Friday, October 22, 2010

an update...or peace rediscovered. :)

last week i posted that we were having a bit of a time lately, not only with our lessons, but with life in general.

after a long & emotional talk with my sister, who you'll remember recently moved in with us, i took some time *off* to think & breathe, to ponder & reflect...

*off* is a relative word, of course, but it with many other things...the thought & the mindfulness that counts.

it began slowly, but gradually i began to shed things, little by share trust & to have faith. to *truly* believe that if i follow my heart, while keeping our family @ my heart's center that everything else will fall into place.

one huge 'obstacle' that i had to face was prioritizing my life & not only what i am involved in, but to what extent i am involved. because the fact is that everything i do is important to me because it involves our family & every bit is as crucial as the next. but just because something is important, doesn't mean that i have to do it on my own.
as the days passed, i tried to really assess where i am right now, where we are, what is most important & where i want our journey to lead.
we resumed our daily walks & spent time in nature...exploring, hunting & gathering, playing in puddles, etc...(& without me watching the clock to make sure that we were home "in time for lessons").

i had to realize the difference between what i want & what our family needs. what good is following the beautiful path of waldorf homeschooling (to the letter), if my family is suffering because of it.
i love waldorf, i do...i love the holistic approach of its educational philosophy. i love its base in the natural world & blessings unto mother nature. i love the stories chosen to mirror the inner growth of the child as they grow & develop each year. i love all the crafting & cooking, the wet-on-wet watercolor painting. it is all so beautiful & soulful.

however, i also realize that this method of homeschooling is extremely intensive on the part of the parent-teacher. memorizing all of the stories, coming up with imaginative ways to incorporate various themes into the math lessons, finding coordinating craft/handwork lessons to go with each, etc. all of which i did this past summer...all of our homeschooling plans for the year are done & in my planner. so, it is not a matter of finding the time to put together our lessons, it is more a matter of the lessons are being met with resistance.

what this means to me, right now, is that this is not my feels forced & it feels like the wrong path. our younger two are no longer willing to stand by as we work through our lessons, nor do they especially want to be involved as they once did. they are craving time with mama & with brother, family time...they want to be acknowledged & loved & to be front & center, no more waiting on the wayside.

this was a hard step to i first, as most moms would i think, took it personally.

but this isn't about me, it is about our family.

so, i came up with a compromise...i cut out all of the "extras" of our homeschooling & stripped our lessons down to the bare-bones. reading, writing (aydin keeps a daily journal), spelling (spelling words come from his journaling), and math (i broke out a huge standard issue, north carolina, grade 2 math workbook that we had been given & began teaching to that).

we still enjoy the stories, but as a family @ rest time/bedtime...

this made a tremendous difference. and the amazing thing is that we wound up doing a lot of the other anyway. not as preplanned lessons as before, but because that is where our day led.

we made a lovely felt garland out of sweater scraps, we baked granola & other goodies.
we painted gorgeous fall pictures inspired by our walks.
we read books that had been gathering dust on the shelves, as they weren't ones used in our lessons. we began working through the math book & aydin was eating it all up!

lessons went much faster & easier. i would write his lessons on the board in list form, as before, but he began to start of them without being prodded/reminded. it was so very nice!

and we had so very much free time left for meandering...:)

on the co-op front, i have begun to take other mamas up on their offers to help out. sammi & i are still teaching the upcoming spanish class. but i have passed along the title of group contact & new member 'de-brief-er' to another mama. we are having a dia de los muertos/fall festival next tuesday to kick off our second session. we are all collaborating on a traditional potluck feast, each family bringing a dish that was a favorite of a loved one who has passed on & sammi & i are each baking one of the more traditional dishes. we are going to have craft tables set up & this past tuesday i passed out little craft kits to each family to assemble before our celebration.

it felt a bit off @ first, but in the end i think everyone appreciates being able to play a part in the festivities & i know that i won't be stressing to get it all done in time. it feels good...

so, long story short, we are well on our way. our days, our path is again peaceful...i feel that i am again doing right by our young brood & i have no qualms in letting a little bit of what i had previously thought *necessary* go.

much love to both you & your families as you discover your own life path...xoxo.


  1. Jesse - I am so happy for you, because I really think that you are actually being more faithful to what is really important. A lot of the rigorous rules that are Waldorf are a result of interpretation and not directly what Steiner intended. When he would visit a class and pull a student aside, he wouldn't ask what their favorite subject was or what they learned that day...he would ask,

    "Do you love your teacher?"

    To me, THAT says it all. This should be about relationships and nurturing them. It should never be an assembly line, which is how it sometimes feels to me (a check list). I've been deep in reflection, as well, over the fact that by trying to cram in so much, it is taking a lot of the fun out of the equation. That is one thing I never felt quite right about as waldorf inspired homeschoolers. We are forgetting that we are moms teaching from our hearts at home. So often, I don't get to foreign language or music lessons formally. It's OK to let go and allow yourself those moments to let the learning and life appreciation to just take place organically.

    Sounds to me like you are doing an amazing job, Mama. And your sister was more than a blessing. She was an angel with a message that you are in tuned enough to receive and act on, which is also a beautiful sign of wisdom. Well done!


  2. What you wrote sounds so very wise, we homeschool so we can tailor the education to our children and our families but we don't need to be a slave to the plan/method/pedagogy IMO. I am so new to Waldorf so I do not know of the pressure you feel. I know I feel some with regards to what public school is doing but I cannot make my child unhappy to finish things on a set timeline. I am just reading the Waldorf stories as I did not know I *should* memorize them. I am blissfully ignorant, really. The word "should" should not be in our vocabulary. :) Imperfectly perfect is my motto after having the Charlotte Mason idea of "perfection" ringing in my ears. I just can't do it! Are the children happy and thriving? That is all that matters. Hugs, Cori

  3. wello done Mama, thanks for sharing such wise words, being true to yourself and your family is the most important thing, deep respect to you for stopping, taking time and doing just that.
    love the photos and your wonderful creations xx
    happy days xx

  4. I love reading your blog very much and am so happy you feel you have rediscovered your peace. I too have four little ones and find it can be easy to feel overwhelmed at times wanting to incorporate so much into what we do. I really, really hear you! Such beautiful, happy pictures of your little ones. Blessings to you and your family, dear mama.
    Best wishes

  5. Hi Jesse,
    I think you are wise to take a step back and breathe and reflect on what is working for your family. I think we all need to do this regularly, it's part of the process. I struggle with the vision vs the reality and the "should be doing" vs what ds want to be doing.

    One of the things I remind myself is that in the Waldorf schools the class teacher does not teach all subjects. Often just main lesson. In our local school they have a handwork teacher, language teacher, music teacher, eurythmy teacher, gymnastics teacher. The class teacher doesn't have to "do it all" AND be chief cook and bottle washer.

    I think our children just want (need) us to be present for them. That's the priority. Good for you for seeing that.


  6. All I have to say is: good for you! Different things work for us at different times... it takes courage to admit we need a break or to do something different. Following a teaching style to the letter is definitely not as important as a happy family. I wish you continued happiness!

  7. thank you all so much (as always!), for all the love & encouragment.

  8. What an honest beautiful post.
    Your little ones are lucky to have a mama who can listen to the wants/needs of her family and change with them.
    "Waldorf" ed is not something that has to be followed exactly...sounds like you've learned that.
    Those watercolors are gorgeous.

  9. Dear blueskydragonflies,

    I know i'm a tad late to comment on this post, but I wanted to let you know how much this comforted me. I am a mother to 3 boys whom have never entered school. We have been following Donna's Christopherus Waldorf homeschool since first grade and my eldest is now in 5th. I, too, have been trying to balance the beautiful waldorf curriculum into our daily lives but have been feeling overwhelmed, tired by all the preparations, sometimes lacking support. After much inner thought, I also have decided to shorten our daily lessons and only focus on the main lesson. Our days have become much less stressful, and to my surprise we seem to be crafting and cooking more then when we followed the program. I am inspired by life learning and I think this may be just life's way of guiding me towards what my soul truly wants. I now don't force myself to complete a block because it's what i'm 'supposed' to do, I take the time and space to reflect when things don't run so smoothly, and life seems to compensate me with the answers in due time. It's truly magical.
    I thank you again for showing such authenticity. I am grateful.