Children Who Resist School Time

 

Sometimes I see mothers post on different forums regarding their child who is ‘’resisting” doing much of anything the parent/teacher presents.   I think sometimes bloggers are reluctant to blog about this because perhaps they too, are in the trenches of it all and don’t feel as if they have much to offer than to say, “It happens here as well.”  (Which in and of itself can be nice to hear, too).   No one really seems to want to talk about when things implode, or that bad days do occur, even in blogland.   Andrea over at Waldorf Salad and Cottage Fries wrote a   great post here about what happens when homeschooling becomes a battleground and how to make adjustments. 

I have been thinking a lot about this.  I think the things that help me the most is to know myself, know my child and to know the curriculum.  I am a good teacher, and I am an even better teacher if I don’t have to spend my time dealing with children who are resisting everything and we spend our morning more in a headlock over what they don’t want to do rather than what we can do together to learn and have fun.  I am sure many of you feel that way!

Here is my list of observations regarding when things aren’t going well – something homeschooling has given me lots of  practice with!

  • Look at your child.  How does he or she learn, what does he or she like?  If you are a Waldorf homeschooler, how does that child  fit into the curriculum?  How can the curriculum meet the child?  It doesn’t have to be story-main lesson book, story- main lesson book…Which leads me to……
  • How active is your homeschool?  I find some of the curriculums on the market beautiful and inspiring, but more geared toward “sit down and write/paint/draw”.  That is wonderful and part of the Waldorf educational process, but I also think in homeschooling we need to think carefully about the active part out in the world before we think about sitting down.  This is part of homeschooling, and it is different than a school.  What field trips and experiences tied into the block?   Ideally, when we plan a block, those would be the first things that we would plan.  We need to think about movement, oral recitation and speech, skill practice in the doing, and then after all of that,  think about the sitting down.
  • How much room do you have for play?  Sometimes, especially with older children,  it is easy to get into “we have to get this done and then in the afternoon we have [x scheduled activity].  Where is the spontaneity for play, the extra room in the block for this?  Scheduling extra time into each block is helpful. 
  • Is this attitude of being uncooperative  just for school or is it toward helping out in the family in general?  How nice is everyone being to each other in general? 
  • Too many late nights and too many activities?  That can dampen any momentum towards getting going in the morning…
  • Are you carrying this as the authority?  Does the rhythm help carry you?  Can you adjust your rhythm to better fit your family?
  • Is your child dealing with something bigger – a learning disability, dyslexia, ADHD/ADD, visual or auditory processing challenges?  That can really affect things as well and being uncooperative can be an attempt to hide things that really need to be sorted out and things that need attention. Resistance can be thinly masked frustration on the part of the child with learning challenges. 
  • Developmental age – I often see on mainstream homeschooling boards about small children who don’t want to sit down and do school. That is appropriate for small children and academics, but the kindergarten years in Waldorf Education are a time to put forth the effort in rhythmic activities each week that your child can depend upon and join into.  If you take this time, first and second grade will go much, much better…In first and second grade, the child is learning how to be a learner and needs strong authority and rhythm with experiential and kinesthetic learning.  Third grade is often a time of resistance and distraction, and often also needs to be as hands-on as possible.
  • If a child is coming out of a school environment and “resisting”, they need time to de-school.  Hike, play outside, read to him or her, work with wood and fiber and art, do seasonal activities, and be together for awhile.  To me, that is not ‘’resisting school” but part of de-schooling.

 

In my next post, I will detail how I think about the child that resists school from the framework of my own experiences.

Blessings,

Carrie

Let’s Read: Simplicity Parenting

 

We are at the last of this wonderful book, the epilogue, in which we see many of the principles of simplicity parenting applied to real-life cases.  The epilogue opens with the case of six-year-old Carla, who is full of aggressive and controlling behavior.  Kim John  Payne notes that the parents wanted to “please and appease” and that the six-year-old was well on her way to complete domination and control of the home.  Yet, this story is here because it shows that there is not an “ideal family” candidate for simplicity parenting and that any family can benefit.  Simplicity is not just about simplifying stuff, but clearing out the space to be in each other’s hearts and to nurture each other.  Increasing rhythm in the home, having more consistency in daily life is nothing but calming to the families of today.  Meals and bedtime routines are still the hallmark of making a house into a home.  He talks about the “sliding” we can do as parents into the company of our children. 

It all takes time and energy, but the benefits of balance can be so outstanding for family life.    I would love to hear your story about attaining balance and a simpler life!

Blessings,

Carrie

Homeschooling Eighth Grade History In The Waldorf Curriculum

 

The work I am doing in teaching our American Colonial History block in seventh grade and thinking a bit to eighth grade has prompted a bit of a search for me for history resources to help guide my teaching.  I  recently went over to the Waldorf Library On Line and read the free ebook, “The Riddle of America” (which also would be lovely for those of you preparing for fifth grade next fall), and it was a great read for those of you interested in a perspective regarding American geography and history. 

The thought of eighth grade history really has me a bit stymied.  Many talk about how the goal is to get the child up to “modern day times”.  However, I do know parents who put that “Revolutions” block in ninth grade.  Everything in history is also circled around again in high school, so I have been pondering this and how much detail or how far do I need to go in eighth grade.   I just found this blog post  about teaching eighth grade history and it was very helpful to me.  I am still thinking.  I also found this video, which I haven’t watched yet, about teaching American history in the eighth grade Waldorf classroom.

The thing I am finding most helpful, though is  the 123 paged AWNSA document, “Colloquium on American History”. It talks about teaching American history in high school, Waldorf high school teachers give many examples of what is taught when and why (and how this varies from region to region!), and looking at bias within history.  When I pull it up as a search, it goes directly to an Adobe document and I am not sure how to link to it, but it should come up if you search.

Here is a   document  by Betty Staley that details the high school grades, but also alludes to the seventh and eighth graders and their developmental changes and how the curriculum fits into that:

Would love to hear from you about this subject.  Many Waldorf homeschooling mothers have told me the history blocks can be difficult to plan because the biography/symptomology approach is foreign to them and the blocks cover huge expanses of time in grades one through eight. 

Many blessings,
Carrie

Time of Lanterns

 

This time of Halloween/All Saints Day/All Souls Day and leading into Martinmas leads me to think about light and lanterns.  There is a passage from the book “Celebrating Festivals With Children” by Freya Jaffke that I like regarding “Lantern Time”:

“Two lantern festivals mark this time.  From the Celtic tradition there is Halloween on October 31, and from Continental Europe we have Martinmas on November 11.  Halloween is connected with the earth, and its turnip or pumpkin lanterns are made of fruits from the ground.  Martinmas commemorates a human deed of sharing, and its paper lanterns are entirely made by human hand.  As the outer light of day diminishes, there is first a kind of afterglow of e earth – the turnip or pumpkin lanterns.  Then there is the human spark of kindness we see in the paper lanterns of Martinmas.  The light is gradually transformed from the outer light of the sun in summer to the internal spirit light of Advent and Christmas.”

This is a wonderful time of year to think about any changes in rhythm that you want to make as the days grow shorter, the nights longer and colder.  It is also a wonderful time to think about bringing light into your home.  I know Waldorf teachers who light lanterns whilst the children play and keep lanterns up in the school room until the light of Advent comes.

Outside, one can work in tidying the garden, caring for the birds and other small creatures, and planting flower bulbs for spring.

I would love to hear what you are planning for this time of year.

Blessings,

Carrie

Holiday Gifts To Make

 

Someone told me today that there are nine weekends left until Christmas Day.  Uh, no stress there at all!  

That thought made me think about children and gifts and this article written by Pam Leo, author of Connection Parenting, and available over at Waldorf In The Home  here.  It speaks eloquently about slowing down the season, really choosing how we use our time, and how children love the preparation of the holidays….

Which led me to think about gifts that children love to make and give.  I have some tried and true favorites, including:

  • Candle dipping
  • Dipping pinecones into beeswax as fire starters (you can see instructions in the book “Earthways”
  • Wet felted ornaments
  • Homemade bath salts, bath bombs, homemade soap
  • Peppermint bark
  • Homemade cookies

 

Here is a great list of 40 gifts children can make for the holidays:  at Happy Hooligans.

This was listed as a gift a teen could make – a fish clock!

 

And what about what to make for our children?

Here are  ideas for 70 toys to make for children.

For teen girls, I was thinking of a custom made rack with knobs to hold jewelry or belts,  or homemade hair accessories, knit or crocheted hats, scarves or mittens.

For teen boys, I was thinking of tie-dyed clothing, art that had on it custom quotes or sayings, knit scarves or hats.

 

Please share your holiday plans for crafting!

Many blessings,
Carrie

Wrap Up of Weeks Nine and Ten of Seventh and Fourth Grade

 

I am trying to post a little wrap-up of each week of grades seven, four and five year old kindergarten year throughout the 36 weeks I have planned for school this year.  I hope this will encourage mothers that are homeschooling multiple children (or who want to but are worried!), and  encourage mothers that even homeschooling children of multiple ages who are far apart in age is doable.  You can find week eight here and further in back posts you can find a post pertaining to the first two days of school this year which gives insight to our general daily rhythm.

Changes in the Air -I am getting ready to change our daily rhythm.  The nights are colder, the children are sleeping longer, and I think this is something natural and healthy for this time of year.  So, I am planning on starting later for the sake of reality.  The other change I want to make right now is to make sure we get to a daily walk.  We have been starting with movement, but not a walk because it is so hard to wrangle three bodies back in the house and not have to then use the bathroom, have a snack, etc. and have it add an hour to our already long day.  However, our dog was just diagnosed with some degenerative changes in her spine, and walking is important for her.  It is also important for me.  I feel as if I spend part of my day on my feet at the blackboard, but unlike a classroom situation where a teacher hardly sits down, I also spend a good amount of time sitting next to a child.  And if we go to an activity for the children in the afternoon, many times they are being active but I am watching a four year old and not active.  We are watching the older children or waiting.  It is not movement for me.  So, I also want to start scheduling “P.E’’ in our afternoon four days a week.  I will let you know how that goes.    Handwork is also taking a larger priority now that the weather is cold. 

Kindergarten:  We are in the lovely land of autumn circle, pumpkin and Halloween fingerplays that our five-year old loves to recall from memory, autumn crafts and the adorable story by Suzanne Down, “How Witchamaroo Became the Pocket Witch” from the Autumn Tales book.  Making bone broths has also been a priority as the weather has cooled and we have made several batches.  We are also working on making beds together and self-dressing. 

Fourth Grade:  Week Nine saw us finishing up our Man and Animal block.  We did some drawing and poetry for the seal, and modeling for the Eastern Harvest Mouse for trunk animals.  Modeling mice is a wonderful exercise in transitioning shapes.    We looked the the different limbs of different animals (mole’s paw for digging, bird wings for flying, seal flippers for swimming, bird’s feet for perching, and an extensive look at the elephant and his trunk), drew the elephant and practiced hatching, did a “list” of these limbs and finally looked at the only true limb animal- the human being.  Week Ten saw us moving into Local Geography.  We started with drawing ourselves, and thinking about our own bodily directions and place in the world (address, neighborhood, city, state, country, hemisphere, etc).  We looked at our place in the family, another “address”  and location of sorts.  Then we looked at our house.  I know many people start here with a “bird’s eye view” map of a bedroom or the schoolroom, but I decided to hold off on that for a bit and focus on flat maps.  (We will have the chance to do a three-dimensional map later in this block).  We walked the neighborhood and drew a large three-paged neighborhood map.  This week we will start with the greenway that is attached to our neighborhood and look at that familiar place and move into our county.  There are many interesting historical places to visit!

We finished “My Side of the Mountain” and I hunting for what we will read next week. 

Seventh Grade:  We finished up astronomy during Week Nine and began Colonial History.  Colonial History, like all major history blocks, has been an interesting one to try to put together.  The goal is to pick the things that are symptomatic of an era, the biographies that really sing.  I found this difficult because my approach often tended to get mired in the details.  So far we  have looked extensively at the First People of our Nation, drawn and summarized and looked at how those people may have gotten here in the very beginning; we talked about some of the earliest explorers and how America got its name, the earliest of trading posts that were here when the Pilgrims arrived and made a beautiful map to show how far these posts were apart from each other and which countries had started them, compared and contrasted the Puritans and Pilgrims and how life in New England Villages began and constructed a map of a typical village (a building diorama on a piece of plywood would have worked well too), compared and contrasted Roger Williams and George Calvert, and started a map of a typical plantation.  We are reading a biography of William Penn.    This week we will move into plantation colonies and talk about the colonial history of our own state, talk about the thirteen colonies as a whole and move into colonial life and the basis of the Revolutionary War.

“Revolutions” is usually fodder for eighth grade, but I really wanted the colonial history in seventh grade as background.  We will cover the Revolutionary War in sweeping strokes during the next two weeks and circle back around to it in our “Revolutions” block next year.  Some Waldorf curriculums on the market start in the 18th century, but I think it is a shame for Americans to miss out on the earliest foundings of our country.  If you are homeschooling these upper grades, I urge you to give thought to how you want to put American history into the curriculum.  I have heard of some Waldorf Schools in eighth grade who did as many as three blocks of American history in that grade, and some who had a block planned but then it didn’t happen and the children got no official American history for all eight grades, which seems absolutely appalling to me for American schools.  So please do plan.  Smile

I am gathering a list of supplies for chemistry and looking forward to that block.

I would love to hear what you are working on in your homeschool!  You can drop a comment in the comment box or if you are blogging about your days, please leave a link!

Many blessings,
Carrie

Monthly Anchor Points: October

 

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 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.

Ah, month of October, I love you so!  I love fall and October is so lovely here in the Deep South.  Apples and pumpkins are in full swing, the leaves are finally starting to turn yellow and red, the temperatures are still warm during the day (around 70 degrees Farenheit) but the nights are cool enough for an extra blanket on the bed.

These are the festivals that are my anchors this month:

October 4th- Blessing of the Animals and the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi

October 18 – St. Luke the Evangelist  (I feel especially close to St. Luke).

October 31 – Halloween is my least-favorite holiday of the entire year (Ba! Humbug! LOL), but I love All Saints Day and All Souls Day and those are very important feast days in the liturgical year, so I am looking forward to those days and preparing for those days at the end of this month.  I don’t really decorate for Halloween, but the children do go trick or treating.

 

Ideas for Celebration:

Much of our celebrating is tied up with our parish this year from the Blessing of the Animals for the Feast Day of St. Francis to our children singing in two Divine Liturgies on All Saints Day to remembering our loved ones on All Souls Day.  A month of doing in community!

For ideas about a fall October circle and stories for the little ones, please see the post in last October’s Monthly Anchor Points  here.

If you need a post about celebrating Halloween in the Waldorf home, try this back post.

If you need a post about All Saints Day and All Souls Day celebrations, look here.

Pumpkin bread and pumpkin muffins

Homemade applesauce

Homemade bone broths with nutritive herbs

Taking care of the birds

Fall hiking

Gathering photographs of loved ones in preparation for All Saints Day/All Souls Day

Buying bulbs to plant in the ground for spring

 

The Domestic Life:

This is the time where I really start making more bone broths and infuse it with herbs – dandelion root, burdock, astragalus.  A suggestion was made today to add echinacea to it as well, so I am going to try that!

Changing bed linens to flannel sheets and adding blankets and thicker comforters

Stocking up on birdseed

Making sure we all have hats, gloves, snow gear  and boots for winter

Gathering the books for this month’s Saints

Thinking ahead to Thanksgiving and Advent

 

What are you working on this month as your anchor points?

Many blessings,
Carrie