We’re trying some home school preschool with a couple of friends, in addition to the Montessori he gets while I’m at work. The friend who did the research chose a Waldorf curriculum from Oak Meadows. It involves lots of stories – about the letter or number of the week, or something going on outside – followed by art or craft projects and pretend play. This week we focused on the letter E and Ears. We were supposed to make bunny ear headbands and pretend to be bunnies. Mr. FP put on the bunny headband he’d made at Easter, and decided that I should be the predator. After successfully using his long bunny ears to hear my approach and get to a safe place several times, he invited me to his birthday party. There he told me to ask before borrowing his toys. He also gave me a large bag of dead bunnies and made me promise not to eat live bunnies again.
The whole home schooling venture is interesting. Home schooling in general, and this following a curriculum in particular, requires a different relationship than we’ve previously had. He’s used to coming home from school and relaxing, now mostly by himself, while I do other things. One day when I was trying to do a project with him, he refused the project and asked for his toy vacuum cleaner. It was just frustrating at the time, but in retrospect, I think he was asking for a return to normalcy, where I would vacuum and let him play. And he does need time just to play. I’m realizing, too, just how little we are home together, even on my supposed days off. The curriculum book assumes that the parent is home with the child all day at least five days a week – none of us, even the other two parents without jobs – has an easy time fitting in all the activities that they think can be fit in two hours a day, with plenty of time for free play. At the same time as I’m trying to decide what of this curriculum is essential and what can be left out, I think that part of the problem is the switch from Montessori. There he chooses what to do from activities that are meant to be child-directed. Here, I’m meant to tell him what to do, mostly with activities that require my constant direction and involvement. Montessori materials are not cheap to buy and would be time-consuming to make. There aren’t books or home school curricula on the subject, because they want Montessori taught by a trained Montessori teacher, though Mr. FP’s teacher tells me there are some good home school groups on the internet. It seems a little silly to think of adding things when I’m having trouble fitting things in already. But I really think there is a strong benefit to letting him choose, and letting the work tell him when he needs to do it again. So – I guess – it’s on my to-do list. This particular situation is temporary – next year, assuming this works, we’d take turns taking and teaching each others’ children, rather than squeezing in lessons (for us) around other school and play groups. Then, if I wanted to incorporate Montessori, I’d have to do the prep myself and convince our trained teacher, with her mainstream educator distrust of Montessori, that it is worth doing. Or we’d give in and send him to public school. I don’t have any illusions that public school, with homework starting in lower grades every year, would leave us time to do things on our own. Anyway, I have learned some things about how my son learns. He prefers having a choice of activity; he doesn’t want to focus on one letter for more than a week, as we’d initially planned to spread out the curriculum more; he prefers baking to nearly any other crafty activity. We’ve baked bread in letter shapes and made duck cookies for the letter D. He’s always up for a book or story (but I knew that) and sometimes will paint or pretend to be something besides a firefighter, astronaut, or police officer.
In other news, I just need to sew up my very first sweater for me. And I’ve learned how to make easy felted bags from thrift store sweaters, links to which I will try to post when I have time to look them up again.