Building 101

Building 101
October 13, 2010 Colleen Emery

We are homeschooling the Pickle this year once again. Its been such a wonderful journey of learning (and unlearning in my case). Last year, being new to this, we tested out the waters so to speak and tried lots of different things. Sometimes we had lots of structure, sometimes no structure and most of the time we were somewhere in between. All the while it was a leap of faith for me, being a product of the institutional schooling of the 1970’s and 80’s, to really trust that all that is necessary and essential to learn will indeed be learned. As most of you know I am an organized person. I like order, harmony, and a direction to the day, so the concept of unschooling my child was really going out of my comfort zone. The idea of taking cues from my daughter as to what the focus of learning should be for the day was, at times, very difficult, no question about it. However at the end of the day and at the end of the school year I realized how much we accomplished, how much she had learned and how much she now really loved learning which was my goal, my only goal, of the entire year. I wanted to create a love of learning for her that was so obviously lost in her time at public school*.

Now we are on to year two of schooling at home. I realized at the end of last year that I needed support, direction and that being who I am, the organized, order driven person, I would need to follow a program. The Pickle doesn’t necessarily need to follow a program, its me that needs this to feel whole in this process. As I was making this realization I was fortunate enough to be spending time with a fellow homeschooling Mom and she offered to lend me the Christopherus program, a Waldorf focused curriculum. I simply love this program. Its everything I was looking for and more. I have been following its direction now since the New Moon in September and I am simply in love with its tone, content and its overall respect for the love of learning. Learning is active, not based on textbooks or sitting at a desk much. Sure, there is ‘the basics’ and what not but it’s how they are approached that makes this program special. Much of what we have done is not sitting at a desk, its active learning, moving and walking while learning the multiplication tables, drawing and water coloring painting to express a theme in a book we have read.

We were so excited to discover that the first ‘block’ of learning, called ‘practical projects’ was for the Pickle to build a structure large enough for her to be able to fit inside. All this was to illustrate to her and to us that she is going through the nine-year change, where a child completely discovers they are separate from you and an individual. Plus, its been a long time goal of the MountainHerb Family to one day build our own home on our land so needless to say this block of learning spoke to all of us in a way that was special and exciting. A small side note: all the materials for this structure, minus the nails, we salvaged and reused. Here are some pictures of the construction, we still need to paint but I am really proud of how it worked out. I would say that 80% of the work was done by the Pickle, we helped of course but she nailed, cut, fit and built herself her own little home.

*Disclaimer: In no way am I making a generalization about public school, I am specifically describing my child’s journey with institutional learning.