Your creating a blog and homeschooling at the same time. Some days you don’t know if you are coming or going! Well let me share a few insights I picked up along the way…..
First off let me tell you how AMAZING YOU ARE!
Amazing because You are seeking to do what YOU feel is the best for YOUR family, and probably at the cost of hearing all the “well meaning” judgement of others.
Second, YOU CAN DO THIS! We all know those day when we think we are crazy for even trying to do all that we are doing. Everything starts to seem impossible. Let me tell you that those are the moments when a little break is in order. I am not telling you to quit; I’m saying get out and doing something a little different today. I like to think of it as a field trip. The world, and all that goes on is a learning experience, so teach your kids to enjoy each moment. I like to find a service project that might not take too long, but something that will brighten the day for someone else. It’s a win/win/win situation. They are better for having seen you, and you feel much better, & BEST OF ALL your kids have learned a valuable life lesson. My favorite is to drop a flower by, nothing like a little bit of Mother Nature to bring the Sparkle back into someones eyes.
School does NOT have to take All Day
The beauty of homeschooling is that you can get done in HALF the time, what is covered in public school. You do not have all the distractions or problems that a class has to deal with. You can zero in on the concept and see immediately is the information is understood or not. You have the freedom to use many different techniques to bring home the point….the world is your school. I found that once I understand my child’s learning style, I could teach in a manner that they pick up the fastest.
Frustration can step in when we try to mimic the public school process
While homeschooling my children, I made a trip to the Waldorf school campus in Austin, Texas. During my training, I feel in love with their philosophy of working with the whole child. The Waldorf schools integrate artistic, practical and intellectual content in their curriculum and focus on social skills and spiritual values. The tips and information that I gleaned from my short visit, improved our homeschool experience 100 fold. Even if you do not homeschool, this information will greatly improve your child’s ability to soar accademically.
Waldorf education first began in Germany in 1919 to cater to the educational needs of the children of employees working for a cigarette factory, (Waldorf Astoria Cigarette company). The schools way of teaching was inspired by Rudolf Steiner’s philosophy.
Homeschooling can be more fun than memorizing facts and figures
Steiner believed that education had to take into account the physical, behavioral, emotional, cognitive, social and spiritual aspects of each child. His philosophy was that children learned best when they are encouraged to use their imagination. I have seen children who in the 1st, 2nd & 3rd grades were taught their English lesson, and the power of writing a captivating story, through illustrating a piece of art. Everything was done through a form of creativity in their early grades. They found that by teaching a child to use their creative thinking in those early years helped them to advance faster and further in their upper years of education. These students stay engaged and did not get bored in high school. They found that they are better suited for, and usually receive the upper level leadership roles in business. This is due to their ability of thinking more creatively, of seeing a bigger picture, in the solution seeking process, while the children from the public education did not develop this ability because of a greater emphasis that was put on memorization of facts and numbers.
Homeschooling helps a child become eager to learn new things
Other studies have found that the Waldorf education gave the student a desire to learn, creating an eagerness of learning new things. The students have fun in school and developed a more optimistic view of their future than the other in state schools. This inner desire is guided by a few key principles of the Waldorf education. These are principles that can be adopted into every families teaching processes. Here are six of their key principles
1. Childhood isn’t meant to be a race
Steiner once said, “Where is the book in which the teacher can read about what teaching is? The children themselves are this book. We should not learn to teach out of any book other than the one lying open before us and consisting of the children themselves.”
Watching my own children grow, I can truly say that children do not all develop int he same way….even in the same family. They all develop in their own rhythm. One of the greatest skills of a parent is to be attentive to the needs of each child and to encourage their own personal talents and strengths.
2. Become a storyteller
It is said that Einstein once said, “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” Waldorf education shares this view. Allowing a kindergartner to act out and role play their lessons rather than being tied down to a desk and learning over and over certain principles, until they became a part of their memory, soon became unappealing to me. I love watching a child’s imagination take flight. There is so much learning that can be accomplished through play, rather than pencil put to paper.
Rudolf Steiner believed that storytelling was a gift, and storytelling has remained a central feature of Waldorf education.
Storytelling can build a child’s imagination and helps them to connect to principles. Stories teach them new words, how to problem solve, as well as other people and places they may have never seen. Storytelling has always been a favorite of small children. I remember sitting next to my grandmother and having her tell me stories of her and grandpas childhood. Her imagination would begin to flow and she would take me on this amazing adventure of seeing in my mind mermaids, giant sized ducks, and a sky filled with the most amazing colors. She was my first introduction to storytelling, and her creativity inspired me.
3. Connect with nature every day
Many of the projects that the children did included treasures that were found out in nature. The cap of an acorn became the hat for a small doll, found by a child while playing outside. In Austin the school consisted of separate rooms, each standing alone and nestled in the trees. Each building was connected to each other by a well groomed, stone lined path. The children would actually walk in nature as they moved from class to class. This encouraged me to do a lot of my teaching out of doors. We might head to a park or sit on a blanket under a tree. I would even put up our tent and it would serve as portable classroom.
4. Teach your kids to play
Waldorf education follows a principle that toys should foster the greatest opportunity for creativity. Steiner emphasized the need of using toys from natural materials. These toys would offer the children the greatest opportunity for sensory experiences. Many children are tactile learners. And having something that not only see but can connect to tacitly improved their learning experience. Steiner believed that providing toys which are simple and open-ended, opens an opportunity to spark children’s imaginations and creativity, allowing them to expand on what they have and create other objects.
5. Establish routines
Each morning give the children a time when they can come together to sing, recite verses, do movement exercises, and other ways of self expression. This routine of coming together can help build up a level of enthusiasm for the next few hours of learning and give them a sense of security . Giving them a routine can simplify your job of parenting as it helps awaken the mind, and gives the children a signal that it is time to focus.
6. Make room for art
Making room for art does not mean giving them a structured craft project. It means providing unstructured moments in which they can practice creative play. Their creativity is developed in these moments.
Organized space is also important for creativity. Having a room that is messy, or toys stuffed in a pile, creates confusion and distracts the mind as the child is trying to think. Organizing space gives the freedom to flow from structure, to creativity, and then back to structure.
What is our Highest Endeavor?
I am a great fan of Rudolf Steiner philosophy which says, “Our highest endeavor must be to develop free human beings who are able, of themselves, to impart purpose and direction to their lives. The need for imagination, a sense of truth, and a feeling of responsibility – these three forces are the very nerve of education.”
I have started on on-going post that will feature the toys that will help with the educational process and encourage creativity in the development of our children CLICK HERE