The Follow-Up To Day Seven Of Twenty More Days Toward More Mindful Mothering

The question of the week is:   “How many activities is right for the older ( aged 9 and up) child?”

That is a hard one, isn’t it?  I bet if you asked 100  homeschooling families, you might get close to 100 different answers!  I think different families, even families who love homeschooling in a similar way,  still have different values and different ways of approaching things.

Many homeschooling families seem to be reluctant to do activities for their child over the age of nine because of the impact this has on the younger children in the family – the driving, the time involved, the financial end of things.  I do understand.  That is a consideration.

However, looking at a nine or ten year old developmentally, it is not that the family is less important to a 9 year old, but most 9 and 10 year olds are appreciative of some space and time to be with their peers, to be separate from their younger siblings, and happy to try out something new with a trusted adult outside of the family. The world is opening up, and these older children need opportunities to be a part of it in a protected and healthy way.   Other trusted adults can be an important and welcome part of a nine and ten year old’s life.

If you are planning to homeschool high school, there may another angle to think about activities from as well. Continue reading

Get Your Planning On: A Weekly Homeschooling Form You Can Use

My next step after figuring out the general seasonal and liturgical tone for each block, along with careful observation of my children and goal setting comes in making up a form each week that will entail some of the things that will run each week through our block.

I usually do it in a simple list format, and for me, my weekly list looks like this: (my notes are in the parentheses) Continue reading

Get Your Planning On: A Homeschooling Form You Can Use

Child’s Name Child’s Name Child’s Name Child’s Name
Block Name
Academic Goal
Artistic Goal
Spiritual Development Goal
Feasts of the Church
(insert your own religious practice here)
Important Dates
Misc Notes

This is a sample of the kind of form I fill out at the start of every block for children in the grades (although I did devote one column toward themes I am thinking about for our almost three-year-old).  Once you have gone through the steps I outlined here in this post, you can go through this form and start thinking about where your individual child is, and what you are hoping to accomplish in this particular block.  Knowing the calendar of your religious practice and other important dates also helps to set the tone around the block.  Life is the curriculum!

Here is a sample of this form, filled in briefly for my first block. Continue reading

Get Your Planning On!

Time to get your game face on and get planning!

I actually don’t have everything planned out for my school year yet, whereas in the past I was usually done by this point!  We have had a lot going on in my family, but now I am ready to start!   Are you ready to start as well?   I know many mothers who have all their resources  lined up right now, whether that is through the library, through curricula they bought, by looking at the curriculum charts – but now really need to start detailed planning.

Planning can really save your behind during the school year, if you forgive my bluntness.  It is truly important – even if your plans get off track or you even don’t follow some of your plans during the school year – there really is security in working through the material over the summer and preparing.

The first thing to do, after gathering your resources, (or gathering your ideas about where you are going to find your resources), is to  a time each week when you can sit down for two or more hours so you can focus without the children running around and just think and PLAN.  EVERY WEEK. Slow and steady wins the race, so talk to your spouse, partner, babysitter and place this sacred time in your calendar.

The next place, where I always start, is with the BIG PICTURE.  There are several themes this can take: Continue reading

The Rant Of The Day! Parenting With Boundaries!!

(I think this post has a very uniquely American message, so I apologize if it does not resonate with my international readers as much today.)

Connection between the parent and the child  is a huge help regarding discipline and boundaries because that connection IS the basis of all guiding.  Connection helps us really know our children and helps us get what makes them “them”; what really motivates them.  That is a big help in discipline and guiding and shaping behavior!  It also helps that when we are connected to our children that our children really know us intimately too!  These children have an incredible feeling of being a vital  part of the family, which actually can be a powerful tool:  to be a part of a culture and to have intimately seen and known the rules within that  family culture are vital and important.

However, here is my beef!  If you are a parent and you have structured everything so there is no conflict, your child never hears “no” (and yes, just plain “no”, not a couched “no” with twenty words surrounding the “no”), if you never try to balance your child’s “likes” and “dislikes”  or uplift your child to the next level, are always swooping in to rescue your child, well….. I just think you are wrong.  Plain, dead, worrisome wrong.

Because I worry about children who never hear “no”.

I worry about children whose lives are so perfectly orchestrated that there are never any tears of frustration.  I worry about their future flexibility and resiliency.

I worry about children who count on their parents to buffer them from other adults and other children.

I worry about children who have no boundaries in their own homes – bedtimes, nap times, mealtimes, whose things belong to the parent and can’t be taken and played with, how we treat one another.

I worry about  children who never have to follow through on the consequences of doing something wrong, especially for  those children aged nine and up.  And yes, my friends, sometimes children do things that are just plain wrong. They are learning, just like us.

I worry about children who cannot seem to accept authority from other adults.

I think in America it seems as if the pendulum has tottered from the inherent natural boundaries of the farm, hard work, the rugged individual to lives of relative ease where parents work so hard to provide everything for their children their children have nothing real to cut their teeth on, including boundaries.

Sometimes I do think the larger issue is not that parents don’t necessarily think boundaries are important, but they worry they are being too “authoritarian” and they don’t know HOW to set boundaries.  It seems to me the way we try to set boundaries in our society is to talk our children to death, to treat them as miniature adults with less experience (so therefore if we talk to them more they will “get it”).   Yet, we know there are clear developmental stages for a child, and clear points of neurologic maturation.  We can see this from biologic studies of the brain, we can see this from the work of Rudolf Steiner, we can see this from the Gesell Institute and we can see this from Piaget.

So, the question becomes:  how do we set boundaries in a calm way without treating our children like miniature adults?

Here are a few of my suggestions; take what resonates with you!  Continue reading

“The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work” : Chapter 6

 

“In our long-term study of 130 newlywed couples, now in its eighth year, we found that, even in the first few months of marriage, men who allow their wives to influence them have happier marriages and are less likely to divorce than men who resist their wives’ influence.  Statistically speaking, when a man is not willing to share power with his partner, there is an 81 percent chance that his marriage will self-destruct.”

 

“Obviously it takes two to make or break a marriage, so we’re not singling men out here.  The point of this chapter is not to scold, bash, or insult men.  It’s certainly just as important for wives to treat their husbands with honor and respect.  But my date indicates that the vast majority of wives – even in unstable marriages- already do that.  This doesn’t mean that they don’t get angry and even contemptuous of their husbands.  It just means that they let their husbands influence their decision-making by taking their opinions and feelings into account.  But too often men do not return the favor.”

-page 100

 

This chapter does a great job pointing out the the happiest and most stable marriages are those in which the husband “treated his wife with respect and did not resist power sharing and decision making with her.”  Their research found that when a man expressed anger, his wife would either match the intensity of anger or try to tone it down.  However, when a woman expressed anger, 65 percent of the men actually escalated their wives’ negativity by being critical, contemptuous, defensive or stonewalling.  By doing this, the husband essentially  ignored his wife, and demolished her point of view. 

 

When we convey honor and respect to one another, we set the stage for a happy marriage (and also, Carrie is here to add – stable, happy and respectful children!)  It provides a firm place for compromise, also a valuable skill to model for children.  It demonstrates the “us” of a couple and of a family over “me.”  It is not that happy marriages never see arguments, criticism or defensiveness – but that honor and respect do outweigh the negatives. 

 

“Research shows a husband who can accept influence from his wife also tends to be an outstanding father.  He is familiar with his children’s world and knows all about their friends and their fears.  Because he is not afraid of emotions, he teaches his children to respect their own feelings – and themselves.”

 

There is an several exercises at the back of this chapter geared toward being able to compromise, yield, and hear the other person.  One of the exercises is directed toward husbands and one is an exercise of compromise for spouses to do together.

 

Many blessings,

Carrie

Are You Raising A Potted Plant?

 

There should be warning signs for parents on every child in America:  “Warning!  This is not a potted plant!  This is a human being that needs sunshine, free play in nature and lots of movement throughout the entire lifespan!  Warning!”

 

Too often our children today are treated like potted plants. Sterile, not moving, in a pot, watching only one view because the inherent nature of the human being to move is essentially ignored by our predominate educational system, our medical system, and our society at large. 

 

Children of all ages, birth through twenty-one, need to MOVE.  Children birth through age seven should be developing their will, their doing.  Movement also is learning.  I have read research estimates that 80 percent of the brain is devoted to taking in sensory information and deciding what to do with that information.    Almost any long-time teacher will tell you that most children are kinesthetic learners. 

 

We know from current research that school aged children need at least three to four hours a day of true rough and tumble outside play. Heavy work benefits ALL children and ALL adults.  We are wired for it!

 

In a classroom setting, just having ten minute breaks to really move every two hours can completely increase learning.  According to a 2006 study in the journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, children with ADHD who take movement breaks for ten minutes every two hours show a 20 percent improvement in “on-task behavior.”

 

In Waldorf Education, we look at movement to be about a third of our learning time if possible.  We play movement games for math, we walk our forms before we draw them, we have eurythmy and Bothmer gymnastics in the Waldorf School setting, we include folk dancing in the curriculum for certain grades, we have drama and gardening.

 

You CAN do this at home and it will not complicate your homeschool, but enhance it!

 

Simple ways to start:

 

Finally, are you moving in your free time?  Are you cleaning, gardening, working? Hiking and biking and swimming and skating?  Or are you sitting down on your computer?  Just sayin’.  Smile

 

Happy Moving!

Carrie