Well hello there, long time no see. We have (finally) started our homeschool year after a September that started off with a ton of appointments and other 'life stuff'. I feel so blessed that we were able to delay our beginning to a time that worked best for us.
To recap: Last year was our first 'official' homeschool year since H was in Kindergarten, though I did purchase a preschool curriculum (that sat unused) for him the year before. We used Math U See Primer, a workbook that I bought at Sam's Club, and BOB books. I tried to do an unschool approach with lots of social activities, playdates, parkdays, etc., but unschooling just doesn't vibe with my teacher-y personality (part of my inner work, I suppose). It was a great year and busy, but H often complained of the 'doing school' part when I had him sit down for BOB, workbook, and Math. We eased up on the reading because it was becoming a battle and the last thing I wanted was for him to dislike reading. I told him we would try something different this year. However, Aaron and I agree that math is very important to us to do in a sequential manner and that we should not bounce around on math curriculum, so we have chosen Math U See for the long haul.
This year I was really looking at using the Oak Meadow curriculum which is very gentle and uses a lot of drawing, crafting, nature, and story-telling, at least that is my understanding of it. I just couldn't get myself onboard with the price tag though, so I was on ebay trying to score a used copy and losing bid after bid. It just wasn't meant to be I guess and to make a long story short, I got a slammin' deal on Waldorf Essentials lifetime membership and decided to go with that. I also found a few wonderfully supportive facebook groups that have been an amazing source of inspiration and information on how to make the Waldorf experience at home. I think this program is EXACTLY what we need as a family. It comes with a parent curriculum too and I feel so positive about working on myself in regard to mothering and teaching. So, I have H using Waldorf Essentials first grade and Math U See and A is using Sonlight P4/5 (the aforementioned preschool curriculum I purchased for H and never used). So let me tell you how it went!
One of the most valuable things I have seen in Waldorf is the concept of rhythm. I actually started working on our family rhythm 2 weeks before school, trying to establish a routine that included regular clean-up times and walks and very little outside of the household routine. This involved LOTS of planning and lists which I loved, but I suppose other personalities could do this without the lists/planning. I could see already that this is going to be a very good thing for AJ who struggles with transitions and going out.
So by the time we were finally ready to begin on Sept. 15 I would like to say our rhythm was pretty solid, but really the idea of how it should be was solid, we are still working on keeping our rhythm (at least the expectation is there). We began our journey with a Rose Ceremony which I will describe in another post. Then dove right into the programs. By Wednesday H was asking to go back to our old program, but mostly I think he was struggling to adjust to the change in what 'school' looks like. AJ is doing very well with his program and doing a great job with his drawings. Though his week was not without struggles including walking away from circle time and complete disinterest in certain stories.
I am still working on developing our circle time. One thing I read by the creator of Waldorf Essentials was that crafting the life we are striving for takes time and is a bit like painting where new ideas are continually painted, layer by layer, onto the canvas of family life. This really resonated with me and so I am working on adding new elements a little at a time. Overall I am very happy with our first week. It was a struggle, but at the end of the week, we took lots of family walks, drew some beautiful pictures, and spent lots of time together. Next week brings the fall equinox and we will be including some dragon activities in preparation for Michaelmas. It is sure to be a fun-filled week!