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?
He's only 4, so this is still a year of mostly play. I'd recommend lots of time reading to him. Magic School Bus picture books are fun ways to introduce science topics. Helping with baking let's him learn measuring. I'm sure there will be many more posts from the experienced moms. In the meantime, I hope you can relax. Four is a fun age.
Hey, OP, I could have posted the same thing! Except I have one 5 yr old and one 6 1/2 yr old. They were in a montessori school last year but it's pretty well out of our budget now.
I'm using Shiller math curriculum because it's "montessori style" and I really appreciate the montessori math curriculum. I'm going to fill in with other montessori math activities.
I looooove the art-emphasis of waldorf, but I, too, am stronger in science, not so good on the art. I like art, but I don't feel that it's my strong suit. I ended up going with "meet the masters" for art - at least we're going to try it out and see how it goes.
Looking forward to what other posters have to say...
Jenna ~ mommy to Sophia Elise (1/06), Oliver Matthew (7/07) and Avery Michael (3/10)
Wading slowly and nervously into this homeschooling thing.
OP, I had felt the same way a year ago when we began with my middle daughter- a kindergartener. I researched myself silly. I bought several (many) things that SOUNDED good, but realistically do not fit our way of life or way of homeschooling. A year later, I am allowing us to take a little from here and there. And "not do" a lot. I am getting much better at "not doing." :-)
Yes, Waldorf is lovely. Start incorporating a little bit (maybe fairy tales and wet on wet painting) and go from there. I have found that I don't fully subscribe to any methodology. We like science a lot, so we talk about science. We think writing should be tidy, so we sometimes work on that. She likes history, so we picked up Story of the World.
Think about this-- kids in school are there for 35 hours a week. Then look up what your school system thinks they should know by the end of kindergarten. It is so little! Mom can say, spontaneously, "let's make the letter B with stickers!" and you have accomplished what it took that poor public school teacher a WEEK to do with 20 kids.
Go to the library, pick out whatever, go home and make a sandwich, then go outside and play. Hooray, kindergarten!
Enjoying my DDs: 11/95, 06/06, 04/08, and DS (!?!) 9/16 . Married to my soulmate.
Got to admit it's getting better, getting better all the time.
This is encouraging to hear. My son is only 3 1/2..4 in december, and we are sort of homeschooling I guess..no preschool or anything..we are just learning by day to day, and I feel like I'm not doing enough. Today we went on a walk and talked about the various shapes of objects we found..he learned that a stop sign is an octogon, a chilren playing sign is a rectangle and a turn ahead sign is a diamond...then we found some 3d shapes, cylinder, sphere, etc. It was fun..and at the same time we looked for different bugs, animals, leaves, butterflies, things like that. I explained the difference between two different types of caterpillars, and so on. When we came home, we cut out shapes and made an ice cream cone out of construction paper. He's also been using starfall.com(I have the paid version) and learning all sorts of things. He's really into shapes right now and I'm just sort of running with that! I guess I'm just doing what comes naturally rather than following a timeline of what he should know when according to public schools. I intend to continue on homeschooling, even though it's hard right now with an active 16 month old as well. My house is always trashed! But every day I pray and ask God to guide me in the right direction, and every day I still feel led to keep my kid at home :)
DH(9/04) DS(12/08) and DD(5/11)
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