Normal Stages Of Sleep For The Child Ages 8-12

One of the most popular posts on this blog over the years has been this little post about normal sleep stages:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2011/03/27/normal-stages-in-sleep-for-the-child-ages-4-9/.  This actually is not my own personal favorite post on sleep.  My personal favorite is here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/11/18/peaceful-bedtime-dreams/

Normal stages in sleep, according to The Gesell Institute, include: Continue reading

Burn-Out In Waldorf Homeschooling: Part Two

This is a topic near and dear to my heart as there really does not seem to be a number of people blogging about using Waldorf homeschooling with their older children (especially middle school aged and up) anymore.  I don’t know if this is really because there are so few of us left or just that the folks who are really doing it and in the trenches don’t have the time to blog!  (And, as I head into sixth grade, third grade and four- year- old land this fall, I can totally understand that lack of time, so there is no judgment there, just an observation!)

Yet, I feel a need to point out that just because few of these blogs exist (which again, could mean there are more families out there doing this than we think!),  this way of homeschooling does not have to lead to burn-out.  It can become a long-term way of homeschooling, not just for for the “pink bubble” of the kindergarten years.  In fact, I think one can see a real pulling together of the curriculum and how it all ties together starting especially in fifth grade and up and it is beautiful and amazing to see the connections and the way these subjects are so enlivened!

So, my theory is that in order for Waldorf homeschooling to continue beyond the ‘”pink bubble”, I think it is important to understand what Waldorf homeschooling really is.  I think “burn-out” or being worn out with something often occurs when our expectations do not match the reality of what is at hand.  Children are the text in Waldorf homeschooling, but the teacher is the leader in Waldorf homeschooling.   We meditate on the child, we look at the development of the child in a holistic way, but we decide what we need to choose for stories and other things within the framework of the curriculum during the grades, how to work with these things on behalf of the child with help from the spiritual realm.  Again, the teacher works with the child and on behalf of the child,  but is the decided loving authority throughout grades one through eight.   If this is uncomfortable to you, and there are of course  degrees along this continuum, perhaps it is better to say Waldorf Education does not fit your family and to talk about what path is better suited to you. I personally find that a much more honest take than saying Waldorf homeschooling doesn’t work. If it doesn’t work for you, than I think that is okay, and BETTER than okay, because then you are on the path to finding what IS better for you and your family.  Life is too short to not be happy!

Secondly, I think burn-out often has to do with lack of boundaries. I went through some experiences this year where Continue reading

Guest Post: Burn-Out in Waldorf Homeschooling And A Special Offer For Parenting Passageway Readers!

My guest poster today is a wonderful homeschooling mentor many of you are familiar with:  Melissa Nielsen of Waldorf Essentials (A Little Garden Flower)! You can see her website here:  http://waldorfessentials.com/

Melissa is talking today about the topic of burn-out, blame and what to do!  Melissa writes:

I want to thank Carrie for this opportunity to guest post as this topic is close to both of our hearts and it is so funny how it comes up again and again this time of year.  We both felt like it would be a good blog topic.

 

Burn- Out. As a Waldorf homeschooling consultant, I am seeing more and more of this.  More and more moms that I know love Waldorf but some how have decided that it is too hard so they opt for “Waldorf-lite”, falsely believing that is all they can do.   I have taken some heat before for saying that I don’t believe in burn- out. I suppose I should qualify that and say that I don’t believe that Waldorf homeschooling is the cause of the burn -out.

Let me back up. This job is hard. It is dang hard. I think it could be harder than giant monsters fighting giant robots like in my sweet husband’s new favorite flick. It is hard. This job takes work.  I have been mothering for just over 16 years now. Children don’t come with manuals. They don’t know how to turn off on our bad days. They don’t understand menstrual cramps or a fight with our mother. They are just generally happy to be in their bodies and they don’t have a clue why we want them to stop jumping on the sofa or hitting their brother!   In my parenting career, I have been through a bunch – sometimes I stepped in the hole willingly and other times someone dragged me into it.  Each time I climbed out, I got up, made breakfast and we walked on.  I am their rock.  Without me time might just stand still for them.

I knew I wanted to homeschool before I had children. I discovered Waldorf education early on and like most moms that are new to it, I feel in love with the beauty of it.  Waldorf is a delight for the senses for certain! Like many of you, I had no support system.  I had an husband (now former) who was battling wars I couldn’t join him in.  I was alone. I made friends with Waldorf teachers that could direct me.  They gave me all kinds of advice on the curriculum, but none of them had really done this at home and certainly not with this many children. I had to figure it out on my own.

A bunch of children. No manual. All alone.

I learned that Waldorf, while it wasn’t easy, it was SIMPLE.  I learned that simple didn’t have to be easy.  I made goals for each child, goals for myself and then I learned to plan.  I firmly believe that it doesn’t matter how many children you have, you can do this. You just have to want it.  You have to be ready to wrestle some things to the ground – those things have NOTHING to do with Waldorf and everything to do with you.  I found that Waldorf could be this tremendous mirror for me. I learned to take care of myself for the first time in my mothering.  I learned to connect with Spirit in new ways.  I learned that I was a dynamic person, I just had to find her and let her out. We are ALL talented.  We just have to find those talents.   As long as I kept my temperament balanced and my inner work in check, then I had the time to do what I wanted and what I needed.  Sure there were years when it was not so easy, but those times are short.

Be a family with a purpose.

If you read Carrie’s blog regularly, then you know she promotes living ON purpose. Living on purpose takes effort.  It takes a plan.  It takes knowing what you want from life for you and your family. Do you have these Continue reading

Simplicity Monday: Too Much

Are we building our families on the four pillars of “too much”:  too much stuff, too many choices, too much information, and too fast? I believe that we are.  But I also believe that we don’t mean to be.  I know it for a fact, and I’ve seen it many times, that parents can bring fresh inspiration and attention to the flow of family life. – Simplicity Parenting, Kim John Payne with Lisa Ross, page XI, Introduction

I think the most well-meaning and loving parents can get caught up in this.  This year, as many of my readers know, was a difficult one and has been a real wake-up call to me to cut my life, our family’s life, down to the things and the people that I hold most dear, the people and things that nourish us as a family.  It is liberating, it is freeing, it is rejuvenating.

I think many parents actually have an easier time with going through material things and getting rid of and simplifying in that area.  However, when it comes to “too many choices, too much information and too fast”, it can be more difficult.    It also can mean hard choices.   One example of “too many choices”, is in activities.  Many of the parents I know whose children are involved in lots of activities are in them simply because  it sort of creeps up, for one, and for number two, we are so lucky in these times that we live in that there are many good activities!    At least, on the surface it can seem that many of these activities are “good”.

However, if we take a closer look, we see the displacement of the family life that “too many” activities cause, and also that many of the activities actually are “too fast” for the age.  I posted this link on The Parenting Passageway Facebook page, but here is a good example by a noted orthopedic surgeon in regards to children in competitive sports:  http://www.cleveland.com/dman/index.ssf/2013/02/noted_surgeon_dr_james_andrews.html

“Too much information” can also be difficult.  In an effort to not be the Continue reading

Screen Time Rules

I love the writings and musings of  Elizabeth Foss and her mighty blog, In The Heart of My Home.  She is a lovely mother to nine children of varying ages,and wrote this all-encompassing post about “Screen Rules”.  I do hope you check it out:  http://www.elizabethfoss.com/reallearning/2013/07/screen-rules.html

Some of these rules are really wonderful for all of us, especially as homeschooling mothers.  Wouldn’t life in your home run more smoothly if your computer or phone was tucked away by 9 AM and not taken out again until school and chores were over? And,  I really appreciate the integrity represented here as the public image created on the Internet should always be what a person really is in his or her heart. I know many of my readers have younger children, but this would be a great list to tuck away and bring out for discussion with older children when the time is right.

Many blessings,
Carrie

Simplicity Monday: Reducing Time In The Car

Americans, in most parts of the United States, do have a love affair with their automobiles.  After all, here you can drive eight hours or more and be in the same state, whereas in most places in Europe you can cross several different countries during that time!  The United States is very large indeed!

And our urban areas often sprawl.  I live in a sprawling Southern metropolitan area that covers about twenty counties.  We have just about everything and anything one would want to do – but it often comes at a high driving price.

I love this insight by Jack Petrash in his book, “ Covering Home: Lessons On The Art of Fathering from the Game of Baseball”:

I can still remember my parents packing the car for our summer vacation.  The trunk of our ‘52 Ford was filled to the capacity with suitcases and boxes of food.  The back seat belonged to my brother and me and we were told in no uncertain terms that we had better behave.  “You are going to be in the car for a long time.  Bring something to play with and don’t fight.  This will be a long trip.”

That “long trip” was a fifty-mile drive that we made once a year to stay at a little motel on a small lake on Long Island.  Nowadays, this distance is a daily commute.  Back then, during most months, I was not in the car for even two hours.”

Spending hours in a car is difficult on small children, and on us as well.  It is an area that can almost creep up on us as we realize the amount of time we have spent in the car in the past week, the past month, the past year.  My husband and I  were driving back from his parent’s home yesterday and we looked at each other and marveled how many hours we must have spent in a car together in the past 25 years – together, without children and together with children.

I think there are some simple ways to think about reducing time in the car, and the first step is to being aware and wanting to change that pattern for your children.  Spontaneous, outside play at home is far more important than being in a car.  As Jack Petrash writes, “If our children today are wired and wound up, it is often because they have been denied an outlet for their nervous energy.”  So if your children do not seem robust, but instead whiny, difficult, demanding, nervous and anxious – double check how much time you are in the car!

To reduce car time think of: Continue reading

Emptiness

In many ways, this has been one of the best summers I have ever had.  It has been a series of carefree camping, swimming and kayaking dates,  interspersed with lots of time with friends and family.  It has been wonderful and healing for my soul in so many ways.

My friend Catherine wrote a post about emptiness and about having compassion for oneself.  It is a must-read, as is the post she linked to as well: http://catherine-et-les-fees.blogspot.com/2013/06/emptiness.html

It so resonated with me because underneath my really fun summer, emptiness and grief has been a theme of this whole year for me.  Time can be so healing, but yet not enough time has passed, so those emotions and events are still there in my soul, digesting and breaking down.

Empty.  Drained. Exhausted.

Sad.

Not full, but empty.

There is still laughter and fun, but it is there underneath, this feeling.

Sometimes life is like this tide of outward expansion, inward contraction…full and empty, alone and then in companionship.  But it can be so hard when one feels so unsafe, so unprotected, so…challenged and swimming upstream at every turn.  It can be so hard when your “ho hum” has left the building and run away because you feel so raw about everything.

Yet, a curious thing has come out of this summer, simply because I really took some steps to protect myself in rest, to protect myself in peace.  The emptiness has not gone away, there are really raw moments,  but I am starting to see it all as something different.  I am starting to see it all as gifts.

A gift of Continue reading