(This is geared specifically to preschool/kindergarten ages)
Some Waldorf schools will send out a letter to parents of prospective children ages 3-6 to explain the goals of a Waldorf Kindergarten: to nurture a sense of wonder and curiosity, to instill confidence and discipline, and to encourage reverence for a world that is good. Letters such as these also often mention children that thrive in a Waldorf preschool/kindergarten environment may share certain traits. For example, this may include little to no media exposure, healthy sleep rhythm, the ability to follow and comply with teacher’s directions, being independent in the bathroom, etc.
I have been mulling this over quite a bit. What are the goals of a HOMESCHOOL Waldorf kindergarten? What kinds of families really thrive in using this type of education, designed and made for schools, at HOME? I am sure those of you who are experienced Waldorf educators will come up with many ideas! Please feel free to add to this list in the comment box as I think my list is just a beginning.
The goals of a Waldorf HOME kindergarten program, in my opinion: Continue reading
After I wrote my last post about the first two days of school, I had a comment by one of my sweet long-term readers who asked if every day went as smoothly as those two days. Those two days did go smoothly, but certainly it is not always smooth. Sometimes it is super rough and awful. Or one child is having a hard time and it is impacting the flow of all the other children and our day. That is life homeschooling multiple children.
Part of life in homeschooling is also just life. This week involved going to the barn, our family attending (and me leading) a breastfeeding support group session, numerous calls and emails and such that needed to be returned after said meeting, two visits by friends to our home on separate days, a run to the allergist and grocery store, a visiting aunt who is here through the weekend to teach machine sewing and work on a mini-quilting project with my seventh grader (which is normally more eighth grade in a Waldorf School, but this particular aunt lives far away so I am happy to take her up on it now!), (our fourth grader also doing a mini project to help brush up on measurement skills and look at textiles and then will have a turn machine sewing in eighth grade for her very own), a husband who traveled out of state the majority of the week, and the pet care of two hamsters, fish, frogs, and a large dog plus meals and housekeeping. That is all life and part of homeschooling as well. Especially as your children grow older, they may have more activities or passions they are investigating and have distinctly different needs than the children in grades one through four. Life may expand outside the home, but being within the home is still the basis of homeschooling and the more you are home, the more smoothly things will run, in my experience.
So, how does one manage life and homeschooling? Continue reading
People who are curious about homeschooling always want to know how it rolls with multiple children and how it works teaching multiple grades using Waldorf Education at home. It is undoubtedly different than a Waldorf school, and yet I feel indebted to the schools and the resources the Waldorf school teachers use as I gleam so much from the teachers and their resources.
We celebrated our first day of seventh grade, fourth grade and kindy (our four year old will be five in October, so this is his five year old year) yesterday. What follows are two days in the life of our homeschooling adventure.
On most of the “first day of school” in years past our older girls would dress alike in something new or wear something pretty from what they already had. This year they dressed up in something they already had, took the dog and their little brother for a quick walk (all barefooted) and came back and we took first day of school pictures (still barefooted). They quickly checked on their hamsters, fish and frog and then came to the school room. We opened our school day around 8:15 with prayers and confession, and then a reading from “Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends” (Christian book). We are alternating this book in the morning with some of the writings of St. Theophan the Recluse. Next we moved into singing and fingerplays for our four year old and ended with a story from Juniper Tree Puppets’ Old Gnome Through The Year book. I had wet on wet watercolor painted a very large background with a pond and frog puppets on sticks that move within the painting and had needle felted a gnome for the telling of this story. The older girls then grabbed their folders of independent work (fourth grader reviewing coinage in math and seventh grader reviewing United States geography) and the little guy and I went downstairs. He worked on tying his apron in the front, measuring ingredients, and stirring with one and then both hands to make a big batch of yellow, lemon essential oil scented salt dough. After we cleaned up, I took him outside (still in his heavy apron) to hunt for beautiful sticks and presented him with a very small pocketknife. (If you would like to know more about this, please see the writings on the Forest Kindergartens in Germany and Europe, and also the woodworking book for 3-5 year olds by Master Waldorf teacher Marsha Johnson.) I demonstrated and modeled the use and care of the knife and how to whittle and he very carefully whittled the bark off the end of a small stick to be a fishing pole for the Old Gnome puppet in our story under supervision. Once the whittling was complete for the day, I put the knife away in a very safe place. Our seventh grader then took over the supervision of her brother whilst I worked with our fourth grader.
Our fourth grader began with Continue reading
RHYTHM. Does that word strike fear or guilt into your heart when you hear it? Rhythm should be something that is inherent to your particular family, and it should be a source of freedom, not any negative emotions. Kim John Payne opens this chapter by noting:
“Life today for most families is characterized more by randomness and improvisation than rhythm. Tuesday wash day? Cookies and milk after school? Sunday roast beef dinner? With both parents working outside the home, these kinds of weekly markers may sound more quaint than realistic. Family life today often consists of whatever is left over, in terms of our time and energy, when the “work” of the day is done. When I ask a mother or father to describe for me a “typical day” in their home, nine times out of ten they begin by saying there is no “typical”.
Just as there are inherent rhythms in the rising and setting of the sun each day and the change of seasons, there are rhythms inherent in us and our own bodies. Our families often too, hold their own inherent rhythms. Our children, in this often hectic world where children are pushed to be miniature adults, NEED rhythm more than ever. It is a source of dependability, a source of reliability and promotes the child’s feeling that the world, their world, is a safe and secure place! This is the essence of believing the world is a good place! This is also the first stirrings of boundaries and of family identity. Rhythm is what you do in your family.
Too often today children are the center of the family, a sun in which the parents orbit around the children’s desires (which is totally different from the what –I-want IS actually what-I –need in the years of being an infant!). Instead, family life, should be that needs of the whole family are set forth as a beautiful trajectory, yes, like the arc of the sun rising and setting in the sun, and the children find their places on the trajectory. This helps children find their own place in the family and the world. The children are part of something bigger than themselves. Rhythm is the thing that can most help with this arc.
This is also important from the viewpoint of simplification. Rhythm does not assume 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 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 August! I wrote about August last year as well. It is interesting to see how the same month can feel the same in so many ways, and yet so different.
This is the month that I associate with heat, rain showers, lakes, blackberries, anticipation, and the quality of humility. It is a month where fall peaks around the corner in some ways and we know school and more regular rhythm is indeed on its way! Continue reading
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.
In Part Two, we focused on birth through age 4. Today we are going to look at ages five and six. The mainstay of gentle discipline for these years begins with our own inner work and development, as discussed in Part One of this series.
Birth through age four encompasses a time of protection, physical movement, warmth and trust and love in a caregiver and in a good world. The ending of this stage sees the use of the words “I” and “no” not as an act of defiance or disobedience, but as growth into individuality. Ages five and six also sees the same importance of protection, physical movement, warmth, and love and trust in a caregiver continue. However, play and social experiences now expands during these years, (although some children will not blossom into truly enjoying other children until the six/seven year transformation). Play is the main theme for these years, and also a look at the willing gesture involved in roles, power, and control. Continue reading
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: Continue reading