We definitely don’t want or need to run our homeschooling experiences like a brick and mortar school, and if we are Waldorf homeschoolers we cannot recreate a Waldorf School experience that takes a main lesson teacher and a host of speciality teachers in our home. Nor should we!
However, I think good habits does lay a good foundation for the future in homeschooling. In Waldorf homeschooling, I see a lot of people give up around the third grade year as they get frustrated with the curriculum content, and then again at the middle school mark as the amount of teacher preparation really goes up and there are more outside activities.
One of the main unspoken things about this time period of third grade and up, though, can be this notion of “my child won’t do anything that I ask.” (So, therefore, we need to change the curriculum)
There are certainly ways to get around that – what parts of this subject ARE interesting to your child? Are they getting enough movement and sleep? Are they on a screen all the time? Nothing excitement-wise seems to compare to screen adventures.
And, is it really the curriculum or is it a responsibility/good habit kind of issue?
It can be that we didn’t really lay down good habits in the early grades to prepare for what’s coming, and we failed to keep any enthusiasm for learning our child had. I have three children with different personalities – one loved school, one hated it, and one tolerates it. I totally understand different personalities. But, if we are being honest and taking 100 percent responsibility for what happens in our homeschooling, then we need to go back and look at our part in things. One quote has really resonated with me over the years:
In first seven-year period child develops through imitation: in second through authority; in third through individual judgment – Study of Man, Rudolf Steiner
So, in those early years are we setting up good habits? What are we showing our children? Are we always on our screens , do we hold a rhythm, how much actual work are we doing around the house? This rhythm and work sets the foundation for what happens in the years 7-21.
In the years of 7-14, are we setting the tone for a loving authority? There are some things that just have to be done. If the child is complaining, do we just back off and say never mind…. which teaches nothing…. or do we follow through that I am asking you to do this, we will do this, I can help you and will be here for you? This is an important step! To think ahead, and really mean what we are asking the child to do in school (not busy work) and to follow through even if they are complaining.
And lastly, in the period of 14-21, are we giving opportunity for individual judgment? Sometimes, yes, for learning, I find this easier for an outside teacher in whatever form that takes – and it may be in sports or outside activities, not in homeschooling, but I think teens really need that experience of making something count. This can be a part time schedule of classes in your public school system if your state allows that, an online class, a tutor, a hybrid school if your state has that, etc. but I think it is important that the teen get a taste of accountability and failure and success in the world in something that matters. This is also why I think teenagers holding jobs and being involved with something that is “team” (sports, marching band, theater, a team) are really important. Individual judgment needs to be exercised within a realm of accountability. This is how individual judgment and being a functional young adult occurs. But it all begins with those early year and early grades foundation!