We finally made the decision to homeschool after leaving a Montessori program that we loved in favor of our public school system and then, at the last minute, deciding that we didn't want what the public schools were offering. Homeschooling is something that I've been toying around with for a while, but now that it's here, I'm feeling overwhelmed by my choices of things to do. And my son is only FOUR (will be five in January). I need someone to talk me down! :)
Basically, we decided against the public school system because (a) if you get a pre-K slot (it's a lottery system), it is a full day and we felt like that is too much for our son (he's never done well out of the house for that long when he was in daycare and didn't even love being away for 1/2 day at Montessori school); and (b) the public schools around us are not offering what I consider to be a well-rounded education (more so as he gets older) - there is a strong focus on reading, writing, and math (good), but less on science (the background of both my husband and myself), music and art, very little outdoor time, very little "free" time, and no foreign language instruction. Basically, the curriculum seems lopsided. I understand why it's like that (we are in a city and the public schools have to educate a really broad spectrum of kids, so they want to focus on what is absolutely the most important), but it's just not what I want for my little guy. Sooooo... we're homeschooling... for now, at least.
Now onto my issues :) I'm naturally drawn to a Waldorf-type education: respect childhood, lots of outdoor play, heavy emphasis on nature, nurturing the soul. That all really appeals to me. But there are some things that turn me off. First, I get this sense that it's almost an unattainable level of perfection (zero screen time, all wood toys, no action figures, etc.) that does not really jive with the reality of our lives. Even if we could create such an environment at our home, we are very close to family and friends who do not/cannot/will not create the same environment at their homes. And I don't want them to.
And related to that, Waldorf has this sort of doctrinal way of doing everything. E.g., they don't just encourage painting, it has to be wet-on-wet painting; not just drawing/coloring, but using block beeswax crayons. All of these things require us to buy extra *stuff*. It's all lovely stuff, but it's still more stuff. Can't we just use what we have?
Second, although I like the emphasis on arts/crafts, I am not naturally very artistically inclined. So... I'm feeling a little bit of anxiety about what to do with that. I really really would like my son to be exposed to fine arts, but it is definitely my weakest area.
So then I think, maybe we (I) should just scrap this "pure Waldorf" thing and do the best I can. But I would like *some* guidelines of stuff to do. So then I'm looking at Ambelside Online and Little Acorn and Letter of the Week and Sonlight and Calvert and Oak Meadow, and on and on and on. And I'm realizing OHMYGOD these all have things that I like and where do I start and AAAK. (BTW, I'm Catholic, but not really that religious, so although I like the idea of Sonlight's literature-based curriculum, I'm not wild about the whole God thing. And I'm realizing I don't even know which of the others are religious at all! Geeze. Talk about starting from zero!)
And now I'm back where I started. I'm overwhelmed. In some ways, I think this would be easier if my son was older and I just had "stuff" to "teach." (I'm definitely not inclined towards unschooling as my kids get older.) Now I have no plan, no goals and I'm not sure that I even need any plans or goals, but I'm feeling like I'm floundering without them.
Thanks for reading my novel. Have any of you had these feelings? What are you doing? Will this all get better as we start the year? How will I/can I/should I choose a curriculum/decide what to do? Any words of wisdom for the new girl?