Monday, 7 September 2015

Back-to-School Fall Fantasies

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I'm feeling all schoolish.  It's Afon's first day at Reception*, and while I'm so looking forward to having him in a structured environment with peers and out of my hair, part of me is a little sad that he wasn't the sort of pupil who could indulge my back-to-school fall fantasies.  This time of year, I can be caught sifting through curriculum (that I won't use) and brushing up on different homeschool philosophies.

Molly wrote about how she doesn't have the temperament to teach her children at home; while I should have, meanwhile, been a celibate teacher.  I'd wear one of those 90's dresses with buttons shaped like apples and get my hands chalky going over the themes of fall with young children I could send home at the end of the day!  To me, that sounds positively dreamy.  Of course, in this dream, there is no paperwork, angry parents, or children with disciplinary issues.

I know it's God's way of sanctifying me, that instead I have the disorder and lack the child I can connect with academically.  Anyway, there's still Roan.  ;)

I wanted to figure out this Waldorf thing once and for all, so last week I spent a good deal of time researching it, and I think I've discovered why it's so hard to pin down.  It's based on an occult religion called anthroposophy, but they don't like to broadcast that, and so the causal observer gets a bit of blanks to fill in when researching it in detail.

If Waldorf schooling was (or ever is) an option, I don't think we could do it because I get really hung up on reincarnation.  (Drives me crazy.  To me, nothing says, "Don't try your hardest, there's always next time," like reincarnation.  Plus, you know . . . heresy.)  And even though they don't explicitly teach it, it is apparently taken into consideration when nurturing and mentoring children in early education.  Weird things like, "So-in-so has behavior problems/allergies/a disease because he's working through issues in his past life."  There's also heavy evidence that white supremacy and racism is built inextricably into the philosophy.

The things that do draw me to Steiner schooling are its very overt ties to western folk traditions, thereby intertwining often and well with the liturgical year, and its emphasis on nature and natural things.  Waldorf toys are the most beautiful little pieces.  But Afon can't be trusted to appreciate (er, not rip up in his teeth) a nice expensive handmade toy.  A nature table would be routinely dismantled, with leaves and flowers ground into the carpet hourly.

So I'm hovering on the unformed cloud of ideas of how to extend his "schooling" at home, if at all.  He spends plenty of time outdoors, and when we're on the beach I like to "educate" him about the rocks, sea glass, empty crab shells, and mussels clinging to crags.  When we walk, I point out the plants I know to him.  I'd really like if we lived near a farm (Snowdonia? maybe some day!), so he could interact with the animals.  We tried the spring before last to grow some seedlings, which died after I neglected to cover them one cold night.

His imagination is basically limited to playing with cars, or I'd stuff his little dirty palms full of saint peg dolls.  Afon is, however, a mini genius at drawing.  I'll have to share some of his pictures on here some time.  The attention to detail is impressive, and I'm not just saying that 'cause I'm his mom!  No impressionistic Steiner watercolors for my little man.  He ploughs through reams and reams of paper.  I hope some day I will be able to to get him to keep a sturdy sketchbook he can take with him everywhere, that will become a treasure for his later years in life.

Afon loves "cooking" and "knitting," and I think in a few years time, after he's got some therapy in him and is able to follow directions, I'll teach him how to crochet.  As for beeswax . . . I'm pretty sure he'd just eat it.  :P

By the way, here is the big boy himself setting off on his dad's bike for the first day:

What are your schoolish thoughts this time of year?  I'm really nosy!

*Reception is the year in the UK that children go into school, the year they turn five.  I'm not sure, curriculum-wise, how it compares to preschool and kindergarden in the States.


  1. There are some things I've gleaned away from the Waldorf idea (taking advantage of nice wooden toys, pretty pictures, etc.) but as a whole I don't think the philosophy really honors the differences in each child (like you said where would Afon fit into this world?) - it seems set up for calm, dutiful, quiet children. There doesn't seem to be any room for excitement or exploration - spending years of the child's life only doing "wet on wet" watercolors? Sound boring and actually not that creative. And, though I admit I'm a Classical Method fan, I don't see the focus on skills, language acquisition, etc. that would make me feel like my kids were really learning.

    So we have some nice toys, and try to focus on the natural year and have some pretty postcards in a frame, but that's about it.

    1. "I don't think the philosophy really honors the differences in each child" <--- EXACTLY this!


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