Gentle Discipline By Age–Part Four

 

Gentle discipline is the mainstay of parenting life, because it encompasses guiding and validating the authentic spiritual being that is every human being and child.  It is a mindset to live by and parent by, and if you can master some of these techniques, you will find yourself even having more positive communication and conflict resolution with other adults.   I have wanted to do a round-up of techniques by age, and here it finally is beginning.  I hope it will be helpful to you, and do please feel free to add your own thoughts or experiences to this list.

In Part Two,  we focused on birth through age 4.  In Part Three we looked at ages five and six.    The mainstay of gentle discipline for these years begins with our own inner work and development, as discussed in Part One of this series.

Birth through age  four encompasses a time of protection, physical movement, warmth and trust and love in a caregiver and in a good world.  The ending of this stage sees the use of the words “I” and “no” not as an act of defiance or disobedience, but as growth into individuality.  Ages five and six also sees the same  importance of protection, physical movement, warmth, and love and trust in a caregiver continue.  However, play and social experiences now expands during these years, (although some children will not blossom into truly enjoying other children until the six/seven year transformation).  Play is the main theme for these years, and also a  look at the willing gesture involved in roles, power, and control.   If you would like to see more about the five and six year old, please see Part Three of this series:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2014/08/01/gentle-discipline-by-agepart-three/

Today we enter the realm of the seven and eight year old;  two ages of contrast for most children.  Descriptions of these two ages include the following from the “Your Seven Year Old” by Ames and Haber:  “Seven-year-olds normally do cry at any, every, or even no provocation.  Seven tends to be a quiet, withdrawn, pensive,  and in some even a rather gloomy age – certainly when compared to vigorous, aggressive, demanding Six or expansive, outgoing, ready-for-anything Eight.”  From “Your Eight Year Old”, also by Ames and Haber:  “Eight’s performance is often only mediocre, and his notion of other people’s standards is extremely high.  This discrepancy lead to tears and temporary unhappiness, at times; or Eight may boast and alibi to make up for what he can do and what he would like to do…..While Eight is hard on himself, he is also hard on others.  He can be quarrelsome and aggressive toward people, particularly Mother.”

Although there are  many differences between these two ages, I think there are common tools to use in the gentle guiding of the seven and eight year old:

Know that the mother-child relationship at these ages can be really mixed up, embroiled, and many times everything is taken out on you as a mother.  A seven year old may be all complaints and gloom and  misery, many times. An eight-year-old is often highly possessive of his or her mother and often requires a mother’s full attention and demands a lot of her, but yet is often very resistant to Mother.  The level of communication often required by children of both of these ages is often intense.    Be calm and try not get too entangled in it all. 

Speech can be a volatile issue at this age for parents.  At  age seven, violent speech and thought are fairly typical.  At age eight, lying and belligerence is also fairly typical.  Again, don’t get too caught up.  Be calm, and do let natural consequences take its course.  Reduce your orders, commands, and verbal questioning to a bare minimum.  If you ask something to be done, you probably will have to be right there to see that it is done.

Protection is still very important.  Abstract thinking has not yet really unfolded.  Seven and eight year olds are still little.  Do you remember back to first and second grade?  Stop overtalking things to death and offering too many choices and activities. An eight-year-old especially will be accident prone, get stomachaches if something is upsetting and will get headaches if overexcited. More is less for these ages. 

Play is still so important.  Seven-year-olds often are very inventive and creative in their play, and are forging into board games, collecting, magic tricks, jumping rope, roller skating, and games involving a ball.  Eight year old girls may still love to play with dolls;  cooking, models, trains, paper dolls, collecting, and all manner of gross motor activities are still highlights of play.

Be on your child’s side by setting boundaries and following through.  The foundation you lay at these ages is important for the nine-year change. 

 

Many blessings,
Carrie  

Reads Worth Your While

 

 

Here are some of the links I currently love and am pondering:

 

Here is a great link  about the value of a gap year before college.   Some of you may have small children and are no where near this point yet, but this could be a good save and read later link or a great link if you have teens. 

 

Why all parents who have children in school should be rallying against the amount of homework we are seeing expected of children:  why children are better off without homework.

 

I love The Healthy Home Economist.  I like this post about packing the packing the healthy lunchbox.   Some more great lunch ideas here: recipes to freeze for lunches.

 

From Time on how screens are lowering children’s social skills.

 

Many blessings,
Carrie

The Sweetest Year of Parenting

 

The sweetest year of parenting isn’t based upon an age of your child.  ALL of the ages are wonderful, despite what you might read about the “six/seven year transformation” or the “nine year change” or the “twelve year change”.  All of the things that happen during those developmental peaks are necessary in order for our children to grow, mature, learn and be able to handle themselves as adults out in the world.  This is not a cause to parent from fear or anger during these stages.  Instead, focus on the relationship between you and your child that you want to preserve and protect for adulthood.  Find your sweetest year of parenting yet.

Some things that make the sweetest year of parenting for me is when I

slow down

listen

be together without an agenda

have unrushed and unhurried time

take the time to guide my with my calm presence

have fun and laugh

snuggle and hug each other

take the long view

enjoy the moment

 

What makes the sweetest times of parenting for you?

Many blessings on today,

Carrie

Let’s Read: Simplicity Parenting

 

Rhythm calms and secures children, grounding them in the earth of family so they can branch out and grow.  The implication of rhythms is that there is an “author” behind how we do things as a family.  Parental authority is strengthened by rhythms; an “authority” is established that is gentle and understandable.  “This is what we do” also says, “There is order here, and safety.”

-Simplicity Parenting, page 103

 

To establish rhythm, Simplicity Parenting suggests:

  • starting small
  • seeing what points of the day you can begin to connect
  • observing what the most difficult transition points are and trying to establish small steps to improve that flow
  • choose basic activities that need to be made more consistent
  • building rhythm when children are between the ages of 2 and 6 is easiest
  • start small, stay close and follow through
  • verses and rhymes can help for children younger than age seven
  • if you are starting to gather rhythm when your children are older than age seven, definitely stay close and follow through
  • with older children, discuss the change beforehand and consult with them about the best way to adopt the change
  • include the ideas of chores, recess, art, music and movement in your ideas for rhythm
  • try to look at after school to be free, unscheduled time – having time for open, self-directed play balances school
  • have moments of pause when nothing much is going on
  • be a parent that commits to regularity  and also be a parent that  commits to being together but not doing anything in particular; find a deep comfort in time spent together
  • make it a habit to listen to your children more than you speak
  • prepare and eat dinner together

 

Many blessings as we forge new rhythms in our families,

Carrie

when the process is automatic, that is when it will feel like a success

The Type of Family That Thrives in Waldorf Homeschooling

 

(This is geared specifically to preschool/kindergarten ages)

Some Waldorf schools will send out a letter to parents of prospective children ages 3-6 to explain the goals of a Waldorf Kindergarten:  to nurture a sense of wonder and curiosity, to instill confidence and discipline, and to encourage reverence for a world that is good.  Letters such as these also often mention children that thrive in a Waldorf preschool/kindergarten environment may share certain traits.  For example, this may include little to no media exposure, healthy sleep rhythm, the ability to follow and comply with teacher’s directions, being independent in the bathroom, etc.

 

I have been mulling this over quite a bit. What are the goals of a HOMESCHOOL Waldorf kindergarten?  What kinds of families really thrive in using this type of education, designed and made for schools, at HOME?  I am sure those of you who are experienced Waldorf educators will come up with many ideas!  Please feel free to add to this list in the comment box as I think my list is just a beginning.

 

The goals of a Waldorf HOME kindergarten program, in my opinion:

To encourage connection to the family unit as a whole (and siblings to each other) and the belief that home and family are inherently good

To encourage reverence for something higher than themselves if that is within the spiritual  framework of the family, reverence for the nature outside his or her door, reverence for the neighborhood or block or piece of land the family lives on and for all the plants, animals, rocks and stones and people within this.

To see the home (their world)  as a predictable place where they make a contribution through work.

To continue to foster wonder.

To develop the twelve types of play and the twelve senses; protection of the senses

To be able to develop stillness and the ability to find quiet within him or herself

To be able to develop care of the self

To be able to develop the beginnings of social interactions with trusted and loved family members, friends and community members

 

The kind of family that really may thrive in Waldorf education at home:

Limits media to no media

Understands the importance of rhythm in the day, week, month and year for the health of the child and feels this is freeing, not constricting

Feels that adults can hold loving authority for the small child and doesn’t feel conflicted about this

Understands the importance of regular sleep and mealtimes

Places a value on play and nature in all kinds of weather;  views natural objects as stimulation for play

Places a value on the child following the parent’s lead through imitation

Places a value on telling stories, singing, whole food  “slow” meals, gestures of  peacefulness and unhurriedness in household tasks and does not see household and land tasks as something to be hurried through and done but as the foundation of nurturing and love and care for the world

Is not overscheduled and values having a “slower” life

Has a rich emphasis on inner  spiritual development of the adults and the unfolding development of the child; doesn’t feel in a rush for the academic life of the child

Has an emphasis on observing children and the ability to love children fully and presently

Places a strong value on respect toward each other in the family; both from the children toward the adults and the adults toward the children and is able to modeling resolving conflict in a healthy way.

 

Please feel free to add your own thoughts to this list!

Blessings,
Carrie

Wrap-Up Of Week One of Seventh and Fourth Grade….. (And How to Handle Life)

 

After I wrote my last post about the first two days of school, I had a comment by one of my sweet long-term readers who asked if every day went as smoothly as those two days.  Those two days did go smoothly, but certainly it is not always smooth. Sometimes it is super rough and awful.  Or one child is having a hard time and it is impacting the flow of all the other children and our day.  That is life homeschooling multiple children.

Part of life in homeschooling is also just life.  This week involved going to the barn, our family attending (and me leading) a breastfeeding support group session, numerous calls and emails and such that needed to be returned after said meeting, two visits by friends to our home on separate days, a run to the allergist and grocery store, a visiting aunt who is here through the weekend to teach machine sewing and work on a  mini-quilting project with my seventh grader (which is normally more eighth grade in a Waldorf School, but this particular aunt lives far away so I am happy to take her up on it now!), (our fourth grader also doing a mini project to help brush up on measurement skills and look at textiles and then will  have a turn machine sewing in eighth grade for her very own),  a husband who traveled out of state the majority of the week, and the pet care of two hamsters, fish, frogs, and a large dog plus meals and housekeeping.  That is all life and part of homeschooling as well.  Especially as your children grow older, they may have more activities or passions they are investigating and have distinctly different needs than the children in grades one through four.   Life may expand outside the home, but being within the home is still the basis of homeschooling and the more you are home, the more smoothly things will run, in my experience.

So, how does one manage life and homeschooling?  You just do, and every year it gets easier.  Every family has its own unique style and comes to terms with life and homeschooling in different ways.  Increasing ages of the children also often helps, but I feel a mother must also become good at boundaries and seeing the larger developmental picture. The larger picture for me is that we work as a team and as a family and show respect and kindness to one another.   This doesn’t mean we are always kind, that we don’t make mistakes or that we don’t get angry!  However, it does mean that  I have worked over the years to help the children become respectful of our life as a  family as whole, and to become respectful of  the goals of homeschooling for every member of the family and for family life where all members of the family have needs and wants to be addressed.  Our third day of the week was not very smooth, mainly due to one child who was having a difficult time. That happens, but each time this happens, we work toward  showing dignity and  love to the child having a hard day, but also keep working toward that idea of respect and cooperation within the whole family.  We may lose much of the time allotted for school that day for that child, but this  the idea that our needs are met, some of our wants are met, and that the rhythm of the family as a whole still goes on is a primary goal for homeschooling and life!  Our fourth day of the week was better and today was fairly smooth although completely off of our normal rhythm due to having a guest in the house.  This takes practice, year after year! 

One other  way to help manage life and homeschooling is to look back at the end of the week and see what has been accomplished.  I tend to schedule too much on one day, even now after so many years of homeschooling, so it is often helpful to me to see what we did.  Here are some examples from our life this week.  I hope this will inspire you to look at your own day with grades-aged children (NOT those of you with tiny children!   You are doing wonderful to get through the day and have rest, play, work and warmth!). This is not for comparing to make anyone feel badly or judged!  Think of your days as beautiful books with possibilities!

Our littlest guy participated in  circle and a sweet story with a puppet and scenery  four days this week,  got to whittle with his very own little knife under supervision,  a beautiful bike ride with Mommy all to himself yesterday, the opportunity to  make salt dough and challah bread (and “Stew” in the backyard with clover, spices and food coloring! Smile), the opportunity to do yard work and  pick up toys , the ability to  set the table for meals, say prayers,  sing, practice tying his apron, and lots of time to play.  Our fourth grader got plenty of time to:  read and play, helped with the making of challah bread,  review math and measurement with a read-aloud and in practical skills, have a read aloud of her very own, practice form drawings from three Native American tales, and did many things that contributed to the life of the family and also in the community as a mother’s helper for the breastfeeding meeting.  Our seventh grader got time to: read and create and play and dream, cook for the family and also with her younger brother, help her sister review math, review geometry and do five beautiful geometric drawings, do four physics experiments and some main lesson book writing, charcoal drawing, painting and sewing. 

You really can do this and it will fall into place.  Many of you reading this have tiny children and can’t imagine getting to this point, but I assure you that you will!  Be strong, know where you are headed and take baby steps to get there!  Keep on keeping on!

Blessings,
Carrie

First Two Days of School: Seventh Grade, Fourth Grade and Kindy

 

People who are curious about homeschooling always want to know how it rolls with multiple children and how it works teaching multiple grades using Waldorf Education at home.  It is undoubtedly different than a Waldorf school, and yet I feel indebted to the schools and the resources the Waldorf school teachers use as I gleam so much from the teachers and their resources.

We celebrated our first day of seventh grade, fourth grade and kindy (our four year old will be five in October, so this is his five year old year) yesterday.  What follows are two days in the life of our homeschooling adventure.

On most of the “first day of school” in years past our older girls would dress alike in something new or wear something pretty from what they already had.  This year they dressed up in something they already had, took the dog and their little brother for a quick walk (all barefooted) and came back and we took first day of school pictures (still barefooted).  They quickly checked on their hamsters, fish and frog and then came to the school room.  We opened our school day around 8:15 with prayers and confession, and then a reading from “Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends” (Christian book). We are alternating this book in the morning with some of the writings of St. Theophan the Recluse.  Next we moved into singing and fingerplays for our four year old and ended with a story from Juniper Tree Puppets’ Old Gnome Through The Year book.  I had wet on wet watercolor painted a very large background with a pond and frog puppets on sticks that move within the painting and had needle felted a gnome for the telling of this story.  The older girls then grabbed their folders of independent work (fourth grader reviewing coinage in math and seventh grader reviewing United States geography) and the little guy and I went downstairs.  He worked on tying his apron in the front, measuring ingredients,  and stirring with one and then both hands to make a big batch of yellow, lemon essential oil scented salt dough.  After we cleaned up, I took him outside (still in his heavy apron) to hunt for beautiful sticks and presented him with a very small pocketknife. (If you would like to know more about this, please see the writings on the Forest Kindergartens in Germany and Europe, and also the woodworking book for 3-5 year olds by  Master Waldorf teacher Marsha Johnson.) I demonstrated and modeled the use and care of the knife and how to whittle and  he very carefully whittled the bark off the end of a small stick to be a fishing pole for the Old Gnome puppet in our story under supervision.  Once the whittling was complete for the day, I put the knife away in a very safe place. Our seventh grader then took over the supervision of her brother  whilst I worked with our fourth grader. 

Our fourth grader began with Brain Gym exercises and drinking water.  We recited a poem and speech exercises and reviewed math.  We took a look at last year’s main lesson books and then reviewed some areas  with props and activity and writing.  After that we took another little Brain Gym break and then we worked on form drawing from a Cherokee Native American Tale by first actively walking and working with the form and then drawing it on the board , on practice paper and finally in our main lesson books.  At the end of the lesson, I read the book “Mandy” by Julie Andrews Edwards aloud to her.  In the meantime, our seventh grader and four year old had prepared snack for us downstairs in honor of the grain rice –coconut rice today- so we went downstairs and ate.

Our fourth grader then went outside to play with her brother, and our seventh grader and I dived into poetry and the review of the work she had done on North American geography independently.  We are doing a physics block this week, but also some review and work in geometry, so we looked at her geometric drawings from sixth grade and then did three exercises from Blackwood’s book.  For physics, we experienced the totality of darkness , the wonderment of the match and candle in darkness, and wondered together about sunrises, sunsets, why they are red, why is the sky blue, and other various things.  We ended the session with coloring some of our geometric drawings and I read aloud from Jules Vernes’ “Around the World in 80 Days”.

Then we ate lunch around 12:40 and had some resting quiet time.  We came back for a little latch hooking and work with Spanish about frogs and ponds for our four year old who made a little picture and practiced his Spanish.

Today was our second day.  We were shorter  on time because I had a breastfeeding support group to lead. Our day started the same as yesterday, including circle and story for our four year old.  Then he very carefully whittled another fishing pole under supervision and he and our seventh grader made butterflies to hang in our school room from pipe cleaners and carded wool.  Our fourth grader at this time was working with Brain Gym exercises, poetry, more math review, and then an introduction to colored pencils and together we drew some of the animals from yesterday’s Cherokee Native American tale.  She heard a new tale today about groundhog which we will work with tomorrow in form drawing.  We ended there with reading our book, “Mandy”.  She took her brother to play in water with teaspoons, tablespoons, cup measures, etc and they made a rather exotic soup of spices, clover and other plant friends whilst our seventh grader and I played with light in a very dark closet and how we can see a beam of light, and then we worked on more geometric drawings from Blackwood’s book.  Our time was quickly up, and we had to leave for our community meeting, which was extremely busy.  The older girls helped entertain the toddlers at the meeting and were very helpful.  We came home to an afternoon of play.

Hope that provides a glimpse into a few days for your own inspiration, and I hope those of you that have already started school are having wonderful days of learning!

Many blessings,

Carrie