Thursday, August 29, 2013

Home Educating

It's come up a lot these past few weeks; our homeschool plan, why we are choosing homeschool, how we plan to succeed, what about socialization? Rest assured, with a family our size and living where we do (within an intentional community with multiple generations and plenty of children) socialization is the least of our worries!

I've been asked by a few folks to share our homeschool plan for the year. In this post, I will provide a peek into the curricula we've chosen. It's such a labor of love and it's nice to think that sharing what will work for us will inspire others or provoke questions or suggestions that could benefit our homeschool experience.

Each child is an individual therefore their education, I believe, should be created to suit their unique needs and requests. This year, I had planned on homeschooling a first grader, an eighth grader, and a preschooler. Instead, my eighth grader has decided to return to our local public school (along with our sixth grader) so he could participate in a new sports program. We discussed long and hard the reasons as to why he wished to homeschool in the first place and how and why that has changed in regards to his playing a particular sport. Having this new experience was very important to him so homeschooling was less of a desire having had something new to look forward which could possibly help create a better public school experience for him this year. The social aspect of public school hadn't been a very satisfying experience but the bigger issue, for him, was the lack of engagement and challenge he felt with his school work. He craves challenge, critical thinking, deep work. Our schools are "teaching to the test". NYS has very strict standards and our particular public school is striving to meet and exceed all of them. It shows in the curriculum and the lack of creativity and inspiration. Anyway, that's a whole other topic in and of itself.  I feel like there are many "right" ways to educate a child, no one way is better than another. I try hard to be child led in these instances as I deeply believe that my children innately know what is  best for them.  I trust their feelings and needs and try to remove my reservations or judgements or expectations I might have to allow for their desires to come through and be heard/held. In the end, we're creating the relationships with our children that allows them to see that their education is their own experience and our job as their parents is to cultivate that into a rich and fulfilling experience.

Like many others, our homeschool year begins with planning.....and lots of it! First, we sought out the right curricula for our family. Then, we researched and researched by seeking out other's experiences, pros/cons, cost, time commitment, whether or not the curriculum was inspiring/creative enough in our eyes. Because we believe so deeply that there are many wonderful ways to educate, we've decide to stray from using a complete Waldorf education. Instead, we've blended the beauty and rhythm of Waldorf education with Classical/Charlotte Mason style education. After watching our 1st grader teach herself to read, do math, practice writing, on top of listening and answering her very in-depth (and quite surprisingly brilliant) questions about various topics, we felt that in order for this experience to be all we hoped it would be for her, we opted to give her a bit more to chew on. Taking it nice and easy, no pushing, and just letting her guide us with what she is ready/willing to do will be our main directive, complementing the rhythm that has been created for our homeschool.

It's been so enjoyable to peruse all the beautiful books and curricula that we've been able to gather. Many of the books we're using have been purchased secondhand (via various Waldorf inspired online groups) and through friends who were ready to pass along their beloved books. Many I had on hand from when we homeschooled our two eldest children. Two components were ebooks and others I had to order brand new. I'll give a complete list at the end of this post. Either way, I see this picture and I'm loving the colors, the feel, the completeness. It all feels so right and such an honor to be able to give such a beautiful and unique education to our daughters.

Here is another snapshot of the other books that we'll use to compliment our main lesson books. Many of these we used last year so some will be used as refreshers to start and then we'll move on to others. 

Home educating has proven to be the right choice for us this year. We will take it year by year, trying not to hold on to any expectations and trying to remember to be open and flexible to change and the need to shift as we go. We'll go gently and with joy. This time in our littles lives is so beautiful, it's such an inspiring joy to watch them as they learn and absorb and grow. I'm just so delighted to be able to have the ability (and the support and desire) to spend this time with my girls.  I remember how deeply I enjoyed the time that I spent homeschooling our older two, and honestly, I do mourn not having this special time with them, too, but I know we'll have other wonderful moments that will allow us to share in other things that are equally as meaningful.

So! If you homeschool, how is your planning going or have you begun? What are some hurdles you feel you'll need to jump? What are somethings you're excited about? Should you send your children to school outside your home, how's it going? What are some of your favorite school experiences? What are you looking forward to?

Here's to a wonderful school year, full of beauty and happiness and richness!

Our list of Curricula for Autumn::

Waldorf Inspired:

~ Live Education: Kindergarten and First Grade
Oak Meadow: Kindergarten
~ Wynstones Seasonal Books
~ Clump-a-Dump and Snickle-Snack
~ Autumn Tales by Suzanne Down
~ Movement Journeys and Circle Adventures
~ Form Drawing; Grades One through Four
~ All Year Round
~ Our established daily rhythms that includes: seasonl activities, modelling, drawing/painting, baking, handwork, home chores, outside activites, the grain and color of the day based on Rudolf Steiner's teachings, and other mindful and purposeful work like polishing with beeswax, sensory play, wool work (and lots of it!!), work in the kitchen and food prep.

Classical Education Inspired:

~ Math-U-See: Alpha
~ Spelling Workout: A
~ Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
~ Harmony Fine Arts Art and Music Appreciation
~ Autumn: Creative Activities for Young Children
~ Various books from the library about weather, harvesting, changing leaves, and apples.
~ Basic Phonics Skills


  1. looks like a wonderful plan. it is hard to let the bigger ones go. my oldest dd went to high school (now she is in her 2nd year of college... eeeep) and my oldest son decided to go to high school last year (he is in his second year of high school...eeeep again)
    but the younger set are all home. i have been working on our plans for what seems like MONTHS. for a few years we have gone the way of unschooling, BUT i have found that for our household that just meant a lot of time on the computer playing games. so this year i am bringing us back to center a bit. when oak meadows had their sale in may i got 5th and 3rd grade stuff. for the older two still at home and i am working on K stuff for the 6 year old. (i do have oak meadows stuff for that as well, stuff i got YEARS ago). instead of oak meadows math i am using "cosmic calculator" which the boys really like. my biggest thing is establishing a nice daily/weekly/monthly rhythm. that is one of the big things i have been working on. sort of a rough sketch of how to spend our time and balance the educational stuff with time outside and with friends. it is actually pretty exciting.

  2. Dear Marcy, this is Dorna, John & Nona's daughter. We've spoken a bit at St. Peter's over the past few years. I'm totally inspired by your blog and thoughts on education! I would love to come by and see the intentional community at some point and hear more about your thoughts on child-raising and education... So much of this resonates really deeply with what I know to be true.
    Please email me! I am really looking forward to learning more!

    All the best!