Last school year, I planned the school year out in May! I was not on top of things like that this year. I needed more time for researching curriculums. We are entering our third year of homeschooling, and we are still figuring some things out. Last year, I planned one thing and ended up doing almost an entirely different thing. I am hoping that this year, we will do better. So what does next year look like so far? I am continuing to follow two main theories of teaching-Waldorf and Montessori. I like several pieces of each so I plan to integrate parts of the two philosophies into our year.
Both philosophies are developmentally driven-meaning they follow the development of the child. In our house, all three children are in the second phase of development. I am excited about this and planning to use it to my advantage. In this phase of development, both philosophies have the teacher as a guide who gives the students information in the form of a lesson. The children are then given time to inquire, research, and experience the lessons in their own way. Another similarity between the two philosophies is the importance of having movement throughout the day and with the lessons. I definitely have two kinesthetic learners who benefit from this approach. Finally, both Montessori and Waldorf hold nature as a very important part of the child’s educational experience. From previous posts, I am sure you can see how important nature is to all three of my kiddos. Going on a hike can cure any bad day and bring all three of them together.
So why not follow just one philosophy? Well, that is the beauty of homeschooling. I can take what I like from multiple philosophies and make them work for us. Our initial schooling was Montessori. I LOVE the Montessori materials and dream of having a beautiful environment filled with all of the beautiful materials. The reality of the situation is we are at home. We do not have the space to have all of the materials nor the number of children to justify purchasing the materials. How do I incorporate Montessori into our homeschool experience? We integrate many of the materials that we have into our daily activities including the metal insets, the 100 board, the Pythagoras board, the multiplication board, the division board, the bead chains, diagraming sentences, timelines, puzzle maps and many cards for naming, grammar, science and social studies. This year, I am also starting a monthly work plan for Sims (5th grade) and Sawyer (3rd grade). I will have Parks work on a daily work plan. Work plans are a general outline for them to follow. It will allow them some independence in their work and give them a guide for the year.
Here is an example of Sawyer’s work plan. It still has some revising, but you can see the general outline. April Work plan grade 3
As much as I love Montessori, I have found a few things that we were missing such as bringing in work that uses the imagination. This is where I fell in love with the Waldorf approach. It brings drawing, painting and sculpting into daily work. The philosophy also uses stories to teach the children, and the stories are focused on the stage of the child. An example is using folktales and fairy tales in the early years (kindergarten through second or third grade) to teach morals and lessons and moving onto the myths in later years-starting in the upper elementary years. Waldorf also brings religion into the teachings. We are not a religious family so this is a terrific way to introduce my children to the many cultures and religions around the world. Last year, Sawyer studied the Saints and the Christian religion. This year, she will look into the Jewish faith. Meanwhile, Sims studied the Norse Myths last year and will go into Hinduism, Buddhism and the Greek myths this year. Parks will continue reading folktales and fairy tales.
Next for the specifics of the year.