Thursday, June 19, 2014

Looking back on our 2013/2014 school year - leaving the guilt behind

I've done a lot of thinking about what we have completed this year.  As I said in a previous post, we used Waldorf Essentials grade 2 as our main curriculum (meaning we did nearly all of it) and supplemented with Oak Meadow grade 2 (adding in anything we saw that looked fun or interesting.)

I struggled with myself this year.  A friend of mine, Nicola over at Creative.Light.Less, was gracious enough to listen to my struggles and was in a situation similar to my own (combining WE and OM).  It was nice to have someone to go on the journey with.  

In the beginning of the year, I used both WE and OM.  We enjoyed ourselves, but I kept thinking I should be trying to be all Waldorf.  So I decide "Okay, I am going to JUST do Waldorf Essentials and focus on it and make it all it can be".  I leave Oak Meadow behind for a few months and do the lessons in WE. We read the stories, we recall, we draw and summarize, we model, we paint, we knit, we bake, we work with our rhythm, we go outside.  It's a good curriculum, and it has lots of stories and is laid out completely for you.  I even had a great conversation with the author, Melisa.  One thing I can say is that she is always willing to talk through it with you, and to help when you get stuck.  But I don't think anyone can really help me through this, because it is me.  I am having a problem with me.  As hard as I try, I am not Waldorf.  

Let me explain.  I love the Waldorf method.  I enjoy the artistic qualities, the nature, rhythm, the main lesson books, the knitting and handwork, educating the whole child - head, heart and hands.  Being hands on, having stories that speak to the child, it is an amazing method.  And you hear people say, if you do it right, they will never be bored.  

We were bored.  

I've struggled with the "we must not be doing it right" doubts before.  But you know what?  I *am* doing it right!  I am doing what works for *us*.  Oak Meadow isn't strictly Waldorf.  You will hear people say that over and over.  I fail to see the bad in what OM brings.  I'd love to see OM have a block schedule instead of all subjects at once, because doing all subjects every week can be a lot.  But a lot less than a classical or traditional schedule for sure! Yes, OM does bring in the alphabet a grade earlier, and have actual science lessons, and they bring in some social studies.  But after you get over the alphabet reading thing, they focus on a lot of the same things.  Fairy tales in first grade, saint style stories in second grade, building, gardening, creation stories in third grade.  It's not all that different, and - dare I say - it was fun?

So, what did I discover about myself during this struggle?  Well, that no matter how hard I try to be a Waldorf purist... I like science, and so do my kids.  I'm not going to make them memorize scientific names and things like that at this young age, but we like experiments and crafts.  And I'm a mom of 3 so I need to be practical.  I would love to have a basic curric and then add all these fun cool ideas I think of myself.  But my brain is fried and I'm lucky to think of 7 dinners a week.  I need help.  I need someone to think of these activities and crafts for me and let me decide what we will and won't do.

Oak Meadow does that for me.  Once I looked back over our year (after I got over my "I want to be a waldorf gal" phase), I noticed that we had done almost all of the OM curriculum, besides the social studies because we had done so many WE stories.  We were far too burnt out on stories by December to do anymore.  (Note: if you do grade 2, you may want to break up the stories.  We did stories from September to December as laid out in the curriculum before getting a break in January with math.  By that time, we couldn't force ourselves to return to stories after the math break)

So, for age 9 we have a copy of Christopherus and a copy of OM, and I will look over them this summer and decide - do I try the Waldorf route again (Christopherus does look a little more my style - with more information, ideas and flexibility), or should I stick to OM because it is laid out easier for me and we like the ideas it has?  

We have already done several lessons from Christopherus 3 this spring and summer - building a chicken coop, gardening and a 3 sisters garden, raising chicks from day olds, weather journals, beaufort scale, etc. and have enjoyed them.  I'd ideally like to do our own thing, using pieces of each. Isn't that what I do every year anyway?  ;)

In short, I'm wanting to inspire others to be yourselves.  If being totally Waldorf doesn't suit you, why stress out about it?  Most people are not going to judge you by what curriculum you use, and if they do... what does that say about them?  And no one is going to come into your home and tell you that you aren't Waldorf enough, or you aren't doing it right.  No one but you.

If you like most aspects of Waldorf, but also enjoy more activities and a little mores academics, check out Oak Meadow.  If all the subjects in Oak Meadow overwhelm you, do something like Waldorf Essentials.  If you want to be more true to Waldorf, but still want more ideas and activities, look into Christopherus.  All are reasonable when you find them used on the Facebook and yahoo groups (and they really are fairly affordable new).  Just do what works for you, and leave the guilt behind!  

1 comment:

  1. Good for you for knowing yourself and what will and will not work for you! I am there with you (and ditto...glad to not be alone)! More privately if you want to continue our conversation where we last left it! ;)