Ugh - I was in the middle of a long post and this stupid computer backed out of the page.
Anyways, take two. I am looking at Enki and Christopherus. Please help me with this tough decision making process if you have the experience, time, and inclination to do so. I'm feeling a bit flummoxed.
I've spent the last two years doing Kindergarten with my son who will be seven this summer. My inital plan wasn't to do Kindy for two years, but after moving him to first grade last fall I quickly realized that developmentally he was still very much a kindergartener. We started with WTM/CM approaches and I added in Sonlight the second year. I also dropped quite a bit of the WTM stuff the second year. While he was at the point of decoded CVC words, his love of reading was not there. He would cry when I'd pull out the book we were using to work on reading. So we shelved that. We also shelved SOTW, which I thought he would love. But he's just not there yet and I've realized that I want more magic for him in childhood. He has so many years to learn academic material. I'd prefer for him to spend his time now wondering, exploring, imagining, creating, and moving.
So that has led me to looking into Enki and Christopherus. I've also looked at several others, such as Earthschooling and ALGF, but it seems that Enki and Christopherus have the richness and fullness that I want. Of course I haven't actually seen these programs, but after reading through many posts and perusing many websites, these are the two programs that I keep coming back to time and again.
Here's a little about my home. We have a very busy home. I've been running a full-time home daycare supporting my hubby through nursing school. He will be graduating this spring and I will be closing my daycare. This fall I will begin grad studies and a graduate assistantship. I have no idea of my schedule yet and will not find out until sometime this summer. My husband and I will share homeschooling responsibilities next year so that I can concentrate on my grad studies as needed. I am wondering if these programs will be difficult to tag team with. It's made me consider whether or not I should pick something more open and go, such as Oak Meadow. But I'm really not sure that's what I'm looking for.
Here's a bit about my son. He's a bright, curious, bouncy seven year old. His bounce level might be a tad above his peers. We suspect ADHD - his dad has ADHD and we see some signs. Most notably his impulse control is not at the level that most of his peers are at. Also, he seems to struggle with sensory processing at times. He is easily overstimulated. He is very drawn to tactile sensory play. However, he is avoidant of loud noises. He was four before he stopped crying at fireworks and five before he really could enjoy them. We took a Kindermusic class when he was a toddler and there was a song where the instructor handed out key rings with metal keys for kiddos to shake during a song. He would put his hands over his ears and cry. :( He will still occasionally put his hands over his ears when noises are too loud. As far as motor skills, he definitely struggles. He was four before he learned to jump with both feet leaving the ground. His fine motor skills struggle but are coming along. After observing him for so many years, I am certain there is nothing physically wrong with him. I believe that neurologically he has trouble with coordinating motor movements. So I am drawn to Beth's sensory integration component to Enki as I am to Donna's movement component to her waldorf program. I believe either one could possibly help. Anyone have thoughts one way or the other on what could be a better fit for him?
As far as scheduling with Enki goes, I've heard that the material can be overwhelming at first. If we go with Enki I'd like to get the materials asap and start reading through the guides and then immediately launch into reading through and selecting material once I'm done with those. I have the summer and perhaps beyond because there are still many books from the Sonlight program that I wouldn't mind finishing with him. We like that part of what we're doing right now. ;) So my plan would be to select all materials and create a schedule over the summer once I know what my husband and my schedule is going to be. Now with Christopherus, it doesn't seem that I would have to do as much other than reading through the materials and gaining a grasp of how to go about implementing the program that is set forth - is that correct?
Also, cost wise, I'm not sure there's much of a difference. Enki does seem more expensive at the outset, but when I look at Christopherus and then think of adding other resources that would help me to understand aspects of the program, we don't get all the way to $700, but it comes close. Also, realistically with both Enki and Christopherus there will be art/craft/materials cost. What is a realistic amount to consider for Enki? For Christopherus? It's possible that this decision could come down to finances as we don't have much with hubby being a student for the past four years and my getting ready to close my business and become a student.
Also, as far as Christopherus or Enki, did your spouses buy into the philosophy at all. My husband is in love with the tv. He likes the background noise - drives me crazy. He has to watch movies all the time. This is not something he's going to give up. I am not as into it as he is, but I do have a few shows that I watch. I honestly don't see this changing. I think trying to change this in our house would just create a ton of conflict. So do you think that will ruin the environment that we would be trying to create with Christopherus or Enki?
I am a bit unsure on math. We did Essential Math from Singapore Math and Miquon Orange book - still working through them now - but he does really well with those resources. I had already ordered Singapore 1A in anticipation of going through that with him next year. So at this point I'm thinking I will keep it on hand and supplement if he seems bored with the math as presented in Christopherus or Enki. I'm not opposed to slowing down though as Singapore makes a leap from manipulatives to mental process within the 1A and 1B books at some point and I'd rather make sure he's fully ready for that than push him forward only for him to hit a wall and feel defeated with something that he is currently confident with. Has anyone ever supplemented math in Christopherus or Enki? Was it a big problem to fit that in?
With Christopherus it's hard to tell what topics within the subjects are covered in the elementary grades. Is there a good way to find that information? With Enki, I'm not entirely sure on what I'd be getting. There are samples, but it's really hard to get a good feel for what I'm going to get. Can anyone describe in detail what actually comes in the box?
My son loves painting, building with blocks and legos, singing and dancing (especially if it's his own song), poetry, fairytales, stories, digging in the dirt, riding his bike, playing sports, rearranging the furniture in the family room, cooking, playing superheroes (especially ones that are jumping off of the furniture), open ended art projects, routine (both daily and weekly - loves to know when things are going to happen), loading the breadmaker. When I asked him what he wanted in school he said to play the guitar, piano, and drums. We started recorder last year and plan to pick it up again hopefully soon. I plan to start teaching him piano this year. We did an art lab book last year - only got through a bit of it before it fell by the wayside, but I've really liked it. It's obviously a very different approach from Waldorf or Enki, but I LOVE seeing him get into creating art. He has said that he'd like to be an artist when he's older - along with Captain America. :) Things he hates right now are learning to read, listening to history lessons, narrating stories (only had a few attempts last year before we gave up SOTW and he hated it). He loves math and his phonics workbook, but his attention span is very very short for those things. He also loves to work on handwriting.
Overall I want more. I want more building. More creating. More artistic endeavors. I want him to try handiwork. More cooking/baking projects. More movement oriented ideas. More games that teach. Less desk sitting for him - it's just not the right approach for him. It's not what I want for my precious little boy.
So HELP!! Can anyone shed light on this for me? The level to which I'm going back and forth has not caused my brain to explode, but it might at some point if I keep this up. So for my neurological health, please lend me your knowledge and experience!!
Haha - well, I'm replying to my own post. I'm hoping there's some mamas out there that can give me some good information soon! One concern that I really have with Enki is the return policy. According to the policy I read in the Google group, you're not even allowed to return it if you remove the items from the shrink wrap. I just don't understand. Any other currriculum I could order, I'd get to look through the materials and make sure they vibed with me and return if they didn't. So there is just no opportunity for me to look at and handle the materials? I'm a very visual person and handling the materials will help me get a feel for whether or not it's the right curriculum. I really really think Enki could be it, but that's a lot of money to be out if it isn't. I know that it costs Enki money for materials to be returned and such, but considering their policy is so far out in left field from what other homeschooling curriculums are doing, it makes me wonder about the stability of Enki. Is Enki that hard up for money that paying to re shrink wrap returned materials would break them?? I'm not saying that to be rude. I'm really really honestly wondering here. I don't want to purchase materials and have the whole curriculum go under and then have no access to the curriculum that follows. Although if the curriculum went under, then I guess people would be able to sell their used stuff. Anyways, that's a tangent. It really just does have me scratching my head. I wish there was an Enki person close by so that I could physically see and handle the materials, but I don't think there is one that I know of anyways. For those that purchased Enki, were you concerned about this when you bought your stuff? Did you just decide to go for it anyways and kind of hold your breath that the curriculum was right for you? Has anyone bought it and wished they could return it?
I really wonder if Enki might be the better fit because I like that it's not all teacher led. Eventually I do want our children to take on more direction and responsibility for their education - in the middle school years would be when I'd probably want to start transitioning. I don't know if Christopherus would still continue to be teacher led in those years? I've thought that maybe we'd switch to Oak Meadow or Sonlight once we're ready to head that direction. But I really want the richness and magic to be there in the early years via Enki or Christopherus.
Anyways, I'm continuing to ramble here. So hopefully someone will have some direction or suggestions for me!
swimming-duck - I've got few moments here!
First, I've appreciated reading your posts on the threads and think the depth and breadth of your vulnerability and questions reflect such passion for giving the very best to your sweet boy. You remind me of parts of me when I felt a bit "all over the place", yet intuitively clear on many levels. I kept searching for the best nuggets in as many approaches and curriculums I could get my hands on, trying to create my own.
I've been at this "home schooling exploration thing" for 10 yrs since being pregnant with my 9yr old son. I have settled into Enki and have had the ability to compare it to others due to being exposed for a long time - I've used Christopherous primarily, along with Earthschooling and Live Ed. And I've closely looked at other popular ones and have a library of Waldorf books a mile high it seems. I'm also familiar with Sonlight, Charlottle Mason, etc.
My intro to the Waldorf approach, after reading for a number of years, was being able to sit in classrooms and observe all the grades in a Waldorf school for about a year. Being a Family Therapist, specializing in trauma and child development, I watched closely for how the children were being met developmentally. Then I had the privilege of spending time with a Waldorf master-teacher-mentor, Else Gottgens (she wrote Waldorf Education in Practice: Exploring How Children Learn in the Lower Grades) who was in her late 80s at the time. She accepted her first class in 1941 in the Netherlands. Boy, does she have a legacy in Waldorf education.
She was the first to make it clear to me the difference between looking for content versus what is "essential" (or the real goal behind whatever I'm doing in a lesson). I was frustrated for a time with all my knowledge/experience getting in the way to what she was describing as far more simple in pin-pointing what a child needs in academic development and in each lesson. She spoke more of a process of observing to determine what the child needs, not only to my knowledge of subject content or even to childhood development.
I applied this growing understanding to each of the home school curriculums and it was helpful, shedding more light. I now lovingly look at my Christopherous materials and have such gratitude for Donna. She really was the one that gently moved me into the Waldorf home schooling world. Then I took the plunge into Enki for many reasons (I have it detailed in my post on the "Enki Familes- Check in here" thread in which I responded to another question) 9mths ago and have worked with Grades 1-3 materials.
I now see that my experience with Christopherous was sticking my toe into the ocean. It got me wet. I feel like I'm now exploring the floor of the ocean 500 feet deep, seeing new landscapes and turning every corner to find ah-ha experiences that illuminate what is "essential" and that allows me to find the center of what I'm trying to do with my son. One that reflects a larger legacy I want to leave him regarding what kind of a person he is to become and what will build qualities that will carry him through his life with grace in a challenging world.
Yes, you're accurately noticing that Christopherous is lighter in structure. It is about 1/10 the physical materials. It is 1/10th the materials because it is not designed to give a lot of options to customize a plan for different needs and Enki adds reflex/brain/body movement, culture, music and dance materials that Christopherous does not. Enki has a rich library to pick from for every "essential" need for a subject. The DVDs and CDs show everything (something I needed).
You could do Christopherous and have a positive experience I believe. It sounds like though you're more aware of the in-depth needs of your son that I can say Christopherous does not address and it is not intended to. It is a bare-bones framework and it's strength is that it is nicely organized and is there for folks who want a Waldorf curriculum without some of the anthroposophical rigidity and time consuming effort to customize with a library of options. In my opinion, Enki carries the best of the Waldorf world and mixes it with other approaches that are supportive of what is "essential" to the unique needs of every child and family for the deeper long term goals of a child's life.
Another strength of Enki you may find is that it can help you maneuver through a time of limited time and energy, addressing how to meet the needs of all family members and create a pathway through tough times. I'm thinking of your upcoming graduate school desires. You will likely need the time this summer to get oriented to prevent overwhelm if you attempt both. I'm finding quality home schooling follows the adage "you get what you put into it", much like there are no short-cuts in attachment parenting. I find myself evaluating every day whether my long term goals are being supported by my daily decisions. There are seasons for different needs. This is a constant challenge for me.
If you haven't taken a look at the Tea videos or joined the Enki Experience group (both accessed through the enkieducation.org) I recommend it. The "Enki home schooling Teas" thread gives you all the links.
I agree with your comment on the other thread that simone's comment (on the "Enki Home schooling" thread) describing the details of the curriculum, is out of this world!!
Hope this helps in some way!
Thank you so much for your thoughtful response Elizabeth!
I think we might have a bit in common. The M.S. program that I'll be starting is Clinical and Community Mental Health. All of my work has been with children and I am also very concerned about how things relate back to a child's developmental stage and needs. That's where I've really had to come to grips with the fact that I like Well-Trained Mind, but that's not reason enough to use it as a curriculum for my son. Sonlight I thought would move us in a healthier direction and when compared with the WTM approach it certainly has, but there is so much seriousness to the books on a level that I don't think is right for my son's needs. So I guess exploring Waldorf and Enki is a part of my journey to find that approach that has what I'm looking for in terms of truly supporting me in meeting the needs of my son to the best of my abilities.
I really think that the sensory integration component that Enki offers is what will really make a difference with my son.
At this point I feel like I've gleaned all I can from forums, reviews, etc...and have moved into a pre-purchase consultation. I don't know that I can afford the program and I'm still worried about making this work with graduate school, but at this point I feel compelled to at least do the consultation. If it turns out to be the right fit for us, I will look into their scholarship options and hope that is an option for us. My consultation is next week, so I'll use the time to gather questions as well as jot a list of things I really would like to discuss in order to gauge whether or not Enki is right for us.
Anyways, thank you so much for all of your insight.