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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Homeschooling The Road Less Traveled


Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Sometimes you cannot get away from an idea, no...not just an idea...a way of life... no matter how you try to dodge it. You can close your eyes, but it shows up in your dreams. You can try to take other paths, but it meets you at the end of each trail. You can talk of other things, and it presents itself, still, squarely and brazenly in your mind, words and heart.


The word, the concept, the lifestyle came up in talk last year. Certainly if any family desired a homeschooling 'set up' or lifestyle, they would be happy to overtake our life. With a full time farm, huge rambling farmhouse, and every tangible life skill at our disposal, we are all set to teach and learn about anything and everything. Our oldest child wanted to be homeschooled. Our life, he sensed early on, lends itself to the whole homeschooling concept. All summer we, as a family, tossed around the idea. But, my husband and I were public school graduates, former marching band geeks and we had 'subscribed' to the public school system in our heads and hearts. I could picture our oldest walking proudly to Pomp and Circumstance in my mind. So, abandoning these preconceived pictures in my head was a huge mental hurdle to even considering homeschooling. One friend who homeschools said, ' just jump in, you'll never regret it.' She was right. My heart told me at the beginning of this school year that my children needed home and what I could teach them. We jumped.

For four anxious weeks I struggled to grasp this new concept. I spent hours each night and early morning compiling curriculum and then presenting and teaching it to the children, all in conjunction with the advent of our busiest season of apples and cider, harvest, farm store employees and in-laws. I was constantly on 'show' for all to see and 'judge' my homeschooling abilities. I was mortified and stressed and anxious beyond anything I have ever experienced. "This can't be right for us", I reasoned. My dear husband saw my stress and suggested putting the children back in school after four weeks of homeschooling. In a moment of weakness and lack of tangible curriculum-induced anxiety, I succumbed.

We contacted both schools, re-enrolled the children. Our youngest had lost her spot in her school building, and after much combined communication we achieved her comfy spot back with her old teacher and schoolmates.

But, just like the unexpected death of a loved one in a car accident, something was gone that was never coming back: The ease of sending my children down the road on the bus for someone else to teach. Every minute they were gone, I was haunted by the 'what ifs' and the 'why didn't you's?' and reminded that I had abandoned a dream. Strength and dreams go hand in hand. When we believe in our dreams they become reality. We attract the reality and it works! When we believe in our dreams, no matter how silly or far fetched, others begin to believe with and alongside us, and, before we know it...all of a sudden...our dreams become inspiration for others!

The Waldorf educational style, which focuses on embracing the developmental stages of the child and nurturing, presented itself time and again. So much so, that a certified Waldorf teacher whom I had taught to make cheese last winter, showed up on our doorstep ready to educate me on the Waldorf homeschooling methods. Support and encouragement from people I had never met before poured into our lives.

Coincidentally (or not) our entire set of 2nd grade and 8th grade curriculum that had been ordered during our first few week's adventures into homeschooling, arrived in the mail the very 'day' the children went back to school. The boxes sat for two weeks, and then I opened them and gingerly set them out for each child. Amazingly, even after being in school all day, they wanted to work on their education. They worked simultaneously on homeschool curriculum AND went to public school. Admittedly, our oldest was lost somewhere in between and though he has always been a straight A student, I could see his heart and mind choosing sides. His assignments at school began to fall by the wayside, while his love of learning and education at home continued to grow.

We continued this way for the bulk of October, culminating in this final All-Hallows-Eve weekend. I sold soaps at the now-famous Art on the Farm art show next door and then took our youngest trick-or-treating. She had a small cough and sniffles for which I decided to keep her home from school the next day, and we all fell asleep exhausted after her sorting of candy.

Monday dawned fresh and cold, and our 'Closed' sign was placed on the door for cider and apples. There was a quiet hush to the landscape and our home. No employees, no customers. Just the occasional mewing kitten and the stirring of our corn bin drying the harvest across the road. Both children begged, my heart recovered, and my dreams dusted themselves off.

I have failed. But, I try again. We all fail at things everyday. We try again. This is life. Don't stop trying just because you fail, or your dreams will never manifest themselves.

It is with the most sincere and heartfelt apologies (and let me tell you that I see their hardworking faces all too often in my thoughts and prayers and think of them with thanks for the job they strive each day to accomplish) to the dedicated and super-hardworking teachers of our children, that we return to our homeschool journey...a little worn around the edges from taking the beaten path, but ready to journey down the less traveled, colorful and soul strengthening road of life, education and dreams.


Julia Guthrie said...

Its a brave step, but one which I for one, am in awe of!
Your children sound like they will get so much more out of homeschooling than they would at regular school. If their passion lies with you, there is no end to the amazing lives they can achieve :)
I wish you every success xxxxxxx

Ma said...

May God bless you efforts. I think the *only* way to fail at homeschooling is to try to organize it as we knew it in the Public Schools.
You're going to do great, and I'm glad you've decided to try it again.

Anonymous said...

I will be happy to see you smiling again! Love Ya~ Barb

Jules said...

I'm SOOOOOO happy that you've returned to your dream. It is the PERFECT situation for your family and all will be the better for it. I'm so proud of you!!

The Happy Peasant said...

Julia, thanks for your well wishes. Yes, it feels brave. I haven't done something brave in a long time; sometimes we forget how fun it is to be brave (: Your last post was beautiful. I wish we lived near the healing! Lovely pictures. ~Amy

The Happy Peasant said...

Barb, yes it feels good to relax again and pick up the thread of what I dropped. (:

The Happy Peasant said...

Julie, thanks for your words of encouragement. I'm taking the first few steps on the road of Slow feels good. ~Amy

Drew said...

Hi Amy :)

You really do have to follow your heart when it comes to something like this. It sounds like you have finally found your path and your kids are incredibly lucky to have someone who is willing to provide them with not only an education, but also a cherished role model for a simple life worth living.


Sarah said...

Wow, this was SUCH a beautifully written posts that has captured much of what I've gone through for the past several years. I believe what you said is right, about strength and dreams going hand in hand. I'm going to favorite this post on my computer because I'm sure I'll come back to it again and again for encouragement on this homeschooling journey of ours.

By the way, I'm always curious what people have found and liked to use when it comes to Waldorf homeschooling. Would you email me with the information about what curriculum choice you made? I've heard of so many curriculums within Waldorf homeschooling, and have tried (and am still using) a couple, but I'm curious what another like-minded mom has chosen. Thanks!


The Happy Peasant said...

Drew, thanks so much for stopping in to my blog for a comment. Care for a walnut from my basket? (: Yes, sometimes there is just no going backwards in life, no matter how much we wish there were. Great post, by the way, on user names, avatars, etc. Keep up the great writing and thanks for stopping by my humble peasantry. ~Amy

The Happy Peasant said...

Sarah, welcome! I'm so glad you found my little corner of the world where I'm trying to slow things down a bit. (: I will email you with Waldorf info and we can talk. Have a lovely day and thanks for your kind comments on my writing. ~Amy