1 March 2011

Learning, doing, and balancing ideals

Later today we have another visit from Sarah Bradbury, the LEA home-ed liason for our area and the same lady who used to visit my brother when he was learning at home. Jenna is really excited to see her, I think it is the pleasure of someone visiting just to see her and who is happy to hear her talk about everything she is interested in, with endless patience! We also have visitors arriving any minute. Busy week!

I have been thinking today, that learning doesn't always (or often) *look* like learning in my house. It looks like cooking, or household management, or art, or running about out of doors, or pure play for the joy of playing. All of that is the bulk of our educational experiences. It isn't what we do in between schooling, we're not waiting for the next history project to interest us or messing about until the planned educational trip next week.

Everything they play out, they learn from, and everything they dicover from stories or from talking to other people, they later play out. It's a beautiful process to watch and get a supporting role in. :) This is our unschooling brain, making use of anything and everything life offers us. :)

(And yes, I have been reading John Holt again!)

In bringing Waldorf schooling into our lives, I have strengthened my ability to offer age-appropriate material for them to accept, reject, make their own, and do something with.
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There is vague structure to our days, I plan out stories and a list of things I'd like to do, and the materials we use are the kind you'd find in a Waldorf classroom. Sometimes, we look very much like schooling.
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I mean, today Jenna made a clay cuniform tablet and a scarab beetle, and wrote her name in hieroglyphs. She made a gift for our guest, and wrapping paper with a bunny on it (!) and decided to see if her encyclopedia has any pictures of Egyptian amulets.

Yesterday, apart from the huge stressful row over food fighting at lunch time (lol) and the very Waldorf-looking number play, and Jenna writing about Isis and Osiris in her main lesson book, and Morgan doing some beeswax modelling, and hearing the story of the Star Money at circle time (as we are doing all week), the children also watched Tom and Jerry (which I detest) and Jenna played an entire level of Lego Star Wars.

I think I am increasingly comfortable standing where I stand, living out what brings us joy and fulfillment, and not worrying terribly much who I align with idealogically. Well, y'know, I still question. Um. Everything. But also (I hope) I'm letting things be what they are a bit more, without trying to pin down whether everything is perfect (or what on earth perfect means to me now, anyway)!

We have a routine. And we ignore it when it doesn't serve our needs. We have circle and story times, and main lesson books, but we work when we want to and at what interests us. We have an idea about what is most wholesome to introduce or exclude, but we each follow our own path to our own destinations in our own time. And we use media. Cautiously - and co-operatively - but not restrictively. Well, that's where our balance lies, in this brief snapshot moment of our lives. :)


  1. So beautifully expressed Sarah. Brought feelings to the foreground for me as my 2 youngest are currently in school :-( It isn't resting easy with me and I miss my days of making the most of opportunities as they arise. Your girls are wonderful!

  2. We too, are finding that being free flowing serves us so much better than trying to fit into a certain 'type' of unschooler!

    Lovely photos :)
    Gina xx

  3. I always enjoy reading about your lovely unschooling days, I just wondered Sarah if you use a particular set of books for 'lessons'/studying. Charlie is at kindergarten at the moment but I think we will be homeschooling from Sept.
    sue x

  4. Great post Sarah! This is on my mind now too as I am learning to sit with all the different aspects of our life as unschoolers and See how they interact.
    Thank you for sharing what you have been up to. :)

  5. We do have a lot of books we love. We use several volumes of fairy tales and barefoot book story collections, we're using the Story of the World (History of Ancient Times for the Classical Child) and then doing a lot of things relating to that, and we love the Enchanted Kingdom and Waldorf Alphabet books though Jenna is very slightly past them now and Morgan is a bit little still. :)

    We also have good encyclopedias, and a handful of basically adult reference books with beautiful detailed pictures. If you wanted to be quite formal, you could do a chapter of The Enchanted Kingdom per week with the odd week doing festivals instead, rather than buy a specific curriculum book. If you are happy to unschool, planning is (to me) an optional extra form of Waldorf-type "strewing". ;)

    We have read and rather like the A Little Garden Flower curriculum, but just don't feel we need such rigid planning when unschooling waldorf feels so natural to us. :) The Parenting Passageway might be a help to you on whether you feel ready to start grade one, and if so which grade one, and if none of the above how to go about deciding what to include or try!


Penny for your thoughts? :)