So….what’s the downside?

Along with all the wonderful ideas and possibilities of homeschooling, there are also some downsides. As with most things, there is NO such thing as the perfect homeschooling curriculum and there is no perfect way to educate your child.  There are several real problems with the general Waldorf concepts, homeschooling in general, and the resources available.

1) Technology: In general, Waldorf shuns the use of all but the most basic technology. Well, we are a technology family, by virtue of my husband’s passions and job. Part of McRuger’s job is having and knowing how new technology operates. He spends vast amounts of time reading, researching, and even testings new things. Clearly, Cadet is going to spend a good amount of time near the best tech in the world.

That being said, we have made a decision to keep Cadet as “tech free” as possible for his first few years. Cadet is rarely allowed to watch TV shows. Of course late last week,  he was watching a show as I typed this. He had a very bad stuffed nose, was feeling miserable…and it was either a show or 2 hours of melt-downs because I wouldn’t let him play in the sprinkler outside (it was 6am and 43F degrees outside). However, on a normal day, the TV/iPad stays off while Cadet is awake. And I generally stay off the computer as well.

For me, I feel that TV really hinders a child’s ability to be imaginative and creative. Instead of having a world created for them, the child is forced to create his/her own world of play out of what is around them. That is a very important skill for children to hold on to.

2) Diversity: There is a grand lack of diversity in most homeschooling curriculums.  Waldorf is no exception. In fact, the creator of Waldorf has often been accused of racism, although the evidence is pretty thin on that. The statistics on homeschooling based on race is a little hard to find and the several sources I was able to find conflicted. However, the most reliable number was: 70% of homeschooling families are white. So, no matter what, a vast majority of these families will not look like ours.

This is a challenging one. I am already building up a hefty stock of books, toys, pictures, and art work with predominately black characters. However, it’s harder than you think. Next time you go to a toy store or Tar.get or even just a grocery store…really look at how many of the faces on the toys/dolls/packaging are white vs more “ethnic” looking.

3) Religion: I am not a religious person. Spiritual, yes. Religious, no. It’s not for lack of exposure to religion or even a lack of interest. Mostly, it’s just that I have found my spiritual needs have been met without the need of an organized religion.

From my research, a vast majority of home schoolers in my area are religious (and homeschooling for religious reasons). There is a lot of talk about how G-d created the world, and not a lot of modern science. This is a problem for me. I want to have a support community around our family as we embark on this venture. People who think like I do, or at least don’t shun me for my beliefs.

McRuger and I have often thought about joining a church community. However, McRuger has had major issues with organized religion in the past and isn’t eager to rejoin the ranks. So, the discussion continues.

Waldorf incorporates a lot of religious traditions from around the world (mainly Christian) : advent, Michaelmas, Solstice, Dwali, May Day, Candlemas…and so on. Personally, I love holidays, and especially enjoyed them while at college (which was Catholic). But, I need to put all of this together for Cadet, which I fear may be more of a challenge without a religious community or other Waldorf families to support us.

4) Magical Thinking: If you’ve done any research in to the Waldorf way of schooling, you soon discover a whole lot of magical thinking: gnomes, trolls, fairies, sprites, Father Winter, Mother Earth….the list continues. I’m a fan of children believing in a certain amount of magic in the world. However, some Waldorf families take it too far…and you end up with teenagers talking to gnomes and a good amount of day dreaming of the fairy world. So, I need to avoid that.

A quick look at popular culture shows that magical thinking is very prevalent in children’s books/shows/toys. And whether it’s fairies, a kid “doctor” who can talk to stuffed animals, a flying rocket which transports 4 friends, a magic school bus, or even talking animals…magic surrounds kids. So, I’m not concerned about the magical thinking, in of itself, but how seriously some families take it.

5) Fanaticism: The world of homeschooling (and a lot of parenting theories) have a degree of fanaticism surrounding them. It suggests a lack of flexibility and open-mindedness that  is hard to understand. Waldorf is no different. Several of the Waldorf face.book pages I belong to are wonderful, but there’s a ton of “should” and “shouldn’t” being tossed around.  This always makes me wary. Like the breast/bottle debates or the crib/co-sleeping discussions, I find that the level of adherence to one way of thinking completely baffling, if for no other reason than every child has different needs.

So, as I begin to walk this path, I am constantly aware that there is not just one way to proceed. I am approaching Waldorf as a guide, not a mountain to die on. I just hope and pray that others (no matter what approach to education they have chosen) view their choices in the same light.

6) Support: The area we live in is fast-paced and very commercially minded. Heck, the mall is already hopping for the holiday season. Many of my friends (parents and not) look down on homeschooling as “simple” and “strange”. Some of the few people I have told have been supportive, but a bit circumspect. I truly worry about finding a decent support system here.

I am very worried about how to share our choice with our extended family. Bro and Jewel have raised Bug and Mouse to be very materialistic. They have all the latest toys, demand everything they see on TV, and have more toys (big and small) than most of the families on my block combined. So, how do I garner any support from them? And McRuger’s family? What will they think?

With the changes we’re making, I am also overhauling gift-giving to friends and family. Gone are the days of plastic toys from Ama.zon. I am going to try to give gifts that are simple, well-made, and have meaning to them. Heck, perhaps even make some myself (candles, herb mixes, knitted/felted toys).

7) The Finish Line: At some point, Cadet will need to be enrolled in a school. Why? Because there is a point in the future that I will no longer be an effective teacher for Cadet. My skills, especially in math, will conk out around 5-6th grade. And my ability to find effective resources for Cadet will be limited as he gets older. Plus, both McRuger and I know how important socialization is for kids (especially in the pre-teen/teen years). The problem is that we don’t know where that line is. And we both like planning for the future! Of course all of this will develop as Cadet gets older and begins to communicate his needs/wants.

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What are your thoughts on the positives/negatives of home schooling?

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Categories: Cadet, Choices, Homeschool, SPD | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “So….what’s the downside?

  1. Well, since you asked…

    I have no opinion on homeschooling as it pertains to other people. I have no intention of doing it, because I truly don’t believe I am capable of it. I can barely convince Jackson to do his homework. We try to keep up a certain amount of scholarly activity during the summer, and that’s a battle. If I had a child who was more like I was, then I could probably make it work if I wanted or needed to. But I don’t. I did contemplate sending Jackson to my friend’s “Academy” – she became a private school for reasons I won’t get into here. She homeschools her 5 kids (well, 3, 2 are too young), and I seriously considered sending Jackson to her homeschool. Max wouldn’t hear of it. But if we hadn’t gotten into our Montessori-based charter, I definitely would have made the case for it.

    I do think that there are ways to get the socialization aspect without school: Sports, organized groups, lessons of various types.

    The adult people I have known who were homeschooled had different opinions. One of my college friends really hated it – she thought she didn’t have enough experience with other people to really understand social interactions. One of my co-workers loved it, but she had a big family and they were active in their church (homeschooled for religious reasons). She was also a really motivated individual, as was her younger sister, who mostly enjoyed being homeschooled, but wanted to have a more wordly college experience. One of my cousins was homeschooled for junior high because he was being bullied. He thought being home during that time was the best decision his mom could have made under the circumstances. He went to a regular high school and did relatively well.

    I would be very concerned about meaningful interactions with other people of color, as well as with other adoptive families. My friend who teaches at the Waldorf school invited us to their Winterfaire. Almost all of the children appeared to be white. I counted about 5 Asian-looking children. That was it. Jackson and Cassie were the only Black kids there, as far as I could tell.

    This is a really long, meandering comment. I hope it’s at least entertaining to you. :)

    • Robyn, I always love your comments! Thank you!! I agree that interactions with POC is a big one. Frankly, I am a bit lost right now as to how to start those interactions. But, it’s always on my mind, and it’s something I am working with.

      I have several people in my life who were homeschooled and each of them loved it…albeit for very different reasons. It’s been an interesting discussion to have!

  2. My dear, I understand the need for support, but you don’t need the approval of your extended families for the decisions you make in Cadet’s best interest. We too have neighbours (great family) who have three children and a play room you cannot step foot in it as it’s overflowing with toys of all sorts. When Oliver goes visiting he is mesmerised by all they have. He has his toys in a toy box. That’s it. Do I feel bad about it? Nope. One time the children of said family came to our place (which is smaller anyway, so we couldn’t even have a play room, and we mostly go to them) and do you know what they said? They said “Mommy Oliver has soooo many toys!!” so either they were very polite and didn’t want him to feel bad or the perception of children on “things” is very different from ours. I am not buying more toys, I buy those toys that can be reinvented over and over, like play-doh, jig-saw puzzles, stacking boxes, lego (he is not a fan and neither was I when I was small). Of course he has a fire-station which is great for imaginary play but to give you an idea, we have no motorised cars, toy guns/weapons of any kind, no latest telly characters. I love the fact that you think of homeschooling Cadet, and I love even more the fact that you found a style that you like and will adapt it to your needs rather than taking it like a religious belief. That is how a scientific mind thinks you know? keeping your critical awareness high, adjust as you go along to get the best result possible.

    As for magic, we just had an elf joining the household. He will stay till Christmas and then go away till next year :)

    • Fran! The elf! We have one too! This will be our first year using it. Ours is named Mortimer! Thanks for the comment. Big hugs to you and your family!!

  3. I like the idea of homeschooling, but I don’t think it would be right for me. In fact, I don’t believe homeschooling is legal in Finland, even if I had wanted to try it here.

    My youngest brother was homeschooled until he was in 3 grade or so, with his 2 best friends. I think it worked quite well, for the most part. He then went to a charter school and has been a great student ever since (straight As!). Definitely not like us other 3 siblings. Haha. My mom would have liked to homeschool us three, but felt pressure by society and her MIL to be “normal” and “traditional”.

    My thoughts are you need to do what you feel is right for you. And I love your outlook on the whole thing: do what works for you and leave the rest behind.

  4. Thank you for the comment!

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