When our big girl attended the Waldorf kindergarten, my husband and I always disclosed our girl’s emotional and behavioral difficulties at our parent-teacher conferences. We confessed our daughter’s tantrums and sleep deprivation to our beloved kindergarten teacher. She gave us suggestions. We always tried to implement them. But, peace and sleep remained elusive.
Finally, in the spring, I announced to our beloved kindergarten teacher that we would be homeschooling for first grade. She was shocked. Even horrified. She is a Waldorf teacher. She believes in her heart that every child needs and deserves a Waldorf education. And our daughter was certainly not just any kid to her. She loved our daughter, so watching her beloved student “lose out” on what she believed to be the most important piece of childhood was heartbreaking to her. I completely understood her position, but held strong to my conviction that school was not working for our girl. Even the most beautiful, the kindest, the gentlest school was not working for our family.
Perhaps because we were leaving…perhaps because she’d been holding the words back for two years…perhaps because God just spoke through her at that moment, one day our beloved kindergarten teacher asked me something to the effect of – since everything is going so beautifully in the kindergarten for your girl and things are so difficult only at home, do you think that you (the mother) might be the problem? Holy sh*t. Her words packed a wallop. After crying my eyes out for a week or so, I pulled myself back together and decided that I knew that school vacations and summers were entirely different experiences than the school year. My girl was happier. It was much easier for us to spend time together. I knew that I was not a perfect mother, but that I was trying my very best and that I needed to follow my intuition. We needed to at least try homeschooling.
And thank goodness that we did try homeschooling! It has changed everything. The sleep issues and tantrums stopped completely during that first year of homeschooling. So I was right that school wasn’t working for our family. I was right to follow my intuition and pull my kid out of school. That was confirmed during the first year of homeschooling. But it has taken me several more years to recognize that the teacher was also right. Much of my daughter’s issues were my issues. This correlation is only logical now that I’ve learned about conscious parenting. I’ve learned that my children mirror my fears and traumas. But I needed the time and space that homeschooling creates to come to this understanding. In the everyday race to survive school, it’s very difficult for mothers to work on our personal issues. The goal is to survive, thriving is not on anybody’s radar (as far as I know anyway).
School is seen as children’s jobs and it is the parent’s (usually the mother’s) responsibility to pick her kid up from school and deal with the unraveling that is bound to happen as a result of holding it together all day at school. Adults have to work and so do kids. Or so our culture wants us to believe… Slowing down my children’s lives has been a much better gift than the music- and art- and movement-rich Waldorf school experience we have forgone. I am forever grateful to our beloved Waldorf kindergarten teacher for the myriad of gifts she bestowed upon our daughter and our family. And I am grateful that she spoke her truth upon our exit. She was right. And I am working on my own fears and traumas in order to clear them from both my field and my daughters’ fields, so we can all live more fully and joyfully. And it is the homeschooling lifestyle that enables me to do to that deep, personal work. And so in my experience, there is no such thing as a magical school that can meet every child’s needs. Each and every school (regardless of its size, mission, appearance) is an institution. No exceptions. But my family has found our own little nirvana at home in our Slow Homeschooling lifestyle.