Waldorf, Roadschooling & The Best School Ever

The Best School Ever is exactly that because of their flexible approach to education and inclusivity. Let me explain that a little bit.

You see, everywhere up until we went there, we met a lot of distance with Moxie. I’m deaf; I see a lot.

I saw the way that people’s eyes shuttered with her, the way they’d talk to me, not her. I saw the steps back they took, the arms that lay by their sides without welcome. But it was mostly the eyes that I saw: the eyes that expressed reservations about our little girl, the eyes that said, “Down’s kid”, the eyes that said, “not so sure about this.”

It’s not fair of me, I know, but I kind of resented people for that, and hated the school system they were representing.

So I tried homeschooling, and in the San Francisco Bay Area, where we lived at the time, homeschooling is a Really Big Deal. That is, there are homeschooling groups, park play dates, shared curriculums, forums, you name it. It’s there. Unschoolers hopped on board with the homeschoolers at times, it seemed friendly and flexible. I liked many of the people that I met.

But ultimately, I’m not sure if that system would suit me. I tend to be too introverted and it’s very difficult for me to hear people. I don’t like the choices that I have to make in group settings – either I focus on what people say and lip read or I watch my kids. I can’t do both simultaneously. It was largely because of that and because it’s not easy lassooing three kids in and out, out and in that I never was very active with homeschooling there.

Roadschooling

Roadschooling worked a lot better. It’s simply education on the road and it seems to me to be slices of a few different philosophies rolled into a unique batter. It is what you make it. It can be along the lines of homeschooling, following a curriculum, it can be unschooling, not following a curriculum. It could be either/or. It could be a bit of both.

In our case, it was a bit of both. I loosely followed a general Kindergarten curriculum with Micah while we traveling, but it was really just for math and writing. He got PLENTY of everything in an organic fashion. An example would be staying at the Date Farm in San Ignacio: there, he learned about ecosystems, harvesting dates, what to cook dates with, different types of palms, more about trees. He also learned about what it’s like to bicycle from Seattle, Washington to Mexico, thanks to other campers there, learned about bicycling on alternative bicycles, about fixing those bikes. He met people of all ages and ethnic backgrounds who were camping and enjoying that particular type of life.

Everywhere we went, there was a ton of learning to be had and it almost feels to the teacher in me like candy just lying around. It’s so easy to teach the kids organically while traveling. It’s so easy to see something or know that we will be seeing something and plan a lesson around it, and the lesson does not need to be of the “sit down and take out your pencil” variety. Nope. We’re talking real life and real life isn’t often about sitting down and taking out your pencil, is it?

Anyway, so.

We love roadschooling and it’s a good system. There are things that I’d like to improve with what we do, of course. I’d like more one-on-one time with Micah and Moxie, both. I’d like to integrate many aspects of Waldorf education into what we do. I love the use of music, of softness and gentleness; I love creative play, the wood stuff and I love the rituals. But I want to balance that with some screen time with apps and certain shows – I like those too.

And I like The Best School Ever. Let’s make that “love”; I love The Best School Ever. I think that it may very well be the piece that will keep us glued to the Lost Coast.

The Best School Ever is flexible with part time homeschooling. We’ll be working with them to bring materials for Micah on the road with us and we’ll follow the guidelines so that when we return, he’ll be able to re-join his class without too much issue.

We’ll also be working with them on developing an IEP for Moxie – I want to get Moxie on board with the PEC system (- picture exchange communication), using far more in the way of visuals to help us all communicate. I believe that a speech therapist will be coming out here to see her, too – I hope we can continue to have a relationship with the speech therapist via Skype or Facetime, from the road.

This is where we are now.

We’ll hit the road at the end of October. We’ll be on the road from November-March, returning at the end of March, 5 months. I’m prepping for it differently this time, since I know we’ll be coming back.

I’m loading the kindles, preparing the book lists, figuring out the apps for both Moxie and Micah. I’m also downloading shows that they like because we won’t have much in the way of steady (if any) internet access during our time away.

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Links!

Waldorf for Poor People (- blog post, super awesome) – another post from her that I also enjoyed: DIY Waldorf-Montessori Sorting Game

Wee Folk Art (site filled with cool gnomes to make and some free Waldorf kindergarten curriculums, pdfs and stuff)

Zinn Education Project (- okay, the kids are too young for most of this but WOW! Holy Mother, but this is the best site I think I’ve seen all year)

Waldorf in the Home (- looks pretty comprehensive on explaining concepts and the philosophy; lots of links to books and other sites)

 Youth Digital (pretty much diametrically opposite to what Waldorf espouses, but it works with my own personal philosophy – Micah’s a little young for this still but I intend to get him coding ASAP)

Montessori by Mom – toolboxes for kids aged 3-5; NOT good for roadschooling since you receive an actual box. But this idea and program is full of “wow”; totally planning on it for when we get back

Not a link; it’s a book, a real book and I ordered it – it’s NOT on kindle 🙁 boo. But it’s an apparent must-read.

Waldorf Homeschooling Connection (site) – complete book with plans, etc for $20, lots and lots of info. I ordered the book, I hope I remember to review it here on the blog

SALE – from the 18th of August to the 24th, a big ole’ homeschooling materials sale on iHomeschool Network. $25

A Simple Plan: totally free, I love that

 

Links I Need

These are for my own future reference – because I have no memory! – looking up public holidays on our way south to integrate them into the waldorf curriculum 🙂

Public holidays in Mexico (wikipedia) and Guatemala and Honduras and El Salvador and Nicaragua

central-america-map

 

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Meriah
Meriah Nichols is a deaf artist, tech-junkie, Counselor (and sometime teacher), mom (one with Down syndrome), cat-lover, Trekkie, yurt-dwelling off-the-grid farmer's wife. She writes about travel, disability, and getting dishes done.

4 Comments

  • Meriah – I love reading your blog. Anyway, your plan was always to open a self sustaining school for the disabled (do I have that right?) However, when you leave in October you plan on returning to the US in March. You are not longer wanting to open the school?

    • Marcia! I was actually never planning on opening a school. The original plan was to open an Inn, which would work employment/training of disability. I guess you could call it school, though, come to think of it. But I was approaching it from a business standpoint: open the business and develop a training center for people with disabilities that would work for the business (- the Inn).

      We still want to do it. If we do it from the Lost Coast, it will be a retreat center though since that makes more sense there. If we do it at some point that we fall in love with abroad, then it might be more of an Inn.

      But it’s still in the plan and the works. We are just moving slowly towards it and seeing what makes sense and how to make it work with the kids being so little and so forth.

      xoxo meriah

  • Meriah – yes, an Inn – I knew the school part wasn’t quite right. I love your blog – I love pictures of your lovely tribe and LOVE – LOVE hearing about Moxie – how courageous and spirited she is. You are also courageous and wonderful to give your children such a lovely life…Godspeed…

  • I wonder if we may run into you in mexico or central america. we will start driving down from Cali with our 2 boys (4 yr and 10 months) in our camper. we will go thru baja first though. but i do hope to see you guys may be on your way back up?

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