Wrap-Up of Week Twenty 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 weeks sixteen and seventeen  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.

Living With The Seasons:  We had some beautiful weather this week and made extra effort to be outside.  The children roller bladed and biked quite a bit, we went to the park and overall everyone seemed to be in better spirits for it.  This weekend temperatures are supposed to drop into the teens with a possibility of sleet or maybe even snow on Monday, so maybe there will be something out there to play in this week! Continue reading

Monthly Anchor Points: February

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.

February and I have a love-hate relationship.  On the one hand, this is the month of LOVE and LIGHT.  It is a month about thinking about our own inner light and how do we let this light shine in service to others; how do we show our love for others?  We have no greater calling than to love our fellow human beings, beginning with those we live with right in our own homes.  On the other hand, February seems to be the month I least want to serve anyone.  It seems to be a rather cranky month for me at times, much like my July Doldrums….Many homeschooling mothers I speak with seem to feel the same way.

This month really does have an often quiet beauty about it. Continue reading

Wrap-Up of Weeks Eighteen and Nineteen 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 weeks sixteen and seventeen  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.

Kindergarten:  We have been doing a wonderful morning circle journey about King Winter, but I have extended it with many verses, songs and fingerplays about gnomes and dwarves working under the earth now that the year has turned past Candlemas.  It has been great fun!  We moved our story  from Suzanne Down’s January story about “Old Gnome and Jack Frost”  to her February story about Old Gnome and the candle,  which incorporates the nursery rhyme of “Jack Be Nimble/Jack Be Quick/Jack jump over the candlestick”.  We have been painting red winter berries and snowy skies (sprinkled with salt), and collecting items on nature walks.    I am also currently thinking about what our six-year old kindergarten year will look like in the fall (our kindergartener has a fall birthday).

Fourth Grade:  Continue reading

The Sensory World

One of my favorite places to visit and check out is the website, The Sensory World http://sensoryworld.com/.  It has a wonderful magazine, and many free articles and resources for parents.  I saw the latest issue has suggestions for indoor sensory play.  I haven’t had a chance to read the article yet, but wanted to put together a list for parents for this winter season.

This time of year is in one way, wonderful, because we are over the often over-stimulating holidays.  However, in another sense, this time of year can be difficult for parents and for children who have sensory processing challenges due to the cold weather.  I am all for having children go outside when it is cold, but it also another thing when I am getting letters from readers in Canada and other places where the HIGH temperature for the day is –40 degrees Fahrenheit.  That is cold no matter what wonderful clothes one has for their child!

One aspect I think that often gets overlooked in sensory processing literature and by parents is that one of the best sensory things to do is not to find another thing to play with or buy (not that these things and gadgets are not fun!)  but to involve children in meaningful work.  Pushing against resistance is proprioceptive input, and proprioceptive input is wonderful for balancing all aspects of the sensory system.

Examples of meaningful proprioceptive work includes: Continue reading

Planning, Planning, Get Your Planning Here!

 

For those of you who are homeschooling, NOW is the time to start planning.  It is easy to plan if you do it in increments.  I started a few weeks ago and am here to give those of you homeschooling a gentle nudge to think about next year (I know my Down Under readers are just starting a new school year now, so all of you can tuck this post away for September or so!)

If you are like me and have been through the curriculum, you probably have a good idea what you are teaching in blocks for each grade or general thematic ideas by month for kindergarten. If not, grab some resources and start figuring out the big picture and the big themes for the year you are teaching!

Get out your calendar! And know your homeschool laws!  How many days do you have to teach?  What do you have to document and turn in?  When will you stop and start and take vacation?  How many days a week will you teach?   Do you need extra time around the holidays or at the end of the school year when the energy is expansive and everyone is just “done”?

Now plan out your blocks.  Continue reading

From Reading To Action: “Waldorf Education in Practice”

Chapter XI talks about how “image” is the heart of Waldorf Education in practice. For the seven to fourteen year old child IMAGE is the most powerful and important tool for education.  We use images to help children grow towards a fruitful and responsible adulthood, and it all begins with images.

A good image brings forth the senses; doing this search for an image and a story to go with that image is great and important work for the teacher.  We must learn to listen to our sense impressions.  We must learn how to pick images and use them.  We often do this through the idea of polarities.  The author gives the example of choosing plants that are polar opposites – rose and lily, holly and ivy, and see what arises in doing exercises with those images. 

In the seven to fourteen year old we are looking to develop memory, the power of discernment (not judgment but discernment), habits, how to deal with urges, balanced use of one’s temperament and many other areas.  What we do in Waldorf Education is to help lay a healthy foundation for an adult life in these areas.    The children also need to acquire academic skills by the end of this phase – by the age of 14. 

This is such an interesting chapter that really gets to the heart of Waldorf Education in both the school and home settings.  Such important things to think about as we plan for next school year.  I wish this chapter had been longer and held more examples!

Chapter XII is about “Story Telling”.  We often work over the summer holidays to learn stories for the following school year.  We read, sleep on them and re-read and sleep again…we let it lie and rest and then see what we can bring forth to the children.  We can prepare the night before for the story we are bringing the next day.  Often we can do this through the idea of images (again, that concept!).  This chapter also talks about going deeper: what do the images of the story mean and hold for the children? 

For small children below school age, we tell the same story day by day with the same  words.  The author gives a great example of “judgments” in a story versus telling with pictures. 

There is a good checklist on page 107 regarding what to think about when you cannot hold a child’s attention with a story and some suggestions for how to start a story based upon the temperament of the child/class.  Also, some great reminders about clear speech.  We, as teachers, should be doing speech exercises.  There are also suggestions for “Saints and Beasts:  the peaceful battle”  for second grade and suggestions for third grade when we are in-between image and history.  If you read the section on Third Grade, you may find it important to end your Old Testament stories with Elijah, where the small, still voice is now inside of us.

The last chapter is about teaching a foreign language.  We will dive into that next week and then move into the book, “Lifeways”.

Blessings,
Carrie

Making Peace With Developmental “Spurts”

In infants, we often talk about “growth spurts”.  These usually occur, in infants, at the age of 3-10 days, between 3-6 weeks, between 2-4 months, and at 6 and 9 months of age.  The exact timetable is up to the infant.  During these periods, the infant may wake more for reassurance, may stool and urinate more frequently, may grow in size/length/developmental ability, may need very frequent feeding and the infant has a higher need to be cuddled and loved.

We often talk about this in connection with babies.  What our society talks about less frequently is developmental “spurts” in older children.  The Gesell Institute talks about periods of equilibrium and disequilibrium that continue from infancy into adulthood.  Every year in your parenting, there will be stages of equilibrium and disequilibrium.

Often the “symptoms” look the same – the need to eat and sleep more, possibly with more waking in children younger than 10, the growth and change in developmental ability (often AFTER the growth is complete…many children are more “clumsy” when they have had a sudden spurt in growth), and the child may need more emotional connection and nurturing.

It is a complete fallacy of our society, a fall-out of children becoming miniature adults in our society, that we tend to view four and five year olds almost as adults with adult regulation skills.  We often forget children are growing and changing all the way through adulthood, and if we are lucky and honored as adults, we will keep emotionally and spiritually.

I think an important part of making peace with parenting is that children are always growing, always changing, always moving forward toward entering adulthood.  The best we can do is provide a scaffolding for trust and connection, love and acceptance and good mental, emotional and spiritual health.

Many blessings,
Carrie