When I hinted about my January panic, I ended with the line “and then, we move forward.” Well . . . not really. It didn’t turn out to be quite so simple. That post did give me an appreciation of our accomplishments so far this year, but I still had a nagging doubt. And it wasn’t a little doubt, it was a Big Doubt. The kind of “what the heck are we doing?”-“does it really matter that my kids can knit?”-“who really cares if they can cook and bake?”-“Penny whistle? Really? Penny whistle?”-kinda doubt. Which, when I could catch my breath, all boiled down to “Is Waldorf the way? Is it enough?” And if it is the way and if it is enough, was I up to the challenge of bringing it all to my boys.
In the midst of my Doubt, I talked to Tom who let me babble on and on one night until I couldn’t even hear myself talk anymore. I talked to Andrea who patiently and empathetically listened to my crazy chatter. Finally, I reached out to Jean Miller, who is a Waldorf homeshooler, friend and consultant that I met at Taproot. Jean sent me a consulting form that included three questions asking how I came to Waldorf, what inspires me about Waldorf and what exactly I was looking for in our consulting relationship. Answering these questions allowed me to quiet my mind and listen to my heart. Below you can find my answers to Jean’s questions. If you are feeling unsure about your own way forward on this path of Waldorf-inspired homeschooling, I would encourage you to answer them for yourself. Talk to your spouse. Talk to your supportive friends. And, maybe if it feels right, contact Jean. I’m talking to her tomorrow night.
How did you find your way to Waldorf Education?
When Vincent was 8 (2009), I was having a crisis of parenting. I honestly didn’t know what to do, and it was a mess. For some reason the title Simplicity Parenting jumped out at me on a homeschooling yahoo group. I NEVER blindly order hardcover books – but for some reason, some little whisper told me this was the way forward. That is really how I discovered Waldorf and Waldorf homeschooling.
What inspires you most about Waldorf?
I love the holistic approach and the quest towards balance. Vincent is so geared in his head and possesses that kind of intelligence that can be seen as “the goal.” When I was first reading about Waldorf, I had this image of him (and more of him seeing himself) as just a walking brain. It broke my heart because I knew he was/is/can be so much more than that enormous pile of facts that resides under his hair.
I also love the stories, the art, the methodical progression of the curriculum and the emphasis on beauty and reverence. I have seen first-hand the healing possible with this kind of education. I think it is holy and true and right.
Please list your questions and describe the help you are looking for:
You are a light to me. You know this. When Andrea and I left Taproot in August, I had such a desire to take my understanding of Waldorf and Steiner to the next level. I honestly think you can help lead me.
The impetus to email you came out of the January panic that I know every homeschooler feels. I know my children are learning. I know they are doing great things by knitting, cooking, hearing stories and having lots of time to play outside. However, fifth grade seems to be some sort of threshold. All our friends have children who will attend traditional middle school next year, and they are trying to make the right decision as to where their children should go. These conversations have found their way into my head until I couldn’t see the forest for the trees as to what the heck we are doing every day and if it all really matters. Does the fact that Vincent can make yeasted cinnamon rolls from scratch really make a damn bit of difference when all of his traditionally educated friends are going to come out with printed transcripts that look normal and make sense? These are the panicked and not-so-pretty thoughts that have been in my head lately. They are NOT what I believe in my heart, but they are there nonetheless.
I am coming up to that crossroads where continuing down this path feels like a statement. Not a big “hey-look-what-I-am-doing” statement. (I left such loud pronouncements behind in my thirties.) But more of this is what I believe is best. I am going to continue down this path that I cannot see the end of, but one on which I want to keep quietly walking forward.