We have lived the last 3 months in near chaos. By the end of December I opened the door and flat out invited Chaos in; I said, " Let chaos reign, let the transformation begin, let's embrace the chaos and find out who we are!" Of course, we had been finding out for months; I was just giving myself permission to make a big mess.
I'd love to report that my health problems are behind me, but there not and integrating my health will be a big part of this year. I don't know what it all means...herbs, meditation, surgery...all I know is that there has to be some way to eliminate the chronic pain. If not, I must learn to live with it, manage it, and not let it rule. I am reluctant to go under the knife again, even though I know it might be the answer. Except that we thought it was the answer in 2006, and it was only half an answer at best.
The changes for this year are little, and they are big. I am moving away from the idea that there is any one perfect curriculum for us. Someone on Mothering said that we all create our own curricula, and she's right. I can't be a perfect Waldorf homeschooler following Donna's methods and interpretation of Steiner philosophy, nor can I be a perfect Enki homeschooler, following Beth's methods and philosophy. I can borrow heavily from Waldorf and Enki, and also from John Holt, and from the natural family living and attachment parenting communities, but it all filters through me and become Kimberly's philosophy.
Those of you who read because this is an "Enki" blog, have no fear. Enki is still our main influence educationally, and we'll be following the grade 2 format rather closely. I can never put into words the way that Enki has changed me as a human being (no religious overtones implied). Enki arrived at a time when I was making many positive changes and rediscovering my passions and creativity.
Still, you're going to find that we're leaving out a lot of scheduled practice time. My boys like it (okay, T-Guy likes it), so we'll fit it in 2-3 times a week. Over the course of the entire year we're only studying 5 cultures. I'm not planning the 3 month break this year, and I don't have all of grade 2 planned out and ready to go. So yeah, I'm still sort of planning on the fly. The master plan has been set, but I won't be choosing each culture's stories, songs, games, crafts, foods, etc. until we are closer to each block. This gives me more opportunity to fine tune the activities to my children.
I am so confused by Enki at times. The materials say spend 2 weeks on a sage. In another place it says 2.5-3 weeks. I look at the sample schedule and its based on a 5 day week, just like a school, and there are 14 separate lessons listed for MLK Jr. Dammit, I don't want to be a school. I want to do main lessons 3 days a week, maybe 4. So where is the balance? You aren't supposed to spend too much time on each sage, so that it doesn't get too heavy. I am so frustrated!
Anyway, I'm allotting 3 weeks for each sage, with 4 mornings of main lessons. Hopefully we'll fit in many 3 day weeks during math blocks.
I'm not afraid now...not afraid to change things, to do things a little differently, to discard anything in Enki that doesn't resonate with me. For instance, we aren't starting this year with any plan for formal circle. T-Guy loves it, J-Baby doesn't, and it is easy enough to fit in songs and games at other times without naming and claiming it. I don't want our learning to look like school grafted on to home living - I want it to be seamless, living and learning woven together.
You'll find this year influenced by other materials. I have purchased Christopherus' Living Language curriculum, along with the Saints and Heroes unit. I ordered the Spanish Curriculum from Sonrisas. The Enki Grade 2 materials are incomplete so I am pulling resources from all over. I recently purchased Step It Down: Games, Plays, Songs & Stories from the Afro-American Heritage as well as Art From Many Hands: Multicultural Art Projects (Revised Expanded Edition). The art book looks really good and will be a resource for years to come. It was important to me that we find crafts that don't involve turning paper plates into masks (I'm sure the Enki home learners understand). We're planning to borrow a book of African American children's songs from the library. The library has been a great resource, but we are going to branch out and see what the county system has for us, and also get borrowing privileges at my alma mater, California State University San Bernardino.
I've decided that I won't work behind the curve any longer. Expecting and waiting for Enki materials is frustrating, and I realized that I depend on the resource materials as a crutch. The reality is that life intervenes and here we are starting Grade 2 with less than half of the necessary materials. I won't purchase half of anything anymore: I have the Enki guides and they will be my map, but I will do more to write my own stories, etc. for Grade 3. I know I shouldn't be worrying about Grade 3 when we are just starting Grade 2; my point is that I am going to have to do a lot of Grade 2 on my own as well, and it is okay. It's fine, it's liberating. Beth taught me to paint and provided the palette of colors to get started, however I now have to find the colors myself. I'm not alone in this...many are making the Enki journey into higher grades without Enki-provided resources. The ultimate resource is still there, and it's nice to know that we can schedule consults with Beth if needed.
These are the things that we are going through...making something designed for a school work at home. I am now convinced that no matter how fantastic the curriculum, the method, the philosophy it will have problems. Even if it is written by a homeschooler, it will have problems. Home learning is so personal.
In other areas, I tore apart the office (it's an office...any attempts to call it anything else work out about as well as deciding to call the dog a cat) and am at the tail end of decluttering and organizing everything so that the boys and I have better access to it all. There is still stuff in the bathroom (a closet turned into a bathroom that I use as a closet) but it is organized and waiting for a better home. I told Papa that I need a dedicated work space for my projects and we are going to set up the old folding table (6 ft.) in the bedroom so I can leave up my sewing, scrapbooking, rubber stamping, etc. I realized that I lost my crafting space when the boys and I moved our learning into the office, and I really miss it.
I took all of the boys' stuff out of the little closet (the coat closet that was annexed to the bedroom when the original closet was made into a bathroom. It has built-in shelves on one side and we have a dresser on the other side, without about 2.5 feet between them. Right now there is nothing in there that the boys need access to. I have all of my herbs in there, along with bottles, jars, tins, other ingredients, finished products, etc. I also have some scrapbooking supplies in there and the picture and memorbilia boxes; my yarns, looms, and needles; wool felt, roving, and other handwork supplies; and my rubber stamps.
I haven't exactly shown chaos the door yet. There are boxes in various places throughout the back of the house that need new homes. I need to give the office another 1-2 hours to make it functional for lessons on Monday. Of course, January is the perfect time to declutter the entire house, and I have started here and there, which means the donation and give away piles are growing.
I have 2.5 more days and then we are going to jump in, ready or not.