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

sharon stewart says: July 18, 2020 at 09:05 AM

Alicia, thank you so much for sharing your home school choice. We have decided to go with them and especially after all the other comments.
I have followed you for years. I hugely admire and respect you. Your family is lovely.

So glad you've found a plan that you are comfortable with (and excited about!) We are still waiting to hear exactly what our school district's reopening plan is, but with two full-time working parents and a kid with some special ed needs, I'm pretty sure homeschooling isn't going to work for us, despite it being the vastly safer option. It's just an agonizing decision all around.

I had felt very powerless about what my kids were going to do this fall until I read your Instagram post about homeschooling. I am such a rule follower that it hadn't occurred to me that I could choose something different for my kids. Just like you, I love doing a deep research dive and have been reading a lot. I've decided to keep both of my kids at home, regardless of what PPS decides. I am going to do Oak Meadow for my second grader (distance learning did not go well for him) while my fifth grader will do distance learning with her class, which will be best for her.
Thank you for opening my eyes to the possibilities! I'm looking forward to this adventure and am excited to bring more nature and creativity to our home. I am excited to see what you do with it too!

The blog, "Like Mother Like Daughter is a wealth of homeschool (and homemaking) information. The author homeschooled her 6 children and now is a grandmother. She is extremely intelligent and has given homeschooling much thought. You're gonna do great! Just don't compare traditional school "great" with homeschool "great." They are very different things. Enjoy!

That all sounds lovely! I’d like to enroll in your school, too. Do you have any openings in 40th grade?

Lynda Catlin says: July 18, 2020 at 01:10 PM

The online store called Cheap Joe's is an excellent place to order art supplies for all arts and crafts!!!

Cherlyn Moffet says: July 18, 2020 at 01:32 PM

I met a family from the UK now living here in PEI, Canada and they introduced me to Waldorf education. I purchased curriculum from Waldorf Essentials in the USA. I liked it a lot and the creator of the program is very easy to reach with any questions. There's also information on how parents can follow the Waldorf lifestyle. Hope you enjoy your new journey!

Happy Summer! Just getting caught up on your blog so this suggestion is OT and something you might already know about. If you have Comcast service for TV you probably have access to the Peacock app. You just use voice command to bring it up. Anyway, there are several seasons of "Escape to the Chateau" and "Escape to the Chateau DIY" that are wonderful viewing. British ex-pats and their children living in and renovating a French chateau. I think episodes are also on YouTube.

Aunt Min says: July 18, 2020 at 02:32 PM

Both Montessori and Waldorf education have made deep impacts on me as a public special education teacher. You have made a great choice.

Alicia, I’m so excited to watch this year unfold for you and your family. My children are now in college, and I am quite nervous about this next academic year. You are so fortunate to be able to do this with your child. Like others here, I look forward to your posts sharing your journey. I just know it will be rich and filled with joy and wonder. Also, the online course about nature journaling looks fantastic! As usual, I will anxiously await your blog posts - thank you in advance for bringing us into your circle, particularly during these times. Your blog is a lovely comfort and a true blessing.

PS. I just realized that the nature journaling online class in my comment above was not mentioned yet on your blog but on your Instagram post. Hoping we see your progress and thoughts here as well. Have a great day!

I’ve had the Stockmar crayons for sometime and I’m underwhelmed by them. They’re nice, but the Faber-Castell beeswax jumbo crayons are much smoother and have great pigment. And I paid about $13-14 for a set of 24 in a small bookstore on Cape Cod. No affiliation, just sayin’.😊 ( I checked amazon. $16.99)

I homeschooled all three of my kiddos from PreK through 12th grade. It was the best decision of my life. And not to brag, but just to let you know homeschooling works....my two oldest are college grads and my youngest is now in his freshman year in college. My oldest son works in finance for Goldman Sachs, and my middle daughter is a professional ballerina. Youngest is still deciding on his life's work.

I used a combination of curriculum that mixed Waldorf, classical, and Charlotte Mason with unit studies as my vehicle for teaching. It worked beautifully! My children thrived and are planning on homeschooling their own kids one day.

Feel free to ask questions if you have any. I love to help out new homeschoolers. It's daunting at first, but will be second nature before you know it. My best advice would be not to try and replicate a public school classroom in your home, but simply make learning a natural part of your day. Learn together at the kitchen table, read books aloud cuddled on the sofa, spend time outside every day (nature notebooks are amazing), cook, play, craft, smile, and laugh. Even though some of the days will seem long...the years are short, and the memories are forever. Enjoy!!

Dana Laviano says: July 20, 2020 at 05:29 AM

Dear Alicia,
My two daughters started at a Waldorf school, way back in preschool and our home and family traditions still reflect that early experience, even now when the oldest is off to college in a few weeks and my now-16 year old unschools and is applying for early acceptance to art school. Waldorf education is just wonderful! And home schooling is too. I'm excited for you all. I recommend Waldorf education to everyone I know. Looking forward to all the rainbow pics to come,
Dana

i wish we could go down that expensive waldorf rabbit hole lol. we are going to add more artsy, crafty things this year, but i've got in debt going this route before. learned my lesson.

S. Molinari says: July 20, 2020 at 05:34 AM

You're all going to do great! We homeschooled our son from third grade up and he turned out to be one of the most resourceful, creative, responsible, hard working men I know. And now he's homeschooling his kids. You won't regret it!

It sounds so lovely - I just know it is going to be a wonderful experience for you! Thank you so much for sharing this gentle adventure - we all need your calm voice and beautiful spirit that is your blog.

Sounds like the perfect curriculum for you and Amelia. :) Have fun!!!

Lorie Moynihan-Broedel says: July 20, 2020 at 11:37 AM

I just hopped on to see how everyone was doing! Thank you for this post. I am going to read your previous post after this. We live in central NY, near Syracuse. Our numbers are now low, thankfully, but, the governor has not decided yet what our schools will be doing come Sept. Even though our numbers are good, there are many people that are not following the rules here and I fear that our cases will go up at some point. NY state is a tough state to officially home school in, lots of hoops and paperwork. My Amelia will be going into 1st grade. I am going to see if we will be allowed to do distance learning through our school from home as an option, with some supplemental homeschooling work of our own. If not, we will get all our paperwork in order and take the plunge into official homeschool. My heart breaks for the kiddos and teachers, I know my daughter misses her friends and teachers terribly. Such a hard choice for all.

We used Oak Meadow for our son. It's a very good program for younger kids. He's now 25 and homeschooled all the way thru high school. Graduated with honors from college and now works for the State of California. Yay homeschoolers!!

Crowgirl says: July 20, 2020 at 01:27 PM

Thank you so much for keeping your blog going. The glimpses you share into your soft, pretty, rose-colored world are "joy and peace and comfort" for me, truly. I can't wait to see the results of your Waldorf adventures!

vou adorar seguir o seu o seu progresso!

Cat Smolka says: July 20, 2020 at 04:44 PM

It sounds like you making a wonderful plan for the school year. My son is heading into his senior year and we are going hybrid. 2 days a week at 50% attendance when they do resume school and homeschool for the other days. We decided on the hybrid as this is his last chance at seeing his classmates he grew up with until they all go off to their separate "grown-up" directions.

Oh Alicia, I hear you! My Erik went to preschool at the Detroit Waldorf School and it was so sweet. I actually just purchased the Oak Meadow 1st grade curriculum for him, but I am really torn about what to do since so far it doesn't sound as if our local school will be open to us using our own curriculum if we do distance learning this year. Tough decisions. If I didn't work full-time, though, the decision would be much easier. Wishing you all the best as we all muddle through this challenging time.

Jennifer Piper says: July 21, 2020 at 06:03 AM

Hello- I have enjoyed your blog for years and years, but I don't think I've ever commented before. I wanted to let you know that we have used Oak Meadow since first grade as the spine curriculum of our home education. We add in here and take out there as interests and developing skills dictate. My older daughter is a high school Junior and still using Oak Meadow, along with community college classes. Your school district's plans sound like they are making the best of this tough situation. Best wishes!

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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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Photography

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.