Saturday, February 1, 2014

Getting into the Groove of Homeschooling ~ musings of a beginning unschooling mommy

Since Anjali is approaching official school-age, Troy and I have been intensively researching and collecting resources.  Troy has been reading John Holt's books.  I receive newsletters from Lavender's Blue Waldorf homeschool curriculum, the official Waldorf homeschooling website, and others.  I'm on quite a few local homeschooling discussion lists and Facebook pages to connect, glean information, and learn about activities.  It's felt good for me to view my days with her as my career ~ that homeschooling is our "job" when we're together.  Troy and I have started having "business meetings" where we discuss, look at the calendar, etc., with this in mind.    

In the past year, Troy has read almost all of the 30-some books that comprise the Little House series ~ not just Laura, but her daughter ~ Rose, her great-grandmother ~ Martha, her grandmother ~ Charlotte, and her mother, ~ Caroline.  We love them so much we are planning on starting over with the Laura years when we get done.  We're reading Caroline right now. : )  We expect to include some of the Little House on the Prairie TV shows in our experience this time around, and maybe a road trip to the Laura Ingalls museum in Missouri.  We love our Little House!  They fill our imaginations, and are the background context for many a pretend session or drawing by Anjali.  

Another series of books that I consider important to Anjali's homeschooling are the Herb Fairies books, which tell stories to *mentor* (instead of didactically teach) about medicinal herbs, their preparations and applications.  They come with lots of extra material ~ recipes, etc. ~ for even more in-depth learning.

A website I discovered recently that I'm excited about is Crafting Connections ~ which produces magazines and booklets which collect a themed volume of activities, recipes, crafts, etc., that encourage .. crafting connections with little ones on a daily basis. : )  I will be attending an online workshop with them this coming month to further incorporate intentional connection and art for parents and children.

In the Fall I attended an online course called From Hectic to Harmonious that guided us to create more space for valuable play, connection, and nourishment by decluttering and organizing.  It used Simplicity Parenting as its base.  I believe this was valuable in our homeschooling process to create intention in our environment and homelife (notably the dinner table).

We plan to attend the Art of Mentoring week-long Nature-Connection camp for families in North Carolina, which follows the 8-Shields model of mentoring by Jon Young.  This feels very large, as Nature Connection and all that it entails is very important in our life-school core "curriculum".

Anjali is signed up for her first-ever weekly classes ~ one in Spanish at the Carnegie Center, and one with the Bluegrass Homeschool Learning Co-op.  We went to the BHLC class for the first time this past week. The theme is the Body, and the children will be making a lap-book outlining the parts and functions of the body.  I was disappointed with the class, and Anjali says she agrees.  It was mainly sitting and listening, coloring xerox copies, with no interaction allowed with her classmates.  Interaction is what we signed up for!  Not sure what we will do about this...

Anjali has made some friends and we've been getting together more frequently for playtime.  Nina is in the Body class at the Co-op, so that is a reason to be torn.  We met McKenzie ~ who attends Sayre School, and had her and her siblings over to play last week.  We miss the Burns family since they moved to Cynthiana this past summer, but I vow to connect with them more often.
Solomon is Anjali's favorite friend in Lexington.  We manage to see his family at least once a week, whether for a playdate, mama work party, potluck, birthday party, etc., as they are part of our core group of close friends here.

This year I intend to value Quality of interaction and experience over Quantity.  And pacing.  We sat down with the calendar to decide which big events we are going to attend this year, in an attempt to spread them out with ample down time between the events just to live daily life ~ to take in breaths between big out breaths.  I aim to Savour as opposed to Consume activities ~ no matter their educational/spiritual/connective value.

I was asked by a woman who is a kindergarten teacher by trade, "so what ARE you teaching Anjali?" the other day.  I balked for a second at the blatant question, but then collected myself.  I was pleased with my response.  I told her my ideal school is a Wilderness School and Waldorf School combined, that takes place outside (in Portland, OR, of course!).  So this is what I've used as my guide in how I'm choosing the direction of Anjali's homeschooling.  Nature Connection is of utmost importance ~ with all the valuable assets that go with it ~ physical and mental capability, value for the Earth and its communities of creatures, skills that can help a person survive and thrive in any situation, responsibility, and Knowing oneself.  With Waldorf, I value their commitment to a Natural aesthetic, and their dedication to the Whole person ~ character, lifelong desire to learn, and the head-heart-hands approach of art, hands-on activities, and life skills that are concrete and practical in building a well-rounded person.  With a supportive family and home environment, I really do see the World as being the perfect place to learn what a person needs to know to be a Good Human.  I see the possibility of incorporating all kinds of resources in this process, including curriculums, tutors, classes, mentors, apprenticeships, etc.  But I mainly see making a quality every-day life together in harmony with our Earth as being the ultimate teacher.
Troy has valid concern that this style we plan to employ will not give Anjali what she needs to financially succeed as an adult, as he was given the tools.  This is something we're still figuring out.  I think that, at our finest, Troy and I make a lovely balance of intuitive + scientific, art + math, feeling + thinking, all with a heaping helping of Love and Intention.  AND these counterpoints can sometimes make it challenging for us to see the other's perspective. ; )  It is a journey. I believe it's worth it. <3

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