Freedom From Expectations

raggedy Ann booksI had something to prove. I homeschooled when  it wasn’t cool to homeschool.  My kid couldn’t fall behind; in fact he should be smarter than everyone else his age. I played the one upmanship – like every other mom – my kid could sing his ABCs and count to 20 before most other kids, read fairly early, and memorized  bible verses faster than his friends.

23 years later …

I have nothing to prove. If you haven’t heard, homeschooling works. I’ve graduated 4, and 3 have gotten into college, they are productive citizens of this great country – they even vote … unlike most of their peers.

Raggedy Ann thrown

As I start fresh, with a new child, I commit

  1. Not to worship my child, but worship God, her creator
  2. Not to play the one upmanship game, but encourage other moms to be true to themselves and their children
  3. Not to use my child to define myself
  4. To listen patiently and kindly to other people’ s advise, then ignore what doesn’t work for us
  5. Not to compare my child to other children, but record her individual progress
  6. To enjoy my child where she is now, rather than wishing or pushing her forward
  7. To realize I have 13 years to teach her before college, and she doesn’t need it all now
  8. To listen more than lecture
  9. To give time to “do it myself” vs doing it for her because we’re in a hurry to get somewhere or do something
  10. To observe and respond, rather than fabricate lessons
  11. To include her in my adult activities (like cleaning) instead of arranging my life around activities I design for her
  12. raggedy Ann fairiesTo sing together
  13. To look for fairies under leaves together
  14. To play together
  15. To memorize Bible verses together
  16. To paint together
  17. To lay and watch the clouds together
  18. To tell fairy tales together
  19. To use all of our senses to experience the world, not just read about how it works
  20. To stop and smell the roses we planted together
  21. To dance under the stars together
  22. To sit and be quiet together

After looking at me like I am a relic from the past when I state I don’t believe in early academics, the shock wears off,  and I’m often asked  “Why?”  I like to answer the question with a question, “Why do you believe in early academics?” Although it is the socially acceptable thing to believe in, most can’t give a good reason. I can defend my position scientifically and logically, but more importantly I can defend my position from experience and heartfelt emotion. My daughter has years of academics ahead … I want to enjoy her childlike wonder as long as I can.

raggedy ann outside

Read more about it:

One of the first articles I read – that started changing my mind – on early academics:

Teach our Children to Write, Read, and Spell by Susan R. Johnson, MD

Other awesome reports:

Lively Minds: Distinctions between academic versus intellectual goals for young children by Lilian Gonshaw Katz, PhD

Crisis in the Kindergarten Why Children Need to Play in School

Head, Heart, Hand

head heart handOne of the things I love about Waldorf pedagogy is the focus on the whole child: teaching the head, heart, and hands of the child.

Although all three are always included in the educational process, one of the three is emphasized according to the child’s age and development.

Steiner (1861–1925) taught that from birth to six, the hands and will of the child is the focus. From seven to thirteen, the heart and feelings are centered on. And from fourteen on the thinking and head are emphasized.

In my mind, this somewhat coordinates with Aristotle’s (384—322 B.C.)  classical methodology which breaks the learning process into three age groups – grammar, logic and rhetoric. The five to nine year old learns through recitation and hands on learning – the hands, the ten through thirteen year old is taught how to think – using his head, and the teen is taught how to eloquently express what he discovers and thinks – combining the head, heart, and hands.  The age before school is not usually addressed.

Let’s take the concept of teaching the head, heart, and hands back even further in educational history to the Biblical book of Deuteronomy (believed to be written between 641–609 BC)

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6: 4 – 9)

Jesus later added the word “mind” to the command to love the Lord. God commands parents to “teach” children’s hearts, souls, might, and mind. Although the Biblical lesson does not break it down by age – it does give insight in how to accomplish this.

“Words that I command you today shall be on your heart” – through feeling, emotions, and memorization.

“Teach them diligently” – Diligent means “constant in effort to accomplish something” ( Therefore we are to incorporate rhythm, consistency, and review.

“Talk of them … when you sit …walk … lie down …rise” – Teach the head through “talk,” discussions, lectures, instilling knowledge verbally – in an ongoing dialogue.

“Bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” All of which are very hands on, physical means of teaching.

Notice God instructs His believes to use all the senses to teach (see it, hear it, touch it). In other parts of the Bible He covers the other two:

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Take for yourself spices, stacte and onycha and galbanum, spices with pure frankincense; there shall be an equal part of each. “With it you shall make incense, a perfume, the work of a perfumer, salted, pure, and holy. “You shall beat some of it very fine, and put part of it before the testimony in the tent of meeting where I will meet with you; it shall be most holy to you.” (Exodus 30:38)

“Taste and see that the LORD is good” (Psalms 34:8)

Although I don’t agree with all Steiner’s philosophy behind his head, heart, hands methodology – teaching the whole child has its roots in both Classical and Biblical pedagogy.

Note: To read more about Steiner’s philosophy of teaching the whole child I recommend

“This is Not Head-to-Head Education”: Whole Child Development in a Waldorf School by Elisa Sobo

It is fairly easy to read and understand and it summarizes the original well.