Why the Tree of Life?


Enki Education

So, we are officially changing directions in our home learning. When we first decided to homeschool, we seriously considered using the Waldorf method, but there were many aspects of Waldorf that we just didn't like or didn't fit our family or our beliefs. Then I came across The Well-Trained Mind and Charlotte Mason and thought I had found a better fit, especially with Charlotte Mason's philosophy.

But as K has gotten older, and I have tried to implement a few of the 'preschool-ish' things recommended by the classical approach, namely getting him to read before first grade, I am realizing that this is just not what children of his age need to be doing. There is no joy in it, and this whole push to read and choice in classical method is really more about my fears that he (and D) will somehow reach 18 not knowing how to read, and my concerns about others judging our family by how smart my children are, than about what my children's deepest needs are.

So, I re-evaluated what is working for our family *right now*, and most of it stems from the Waldorf elements that I picked up earlier. We have a minimal amount of toys, most open-ended; art supplies, musical instruments and books. We're out in nature as much as possible, and I'm conscious of our daily rhythm and including them in the real work of homelife as much as possible. And we read a lot.

But sitting down to work on learning to read now, even though 'everyone else is doing it' and The Well-Trained Mind recommends it, is not where Kirven is at right now. We could do it. I could push it. But it would be painful for both of us. He would know how to read, but at what cost?

So, where did that leave us? I still really like a lot of Charlotte Mason's thoughts on the child and education, but not everything. I also began to drift back to more Waldorf resources, but was still not sure where we fit.

Earlier in the year, I got a chance to view an acquaintance's Enki Education materials and discuss them with her. I initially thought Enki was just another Waldorf curriculm, but really, it has turned out to be its own wonderful thing.

Beth Sutton, the developer of Enki, is a former Waldorf teacher, so there are all the elements of Waldorf that I love in her program (teaching through stories, handicrafts, working with beautiful materials, music...). But she has also brought in strengths from Montessori (particularly in math, using real-tools, the three fold lesson) and discovery learning from John Holt, and there even seems to be some Charlotte Mason (quality living books, nature study). She has also kept up to date with current understandings of child psychology, which supports our choices in parenting, and she is Buddhist and has brought a contemplative spirituality to the whole process, which fits very well with our Quaker faith. On the whole, I feel really blessed to have chanced upon her work in education. So, that's where we are now.

I have been reading through all the guides that came with my kindergarten package, and I have set a date for starting kindergarten next year: May 1. It seems like an odd date, but we have decided to take the months of April and October off because those are the best months in Texas. We will have a Winter Term (November 1-March 21) and a Summer Term (May 1- September 21).


  1. I'm happy to read another Enki-related blog! Happy Enki-ing in November : )

  2. This is really helpful information. I'm thinking about purchasing this program, and your insight is valuable. Thanks!

  3. Hi Jennifer (Gosh Yarn It).
    Glad you found this post helpful. Feel free to email me any questions jennifer dot marchman at gmail dot com
    Your blog has some beautiful things on it!

  4. Ah! How I can relate! I am out here in Bastrop, not too far from you, and coming to some similar conclusions. I am interested to see what progresses, and how you like the curriculum/lifestyle. I have two boys (4 and 16 months), and Enki seems like my favorite (at the moment, that is!)...

  5. Beautiful blog - thank you for sharing your journey with us. I wish I could homeschool too.

  6. thank you for sharing this information. We are in the midst of changing homeschooling methods in order to fulfill my kids needs. I have two boys (7 and 6). I'm looking for something that emphasize in arts and hands on activies, because they are always drawing, making music, making their own stories and creating instruments, weapons, costumes, etc. thus they don't like or do well will with workbooks.

    I found Enki Education yesterday and I think this is what will fulfill our needs as a family and as students and childrens. Do you know of any free/cheap/used Enki material that I can get to start getting to know and experiencing this alternative? I'll be more than glad for this information, since my finances right now does not allow me to get the curriculum. Any suggestion will be more than welcome!

  7. It's so good to find this post - I'm going to start following so I can keep up with what you are doing. I have been reading a lot about Waldorf since my boys were born and feel very much like you. When I saw Enki last week, I felt I had found the perfect fit. I would love to hear more about how you relate it to your Quaker Faith. We are United Methodist, but love the contemplative tradition and would love a strong emphasis on social justice, care of the creation, etc.... I would love to hear how these ideas are integrated in if you have the time. Thanks!