Wow! It has been very hard to sit down at the computer lately. When the weather turns fair, I feel this primal urge to pull weeds and dig! Our weeks in the school realm have been moving rather slowly, but it feels just right. I have continued to unfurl a shelter's block, moving from China and silk to the woods of North America. Of course, we had to get out into our own woods here and enjoy the lovely early spring weather and all of the beautiful mushrooms that the previous weeks rain blessed us with. We made Valentines and some heart shaped cookies to share with friends and we managed to build a small tree perch that may or may not become a tree house someday.
Last week we also had a meeting with our lovely education specialist who helps us keep our records for homeschooling through a charter program with the state. Our Waldorf work samples always satisfy and I do not really do anything extra to be "in compliance", with one exception: STAR testing! In order for this charter to receive state funds (which it passes on to families in the form of a stipend), we all must submit our children to the state standards testing in April. I try and take a very Zen attitude toward all of this, not placing any pressure on Rowan, not really worrying about how he does, coaching him on good guessing, but I swear, reading the sample test questions makes me hot under the collar every time. I just find it so absurd that this is what schools spend time teaching kids. I want Rowan to learn to read in order to enjoy reading books and other things when he grows up. I want him to learn math in order to get along in the world of numbers, measurement and money. I want him to listen to stories so that he will have a deep understanding of history and poetry, tragedy and comedy. The standards tests seem to be determined to suck the life out of learning and place kids in a world where knowing how to fill in a bubble and follow nonsensical directions is more valuable than knowing how to build a house! Ok, enough ranting. I will dutifully take Rowan in for his testing on the proper date but I will not let it get in the way of the real learning we do every day.
This week Rowan had a cold so we took things slowly. I began a story about a boy named Tim who lives in a log cabin in the woods and then the next day Rowan asked me to continue it. I had not planned on doing this, but I launched forward and this boy ended up getting in a canoe and travelling along a winding river and meeting different Native American tribes along the way. First he met some people who live in the Pacific Northwest and carve beautiful totem poles. We had some fun with needle felting after that one. After some time with this tribe, Tim said goodbye and got back into his canoe and traveled for many days until he came to some foothills and met some people who live in earth lodges. Soon he will meet tribes of the plains who hunt buffalo and live in beautifully decorated tepees.
During one of our mushroom expeditions, we discovered candy caps! These little orange mushrooms have been growing all around me for years and I only this year made the connection. We picked some and let them dry. The easiest way to identify this particular edible mushroom is its unmistakable aroma. It smells like maple syrup as it dries. Next we need to crumble them up and bake them in some cookies!