coming. In the midst of a year like that, what do you do?
Let Go. I think the biggest thing I learned this year is to let go. I thought I was letting go since my some of the children are older, but what I learned is that just by being physically here there is a lot I normally do and don’t think about it. When I physically wasn’t present due to having to be in hospitals or meeting health care team members, they really had to step up. I always thought they were fairly independent and good at taking charge of household things, but I learned that they could pull it out without any supervision when they needed to. I also learned that I am still doing an awful lot that I probably need to just let go even when things are calmer.
I let go of things that normally would bother me or seem like a big deal, extending down to end of year activities at this moment that in the past would seem stressful. I simply haven’t even been physically at home sometimes when my kids were. I was out of state or out of town dealing with medical emergencies. This year, things such as end of year things that would normally be a bigger deal to get everything right and ready are really no big deal in the scheme of things. To the things that normally would bother me in the scheme of dealing with teenagers, I asked myself, is it fatal? Is it so unhealthful that I can’t stand it or is it something we will survive? Can it be there with limits? Let it go. Inner work is perhaps the biggest help here. Pause and listen.
Find rhythm where you can. In the beginning of some of these things, there was no rhythm. We were needed or I was needed at places daily in the middle of the day or the morning. It didn’t feel like much was happening as far as the academic end of school unless my students could do it on their own. I set very small goals for schooling, and just felt that any little step was a step forward in our original plans. It also helped that in general I plan less weeks and less days because I know life happens and I otherwise am too ambitious in what we should be covering.
What was comforting to me came from our unschooling friends. I got remeinded that there is a lot to be learned in life in general and unschoolers go on to college or whatever their life plans are as well! I also took a very long-term view that everything we wanted to do, or at least most of it, would be covered by high school graduation! As things would calm down, some rhythm would emerge. Maybe it wasn’t a normal rhythm, but a rhythm nontheless. Let go, and grab onto what you can regarding rhythm. Listen when everyone is tired and says they cannot do one more appointment. Find the spots of rest. Don’t push through.
Do what you can. We did get through blocks this year and math practice and reading practice for our little student and more. We didn’t take field trips really, but things happened – just at a slower pace. Waldorf homeschooling doesn’t mean covering 9 blocks a year. It means sinkly deeply into what you are doing; that less is more; and that skills are being supported and emerging. It also means total overall health. All you can do is what you can do!
When it is all over, take time to rebuild. We are looking forward to a summer of rejuvenation and a new year in the fall.