July: Time to Plan


Here in the Deep South, many homeschoolers will be starting school again in a few weeks.  I love this time of anticipation of fall, and am looking forward to heading back into some more rhythm.  The children seem ready as well, so we will continue to enjoy nature and all her summertime glory (and fall glory too, with camping and trips to the beach in the fall), but I am feeling more ready to get going!


I wanted to share with you some of my favorite resources for planning:

Here is the Math By Hand blog  – Marin’s blog series goes through first and second grade at this point pretty day by day.  Lots of wonderful ideas for hands-on math and she also finds really wonderful links!


Chalkboard drawing:  This link takes you to seventh grade, but use the menu to find the essence of each grade and see drawings:    My favorite chalk (and it does say it is not chalkboard chalk, but I have used it for years that way without problems) is  here /


This blog has Grade 1-7 and it is fun to look at  for inspiration.  I also like Sheila’s blog  and Rachel’s blog   and the  blog  by Rick Tan and his family over at Syrendell.   There are also a couple of general homeschooling blogs I like to check on.


My “on paper” plans are fairly well done – but now we move into the “doing”.  I am making props and backgrounds for stories for kindergarten; checking on supplies for seventh grade physics and geometry; working on active games for fourth grade math. 


Most places in the United States and around the world start school at a different time than August, so many of you are probably still planning.  I hope it is going well for you!  I would love to hear about where you are.



Tea and Conversation With Our Daughter–Part Two


I wrote the very first part of this post quite some time ago here.  Back then, I had a small idea about topics where I thought I might like to speak into our daughter’s life over time, just layering in things here and there.  When I wrote that post, our oldest daughter was ten and a half.  Now she is turning thirteen in a few weeks, and I can see she is  really within that wonderful beginning of the  realm of thinking;  a time of the  beginnings of  cause and effect in a thoughtful, mindful way; a time of  moving from feelings into “what-choices-do-I-make-off-of-these-feelings”; a time of snippets of moving from love into duty, with glimpses of ideals and values that I suspect will blossom so much more in the later teenaged years.

When my daughter was younger, it was all about modeling, and also the doing work of the household and garden.  Now that she is older, it is still about  all of those things, but we can start to have some thoughtful  discussions and reading.  This was the little list I started out with in that old post, and I wanted to share with you all some of the resources I have found to address these topics.  (Some of these are Christian, because I am Christian, but many of them are also easily adaptable to many belief systems).


  • The Proverbs 31 Woman – a model for us as women.  What Resources I Have Found:  the Christian company/blog “Doorposts” just did a thirty-day study on this with suggestions for children.
  • The Foundation of Christian Life –   What Resources I Have Found:  well, much of this is in the doing and being involved in parish life, but I have also  pulled selected articles from Orthodox and Anglican websites.   One thing that I am sure to address this year (seventh grade) in more words is the journey of the Christian life and what this entails.
  • Marriage and  Children –What Resources I Have Found:  the Antiochian Orthodox Church has a booklet on “Purity, Virginity, and Chastity” (which might not be what some are looking for),  but what I admire is that it starts with the idea of friendship, the different layers of friendship and how a spouse becomes our most intimate friend.  So, this year we are delving into friendship – what makes a wonderful friend and how to be a friend.  The theme of the Vacation Bible School in our parish was from Psalm 139:   that we are wonderfully and marvelously made, and how this applies to all people.  So, this idea of being in the image of God, reaching out and making and being a friend, kindness and the levels of friendship are going to  really inform much of our discussion this year. 
  • Serving Others, (and also boundaries in serving others)  – my seventh grader was old enough to serve as a helper during Vacation Bible School.  However, we also spend a lot of time serving within our family.  How do we serve our elders, how do we serve our brothers and sisters?  So, this one is more in the doing than in discussion.  I am starting to delve into some childhood development resources with my teen regarding the ages one through five since that is a group she assists with.  One small booklet that can be helpful and not too taxing to read is Elizabeth Crary’s booklet entitled “Parenting Tips & Tools:  Understanding Young Children” here.
  • Respecting yourself and others  – I think the basis of this is found in what I mentioned above regarding marriage and children. 
  • How to Communicate/Conflict Resolution –   “Sacred Listening” is one tool I am looking at and seeing if that would be feasible for a teen.  This is a lot of modeling.  Am I being a good listener? You can see more about the top ten ways to be a powerful listener at the Listening Center.
  • Health – whole foods and how to prepare, drug use and abuse, homeopathy and chiropractic, exercise, the role of sleep, care before, during and after the menstrual cycle, the importance of rhythm for health, fertility.  Resources I Have Found:  the Weston A.Price Foundation has many articles; also the “doing” of making bone broths, working with herbs, using homeopathy and chiropractic care.   
  • Money – budgeting, how to handle money .  This comes with opportunity to handle money as well, so this is a doing activity.  My daughter liked “The Christian Girls’ Guide to Money” by Rebecca Totilo.
  • Modesty in dress; the Christian idea of beauty, the difference between inward and outward beauty
  • Designing a wardrobe, natural skin care and body care.   I like “Awakening Beauty the Dr. Hauschka Way” as a resource for rhythm for beauty that encompasses the mind, body and spirit and as a resource for many wonderful homemade skin care products.


I wrote back in 2010:  “You might wonder how to put together a list like this that reflects your family’s values.  I stated with the catechism of our faith, my own beliefs as influenced by La Leche League and attachment parenting and childhood development, the resource “Polished Cornerstones”, a Christian publication for mothers and daughters available through Doorposts, and the book “5 Conversation You Must Have With Your Daughter” by Vicki Courtney.  This list is not complete nor reflective of everything we think, but it is a good place to start.  Perhaps you can design your own thoughts for what wisdom you would like to impart to your older children.”


I still hope that for you all.  Such a wonderful and lovely thing to ponder about how we intentionally approach our older children…..

Blessings and love,

The Rant: Kind Children For Life


(I would like to thank my friend Molly for brainstorming with me for this post!)

Earlier this week, I was at the pool  with some beautiful mother friends, and one of them mentioned a recent article in the Washington Post about raising kind children.  You can read  this article , and I highly suggest you do.   I have read it over.  And over. And over.


What is most stunning to me about this article is this particular statement: 

About 80 percent of the youth in the study said their parents were more concerned with their achievement or happiness than whether they cared for others. The interviewees were also three times more likely to agree that “My parents are prouder if I get good grades in my classes than if I’m a caring community member in class and school.”


Don’t get me wrong; like most parents I would like my children to be happy and to have a happy life doing what they love.  But, to have this at the expense of or exclusion of caring about others is totally disagreeable to me.  Kindness and love really and truly is the pinnacle of the human being.   It is to be found within ourselves, and how we hear and interact with the other. 


How or why would this be happening?  Eighty percent is an incredibly high number!  I was pondering this, and this quote from the sweet little book “Wonderful Ways to Love a Teen….even when it seems impossible” by Judy Ford, M.S.W. popped into my head:


Some parents tell me that weeks go by without their saying anything more than hello and good-bye to their teenagers, not because they haven’t wanted to be with one another, but because their lives are loaded with demands and obligations.  The years from junior high to high school can be one big blur.  Soon the kids are graduating, and you barely remember what happened.


Children need to have kindness modeled for them everyday in their interactions; they need to be connected enough to their parents that their parents will help guide them in the tougher places and situations that often come up especially for middle schoolers and high schoolers; they need to have balance and time to breathe – not a schedule so packed in with rigorous academics and extracurricular activities that the home just becomes a “home base” on the way off to somewhere else.   If we can slow down and connect, then we can work on kindness.  But that requires time to talk, listen, exchange ideas.


I have been writing about kindness for a long time; you can see this 2009 post.   The Washington Post article had some good points to make; another resource I would like to point out is Zoe Weil’s 2003 book, “Above All, Be Kind.”  Weil’s book is focused upon humane education and educated decisions regarding consumerism.  Her book is divided into sections by age, including birth through age 6, the years of 7-12 and the teenaged years.  A constant focus on respect, reverence, responsibility, (as often mentioned in Waldorf Education and also a focus  in Weil’s book), is a promising way to lay a foundation for kindness, no matter what the age of your child.  Author Weil uses reverence as a focus in the early years, respect as a focus in the middle years, and responsibility as a focus for the teenaged years.


Above all, we must embody what we want our children to see.  We must slow down life enough that the pressure of outside activities and achievements does not become more important than showing love and kindness to others.  All the achievement in the world cannot really buy happiness, yet kindness often has a magic of its very own.


In this age where we are bombarded with information about parenting, discipline, how to navigate school, sports and friends, we can lose sight of  the the most important lesson of all in relating to each other: kindness. 



Third Grade Resources


I have written quite a few posts about Waldorf homeschooling in third grade.  Each time I teach third grade, it varies depending upon the child.  With our first child, it was more of a year centered around the Old Testament stories.  With our second child, we centered our year more around Native American studies and farming.  Whatever you decide as you observe where your child is and what direction within third grade to focus on, I wanted to share some of our favorite resources from over the years.


Farming and Gardening - Continue reading

Let’s Read: Simplicity Parenting


We are up to the section entitled, “The Power of Less” in Chapter Three.  Kim John Payne talks about going through toys in this section.  He advises:

  • Try doing the first whittling away of toys without your child present.
  • Throw out the broken or damaged toys or ones that are developmentally inappropriate.
  • Throw out any toy that is too complex or ones that will break easily.
  • Evaluate the remaining toys – is it a toy a child can pour imagination into or is it too fixed?
  • Choose and keep the simplest toys.   Children usually play with what they can move or what they can use in conjunction with their imagination.
  • Avoid high tech toys or gadgets for small children – realize things like cell phones and such are being purposefully marketed to children as young as 8 to 10 years of age.
  • Do not buy the toy of the moment.
  • My favorite quote:  “In a world as sped-up and hypercharged as our own, surely the last thing our children need is more stimulation.”
  • Donate the rest of the toys, and organize what remains.
  • Remember the role of  real work in play:  baking, digging, gardening, food preparation….Have real items around for children to participate in these roles.
  • Play with the four elements outside and have tools for this available:  buckets, nets, shovels, kites, scoops, bubbles, baskets and containers for pouring and collecting.
  • If you have a yard, this is your “first frontier of nature”.  Use it!
  • For books, children before the age of eight or nine only need one or two books accessible.  A dozen or fewer books can be on a bookshelf as a permanent collection.    Kim John Payne advises at seven or eight years of age to add in reference books about the subjects your child is interested in.

How do you simplify your child’s toys and books and encourage outdoor and social play?


Waldorf Homeschooling Middle School: Charcoal Drawings


The  Waldorf curriculum moves into not just using art as the vehicle for the subject, but for bringing in the fine art of drawing of itself in the middle school and high school years.   Different teachers seem to bring in charcoal drawing at different points, so like everything in the curriculum, this demands that you observe your child carefully and see when you think it is appropriate to start this journey. The Waldorf School Curriculum: An Overview for American Waldorf School Teachers (chart) lists: Continue reading

The Slow Summer


Eileen over at Little Acorn Learning is doing a whole series on the slow summer.  You can see one of her blog posts regarding this subject here.  There was also an interesting post about “banishing the playdate” that recently came across my Facebook page.  Part of what the author wrote about wasn’t perhaps particular to summer, but what I personally hold dear from summer – biking around to see who was out and could play.  You can read that blog post about spontaneous play  here.


I think slowing the summer down is so important.   Think back to Continue reading