Tuesday, September 18, 2007

If you are lucky enough to find a way of life you love

you have to find the courage to live it.

This has been a week of soul searching, so to speak. Though we had a nice week of homeschooling, so much of it felt disengenuine. (Is that one of my made up, "trust-me-I-was-an-English-major" words? If so, forgive me and chalk it up to my path-forging creativity, please. =) =) ) I really had to stop and reevaluate what kind of homeschooler I was and what is important to me - and most importantly, what I wanted for my little Bean.

I found out about Waldorf two years before Bean was born and fell in love with it in a heartbeat. I just knew that this beautiful, gentle, magical educational philosophy was the environment I wanted for my children. Then, of course, you have children and it's time to "start school." Droves of my friends and relatives children are off to KINDERGARTEN. This is when you start to question - well, I was forced to question an educational philosophy that advocates no formal learning before age 7. That's two years away. Two years of relatives and friends discussing what their children are doing in conventional school, making my husband convinced that Bean is falling behind. I begin to either look remiss as a homeschooling parent or lazy. Or totally nuts. Why isn't she reading? doing math? Such and such is learning this. Shouldn't Bean be learning that by now?

The parade of future questions was a bit overwhelming. So I took time to examine what I thought to be important for my child, as far as her education is concerned. The conclusions I came up with were as follows:

1. She LOVES to learn.

2. She is allowed to learn at her own pace, free from the pressures of what "everyone else" is doing.

3. She is a creative, happy, KID, who loves to run and laugh and get dirty and tell stories and play.

I could go on, but that's really enough. This week, I remembered what made me fall in love with Waldorf in the first place. Childhood is a beautiful, magical, amazing time of wonder that flies by in a flash. It should be cherished. Childhood is where we get our inner strength from, our character, our outlook on life, our ability to hope and dream and become, and it is gone in a blink, no matter what we do to try and slow that down. So, what I realized is - what is the rush??!! Higher math at 5 years old, drilling writing, numbers, even geography and science. What are we rushing them towards? Adulthood will come, bringing with it bills and jobs and insurance payments and co-workers who drive you nuts and credit card debt and all that stress that comes with it. Why are we rushing children through childhood? So they can sit in traffic that much sooner. So we can educate the magic and wonder of childhood right out of them? You know what, adulthood is lurking just around the corner and it will be here far too quickly. In my opinion, an amazing childhood is one of the best gifts I can give my children and I just think higher math and reading can wait a bit longer while she plays with dolls and tells stories and gets dirty and climbs trees. That was my week.

A mother and friend from one of my online groups has this quote in her signature and when I saw it this week, it really seemed to encapsulate my week of introspection, so I thought I would fly it as my banner, my mantra and my battle cry.

If you are lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it.


Sara said...

Amen to that. Though it's easier said than done sometimes, isn't it? If we can tune out the voice of the societal norm, we'll have half a chance. :-)

maymomvt (or Sarah) said...

Excuse me for just popping into your blog, but your post caught my eye as every year of our Waldorf journey has had questioners about what we do and why (and we don't even homeschool). I liked the quote about following a way of life you love because I have found that Waldorf education has enriched our entire family life. Every year just gets better and better! And my girls can even read and do math :)

thegoodwitch said...

As as bit of a positive motivator, I thought I would share with you our experiences...feel free to use them on the relatives. We LOVED the Steiner school in our area, but it was just too far for a daily drive, so practical considerations led us to the "best" (=most expensive) private school in town. At 4 1/2, they started drilling my formerly happy "reader" with books and she just turned off to reading. She learned about alimony and child support, she had one child in her class (at under 5!) who used the F-word incessantly, another who said "Damn" all the time, and a third who punched other children so hard that once he knocked an older child unconscious! Her outside time was very formal,and there would NEVER be time for cooking or handwork when the school was cramming them with Chinese and computers and chapel and library studies...
When we left to be Waldorf-y, no body could believe it! Now, our kids are soooo happy and well-adjusted. The afore-mentioned daughter loves books again! And our family is really healthy. By comparison, those families (many of whom we still talk to) are stressed, dysfunctional, the kids are high-strung, and the biggie: SUPER-COMPETITIVE! They aren't happy and they aren't fun to be around.
So start listening to the stories that those friends and neighbours will bring home now that their kids are in school. If your experience is like ours, the stories will make you happy in your choices!
Best of luck.

Auntie Amy said...

Auntie Amy & Uncle Ken say "Hear! Hear!"

Awesome post and beautifully written!