Easter Monday

There are many traditions that occur around the world on Easter Monday; some are religious and some are national holidays.  I personally love having a festive breakfast and a good hike or precious time at the lake on this special day!

This is a beautiful day in Eastertide and a time to think of those many spring and Easter crafts, spring recipes, spring songs and more!  I love to take this time to do some spring cleaning and re-set my ideas regarding rhythm now that the days are getting a bit longer and warmer.

Rhythm is an ongoing process of change and adjustment based upon the development of your children and the seasons.  In some ways, it doesn’t change very much from when children are little – it may be that meals are generally at the same time, the need to be outside and moving is there no matter what the age of children, the meal planning and errand running day is still there, the quiet time after lunch, the bedtimes can be adjusted up or down according to age and seasonal activities. 

If you are struggling with rhythm, I think there are two things that really can make a lot of difference for mothers.  One is just to step back and observe for a few days and write down what you are doing when.  Are mealtimes and bedtimes really all over the place or is that your perception because you feel scattered?  Are you really going out every single day which is making mealtimes and bedtimes later than they need to be?  These sorts of questions and answers lie within you, your own observations and your own goals.  What small step can you take with rhythm that would help the most right now?

I also find this is a great time for homeschooling mothers to take stock as to plans for fall (in the Northern Hemisphere).  What grades will you be doing, do you have start and end dates and vacation dates in mind yet based upon how this year went, what blocks will you be doing, what resources do you need to order?

I hope you are having a joyous week!

Blessings,
Carrie

Finding Stillness and Peace With Small Children

The other day I got to observe a very sweet, active little guy.  He was going in and out of a garage.  He was busy.  He was in the kitty litter.  He was in the not-for-children-not-organic bug spray.  He was dripping paint on things in the garage.   He was playing with a cat that didn’t want to be played with.  He was re-arranging all of the garden ornaments.  He needed supervision  by an adult every minute. His mother was awesome; patient and kind while responding to his needs and re-directing him.

This is so developmentally normal for some children who are small.  And yet, it can be so challenging from the perspective of a parent  to literally have to be on your toes all day long to save your child from danger or harm.  And so hard to never have a moment to sink into peace, quiet and stillness.

Peace, quietness and stillness. For just a moment.  To breathe.  To pray.  To just be.

As parents, how do we find this?  Time can be so hard to come by.

Without children:

Some parents like to get up before their children.  For some parents, this is more frustrating than not in terms that then their small children are also awake and up when they leave the bedroom or they just sense someone else in the house is up.  Gentle boundaries over time can help, and I have had parents say their children really did stay in their rooms at a fairly young age (5 or so) until the sun came up or a certain number was reached on the clock.    That type of child can exist!

Some parents swear by an early bedtime and then having time after the children go to sleep.  I myself am an “early bedtime” for children kind of person.  That can be hard in a world when many people are not into early  bedtimes, but that can work for some families.  Perhaps then those parents can garner some time in the morning if their child sleeps in later.

Some parents have an entire night to themselves each week when their spouse or partner will take the children and they go out of the house.  Or their spouse or partner will take their children out on a weekend afternoon or morning and leave mom home.  Figuring out when, where and how you will get some breaks is really important.  Some parents don’t seem to mind being home and with their children at all times, but most I have talked to, especially after their children are a bit more independent – ages five and up perhaps- feel comfortable enough to start thinking about this.

Some parents have the ability to exercise daily and consider that a peaceful, still time for their head even if their bodies are moving!  However, again, this  usually depends upon having someone else care for your children unless your child does exceptionally well in a sling or stroller for walks.

Some parents create a village.  It can be hard to find like-minded parents and entrust that parent with your child.  I think this can be so hard especially for mothers who consider themselves attachment parents – no one can do it like them!  That is true, but in this case no one is going to be mom except mom, but mothers can have a village help you so that mother can be the best she can be.  Often  children seem really ready to stay with a friend or neighbor on occasion around the age of four or five if it is within your neighborhood or a close family friend.   Around age 10 and up children may be ready for sleepovers.  (and yes, there is a specific reason I say age 10 and up, and I actually prefer the teenaged years for sleepovers,  but that is another post!)

With children:

Some mothers really can have time whilst their children play outside.  This can especially happen with groups of multiple children or children that are a bit older.    I think if you are home a lot and have a great rhythm in doing this, it can be so helpful.   If you have really small children and are just getting into the world of rhythm, please consider this.  Healthy play outside perhaps with you near but not on top of them, or as they are older, you inside and the children playing outside can work really well if it is part of your rhythm and routine to have your children create their own play and you not feel as if you have to fill up all their time with structured, adult-led activities.

For very small children, you will probably get the most peace and silence in just being outside together.  Many parents tell me their children have almost frenetic energy when they are inside and have a hard time leaving their parents alone, but outside things seem to slow down and children can get absorbed just poking in the mud with a stick, listening to the creek, watching insects and birds.  This is especially true of small children.

Have  a steady rhythm.    Just having a rhythm of in and out breath can be such a positive way to garner those few peaceful moments.

Know your child. If you have a child of higher energy, you probably will have to get that child’s energy out before you even try to  sit down.  If you can stop, observe and  think what makes your child peaceful or see when your child is most peaceful, that can be a big help in tailoring time and space for peace.

How do you model reverence? Part of being peaceful and silent is to feel reverent towards life.  Praying, reading sacred texts, gazing at beauty, wondering about the small and ordinary,  being able to be still without chattering comes from modeling and providing these opportunities. 

I would love to hear from you.  How do you gather a few moments for yourself in the midst of a busy world of small children?

Love,
Carrie

Wrap-Up of Week Twenty-Five, Week Twenty-Six and Week Twenty-Seven 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 twenty-four here   and further in the 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:   Spring has sprung here!  The first weeks I mention in this post included cold weather, but it certainly seems in this Holy Week that spring is here.

And with all the events of life and Holy Week, it seems as if things have been very busy outside of our home and not as much with school.  I feel as if we are swimming in molasses trying to get school done.  This third week covered in this post, Holy Week is a most important week.  I usually try to take some of this week off as there are many things at church to attend, but I feel as if almost every week has been days off as of late, so this week we went ahead and did four days of school.

Next week, the first week of Eastertide, we were supposed to take Spring Break but events did not conspire to have our whole family together doing something, so I imagine we will do at least a few days of school and I may work on planning some of the other days.

Homeschool Planning:  I have the block rotation for fifth grade planned out along with about three full blocks that still need tweaking. I hope to finish up fifth grade soon so I can get started on eighth grade.  That will be much more involved with a lot for me to read and digest!  I finally got the block rotation for eighth grade pretty much done, but I have revised it a hundred times I think.

Kindergarten:  We are back to Suzanne Down’s “Old Gnome Through The Year”.  We have been doing a “Springtime Circle” and the story of “Old Gnome and the Fairy Cradle”.  We have done some spring painting and nature crafts.  We have also been working hard on life skills – dressing oneself, good manners, cleaning one’s room and making one’s bed with help.

Fourth Grade:  We have spent a good amount of time looking at the reptiles and amphibians in our state.  Our state is particularly rich in this area.  We have over eighty species of amphibians, including over thirty kinds of salamanders.  Some of these salamanders are found no where else in the world.  We have five kinds of sea turtles, and our state reptile, the gopher tortoise is a keystone species.  The American Alligator found in the southern part in our state is another keystone species.  We modeled a sea turtle and did some beautiful paintings.  This week we have talked about mammals, including the opossum (a common sight in our state), the beaver, the sixteen kind of bats in our state, including the yellow bat and the Rafinesque Big-eared bat and coyotes.  The Rafinesque Big-Eared Bat really lends itself to a diorama, and we got into a discussion about tupelo trees in regards to the yellow bat.  Next week I hope to finish up mammals, review watersheds and  will talk about the oceans off our state’s coast and our state whale.    I am planning a math block and then a block on insects, bees and herbs as our very last block of the school year.

We finished reading “Thorkill of Iceland” and have been reading Isabel Wyatt’s “Norse Hero Tales” by Isabel Wyatt.

There has been a lot of musical and play practices for two plays, along with horseback riding.  Our fourth grader also took a “Climb and Clay” class where one week was pottery/clay and the next week was climbing trees (in harnesses to go up into the tree canopy).  It has been fun for her, and I think a good experiential foundation for Botany in fifth grade.  We have also been playing a lot and not doing very much in the way of handwork. 

Seventh Grade: Week twenty-five has seen us jump into the Renaissance – we started with building up a picture of the geography of China, Genghis Khan and Mongol ways of life, the Silk Road,  Kublai Khan and Marco Polo, and reviewing the Magna Charta is depth.  We have also talked about  the life of Chaucer, The Hundred Years War and Joan of Arc, and the beginning of the Renaissance in Italy through the biography of Lorenzo di Medici and some of the artists under his patronage.  It has been a busy time of painting and drawing.  I have assigned a project to pick artwork from a Renaissance artist and re-create it, so we shall see how that goes.  We finished “The Hidden Treasures of Glaston” . Our daughter is reading Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales” by Geraldine McCreaghean and has “A Proud Taste For Scarlet and Miniver” next on tap to read (review of Eleanor of Aquitaine).  I am reading aloud the book “The Magna Charta” by James Daughtery.

We have been doing quite a bit of math as well – algebra mainly, along with review of fractions, decimals, percentages, and geometry.  We started the year with a combined algebra/geometry block, but I hope after Renaissance and then Latin America and explorers, we will have time to touch on algebra again.  Next week our daughter starts a physics class with a trained Waldorf teacher for a month, so that combined with the physics we did in the very beginning of the year should take care of our physics this year.

We are still busy with horseback riding, musical and choir practice at church, and this coming week our seventh grader will be doing a little camping with friends.  It has been such nice weather this week so we are all glad to go out and play.

Blessings,
Carrie

Monthly Anchor Points: April

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.

I know some of the United States still is seeing snow, but here in the Deep South, April can be such a beautiful month – birds chirping, nests and eggs, bunnies, daffodils and other flowering bulbs.  Yet, in this month we remember some of the starkest and most horrible moments in humanity. Vicki Black, in the book “Welcome to the Church Year” writes that “During this week (Holy Week) we focus on the suffering and death of the innocent and vulnerable, the failure to stand by someone in need, and wrenching farewell conversations at a final meal with beloved friends.  We also ponder moments of injustice, cruelty and arrogant “hardness of heart” – experiences that we know all too well in our own world.”   Holy Week can bring up our own feelings of sorrow, anger, fear, regret, sadness and loneliness.  It is such a polarity of darkness and light, goodness and love and evil.  If we look, we find the ultimate overcoming of  darkness with love to the entire world .  Hopefully we carry on to bring peace to all!

I like this quote from Sarah Ban Breathnach’s “Mrs. Sharp’s Traditions”:  “For more than fifteen hundred years, the feast of Easter, marking the resurrection of Jesus Christ, has been the focal point of springtime for Christians around the world.  Yet the Easter season is not only a Christian story, but a promise of renewal for all.”

Passover is occurring now – for over three thousand years Jewish families have gathered around the world to commemorate the deliverance of the Israelites from slavery.  Happy Passover, friends!

 

My month will be anchored by these festivals:

Wednesday, April 1st – Holy Wednesday – Tenebrae meaning “darkness” or “shadows” is usually offered on this day.  It is beautiful and sad. The book of Lamentation is chanted, and candles are extinguished in the church until only a single candle, symbolizing Christ, remains in the darkness.

Thursday April 2nd – Maundy Thursday   I often meditate on this day that this was the day Christ gave the commandment “to love one another”.  The Mass in the Anglican church on this night is haunting. I usually (always?) end up sobbing in a back corner.  How do we go out and love and serve people, how do we really love?   The feet of the people in the congregation is washed by the priests, the altar is stripped and bare, the church is darkened and every thing of beauty is removed down to the linens.  The extra bread and wine is carried to a space for the vigil in the night to come.  Usually a vigil is held throughout the night to stay awake and we contemplate our own failings and yet how this is not the final chapter of God’s redeeming love for us.

A very light meal, perhaps of green foods is traditional for this day.  “All Year Round” has a recipe for chervil soup. 

Friday, April 3rd – Good Friday  – In the book “Celebrating Irish Festivals”, the author mentions spring cleaning for the house and yard on this day, and also if you have chickens that lay eggs marking the eggs laid today with a cross and eating them on Easter Sunday!  Ruth Marshall, the author, also goes on to say:

Most people went to church on Good Friday and silence was encourage between  noon and 3 p.m., the time when Christ was upon the cross.  In Celtic Christianity, Christ was believed to be King of the Elements and the elements were thought to respond to his death.  The sky was expected to darken; and cold, wet weather was taken as a sign of nature’s mourning.

Hot cross buns are traditional for some Christians on this day, along with the trimming of an Easter Egg Tree.  This is also a traditional day to plant potatoes and seeds. This is especially important for children who are old enough to realize the significance of this day and who feel it is “Bad Friday!”  The transformation and new growth is symbolic and works deeply in the consciousness of children.

Saturday, April 4th – Holy Saturday   A day of stillness and waiting, but also a day of practical projects in preparation for Easter Sunday.  Making an Easter bread ring could be a wonderful project, or making egg shaped candles.    We often have an Easter Vigil Mass which is so very beautiful – some Anglican churches also hold this on Saturday night or on sunrise on Easter morning.  The Easter Vigil is the first celebration of Easter, and is among the most ancient of all liturgies.  We light the new fire and the paschal candle, we celebrate baptisms and the renewal of baptismal vows and the Holy Eucharist. 

Sunday, April 5th – Easter

And we will be celebrating  Easter Week and Eastertide!  Easter lasts for fifty days, from Easter Day through the Day of Pentecost!  The bonds of sin and death are broken!

Both the Holocaust and genocide in general is remembered this month with Holocaust Remembrance Day on Thursday, April 16th and Genocide Remembrance Day on April 24th.  Our church is currently reading the biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a light in the Holocaust.

My religious denomination celebrates many wonderful Saints and Holy Men and Holy Women this month.  One of my favorites is Saint Tikhon on April 7th.

There are also many secular things to celebrate from the signing of the American Civil Rights Act to Earth Day to William Shakespeare’s birthday.   Arbor Day is April 22nd, a wonderful day to give some love to the beautiful trees.  (It is also Earth Day). 

Ideas for Celebration:

  • So many crafts with Eastertide and spring themes!
  • Spring foods – dandelion greens, fiddlehead ferns, lighter spring fare
  • Observe nature – many of our birds are out and about building nests, and we have found many snails, lizards and turtles.   Snakes are out again.
  • Get out and hike
  • Spruce up the yard and think of ways to celebrate the wind – windchimes, yard pinwheels can be so fun!
  • Plant seeds if you can in your area – down here we can plant tomatoes, peppers and eggplants the second week in April!  Lovely flower seeds include candytuft, cornflower, nasturiums, marigolds, love in a mist. 
  • Storytelling – there are several lovely stories of the Easter Hare in the book “Festivals, Families and Food” by Diana Carey and Judy Large
  • Music is a glorious part of this month – in our family, we have Easter hymns for fifty days!  So much music to sing!
  • Depending upon where you live, kite flying may be a good option for this month.

The Domestic Life:

  • Spring Cleaning
  • Getting rid of all kinds of things to go into spring and  summer lighter and brighter than ever

Homeschooling:

  • This can be a harder time of year for homeschoolers…the end of the school year is coming, but has not yet arrived.  The children (and the teacher) may have spring fever!  This is always a good time of year to sit down and take stock as to what you have left to accomplish in the school year.
  • Planning for next year’s school – it is not too early to order supplies, plan block rotations, and get to work on plans for specific blocks.  If you plan now, it saves you so much trouble and anxiety during the school year.  Please do get started!

Many blessings,
Carrie

Empowering Children

Empowering children should always mean several things:  the dignity of the child is respected, the situation is set as right as possible if a party or an object has been damaged, and your relationship with your child is preserved. For a small child it isn’t really that they will “learn for next time” because a child’s memory begins to develop around ages six or seven.  Therefore, in many cases these scenarios that require empowerment will be re-played time and time again and as a parent one must be patient and guide.

A large part of this guiding and leading to empowerment is to be  “ho hum” .  “Ho hum” means different things to different parents but I think ideally it means holding the space,  listening and observing and being present.  Here is an article about what it means to “hold the space” from an adult perspective in palliative care; not all of it is applicable to parenting small children but it is helpful to read and to practice in your own life.  http://heatherplett.com/2015/03/hold-space/  The more you practice and are able to do this with adults, the better you will be at it with your children.   This is the most important step toward preserving the relationship and connection you have with your child, and in preserving the child’s dignity.

I think one of the differences between holding the space with an adult and then doing this  with a small child is that there may be a physical piece.  This could be holding the child even if the child is screaming and falling apart so they can press into this boundary.  Or, it may be as simple being present and humming whilst folding laundry  while a child is under a table and not wanting to be touched and then making restitution after the child has calmed down.  Only you can decide what is right then in the relationship with your child.

The action piece that occurs after the ho-hum and holding the space can be the oft-forgotten piece of empowering.  It empowers children to make things right.  This is probably the most important piece of guiding.  Once children are calm, especially for children ages nine and under, I like “doing together” as restitution.  We do things together to make the situation right, to bring restitution, we encourage.  This is empowering to small children.

Another situation regarding empowerment came to my mind yesterday. Sometime just loving boundaries and words of encouragement are enough to empower a child that is not in a conflict situation but working through being capable as part of growing up.  For example, yesterday my five year old wanted to get dressed and he had pants downstairs but he didn’t want to go upstairs to get his shirt and socks. He really wanted me  to do it for him.  I set a boundary that I would not do it for him as he was completely capable and I was in the middle of things in the kitchen.  Sometimes children need to hear that too, and to follow through.  This is also empowering and part of being capable as children grow.  We can be kind and thoughtful, but doing everything for our children that they can do for themselves actually takes away their power in the long run of life.

Please share with me your favorite ways to hold the space, be ho-hum and empower your children.

Blessings,

Carrie

Multiculturalism In Waldorf Homeschooling

I have lately been exploring the ideas of multiculturalism within the Waldorf homeschooling curriculum, and lately especially the place of  Africa and  Asia within the grades  for the American homeschooler as these streams of civilization are part of the fabric of our society.    I have already talked rather extensively regarding Native American/First People streams before.  I am certain I will have something to say about the Latin American stream as well in days to come – after all,  one of my first degrees was in Latin American Studies.  The ideas in this post are borne from my own exploration and are solely my opinion.

In Kindergarten, fairy tales and little stories should come from ALL cultures and include festivals that are authentic and real to your community.  For Americans, I have a strong bias towards Native American tales and stories being used in kindergarten and throughout the first four grades, then moving into  more Native American figures and history in the upper grades, but all streams should be represented as fully as possible.   Although the characters in the  fairy tales themselves are archetypal, I feel strongly if puppetry is used, the puppetry should include a variety of skin tones that correspond with where the tale is from.

In the early  grades we include fairy tales, legends and fables, tales of the Old Testament/Hebrew legends, and the creation tales from many different cultures.   Especially if you are an American homeschooler, we have the streams of nearly every civilization running through our country.  Festivals could be included – for example, if you are doing a block of Chinese fables, you could include this block around the time of the Lunar New Year and see what is out in community to participate in, see, experience.  There are many African and African-American tales also wonderful for second and third grade, and hopefully community festivals you can participate in!  There are many wonderful Waldorf festival books about celebrating festivals, but I feel this can be authentic in a classroom setting than at home if this is not your cultural or religious background, which is why I mention community settings for the homeschooler.    This is an experiential level – for children to be experienced in real life, not in an abstract manner!

Artistic work in all of these grades should again, include skin tones of all colors that are accurate.  Old Testament figures, the Egyptians and Nubians of fourth and fifth grade should be accurate.    Fourth Grade is often seen as a year for the Norse myths, the Kalevala, etc but  “Hear the Voice of the Griot!” by Betty Staley  also mentions that this can be the time of Bantu and San stories.   

I  have also been  thinking strongly about American archetypes – for example, the West with cowboys and the vaqueros that became the foundation for the American cowboy, the Mid-Atlantic with coal mining, farmers in the mid-Western states, lumberjacks of the Pacific Northwest and how this would be embodied in the grades – some figures are larger than life, think of an  “American Tall Tales” block in second grade and we keep moving forward.  I think if you are American, an “American” stream is also important to think about.  It is complicated to think about so many people that have come to our shores, my ancestors included, and forget in this day and age the uniquely American archetypes that used to hold us all together in the past.

Fifth grade – I feel very strongly that Ancient China should be represented in this year, as well as Ancient Africa.  For Fifth Grade and up, a wonderful resource is “China:  Ancient Inspiration and New Directions” by Judith G. Blatchford, available through Rudolf Steiner College Press.   This 171 paged book is very helpful.  It is not divided by grade, so it is just a sort of “sit down and read” and gather gems as you go along.  There are many interesting things in this book as it applies to Waldorf Education and what Rudolf Steiner had to say about China!

India is traditionally well covered during this year   I like Marsha Johnson’s block on The History of Chocolate for math because this is yet another way to acknowledge South American geography and history as cacao and also other countries that produce chocolate.  It is important to remember that this year is not so much history as it is mythology, the feeling life of a culture (which you will harken back to in seventh grade with tribes of people)  and a note to the changing and evolving consciousness of humanity.  Steiner talked about the streams covered in India, Babylon, Persia and Greece but I feel since the American consciousness includes streams from all over the world, it is appropriate to build a foundation for the coming world history and world literature  for this in fifth grade.  Again, please make your drawings accurate with skin tones and provide accurate examples of handwork and crafts.

I also feel whilst fourth grade covers local geography, fifth grade should cover the United States of America (if you are American).   I acknowledge and like the idea of Donna Simmons of Christopherus Homeschool Resources, Inc to place our North American “neighbors” in this category as well – Mexico, Caribbean, Canada.    North America also includes what we as Americans often refer to as Central America and some folks seem to forget this!

Sixth Grade -In sixth grade, the Crusades, the arrival of Islam, the Ottoman Empire is traditionally well covered.  However, I  also feel strongly that feudal Japan should be included as an example of Medieval East Asia and perhaps even independent Vietnam, the Khmer Empire, or the Kingdoms of Burma or even Medieval Java  included as representatives of Medieval Southeast Asia.  We choose to study European Geography in this grade to go along with  Rome, but you may choose to map it out differently, especially if you decide to cover some of the Asian countries in their medieval periods.

Seventh Grade -In seventh grade, one can more closely study the Mongol culture and history, the rise of Buddhism, the Silk Road and China as part of “The Age of Discovery”, and also include the great explorer .  We studied African geography  in this grade and also  included Ancient History as well as explorers and colonization and the diaspora along with the geography, Ancient Civilizations and explorations of South America.   There is plenty to explore.  Latin American geography is another area of exploration.  I also feel this grade should cover Native American tribes again and colonial America

Eighth Grade – In eighth grade,   the study of modern history is broached with broad brush strokes and themes, and will continue into ninth grade in many Waldorf high schools. One most likely will touch upon colonialism,  nationalism and the rise of  independence as part of these themes, and of course there are many examples of this around the world.    I believe eighth grade should include Middle Eastern geography (you probably have already covered some of this; however, much of the Middle Eastern landscape was changed as a result of World War I and  II and it makes sense to cover this here)  Asian and Pacific Rim geography.    If you do decide to foray into more modern history past World War II, one could of course include Korea, Vietnam, and the Philippines and more. 

If you want an example of how to work with this if you are in a non-European country, I suggest the teaching manuals from East Africa Waldorf training that are available for free on line.  It shows how this training center  has adapted the curriculum to fit their geography and streams of cultural groups. 

Many blessings,
Carrie

Why We Do What We Do In The Early Years

I often find parents who have small children are rather flummoxed by what they find on this blog.  I base my parenting upon development  – from streams of years of developmental testing from The Gesell Institute, from the pedagogical insights of Rudolf Steiner and the secondary pedagogical literature of the Early Years of Waldorf Education, from the research of Attachment Parenting, from my own experience as a pediatric health care professional and from just plain common sense.  And research – there actually is research in this area!

The Early Years is not a time of rocket science, yet we have strayed so far from what a small child needs in most countries across the world I think it would take massive public health campaigns to get back to having things be developmentally appropriate for a small child.   

The hallmarks of this campaign should be, for the Early Years child before first grade:  sleep and rest, time in nature, steady rhythm, protection from adult information and the seeping of adult and high school activities down to these tiny children, meaningful work, play, protection from all electronic screens, the building up of a healthy physical body and to model children reverence, and to provide children the sense that the world is a good place.

Play and School:  This is not the time for academics.  There is NO published research that shows a child who learns to read early does better in school later on, but there are studies that show the benefits of a play-based Early Years program.  Here are a few links on this subject:

https://deyproject.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/readinginkindergarten_online-1.pdf

http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2011/03/why_preschool_shouldnt_be_like_school.html

The value of unstructured play:  http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00593/full

Value of play-based preschools over academic preschools: http://mhpcns.com/resources/play_vs_academic.pdf

Alfie Kohn’s case against direct instruction of academics in Early Childhood Education:  http://www.alfiekohn.org/article/early-childhood-education/

Homework:  Research regarding the unclear relationship between homework and academic achievement (and hint, this talks about the optimal amount of homework in studies of high school students, and the disparity of benefits homework provides across groups of people, and the lack of clear benefits of homework for small children):  http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/Main-Menu/Instruction/What-research-says-about-the-value-of-homework-At-a-glance

Pitfalls of homework from Stanford University:  http://news.stanford.edu/news/2014/march/too-much-homework-031014.html

Benefits of homework vary across nation, grades from Penn State (again, most of the research is being done at the middle and high school levels, and I think homework is another seeping of adult and teenaged ideas down to the smallest level of our population.  Early Years children are not teenagers!):  http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070227171018.htm

All parents who want homework sheets given to their kindergarten-aged children should have a look at these studies. 

The Value of Protecting our Children From ADULT information:

The value of protection for our children:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationopinion/11384246/Too-much-information-destroys-childhood-innocence.html

Study from Pediatrics regarding use of mobile devices by caregivers and children in restaurants:  http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2014/03/05/peds.2013-3703.abstract

Why are we in such a fearful place in parenting small children?  It is not a race to run as fast as possible to get to the next stage of childhood. It should not be a stage where the parent is so full of fear of parenting and uncertainty in  trying to hold a rhythm in the home and guide a small child that keeping the child busy every second  is the norm.    If we set an unhurried pace at home and are happy being in our homes and neighborhoods, our small children will be as well.  And they will have much greater health because of it!

Blessings,
Carrie