The coming year
I am ready to face the 2012-2013 school year. I am proud of what my kids have learned. I can't believe I am the mother of K5, 1st, 3rd, and 5th graders. Each year, we try new things out...sometimes it works, and I have another tool to incorporate in the next year. I've grown a lot, and learned that sometimes it's not just about what your kids want and need, but what keeps you sane and inspired.
Reading about education does that for me. Everything I discover affirms the path I've already been on, the one I'm always drawn back to. That learning for us is best done through stories, emotional connection, and real life experience. I'll always approach each year with an overarching theme based in history (we are doing ancient cultures/Egypt this year); my brain works in unit studies. It's how I function with all of my other interests and passions; I'm not a multi-tasker. One thing at a time. So, I strew topical books on the coffee table, and they end up being read instead of languishing on the shelf. I locate and provide basically anything the kids ask me for - art materials, coloring pages printed off the internet to their specific tastes. Audio books are in generous supply. The kids go through dozens of books each month, and no out of the box curriculum would be able to keep up with the amount of information they digest. On a monthly basis, I ask them to list me ten things that they love, and I incorporate them into our daily lives. Teaching Textbooks is there for the older boys' math, and Geneva and Jonas are introduced to math through real life and a relaxed Waldorf approach.
I've spent a lot of my life working with children, and I firmly believe that children go through some universal developmental stages, (like grammar, dialectic, rhetoric and some of the 7 year cycles in waldorf) and challenging a child beyond their maturity is only going to frustrate you and and the child.
I've sifted through a lot of stuff to find some approaches that work for our home. Some democratically structured, reading and discovery time does it for me, and the kids are enjoying it too. We have a weekly waldorf-inspired art co-op being held here at my home.