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Unexpectedly Magical

finding the magic in everyday life

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Learning for Life (Unschooling)

The Tenth Day

Ten days ago we began our first official season of homeschooling. I say official because we’ve been learning together all along – children are always learning – but with Big Brother’s sixth birthday approaching, our learning together has become more focused. We’ve been using EarthSchooling’s kindergarten curriculum to guide our schooling days. In addition I’ve been using Yoga Pretzel’s, a child-friendly deck of yoga cards, to start our circle time. I’ve been using these cards (off and on) for over a year and greatly enjoy how easy they make it for me to both expand my knowledge of yoga and share it with my kids. Eventually I want to learn more about eurythmy, the Waldorf equivalent of yoga, but for now I’m using what I have and am familiar with. I’m also incorporating the concept of a morning basket into our circle time. When I’ve read about homeschoolers using the morning basket, it has usually been in conjuction with a Charlotte Mason approach. The basic concept seems to be this: fill a large basket with the materials you wish to share with your family during your morning time together and place it in the area where you gather (so you don’t have to run about the house hunting it down , thereby losing those precious moments of focused attention). Simple but brilliant, right? I have yet to get a basket, but having all my materials figured out ahead of time and together where I’ll need them is just what we need. Big Brother, who has ADHD and sensory processing disorder, will be off on another planet very quickly if I have to break the circle to hunt for something.

Here are some images from our morning circle time:

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BB needed to wear lipstick before we began. I foresee a possible future in the arts for him. 

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A basic shot of our circle time space.
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A printed copy of August’s curriculum and the Yoga Pretzels deck. The cards are in groups by category (standing, twists, breathing, guided meditions, forward bends etc.), so I usually pick one category for us to do each morning plus one breathing or guided meditation card.
 

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This morning’s time included acting out a fairy tale with our peg people as well as looking at the Barefoot Book of Wonderful Words. BB particularly enjoyed the page where different story characters are illstrated. He was able to identify the griffin without any help 😀 
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Three Days In and Why Waldorf

Our third day of school was far from ideal – Big Brother awoke in a funk that lingered through the morning and struggled with letting me be in charge  – but it was a potent reminder to me to not lose sight of what truly matters.

We are homeschooling because (among many reasons) we believe it is best suited to meet Big Brother’s needs (gifted, ADHD, SPD, anxiety). We are using a Waldorf approach and working to establish a rhythm because we believe it will best meet his needs. We take what works and leave what doesn’t; we are flexible and eclectic – no purists here! So when Little Brother throws the yarn and demands my attention be on him, and Big Brother is completely distracted and trying to make circle time be what he wants it to be, and nobody cares about the lesson I have prepared… I can step back and let it be. 

This morning I battled anger and even hurt feelings (Big Brother turned down a plate of fresh-out-of-the-oven bread because, “It’s not what I was expecting for breakfast.”); I even shouted a few times as chaos overwhelmed our space. A moment of clarity came (thankfully) and I found myself grounded and calm; fighting wasn’t going to get anybody anywhere. In reflection I’ve realized that many of today’s issues likely stem from Big Brother’s anxiety over this change in routine. He loves what we’re doing, but it’s still a change; he doesn’t yet know what to expect so I shouldn’t be surprised when he tries to control what we do. 

Giving him something to expect – a rhythm – is exactly why we’ve chosen a Waldorf approach. Big Brother needs the security of rhythm; he also needs some structure and someone telling him what to do. An Unschooling approach wasn’t working for him because it placed so much responsibility on his small, anxious shoulders. Giving him almost 100% free reign did NOT produce the secure, confident, happy child I expected; I think it actually contributed to his extreme anxiety and resulted in a nervous, hair-trigger temperament that made everyone unhappy and frustrated. I can already tell that BB is over the moon with pleasure because I’m taking charge and leading him through the day with firm-but-loving intention. He may fight me tooth and nail because the sudden shift in control is scary, but he does so in a different way than before. He feels more secure on so many levels. Since we spend more time connecting, he seeks out even more opportunities to connect; his spontaneous hugs, kisses, cuddles and other ways of showing affection have dramatically increased. Showing affection appropriately is something he’s struggled with since I came into his life when he was not-quite two; together we have learned about the importance of connection and how Create it. I’m tickled to see we’ve found the next step in this journey.


I know Unschooling works for others (I would have loved it as a kid), but apparently it’s not right for our family. Maybe I was doing it wrong, maybe I was too radical or not radical enough; at this point it doesn’t matter. Unschooling taught me many good lessons and has helped me work toward a balanced, realistic approach to Waldorf homeschooling (Waldorf can be a bit stodgy and fantastically purist at times). Now I can I let the boys watch Netflix or play video games after we finish finger knitting or reading stories about elves and not feel guilt or worry about being Waldorf enough. It’s all about balance!

Busy Days

Dragon-fighting, bread-making, and bullet journaling – oh my!


I’ve been busily organizing, de-cluttering, planning, and reading up on my current obsessions (Earthschooling/Waldorf, the Goddess Brigid, and kitchen witchery). And keeping track of everything in my beloved bullet journal (how did I live without it?!?!). I recently decided to jump from the plan (or lack thereof, haha) of unschooling Big Brother to buying a Waldorf curriculum for his kindergarten year. When the time is right I’ll dedicate a post to why I made this choice. For now, I’m very pleased with my baby steps into Waldorf life and am thrilled to see our house and family coming closer to peacefulness and joy. 

Let It Rise

Making pizza from scratch has always been one of those things I oooed and awed over – crafty, gourmet people did it; home baked bread (not pan bread, but the REAL stuff) and from-scratch pie crusts are in that category too. I’ve tried making these from-scratch goodies before, but found I wasn’t naturally good at it (unlike my husband!) and am downright impatient. 😁 

About a year ago I was looking at various educational methods and found myself enchanted by the Waldorf model. Fairies and gnomes dance about while angelic children make watercolor paintings, knit, and play with their all-wood toys. Okay, so I realize it isn’t all as picture-perfect as that. It sounded like heaven and still kind of does, but my family as a whole definitely didn’t mesh with it. I’ve learned (and am still learning) a lot from the Waldorf ideology, though. One thing that stuck out was the practice of regularly having children make bread – the yeasty, amazing kind that has to be kneaded by hand. Can anyone say sensory play? Also, hurray for valuable life skills and children being involved in making their food!

In the present, I’m trying to include my boys in the food-making process. We don’t have a garden this year, so we aren’t involved in the growing, but we do talk about farms and farmers and how our food comes to us. I’m teaching them (and myself) how to respect what we’ve been blessed with by using it in a nourishing way with as little waste as possible. They help me grocery shop and we talk about what we’ll make with the food, and sometimes they help make it. 

Today we all made pizzas! There were blood, sweat, and tears involved, but the kids loved it and the end results were delicious. Big Brother, who has sensory processing disorder, particularly enjoyed kneading his dough. I foresee much more of this sort of baking in our future. 😊 Our pizza crust recipe came from The Vegan Family Cookbook.


As an aside: I am intolerant of gluten but the rest of the family are not. They used regular wheat flour for their pizzas, so I taped down some wax paper to form a safe surface for me to knead my dough on. Some people are more sensitive than me and require a 100% gluten-free household. Thankfully my body’s sensitivity is not as serious as that! Since the rest of my family eats dairy and I can’t (casein allergy), I’ve realized I need two cheese graters to prevent cross-contamination risks. 

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