Ways To Encourage Your Child

Look for the positive things in your child, and love and encourage your child.  There is a saying of something to the effect that we do not teach a toddler to walk by berating them every time they fall, but we encourage them when they make it onto their feet and stagger a few steps.  This is the same for older children; the things they are trying out and doing are different than learning to walk, but they are still learning to be a part of humanity!

Here are some encouraging words:

I knew you could do it! Continue reading

My Favorite Links To Love This Week!

I love pretty much anything Annette Fronz writes…lately she has been writing about the grain of the day often incorporated in Waldorf Education and she utilizes this in her home with her six children: http://ourseasonsofjoy.com/in-the-kitchen/a-month-of-mondays-monday-is-rice-day/

I like Sheila’s Grade One Qualities of Numbers block here….and Happy Birthday Sheila! http://sureastheworld.com/2013/01/21/grade-1-numbers-block/

I love to find how people have combined Waldorf Education with their religious life.  Here is a list from “Flowing With My Ducklings” regarding Judaism and Waldorf:  Continue reading

Revolutionize Your Family For Health

Do you feel happy and joyful most of the time?  Or consistently exhausted and overwhelmed?

Are you in good enough shape to bike, run and chase your children around?

I have spoken with so many families this month who are in the position of having too many things to do, too little time…and what frequently suffers is the basic need of the body and soul for health.  Sleep, cooking from scratch, having time to relax and rest, time to exercise, time to just BE can all be really difficult to come by when you have small children, (and I think especially when one is homeschooling and has small children about all the time).  There is no turning a walk into an aerobic exercise with a small child in tow who wants to stop and examine every cute little ant on the ground.  That is just the reality!

But, the other reality is that one cannot neglect one’s health for years on end either.  Some mothers seem to have this idea that if they can just wait until their youngest child is “X” age, then this is when their family will be getting into shape and will take better care of their health then.

My husband and I are working on revolutionizing our family life this year toward even better health.  We have always been fairly health conscious in terms of our food, using alternative health care, getting outside daily, not watching media (which is time you could spend in getting outside!), but this year we really wanted to put some specific things into place.  And sometimes that is hard, because we are apart most of the week, every week, all year long due to my husband’s work.  It is harder to urge each other on to do healthy things, like exercising without the children,  when you are not even together to support each other in person!  So, here are some things we are trying: Continue reading

Part Two: Attachment Parenting: What’s Going On?

The first part of this series can be found here, including some really interesting comments regarding attachment parenting and enmeshment, attachment parenting and children learning to have self-reliance:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2013/01/23/attachment-parenting-whats-going-on/

So, on with my list of the ways I feel attachment parenting as sometimes been misconstrued and misunderstood, coming from my experience of being in the attachment community for the last 11 years:

Number Two:  The only way to guide a child is to talk to them, and talk some more, no matter what the child’s age.  I think if we look at the child as moving through the stages of imitation, short explanations, needing a loving authority figure,  going into cause and effect reasoning around the age of twelve and then moving into mentorship, apprenticeship, and such during the teenaged years, a completely verbal approach cannot and should not be the answer for children of all ages.  I have written about the idea of combining thinking, feeling and willing for the guiding of a child many times and in many ways on this blog.

Sometimes I think attached parents use excessive talking to a child to not only communicate and explain, but, (in all honesty!) in hopes that the child will agree with them. This way we can still all be friends!  This can be a very passive way to set a boundary.

Just because you are attached and connected to your children doesn’t mean they are always going to agree with you!

So, I wish the attachment parenting community would Continue reading

Cursive Writing

 

Cursive writing in the Waldorf homeschool has come up three times this week, so I figured I needed to write a little post about this subject. Friends, I can find nothing anywhere about what Rudolf Steiner thought about cursive writing.  My guess is that it could be that Steiner didn’t really think about it much!  I mean,  if you think about that time and place, German writing in cursive seemed to be pretty well established and in use. If you use a search engine, you can find images of German cursive writing.  (Perhaps my German readers can tell me how much cursive writing has changed in their country over the years).

 

Fast forward to the twenty-first century here in the United States.  Cursive writing is being phased out in many public schools and if cursive is taught at all, many schools do not have specific instruction in cursive after the third grade.

 

Many Waldorf Schools seem to have adopted use of the Vimala Handwriting.  I understand, because the soul qualities of Vimala is about learning the hidden soul qualities of each letter, of transforming your self-esteem, healing old wounds, and expressing your creativity.

 

I know many Waldorf  homeschooling parents who have chosen to bring Vimala to their children and cite that their own handwriting is much better than it was.  I understand this, so I feel badly telling you all this: I don’t especially love Vimala as the choice for cursive writing, as many are using Vimala for that purpose.  I think I am the only one in the entire Waldorf world, LOL.  So, feel free to disagree!!   I think much as many Waldorf students practice writing the Russian alphabet in conjunction with the Russian fairy tales, the Greek alphabet in fifth grade, Latin in sixth grade, calligraphy and such, the Vimala alphabet could be used in this way for fluidity and flexibility of the brain.  However, here is why I personally don’t love Vimala as a cursive writing tool:

 

I like the fluidity of using a traditional cursive script for fine motor development:  really working on cursive writing helps strengthen hand-eye coordination, and other things such as how much pressure one must apply to the paper (ever seen a child who puts a hole in his paper every time he goes to write?), directionality, spacing between words since all the letters are linked and the spaces are between the words and not the letters, and fluid cursive decreases reversals of letters.  It also increases fluidity and speed, once a child masters cursive. 

 

One thing I never thought of is that some proponents of cursive writing point out that a very simplified, print-style signature is easier to forge than a cursive one.  I never thought of that, but it does make sense.  Also, some things still are written in traditional cursive writing, and it would seem a shame to me that a child or young adult would not be able to read an invitation to a wedding or other formal function or historical documents because they never learned a fluid form of cursive writing!

 

However, my caveat to all  of this is that in teaching cursive writing the instruction and practice should carry on for YEARS.  It shouldn’t be that the child is “taught” cursive in second or third (I generally prefer third for the most complete development of fine motor control and then not expect cursive writing in a main lesson book until the end of third or fourth grade),  and then that is “it”, but that this practice should continue on through (and this is just my opinion!) into sixth and seventh grade with several practice sessions a week.  These lessons can have the qualities of those meditative middle lessons in a Waldorf school, with a  really beautiful beeswax candle lit and that smell permeating the school room, and to really sit and focus on each letter for fifteen minutes or so after the cursive letters have been introduced in a block. 

 

I essentially teach cursive from my own writing, which looks probably closer to Palmer handwriting.  I was raised by grandparents and that is also what I grew up mainly reading in terms of letters and notes. I know people who really like to have alphabet cards hanging in their school room – the website Educational Fonts has many.  Find the font that looks closest to yours if you want something “standardized” or if not, make your own alphabet cards! 

 

This post is already too long, so I will just leave you with the idea of using form drawing and forms to work toward cursive.  That topic will need to wait for another post.  Many Waldorf teachers teach the cursive letters as being ones of the sky, the earth or dipping into the water.  It is a great pictorial image!

 

I would love to hear how you teach cursive in your homeschool!

Many blessings,

Carrie

 

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Humor: Day Fourteen Of Twenty Days Toward More Mindful Mothering

(For those of you new to this blog, we have gone/are going through the series “Twenty Days Toward More Mindful Mothering” for the second time; you can find the back posts under the “General Wisdom” tab in the header).

 

Humor is such an important tool in mothering and in generating positive outcomes in behavior that it had to have its own separate day! I think this is one place where many mothers, including myself, can fall short if we are not truly careful in cultivating this.

Is everything in parenting really that serious? So many times I think we see a behavior in a small child and feel we must somehow change it because otherwise our teenager will have this behavior. So many times I think the expectations we have for our children are so high for their age that it leads to joyless and humorless interaction with our children.

Using humor does not mean we never set clear boundaries. However, it does mean that we use warmth and love to set boundaries. We can say no gently, and stick to our “no” even through the persistence of a child. Boundaries are okay. Humor and playfulness does mean Continue reading

Attachment Parenting: What’s Going On?

I wrote about the intersection of attachment parenting and Waldorf education some years ago in a back post, but it has been on my mind again lately…And then, just this week, there was a wonderful thread regarding this topic on Marsha Johnson’s waldorfhomeeducators@yahoogroups.com list.  Lisa Boisvert Mackenzie of Wonder Of Childhood (http://thewonderofchildhood.com/) had some particularly wise and insightful things to say about the journey of the parent  as a part of Waldorf parenting  (which we often see in the work of biography in Waldorf Education, as we, the teacher and the parent, strive to heal and understand ourselves because we are not just teaching academic subjects but teaching how we view the world and who we are!) and how this intersects with attachment parenting.

My husband and I have attachment parented three children ages 11 to 3 as of this writing.  I have been involved and am still involved in attachment parenting at my local community level, and I receive a lot of mail and questions from attached parents all over the world, so I think I am in a unique situation to know what’s going on in the world of attached parents.

So, today I want to write about some of the ways I  personally think attachment parenting has been misunderstood and misconstrued.  Again, this is my opinion, so please take what resonates for you, and leave the rest behind.  There really are no road maps for the attachment parenting of the older child; I believe there is a book out by Isabelle Fox on this subject and I think I read it a long time ago but yet I have little impression of it at this point Therefore, these are just some of my observations from seeing attached children that are now over the age of seven, up through the teenaged years.

The attached mothers I have spoken to who have children over the age of 7 or 8 wouldn’t change the fact that they are attachment parenting but many of them would change HOW they did it.  Most of the things they would change has to do with rhythm, how they communicated with the young child, and boundaries for the entire family.

So, without a road map for the older child, here is my perspective after being in the attachment community for eleven years now:

Number One: Some feel that in order to be an attached parent, the approach must be completely child-centered – ie,  the child sets the rhythm, whatever the child wants to do the parent does their best to make it happen,  anything the child says and does requires the attention of the parent.   Yet, Jean Liedloff herself wrote about the unhappy consequences of being completely child-centered here:  http://www.continuum-concept.org/reading/whosInControl.html

Actually,  I think the attachment literature that has sprung up has done Continue reading