Each week we are celebrating our community by sharing our fellow Waldorf families and their new routines at home.
Our New Normal
This week we welcome an update from the Rubin family.
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Many people in the school community know our family but for those of you who don’t, here is our story. My husband Jeff and I live in Essex with our four boys who are ages 16, 13, 10 (as of March 31), and 6; three cats, twelve hens, and a new Great Pyrenees puppy. Our two oldest boys attended the Cape Ann Waldorf School nursery program when they were 4 years old (2007-2008 and 2010-2011), but after that they homeschooled until 2017. Our socialite Satchel decided he wanted to go to public school when he was 11 because his friends in town told him it would be fun, so he was the first to go to school. A few months later our oldest son, Simon, joined the 8th grade class and our third son, Noah, joined the 1st grade class, both here at WSMF.
As we decide to take our children’s educational approaches year by year, things changed again in the fall of 2018. Simon had graduated from WSMF and moved on to public high school, Satchel left the public school and joined the 6th grade class at WSMF and Noah came back to homeschooling. Dustin, who is the youngest, has always been home.
Although both older boys do enjoy going to school, when they heard there was going to be an extended school closure due to the coronavirus, they were very excited. The younger boys were excited to have their older brothers home again as well. However, it was still a bit of an adjustment having everyone home again full time during the school year. I had finally gotten used to the early morning wake up and rushing to get the boys out the door, and I also got used to having only two kids to tend to during the day. Now once again I had four kids waking up at different times, eating at different times, and schooling in vastly different capacities.
Upon the school closure, almost immediately the boys fell back into their relaxed, playful ways. The first week home they set out into the woods on our property and began clearing a bike trail. This was something they had thought about doing before but they finally had the time to do it. I was so impressed at how they got out the hedgers and rakes and leaf blower to clear that path, all planned and executed on their own. Since then, they ride through it almost daily. They have also discovered local bike trails through the woods near our house where they can ride to as well. Other days, they spend hours jumping on the trampoline or playing basketball in the driveway. They have all been getting along better than they have in years, which is awesome to experience.
Four weeks ago today we brought a puppy into our home. This was something we had talked about for quite a while, and since the kids would be home for an extended time it seemed like a good time to do it. It is heartwarming to see the bond they are creating with this new animal. And the cats surprisingly have not been phased at all!
After about a week of “freedom” both boys fell into their new school routines. Simon, 10th grade, has all of his school work through google classroom but he does not have any online classes so he is able to do his school work whenever and wherever he wants to do it. He is very much a self-directed learner and needs no reminders or prompting to get the school work done. He continues to take piano and guitar lessons via zoom. And he is back to playing the piano almost nonstop day and night!
Satchel, 7th grade, has a consistent daily zoom class schedule. It was an adjustment learning how to navigate zoom and google classroom but it seems to be second nature by now. I am happy to be able to see more of what he is doing for school work, and offer him guidance as needed.
My homeschool rhythm with the younger boys kind of fell by the wayside with all these sudden changes. I felt all out of sorts and it took about three weeks to get our rhythm somewhat back. I’m trying to maintain Waldorf inspired third grade work for Noah and keep a few touch points in the week for Dustin. Waldorf teacher I am not, but I strive for storytelling on Monday, poetry tea time on Tuesday, painting on Wednesday and crafts on Thursday. This past fall I started reading the Little House on the Prairie series to them and we continue with that daily. It’s kind of ironic to be reading these books now as sometimes I feel as though the social isolation and necessity of self reliance skills the Ingalls Family faced is what we as a family, and society, are going through now with the quarantine. So although I don’t want to intellectualize the stories too much (especially for my 6-year-old), I do find the stories a good opportunity to make parallels with how the pioneers lived and how we are facing life now. And they just have loved all the books so far…”just one more chapter, please?”
Jeff has been working almost full time in Boston throughout this crisis. He is an immigration attorney/small business owner and has not been able to leave his work behind. We pray that he stays healthy and that his business is able to sustain this unprecedented period.
All in all, we’re doing very well but look forward to seeing everyone in the school community again, hopefully sooner rather than later.
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Our thanks to Robin and Jeff Rubin for this fun update. We appreciate being able to picture the daily rhythm at home and of course, the new puppy!
So, dear villagers, how are you doing and what are you doing? Please let us know if you would like to contribute to our story series.
Send us your interest or anything you wish to compose. We can print more than one family update so go ahead and start writing!
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Our next zoom call gathering will take place Saturday, May 16th at 7:30 pm.
We are reading Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall-Kimmerer. It is a refreshing take on the mothering we receive from our human mothers to Mother Nature, written by a woman who has a deep curiosity about her Native American heritage. Join us by writing to Deann Reyes-Wangh at firstname.lastname@example.org
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