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.
First of all, we cannot talk about gentle discipline and guiding without talking about parenting as the spiritual and inner journey of the adults involved in raising children. Whether you are mother, father, helper – it is a spiritual journey for you and spiritual practice for you! Your own techniques for inner development: Continue reading
So, you may remember when I wrote this about seventh grade planning: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2014/06/11/seventh-grade-homeschooling-here-is-the-real-deal/
As a little recap, all the things I mention in that post are areas of thought for me; essentially since I think seventh and eighth grade are a step up. Those two grades are different than the earlier grades, and even different than sixth grade. I also think again, in an era where many homeschooled children do look toward taking community college classes and such at age 16, what we do here counts.
The seventh and eighth grades are also the culmination of a beautiful grades curriculum, and I don’t want to miss the beauty and peak of all the work we have done in previous years. It is also my first time through planning seventh grade, which always makes it harder as well. And, to add to that, there are some things I wish we had done in sixth grade that we didn’t so I also felt we add a bit of make up to do. More on that in later posts!
My other major place of thought centers around PRACTICE. I don’t think is talked about enough in Waldorf circles, and certainly not especially for the later grades, nor are enough examples and ideas given. For example, to me, It is not enough to cover state geography in fourth grade, U.S. Geography in fifth grade, etc and then never practice and return to it – the man and animal block of fourth grade, etc. And yes, of course, some of this information comes up again and again as you work the information into other blocks. This is the “layering” of the curriculum that one often hears about, but yet I find it often takes experience to really bring this to fruition. So, a growing question in my head as of late has centered around this idea of practice and integration of what we have studied through ALL of the eight grades and how do I bring this into seventh and eighth grade.
So, I am thinking a lot about the practice and habits part. We start our day with Continue reading
I can only talk about our own personal journey regarding homeschooling. This is an individual walk, and I can only give my experience. Once people “get over” the hurdle and accept homeschooling as a viable option for the younger years and even the early grades, I agree that I often hear “well, I plan to homeschool until middle school” or “I plan to homeschool until high school”. Many homeschooling parents, at least in the Waldorf community, have told me they feel not only is there a huge decline in folks homeschooling this age group of children, but that also the number of resources drops off dramatically. It can be a hard and isolating road.
One of my Dutch friends was explaining to me the other day that in the Netherlands they say those ages are “being between the napkin and the tablecloth”. You are not a child, yet not an adult. You are not really treated as an adult, but you don’t really feel like a child.I
Something that is well accepted in developmental circles is the fragility of the budding self that occurs around the age of 12 and 13. Bodies start changing, voices start changing in boys, limbs are long and heavy. And there is this beautiful and vibrant fragility I see in the teenagers ages 13 and 14 that I get the pleasure of being with. They are finding themselves and their own passions and their own opinions. To me, it is almost like a butterfly struggling to come out of its cocoon. The Gesell Institute writes about the needs for privacy often seen in a thirteen-year old: “by withdrawing and refusing to share, Thirteen protects something far too fragile and half formed for others to see, his budding personality.”
So, I think there are two sides to this. In American society at least, I think the idea of the sullen, withdrawn teenager has gone much too far. Space is important, but it must have a balance of space within the community. And to our family, the most important thing for this period for their overall education is for our children to be with family as their community and with the well-trusted adults and friends they have developed. Eugene Schwartz recently gave an interesting lecture Continue reading
I have written about my fascination with the forest kindergarten/farm school movement in back posts with detailed links. I recently found this link interviewing Erin Kenny, founder of Cedarsong Forest Kindergarten. You can read that interview here: http://www.safbaby.com/forest-kindergarten-a-better-way-to-teach-our-young-children.
I think the models we have for this movement within Waldorf Education are places such as Nokken with Helle Heckmann (please see back posts on Nokken on this blog and also this link regarding farm-based educator inspired by Waldorf Education: https://www.biodynamics.com/farm-based-educators).
The major benefits of Forest School, as listed in the book, “Forest School and Outdoor Learning in the Early Years” by Sara Knight are increased confidence and self-belief; social skills with increased awareness of the consequence of their actions on other people, peers and adults and the ability to work cooperatively; more sophisticated written and spoken language; increased motivation and concentration; improved stamina and gross and fine motor skills; increased respect for the environment and increased observational skills; ability to have new perspectives and form positive relationships with others; a ripple effect to the family.
I have been thinking lately Continue reading
“I worry that we’ll increasingly understand the “purpose” of childhood by seeing, increasingly, what people are like when they’ve been rushed through theirs. And I don’t think that will be a pretty picture.” – From Simplicity Parenting
I totally agree. It is hard and challenging work to keep our children at a normal pace of development in this day and age. But it is important, and necessary work. The work you are doing will help your child grow up to be a well-adjusted, resilient adult. The goal of parenting is to lead toward a healthy, whole human being.
To this point, Kim John Payne recommends simplification. He talks about doing a home visit with families and poises the question, Continue reading
One thing I think that you should start doing if you are going through the grades for the first time, is to gather lists for each grade – books by topic, possible field trips in your area, etc.
There are some ideas by curriculum writers or Waldorf teachers for seventh grade, in no particular order:
This is a list of books that I am personally finding helpful so far and wanted to share. This is absolutely by no means an inclusive list, or a list of “doing it right.” It is just a list of possibilities. By subject: Continue reading
Here are some great links this week to make you stop and think. Let’s all be the change we wish to see, advocate for our children, and keep the momentum I see happening in so many places at the grass-roots level in different states keep going. This is how change often happens in the United States. Be the change!
Do American parents have it backward? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christine-grossloh/have-american-parents-got-it-all-backwards_b_3202328.html
This article is a MUST-READ for all parents of small children. Children do need rhythm, repetition, time to be outside, time to play in an unstructured manner. They do not need lessons, or rigid adult-created games. The adult is there primarily to “un-stick” play and to guide, to provide help for the ideas the children create, to have the environment and the rhythm in place. Read more about the differences between what the differences between academic and play-based preschools bring here: http://www.janetlansbury.com/2012/06/dont-let-your-preschoolers-forget-how-to-play/ Continue reading