Rhythming.
September 13, 2011

The more slowly trees grow at first, the sounder they are at the core, and I think the same is true of human beings.  – Henry David Thoreau

Charlotte is two years old which means that our home-education journey has officially begun.  Kind of.  If you count ‘educating ourselves’ as part of the process of homeschooling.  I do.

Some people think this is overkill given that our daughter is still a years away from any sort of academic education, but I think that it makes good sense.  If we were enrolling Charlotte in a school, Donald and I would expect that her teachers had training and were effective.  As her teachers, we expect no less from ourselves.

So although Charlotte’s ‘education’ at this point is all nursery rhymes and nature walks, my husband and I are up to our necks in our own education.

As far as I can tell, that’s really the most important part, isn’t it?  Us.  Donald and me.  I cannot think of a more perfect example of what the early years in a home-educating family are like but this: parents, together, making an effort.  Learning.  Preparing.  Creating a stable and reliable family lifestyle.  Establishing a warm and nurturing environment.  Encouraging the magic of childhood to flourish in our home.  Building a rhythm.

Not a schedule.  Nothing rigid or time-oriented.  Something simple.  An ebb and flow to our days, our weeks, our months, our years, OUR LIFE, that is easy for Charlotte to connect to and understand.  A pattern of behavior that is, to our family, like breathing in and breathing out.  A routine.  Something that not only enables Charlotte to learn at her own pace, but also gives us consistent pockets of time during which to set aside the laundry and turn off the music and focus on her and help her pursue her interests.


Pausing to enjoy a sandwich together in the afternoon.

Building a rhythm, that’s our first step.

Heaven help me, it’s only the first step and already I sound like a left-wing progressive nut-job even to myself.  I’m almost afraid to find out what I sound like a few years from now.

*** If you don’t mind, I’d appreciate a vote: click here.  You can vote once each day.  Thanks!  (Click the owl on the left).


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  1. By on September 13, 2011

    I’m of the opinion we need more left-wing progressive nut-jobs! ;-) Best of luck in your rhythmn building!

  2. By Sarah on September 13, 2011

    I know how you feel. I am homeschooling my 6,5,3 and 22 month old and although the two little ones aren’t really being “schooled” per se, I am constantly researching and changing the way I teach the older two and trying out new methods. Guess this throws the stereotype of “lazy homeschoolers” out the window!

  3. By Sara on September 13, 2011

    I don’t think this is too left-wing progressive nut-job (although, maybe that’s just say how far I’ve come from my OC roots?) But, I love this. What ways are you learning & teaching? We want to (not 100% committed yet, but I’m in the researching) homeschool Maggie, but I feel that I’m lacking in resources to help make the decision. Do you have any good books or websites or resources you could recommend?

  4. By Jeneva on September 13, 2011

    We began last March when my younger was not yet 2.5. My style is more play-based and it has been a blast. They have done wonderfully and I am really looking forward to this next year. Best wishes to you guys and have fun! It’s hard work but so incredibly worth it.

  5. By Megan R. on September 13, 2011

    Good luck with your venture!  BTW, Charlotte looks like such a big girl in these pictures…sigh!

  6. By mommica on September 13, 2011

    Good for you! I’ve got my almost-four-year-old reading but the mere mention of geometry makes me want to pull my hair out. I’m going to have to leave math to the professionals… :)

  7. By Terry's Playhouse on September 13, 2011

    Motherhood sounds so good and effortless in this post, I hope that the magic of childhood will never seize to inspire you and your family.

  8. By on September 13, 2011

    I get the impression that homeschooling is more of a right-wing thing; left-wingers are more likely to want to support the public schools.

  9. By Sarah Christensen on September 13, 2011

    Abby - I tend to think that homeschoolers fall into every category on the spectrum from left to right, just as people who place their children in public school do.  I think people choose academic paths for their children based on circumstances like finances, location, etc.  I think that as a result of that home-educating populations tend to be either significantly left (like my family and the families in our homeschool co-op) and interested in progressive educations not widely made available to the public or significantly right and interested in classic education standards not upheld by current education policies, but there are still plenty of people in the middle too.  I’m not sure that left-wingers are any more likely to support public education than right-wingers.  I think people on either end who opt out of public education simply do it for different reasons.

  10. By tara pollard pakosta on September 13, 2011

    We started homeschooling last year and are really enjoying it! it’s not a big surprise though, seeing I have always loved to see my girls learn, explore and create!
    enjoy every moment!
    tara

  11. By Sandra Lang on September 14, 2011

    You exactly hit the nail on the thumb!
    Rhythm is the most important thing…

  12. By on September 14, 2011

    Hi! You might enjoy the site playathomemom3.blogspot.com. It has lots of great ideas for learning through play. Here is the link to the post on rythm charts…..

    http://playathomemom3.blogspot.com/2011/08/kids-day-simple-way-to-simpler-day.html

  13. By Heather on September 14, 2011

    Such adorable pictures of the two of you.  Such a great memory.  I think you are right, training yourselves may be the hardest part.

  14. By Widelawns on September 14, 2011

    You have to be familiar with Waldorf education, right? They always talk about the importance of rhythm in a child’s life and I’ve noticed a lot of other waldorf-consistent beliefs and ideas in your writing. I’m saying this as a former Waldorf student and kindergarten assistant (we had an outdoor kindergarten at my school. You would have loved it.) So yes, rhythm is a good thing. Children thrive with it and so do grown-ups.

  15. By Sarah on September 14, 2011

    she is so so gorgeous!!

    http://www.parentingwithpinot.com

  16. By Jordan Marie @ hottlt.com on September 14, 2011

    i agree with everything you just said..
    voted for you just now..
    and it looks like you’re doing better.. at least remember to breathe. ;)

    love ya!!

    <3xojo

  17. By Andrea @ HMRM on September 16, 2011

    After reading this, I ended up writing a similar post. I posted a link to you, of course. If you’re interested in reading it: http://heymamablog.blogspot.com/2011/09/rhythm.html

    This was one of those life changing reads for me! Thanks for sharing.

    - Andrea

  18. By Sarah Christensen on September 16, 2011

    Widelawns - I’m moderately familiar with Waldorf.  I know several people who are involved with Waldorf education in some capacity or another - sending their children to a Waldorf school, teaching or in teacher training at a Waldorf school, homeschooling but drawing heavily from Waldorf ideas - and I would be a fool to think that these people do not influence me.  As with all other educational philosophies, there are some things about Waldorf that I love such as the focus on nature…and there are others that I’m not such a big fan of such as anthroposophy.

    Right now, Donald and I are planning on purchasing a couple curriculums as Charlotte ages.  We are probably going to be somewhere a little more structured than unschooling (this is more for me than for her - I need structure or else I just get overwhelmed or lazy or both), and we plan to use the curriculums as a supplement to what we teach her.  Basically, we plan to use them to ensure that we aren’t leaving anything important out and that we have additional ideas if she shows more interest in one area than in another.  All of the curriculums we are considering draw inspiration from Waldorf.  Most also draw from Montessori and Reggio Emilia as well.  I think one draws from Charlotte Mason too.  I think we’re more of a mix than we ever could have imagined we would be a year ago when we started looking into this!

  19. By nursery rhymes on January 20, 2012

    You look so sweet. Reading and memorizing nursery rhymes, singing and drawing are the very best things to do at this age.


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