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#1 of 15 Old 01-12-2014, 10:51 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi all-
We are in our first year of home schooling and are working through a charter. The charter is super flexible and work with families using all sorts if curriculum, or even unschooling. I have 2 other small children at home and feel pretty overwhelmed most of the time. I have ended up using singapore for math, explode the code, handwriting without tears and bob books. We also do art projects based on time of year and lots of outdoor stuff. I feel I have to force dd to do the seat work ( which dh requires for us to hs). I want it to be fun and more waldorfy, but I am at a loss and feel so strapped for time already and am so tured at the end of the day that I dont plan and read or anything. Any tips?

SAHM to Chloe«- 6/2008 (10 lbs, 5 oz), Hannah- 9/2010 (9 lbs, 12 oz), Liam- 2/2013 (9 lbs, 6 oz)

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#2 of 15 Old 01-12-2014, 12:16 PM
 
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Kindergarten shouldn't be so intensive.  Persoanlly, I don't think that kindergarten should look any different from the year before.  IMO, kindy prepares kids for *school*, though now that kindy is more like 1st grade, preschool covers that territory for most school-bound kids.  Especially if you have littles in tow, this is a good year just introduce rhythm, if it's not there and you plan to be even a little formal in your homeschooling methods.

 

I think if you have in mind what your goals are, I would first see what is being covered in the course of a regular day.  That might save you a lot of worry and headaches.  Watch and record what is already happening without any intervention from you.  I'll bet there is a fair amount of those subjects incorporated into his own play and your time together with him.

 

Handwriting would not be part of a Waldorf kindy curriculum, neither would math.  Stories (mainly oral, but our local Waldorf lets the kids read through picture books), art, songs, imaginary play, doll and puppet play, working along side adults in the regular activities of the day, especially those that involve rhythm: sweeping, washing and drying dishes, etc.  Creating small rituals for meals.  That is the core of Waldorf kindergarten.

 

If you want to work on some foundational skills in preparation for handwriting, etc., make sure you have block crayons, blocks, paints, wax and clay.  Wooden cuisenaire rods to play with and explore with will encourage thinking mathematically, as will wooden "pattern blocks" that we call "picture blocks" (we lay them out on a yoga mat for no-slip creations).  

 

Waldorf kindergartens will have nature tables that reflect the seasons (often with a couple of tiny handmade gnomes to play in it).  Outdoor time is integral.  There is no "desk time" in a Waldorf kindergarten, and even though my family is not particularly "Waldorf-y", I am somewhat in alignment with their philosophy of delaying academics.  

 

I hesitate to say "buy this" after you've bought so many curriculi, but check out For Small Hands, a Montessori catalog that has an amazing array of child-size items for everyday work.


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#3 of 15 Old 01-12-2014, 07:34 PM
 
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How much time do you spend per day on seatwork?  You ought to be able to teach everything your child would be learning in school with maybe half an hour a day of seat time at most.  Maybe a bit more if you count art projects, but hopefully the art projects are fun for your kid and aren't something you have to force her to do.  (If they aren't fun, I would drop them entirely.)  If you're trying for more seat time than that, I'd suggest cutting back to see if that makes things less stressful. 

 

You don't necessarily have to do reading and handwriting and math every day.  You could just pick two things each day and plan to spend about 15 minutes on each.  If you really want your DD to work on handwriting, that's definitely going to require seat time, and it may be hard to come up with ways to make it fun.  But learning phonics can be done at least partly with games.  And you don't have to do it all in one big chunk of time.  You can spend a few minutes at a time on it at various points during the day - playing with alphabet magnets on the fridge, looking at letters on signs while you're out running errands, taking a minute to point out letters in a book during read-aloud time.  And kindergarten level math can easily be taught without using pencils or workbooks at all (except maybe to practice writing numerals.)  Is your main problem that you don't feel like you have the time or mental energy to figure out more fun ways for your DD to learn, or that you don't feel like you really have the option to switch to a different approach because your husband wants seatwork?  Does he really feel like your DD has to have a certain amount of seat time each day, or does he just want to make sure she learns what she would learn in school?  Hopefully you can convince him that what's important is whether learning is taking place, and that there are lots of ways for little kids to learn that don't require seatwork.

 

(You kind of make it sound like he's the boss and gets to set requirements for you.  That's not the way it should be.  Hopefully what you really mean is that the two of you have worked together to come up with a plan you could both feel okay about, and the only way he could feel okay about homeschooling was if you agreed that it would include seatwork.)

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#4 of 15 Old 01-12-2014, 08:09 PM
 
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It sounds like there's a certain amount of tension between what you know is developmentally right for your dd at this stage -- and feel is philosophically right in your heart -- and what your dh is expecting homeschooling to look like. If I were you I would try to shift your dh a little on this rather than continuing on the burn-out path you may be on. You could try a couple of strategies.

 

First, you could explain that time-and-motion studies in schools show that students get only about 15% of their time in school devoted to direct instruction, with the rest spent on administrative, organizational and behavioural issues, instructing others, and waiting. By contrast, with homeschooling the 'direct instruction' portion can be as high as 100%. So the total amount of time spent can be far less. Because homeschooling is individualized and one-on-one it is simply far more efficient and far more intensive, and to expect a child to cope with more than 30 to 45 minutes of academic homeschooling at age 5 is unrealistic and unnecessary. 

 

Second, you could point out that when children are very young are not at all suited to academic seatwork, while as tweens or teens most of them suit it very well, but there's a gradual transition, which you are happy to capitalize on and nurture. It's important to not to move too quickly in that direction, though, because that creates unrealistic expectations that are likely to undermine the success of your homeschooling. Your approach needs to proceed in a manner which is developmentally appropriate, or else it may jeopardize your child's love of learning and your own energy and enthusiasm for homeschooling. Expectations should be developmentally appropriate, and should set you up for success, not for failure.

 

See if you can get him to relax a little on the curricular expectations. My kids did nothing but experiential and interest-led learning at the KG level. No curriculum at all, though lots of rich learning opportunities came up in their lives. They ended up academically ahead of the curve despite our laid-back approach. What's crucial at the early stages of homeschooling is not the diligent use of curricular structure, or the attainment of any academic benchmarks, but preserving curiosity and enthusiasm in response to learning opportunities. School can ruin that in some kids, but so can adopting too much academic structure too soon in a homeschooling environment.

 

Miranda

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#5 of 15 Old 01-13-2014, 07:11 AM
 
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I think you need to have a frank discussion with your partner about this. If him requiring seat-work is making you miserable, don't just swallow your misery. This is Kindergarten! Does he remember Kindergarten? In the past, even IN schools, it didn't require a lot of sitting and working.

Of course, I also tend to think that what he doesn't know, won't hurt him. Just tell him there was sitting involved. You can learn the same things wiggling around and dancing...but if that works for you, what's the benefit of sitting? I'm sure at some point during the day your child will sit. lol The fasted way to make it a battle is to try to insist.
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#6 of 15 Old 01-13-2014, 08:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hey there-

 

Thanks so much for all the responses.  

 

I think my biggest problem is that I want to do so much more than I do, and I am already feeling so overwhelmed that I am just in a stand still.  DH doesn't need worksheets and seat work per say.... he just wants to make sure we are doing some academic stuff every school day.  He wants to see that we are teaching DD some of the stuff she would be learning in school, that she won't be far behind her peers.  He also likes to see that we do 'school' at around the same time and have a routine.  He doesn't actually check anything out or participate in planning at all, so most of it is my lack of planning/ organization that causes the problems I guess.

 

To me it seems that much of the waldorf/ montesorri stuff takes so much time to prepare.  I wish I could just have something like a work book to help me keep on task and know what I could do each day.  I do have the oak meadow curriculum but it is just so vague for kinder.  


SAHM to Chloe«- 6/2008 (10 lbs, 5 oz), Hannah- 9/2010 (9 lbs, 12 oz), Liam- 2/2013 (9 lbs, 6 oz)

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#7 of 15 Old 01-13-2014, 09:53 PM
 
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You could try something like Project-Based Homeschooling.  That doesn't take any pre-planning because the kid decides what to work on, but "project time" could still be a kind of regular routine.

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#8 of 15 Old 01-14-2014, 09:27 AM
 
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To me it seems that much of the waldorf/ montesorri stuff takes so much time to prepare. 

 

My understanding was always that both Montessori and Waldorf schools are trying to prepare institutional environments that re-create authentic family life. Montessori's methods were originally developed for institutionalized children, so many of the activities are replacements for real-life experiences that at-home 5-year-olds would naturally have already got: sweeping and sorting and pouring and fastening and the like. With Waldorf it's an attempt to re-create the rhythm and flow of daily family life in proximity to the natural world but within a classroom. Now, I realize there is more to both approaches than just that, but I do think it's important not to get caught up in trying to re-create a re-creation of what you already have: a daily rhythm of family life (getting up, getting dressed, having breakfast, spending some quiet time playing) and real-life experiences (sorting laundry, pulling weeds out of a herb garden, putting away dishes, sweeping crumbs off the dining table, raking leaves, refilling the cat's water bowl). If you're homeschooling you probably already have a lot of Montessori and Waldorf principles in action, because you have daily life going on as an integrated part of your educational environment. 

 

All of which is to say that you might feel less stressed about the "prepared environment and prepared learning activities" if instead you spent some energy noticing how your family life and daily household work already "cover" much of what is expected from those environments and activities. 

 

I agree that project-based homeschooling might be a good way to add a bit more rhythm and sense of purpose to your days. Mostly, however, I'd suggest spending less time worrying about lack of preparation ahead of time and instead put more energy into noticing after the fact how much natural learning and natural flow is already happening.

 

Miranda


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#9 of 15 Old 01-14-2014, 10:27 AM
 
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 I'd suggest spending less time worrying about lack of preparation ahead of time and instead put more energy into noticing after the fact how much natural learning and natural flow is already happening.

 

Miranda

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#10 of 15 Old 01-14-2014, 01:58 PM
 
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What does your routine look like right now? Maybe we can help you work on it.


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13yo ds   10yo dd  8yo ds and 6yo ds and 1yo ds  
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#11 of 15 Old 01-15-2014, 01:43 PM
 
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I am having the same issues as you are with tiredness and not knowing what to do. My husband is helping me homeschool DS on the 2 days a week he is home from work. We school in very different ways so we are clashing right now. I have very much enjoyed reading the replies here and I am going to put some of it into practice. I don't really know if this is going to help you but this is what I am starting with for my DS and I hope to improve on it over time.

 

Wake up

Breakfast (I have just started a rule in the house that DS has to ask to be excused from the table and also has to clear his place when he is finished eating, so far its going great!)

Morning routine - get dressed, brush hair and teeth, make beds

School - we do one letter a day right now (I have only been actively "schooling" him for about 2 weeks, we are on letter G today. I have a cookbook that my brother got from a sunday school teacher in 1987 that does a recipe for each letter, so we made apple crisp for A, banana bread for B, Choc Chip cookies for C.) He learns to write that same letter, then we read a book that starts with that letter. We name objects that start with the letter of the day. We play a game if we have time to or he gets to play on his own for a while. Like on "B" day he played with his building blocks that were blue.

 

Then we move on and clean a bit of the house then I have to start my work (I work from home).

I want so bad to incorporate more play and outside time into this but I am at a loss of how to do so. I feel good knowing I am teaching him SOMETHING but I also feel like a failure because main stream media and even people tell me how much more he would learn in school. I don't know I am doing the best I can.

 

I don't know if this helps, probably doesn't but I just wanted you to know that you are not alone, I am also lost right now on how to make school fun and happy and still keep the husband happy and the baby happy (I have a 13 month old), and still sleep and have time for me.

 

I am thinking about adding in one library day a week but we are already stretched so thin in the day. I am also looking for a non-religious homeschooling group in my area because I think if I had someone to talk to about this in real life and had someone that I could go see and let the kids play I would be so much happier but as it is I have no mommy friends and have had no luck finding a group.

 

Good Luck!!! You can do it!

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#12 of 15 Old 01-15-2014, 02:14 PM
 
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How about creating or purchasing a chalkboard wall/standing easel for her to practice her skills.  This way, you can do "seat work" while standing, and with using different materials (chalk instead of pencils/crayons).  This, and possibly a white board (less of a waldorf style staple), could add variety in location of said seat work, and would allow you to feel better about it.  Do you usually sit with her for the duration of seat work, or just help guide her to stay on task by checking on her a lot?  I know it's REALLY hard for me to stay seated with our little ones running around.  That is one thing I have most difficulty with when working with my 8, 9, and 12yo children because the younger ones (1.5, 4, and 5 year old) are not able to sit for long periods at all.  Do you have any stations set up for manipulative work?  Sand box, water play, clay.. etc?  Any tips for me on that end?  I'm trying to figure out how to create something like that in our home.  

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#13 of 15 Old 01-15-2014, 02:15 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Chloe'sMama View Post

Hi all-
We are in our first year of home schooling and are working through a charter. The charter is super flexible and work with families using all sorts if curriculum, or even unschooling. I have 2 other small children at home and feel pretty overwhelmed most of the time. I have ended up using singapore for math, explode the code, handwriting without tears and bob books. We also do art projects based on time of year and lots of outdoor stuff. I feel I have to force dd to do the seat work ( which dh requires for us to hs). I want it to be fun and more waldorfy, but I am at a loss and feel so strapped for time already and am so tured at the end of the day that I dont plan and read or anything. Any tips?

How about creating or purchasing a chalkboard wall/standing easel for her to practice her skills.  This way, you can do "seat work" while standing, and with using different materials (chalk instead of pencils/crayons).  This, and possibly a white board (less of a waldorf style staple), could add variety in location of said seat work, and would allow you to feel better about it.  Do you usually sit with her for the duration of seat work, or just help guide her to stay on task by checking on her a lot?  I know it's REALLY hard for me to stay seated with our little ones running around.  That is one thing I have most difficulty with when working with my 8, 9, and 12yo children because the younger ones (1.5, 4, and 5 year old) are not able to sit for long periods at all.  Do you have any stations set up for manipulative work?  Sand box, water play, clay.. etc?  Any tips for me on that end?  I'm trying to figure out how to create something like that in our home.  

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#14 of 15 Old 01-17-2014, 10:23 AM
 
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According to what I've read about early Waldorf education, Rudolph Steiner did not directly address kindergarten.  That was left to later followers of his philosophy.  Younger years were just focussing on the daily life of family and the yearly rhythms of community.

 

Build your day around the idea of "breath".  Alternate the active with the reflective.  Every day activities are your "curriculum"-- from the preparing of dinner to setting the table, lighting the candles and giving thanks.  This is the heart and soul of Waldorf, in my opinion.  The "preparation" is just the living of your day, infused with intention and bringing the children into the rhythm with you.  It is so simple and beautiful.  The stories and the art and music, exploration of nature, the openness of play and the tactile richness of the surroundings, are secondary.  The other aspects-- the singsong voices of teachers, the philosophy of colors and crystallization of the intellect, etc., that to me is tertiary.  Waldorf instructors would say it was integral, but if you are looking to Waldorf for inspiration, not so much a lifestyle, the rhythm** and the intention are the core.

 

Follow the first, and it should require no preparation at all, only intention.

 

**ETA: Not just rhythm as in "routine", also meaning physical rhythm.  Handwashing dishes instead of putting them in the dishwasher, sweeping instead of vacuuming, kneading bread instead of loading up the bread machine.  These have a physical rhythm that is comforting.  Handsewing, knitting.  Gone are the rhythms of churning butter, milking cows, and tilling fields, chopping wood with axes instead of chainsaws (that wouldn't be kid-friendly, I'm just including it).  Oops, I think I'm getting far afield of the OP.  Sorry.  Just getting philosophical.


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#15 of 15 Old 01-17-2014, 11:47 AM
 
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According to what I've read about early Waldorf education, Rudolph Steiner did not directly address kindergarten.  That was left to later followers of his philosophy.  Younger years were just focussing on the daily life of family and the yearly rhythms of community.

 

Build your day around the idea of "breath".  Alternate the active with the reflective.  Every day activities are your "curriculum"-- from the preparing of dinner to setting the table, lighting the candles and giving thanks.  This is the heart and soul of Waldorf, in my opinion.  The "preparation" is just the living of your day, infused with intention and bringing the children into the rhythm with you.  It is so simple and beautiful.  The stories and the art and music, exploration of nature, the openness of play and the tactile richness of the surroundings, are secondary.  The other aspects-- the singsong voices of teachers, the philosophy of colors and crystallization of the intellect, etc., that to me is tertiary.  Waldorf instructors would say it was integral, but if you are looking to Waldorf for inspiration, not so much a lifestyle, the rhythm** and the intention are the core.

 

Follow the first, and it should require no preparation at all, only intention.

 

**ETA: Not just rhythm as in "routine", also meaning physical rhythm.  Handwashing dishes instead of putting them in the dishwasher, sweeping instead of vacuuming, kneading bread instead of loading up the bread machine.  These have a physical rhythm that is comforting.  Handsewing, knitting.  Gone are the rhythms of churning butter, milking cows, and tilling fields, chopping wood with axes instead of chainsaws (that wouldn't be kid-friendly, I'm just including it).  Oops, I think I'm getting far afield of the OP.  Sorry.  Just getting philosophical.

Awe, that is beautiful.  I needed this reminder.  Although, I think what I really need right now is a way back into a positive rhythm with my children.  Our days have become so boring.  It may be the slow breath of the bitter cold wind this winter, but I'm ready for spring!

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