August 2011, from the archives
I got a good chuckle over the weekend, a bunch of emails from mamas just like you who just got home from vacation and announced “Ok, I am ready to start my planning!” WHAT? Many have told me very candidly that they just don’t understand what all the fuss over planning is about and that they can’t imagine starting in March like many of us do and agonizing over this. While I do take a lot of the planning off your shoulders if you use our work, this doesn’t get you off the hook for planning. Steiner speaks of his tutoring days where he would often prepare four hours for a one hour lesson! He stressed the importance of a well prepared teacher – in fact something that I find so interesting is that often the parents who come to me after they have taken their children out of a Waldorf school, cite teacher’s inability to have a well laid plan as one of the biggest reasons for pulling their child from the school! Poor planning is a huge problem, without a well laid plan, even if it is foiled by something, without that plan other things suffer. What your school day will look like is only part of it, how will your home feel? Meal preparation? chores? outside activities? I do think it has become part of our society – as a society we have become very entitled people, we would rather do something that pleases us than something that takes our time (and talents!) Homeschooling our children is serious work and homeschooling with Steiner will indeed kick your bum, but if you allow it, it will be ever sweet and heal you in ways you never dreamed. Even if you don’t buy him hook, line and sinker, trusting the method will bring much peace and harmony to your life.
So now if you are one that hasn’t done any or much planning… you are freaking out… what should you do?(imagine my drill sergeant voice in your ear *wink*)
- If you haven’t done your shopping, do it www.waldorfessentials.com
- Get on your knees… with paper and pencil in hand… ask Source for advice and guidance for each child. Ask whether you need a consult… if you do, let’s get you on the schedule soon, by next week.
- If you haven’t read through your curriculum yet, do so. I can’t speak for other curriculum writers, but ours is intended to be read from cover to cover first, then you go back and focus on the lesson portions. You need a whole to parts attitude with this matter, gain the whole picture, then you will get the break down.
- Decide on your start date. You may have to alter this a bit if you are super behind and shave a bit off of your holidays if you live in an area that requires a set number of school days.
- Now what skills do you need to totally learn? which ones are refresher? how is your painting and drawing? Once you have made this list, commit to daily practice so you can get comfortable before school starts.
- Now that you know when you are starting, make yourself a plan – if you are under the gun you will need to really stretch. Work to get your sleep cycle right if it is off and start by getting up early to get a good amount of planning in before your children rise, use afternoon quiet time to get in some more. I have utilized city parks to help me with planning – pack a big lunch and some snacks, sit in the park for several hours and let your children play while you get in the planning and reading you need to. This is perfect for drawing practice too.
If you get committed to working a bit each day then you will get a good amount in. I am often asked how detailed I get in my planning – it just depends on the subject and the child. If it is something I have never taught before, I like to get in pretty deep and if I don’t feel prepared for a topic, I will take a planning day and get that prepared, my children deserve to have me be prepared.
So when I start in March, what exactly am I doing? I enjoy gathering my resources at a nice pace, interacting with the topics I will be teaching and really getting to the heart of what Steiner intended. I often spend weeks pondering the needs of each child, thinking about their lesson blocks, gaps they had from the year before, leaps I see them making. All of this takes time. I also like to make sure my drawing, painting and modeling is where I want it to be – I am never perfect, but I strive. This planning takes months and each year we seem to have something thrown in at the end and I have to move things around a bit – last year it was getting pregnant and this year it is a move to another state – I like to make sure my plan can accommodate the need for change.
If you are just now beginning, I hope you can settle in this week and get yourself on a good schedule so you feel *really* prepared for your school year. Ask for help if you need it and resolve to start earlier next year. You can do it! I believe in you.
Blessings and love! (my sweet voice is back now.)