Thursday, June 16, 2011

Thoughts on Waldorf and Charlotte Mason ...

Okay, so I'm in obsessive over-drive planning and thinking mode again.  I've been on another pendulum, swinging from Waldorf to Charlotte Mason to somewhere in the middle back to Waldorf to highly scheduled to daily math with a "real program" to math blocks in the lively, beautiful and fun Waldorf way to AAAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHH ....

Now, I am here.  At peace.  For the moment.  Trying desperately to stay here.  

I started off wanting predominantly Waldorf for next year.  Then, I had the opportunity to look through an entire Christopherus Grade Three syllabus.  I love Donna Simmons.  She is the Waldorf Homeschool Momma I can most relate to.  Some say her materials aren't as beautiful as Live Education or that Live Ed is more "pure" Waldorf.  That may be true.  But, Live Ed just doesn't speak to me.  I'm a realist.  I need something that I can work with.  I like Donna Simmons.  She's real.  Her materials feel like something I can understand.

But, I did get that opportunity to look through the entire syllabus, and still it wasn't me.  

What I have learned is that no matter how much I might want to use something where it is all laid out for me, I just can't.  I would change too many things to make it even remotely worth it.  

So, what I have to do (although this is WAY more work for me) is take the outlines of each year and then choose my own materials, my own methods and plan my own thing.  

Waldorf education is beautiful.  But, still there are aspects that simply are not natural for me.  And, I don't want to try to be something I'm not and then just fail.

I love Charlotte Mason's ideas on education just as much.  But, again, there are some aspects that I most certainly would not include in my homeschool.  They just aren't me or my family or I don't feel like they are appropriate for the ages I'm dealing with.  

I've been reading heavily in the Charlotte Mason realm again.  Reading blogs of CMers, spending tons of time on the Simply Charlotte Mason discussion forum.  I'm currently reading For the Children's Sake, which I love.  

I get all excited and want to fit all the topics into the tiny boxes on my spreadsheet schedule. 

Then, I can't seem to fit them all and fit lots of FREE PLAY TIME.  Then, I start to rethink things. 

Then, I get confused.

But, I think I've finally figured it all out.  I'll share my outline for next year in an upcoming post.  But for now, let me give you ONE example of my crazy thought processes lately:  MATH.

I've been absolutely obsessing over math recently.  My youngest is fine.  She is not "behind" by any standards.  Thankfully, she is only about to begin 1st grade, so I'm good there.  My oldest, on the other hand, is "behind" as far as grade-specific curriculum.  That's certainly not her fault.  It is mine!  It is my fault because I've been an educational philosophy hopper for her first 2 years of homeschool.  I haven't stuck anything out long enough to give her any of its real benefits.  Shame on me. 

Okay, Mommy-guilt aside, she is still fine.  She has learned a lot simply from our every day living.  She's learned math up to this point primarily via the Unschool approach.  And, that's okay.  

But, I want to get her "on track".  

So, I started out with RightStart Math.  Too many materials and too much time just to get everything ready.  This led to us not doing it regularly enough.   A great program is only great if you use it. 

Then, we tried Singapore math.  A year behind.  Wasn't feeling it.  She likes the games, but flopping around between Home Instructor's Guide and Textbook and Workbook and Mental Math and games and such was just too much.

Started looking into other things.  MCP Math, CLE Math, Math Mammoth.  I wanted a solid, daily program.  But, one that didn't involve so much of MY time.  Simply for MY ease, I wanted something to just teach her for me and let me be there to help when needed.  

I had settled on Math Mammoth.  Have her do 2-3 pages per day and still do the Waldorf Math Blocks with her for reinforcement.

Then, last night I read through the entire Christopherus 2nd Grade Math book and fell in love.  I was reminded that it is possible to keep math fun and lively and beautiful.  It doesn't have to be something that we both dread, that we just have to get through.  

I started to wonder again if I could simply trust the Waldorf method to teaching math.  Teach her in blocks, beautifully and then just practice with games throughout the year.  Could it work?  Do I really need to have her drudge through 2-3 pages of Math Mammoth worksheets a day just to say she's doing it?

I slept on it.  

This morning I discussed it with her.  It is her education, after all. 

She said she "didn't believe in math workbooks".  She said she thought it should be fun, family time.  She said she wanted to play games.  She said she already knew a lot from our life, from cooking and baking and the stuff we do.  

I thought about it.  

I finally settled on just relaxing and letting Waldorf work its magic.  

Now, technically, we are still a little "behind".  I haven't covered all of the topics in the 2nd grade curriculum in the manner in which they are covered in Donna Simmons' book.  And, I want to. 

We will also hit on the grade 3 math subjects of time, money and measurement.  I think it should be easy enough to fit those in with our other studies.  

We also have next summer.  We'll aim to be "all caught up" by the beginning of 4th grade.  If we still need a little work, so be it.  We do homeschool, after all.  :=) 


  1. My brain fries every year at this time. I could delve into 12 different systems every year and love something about all of them. So fun but so hard.

  2. Wow, have you been hanging out in my brain lately? I have had the same rambling thoughts as you. I adore Donna Simmon's practical explanations, but I'm not sure I could sit back and just go with it. I have swung from Waldorf purist (very briefly) to Charlotte Mason only and now am back somewhere in the middle, leaning more Waldorf. We couldn't use any of the math manipulatives you talk about either. We do use Singapore, but only the workbook after we do practical Waldorf math with bean bags for math facts, tangibles and then we throw in Queen's Math Facts for Copywork. :o) I'm hoping to use Oak Meadow's math for the concepts and fun in the fall, then Singapore to solidify. We'll see.

    Love your post!!!

  3. @Susanne ~ I've been following your posts on Facebook ... I knew you were "right there with me" LOL

    @Cindie ~ Yes, I believe that's why I tend to look at your blog DAILY ... I feel a connection, like we are thinking the same things, wanting the same things and the same level on non-purist Waldorf/CM ism LOL ... Sounds like you have similar plans for math. I DO intend to do the Waldorf blocks and I DO intend to have my oldest do the Math Facts for Copywork and I DO intend to practice the tables with the bean bags and such ... I'm also planning to play games on Fridays (that was her favorite part of Singapore, playing games with cards to get the number bonds down). I'm not sure where I'll get the ideas for the games, but hopefully I can find some. I may add in the extra practice with the workbook, maybe not. My youngest would probably LOVE that (she's more "schooly", likes that kind of thing). My oldest would probably bawk at that ~ she'll do whatever I tell her to, but I can tell when she thinks something is amazing and when she thinks "ugh. Do I HAVE to?". If I can stay on top of it, I may just give her a few problems a day on the board for her to do in her MLB (isn't that what Oak Meadow says, have them do like 20 problems a week using all 4 processes?) ... we'll see.

    Thanks for reading, ladies!

  4. Dear IrieMomma,

    Sorry for using the comment section to post this message, but I could not find any other means to contact you. My name is Benjamin Bernier,

    I am a pastor who made his doctoral dissertation studying Charlotte Mason's Philosophy.
    I came across your blog and I thought that you would be interested in learning about my recent publication:

    Scale How 'Meditations' by Charlotte M. Mason,

    The meditations are a record of a series of Sunday talks delivered by Mason during the year 1898, at the House of Education, "Scale How" in Ambleside Uk, where she presents a verse by verse commentary on the first chapters of the Gospel according to St. John.

    I found this collection while doing my research at the Armitt library in Ambleside.
    Most people are not aware that Mason wrote these, and that they are an amazing source of devotional inspiration and instruction in the art of Christian meditation.

    That is why I am spreading the word as much as I can so that more people may benefit from this important resource in Charlotte Mason's work.

    Let me know if you have any questions,
    You may found more information at my blog:

    Thank you for your attention,
    At your service,

    Benjamin Bernier

    “This duty of devout meditation seems to me
    the most important part of the preparation
    of the mother or other teacher who would
    instruct children in the things of the Divine life.”
    Charlotte M. Mason.
    The Rev. Dr. Benjamin E. Bernier

  5. Just to encourage you I am using the christopherus math program and it teaches math. It doesn't stay story based forever and actually gets fairly rigorous without the redundancy of excess repetition. By Fourth grade story based math is gone and Donna starts to use the keys to workbooks, which I love. We also use life of Fred Math as a supplement and as independant math work.

  6. This post is cracking me up because I'm planning to homeschool my kids and have narrowed down my approaches to CM and Waldorf. I think they have a ton of similarities and I'm probably just going to pick and choose aspects of both that I like. I'm intested to know what you end up going with since this post is from '11.

    1. i'm the same way. can't decide between CM or Waldorf!!! But I do think I'll stick with Singapore math, just in case, for some terrible reason, the kids have to back to regular school.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...