What a year it has been! We have really been around the block, which has been difficult and lonely at times, but we are in a really exciting place now, and I finally feel ready to share my journey.
We started really questioning Waldorf after a few weeks of Grade One lessons were leaving all of us frustrated and sad. On much reflection, I have found that, for me, Waldorf had led me to look at all the things that are not perfect with myself or my children, and really accentuate all of my perfectionistic tendencies. I know that others use Waldorf in a more healthy way–I have seen it–but on much reflection, and trying and re-trying, I saw it was not a positive influence in my own life.
We left true Waldorf homeschooling some time last Fall, and eventually tried out Radical Unschooling for a bit. But that didn’t work for us, or for me. We had worked so hard to develop these strong family pillars, rituals, routines, which held us all together, and I found RU was destructive to that. Those pillars were deeply supported by Waldorf, and were also supported by current developmental psychology and other sources. But more importantly I feel so deeply the benefits these pillars have brought me and my family.
So I had a few months feeling very much adrift. No longer at home in Waldorf communities, and not in line with Radical Unschooling communities, I had no label, no Yahoo group, no Google search terms to describe where I was! No mentors! It was scary. But it led me to my own values.
This Spring I sat down and wrote out a list of what I longed for in a curriculum: that it be open-ended, that it would serve both of my kids where they were, in a way that would not separate them by age or ability, that it be flexible and adaptive, hands-on and challenging, but also that it would support my own values without making me feel that I was “not enough”. Tall order! But I found what I was looking for!
Where it has led me is called Project Based Homeschooling, led by the engaged, funny, wise Lori Pickert, who has the blog and book by the same name. The method is based on Reggio Emilia, but extended to support all ages (even adults). It is perhaps in a similar vein as unschooling, but more structured, with the parent acting as mentor to the student, helping them develop learning skills as they extend their deep interests into projects. The best thing about it is that you can use these strategies alongside any curriculum you choose. However, it is child-led, so many Waldorf families would not be comfortable with that aspect.
You can check out Lori’s website for more information (no affiliation or benefit received in this link): http://www.project-based-homeschooling.com.
Have you been around the block with homeschooling styles? Ever felt adrift from labels and communities? I’d love to hear your story.