Spring has moved forward rapidly in all her blossoming glory. Aside from my duties as a consultant, homeschooling mother and avid gardener, this time of year also reminds me to take stock of my current homeschooling year and begin to envision an outline for the fall. I thought it might be helpful to readers of the Christopherus blog to review my thoughts about when Waldorf inspired consulting can be most helpful to a family.
New homeschoolers or families switching to Waldorf/Christopherus curriculum
Times of transition in a family’s homeschooling life can be stressful, and it is one area where a consultant can usually be quite helpful. If a family is new to homeschooling a/or transitioning out of another school, there is time required for decompression and establishing a new sense of rhythm to the homeschooling day. A consultant can look at the rough edges in a family’s day and help to create a smoother transition into a more harmonious homeschooling experience. A review of some the key principles of child development and Waldorf educational methods may also be helpful when the job of homeschooling, even when armed with all the excellent Christopherus materials, seems a bit daunting.
Homeschooling multiple age children
One of the most frequent consulting questions I receive is how to work with multiple ages of children. Having come through this educational journey myself with my own five children, I can tell you that it can be done, but it also needs some real sense of organization. It simply is not possible to follow each syllabus specifically with each child. As a consultant, I work to help families see the flow of the main lessons for the family and where some lessons can be taught jointly, such as a weather unit with a third and sixth grader. Parents will sometimes feel that they are making compromises in the teaching of a particular main lesson. However, there are real rewards in a larger family learning environment. I work to help an individual family see the unique strengths and richness of their life together.
Middle School and High School age children
Donna Simmons has made some excellent rough outlines and booklets available for these adolescent years, but parents often have questions about specific main lesson content, resources, or goals for their children. Since I am currently homeschooling a 6th grader full time and a 9th grader part time, I enjoy sharing my curriculum ideas and discoveries for this age group. I work to tailor my consulting advice to focus on developing the skills and educational confidence of the adolescent. When the homeschooling curriculum is tailored to the educational needs and growing edges of the individual child, the often challenging passageway of adolescence becomes a bit easier. This is a maturing time for both parent and child. One of my frequent recommendations for this age group is to gradually get out into the community for activities, including public service and possible internships with a mentor.
Whenever homeschooling feels “stuck”
Occasionally I will receive a “Help, I’m stuck!!!” title in an email from a client. Sometimes getting unstuck is as simple as providing some creative assistance in completing a tougher main lesson. But sometimes deeper concerns about homeschooling need to be addressed. A consultant can help a family free up those stuck moments in the homeschooling journey.
I encourage you to do some fresh envisioning of your homeschooling journey this spring and know that I am happy to help if you need me. A special thank-you to all the homeschooling families that I have had the privilege to assist this academic year!
Barbara Benson - Christopherus Consultant
Barbara Benson is the mother of five homeschooled children, the youngest of whom is currently (2011) a sixth grader. Barbara has had a long and fruitful relationship to Waldorf education, as she has sought to adapt it to her home and to the needs of her very different children - who include a pair of twins and two girls adopted from China. She has worked with Rahima Baldwin and Barbara Dewey. She is also very involved in the general homeschooling scene, and has worked as a volunteer homeschooling liaison for the state of Indiana. You can read more about Barbara and our consulting services here.