Saturday, February 7, 2009

Since this IS a homeschooling blog

Aaah, quiet time.

My family has gone to the local Lantern Festival and, in a know-thyself kind of way, I abstained; I hate crowds and would have been a miserable old bag.

And since I do actually like blogging, this seemed like a perfect time to indulge in megalomaniacal sharing. But first let me go get a glass of wine (for real)....

Okay, I'm back. I'm drinking a nice Syrah that (no joke) is grown at my neighbour's vineyard. Let's just say, very eclectic neighbourhood!

So, school has been going marvelously this year. While we were in the States, we did next to nothing, so we started back to lessons in early January. DH and I decided that Biggie, despite her lack of toothiness, was in need of some more structured schooltime -- basically, we needed to institute a routine that will allow for formal learning. This has worked really well and has allowed me to meet her at her own learning level, while giving her the structure that her wee phlegmatic self desperately needs. Some days, we do nothing but paint and craft, but we have also finished a math block and a geography block.

This brings me to our curric choices. I really love Alan Whitehead, which puts me in a teeny-tiny minority! Alan recommends a three week block, and explains this with a variety of spiritual and practical reasons. In his "practical" category, he proposes that three weeks is neither too long nor too short, but just right. Hehe. Really, tho', it is short enough that the child who is disinterested can see the light at the end of the tunnel ("only two more weeks and then we're done...") and the child who loves the lesson is fulfilled and not burned out. For the hs'ing parent, it's a manageable timeframe to prep (and if you have designed a main lesson block, you know exactly what I mean!). Frankly, I think every homeschooler should give this a try, because it really works so well.

Next, geography? Well, Alan Whitehead proposes that a child be taught not only language arts and math, but also age appropriate geography and physics. For geography, it is taught from the child out. We completed a block during which we learned how to determine direction from the sun and the stars alone, using your body as a compass; from there, we created a block version of our house and oriented it to the sun; we walked all around our neighbourhood and, using a big piece of mdf and some monopoly houses, we created a diagram of our community. Biggie painted and position houses and roads, the ocean; she glued sand for beaches and built a tiny seesaw for the playground. The Zoo is in our neighbourhood, so we had a "field trip" and talked about how these animals didn't REALLY belong in our neighbourhood :-) !

We will begin a language arts block on Monday, and I have tailored it to Biggie's needs. Specifically, she needs to work on when to use capital versus minuscule letters, she needs to "remember" her spaces between words, and we need to discuss periods at the ends of sentences. For us, language means lots and lots of pictures, so I have created a story about a Roman emperor who needed miniscule letters because people were getting confused, etc. I will be cheating and recreating the pictures from The Waldorf Alphabet (my children have never actually seen this book, so why reinvent the wheel??).

And in March, we will introduce physics. Again, this is NOT physics like high school physics, but story based approach demanding characters use pulleys, levers, planes, floating rafts, etc., to solve a problem. We won't dare try to introduce all of these mechanisms, but will pick just a few (probably one from each realm).

So that's our homeschooling life. Right now, my kids are experiencing baby-nirvana, because we are running a mini-commune. Some Waldorf friends are in their last school term before returning to Germany and they are living in our downstairs flat. This means that all the kids (my two plus their three!) get to play together daily. Our friends go to the local Waldorf school, so they help my children remember how to storytell and play princesses and goblins, and they inspire the girls to fingerknit (and regular knit!) and eat the tomatoes directly off the vines. It is a fine time of life for my littlies, right now.

And now, I shall leave you to knit. I am working on a scrap buster which I have appropriately named "Therapy." Think, unencumbering.



tamlovesran said...

I'm fairly new to Waldorf and am not familiar with Alan Whitehead, but I love what I've read in this post. How old is your child? I have a 16 year old whom we use the methods of Charlotte Mason with and also a 4 year old and I'm trying to incorporate Waldorf ideas into his days.


Henitsirk said...

I can tell I'm phlegmatic because all that sounded just wonderful! I know I would love to make a neighborhood schematic like that.

OK, your neighborhood has a vineyard, and a zoo, and the beach, and a Waldorf school? Sigh.

Crescent Moon said...

I love your idea of making a model of your neighborhood. I have just started to introduce my 8 year old to map reading, so that would be a great project to try with him.

Penny said...

ohmygosh. I read Alan's books 5 years ago when I was starting out and was NOT ready for them (although I loved his style).

After 5 years of total immersion in all things Anthroposophic and Waldorf Ed, I think I am.

But I had completely forgotten about them until your wonderful post.

Wow. Thank you so much. I'm stunned by the universe asking you to write this "way over there" and me finding it "way over here" (or vice versa LOL).

Bob and Nancy's here I come... (grin)

Best wishes,


nova_j said...

wise choice btw, the lantern festival was chaos last night!

RunninL8 said...

Glad you're still here! Wish I could come over and partake in the Syrah with you!

sharon tyler said...

thanks for everything you do!!!!!!
I truly appreciate it.