Thursday, April 30, 2009

We Have a Plan!

The members at the Waldorf at Home message forum are so helpful, and Donna Simmons of Christopherus Homeschool Resources/Waldorf at Home also takes the time to thoroughly answer questions.  I posted a few questions about choosing a grade and how to approach having missed a grade and now we have a plan for our homeschooling.

I am finally giving up unschooling.  I am sure it works well for many families and as a method of learning it has worked in mine, but we need more rhythm.  Some days I feel like a person whose heart beats erratically and who can't even breathe in rhythm.  I'm wasting time and my boys grow so quickly that I am seeing that very soon their time with me will be over.

I am making a commitment to focused lessons and a mindful rhythm.  I know that it is going to be hard at first, but that we will settle in and it will become second nature.  Well, it will actually be easy for the first week, and hard after that, because that is how it works around here.  I am not going to give up or tell myself that we are truly unschoolers in order to get around the discomfort that comes with having to discipline ourselves.  I *know* that we love being in rhythm and the hard part is getting there.

In many ways it is hard to give up our identity as unschoolers.  I have to stop worrying about what my friends do or what people will think of us and do what I think is best for my family.

Whenever we have done focused learning we've struggled with grade placement in terms of the Waldorf/Enki story curriculum.  Having J-Baby work ahead in the story curriculum generally fails even though his skills work is advanced.  Once again, I am going to stop worrying what other people think and I am going to use a 4th grade curriculum with the boys even though T-Guy would technically be in 5th grade this fall.

We are also simplifying things.  I am planning for us to take our break all summer, following the schedule that most of our charter-school homeschooling friends follow.  I'm giving up the January start and also the year-round 3 weeks on, 1 week off structure that we have used in the past.  My boys are older now and matching the schedule of their peers makes planning play dates and fun outings easier and helps the boys feel that their schooling isn't that far out there. Most of all, it returns us to the idea of having a solid break, of starting and finishing a grade.  I think that is something that shouldn't be underestimated.

So, the plan.  We'll spend May doing an Old Testament main lesson.  We're going to plant and tend a Three Sisters garden, and we'll do some weather observation.  Then we'll take a nice, long break, ending May 29th and returning to lessons 8/24.  That is when we will start 4th grade, using the Christopherus 4th Grade Curriculum.  We used Christopherus materials for 1st grade and also sprinkled in over the past several years, and I think it will be a good fit.  I already have the 4th Grade mathematics book and it looks really good.

I can absolutely feel my body relaxing into a huge sigh; it all makes sense and the planning isn't going to be overwhelming.  I'm looking forward to being a more active teacher/guide for my boys and to spending quality time learning together.

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