Monday, October 17, 2011

Relaxed homeschooling: a discussion with Donna Simmons

Thank you to Catherine for inviting me to guest post on her beautiful blog - these photos are truly lovely, Catherine. And your girls are getting so big! My, my....

So...the topic of our "conversation" (inasmuch as conversation is possible between people on a blog!) is "relaxed homeschooling". I had originally intended to write an article on relaxed homeschooling, like I did on the topic of first grade readiness on Carrie Dendtler's parentingpassageway blog in the summer, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this topic is far broader and potentially more confusing than an article based on an understanding on anthroposophical child development. Though there are different opinions regarding when a child is ready for formal academics, the basis on which these opinions rest (if they are within the boundaries of anthroposophical child development) are reasonably restricted. We can all begin from a common starting point.

However, the topic "relaxed homeschooling" can potentially encompass an enormous range of possibilities, depending upon whom one is speaking with. For some relaxed homeschooling is within the bounds of unschooling, for others it is merely an expression of an inner attitude with which they approach educating their children. Some relaxed homeschoolers use a curriculum (and some like me write them! lol). And some relaxed homeschoolers shun a curriculum (which I, by and large did). (but then I was a Waldorf teacher....so that's a whole 'nother kettle of fish!)

So, I am going to throw the conversation to the floor as it were. Are you a relaxed homeschooler? What does that mean for you? Has something changed over time to encourage you to take up this label - or did you begin with it? Some of you may have at one point considered themselves relaxed homeschoolers but now don't - what has changed? What has this meant for you?

OK...bring on your comments and questions (only in English, please!)! My intention is to keep a "conversation" going so I will be as active as I can on this thread until next Saturday (22 October) at which point Catherine will close the thread.

I look forward to what everyone brings!

Best wishes,

Donna
www.christopherushomeschool.org
--

59 comments:

Kelly said...

Thanks Donna and Catherine!

We thought of ourselves as unschoolers before my oldest was even born but when she was a toddler discovered waldorf and it's had a huge impact on our home and parenting...in a really good way I think! Now we're only in the kindergarten years (ages 4.5 and 2) but what's funny is I think if I were a more relaxed homeschooler, the way I had imagined before, we would be doing more academic-type stuff by now just by following DD's lead. She's very interested in writing. We would never push academics, but now I find myself holding back, careful not to offer more than requested, careful to stick to our rhythm and say "time to go outside and play!" And it feels right, like bringing balance. But I wonder what it looks like as she gets older. How do you find that balance between "this is what she wants to do" and "this is what I think we should do"? I'm already so enamored of waldorf curriculum; how do I know it's not all for me?

Another thing that comes up for our family situation is having two working parents who split responsibilities but are not always on the same page. So I wonder in advance, does main lesson have to happen in the mornings? Can we be flexible to meet our family circumstances but also provide a full education? Can DH unschool and I do waldorf? (subtext and larger question: How do we ever know as parents that we have done enough?) :)

Anonymous said...

Donna, I am wondering how relaxed homeschooling may affect two boys? our 7 1/2 and almost 6 year old boys are constantly fighting and competing. I am so burned out and at my wits end from referring fights and still trying to give my 3 year old some attention. There is no social support for any sort of home schooler where we live. We are the only ones here in a small very rural town. Any insights?

Catherine said...

Here's Donna's answer: Hi Kelly,

I am going to go out on thin ice a bit with this...but from my perspective, especially during those tender early years, what a child does needs to be "formed" by what the parent allows or creates. I say "thin ice" because I am well aware that many people will see this as controlling and authoritarian. How can one refuse when a child is showing an interest in something? Why should a parent intervene?

It's delicate - very delicate. In those early years of course a child should be "free" to explore - but I put that word "free" in quotes because what is free for an adult is not what is appropriate for a child, especially a very young child. Freedom means having the ability to choose - and a young child simply does not have that capacity - nor should she. It is the job of the young child to explore - within the boundaries set by th4e parent.
This is where this whole "relaxed homeschooling" conversation gets tricky. One person's boundaries are another person's prison - we could be arguing as well and not realize that we mean the same thing (I don't mean you and I Kelly). So I could look at what one person feels is letting a child explore and totally agree - and totally disagree with another.

A couple of examples - in the kindergarten where I worked many years ago we had a very tall tree that had convenient branches every few inches - perfect for climbing ( it was some sort of pine). We would let the children climb as high as they wanted - while we were busy doing something else, being unconcerned. We banned parents from being near the tree while children were in it because too many would pick up on the parents' anxiety and literally fling themselves from the tree - they became unsafe and the boundary which, in a different situation was fine, became unacceptable.

Another example. I first met "Tom" as I was walking across the farmyard at the communal farm where I lived. Tom was hanging over the bull's pen, just about to lower himself in. With no fuss, I went over, removed Tom by the belt, took his hand and we walked away form the bull's pen, calmly talking about this and that. Where was mom? Reading a book under a tree, thinking that her 5 year old son needed the freedom to explore.

So....boundaries. Child led...it all gets very complicated.

But, Kelly, you say that Waldorf education really speaks to you. Then my suggestion is that you really delve deep into what it says about child development. Then you can take that information and for yourself, find where the boundaries for your child should be - and, most importantly, how they must change as she gets older.

Yes, of course you can do main lessons at different times - there are all sorts of possibilities. But the most important thing is that you think through what it is you want to do and get absolutely clear as to why you do what you do. Then the answers will come. As for your partner...I can't say other than the more you are both on the same page the easier it will be. And this may sound damning of your child (and it is not) but in my experience, children are experts at playing one parent off the other when there are two different sets of rules in the house! I am not saying this is conscious - not at all. It is the "job" of children to understand their world - and nothing is more important in the world of young children than their parents. Understanding where their buttons are, what happens when those buttons are pushed and unconsciously witnessing the difficulties that result - well, that's what children do. That is why they are our greatest teachers.

Catherine said...

Dear Donna,

As you know, my girls have been raised in a Waldorf home and thanks to your amazing support, I was able to understand and integrate Steiner's principles in our lives. Last year, I created a beautiful 1st grade curriculum (inspired mostly by your curriculum, some of Marsha Jonhson's ideas and some blogs I followed, especially for the math blocks). The girls loved it for the first 3 months (except our circle time that was a disaster, no matter how much time I spent preparing it and the recorder that was just not working for us). After a month of Advent preparation, we started back with our second math block and it started to go downhill. The girls were doing big sighs everytime I would approach the board, and soon they were clearly telling me that they were not interested. One of them would tag along, but it was clear that she was doing it to please me. I tried to have more spontaneous lessons, to wait for the right time where they would look bored or in between activities to propose something, but it clearly did not work. So in March, I backed off. We moved and there was a rough patcht at that time, but when August arrived, it seemed that they had found their rythm again. I prepared second grade wondering how that would go. Then, I asked them if they were excited to start school soon and to my big surprise, they all said they much rather liked it the way it was now (you know, summer style!). So I paused and prayed. I even tried to present a lesson or two (I made a beautiful drawing of the math squirrels and they left the table before they even completed theirs, saying they did not want to do that...). As you know, I have 3 strong-willed little girls and I have tried pushing and forcing lessons on them, but I am at a point where I question imposed learning... I know that Steiner says that the child needs the adult authority to push against. Would you mind explaining this again, just so I can continue my reflexion? Now that we are over the imitation phase, I have to work with beauty (and I am well aware that the quality of their drawings has decreased since they do not copy mine on the boards anymore. Actually, they draw with a pen half of the time...). I am a bit done with the seasonal table and all the rest of it and I feel like there is less beauty in our life... but we are soon leaving for Costa Rica and this in itself will be a great learning opportunity... but the days are hectic and sometimes I wonder if this is right or if my children are becoming rough around the edges from the lack of Waldorfiness... If you know what I mean!
I would also like to hear about the early grades in your home...

Donna said...

Dear Anonymous,

I completely sympathize with your situation with your sons. My now 18 and 20 year old sons occasionally talk about the time I threw them both out of the house into a blizzard because I was so sick of their fighting...not one of my better moments but....well, there you go.

So it can be pretty hard to homeschool if your boys fight all the time. Mine didn't when they were kept busy - I cannot remember any fights during school time. Only during family time. As for lack of support - yeah, I get that too - we also homeschooled in a very rural area where Waldorf was a kind of salad...

So....can you help me put by bringing this back to the topic of relaxed homeschooling? I can't imagine that homeschooling is very relaxed for you if your boys fight a lot (LOL !!!).... How does homeschooling work for you?

Donna
www.christopherushomeschool.org

Maresa Publishing said...

Hello Donna,

thanks to you and Catherine for allowing this conversation space.
This is a topic that I also reflex on a regular basis.

I do follow a curriculum, yet in a very personal way, skipping things as needed and minimizing the extent of the lessons, or sometimes introducing my own..., really is just one hour tops of formal classroom, the rest is being at home with the crafts that my children come up with mainly and some music. The problem that I face is that sometimes I think we are missing on the real thing...we are not doing watercolors as it shoould, or the crafts for the season, or even the math games for the multiplication tables. I feel that in order to not bring resentment and to keep it alive at home I have to cut back in many things.....
Do you have any suggestions on where the problem lies?

Dans la forêt des enfants-roi said...

I first read this expression (relaxed homeschooling) not so long ago and I immediately like it. It's us. We have a curriculum or rather, I have a plan in mind, that's give us the chance to follow ours projects and ideas. But we do some "homeschooling". Not so much, just a little, subscribing in the idea that variety is good for my kids. I've got a lot of things to say about how is relaxed homeschooling for us, but my english is so poor (it's obvious I guess! ;) )

Catherine said...

Dans la forêt des enfants-roi, your English is very good! Please keep going! We would love to hear what you have to say about relaxed homeschooling and how it works for you!

Donna said...

Hi Catherine,

OK - I am going to push you a bit here...and let me quickly let everyone reading this that Catherine and I "know" each other quite well, have worked together, via my various forums and so on, for a number of years. So I can be blunt with her and say things which I would not say to other people! Also, I know her situation quite well, at least as well as one can when communicating via the internet!

So, my dear Catherine, I am going to pick up on a couple of things you said. You said you "tried" to give lessons; that the children had found their rythms again; that you prepared second grade "wondering" how it would go; that the children left the table before doing their drawings; that the children said they did not want to do the work; that you asked them if they liked school....do you see where I am going with this?

Catherine, who is in charge here? Are you following the inclinations and desires of these little girls or are they securely held by your strong intentions, your clarity of purpose and your conviction that what you are doing is right? Let me elaborate - by being in charge, on top of things, you can then truly understand what those little girls need and not have to ask them, not have to wonder, not have to doubt and thus invite them to come in and walk all over you! This is NOT about being authoritarian - it is about being the authority, about being the loving center of those little girls' universe, forming what they do and - this is CRITICAL - thereby undertsanding what they truly need so that in a meaningful and not chaotic way, their needs can be met, not simply their whims. One cannot meet a child's deepest soul needs if one is trailing after them wondering what is coming next.

I would say that to homeschool successfully one has to be on top of things - and only when one is on top of things can one become what we might call a relaxed homeschooler, one who is truly able to be flexible, spontaneous, who can abandon a curriculum because she knows what to do....an alternative is that one call oneself an unschooler not because of a conviction that that is the right way to proceed, but because one cannot manage anything else! Do you see the difference? I can guarantee that children do!!!

Hugs,

Donna

Donna said...

Hi Maresa,

A curriculum is only any good if it enables you to understand what it is that you are trying to achieve and can then KNOW when to do watercolor painting and so on. A curriculum which merely lays out a sequence is doing one a great disservice.

And of course, added to what one has in a curriculum is the need for the homeschooling parent to try to understand as much as she can about Waldorf education so she knows what she is doing and, most importantly, WHY. I feel like a broken record sometimes because I say this so much but it is so important that I will continue to say it: Rudolf Steiner said there are three things necessary to be a Waldorf teacher: 1) knowledge of anthroposophical child development; 2) knowledge of the children who stand before one; and 3) commitment to unending personal development. On my blog you'll find more on this in an article I wrote recently about the ups and downs of homeschooling. It's called "September Boom and Bust" and here's the link:

http://christopherushomeschool.typepad.com/blog/2011/09/september-boom-and-bust.html

Anyway, the point is, Meresa, that in order to see how best to compromise, how best to be flexible, how best to work creatively with educating one's children, one needs to have rather a large storehouse of tools: one needs to understand child development so one can see what is characteristic of the different stages of growth and how best to meet this and to also see that (whatever it is) is not just peculiar to one's own child: one need to really meditatively intuit into an understanding of who each individual child is, and what their destiny questions might be; and then - here's the one that makes it all possible - one needs to work ceaselessly one one's own "stuff". For 9 times out of 10, it is one's own "stuff" that causes all the homeschooling problems - one's inability to create forms; one's lack of confidence; one's anger issues; one's anxiety and so on. And I say that lovingly and with compassion - every parent needs to face these questions. And if one homeschools - well, forget it. If one doesn't work on oneself there is just no possibility to get anywhere! We all go through it - me too (remember the blizzard! LOL!). And by the way, it doesn't end when the children leave home as I have discovered, now that my sons are 18 and 20 and I am working on developing a new relationship with them as young adults!

So I don't know if this helps or not...I guess I will end by just saying what do you mean by "cut back"? If the activities one chooses are in accordance with what the children need, they "should" be eager to do them. What is the resentment about which you mention?

Donna
www.christopherushomeschool.org

Donna said...

Dear Dans la foret, (I don't have a little thingie to put over the 'e' on my keypad....)

Yes, please, do carry on! Your English is fine - I could understand it perfectly! Just one thing I would ask - perhaps you could write in the context of how you work with Waldorf education as a relaxed homeschooler, just to help keep us focused?

I look forward to reading more!

Donna

Shannon said...

Hi Donna,

I've very much enjoyed reading the questions and answers so far. To answer your original question what does relaxed homeschooling mean to us and how have things changed. We began, as you know, as unschoolers and then learned about Waldorf. We remain a blend of unschoolers and Waldorf. What I love about the unschoolers I've met is they are in the moment and joyous about their children, and what I've observed in more traditional homeschooling (even amongst Waldorf parents) is a tendency to be hovering watching for a transgression. So - that aspect is therapeutic to me. But we live holistically and follow the seasons - we slow down as it gets dark, try to go to bed early, eat healthy, and are spiritually aligned with Waldorf. My kids are on board with this as well (they are 15, 13, 10, and 8 for those who do not know us).

I love personal development, and this is a good and bad thing for me wrt delving into Waldorf as I am drawn to 'information gathering." I stepped back from my early writing career because I felt I was too much in my head and needed to stop gathering information and get out and live. So, I love the focus on ongoing learning but have to watch to not overdo it (Donna knows this is my weakness as well in planning my yearly curriculum - ever a struggle that I continue to work with but I am also mindful and watchful of it).

I feel that I am ever trying to gather adequate information while falling behind. It helps that my children want structure and so that helps me rein in my information gathering and get on with business. This is the area in which I struggle: gathering too much information and being indecisive about what to put where.

I have to say there are many times I wish I had heard of Waldorf years earlier so I would not feel like I am developing my knowledge whilst trying to work with my kids. That is a big obstacle and I sometimes feel the weight of failure surrounding this. Because it does all tie together with what you told Catherine: if she is tentative or "wondering" about her lessons, how it will go, etc., then that undermines the "authority" (and I've been reading some Steiner lately and realize the word "authority" is not the best way to translate what he was describing so I know what you mean when you are saying "authority").

This feeling on top of things/authority is the second largest area with which I struggle. I must find that confidence within myself so I can present myself wholly and strongly. I feel like my kids will be graduating and I will be saying "aha! I've got it now!"

Lastly - Donna's past articles about talking pictorially have been very wise and helpful for me over the past years to counter my natural "in the head" tendency with my kids.

Shannon

Maresa Publishing said...

Hello Donna,

thanks for your reply. I did study some child development in the early years training and also on my own, so I think that my understanding of the young child is not blank, yet you may have indicated a place for me to look upon.
The resentment that i am talking about is that if I try to do all the things that are listed in the curriculum it would be too much, so I have to compromise, because I am at home and not at school, because I am the mother and not a teacher, becaue there are just 3-4 children and not 20, there are things that are very different spiritually at work, and in my experience that means skipping many things and touching others superficially, which would not happen at school. this is my own resentment, and I guess it reflect in my childern as well.

Now I still feel that at home we are doing a service to the children, that we are modeling after the relationship of the spouses which is to be united in one, and that we are blessed to be able to educate them with such an individual authority and selflessness, yet on the course of days I forget about this gift and I wonder if they would be better at school, doing all the other stuff that we do not have opportunity to do.

Thanks again for helping me think through and giving indications to go further.

Catherine said...

Oh Donna! God I missed your voice! You’re like a big sister, always coming to me with the right words at the right time! I knew I would get a lot from this discussion, but this is already more than I expected! YES, I lost my conviction and that’s the problem... I kind of thought that the mama duck years were behind me and that the girls needed less control, more freedom... But I now realize that taking myself out of the equation for most of the day leaves them to feel like they are in charge and that it is not a healthy situation. I was rereading The recovery of man in childhood last night and reading about authority... Great synchronicity, isn’t it?
But where did I lose them in first grade? I was very convinced that what I was doing was the perfect thing to do and I had strong intentions. When they started to resist the lessons, I did not give them the choice to get up and do something else, but it became ugly (with tears and the beginning of an unpleasant relationship with school). How do you deal with that then? I took a two-week break and it was just worst after. What I realized is the more I give the girls leg room and freedom, the less they seem interested in « doing school ». I feel like you either have to choose to do school at home or to let the child free to explore his own interests. You are in charge or you are not. There doesn’t seem to be any in-between (but again, I am a very black and white kind of person!).
I love the concept of relaxed homeschooling for us, especially since we will be traveling for the next couple of years and formal lessons 4 days a week are out of the question, but I wonder how feasible it really is... For instance, I always have one lesson planned that I pull out when I see that it would be a good time. Most times, they say that they are not interested (or they will listen to the story and not be interested in copying the drawing and writing the sentence), so I just let it die... That doesn’t feel good, of course (because I am not in charge...). So, how do you avoid the : You do what I say even if you don’t feel like doing it (and tears and arguments)?
I feel like some children (like mine) are allergic to imposed projects (or are they allergic to authority?)... I love the Waldorf curriculum and believe it brings such important teachings to children at specific stages in their young life and I would like to be able to offer it to my girls, but I just don’t see how it is possible to avoid forced learning in this context and the struggle that comes with it and the impact on the child’s relationship with learning. I imagine it will be different after the 9 year change, but I also feel like the more you unschool, the less the children are open to receive lessons from the parent. Am I wrong?
Another question: you say that by being in charge, I can truly understand what my girls needs are without having to ask them. I actually am pushing away from imposed teachings for this specific reason: to let them express what they really want. Can you explain me more about this?
I love to hear everybody’s voice here (Hi Shannon!)! Let’s keep the discussion going!

renee ~ heirloom seasons said...

What really came to my mind when reading the phrase "relaxed homeschooling" was about how I need to learn to relax as a homeschooling mother/teacher. Waldorf education and Steiner's indications for our children resonate deeply with me, but I obviously cannot create a perfect Waldorf school at home. And when I am emotionally able to let go of that unobtainable desire I feel much better about things. I feel that that I have provided a warm and nurturing environment for my children, that we lived the early years in an appropriate way, and that gave us a good foundation. I used your curriculum in 1st grade Donna and that really helped set the tone for the following years. That's not to say though that we have not had our struggles at times (math struggles! talk about resistance...)
As far as main lessons go I feel that this is one of the most important parts of our school years. I believe that the material for a particular grade really does fit where my children are at that stage in their lives, I have seen it year after year now. (And we don't do 1st grade until 7 years old.) So I make that my focus.
It is with a lot of the other stuff that I find myself wishing/seeming to think we need more. Why can I not commit to a "painting day", "baking day", handwork day." Why do I criticize myself for that. But it is kind of silly of me because really in our home everyday is handwork day, everyday is baking day. These are just regular parts of our lives. So I try to be grateful for that rather than feel like I am not giving enough "structure" to our days.
I am telling myself now, it is okay that it has taken us more than a month to complete our first botany block, because we were extra busy with garden harvesting and putting up food for the winter. Sounds botany related to me!
And I have some resentment too, because I have to work from home (really have to, not a choice) and I can't help but imagine what it would be like if I had back those hours each day.
So the relaxing thing seems to be an important part of my personal development.
(Goodness, did I not say at the beginning "please excuse my scattered thoughts and excessive rambling...")
Thank you Donna and Catherine!

Kim said...

Hello Donna and Catherine,

This conversation is coming at the perfect time for me - thank you so much Donna for your wisdom, and Catherine for opening up your blog to this conversation!

I have three children 1,almost 4, and 6. After much deliberation we decided to do a 6yo Kindy year this year, a choice that has been affirmed so many ways already! We fell off the Waldorf boat so to speak while my daughter was 4 and 5 due to lack of support and my own wavering doubts. Now that we are back in the boat with many good lessons learned and a much deeper understanding of what we are doing and why we are doing it, I find myself back at the beginning again. Working with rhythm, imitation, my own groundedness, movement, nourishing food etc.

My question is around rhythm. With three little ones at such different stages, with increasingly different needs, how can one possible be realxed while homeschooling!! I continue to try and include all the "homeschooling" things I want to do baking, painting, circle times, stories with relevent crafts, more festival integration, but keep getting stuck simply keeping the home relativley calm and peaceful, getting meals and snacks on the table at predictible time, and getting the little ones all into bed at an early enough hour.

For the younger two, I don't think this is a huge problem, but I don't know how to work anything else in for my daughter whilst still being relaxed!

The only way to actually accomplish anything beyond the basics seems to be a fairly rigid schedule that holds a time each day for school. But then that hour comes and they are happily playing together and don't want to interfere, or it's almost time to get lunch ready, etc. etc.

How does one maintain a healthy rhythm that includes all one must get done each day, whilst still being responsive enough to each child to be a "relaxed" homeschooler? And even more important a relaxed parent!!!

I so look forward to your response!

Carine said...

Hi Donna and Catherine,
thanks to you !
I like when you say, Catherine, « So I paused and prayed ». I hope I will succeed to do the same next time with my chidren, when I will feel « lost ».

I don’t think that Steiner say « I know that Steiner says that the child needs the adult authority to push against. » and I think Donna have answer to this point.
I want to add that, for me, be an authority meen be an inspiring and nourishing example that the child can want to follow. This is really what authority mee, for me. So, the voice of this adult can be listen to by the child.

I meet the same problem of Catherine with my child, who « is in 1st grade ». But, as he wants to make me happy, he is ok to make some lessons. But, his heart is away, he don’t learn with pleasure. And, if I give him the choice, he prefer not to choise « relax homeschooling » !
I afraid to learn to him that learning is boring...
I think children are able to teach themselves, but I have still have fears...

I think my son need to have some « posed » activities, like manual creations, or sit and listen stories (he like fales !), but I am unconfortable with the idea to impose « directed learnings », even if I believe that this way of learning is really beautiful. I also think that the way of learning of my son will be beautiful and rich...

Carine

Donna said...

Hi Shannon,

Great to "see you" here - how wonderful to be able to remain connected like this - thank you Catherine for facilitating this!

As always, Shannon, what you write is so thoughtful and helpful. You have been my model of how well a relaxed approach to homeschooling can work - and where unschooling and Waldorf can briefly meet.

I think what we can all learn from Shannon is how she emphasizes working with the turn of the seasons, with meeting her family's spiritual needs. This is the foundation upon which we "should" (I know - got to be careful using that word!!!) strive to ground our family lives. From this, then, much of the "why" and even the "how" of things can fall into place. And, although as modern human beings we can, if we choose, ignore the seasonal cycles, if we want to live harmoniously, if we want to connect with our spiritual basis, then to live consciously with the seasons is an important place to begin.

Shannon, you mention "too much information" - yes, this can be a big a problem for some as not having enough information is for others. Curriculum junkies can be as impoverished as those who have barely looked at the flow of Waldorf education! As always, it's a question of balance. And it is always, as you say, a question of personal development. Otherwise, how can one know how to achieve this balance - or even what balance is.

You know, no one ever "figures it all out" - whether one has been homeschooling for years and years, whether one was a Waldorf teacher, whether one has great support or none - there is no end to figuring it all out. There's always some new challenge that one cannot anticipate - and so again and again one is thrown back on one's own inner resources. Here again - personal development. Have I the strength to cope? Can I be the model of calm warmth that my children need? And then - what skills do I need to learn.

It's not about whether we bake bread every week, regularly have recorder lessons, dutifully march the children out the door every morning to take their walk....it's the way we move through the day, what lives in our intentions and then - THEN - is expressed through the activities we choose - that's what is key.

Yes, I do think my various blog articles on aspects of understanding and working with children can be helpful - and many people tell me that my audio downloads (available from the Christopherus bookstore) are incredibly helpful - and that husbands like listening to them!

Donna
www.christopherushopmeschool.org

Anonymous said...

Thank you Catherine and Donna for this thread. I popped over from Carrie's Parenting Passageway and I'm so thankful for you two ladies. I have learned so much from just "listening" to the conversation. And, Donna, I do apologize for "getting off topic" earlier. I think that I am just so desperate for answers to smooth out our days that I just "spewed", LOL. Sorry about that :-)

We started out last year trying to implement a textbook Waldorfish rhythm. Waldorf education and the handwork and baking are very foreign to me and so at best I've stumbled through it but have learned lots of new skills! But, LOL, here is how "unrelaxed" our relaxed homeschooling now unfolds daily....my almost 3 yo girl is up by 6:15 no matter how I try to adjust her sleep patterns. Hopefully I am dressed and ready for her. We snuggle and read stories for a bit. Then she plays happily nearby while I start putting dishes away from the dishwasher. If I am lucky, the boys awaken at different times. I give each a hug and kiss and try to take the time to snuggle and read with them. It doesn't always happen. If they awaken in tandem, its a bit dicey. There is squirming and jockeying for position on the sofa and then its downhill from there. Getting them to dress themselves often results in screaming and fighting. My oldest, 7 1/2 is a whirlwind of energy. He is constantly bouncing around like a pogo stick and inevitably runs into my almost 6 yo (they share a room and we also have a tiny house). Or he teases him to the point of a volcanic eruption (to me, this is part of school....learning to get along, get ready for the day, etc. Life school). My younger son is a little bull. Very dense (not fat) in body and heavy in his actions. He constantly melts down during our morning rhythm because older brother is either too energetic for him, too noisy, teasing him, or too "fast". They race to feed our barn cats and rabbits, for example, and he is never fast enough. He constantly wants to do what his brother is doing and gets lost in his shadow. Its hard to help him appreciate his own wonderful self. My husband wants me to get him out with other kids but its hard because we live on a small 8 acre homestead outside of a rural town where,yes, Waldorf is a salad and kids are not raised "our" way. DH is even suggesting public school to get the boys away from each other.

The more "schoolish" part of the morning is me trying to get the boys and their 3 yo sister on the same page whether we are singing,painting, or reading a story. There are constant interruptions....teasing that results in meltdowns or hitting or stopping in the middle of an activity because I need to take my potty training daughter to the bathroom. I know that I need to "hold the space" but I feel that in order to do that I need to be three different people. I cannot be by each child's side 24/7. So,yes, Donna, I am quite unrelaxed. I can completely relate to you sending your boys out in that blizzard! I know what needs to be done on some level(hold the space, personal development which is not happening now, etc)But, honestly, I am so exhausted by lunchtime that I more often than not fall into the "unschooling" mode you mentioned....letting them do whatever because I am "spent" and don't know what to do with them. I am at the point of thinking that as much as Waldorf resonates with me and as beautiful and soulful it is on paper, it must be best for little girls or introverted and placid boys.

Marianne said...

Hello Donna, Catherine and others,

Please forgive my intrusion here... I'm new to all this but, as the mother of a 16-month-old daughter (and new neighbour of Catherine!), I enjoy reading your experiences and thoughts. It is impossible not to admire your determination and perseverance!

Reading your different comments raised a question for me: how do you see and live the roles of being a mother and a teacher (not to mention the rest)? It seems that this issue was raised in many of your comments. Some of you seem to add some “teaching” to your mothering in the “school of everyday life”. I also read that some of you clearly separate the two as in “school time” and “home time”, which seems to get quite tricky when some kids are at “school” and others at “home” at the same time and in the same space.

The way I understand it, “relaxed”, then, could be when the frontier between “home” and “school” gets thinner and blurry?

Are you a mother-teacher or a mother, and sometimes a teacher? I know in real life it probably isn’t that clear but I’d like to hear more... if it’s not too off topic of course...

Donna said...

Hi Maresa,

I really appreciate your comments - and I think what you end with is very important:

"Now I still feel that at home we are doing a service to the children, that we are modeling after the relationship of the spouses which is to be united in one, and that we are blessed to be able to educate them with such an individual authority and selflessness, yet on the course of days I forget about this gift and I wonder if they would be better at school, doing all the other stuff that we do not have opportunity to do."

These are the great lessons that a child experiences at home - and sure, children who go to school can experience their parents' dedication to their family but with homeschooling....well, it's just that much more up front, that much more immediate, that much more powerful. And this is the ultimate gift, as you say - to be able to live this kind of life before our children. This is how we teach them, by modeling, by struggling, to be human beings. No school can teach that lesson, though Waldorf schools, because of their intimacy, because of the huge importance placed on human relationships, because parents have to work so hard to create the schools, because they are founded on spiritual principles, because the lessons themselves speak to the needs of the developing human being - Waldorf schools can come close. But the very special gift of homeschooling must never be forgotten.

And sure, there are plenty of things that you cannot give children at home that they would get at school. But...what are one's priorities? If the priorities have to do with sharing and creating a life with one's children, with not simply handing the children over to someone else, in a belief that we can create the world we want and that a first step could be taking charge of our children's educations (Occupy the Schoolroom!!) - well, then homeschooling with all its ups and downs is the way to go.

Donna
www.christopherushomeschool.org

Donna said...

Dear Renee,

I just want to thank you for sharing - it is so helpful to people to hear how someone who is really doing so many wonderful things (like harvesting veggies and baking etc) still can feel inadequate, can still think she isn't doing enough. At least you can recognize that - that's really important.

Well, life happens and if life means that the garden is the focus and "homeschooling" takes a back seat during those months, well so be it (and then I'd say one needs to ask the question "isn't THIS homeschooling?"). When we lived on our farm we basically only did formal lessons between late October and the beginning of April. Working outdoors took precedent - this was our food and this was how we lived. Did the children then miss out on things? Sure they did! They missed out on all sorts of things....but that's how life is. In balance, I am so grateful that we had those years. And during that time we wove in lessons here and there - this was our version of Waldorf unschooling. It was a bit rough, a bit hit and miss - sometimes way more miss than hit. But my husband and I felt that our real priority was to live our lives and include our children. And so they learned real life lessons - about responsibility, hard work and all the rest. And - this may be what stumps people - we were careful to work within the developmental indications for the stages that our sons were at. So before the 9 year change, for instance, I formed almost everyhting they did. After the 9 year change, they were given more room to experiment and had more say in what they were asked to do. We followed the basic thrust of the story/history curriculum. Science was living, based on our farm. There was no abstract work, no critical or logical thinking - ways of learning appropriate for high school children. And so on.

So Renee when you say you tried to create a little Waldorf school at home well - I am glad you see how impossible and how undesirable that is and others have also commented on this). I created Christopherus partially in response to local Waldorf homeschoolers I met who were killling theemselvs trying to follow a very beautiful, very solid curriculum that really is better suited for the classroom than the home ...ahem......Or which could be used, but only if one used it as a guide and knew how to let go of things without feeling guilty.

Donna
www.christopheruhomeschool.org

Donna said...

Hi Catherine,

OK - I have a question for you. What does it mean when you are "in control" and what does it mean to give your children more freedom? What does that look like? You said you thought the Mama Duck days were behind you (to which I would agree) yet you still find this balance between form or authority and "freedom" (which I would say needs defining) elusive.

So - tell me what those things think about. And tell me more about your fear of "imposing lessons" on your children.

Donna
www.christopherushomeschool.org

Catherine said...

For me, to be « in control » means that I am leading the day’s unfoldment. I have a plan in mind and impose this plan on the girls. When I am not in control, I let them flow from one activity to the next and help when required, answer questions and just tag along (and do my own stuff). To me, that’s giving them more freedom, letting them decide what they do without me leading activities like I do when we follow for instance, your curriculum (Main lesson, snack, lesson a, lunch, lesson B). Giving them more freedom means that I respect that they do not want to do school and let them decide to do something else instead.

I am afraid that by forcing lessons on them, I am creating a distaste of learning, an association between learning and not fun/not free. I see a huge difference in their energy when they copy a sentence I wrote on the board (it feels draining and it takes forever...) compared to when they just ask me to write something on the board for a project they are doing (for instance, the title of a book they are creating). It’s like when it comes from me, it does not come from their own motivation and they do it because they have to, or to please me, not because they feel compelled to do so, because it makes sense to them or because they are motivated to do so... I fear that I create a distinction between learning and life, where life is fun (and is not composed of math and writing projects) and learning (that are school related). I noticed that my girls became allergic to spelling, maths and writing in their free time in first grade, whereas now (we haven’t started anything yet...) they do quite a bit of reading, spelling and maths on their own... Is this clearer?

Your post really shook me up last night and I grabbed my planning and started to rework it to fit it in our schedule before we leave for Costa Rica and then, I redid the planning for when we will be in Costa Rica... This morning, with a very different intention, I presented the 4 squirrels (we did gnomes last year) and we did some manipulatives (and the drawing of the 4 squirrels). Mara was totally into it and she wanted to do another drawing and more practice, Mathilde did the whole thing too and stopped at the second drawing, while Aïsha closed her MLB and said she did not want to do math and that whe would not do school. I said that she will have to recopy what we did at another time, before our next lesson in two days. She said she wouldn’t. Later today, I suggested we do the lesson she did not want to do this morning. She categorically refused. What to do? I can’t force her to write! However, after the lesson, they were all creating math books with many additions and substractions in them...

After reading your post and discussing with JF and my good friend today (who was also pretty shaken up by your anwers, in a good way, but shaken nonetheless...), I feel very confident that I need to be more in charge, I just wonder how to deal with very reluctant little girls. There is no way I can think of going at it sideways and most times, it ends up in head butting... Not a good atmosphere for learning!

Thank you, thank you, thank you... This is a very important moment for us all. I am so grateful to know you.

Sarah said...

First of all I would like to thank you Catherine and Donna for this discussion. It has been so interesting reading all of the comments. I was especially interested in the exchange between the both of you, Catherine and Donna. It really got me thinking... I have also had some eyes roll and sighs and even some straight out refusals to work on lessons or reading. I also have one ADHD and hyper-sensitive child that can suddenly decide to just walk away from what we are doing. My children also sometimes get discouraged, frustrated and upset over their work when they find it difficult (to draw, write, read or if they make a mistake in their MLB). I am no expert on homeschooling or Waldorf education, but I find that if I stay calm and firm and hold my bit, I can bring them back to their work and get them to continue on. I often offer them short breaks (minutes to stretch, breath, go drink a glass of water or eat a little snack and come back) and more help and they eventually manage to complete what it is that they are doing. I do have to insist sometimes but I do not feel that I am forcing or imposing lessons or work... More like helping them work through the long or difficult parts. Helping them to persevere. When I see the look on their faces after, I am sure that this is a good thing. They are very proud of their work and I think this helps build their confidence. Overall they do enjoy Waldorf homeschooling and never complain about stories, painting and crafts. This is just my experience... That said, I do agree that children are natural learners and homeschooling does allow more free time for play and exploration and experiencing life (not being in a classroom all day), and "learning all the time" that is the "unschooling" or "relaxed" aspect of our homeschooling. What "relaxed homeschooling" also means to me and the challenge that it sometimes poses is to not worry about "what if my children were in a classroom", are we doing enough? It is not letting the social pressure of comparison (what my homeschooled children are learning versus what school children are learning) get to me. I do not worry about this all the time and I know that I have chosen what I see best for my children. In my opinion Waldorf curriculum contains many, many important things that are not taught in the regular school system and I have no second thoughts about that. Also, homeschooling, outside of curriculum and in it's "relaxed" fashion offers many learning experiences children miss out on when in a classroom all day. But when I have to meet with my school board a few times a year and asked to meet certain "objectives" that are not Waldorf, I do feel some pressure... It is so against todays culture to be "relaxed" about anything. It is at times difficult to resist the pressure to perform at all times or to expect our children to.

Donna said...

OK , Catherine, I have an assignment for you. I would like you to think about this word"impose" in relation to your children. I'd like you to think about what the inner attitude of one might be toward her children if she feels she is imposing things like lessons on them (and I am aware that there are possible language issues here - but having worked with you for several years, I do think that the English word 'impose' is the one you want to use and that I am understanding you correctly - having said that, do correct me if I have misunderstood anything).

And here's a controversial question (sorry, unschoolers - this one is going to annoy you!!): why should you respect that your children do not want to do school? Do you respect that they do not want to wear their jackets when it is snowing outside or want to stay up until midnight or eat lots of sugary food? What is the difference here?

Why do you have to force lessons on them? Can you imagine that something has gone a bit funky if three little girls are not engaged by what you are doing? Sure, they are not going to like everything - that's life. And sometimes that could mean one saying "ok, we're not going to do this, then" and other times it could mean one says "tough - we need to just get this done." But those options are only meaningful if they come from a place of calm strength, not collapse in the face of rebellion!

One of the problems here, Catherine, is that it all feels a little like we're peering into an empty stable and you're asking how one prevents the horse from running away! Well, he's already a few miles down the road! So once he's caught, the question then becomes "how do I do things differently so that the horse can no longer runs away?"

OK - enough with the extended metaphor! You are chasing your girls, Catherine - I can read that in what you say. And you are not happy with this. So...it's back to square one.

(end of part 1)

Donna said...

(part 2)
And we are not talking overnight transformation here. I feel you are breathlessly watching those children of yours all the time thinking "will she cooperate or not" - so then you describe how Mara wants to do something, Mathilde cooperates and Aisha flat out refuses. Ok, not bad, 2 out of 3. But why are you surprised? Just because you did one thing with strong intentions, it is going to take a LONG TIME to get them onto the track that supports them so that, for the most part, they do what needs to be done - ie what you decide is going to happen. They are now used to Mommy vacillating between "do what you want" and "could you please maybe do this?"

But....square one means that if you still have unresolved feeling about the fact that giving lessons, ie directing your girls, is in any way imposing something on them and that this is a bad thing, then I cannot see you getting very far on this track. Sure, there are many ways that one can work with children (and Sarah gives some very helpful ideas in her post) but at heart, at base, is your belief. You have a very difficult situation - three little girls, two of whom are twins. And, as Sarah said, when a child has issues, it makes things even more difficult. You know my heart goes out to you in that - but....all the more reason that you - and you alone - need to get yourself together so strongly that life just flows from what you do.

I know I am being brutal here...and I know you know I am also being loving. Tricks of the trade, clever pedagogical advice just is of no help in this situation. You are alone. Even JF cannot really share this burden though he can, of course, give you loving support, which I know he does. But at the end of the day, Catherine, you need to sit down with yourself and flush out whatever it is that is impeding the smooth running of your family life. Getting clear about how you understand what educating children means is a first step. The mother/teacher role is a part of that.

And once you do that (and it is not going to happen overnight) it may indeed be that you decide you are an unschooler and that this is what your heart believes and that this is what you truly feel your children need. BUT - that will resonate from the core of your being and within that way of regarding children, you will feel secure. And then it will be ok I might have reservations - LOL! - but who cares? You will be working with your children out of a place of certainty and calm and that is what is more important than anything else).

Or you will walk more firmly on the Waldorf path, seeing that the descriptions of child development ring true in how you see your children. Then you will find the answers for how you must be with those children to bring harmony between what you believe and what you do.

All my love Catherine,

Donna

Catherine said...

Donna, I know you have been telling me this for many years (I remember when you told me to « rein those little girls back in » when they were 3 or 4) and you know what? It feels like finally, today, after reflecting about your wonderful answer, all the pieces of the puzzles are falling into place. I get it! I feel it in my core being! Being the center of their universe, their rock, with calm strength, with strong intention... It's one thing to know it and a totally other thing to feel it inside.

Stop to tip toe around them in the name of respect and freedom. Yes, it has gone funky and it is time to change that before it is too late. I know how resilient children are, but I can now see that they are looking up to me and that there has been some insecurity creeping in...

Thank you, Donna, from the bottom of my heart. This is a milestone in our homeschooling!

Love,

Cat

Anonymous said...

Hello Donna,
Very sorry, I guess I will transgress your wishes :-)
What !!!! ONLY ENGLISH!!! That's very unfair in a bilingual blog ;-)
Ask for a translation due your issue in french would be more friendly and don't blackball half of the Catherine readers :-)
Don't worry to much, I am sure is some translator around :-) So !
Catherine, je pense que tu édites les réponses, si oui, pas de problème :-) Si non, well...
A traduire :
Donna,
Tout ce que vous avez dit, j’applaudis à 2 mains !
Catherine,
Ce que dit Donna dans ses dernières réponses tombe sous le sens, tu dois faire attention à ta volonté de perfection, si tu avais parlé de tes difficultés sur le forum français je pense qu'en gros (la diplomatie en moins peut-être) tu aurais eu une réponse approchante (sorry Donna ;-) I am near to you :-)
Un de tes problèmes est ton désir de perfection... Bien ordinaire :-) Toutes les mamans conscientes ont ce souhait, non ?
La perfection... Des leçons, des situations..etc ! C'est sans fin ! Tu n'es pas parfaite, moi non plus, et tant mieux pour nos enfants !!! J'ai une amie qui a eu des parents "parfaits" cela l'a tellement BLOQUÉE qu'elle n'a, certes pas été détruite, mais "réduite"...Au point de ne pas pouvoir construire de couple....
OK,hors sujet ... ?
Je n'ai AUCUN problème à faire/donner mes leçons... Là en GR 4, et, pour avoir accompagner un fils de 21 ans et un de 14 jusqu'à leurs intégrations dans le système.... Je pense pouvoir dire certaines choses :
_ Mon fils ainé m'a reproché de ne pas l'avoir "forcé" à plus...
-Mon "juste en cours" me dit qu'il est très, TRES heureux de découvrir maintenant (en seconde) l'univers EN mais me "reproche" de ne pas l'avoir "forcé" à faire plus de grammaire :-) -parce que en allemand et en anglais c'est 75% de la note ;-)
Alors, oui, c'est difficile d'être de "BONS" parents, et en plus, chaque incarnation est apte ou pas à apprécier telle ou telle aptitude ! Alors, oui, je suis ABSOLUMENT relax pour l'instruction, Mais,Mais, je "force" mes kids" à apprendre ce qu'ils doivent connaitre... Lorsque je n'ai pas trouvé comment l'intégrer... Autre chose, l'attitude que tu décris ne m’aie arrivé que quand je n'étais pas claire avec moi-même... Pour transmettre, il "faut" être absolument convaincu que ce que tu transmets est "indispensable"...
Cela était jusqu'à présent personnel...
Il y a un témoignage sur lequel je voudrais revenir, en anglais, je te serais donc reconnaissante de traduire si cela ne t'embêtes pas trop !
Cela s'adresse à la maman qui est des fils turbulents.. et qui pense que Steiner, c'est pour les filles ou les garçons "calmes" (je ne préfère pas traduire ce que j'ai traduit ;-)
Une des raison qui m'a fait adopter la pédagogie Steiner, c'est en particulier la "condamnation" du personnel de la halte garderie et de divers personnes soit-dis-en apte et qui avaient "qualifié" mon fils comme "problématique" ayant assurément un problème de "comportement"... Je les ai presque cru ! Mais, mais, je suis "tombé" sur les considérations de Steiner, et j'ai "sauvé" mon fils... De le laisser patauger dans la boue, quelque soit le temps, prendre les risques qui le confrontaient ses limites... vraiment, cela l'a "sauvé" !! et après avoir totalement exploité l'extérieur, "s'amuser" avec les gnomes des maths et trouver les "messages" secrets (les lettres)fut VRAIMENT amusant... Donner un conseil une formule est complètement impossible... Il faut être "convaincu" de ce que l'on fait...
Catherine, tu me manques, surtout maintenant que la "discussion" est possible ;-)
Amitié

Catherine said...

Désolée, Anonyme, je n'ai malheureusement pas le loisir de traduire les réponses. Je le fais quand j'ai le temps pour mes propres messages à moi, mais pas dans le cas d'une telle discussion. On se connaît?

To all of you who don't speak French, Anonyme wanted me to translate her message, which I don't have time to do. Sorry.

Donna said...

Hi Everyone,

Just wanted to pause for a moment from the conversation for a few points of clarification. I know that some of you reading what I have been saying to Catherine especially might think am an absolute tyrant when it comes to children! So although, depending on what you believe about the nature of children and their needs, you may still believe that after you "hear" what I say, at least I have had a chance to put forward a few words in explanation.

And as what I wrote grew, I decided to put it on my blog so I can keep it into the future. There it is also linked to similar resources where one can learn more.

http://christopherushomeschool.typepad.com/blog/2011/10/respecting-the-child.html

Be back in a bit to deal with more of your questions and comments!

Donna
www.christopherushomeschool.org

Anonymous said...

Hello all...
In fact, just a little part of the post is for a translation ;-)
So, ANONYME, you think, Waldorf is for quite boy or girl....
May I said you, my totally wild boy had been SAVED (sure my grammar ;-) by the Waldorf ideas ...Ask our host if you want exchange with me ....
Catherine,
Am stram.... Oui, tu me connais ;-)
Et je ne suis pas sure de comprendre ton "comportement" vis-à-vis du "français" et je reste assez déboussolée par tes choix :-)
Juste un coucou sur ma mailbox me conforterait du fait que tu as bien mon mail !!

Catherine said...

Am stram, je n'ai pas ton courriel et je ne comprends pas ce que tu me reproches exactement.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sarah said...

I just want to say to Donna that I love your answers and metaphors. They really speak to me!

I. said...

Hi everyone!
Thanks Donna and Catherine for the opportunity to ask questions here.

I wanted to ask Donna how she feels about the difference between FREE TO chose and FREE FROM choice. I get the feeling that Waldorf is on the freedom-from-choice side. Meaning that the adult has knowledge that the child doesn't.

Here is, i guess, THE bottom question for me : Do you mean you know what the child needs from your experience as an experienced adult (eg, when it's cold, we're warm with a jacket on), from your deep connection to this particular child's soul and needs at this particular moment, from Steiner's or antroposofical views on child development?

Does the 'plan' the adult has for the child come from knowledge about the spiritual path that awaits the child?
Or does the child also have some knowledge of HIS own path?

Thank you!
Isabelle

Donna said...

Hi Kim,

Well, they are and they aren't at different stages. Of course there is a huge difference between being 6 and being 1 but they are all still at least in that first birth through age 7 sage. All three thrive on what is True, what is Good and what is Beautiful.

And so what you can try to do is live into how those Qualities can manifest in your home, in what you do with your children, in how you (and your partner if you have one) live and are. Through really meditating on those Qualities and their importance, then the everyday activities, the content of your days, will become evident because you have understood what the form needs to be.

And how you breathe between those forms - well that's your rhythm.

OK - so that might sound a little obscure, even esoteric. What I mean by this, as with much that I have said here on this thread, is that the single most important ting for the homeschooling parent to do is to understand the stage of development of her children and - AND - to work on her own personal development so that the channels, as it were, for the expression of her understanding are clear. And then she can act.

You have identified the most important elements - sleeping, eating and having a calm and peaceful homelife. Those are what is truly important - not how many paintings you paint or how much bread you bake. But once you have those basics down, then you can focus on HOW your peaceful day unfolds. Well, on Mondays (for instance) we bake so that we have bread for the week. And on Tuesday we clean the house. By Wednesday we are out of clean clothes so that is when we really focus on the laundry....and so on. And these are all activities that are absolutely fundamental to everything that is important for little tiny children to learn - to be part of the work of a family; to see that there are responsibilities that need to be met; to share in the rhythmic family life. And along the way, through the repetition of such work, the children develop all sorts of motor and social skills - all the things which conventional education can quantify and which so many people get stuck on! But it's all there! And of course, because of the age difference, you will find different tasks for your children to do (your tiny one is of course in a sling or similar most of the time, actively learning through her seemingly passive watching). But for the most part, because of the ages of your children, you work together.

And then, as you seek to refine and deepen what you do, you can think about your family's spiritual life and relationship to the changing of the seasons. This then helps you choose what stories to tell, what songs to sing, what verses to work with. It helps you know that to celebrate festivals meaningfully with children, that certain crafts, activities and other gestures need to find their expression. All this enriches and deepend your family life.

And all three children are included and you find how to do this because you have stopped thinking in terms of "now I have to do kindergarten with my two eldest and instead you are able to think about how you all live together - which necessitates things which can actually be called "kindergarten". Do you see the difference?

Therein, I think, lies some of the secret of being a relaxed homeschooler! It all starts with you!

Donna
www.christopherushomeschool.org

Francesca said...

There is so much food for thought here - thanks Donna and Catherine! I will have to come back and re-read all the comments, but what really spoke to me are Donna's remarks about "being in control".

Francesca said...

There is so much food for thought here - thanks Donna and Catherine! I will have to come back and re-read all the comments, but what really spoke to me are Donna's remarks about "being in control".

Donna said...

Hi Carine,

Yes, I was also struck by Catherine's words where she said she would "pause and pray." If we can only remember to stop, especially when we are in the midst of challenges with our children - to stop and pause, take a deep breath....and either right then or later, in solitude, to ask for guidance. How humbling but also empowering to remember we are not alone in this. And I realized that in my post to Catherine I said that she was alone in her inner struggle - this is of course only insofar as help from other human beings is concerned. The spiritual worlds are always available for help. Even just remembering that can assist.us in those dark moments.

I like what you say, Carine, about being an authority as the one who inspires and nourishes. That is definitely part of it. And Isabelle, if you are reading this, I will get to your question about authority, but right now let me say that it can help to think about authority in terms of authenticity. Being real. Being in the moment yet with a longer view. Being calm and "in control" but not "controlling" - subtle but important distinction there. It's a nuanced dance and one can so easily get out of step, either stiffening into rigidity or flowing away into chaos. Both extremes are out of step with what a child needs.

And - hope everyone bears with me with my wild extended metaphors here - and thanks, Sarah - glad you appreciate them LOL! - but the point is that the tempo of the dance needs to change as the situation changes, as the child grows, as the relationship between one and one's child evolves.Here we can see how important rhythm is - rhythm as the animating and metamorphosing element which ensures that things never stagnate. And so we breath in and out, in and out, now faster, now slower, as we create the forms which inspire and nourish our children.

It is good that your son wants to please you, Carine - but I am concerned when you say his heart is not in it. Why might that be? Why should anything in the world be boring to such a young child? Are you excited about your work together? Have you found ways to enliven what you do not so that it is entertaining in a trivial way, but engaging? Can you perhaps describe a bit more of what happens and what you think might be missing?

Ah...I just read further in what you wrote - you too are concerned about imposing learning. Hmmm...well, I bet my bottom dollar that your boy is picking up on that....and that makes him less than enthusiastic....and that makes you feel like you really are doing the wrong thing....and so it goes.

Of course he likes to play and do his own thing best - but he "should" ( I know - gotta be careful with that word) love his lessons because it is the birthright of all human beings to want to learn! It's how we parent/teachers bring those lessons - when, why, how etc - that is the trick. And of course there are still going to be times when the child would rather play - and there will be times (especially with a first grader) that we allow that. But the lessons should be so full of life that a child could actually seek them out in preference to play because they speak to something deep within. That is what we are aiming for.

Donna
www.christopherushomeschool.org

Donna said...

Hi Isabelle,

Have you read the article I just posted on my blog yesterday? It might be helpful for you to read it in the light of your question on authority because the issue of respecting a child and understanding human development are part of the answer. I will come back to you directly, but I thought it could be helpful for you to read this first:

http://christopherushomeschool.typepad.com/blog/2011/10/respecting-the-child.html

Donna

Donna said...

Hi Anonyme from Carrie's,

Glad to have you here - and I am glad you are connected to Carrie's blog because there is so much valuable guidance to be found there.

And no problem going off topic - happy to have your enthusiasm!

6:15am really isn't so bad....there are a lot of children who pop out of bed much earlier and there is nothing one can do to "re-set" their inner clocks. At least you have that lovely time with your girl each morning!

Re the boys getting dressed - they are still a bit little to be expected to do that alone - thus the screaming. The night before, you could set out their clothes for them - that should help. It sounds like you really need to get ahold of the early morning part of your day. Set the table the night before but make sure your eldest energy-boy has definite things he needs to help you with first thing. Do not let him cycle off into a volcano. He must come to the kitchen (for instance) and mix or stir something - do something active (see my Joyful Movement for ideas) which isn't play but is work - work that is needed for the family to then be able to have breakfast. Think it through - leave things undone so that they are there for him to do. He might still be in his jammies for all of this - then the younger boy has some time to come into himself without his brother's chaos and teasing. Then maybe oldest boy can go get dressed while younger boy comes to sit on the couch and maybe quietly look at books. Sure, as he passes by his brother, eldest will probably make a crack or poke at him or something - try to not let it get you - that's part of being a typical boy.

Now eldest boy is dressed - and he still needs you to direct what he does. He puts the food on the table or waters the plants or...I don't know - you have to thinkthrough tasks and order them in such a way that he can do them. gain, this ios NOT busy work - it's real work that needs doing and serves the double purpose of being of service to the family whilst also helping your wild boy (wgho sounds very very normal!!) come into himself in a social, not anti social way. By the time the 4 of you sit down to eat, he should be centered enough that you have a chance to keep the rest of the day on track.

So many people in our society think that out-of-themselves children either need fixing (think Ritalin and so on) or need to "run off steam". I won't even bother to say what I think of the first option. As for the second option, for many, many children this only makes it worse. Running around formlessly spirals the child out of himself (and it is usually though not always a boy thing) and exacerbates the situation, with the poor child left totally unable to come into himself. What is needed here is RHYTHMIC form. Work such as grinding flour, polishing silver, shining shoes. Or the rhythm lies in repetition - that every day he performs these tasks for the family. Later, during Circle Time, it is the repetition, the strongly rhythmic rhymes and gestures that bring him to earth whilst meeting his need for activity.

(end of part 1)

Donna said...

(part 2)
These are the secrets - which should not be secret - of working with a Wild Boy (and I also had a Wild Boy - the elder - and a slower more earth-bound boy whose eventual eruptions were slower but far more impressive than his brother's).

So here is where you need to be right in there forming every part of their day so that these two don't drive you and each other nuts - and so you don't lose their sister in the shuffle! You need to work out and plan every minute of the day - really!!! - for these boys. And before you despair, this is not forever. It is perhaps for 6 months,maybe a year until they get this so into themselves that it becomes their own life rhythm - and then they can take a step away from it and you and a step toward their own personal freedom. But in such a situation you cannot leave it to them. They need your authority expressed as forming everything they do - so that they can iron themselves out. It is A LOT of work. But believe me, it is far less exhausting than living with boys who fight all the time (remember the blizzard!!).

And there is light at the end of the tunnel - by the time your eldest approaches and passes his 9 year change, he will mature and, because you have provided firm foundations for him (based on your strong authority as parent) he will be able to relax more into himself and be easier to live with. But it is unlikely that he can do this without parental help. he has come to the earth with tis wonderful exuberance - it is your task as his parent to help him never squash that energy, but to learn how to be incontrol of it. It should be his servant, not his master. But as he is a child, without a fully incarnated 'I' (that only comes at age 21) he cannot do this by himself. Only an adult - a parent - can help him in this task.

And then you will become relaxed homeschoolers!!

By the way, have you got my early years book? I really do think it might be of help as it covers so much of what I spoke of here - and it does not matter if the book is about younger children (which you have 2 of). Those foundational forms need examining and the book could be off help with that.

http://www.christopherushomeschool.com/A-Waldorf-Early-Years-Guide-p/chreb001.htm


Donna
www.christopherushomeschool.org

ninibottine said...

Hi Donna,
Is a clone of your brain available through Christopherus? I will need more than 9 lives to remember and read about all of this, guessing that there is probably far more to learn about parenting the Waldorf way... Why did no one tell me about waldorf years and years before????

This discussion is the core of what I have been looking for but wasn't sure exactly how and where to ask for it. Catherine and I have been discussing about those topics for more than a year, I believe, and we read books by dozens...
I personnaly felt like a wind vane, being unschooler a day and relaxed waldorfy homeschooler every other day, never quite sure exactly what we were!
I will certainly take time to summerize averything that has been written here and try and focus on those for a couple of weeks.
Thank you ladies for ALL of your input!
And Carrie, I reaaly think you could make a fortune with the cloning idea...

Carine said...

"Being real. Being in the moment yet with a longer view. Being calm and "in control" but not "controlling" - subtle but important distinction there. It's a nuanced dance and one can so easily get out of step, either stiffening into rigidity or flowing away into chaos. Both extremes are out of step with what a child needs."

I'm so agree with this.

I like what I do with my son, but I think my son have difficulties with drawing and such graphism. He dislike to be sit in front of a paper. And perhaps it reveal bad memories in me, it's true…

Yes, I like to see stars in his eyes when he learn by his way, I think it's so enthusiasting… I love when he have discover to count 2 by 2 and 5 by 5, then 10 by 10 with his abacus.

I think he dislike lessons because he thinks "why does I don't know everything, like the older seems know ? why drawing is seems so difficult, even if I finally succeed ?". When he was a litle child, I never could read stories with him because he didn't understood this strange thing : I saw something that he didn't see into the same objet : the book. This difference is uncomfortable for him.

(6h15… dear… morning is not our friend, in our family…)

Donna said...

Hi Marianne,

I wonder if your question has been touched on sufficiently - though not really directly addressed, I do think it underlay a number of the comments and questions. I hope you have found this useful - and please - there is no way that you are intruding! I assume you feel that way because your child is tiny and you are not homeschooling - well congratulations to you for starting early and, hopefully, finding a path that leads you where you feel you need to go with your child!

In general, I think that though there need to be formal times for school and thus for the mother being the teacher, the point about homeschooling is that it flows with Real Life. So in addition to Cook, Chauffeur, Wardrobe Supervisor, Social Secretary and all the rest of normal parenting duties, there is also Teacher. But of course, all parents teach their children - it's just that when we homeschool we do it more often and it usually needs to be fairly formalized.

But what is most important is that one has established the healthy forms in one's family that support teaching - if the children do not listen to the parent, then homeschooling cannot happen. I have seen that very often - the basic discipline questions, the rhythm and forms which support the children and nurture a harmonious atmosphere so that teaching and learning can take place, are missing. And that's no fun for anyone!

I have mentioned this several times now, but as I see you have a little one, you especially might be interested in my early years book which we sell on our website. There is a whole section in there dedicated to the mother's role and several women share about how they find - and don't find! -balance in their days.

Donna
www.christopherushomeschool.org

Cathy said...

Dear Catherine, thank you so much for hosting this discussion, which I am very much enjoying, and learning a great deal from. And thank you to everyone who is participating.

Donna, I want to take this opportunity to thank you so much for all the work you have put into producing your curriculum, which has been such a wonderful resource for me. I find your voice to be clear and true and wonderfully supportive. Homeschooling can be a lonely business at times, and I have felt as if I have had you take me by the hand and gently guide my way. So as it is unlikely we will ever meet (I am in New Zealand), I send you a heartfelt cyber-hug.

For me, the words “relaxed homeschooling” bring up a few different things. One is, as others have pointed out, how relaxed I am as mother and teacher, which I think comes from how confident I feel in what I am trying to do. When I have doubts I cannot feel confident, I am not clear, I don’t trust either myself or my child. I am scattered, I am not present. I think this has more to do with parenting choices and how well aligned my beliefs and values are with what I am doing/how I am behaving. How comfortable do I feel with the way I am handling this situation?

I know that one sure way for my confidence to dip and for me to start questioning what I’m doing, and how, is if my child is resistant, you know, if he doesn’t show great enthusiasm. But then if I am really honest, I can see that this is almost always because I am not bringing great enthusiasm myself, it is as if I am saying, “please like this, I need your approval.”

As I write I am thinking, I need to somehow set aside my own needs when I am in this “role” of teacher and mother, but is that authentic??? Or am I working out of my “higher self”, my true self when I do manage to do that? Hmmmm…….

Then there is the relaxation that comes from feeling everything is under control, that all is going well. But the reality is that life is messy and I have regular periods of feeling overwhelmed by all the things which need my time and attention and that there are never enough hours in the day to get it all done. I am learning to say no to things which I just don’t have time for, but learning to let go of the guilt is harder….

Finally, how relaxed can the homeschooling be? I sometimes wonder what it would be like to just have the story and allow my child to work with it in his own way, not by giving him choices such as, “Would you like to draw, or write, or model, or paint?” etc, but just to leave him to it to digest things in an inner way without my direction or interference.

I also wonder about this idea of forcing him to do certain things. I know that, in the beginning, he didn’t enjoy drawing or writing, and I don’t exactly get the enthusiasm I would like now either, but there is less resistance and I realise now that much of that resistance came from the fact that it was really hard for him, and he wasn’t happy with the result. He didn’t have another 6 or 7 year old sitting next to him who also found it hard. He had mummy, who didn’t.

I am pondering on the idea of how much of the curriculum is essential. If we cannot do it all either because it is too much, or too hard right now, or not interesting enough (we don’t all love the same things) or I don’t know how to teach it and haven’t got time to learn right now, how much does it matter if we just don’t do that bit?

Here is my question: I come from a background in the Person-Centred Approach, based upon the work of the psychologist Carl Rogers. Rogers talks about something called “the core conditions” which I won’t go into details about here, but there is a quality of those core conditions being “necessary and/or sufficient”. So, how do I know which parts of the curriculum each year are necessary, and which parts are sufficient? To what degree can I change things, delay things, drop things with the aim to making homeschooling more relaxed for us all?

Anonymous said...

This has been a great read, of course as homeschoolers we are always striving for the balance. I think at the beginning of my "waldorf homeschool" journey, everything being new & unknown for me, I was more uptight about following the rules, doing things perfectly...I also see at that point in my life I was uptight and controlling of everything, and just being a mother was so new. Now that I can see the big picture of this education (beauty, nurturing the senses, creativity, age appropriateness) I feel free to take what we need when we need...I feel the same way with cooking & knitting now too, a couple of years of following recipes or patterns & now free to wing it and have fun with it, see what happens, but with a basic knowledge of the art. We follow Donna's Gr 1 curriculum for our 7 year old, but the days are flexible within the home- if the boy spends 2 weeks working on his underground tunnel project I won't disturb him because it is the scheduled circle time or recorder time, perhaps we will go and sing songs & play the recorder songs outside near him while he digs. Or if it is the day to bake and he is outside digging then I bake with my 5 year old and we bring snacks out to the tunnel project. But we have thus far easily found the time to stick with the approx 30 mins for Main Lesson each day, sometime in the morning. Our family rhythm each day is always on (meal times, bedtimes, etc).
Thank you Catherine & Donna & everyone for their thought provoking words.

Carrie said...

Hi Donna, Catherine, and all,
I wanted to chime in earlier but have been taking care of a house full of sick children and nursing some sort of subluxed joint in a finger myself, so I have been slow! Such an illuminating and thought-provoking discussion you all have had.

I was thinking about relaxed homeschooling in relation to my own children, and I thought of a few things that help me navigate the waters of Waldorf Education at home in a way I consider just nurturing....
1. For me, to plan is important, but to not be too wedded to the plan is essential. I have to not be afraid to move things around, to throw things out, to move things in relation to continual observation of the child. I was thinking of what you wrote, Catherine, about Aisha refusing to do her work, and I guess as her teacher I would be observing and perhaps changing based on my observation, but perhaps not ! You know things like: how is her vision? What is her pencil grip like? Is the noise level too high and she can’t focus? Is she hungry? Is she a complete perfectionist and needs to draw on separate sheets of paper because a Main Lesson book is daunting? Has she been writing away all week and truly does need the work lessened or does she really need to persist – in other words, is it now really not about drawing a picture, but about her relationship to authority, her need to finish something, her need to do something even if it is not what she would choose? In other words, will doing this help her be the healthy adult I intend for her to grow up and become? Where is the place of this refusal not only in school, but in the family? How does she make restitution for this? It is not all about her, it is also about the impact she has on her sisters when she does this as well…These are the sorts of things I ponder when things get off track in my own homeschooling experience. Some mothers I have talked to with smaller children talk about spending a lot of time in their homeschooling on “maintenance” , ie, managing behavior, but I truly think that is an essential part of homeschooling, and it really is not just managing, but using those opportunities to see where these children need strengthening, need help, need guidance to meet where they are developmentally and uplift them so their capacities can unfold.

2. So I think my idea of control is not based upon checking off all the boxes or such (more about that in number two), but I think it is about being the teacher and being able to be flexible in relation to what I see the child needs in order to learn, to accomplish our goals. I can change on a dime, but I won’t change on a whim, if that makes any sense at all. I try to continually discern the essential for that child based upon what I see, and what I think will help them most to become a healthy adult. What do they need to hear, to experience, to do? What responsibility do they need to take? So much of this is in the moment of teaching.

Carrie said...

Part Two

3. I have a little running list on my board that includes the work for the day. Even if the child cannot read it herself, it helps me look at what we need to do, even if we don’t get to it that day and I carry it over. I also write a little strip going down the side of my board regarding things “outside” of the main lesson – like on Mondays we have a Nature Story, on Wednesdays we do German and we have handwork in the afternoon. It helps me not to just peter out and end at the Main Lesson and for a child over the nine year change, I think it helps to just have it there, almost neutral, like the board says, the sun rises, this is our work today..
4. It helps me to have whole days to go to the forest, the beach, to build or to cook. Having a whole day and not just an afternoon lets me relax and feel like these experiences are just as an important part of our homeschooling experience as a Main Lesson Book…and probably more. As Donna always says, homeschooling is first and foremost about family!
5. And by that token,I try to relax and not fall into the trap of always material presentation, drawing, summarizing. There is a place for that, but also a place for all the other wonderful things in Waldorf Education. I try to approach things with love and humor! Homeschooling is fun!

I think homeschooling is ultimately about influencing development of the holistic human being, and using the curriculum to meet developmental needs. It is also about learning to work as a team within the family, to start to take responsibility for oneself and one’s actions, slowly and certainly not as an individual at first…Catherine, I think you mentioned earlier something about the nine year change and perhaps things at that point improve. I don’t think it makes the pushing against the form easier, in fact, I think it is harder because they realize they are separate, that authority can be pushed against, and I think in girls especially they may already form conceptions of being “good” at something or not . They also work in that sympathy-antipathy realm, what they like and what they don’t like and sometimes need a lot of encouraging, and just being a wall whilst they complain about fair, unfair, etc. With a small child, yes ,even a small child of 10 or whatever, they are still not a rational adult who comes to sit down like an adult at the table and “learn”…..and there are things, that as adults, I believe we can authentically guide children…..

So, I do think you have to carry within your heart that what you are doing is the right thing. Sometimes you do not see how things that are in the curriculum affect the child until much later. I like to use the example of when my oldest was in third grade and we did the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden in September. She was very quiet about it all, but I came out one morning in January to see her drawing a huge chalkboard drawing of Adam and Eve and all the animals. Sometimes we just plant the seeds, and the wonderful thing in Waldorf Education is how each grade really builds upon each other. The flame of the candle in Kindergarten can become the flame we observe and draw later in the upper grades for science. It is so beautifully all there…

Many blessings, thank you for this conversation.
Carrie

Donna said...

Hi Sarah,

I want to thank you for your thoughtful contribution - what you say about how you work with your children, taking little breaks and so on is wonderful and really important - we must always remember that homeschooling is VERY intense. It is essentially a one-on-one tutorial and nothing at all like being in a classroom of 25 children. It may seem like a paradox, but teaching 25 is actually much easier for an adult and much easier in many ways for a child!. There is more room to breath. One is able to teach via another child when child A is having trouble. One works with the group and the children get to see the struggles and accomplishments of the other children. They can imitate as well. None of this is so at home - even if one has a very large family, because of the different ages and the realities of family dynamics, it is not the same. Though at least one can pair children off and get the older ones working with the younger ones!

I am running out of steam and getting tired but I did want to high light what you say, Sarah about the joy on their faces after they have had to do something - this can easily be forgotten when one is torturing oneself whether one is "imposing lessons" on a child. No one ever said learning is easy or painless - much of it is not. But....the joy that a child has once he's faced down his walls of resistance (and he needs a parent's help with this for many many years) is priceless. There is nothing that makes homeschooling more worthwhile than witnessing the deep satisfaction a child can experience when he has mastered or overcome something. If we always back down when a child protests about lessons, we never give him the opportunity to have this experience.

Having said that....there are definitely times when one wants to back off - Cathy expresses this eloquently and others have brought this up. It is critical that one recognize that there are times when one needs to acknowledge that the struggle a child is facing is too much and that the joy of accomplishment won't follow, but the pain of failure will (not that it isn't ok for a child to occasionally experience failure). There is no formula for this - only the parent-teacher can judge when the time is right and where the balance lies. And I think, Cathy, that I am going to include your questions here because they fit. Yes - absolutely - there are definitely things in the curriculum you must skip. Every Waldorf teacher certainly does - either because he runs out of time or because he took his class in a somewhat different direction based on their needs or circumstances. This is critical to remember.
(end of part 1)

Donna said...

(part 2)
But again, there is no way to state how one can make that call - and of course we all make mistakes on it and call it wrong. That's ok. We learn for the next time.

A good call I made was with my younger son. He could not for the world deal with form drawing when he was 7, 8 or 9 years old. Form drawing is incredibly important. But I could see that he was unable to reap its benefits for a number of reasons. He had plenty of time to play outside, he cooked and cleaned with me, he painted and drew and modelled and baked and did handwork - so he did have plenty of opportunities to receive the kind of balancing that is so much a part of form drawing. It was a gap, but I decided, on balance, that it was ok.

When he was 12 we started with form drawing. It was an amazing experience. He remembered his struggles from when he was younger and because of his age, was able to remove himself somewhat from the process and observe himself. He could see how now he could grasp the forms. Because of his age, I could also now talk with him a bit about why form drawing is so important and why we do it - he could more or less understand that. It was a wonderful experience for both of us.

Moral of the story? Understand child development and how its demands are reflected in the Waldorf curriculum and then know your child so you can judge how best to work with the curriculum. And know yourself so that your own "stuff" does not get in the way! And lastly - it's never to late to take action or correct a lapse.

And back to Sarah, thank you for mentioning how counter to society's pressures it is to be relaxed about anything! To be a relaxed homeschooler is a revolutionary act! Bring it on!

Hope it's ok that I combined you two....I want to get at least briefly to everyone remaining as tomorrow is our last day....

Donna
www.christopherushomeschool.org

Anonymous said...

Hi Donna,
I am sending you a big
(((( hug ))))!

Thank you so much for your in depth and lovely response regarding my "wild" boys. I realize that I have a lot of work ahead of me, but that is okay. I am going to start implementing as many of your suggestions as I can. I have to give you a great example that occurred today. Oldest Boy was spinning out of control and really annoying Younger Boy who in turn started taking his frustrations out on Lil Sis. I was patient to a point and then was starting to loose my cool. I was almost about to send them outside to play (in the past I have done that, thinking Oldest Boy needed to run off some energy...it never really works). I stopped myself and said, hey, I need you to come over here and help me clean out this yucky refrigerator. We worked together, but do you know that he happily and enthusiastically wiped down the entire frig? It was a huge help to me (I was getting ready to do it myself) and all of a sudden the chaos amongst all of the kiddos dissipated.

Thank you, Donna! (And thank you Catherine for this incredible thread!) Oh, and yes I do have the early years book. Unfortunately its on my iPad and I am having technical difficulties at the moment and cannot access it. Hope to resolve that very soon.

Happy Friday!

I. said...

Thanks Donna!
Now i have read it:-)
(btw, i live in Holland maybe 20yards from Corrie Ten Boom's house- how funny is this coincidence.)
So am i correct in understanding that only part of the knowledge the adult possesses comes from general knowledge about child development ?I mean, notions like the temperaments, or the 9 yo change etc- and boy did these notions help me understand that my high energy boy does not require exterior, chemical fixing, but a more subtle recentering...i loved your metaphor of ironing oneself out:-)
But i do get the feeling that there is more, like a very personal, maybe spiritual vision, or plan, that mom has for this specific child. Do children come with a plan for themselves? And what does it mean in terms of the level of guidance/choice autonomy we can/should leave them?

I get the feeling that i KNOW my son's soul and needs at a deep level. But i also get the feeling that he has a plan of his own?

Thank you Donna and Catherine, again!

Catherine said...

Wow! What an amazing discussion we are having here! This is so rich. Carrie, thank you so very much for your post. It helps me see how I only really just scratched the surface of the subtelties of homeschooling... There really is a lot of knowing our children and my mistake was to put them all in the same basket because they are doing the same grade! Big mistake. You are so right on about Aïsha. And I can clearly see that it is her relationship to authority, and that by gently pushing her, I am doing her a great service. Thank you all so much for your amazing contributions! We still have Donna here today (Saturday) and then we will close the comments tonight! Please invite Donna on your blog for more discussions!

Donna said...

Hi Isabelle,

Your questions are wonderful....but I think they are really questions for you to meditate on within the context of your spiritual path.

I would however say this: every human being comes to earth with a Plan made in the spiritual worlds....but how that plan unfolds, what is might look like, how it might come to deviate from what was originally envisioned....those things have to do with karma and the experiences that meet a person as they grow and develop. And part of that also has to do with free choice, the choices each adult makes during the course of his or her life.

This is obviously pretty complicated stuff and I find that the study of anthropsophy helps me understand and work with such deep, deep qustions. I am also a member of the Christian Community, the church founded on the work of Rudolf Steiner. http://www.thechristiancommunity.org/ I find that my deep questions find form, if not answers, through my involvement with such initiatives.

Every human being is born to parents - thus the parents are part of the Plan. How this unfolds in each human relationship - well, that's way more than I can grasp. But I can say that since children come as children, with their different stages of consciousness, with their need to be children, that the parents (and other adults) are the ones who have to take the decisions, and create the kind of lifestyle, to the best of their abilities, for each child's destiny (or Plan) to unfold. It is best if those adults strive to understand questions of human destiny so that they can at least anticipate what the Plan might be for each child. But unless they are clairvoyant, it is unlikely that they will know each child's Plan (it is hard enough for each person to get to grips with his or her own Plan let alone those of others - at least for most people!).

So...everyone just has to do their best. Exoterically, they can strive to learn about child development and education and sensible ways of parenting. Esoterically, they can study questions of spiritual unfoldment.

And that's about all I can touch on with this wonderful question.

Donna
www.christopherushomeschool.org

Carine said...

I think we can a "strong" parent, calm, inspiring, posed and relaxing for the soul of children and that, whatever the choice we make : homeschooling relaxed, unschooling or even other…
But perhaps its worse to a child to be in unschooling with a parent not also stable and a little be "fuzzy" that to be in the same situation in homeshooling because in homeschooling he is framed and it can be structured (because more secure). So, perhaps unschooling need more ideal conditions.
And, so, I think that the most important is to work of ourself. And it's true that anthroposophy can really help us ! In waiting, we have to make the choice that reinforces us, and that we feel our children seems the most fulfilled. Then, perhaps we will change this choice (or not), but no regrets to have : we was what we was, and this allowed us to put us on the way. And I think it is not also rich for us, but so educate and train for the child !

(I don't know it my english is understandable…)

Thanks you for your post, Carrie, it's really inspiring…

I. said...

Donna, thank you so so so very much!
Isabelle

Carla said...

Thanks Catherine for sharing Donna with us. I really enjoyed reading through everyone's comments.