Over the years of home education, one of the things that I value most in our lives now, that was very much lacking prior our brief stint in Steiner schools, is rhythm. When Willow started kindy in Scotland in 2004, a lot of discussion revolved around the importance of rhythm. Part of the rhythm in the kindy, was that each day, had a particular activity dedicated to it, generally these were the sorts of activities most kids of that age would find interesting-painting, baking, drawing, modelling. However the last one caught my fancy and has been part of our life since, home loving.
Prior to our Steiner school experience, we had always had a house work day. The kids didn't do a lot of it, and I was rather begrudging about it, but it was a necessity that I participated in very ungraciously. On learning about Home loving in my daughter's school, and just the fact that it could be about love, rather than work, my attitude to it started to shift. My attitude towards my children's involvement in it also started to shift.
At the stage that Willow started kindy, she was very much a pre-schooler, 4 and a half, Gabriel was only 2 1/2. Neither were at the stage of being able to do too much in terms of help clean. But this shift in loving my home, enabled me to encourage them to love their home too. Initially it was just simple things; such as you are finished with one toy, it needs to be packed away to get a new toy. Later it progressed to cleaning bedrooms, cleaning walls and now we are at the stage where Willow (16years) and Gabriel (14years) both cook dinner once a week, largely manage the kitchen themselves, and are involved in general other housekeeping duties as required. Arden (8yrs) is at the stage of graduating towards a dinner night; currently he does dinner with the support of Dad once a week.
For our family the hardest thing about this, was creating a pattern. Damien and I had not had a home loving attitude modelled to us, so for us to model it to the kids took time, practise and developing our own rhythm. When a new baby has arrived it has gone out the window a bit (though with Irving's arrival it was much easier, as Willow and Gabriel were older and continued with their roles). Arden and Irving were born into our family having a rhythm, and so they have both requested jobs, and 3rd and 4th time around I have found it much easier, as I know what is reasonable to expect them to be able to do. (We also own many less toys than when Willow and Gabriel were very small).
For me, now as a long term home educator, this has made our experience much more relaxed and pleasant. Living together and focusing on being co-operative together, far surpasses the benefits of home education from a purely academic point of view. That said, our home probably does look quite chaotic by some people's standards, as we have quite a diverse range of interests and activities taking place. We always try to keep a balance between tidy, clean, and lived in.
Home in North Adelaide.
Settling into our appartment in East Perth.