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. 

Blessings,

Carrie

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?

Blessings,
Carrie

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

Monthly Anchor Points: July

 

 

Anchor:  a person or thing that can be relied on for support, stability, or security; mainstay: Hope was his only anchor.

When we work to become the author of own family life, we take on the authority to provide our spouse and children and ourselves stability.  An effective way to do this is through the use of rhythm.  If you have small children, it takes time to build a family rhythm that encompasses the year.  If you are homeschooling older children and also have younger children not yet ready for formal learning, the cycle of the year through the seasons and through your religious year becomes the number one tool you have for family unity, for family identity, for stability.

I wrote about my homeschool planning method of marking seasonal and liturgical ideas down for each month in past posts, which has led to the creation of this series.  Now we are extending our mood of celebration into July!

 

July has always been an interesting month for me.  My personal energy has often Continue reading

Gentle Discipline Techniques By Age–Part Two

 

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.

 

Today we are focused on birth through age 4.  The mainstay of gentle discipline for these years begins with our own inner work and development, as discussed in Part One of this series.

The overall picture of development for these ages I think is two-fold.  Continue reading

What I Am Enjoying Right Now

 

Each summer has its own particular feel and energy.  In the past, I used to always feel like there was “July Doldrums”.  Last summer was a summer full of community and fun, and there wasn’t really a “July Doldrums” but there was a bit of emptiness as I recovered from two years of loss.  This summer, we are doing active things, but I  have often felt tired.  I think this has to do with planning homeschooling for three children while also  studying for a major re-certification exam at the end of this month; my head is so wrapped up it is like my body is kayaking but my head is digesting all this information!  LOL.  I have been feeling more energized this week after taking the children camping with a dear friend of mine and her children, and coming to a point in my planning and studying that most of it is done! Yay!

So, I wanted to share some things I am enjoying right now.  One thing of delight is that we are planning a trip to the beach in September after Labor Day.  So, I have been enjoying reading about the Georgia Coast.  I think we are going to go into Florida for our beach week, but a lot of the warm Atlantic Ocean wildlife is similar.  I  have always wanted to get “The Treasure Cave:  Sea Tales of Tiptoes Lightly” by Reg Down to bring with us to the beach to read, so I am excited for that.  We will also bring games and puzzles (and our eyes to watch the stars as part of our seventh grader’s astronomy block!  Less light pollution!)

We have been enjoying checking out the National and State Parks in our state as we work on badge requirements for a Civil War badge, a Get Outdoors Badge and a Junior Ranger Badge.  These badges are a great way to discover your state!  You can see the National Parks Foundation link here:  http://www.nationalparks.org/connect/npf-kids/junior-rangers

I have been enjoying church.  There is something lovely about the time between Pentecost and the new church year.  I have been thinking about this post:  http://www.episcopalcafe.com/daily/church_year/no_ordinary_time.php. Some in the Episcopal Church refer to this time as “Ordinary Time” like our Roman Catholic friends, but the Book of Common Prayer does not name this season. The monks of Taize call this time “The Time of the Church” and I like that.  The Feast of the Dormition of St. Mary is a feast I am contemplating (August 15) and the loveliest ways to celebrate in our home.

Here are some links I have been enjoying out and about on the Internet: Continue reading

July: Time To Plan

 

Well, planning is still coming along.  My seventh grader is the hardest, because not only did I have to find most of the resources by searching or through word of mouth from other homeschooling mothers, I had to read all of them!  So, it is  moving slowly.  I keep having these epiphanies and a-ha kinds of moments about how the curriculum is working to a culmination and how things are stretching over and through blocks, but that also is making things a bit slow.

Things are brighter for my almost five year old, whose year is almost entirely done, and for my fourth grader, whose year is about half done.

What I did this year regarding the needed practice of math and grammar and such was to make one long document with each day of the week for each week of school and I  literally mapped out the math and grammar for the entire year by day.  If grammar coincided within a block such as Man and Animal or Norse Myths, for example, it was easy enough to note which block it went with by week.   I also did this with fine art projects for my seventh grader as well.   This document has turned into an overarching kind of document that the separate Word documents for each block just plug into.  Just a thought for those of you who have children who might need more practice and repetition than is normally spoken about within many of the Waldorf curriculum sources.

Once again, the basic steps that I use to plan, (and everyone does it differently!): Continue reading

Stopping Societal Violence

 

(THIS IS NOT A POST TO READ WITH A CHILD HANGING OVER YOUR SHOULDER.  Adult content!)

You might wonder why this post is here, on a parenting blog.  I just have to speak up and say something, because these things that have been happening involve children.  Children are children until the age of 21, and the crisis that is occurring in the youth of the United States affects us all.

This has been a harrowing time for the United States, with mass public shootings occurring frequently, along with a culture of rape where 6  out of 10 women are raped in their lifetimes.  There was an incident in my own state recently of a graduation party at a cabin that got completely and horrifyingly out of hand and ended in a young woman being gang-raped, presumably by people she probably thought were trusted friends.  My heart just has been breaking for her, and it  has been breaking for all of these incidents and the people involved on all sides, and especially for the parents of these children.

What can we do, as we raise this next generation, to curb and stop societal violence?  How do we do it?

I have a few ideas that I have been germinating upon.  They are in no particular order.  Please add your own thoughts and suggestions in the comment box!

Continue reading