Better, Better, Better.
(Yeah, we're Beatles geeks.)
We are three weeks into our customized method combining Waldorf with some traditional learning methods and a helping of unschooling and it is going exceedingly well.
Our days go like this: wake, breakfast, play (or computer for me), chores, lessons, lunch, quiet time, projects and free time, more play (while I make dinner), dinner, tidy, family walk, evening lesson with Papa, read in bed, lights out.
We're making even more of an effort to stay home. I know many people think it isn't as important once a child is older than seven, but it's a habit that still works for us. If I can at all help it we don't go anywhere by car Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday. On Thursday afternoons we go to the library and the natural foods market and on Friday afternoons we have our park gathering.
It's different from what almost all of our other homeschool friends do, but as I said it works for us. My children are grounded in their rhythm and nurtured by being home. We aren't driving here and there for lessons and field trips and that means we can focus on lessons in the mornings and have a lot of free time for unscripted learning and even just being. Imaginative play is so important for children; it allows the brain to relax and grow.
There is a quote (attributed to Yeats but that is widely debated) that goes along these lines:
Education is not the filling of a bucket,
the lighting of a fire.
Our entire American education system is about filling the bucket and it is easy for homeschoolers to get caught up in the same methods. So even when I am teaching more traditional materials I try to remind myself what my goals are. I want to expose my children to many different ideas and subjects, not so that they can recite facts back at me but so that we can find out what sparks their fire.
Wait, why did I bring up the bucket? Oh yes, I was going to say that I am often dismayed at how busy some homeschoolering parents keep their children. I guess it works for them and that is reason enough for me to stay out of it, but really, I do find it sad that even homeschooled children are so overscheduled. Many homeschooling parents are desperately trying to fill the bucket. Perhaps they were overscheduled as children and don't know anything different. Perhaps they are afraid that their children won't succeed if they aren't pushed as other American children are.
For me, this is no place for fear. I've already chosen something so very different for my children that trying to make them like other children doesn't make any sense to me.