What we want is to see the child in pursuit of knowledge, and not knowledge in pursuit of the child. ~George Bernard Shaw
*This post is very much a journal post, my thoughts and reflections. I have been struggling a bit, but I am feeling more confident now and just wanted to get it all out so I can remember this later down the road, when I hit another bump.*
I haven’t talked too much lately about our learning on here. I am somewhat guarded about it right now. I get a lot of less than positive comments about our choices and the path that we choose to follow which makes things difficult at times. If you have read this blog before, you know we follow a Waldorf influenced path, one that holds off formal education until the child reaches the final stages of Early childhood. As Julien, who is 6, is a summer birthday, he is still technically Kindergarten age in Waldorf schools. This, however, is also debated in Waldorf circles, as some feel they should move onto Grade 1 if they are born June, and be held back if born July or August, and some feel that any birthday after May should be held back. It all gets very complicated and quite honestly, one of the joys of homeschooling is that we can do what is best for our child and really the only person we have to answer to is ourselves.
With that being said, we decided to do a “bridging year”. Julien attends a Waldorf Kindergarten program 2 days a week. It is held at the woman’s home and I wish I were 5 or 6 because it is heaven. Hours and hours spent outside. Not just playing though. Oh if you ask Julien what he did all day he will tell you he did nothing, just played, but ask a bit deeper and you get that they collected Goldenrod on their morning walk, mixed it with alum when they came back, then carded and dyed the wool from a local farm in the afternoon. A few days later they felted soap with it. This week they spent the day constructing snow forts, carving snow and ice to make them stable and safe. Often they can be found in one of the fields testing the wind’s strength with their kite. Some days, they are in the kitchen baking up their afternoon snack.That my friends is far from nothing! They listen to stories, do handwork, play, lots of play, and through it all, their wonderful teacher is setting the groundwork for future learning. Invaluable skills only obtained by being able to let the mind be free and creative. You only get one chance at childhood, that imaginary world and the ability to create those worlds is not something you get back, nor can it be taught. Being given this extra year to linger in that imaginary, playful world is hopefully one of the best gifts we have given to our son.
Here at home, we are working on grade 1 things. Letters, sounds, numbers. We do hands on science experiments, not complicated or very formal, just fun, “let see what happens” kind of things. As I watch and observe the changes and the readiness, I slowly feed him a bit more. I watch as his eagerness grows and grows, I back off when I see a developmental growth coming because I know he will take a few steps back and trying to move forward when he is going back only makes for frustration, something I never want to be the cause of in his learning. I wait until it passes and then we move forward. It is coming. Slowly the words are being read, slowly the letters on the page are becoming more confident, more controlled. Slowly, very slowly, the formal learning is happening.
Sometimes it is hard to move slowly. It is hard to go against the stream and have others constantly questioning you and your choices. This path is not for everyone, this path is ours and only we have to walk on it. Even so, it does get to me sometimes. Despite my passionate belief in what we are doing, still, there are days where I doubt everything. I panic that perhaps this isn’t the right path. Perhaps we have made the wrong choices. Then of course I see these boys before me, so confident, so vibrant, filled with so many ideas. I watch as they create worlds, discover the one around them, and absorb it all.
I marvel as Julien will nonchalantly call out the different trees on our walks. I watch as Noah knows this place we call home so well, he will describe in detail one of our favorite trails and the differences it has through all the seasons. They are learning, just a bit differently than some. Slowly and at their pace, and I am learning to relax with that. I am learning that it is ok to be out of step with those around us. No one is right or wrong, we are all different and that is good. We are all learning, just in different ways. In the end, we will all get there, we are just choosing the scenic route I guess.