As we progress through our home education experience, we still continue to use structure and natural learning as a blend for our learning experiences. Increasingly throughout my life, I've come to value balance- finding the middle view and how to bring that to life. It seems to me, that so many things that humans do are out of balance; it seems to be an all or nothing approach, success or failure, healthy food or junk food, etc, etc. As complex creatures we have the ability to be many faceted, to be able to define ourselves by our own rules and intuition, to honour our own voices and our own journey.
The longer I have home educated the more this is important, but so is belonging and fitting in and knowing when it's appropriate to break or bend the rules. Individualism has been taken too far IMO, and has lead to people feeling isolated and lacking in connection. Around here our main focus of home education has always been family, but I understand it as a goal more clearly now, than I did when starting out on this journey around 10years ago. We regularly discuss how to be an individual whilst still being a part of the group; how to support family and still be oneself? How to express one's inner ness and still be connected outwardly. To me these are important components in creating a balanced home education experience, and that family must always be at the core. So as part of that, each and every person in my family has value, no one or other greater than any individual. As an example since I am the person that manages the education and the home, I have a need for a peaceful and tidy home. I'm more relaxed and better at focusing on everyone when our home feels and looks tidy. So this is a priority that needs to be achieved- everyone takes part in home loving day (this year on Fridays) so that as a group we have a more peaceful life because I feel supported with our home and keeping it tidy, and as individuals we need to learn how to take care of ourselves. Various members of the family have jobs to do during the week to help maintain the comfort of our home, and make sure home loving day doesn't become too enormous.
The more I consider natural learning in this sense, part of me feels that as a society we lost our way over the last 60-100years. Day in day out at home children would have once learnt all sorts of useful life skills from their parents taking care of the home. Modern natural learning, seems to me to still be pre-occupied in many cases, that the parents cannot teach the children anything, and that everything must be about the child's interests without regard for the fact that there are some skills that the child must learn for a healthful and useful life. Perhaps in the early 1900s everyone was totally overburdened with the level of tasks that needed to be done to survive, but we now have an alternative extreme where there are few too tasks to be done that have meaning, and it seems to me that a life without meaning is filled with disillusion. For me the structure of home ed, balanced with natural learning and following a Steiner path returned meaning to my life. Thus for me, a balanced approach is still both, some natural learning and some Steiner.
As my two oldest go through the high school years, we are taking a more unschooling approach; as I guide them towards fulfilling their dreams. However for me I feel satisfied that they are capable young people who can care for themselves in the world, and without any structure in the early years, I feel certain that we would not have achieved that as a family. Both Willow and Gabriel are able to cook lovely meals, competently clean the house, babysit, do a variety of crafts, as well as follow their own interests- for them both there is a love of circus, Willow has a passion for writing and music and Gabriel has a passion for gaming and finacial systems. I feel like I have given them a solid basis as adults going out into the world, one where they have an understanding of how to support themselves, and how to look for support and guidance when it's needed, from that basis I feel that it's easier to then follow one's own interests, as the basics are covered. I guess I see a lot of Steiner early education being on par with teaching a small child to use the toilet, be polite, eat a meal with the family.
With Arden I feel much more competent in regards to the journey, I know what's expected of Steiner education up through the primary years,and he's naturally guided towards various goals of the curriculum through our day to day life. This year aged 7 1/2 he desired to have his own dinner night, as Willow and Gabriel do, but due to our youngest , only being 2 1/2 I felt that I didn't have time to support that, but Dad (Damien) did. In terms of Steiner education, this was perfect as we are approaching class 3- with it's focus on taking care of oneself- and it was linking naturally into life, because as a family we now have a solid base of understanding where we are going. Something that was definitely absent in the early years of our home educating.
In case anyone's interested, these are some thoughts I had on natural learning, earlier through our home ed journey.