To School and Back Home Again
Last spring my family left our little farm and moved 4 hours south (still in Wisconsin) to a wonderful community which, among other things, boasts both a Waldorf school and a Waldorf flavored high school. There are a variety of reasons why we moved here – but for sure the schools were a big attraction.
Both of my sons, now 14 and 12, had been to (Waldorf) school briefly when they were quite young. It hadn’t worked for either of them. In kindergarten, my eldest refused to join the Circle and would hit those children with whom he wanted to make friends. In first grade he scribbled angrily in his main lesson books and got into lots of fights in the playground. He was overstimulated – and we took him home. Over the years he grew into a peaceful, centered and calm boy, sought out by others as a friend. At the high sdchool, he has intervened several times in conflicts between students and is well liked by both teachers and his peers.
My youngest loved kindergarten – and he quite enjoyed first grade. But the word “remediation” stared to be used when he showed no inclination to write or read. I knew that there was no deep problem – rather, his schedule was different from the others in his class. And so he came home, too. He didn’t read until he was well over 10 (same for his brother) and then immediately went into quite advanced books (his brother decided to read Nietzche at 13).
But he is quite melancholic and so when the opportunity came to move here and the school was glad to have him, we enrolled him in 5th grade. He was not 100% sure, but then part of his melancholic temperament is reluctance for new experiences. So we persevered.
He was not happy. Many of his math skills were behind and though he can read and write (ie composition) very, very well, his spelling is appalling. This has never worried me – I know that in time he will catch up. And until he went to school, it hadn’t worried him either. But at school he felt stupid – to be sure, his own interpretation of the situation, but not good nonetheless!
Other things came to the fore as well – and in these first few weeks of 6th grade he has become progressively more unhappy. He misses the depth we were able to go into at home – I, too was saddened by the rather cursory treatment of Greek myths, for instance, his class undertook in the spring. We are about to tackle Roman history – he is chomping at the bit, ready to really penetrate the subject. At school he cannot spend 3 hours reading – he misses that, too – and he is by far one of the best readers in his class. Again, he often likes to write little stories or compositions – at school there really isn’t the room for this.
I am sad he will miss out on many of the group experiences – drama, playing music together, games and so on. There is a possibility that he might be able to join his class for one or two classes a week which I think is wonderful! Yes, he will miss out on things. But… as parents, my husband and I have really tried – and now it’s up to him. It seems it is more important for him to have the depth of experience that we can allow him at home. Perhaps another 3 years at home will get him to a place where he’ll be more happy in groups – we intend to send him to the high school here.
When it comes down to it, my main reason for bringing him back home is my concern that his stubborn melancholia will taint even those things he likes about school (and when pushed he will admit that there are some things that are ok) and he will become sour. And once a child becomes sour about learning, it is enormously difficult to enthuse him again. And I don’t want that. As a long time youth worker who has dealt with many, many sour and challenging children, I know what an up hill battle that one can be. So I feel, on balance, we can forgo some of the group experiences (which, if he sets his mind to it, he’d not benefit from anyway) to let him explore his interests.
And I do enjoy having him home! He loves to be read to , loves to talk about history and books, loves to read and do art projects. He can be very helpful around the house and he will be helping me get orders together and send books out to people! He is very interested in Christopherus – in fact, when we first told him we had wanted him to go to school, his first exclamation was “but you need me at home so you can write books about what we do together!”. Well… I guess that will happen now!
Posted on October 4, 2005 in General Homeschooling