Homeschooling: It's not what we do, it's how we live.

Thoughts on Meshing Homeschool Philosophies & Styles

Maybe this is bad form, and if so then I will apologize in advance. I am going to comment in my blog on another blog’s post. I have a small readership, and it’s not my intent to start a discussion about it; I just wanted to voice my thoughts on why we do things the way we do.

I guess I have the opposite issue – my question is, “Why limit yourself to ONLY one style?” There are so many wonderful things about almost all methods – and IF you have the right kind of personality, you can happily and easily incorporate different aspects of different methods into your day/week/month or whatever schedule you use. I don’t want to invest a ton of time or money into one method and then find that it doesn’t work for my kids or meet our academic expectations. I tend to get bored quickly and so do my boys, so having something new up my sleeve to change things up a bit is always a plus. If one day, attention is high and distractions are low, we may use more traditional methods or lessons. If attention is hyper-focused or scattered then we may use more child-directed methods, or abandon curriculum altogether and do something that doesn’t at all seem like “school”… but over it all are my husband and I paying attention, making notes and guiding little hands and minds. We’re guided by reading and researching different methods and utilizing the best method at the right time for our children, including utilizing family to teach lessons that are their strong suit 🙂

I want to address point #4 in particular. I think it’s a matter of personality. If you NEED the “structure” of one particular style then that’s great. Using only one method is best and can work well for your family if that’s what you need. Personally, I would have more trouble (and a less peaceful and happy household) trying to fit my kids into one mold, and why should I? I don’t think that our days are disorganized or our lessons are haphazardly thrown together. I put a great deal of effort into meshing the styles that work for us and making sure that our lessons are well-covered and fresh and that they are meeting my kids’ needs.

Maybe I am doing a disservice by not fully committing to any one method, and that may be a valid point in some people’s minds. But I don’ t think it’s a matter of “serving two masters”. The beauty of homeschooling is that you are NOT bound by any one method. I think that being trapped into thinking that you can (or should) only do things according to one method is falling more into a traditional educational mindset. Schools “only” allow one way of doing things, and I think that one of the reasons many families end up choosing homeschooling is precisely because of the flexibility and individual tailoring to the child that homeschooling allows. I dislike the thought that utilizing more than one style should be something one is “guilty” of, as if in doing so, you’re committing a crime or short changing your children in some way. I think it takes more effort and more focus to pick and choose – schooling “out of the box” in any style is easy. Someone has laid out all the plans and motions for you; all you have to do is follow along. I’m not saying that eclectic or that my way is better or anything, just that one method might not be right for every one and that is perfectly fine!

I do like the philosophy of Waldorf style education. It truly seems to be set on the nature of a child at each age.  Second grade’s  overview does fall in line with what LittleBoyBlue is into, and reading this is a good reminder to me to drag out the Kindermusic cds and materials and incorporate some of that into our routine for PeaGreen. Sure it’s designed for itty-bitties, but there are a lot of really cute and fun active dances that will work well for my kiddos even at this age. We’re still using things we learned from Five In A Row style lessons in class now and using lapbooks to emphasize and enhance that method. We’re using Charlotte Mason in a big way (because I have an addition to books…) and that lends itself well to WTM and more rigid learning.

All in all, I like this:

No Academic Work until the Imitative Cycle is Complete

Delaying academics until age 7 is perhaps the most controversial aspect of the Waldorf early childhood curriculum in countries like the United States, where many children are memorizing flashcards and doing worksheets at ages as young as 3. While many children do learn to read and write at very early ages, Waldorf educators believe that diverting a young child’s energy from physical development before the cycle is complete weakens the will and can damage a child’s natural love of learning.

Waldorf teachers believe that a child who gets the chance to fully explore the physical world during the first seven years of life stands the best possible chance for success and happiness in the next phase of development, when academic work begins and the curriculum focuses on reaching the child through the emotions.

Full article at Suite101: Waldorf View of Child Development from Ages 0-6

I can see the wisdom in that, and if I am ever blessed to have another child, I am sure we’ll follow that to more of a degree than we did with the boys, as we’ll most likely be homeschooling from the start. I do plan to incorporate more Waldorf into our routine, but it will not be our “one and only”.

Warmly,

~h

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