We have been very interested in implementing many methods from the Waldorf style of education. We are technically classified as a minimalist form of eclectic homeschooling....which I just made up. Basically we pull from Waldorf, Montessori, Charlotte Mason and Classical homeschool styles and then do our best to keep it simple and uncluttered.
We decided to help our days to stay simple and productive by throwing out our usual weekly schedule. Our old schedules typically followed one of two options : All subjects everyday, or most subjects every day with alternating days for science and history. Through trial and error, neither of those options worked well for us.
The main issue : I was still holding onto unwritten norms about how often each subject should be taught. I unknowingly weighed math & reading/grammar as most important. While I think they are quite important, I didn't feel like we were getting a well rounded education.
When I was in public high school in southern California, we had block scheduling. I only had math two days per week for 2 hours at a time. So, you truly don't have to do math every single day in order to have success with math.
While we do still cover spelling/vocabulary, grammar, reading and writing every single day, instead of as separate classes [as we did in the past] we now infuse them into every subject daily. It's a much more organic and natural way of learning. It's also very effective.
The other issues I saw in my children were :
* once we got going in a topic, we found it hard to stop and change gears.
* once we got all of our "core" subjects done, we didn't get art or handicrafts in.
* arts & handicrafts felt like they were treated as "lesser" subjects because we didn't get to them regularly.
* information overload and scattered feeling with all the subjects daily.
* we had trouble keeping up.
* burnout. stressed out.
I encourage you to take a look at your schooling schedule and really see what's working and what isn't. What changes do you think would benefit your child/children the most? Don't be afraid to experiment with schedules.
You could do a block scheduling with a four day school week, splitting the subjects into two groups and doing them twice per week. You can rotate subjects in by semester : a full year of history or science in a semester and dive deeper into the topics studied.
When I set up our new schedule, I took inspiration from the Waldorf weekly and daily rhythms. I wanted something that flowed naturally and made it easier to teach to multiple levels. This school year my kids are in 7th, 4th and Kindergarten.
We do not do super formal schooling until 1st grade, but Everett is really wanting to "do school" like his big sisters, so I've added some stuff just for him. With each of the girls, I want to make sure that I touch on head, hands and heart activities to educate them fully. They have been really thriving with this setup and approach.
Our daily main lessons cover the "head" part of the equation and last approximately 2 hours. Handicrafts cover the "hands" part and Bible, character, etiquette are part of our "hearts". Gosh, I hope that made sense.
We infuse art into every lesson which helps my children solidify what they've learned. Reading is a daily required activity in free time or while I'm teaching one of their siblings. They read required literature selections, recreational reading choices and daily devotionals.
Our Weekly + Daily Rhythms
main lesson : maths.
handicraft : music. ukulele practice
heart : bible scripture writing, reading & memory verse
* modeling day [beeswax/play-dough/magnetic sand]
main lesson : reading. phonics. [Everett and Brie]; entrepreneurship. [Lorelai]
handicraft : crochet or knitting
heart : bible scripture memory verse, hymn study
* bread baking day
main lesson : science. nature study. wild explorers club.
handiwork : weaving. card making.
heart : scripture memory verse, character study
* festivals activity/prep + hiking
main lesson : geography.
handiwork : hand embroidery
heart : memory verse, etiquette
* soup making day
handiwork : form drawing
heart : covered in main lesson, but will review memory verse
* painting day
Everett and Brie use the Hooked on Phonics Learn to Read program. Everett does it for fun and Brie loves using it to help her gain fluency with her reading skills. She is dyslexic and has struggled since public school with her reading. She is doing so much better now and is starting to enjoy reading!
The activities marked with an asterisk are the Waldorf Kindergarten activities we have decided on for Everett. The girls will join in for anything involving cooking because they love it and it's a great skill to have.
I made a separate post showing just how we conduct our kindergarten [and pre-k] studies for Everett
Here is a separate post on how we conduct our language studies in hawaiian, french, and american sign language....in a non overwhelming, organic way.
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