We have home schooled for 15 years, and except for 2 weeks, they were largely unschooled, those first 2 weeks I played teacher. I admit the children learn best when they are self driven BUT there are developmental stages. One does not usually see a 4 year old doing differential equations, Montessori has a developmental sequence so does Piaget, Rudolf Steiner has one too, and in Waldorf I find the stuff of spiritual inclusion. It partly depends I suppose on why you lead your life, why you have children, why you teach your children…
Is it just a material pursuit? Is it just an ingesting of academic material for university entrance? and so forth.
We have come to Waldorf very late, our last 2 children are now 10 and 12 and this is our first year, I can see that many of my own pressing spiritual questions could have been supported by the work of Rudolf Steiner and I congratulate the Waldorf community for trying to encourage theistic learning in a largely atheistic world, but to get back to unschooling; having a home full of music, art and wonderful books goes a long way. Children will find learning.
Some material can be presented in a more formal way, such as the main lesson block, but I find when we do this kind of activity, it is more successful if we do it together, even the art and handwork, giving assignments just does not work, and my favorite rule:
NEVER ASK A CHILD TO WRITE SOMETHING THAT YOU ALSO DO NOT WRITE
When was the last time you wrote a paragraph, with rewrites and good penmanship?
When was the last time you did 25 long division problems at the table all alone while everyone else was playing outside?
Learn together. Wasn’t that why we started home schooling in the first place?
When I want to start a new theme, I plan out my lessons, stories, activities, assemble the materials, and after breakfast clear the table and sit down and begin to work myself, the kids come round and want to help, do and take over, in fact if I want to be alone I almost have to beat them with a stick! We draw together and talk, learn, and since I am so much better than they are I usually finish first and clear my side of the table, showing good example, and start making lunch.
If they ever would truly resist the urge to join in then they will tomorrow, if they are causing discord it is usually because they are coming down with a virus, cutting a tooth or having PMS (I am the mother of 5 daughters whose last one finally asked for a bra).
As a mother you are your child’s center right now, they want to be with you and will even write essays if they can be with you. If the resistance is great, step back, take the lesson or work project in smaller steps, eat lunch and then go for a nature walk.
This works every time!
Julienne’s Bio: Married 26 years to architect who is a banker, which means of course we have no money or home of our own. We have 7 children between 10 and 25, home-birthed, breast-fed and family-bedded. Started home schooling when eldest was 10, she is now UC Berkeley grad, with honors and distinction. Next, 24, is son who left school at 16 to work in computers, one of those wunderkind. He shrugs when his mommy pleads with him to get a college education. Others in college or not, each with talents only shown late, brings Leo the Late-bloomer to mind, but we are in the business of family and there is time, which is the greatest of gifts.
I studied Human Genetics at university, so science and math are easier for me. Personal passion, what I avoided at school, is ancient history, so we eat, write, drink, draw, read, wear and dramatize all we can anything up to and including the Renaissance. The fact that my children know nothing about modern history means little to me, they can watch the History Channel in their old age.
I wanted to home school because I did not want to find all those shoes every morning, think for a minute about all those little feet to find trainers. Mornings were always negative, even when I had everything in place the night before, and it took years for me to realize that they did not want to leave our home. They knew they could learn, and usually more at our home than at the institution. I volunteered at the institution and began to see how much of the day was spent in learning and how much in controlling 30 children in an artificial environment.
We have adapted our way of life, mother at home means less luxuries, a home filled with books, music and constant science experiments. Home schooling has renewed our family, we had made many good choices that the institution was only too happy to try and exploit. Just as our daughter was starting to doubt herself and our family values we discovered home schooling.
Home schooling has woven our family back together into the whole we wanted. Our children are all drug-free virgins. They are complemented for their socialization! And they find their own shoes.
SOURCE: Ask Kytka Archives, August 2002.
*Very Special Thanks to Julienne, who always brings common sense & humor into life.