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!
I enjoyed your thoughts on this, and they mirror my own. One factor that I think affects us as homeschoolers is the ever-present specter of the unschooling movement and the idea that children should only have to learn what they are interested in. This can make us feel guilty or waver when we are trying to establish good school habits, and our kids push back against it.
My teenage daughter is taking a couple of outside classes at her hybrid school, and two of them require weekly homework. This has been an adjustment for her, but also for me as well–I’m accustomed to the habit of just pushing something onto the next day if we don’t finish it on the day I originally planned. I’ve always been in charge of any deadlines, and they’ve always been adjustable, even though I’m someone who has a pretty organized and consistent homeschool routine. It has been a struggle to remember about homework and to set aside time to do it that doesn’t interfere with the homeschooling agenda I already have. One of the classes is a digital photo class, and my daughter was frustrated because “I just wanted to have fun and learn to take pictures, I didn’t think I would have to DO anything more for this class.” Her solution was to just drop the classes, but her dad and I feel that learning to be accountable to an outside teacher is an important skill for her right now, and we’ve had to put our money where our mouth is by scheduling homework time in the evenings, having dad commit to being in charge of it, having me be in charge of finding out what the homework is so that I can help her stay on top of it, both of us staying committed to requiring the homework time even though we are tired and she is resisting, etc.
I totally feel you, LIsa. You would have enjoyed the conversation the ladies over at Thinking, Feeling, Willing and I had the other night! It was surrounding this topic. Homework in general can be a big adjustment for all of us! Blessings, Carrie
I don’t think I’m familiar with that group. Is that part of the Waldorf Essentials TFW program? It does sound like a conversation I would have loved!
Lisa, Yes, part of that program! I bet it might be recorded somewhere for members? Blessings, Carrie