What Is Unschooling, Homeschooling, and Waldorf education

When it comes to the topic of school, it's sometimes a topic I'd rather not discuss.  If you are a unschooling parent, you are often met with a look of disgust.  Hell, I've been in the middle of a grocery store trip mid day in the produce section with Charlie while he gathers his list and weighs his items, to look at me dead in the eye and ask me if I was "one of those homeschoolers".  That was the first year that I had taken on the task of teaching him myself, and I was very defensive of my decision.  Not only was I defensive, but I would think about where I was going and what I was doing during "school hours" because I knew that there would always be encounters with nay sayers who were determined to tell me that my child should be more socialized.  Now that I am 3 years in, I feel 100% confident and all of the questions or comments that I receive are welcomed.  I want people to know that I am in no way shape or form anti-public school system. What I am, is anti public school system FOR US.  I have a lot of people to ask me what type of curriculum we do or what curriculum we use.  The beauty of being in charge of his education is that I can decide what exactly it is that I want to teach him.  When we first began, I knew that it was important to me to use a Waldorf curriculum.  This meant that we did not have any screen time whatsoever.  Waldorf is something that you have to be passionate about, especially if you have not always been one to follow the Rudolph Steiner and his Anthroposophical philosophy.  It's most definitely a lifestyle.  Waldorf education puts traditional academic methods of teaching aside.  Instead, most of the programs that are the first to be eliminated by budgeting within a government controlled system, are the crux of Waldorf such as Art, Music, and Foreign Language.  We focus on things that required fine motor skills such as crocheting, knitting, drawing, and modeling.  Instead of having Charlie to memorize words by sight, and keeping a score on how many books he could read, we didn't teach reading at all.  We would explore fairy tales and literature and as his desire to read came about, it was encouraged but not demanded.  Under Rudolph Steiner's philosophy, children are to be in an environment in which they feel safe and nurtured, away from harmful influences of broader society.  I don't teach based on economic or political motives, but instead from the goal of producing a self-sufficient free thinking individual.  I could go on and on about Waldorf and all of the positive things that go along with this method of teaching, but I'd never even graze the surface in one post, so if there are any questions, I'd be happy to try and answer them, but keep in mind, I am no expert.  As we entered our second and third year, we began to explore a mixture of Waldorf in the home but more and more we discovered the positive influence of what some consider unschooling.  We do have a rhythm to our day but should we decide that based on the flow of things that our time would be better spent on nature trails or at the library, we do that instead.  Life is about being able to determine what your instincts tell you to do and following those instincts.  Children are very intuitive beings and while they may not be able to determine the exact cause of a feeling, it is my job as a parent to try and help Charlie navigate his own way through life.  Does that mean I let him decide if he wants to splash in the creek, or learn how to multiply?  Of course not!  It is as much my job to prepare him with the knowledge he needs to make his way in life and society as it is for him to follow his inner most intuition about the good, bad, and ugly of life and decision making.  Listen, this life isn't for everyone.  For starters, we don't spend money lavishly because I stay home to educate my youngest children.  There is also a certain amount of weight on the shoulders of a mother or father who take on the task of educating their child and being responsible for their continuing education once their job of teaching ends.  When we travel, we usually camp because the kids can use all the time they spend outside actually learning and exploring.  Charlie will make his own decisions as to how safe a hill is to climb that hill or hike that steep trail.  THAT counts for teaching hours on so many levels.  While we are having a fun family camping trip, we are covering Science, Ecosystems, decisions making, and best of all life skills.  Charlie will be in grade 3 this year.  We will be doing Americal Sign Language as our foreign language at least for this year.  We may switch over to Spanish next year once we have completed ASL.  We are now implementing small amounts of screen time for him to do his math work but that is all.  His reading is at the pace he chooses.  If he can read and he enjoys it, I'm not at all concerned as to how many books he completes.  Still, in 3rd grade, I will continue to read to him as well as encourage him to have an independent reading time of his choosing of book that he finds interesting.  When I teach him poetry this school year, I will forgo iambic pentameter, and instead, teach him that his soul will speak and he needs to follow that.  I am happy as a homeschooler or unschooler, or whatever you want to call it.  I learn each and every year as we continue our journey, that there will always be tweaks here and there, and I'm totally ok with that.  Its my life and the life of my roots, and we are growing just fine.