I meet many homeschooling parents whose spouses travel extensively for a job. We have been in that position in our family as well. Every family and every travel schedule is different, but our situation was that for three years my husband traveled every week Monday through late Thursday night and then worked in town on Fridays. This schedule has lessened over the last two years, so I am glad, but over the way it certainly shaped the way I parented and homeschooled to an extent. I wanted to share some things that helped me survive the travel beat. Continue reading
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 twelve 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: We took the week of Thanksgiving off, and I used a little bit of time during that week to play with the idea of a schedule with activities for each child in a time slot. I have not been a real “time” person before, but what I have found with having three children doing school this year, our five-year-old wanting more structure and needing more physical activity, both our older children tackling things that are demanding for them and needing me, and me needing some time for self-care, it seemed a schedule with times might be helpful. How many hours are realistically available to us in a day anyway? Could all of this even happen in a day? How long do all these activities and things take anyway? These were the questions I had when I started out. I found, yes, there are enough hours in the day and that assigning times and figuring out what each child was doing when and with whom and for how long actually was a helpful process to go through. I don’t feel like the timed schedule is a noose around my neck at all, and I feel comfortable jumping in if we are running late or things come up, but the older children have surprisingly embraced having a more “time exact” written down schedule and we are actually getting to extra foreign language, handwork , knitting for me and other things much more this week than before when we had a loose rhythm. So, time will tell if it holds!
Kindergarten: One of the days over Thanksgiving break, our five year old walked two miles to play at a nearby park in the morning and then we also hiked in the afternoon. This is the amount of activity he really needs to be happy. Our older children definitely had this and more when they were his age, but the trick has been trying to do this for our youngest whilst our older children need different things. So, having a schedule as mentioned above has helped. One morning I also have Continue reading
Several mothers of middle schooled homeschooled children whom I have spoken to recently (with children ranging from almost 13 to 14 and a half), have said that their children have asked for either classes with a peer group or expressed an interest in someday attending school. My own older daughter recently told me she would like a Latin class in a group of peers, which I thought was interesting timing on the heels of some of the conversation between myself and other parents.
This question has also given many of us as parents a small wondering pause. Many of the parents who have planned to homeschool through high school are wondering if the pull towards peers is going to become stronger and stronger and will our teens be happy homeschooling high school or will they want to do something different? And then there is always that delicate balance of how much does a child get to decide for themselves what course their education is going to take during the teen years? Much like many children do not have a choice whether or not to attend school, many homeschoolers feel a traditional academic school is not a good fit for their family, even in high school. These are the delicate issues that must be grappled with.
And I think this wanting to be in a peer group for classes and learning also points to a different piece – being with peers socially. My daughter told me the other day that she loves homeschooling and wouldn’t change a thing about it, but she does wish she could see her friends more during the week.
Because there is a big change that happens in middle school homeschooling, I think. Continue reading
I am so honored to have author Lea Page, a longtime homeschooling mother and veteran parent, here with us today. Lea raised and homeschooled her two children in rural Montana. She now lives and writes in New Hampshire. Her new book, “Parenting in the Here and Now”, promises to be an amazing read for all parents. Her book has a page on the Floris book website here. This book is scheduled for publication in the UK on April 16th, and will be available from Steiner Books and other bookstores in the US a few weeks later. It is available now for pre-order on Amazon. Enjoy Lea’s beautiful post about Advent, waiting, and the fourteen year old boy. I am so pleased she is here with us!
The 14 Year Old Boy—or—Waiting for Him to Emerge from the Cave
Advent is the perfect time to consider the fourteen-year-old boy. Think of the classic gesture: he withdraws into his room, which he now prefers to be unlit and untouched by any human hand, most especially yours. When he responds to you—IF he responds—it may be monosyllabic.
For parents, this time can be challenging and frustrating. We want him to come out and… do something! Say something! Reassure us that he is…. what? who? The delightful thirteen-year-old that he used to be? He can’t.
This withdrawal is how—in his messy, unmade bed way—your fourteen-year-old walks into the mystery of deep reflection and infinite possibility. The whole year is a transition. It will be, for him, a journey into and out of the Advent spiral. He walks into darkness alone, in search of that single flame at the center. And then he tips his candle to that light and kindles his own. If you have watched a child walk an Advent spiral, you know that they emerge lit from within.
Advent is a time of waiting and of faith. And so it is with our fourteen-year-old boys. We must wait, and we must have faith. And more than that: we must hold them in our hearts with reverence, even when the smell of their socks is staggering.
The fourteen-year-old still sees the world as black or white, either/or, good or bad. He is beginning a journey where he will discover that most of the world operates in the grey area and that there is a positive and negative aspect to everything, depending on the circumstances. It’s all relative. Continue reading
Else Gottgens wrote about her experience in observing many Waldorf classrooms in Chapter Three of our book, “Waldorf Education in Practice”.
“So, as a mentor, what did I see in too many classes where I was asked to observe?
And then, 20 minutes later: Mayhem!”
The mayhem often began with “circle”. “Circle” , in the grades, is supposed to be a warm-up. In Else Gottgens’ mind, many of the exercises, such as singing, reciting, finger plays, etc, actually can be done better behind the desk, facing the teacher!
The author then wrote about including exercises that make the children conscious of their feet and legs and finger games, speech and singing, concentration exercises for listening, and exercises to nourish the Twelve Senses. She debunked the notion that circle is a music lesson, a gym lesson, a speech lesson, a flute lesson and/or a math lesson all in one. In fact, she wrote: “The children should be moving a lot more during other parts of the Main Lesson.” This is for grades one through three, and very important! Imitation as a force in the early grades is waning, albeit a large part of children until the nine year change, but authority comes to the fore in this period of childhood development. The teacher no longer has to demonstrate and do everything with the child, but show the child and sometimes join in and sometimes step back and observe the child! Continue reading
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.
Somehow I completely missed doing a monthly anchor post for the month of November! You can, however, glance back at this post about the silence and stillness of November the silence and stillness of November and also this post I just wrote about Thanksgiving.
We are coming into the month of December, a month of anticipation and preparation in the Christian Calendar. This post talks Advent from a Waldorf perspective. If you are from another faith tradition and are blogging about this month, please leave a link to your blog below so my readers can find you! I am Christian and therefore can only write from the perspective of our authentic Christian life, but so appreciate other perspectives.
One thing I am thinking strongly about is how we as a family make a very conscious effort to slow down, not speed up, this holiday season. You can see my contemplation about that in this post about the simple holiday season. and this post which holds answers to parents’ holiday questions.
My Orthodox friends have already begun their Nativity Fast. We begin here with the first Sunday in Advent on November 30th. The monthly points that are our anchor this month include: Continue reading
To me, there are five main areas which come together to compose a Waldorf homeschool:
The Inner Work and Inner Life of the Teacher – this is of paramount importance, and the basis and foundation of Waldorf homeschooling. Who you are and where you are on your inner path and spiritual work is more important than the subject you teach. Your will, your rhythms, your outlook, your spiritual work, will determine far more for your child than anything else – especially in the world of homeschooling where you are both parent and teacher.
An Understanding of Childhood Developmental Phases – I write about childhood development extensively on this blog. Suffice it to say the view in Waldorf Education is that the human being is a spiritual being and that we continue to change, develop and grow throughout our lifetime.
Temperament of the grades-aged child (and in the teen years, emotion and personality) – We need to recognize not only the temperaments associated with the various developmental stages, but also the temperament of our own child and ourselves and how to bring balance to that within our homeschooling experiences.
An Understanding of the Curriculum and How to Adapt it to Your Child and Homeschool: We can start with such things as Steiner’s lectures and the secondary literature of the pedagogy. However, the time we live in, the local geography, customs, language, local festivals and cultural events are all points in which the learning experience starts within the child and the child’s world. So, therefore, we must be familiar with not only the curriculum, but also with our own child and our own observations and meditation as to what that child needs, and then how to have the curriculum fulfill the needs of the child. Dogmatic story-art-summary rhythms are often not helpful in the home environment and there are many ways to bring the rhythms of Waldorf Education to the home.
An Ability to “DO”, rather than just read. This includes not only the ability to hold a rhythm and be organized, but also the ability to learn new things for oneself both in the area of the arts and in academic subjects. For example, few of us were taught geometry the way the curriculum is outlined, and one most be willing to take a subject, even a familiar subject and see how to dig into it and look at it from a spiritual perspective and to view art as a spiritual activity.