A short essay

As an educator at home now for 12 years, & former public & private school teacher, I am always interested in various approaches & philosophies. Some are classical, as we educated our older two children through jr. high, with sprinkles of Charlotte Mason; others are somewhat "non-traditional" (traditional meaning sit in a desk, read a chapter, take a test) like Montessori & Waldorf. I've been reading about these last two since our youngest was born (Jam, almost 3), wondering if we would educate the younger two the same as our older ones.
I do not like the undercurrant of anthroposophy OR mysticism that winds it's way through purely Waldorf schools, yet there is so much that seems so natural! From birth to age 7 they stress all natural foods, natural toys (a few excellent ones as opposed to tons of the plastic kind), little to no computer/video/TV time, high quality art materials, and time at home in a routine or rhythm as opposed to running every day to activities or busy stuff. Just getting the natural food & rhythm is a challenge to me - not to mention my attempt at "Becoming Minimalist"! But thanks to the flexibility of homeschooling we can cut & paste from several educational philosophies and choose what we like best from each for each child.
So our hodgepodge of prek/k is a combination of art, music, lots of free & structured time outside & inside each day, and as Tweeters is ready we are adding in latin, math & reading. When 1st grade comes along, we'll begin formal reading & math, but I am still researching whether or not that will have a Waldorf/Montessori flavor or not. It will likely have a mix of both, as well as the classical things we did with our older ones! Here is a somewhat brainy (but I think neutral) article comparing three particular non-traditional approaches:
and a book that tells a bit more about classical christian education:
http://www.amazon.com/Case-Classical-Christian-Education/dp/1581343841 - of course, I have loved everything I've ever read by Douglas Wilson, and I think I have most of his writings! We mostly used The Well Trained Mind as our guide, with bits of Veritas Press, Memoria Press, & Canon Press thrown in (even reading lists from Sonlight). Of course, the movement has exploded in recent years, spawning co-ops like Classical Conversations, in which many of our QACHE members participated in this year (including us).
It is an interesting season, to be teaching a kindergartener to read & a senior rhetoric. Challenging for sure, but in a fun way! I love talking curriculum and know that everyone does things a little differently - and different is good :0) I want to encourage you as educators & parents to think outside the box as you do your planning for the coming year, even consider teaching a class or two for a month over the summer very casually (art? music appreciation? logic? math games? reading biographies aloud during a quiet time?).
I've recently ordered a book that I hope will help me on this homeschooling journey - sounds simple & maybe it is - but even at the greying age of 41 I don't feel like I can ever know enough about education. I already own a bookshelf of similar books, but every age & stage brings new and fun challenges for both scholar & parent educator! Here is a link if you are interested - You are Your Child's First Teacher:
and if you have little ones, this one is a quick but excellent bathroom read and was SO encouraging to me (if you can get 10 minute stretches in the bathroom or while nursing ha ha) - Loving the Little Years:
Finally, the article below reveals a bit about Waldorf if you are suspicous about it's beginnings or undercurrent. Unlike the author I am not Jewish (however we try to observe the feasts, fasts, & holy days) but she does give a fair analysis of the pros/cons & which things to be cautious about. If you are totally uninterested in Waldorf just skip it ;0) Just hoping to introduce a few new things to the smorgasboard that is home education.
What every Jewish parent should know about The Waldorf Philosophy

here they are, all together!



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