When I decided to leave my job and become a stay at home mom (with plenty of doula work on the side, of course), I sat down and came up with some goals for our family, as well as some ideas to work towards those goals. One of those goals was to begin some sort of education with the girls.
Now, I'm not a big believer in structured education for young children; I'd rather see my kids playing creatively and exploring outside. Along those same lines, there's absolutely no evidence that children who attend preschool (or any kind of structured activities apart from their parents) develop better socially or academically in the long term than kids who don't. Please don't misinterpret this as judgment for those who send their kids to preschool early- nearly everyone I know does, and there seems to be more and more pressure to do so. These are simply my reasons for choosing not to. To be honest, I'm not entirely sure we will send our kids to mainstream schools when they're older, for reasons too numerous to list here (another blog post for another day).
Anyway, after doing a lot of research, I decided that a Waldorf-type program would be a great fit for us. Now, Waldorf-based homeschooling generally doesn't start until 5 or 6; however, if you are familiar with Waldorf, you likely know that it's not just an educational philosophy. It really encompasses the larger issue of family life. To put it bluntly, Waldorf can be really intimidating when you're first starting. So, in our case, I decided to spend the next two years or so learning as much as I can, slowly incorporating Waldorf principles and activities into our daily life. In this way I can prepare myself in the event that we do homeschool, the girls will enjoy the activities in the meantime, and we all will benefit from a gradually move towards the schooling years.
I learned about a program offered by A Little Garden Flower/Waldorf Essentials called Thinking, Feeling, Willing. The basics of the program are that it takes about a year to work through it, it focuses on educating parents on the basics of Waldorf, and it gradually incorporates those practices into family life. It also includes lots of perks, like monthly (seasonally-appropriate) lessons, inner-work for moms, a discount on future purchases, and lots more.
Last month I learned about "rhythm" and for the past few weeks have focused on that. I definitely feel that our girls are benefitting from having a daily rhythm, and it helps me to better organize my day. We are also incorporating a seasonal nature table, music, stories, and related recipes into our home. More about that in later posts, too.
On a side note, the first couple weeks after we moved were a bit rough. The girls were used to having Brett home during the day- not me- and reacted accordingly. Think two young children wanting constant attention, nursing around-the-clock, etc. Lucy was acting up quite a bit as well- there was a lot of limit-testing going on. Now, though, things have settled down. For the most part, our days are going a lot more smoothly, time-out is working more effectively for Lucy (more on that later), and I am spending a lot less time with instruction and discipline and more time on just enjoying the girls.