So, I went to the IDEA fair and felt strangely out of place. Only one of the workshops appealed to me, it was kind of an intro to Waldorf, but even in there, I heard so many questions about how to do it right. I wanted to speak up and say "You are the only person who knows what is right for your kids. Relax, believe in your children's natural ability and desire to learn. Be confident in yourself and your kids! You can do this and everyone will turn out fine." Thankfully, the presenter kind of said that, but I am not sure the person who asked the question was satisfied.
The conference hall full of stuff and salesman, actually made me feel anxious. I am more of an online shopper. I like to take it all in and then after days of research, make a purchase. That goes for everything, from clothes to furniture. I did show some support for the Alaskan toy store - Enchanted Forrest, co-owned by the Waldorf presenter. I ignored the packaged (and often scripted) curriculum they gave me as a classroom teacher and can not fathom buying it as a parent. I didn't even stop at any other booths. Maybe as my kids get older, and need credits for diplomas, it will make sense. For now, we are doing fine with a simpler approach.
I in no way mean to offend, if those things appeal to you. I believe strongly that every parent and child are different and support choice of all sorts. We all must seek out the best for our families, whether is unschooling or school-at-home. The reason I started a.l.l. was to find open minded folks, so we can support each other and learn from one another, no matter what style of learning we choose.
I lean towards the unschooling end of the spectrum, which really just means child-led to me. During these early years, I don't think my kids need workbooks or even lesson plans. I want them to love literature and believe they are writers, not be stressed out focusing on the the minute details of sounding out letters or painfully writing sentences, one letter at a time. They are naturally creative and artistic and they can create beautiful things without precut pieces or me directing every step. My kids do sound words out, write everyday, and figure out mathematical equations but not because I said it is time to do it, but rather because they are natural learners and work at it for their own intrinsic rewards.
I thought I might get something out of the IDEA fair, if nothing more than the general support from being in a room full of homeschoolers. Surprisingly, I left there feeling disconnected from the local homeschooling scene. Oh well, I am grateful to have our small, but growing group of families that do make me feel supported and understood.