Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Sleep: An Unobserved Element in Education

It's too bad that it seems to be so hard to find a copy of Audrey McAllen's SLEEP: An Unobserved Element in Education

My opinion of Audrey McAllen is so high that I'd buy any Waldorf book sight unseen if I knew she wrote it. Her book on Teaching Children Handwriting is fabulous. And she makes a good point by writing an entire book about the value of sleep in education and the development of the child, although it seems no one can get their hands on it to read it. I have it, though, and if you are interested in borrowing something from my lending library, please feel free to contact me!

I know that Angela Gusso of Waldorf Books is also considering setting up a lending library. If you think this is a service the Waldorf community could benefit from, consider contacting her to show your support. I sure it would help her to know that it's a valuable idea!

My family is struggling with sleep right now in particular, and finding balance in general. I think that homeschooling helps you to know your flaws as a person. I have a terrible problem with over-planning and then getting frustrated with myself and my children. I posted to my Yahoo group during Natalie's human physiology MLB to ask for some perspective and support with pacing, and then turned right around and made the exact same mistakes in our World Geography block. I had a friend over a few days ago and this is what I told her: For each continent we are drawing a political map and a biome map. Then we are choosing an animal from that continent and doing a little mini animal report. Then we are choosing a hot button political or economic topic, researching it with multiple sources, and writing a summary of the topic.

And we are doing a continent a day.

Dumb, huh? All I can say is WOW. What was I thinking? Where was my head at? That I would think we can go at that pace? That I would create that situation for my family? That my daughter would be up at midnight every evening writing in her MLB and feeling guilty for not working fast enough?

And I feel incredibly guilty for making a snippy comment about her in my blog a few posts ago, saying that she can't do a two day cycle and needs a three day cycle. The problem isn't Natalie!!!! It should have been a continent a week, with the biome lesson on Monday / Tuesday and the political lesson on Wednesday / Thursday and assembling the several page spread in the MLB and citing our sources on Friday, if that volume of work -- two maps and two reports -- was our goal. And it should have been a three week block and a four week block.



My stress and my to-do list trickles down to my kids. I understand that better now. I need to remind myself of it day by day. My old mentor Nancy used to say that perfectionism was a terrible burden. And a terrible thing to pass down to our children. We were at the pediatrician yesterday and Natalie was saying that she's not getting enough sleep. She is getting 9 3/4 hours a night but she still feels tired. And she would prefer 11 or 12. So we changed our whole schedule. Natalie's bedtime is 8 pm. We are not letting homeschooling become an all day long all consuming beast. And I am going to focus on finishing each thing I start before I start the next thing, instead of going like a spastic hamster all day long and driving myself crazy.

We sat down as a family and decided that finishing what we have started before we move on to something else is our new commitment, alongside with bedtimes, and if someone comes up and interrupts us and we need to stay focused on what we are doing and would prefer not to talk, or we simply aren't available to do the next thing yet, we will pat ourselves on the head a few times as a simple signal. Yesterday was so quiet and calm!!!!!!

Just for perspective on how bad it is, here is my actual to-do list for Monday:

    find a new pattern and knit baby booties for Zac

    move into a new closet and sort and put away all my clothing

    address and mail all the birth announcements / Happy Thanksgiving cards

    shampoo the sofas (fleas...)

    make Thanksgiving centerpieces for the table

    write in the baby book for Zac's six month page

    make yogurt

    restring the curtains

    put up window plastic in the rooms that are too cold

    decide on the Christmas gifts for all the children and order them

    put a quilt over the attic vent

    make chili

    have Colleen over to visit

    find a book on multiple intelligence theory that I want to lend to her: Differentiating Instruction in the Regular Classroom: How to Reach and Teach All Learners

    find the Christmas present / family board game "Evolution" from Kickstarter that I bought early and have since lost

    make a daily schedule for our family

    start Zac on rice cereal

    research life insurance policies

    repot the bonsai

    learn how to test the pH and TDS in our hydroponics system

    come up with a plan for who is going to water what houseplants, since we lost the mango tree that Leah painstakingly started from seed

    put catch-and-release mouse traps in the upstairs bathroom

Not even counting the fact that I have four kids ranging from a six month old to a thirteen year old, and we are homeschooling all day long.

Clearly, this isn't logical.

I was drawn to Waldorf primarily because of the inner work demanded of the teacher. Time to sit down and commit to it!

1 comment:

Rhoda said...

So funny... I wrote this today and then just heard on the radio that there's an upcoming Here & Now program on NPR about how you should forget about balance, because it's never possible, and instead focus on well-being.