High Summer (and a Plan)

comments: 68

ElkRock2

ElkRock3

ElkRock4

It's truly summer now. It's hotter, drier, dustier, and everything is in bloom. Our weather has been quite pleasant, in my opinion, because it's been a very cool summer here, only heating up this week. All the many troubles of the world aside, I could get used to this kind of summer, even though we rarely go out; every excursion beyond the property-line feels like traveling to a place of unrest. Everything that was so constant and familiar now feels strange, and tilted, and fragile, and fraught.

Thank you very much for all the homeschooling thoughts, and just for generally listening to me and helping me think through things. In truth, the decision was probably made by the time I got to the end of writing the previous post: We will definitely be homeschooling Amelia full-time next year. And we just got an email from our school yesterday that says they are tentatively planning (among various other options) to allow us (not just us — anyone) to 100% home-school with our own curriculum (instead of the school's distance-learning offering) and still stay enrolled and still be in touch with the class online.

It's all just incredible. My heart truly goes out to every single educator, school employee, janitor, parent, and kid right now. This is hard.

I think I literally researched every single suggestion for a curriculum or approach that everyone here and on Instagram made. I like doing stuff like that. You feel so clueless at first but it's always so bizarre — dig in just a little bit and you will quickly know exactly what you do and do not want. At least in theory. I talked to friends and looked at web sites and read Instagram posts and watched YouTube video-reviews and almost immediately settled on purchasing a boxed second-grade curriculum from Oak Meadow. I wanted something boxed, secular, nature-y, and tested. Oak Meadow happens to be Waldorf-inspired and, it was kinda funny, I got unexpectedly excited about that. It's been bringing me a sweet sort of comfort that reminds me of older happy days. When Amelia was four and five she went to a neighborhood Waldorf preschool (Song Garden, for anyone interested) that we absolutely loved, and I have a very soft spot for the traditions. The teachers were a couple of professional musicians who were longtime Waldorf teachers and had been running their little school for many years. The kids did lantern walks for St. Martin's Day and winter spirals at Christmas, played outside in rain or sunshine and planted a garden from seed. They made stuff out of felt and acorns, wore capes and crowns on their birthdays, and helped make stone soup and bake fresh bread for lunch together at the big round table. It was sweet and slow and gentle and thoughtful, and, for Andy and me, it was our very first introduction to being part of a (great) parent community and we could not have had a better experience. Those were happy days indeed.

Waldorf theory is interesting (I don't get too deep into it, but I'm good with most of what I know for younger kids) and it's also super CRAFTY. And very earthy. And it has a very strong community. And, you know, I just want all that right now. I don't want to be alone. This year is going to be hard for lots of reasons, relentless generalized anxiety notwithstanding, and I want our home (and our home-school) to be a place of joy and peace and comfort and connection. I want songs in the morning and candlelit reading and wildflower studies and fairy stories. I want Beatrix Potter and Elsa Beskow and dandelion play-dough and nature journals. In the second-grade curriculum they study dramatic storytelling and zoology and the histories of ancient China and ancient Mali. They learn to play the recorder, work times-tables up to 12, and use some expensive (holy shit! did you see how much?) art supplies. And I am excited to be part of all of this. Andy is excited, and we make a good team because I like to do the research and make the choices and he is always awesome about not only indulging my each-and-every obsession and whim but also getting totally involved and onboard (like, literally every single time). Amelia is excited because she's Amelia, and she's just got game. My girl is thriving at home and I'm so grateful for that. So, as I said on Instagram, get ready for the beeswax-candle and watercolor-rainbow and moon-phases-made-of-clay posts because we are about to head right down this rabbit hole! Let's see where it takes us! I want to share this experience here.

And very best of luck to every one of you who is also making this choice right now!

68 comments

Luanne Graham says: July 21, 2020 at 07:07 AM

Not that you need my validation, but as a parent and a science educator for 31 years, you have made a good decision, both in your choice to home school Amelia and in your curriculum. As a matter of fact, you may like it so much that you will choose to continue last this school year! Best of luck to all three of you and have a wonder -full year!

P.S. Tell Clover hi from Olive (my little corgi girl 😊)!

I’ve heard fabulous things about Oak Meadow! Congrats and good luck with it all. We have homeschooled for about 8 yrs now :) Kids ALWAYS learn and much is internal that you can’t see or quantify and they go through cycles of intense learning and then needing some relax and breaks and less learning and then they’ll voraciously gobble again.
Love and hugs!

It sounds like you've found a pretty perfect solution for your family. We homeschooled our kids for 6 years way back in the olden days, and I think it can be a great solution for a family, especially now, of course. I would just add that with much reading, music, board games, conversation, and lots of creativity of all kinds, your child will be enriched plenty even if you don't keep exactly to the curriculum. Maybe you can find the right family to add to your bubble that would make it even more fun. Best of luck!

If you are wanting cozy and comfort, I highly recommend "The Complete Brambly Hedge" book by Barklem if you don't already have it. It is pure joy. My girls love it so much!

Waldorf Art Supplies are so lovely! We love Stockmar crayons and Lyra colored pencils.

Also, have you read The Christmas Chronicles by Nigel Slater? He made me love cooking so much more than usual. Start reading it in November!

Some of my nieces are going to homeschool this year. I am so glad for our church school. I feel this nation needs to be grounded in solid Biblical principles.

I hope you remain safe!
I think things are a lot more than "tilted" in your area. Thanks to ineffectual leadership in Portland, the anarchists trying to push their Marxist/Socialist agendas have taken over 😡.
https://www.foxnews.com/us/portland-riots-federal-officers-blinded-lasers-fireworks-doxed

I just decided to homeschool my oldest too, who was supposed to be headed off to kindergarten this year. I just didn't want her first year in school to be such a strange experience, so I figured it was easier to keep her at home for now and teach her myself. I love reading about other curriculums that people are trying, and why. Mine will be somewhat cobbled together from various things I've discovered and liked, but I think we'll have fun with it.

I am glad you made a decision. This year will be rough indeed.

My son is a senior this year and his school district has decided to go back to school full-time. This is so disappointing and dangerous for our community. My son has a very serious heart defect. He cannot risk this. So he will miss out on such a crucial year when all the other kids go back. I know we aren’t alone but we feel we are.

Be safe.

It sounds like a perfect plan. Can I come to your home school? I love everything about it and I need to brush up on my times tables.

I would love to be able to homeschool my 1st grader... but I am working full time from home now and my husband is continuing to go out to work, plus we have a 2-year old at home. I just can't do it. And to be honest we were hanging on by a thread to the county-provided online learning last school year. I'm dreading it!! Homeschooling is certainly not easy but you are very lucky to have this option.

Alicia, I discovered your blog about eight years ago when I was expecting my now-seven-year-old daughter, and it's been so much fun and so inspiring to follow your life with your family!

When I pulled up your site today, I could not believe what saw! I've had the exact same journey deciding to eschew virtual education by withdrawing from our (wonderful) school district to teach my child myself. I've also been preparing by researching a lot about Waldorf philosophy and practices, and I feel like I was reading my own thoughts in your words. I stumbled upon a small booklet that gets to the heart of what I hope to embody as a teacher called "Radical Presence: Teaching as a Contemplative Practice." It's written by a Zen-Quaker English professor, and very engaging.

For curriculum, the state of New York has developed free curriculum (online to print out) called Eureka Math and Expeditionary Learning English that are the gold standard of common-core aligned, researched-based, etc. I'm planning to modify the materials for homeschool, but basically use a lot of the unit pacing and materials.

Best wishes to you, and thank you for sharing your journey!

"I want our home (and our home-school) to be a place of joy and peace and comfort and connection. I want songs in the morning and candlelit reading and wildflower studies and fairy stories. I want Beatrix Potter and Elsa Beskow and dandelion play-dough and nature journals." I totally want to go to your home-school, LOL!

you had me smiling big at "elsa beskow" and howling at "holy shit" ~ you're fabulous.

Your photos are inspiring and energizing.

Honestly couldn't be happier for you guys. It seems like the perfect outcome- to be able to home school but remain enrolled and in touch with the current school! I love Waldorf and I cannot wait to see all the fun you are going to have in the coming year!

Hello!

As a (retired) teacher, I see the benefits of in-school learning, which aren’t worth going into because of the coronavirus. However, if I had school-age children now, I would quit my job before I would send them to school in what I consider to be a large, dangerous experiment. With your love of nature, art, and freedom to explore, I’m sure that as long as there is reading and math, you’ll give Amelia a splendid year and she’ll return to school eventually in fine form. Rock on!

Oh what joy reading your blog brings to me. I am a mother of three adopted children, now grown up, two on the autistic spectrum and one with discalculia. Mine all went to mainstream church school and I fought their decisions all the way. How I wish I’d have had the strength of mind to home school them all. Your daughter will have the most wonderful education. I went to convent school and spent every hour I could outside after school. I had ponies and dogs and “camped” with them by streams, fished and made homes with fallen tree branches. I collected insects and anything with fur or feathers and did exactly the same with my kids out of school. They learnt to count with acorns, kept written notes from experiments of insect races, had nature tables in the playroom , loved The Indian in the Cupboard, CS Lewis, all became avid readers and played lots of make believe. I’d love those days back, but would certainly do them differently - I’d remove them from the stresses and strains of school and build a happier child. Good luck, though I know you won’t need it. Stay safe, from Halifax, England.

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About Alicia Paulson

About

My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at aliciapaulson.com

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Since August of 2011 I've been using a Canon EOS 60D with an EF 18-200mm kit lens and an EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens.