Thursday, September 08, 2011

Whatever Works

   It is that time of year. Kids are back in school. New school supplies, new teachers, new tennis shoes..all that good stuff.

Homeschoolers are gearing up in their own style. Some families purchase new curriculum, co-ops are starting up, park-days are returning into families weekly routines, etc.

But almost to a tee..all families whether they public school, private school or homeschool, are taking time to ponder. To consider learning styles of their children and educational styles of their choice. To evaluate what has worked, what has not...and to look forward to what lies headed.

So in that way, this year is no different. I have often labeled myself a Waldorf-inspired unschooler. And some years..that was actually appropriate. But more often than not..we hit the Whatever Works Approach.

I have probably mentioned this approach before. It is that blend between the ideals in your imagination..and the reality of the personalities in your home.

It is the ability to imagine a home (or family children's care) with all eco-friendly, natural toys, no electronics, only healthy foods and a magical rhythm to our day.

It is the ability to take those ideals and say..oops..Maybe that isn't going to work after all. And to laugh at the reality in front of you. To take the components from your imagination that work in real life and blend your imagination with  ideas from the imaginations of others. To embrace the collaborative imagination (through much trial and error). To allow the real live personalities in your home to create a rhythm and lifestyle together.

And I have found myself at this place, once again. I had lots of grand delusions of what this Fall would look like. I made some hard-core decisions at the beginning. Absolutely no t.v. unless we had a really bad weather day. No way am I going to homeschool other people's children. (I get asked every year..I always respectfully decline). No swimming or field trips because I didn't want to mess with the bureaucracy in registered care.I didn't like this part..but really I felt the need to become registered as soon as possible.

Needless to say, we are still not registered. Financial issues and some logistical details more than anything. Lucky for me, the families here do not care at this time. We will get there..but now we are swimming,going to the Homeschool Park Day, the library and the grocery store every week. So I will take longer to get through this process so that we can continue with "field trips" and swimming.

I am thoroughly enjoying having the addition of two elementary aged homeschoolers in our home. After a few weeks of getting to know eachother and figuring what we want this year to look like, the kids decided they want to do what the older (teenage) kids do. They work on one or two workbook pages of math (okay..the older ones work through problem sets), they write something (anything) and read for 1-2 hours a day..or I read to them. The rest of the day, they do whatever they want.  These kids spend more time in formal study than my own kids would EVER spend at this age. But it is what they are craving at this time.

We have lots of plastic toys. Sometimes we eat pure junk. For example, last week? I was sick for a couple of days. I wanted to skip are "soup making" day. I was fighting a headache, and feeling really nauseous when  I dropped a gallon of milk on the floor. The one year old started dancing in the milk.  The 6 year old walked through the puddle of milk and left a milk trail.. with CandyLand in hand... asking when we were going to play. (Because we HAVE to play before doing any math!)

I announced we were skipping soup.

Oh my..the opposition.  I caved.

The kids fixed and ate Ramen Noodles.I didn't even know we had ramen noodles. We found them buried in the pantry. I might as well have handed them a bag of chips and is lunch. But instead? We enjoyed the Ramen Noodles. We also went to Sonic last week..and ate frozen pizza.

But the biggest change of all?  We  spend Thursdays on a screen time blitz.

Kids bring their own D.S.'s,I blog (and the kids sometimes help), we watch movies and eat popcorn in my bedroom-turned--movie-room. You bedroom which I swore I was not opening to public use. What was I thinking? We LOVE Thursdays.

Now we still keep some Waldorfish components.  Daily nature walks, a nature table, art and music daily..and LOTS of play. But I'm pretty sure you can find these in other educational styles as well. So I no longer pretend (even to myself) that we are Waldorf-Inspired.

There are some ideals that are not negotiable. For instance, mutual respect. Respect is not negotiable. We spend much time discussing kindness and respect. What does this mean? What does this look like? How can I be kind?

But mostly? As far as time consuming activities?  We seem to be spending time around meals. We created a daily/weekly rhythm..which we (oh my) posted on a bulletin board. Those who know me know I'm not a bulletin board person. Along with the weekly menu. (actually..need these things to be registered anyway). And the kids INSITED that we add MEALS TOGETHER for daily rhythm...sort of almost a HOUSE RULE.

And my, have our meals evolved. The kids now help fix breakfast almost every day. We set the table with a table-cloth, napkins and silverware at least twice a day. Much of our weekly rhythm revolves around food. Would be nice if I could actually cook.

But the kitchen IS the center of everything around here. It's where most of our conversations and a good deal of play happen. Wouldn't change this for anything.

And so we have evolved..into a weekly rhythm..which the kids have asked I post for your pleasure;)

Mondays: bake muffins, (high-school co-op starts in 2 weeks!), nature craft, library and homeschool Park Day.

Tuesdays: trip to grocery store (to pick our fruit, purchase ingredients for soup and get a lollipop from Ms. Ellen), puppets, and clay.

Wednesday: make soup, chalk art and dragon math

Thursdays: media blitz (games and movies), swimming and baking cookies.

Fridays: fishing/swimming, pizza making and painting.

Every day : play, play, Nature Walk, play, band practice, play and meals together!

..and there you have it. Our Official Schedule created by a committee and everything! For now anyway.

Let's see what happens when the teens arrive.

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