Sunday Books: Completing The Circle

 

Back to Sunday Books!  We are in the homestretch of this book, and I am looking forward already to our next book….I just love summer reading, don’t you?

 

This chapter is entitled, “Paradise Lost:  The Nine Year Change.”  I know this chapter will be of interest to many of you out there who have children verging on this developmental stage!

 

In this chapter, Poplawski writes about how Billy Collins, a Poet Laureate of the United States, poignantly captures the essence of this age in a poem called “On Turning Ten”:
The whole idea makes me feel
like I’m coming down with something,
something worse than any stomach ache
or the headaches I get from reading in bad light—
a kind of measles of the spirit,
a mumps of the psyche,
a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul.
You tell me it is too early to be looking back,
but that is because you have forgotten
the perfect simplicity of being one
and the beautiful complexity introduced by two.
But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit.
At four I was an Arabian wizard.
I could make myself invisible
by drinking a glass of milk a certain way.
At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince.
But now I am mostly at the window
watching the late afternoon light.
Back then it never fell so solemnly
against the side of my tree house,
and my bicycle never leaned against the garage
as it does today,
all the dark blue speed drained out of it.
This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself,
as I walk through the universe in my sneakers.
It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends,
time to turn the first big number.
It seems only yesterday I used to believe
there was nothing under my skin but light.
If you cut me I would shine.
But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,
I skin my knees. I bleed.

 

Poplawski traces the stages of development that come around age two, age nine and age sixteen.  The nine year old is standing alone in a sense and realizing their separateness from their parents and the world for the first time.  Waldorf Schools address this stage by working with the very rich stories of the Hebrew people as found in the Old Testament.

 

Poplawski points out other challenges many nine year olds face – their early learning abilities often become challenged and the child has to try to memorize things for the first time, the child emotionally withdraws, the child needs time and space and privacy.  Children this age can feel stressed and anxious over chores, activities, homework.  Parents can help by limiting their child’s activities and making sure there is ample time to dream and just be. 

 

Poplawski writes about the importance of the parental role:

The nine-year-old child is yearning for autonomy, but parental warmth,
affection, and support continue to be important. Though the child can be irritable
and seems to want to push away, he still needs hugs and comforting from the
adults around him. A nine-year-old will sometimes hover near a parent wanting
and waiting for a reassuring hug, but hesitant to ask for it. A child will sometimes
be more prickly and hyper-sensitive with one parent more than the other, this
being affected by the respective temperaments of child and parents. Sometimes
one parent needs to step back and let the other be more involved with the child.
Many children have some psychosomatic symptoms around this time. Heart
palpitations, breathing problems and headaches are not unusual. Nine-year-olds
tend to be worriers and some physical symptoms may be related to that. Nightmares
—dreams of being chased or being bitten by a snake or even of being murdered—
are common and no reason for great concern. Dreams of storms and runaway
fires are also frequent.

For the nine-year-old, suddenly cut off from the world, forced to stand on her own, and beset perhaps by physical problems, anxiety is a dominant emotion.
Hence, the child depends on the structure and guidance that watchful adults can give to provide stability and a sense of security. The child needs the solid authority of teachers and a firm parental presence. Otherwise she will be overwhelmed by a sense of insecurity.
The nine-year-old likes to have rules. Adults need to be fair and consistent in enforcing them, however. Fairness is important for the nine-year-old.

 

Talking about life and death, the meaning and mystery of life, praying, asking about religion and prayer are all very common things in the life of a child going through this developmental change.  Children in this stage are still young, but must be recognized as the young men and women they are becoming.  How are we assisting our children in getting to an adulthood that encapsulates the ideals of duty to humanity through this stage?

 

Many blessings,
Carrie

Guest Post: Hybrid Rasta Mama Weighs In! A Special Offer for Parenting Passageway Readers!

This is a letter from my friend Jennifer over at Hybrid Rasta Mama who has a special offer you won’t want to miss!  Thank you so much Jennifer for this offer, and for all your kind words.

 

Jennifer writes:

I have been a long time reader of The Parenting Passageway. I can actually remember the day that I stumbled on Carrie’s site.  I felt like I struck gold when I found her Random Thoughts About Newborns post! I was two months away from becoming a first time mother and I drank in every word Carrie wrote from that point on. She presented information that a new mother like me could wrap her brain around without getting completely overwhelmed (more so than I was from simply becoming a mama!)

 

Carrie is actually the sole reason that I started my blog. She didn’t know that until now but it was with her gentle encouragement that I took the plunge and started chronicling life as a conscious parent and natural health advocate. That was February 2011. Over 500 posts later and I have never looked back! (Carrie here:  I had no idea, and I am touched. Jennifer’s blog is great – head on over and take a look!)

 

One of the first series that I tackled on my blog was the Mindful Mothering Challenge. It was inspired by Carrie’s original 20 Days Towards More Mindful Mothering series. To this day, it is still extremely popular and I was thrilled to not only share Carrie’s wisdom with my audience but to work through the entire series for all my readers to garner inspiration and motivation from!

 

Fast forward to today and my series is now a 57 page bonus eBook that is part of the Mindful Parenting eBundle. (Don’t worry – I made sure that Carrie gave her blessing and of course I credit her upside down and sideways!) This eBook takes you, the mother, through 20 small steps which will awaken your mothering, push you beyond your comfort zone, and deepen your connection with your children. What I personally love about this eBook is that it is real talk…I give you me and all my flaws to learn from!

 

Carrie talks a lot about gentle parenting from an anthroposophic viewpoint on The Parenting Passageway (obviously!) As a former Waldorf preschool aide, this always resonated with me and it is how I approach my parenting. The more I wrote about conscious parenting on my blog, the more I realized that I needed to pull together a pool of gentle parenting resources that would resonate with parents from a wide variety of backgrounds and parenting philosophies.

 

I teamed up with two other wonderful mamas to bring The Mindful Parenting Bundle to fruition! There are 22 eProducts including eMagazines, eBooks, teleseminars, audio, and workshops. Topics include peaceful guidance, creativity and play, stress relief for parents, mindful motherhood, divorce, coming of age, children and food, and more! Attachment Parenting International even included their teleseminar on the 8 Principals of Attachment Parenting, something I wish I had access to long ago!

 

If you would like to learn more about the contents of this Bundle, please visit: http://www.hybridrastamama.com/mindful-nurturing-bundle. This bundle is only available until June 10th and is an incredible deal at only $24.95. You get close to $300 worth of products that will truly enhance your parenting no matter what season of motherhood you are currently in! I personally will be able to glean inspiration from many of these resources until my daughter is well into her teen years.

 

Thank you again to Carrie for being such a huge inspiration to me and for allowing me to share The Mindful Mothering Challenge as part of this bundle. You are a beacon of light for a lot of mothers and I honestly would not be the mother I am today if I had not stumbled on your blog.

 

Peace and Love,

Jennifer at HybridRastaMama.com

Sunday Books: “Completing The Circle”

Today is another look at the wonderful book “Completing The Circle” by Thomas Poplawski and available as a free ebook.  Today’s chapter is about “Children and Sports: Finding A Balance”, which is an area in which I have some personal experience with my own children and what we have found to work and not work.

The hurried child syndrome has extended to the world of sports. In a world where children often played pick ups games unsupervised by any adult for long periods of time, the sporting realm has now turned into teams organized and run  by adults, with adult rules of play, uniforms and other realms of organization that used to be relegated until the high school level.  This I can attest from my own personal experience.

Poplawski writes the following, which is also something I have personally seen as a pediatric physical therapist: Continue reading

Protecting Your Children From Low Self-Esteem

I am back after a few days of visiting Tybee Island in Georgia with my family and some members of our homeschool group.  It was a lovely trip, and we got to take classes through the 4-H center there that really highlighted the very unique ecosystems in Georgia’s barrier islands.

One thing I have been reading during the drive to and from our vacation spot was  “The Optimistic Child:  A Proven Program to Safeguard Children Against Depression And Build Lifelong Resilience” by Martin P. Seligman, PhD.  This book is really fascinating, and I was interested in reading it mainly due to this quote:  “  As puberty approaches, your child’s theory of the world crystalizes.  She may now be pessimistic, passive and introverted.  As the routine but painful rejections and failures of puberty start, depression reaches alarming proportions.  Almost one-third of contemporary  thirteen-year-olds have marked depressive symptoms, and by the time they finish high school almost 15 percent have had an episode of major depression.”

Grabs you, doesn’t it?

Anyway, one chapter that was very interesting in this book was the chapter on self-esteem and Dr. Seligman’s theory that “By emphasizing how a child feels, at the expense of what a child does – mastery, persistence, overcoming frustration and boredom – and meeting challenge – parents and teachers are making this generation of children more vulnerable to  depression.”

In Dr. Seligman’s view, people who suffer from depression  have four kinds of challenges including behavioral (passive, indecisive, helpless); emotional (sad); somatic (disruption of sleep and eating) and cognitive (they are not worthy of anything and their life is not worth living).  Only the last part, the cognitive part of depression, can be tied to self esteem because in Dr. Seligman’s view even those who feel badly about themselves does not lead directly to causing failure in life.  However, the belief that problems will last forever and ever causes children to give up trying, which leads to failure, which does lead to self esteem being lowered.

Instead of trying to teach a child how to “feel good” about themselves, or setting up situations in which a child never fails, Dr. Seligman advocates an approach held by many psychologists called “doing well” (in place of “feeling well”).  In this approach, children are  taught to change how they think about failure, to be encouraged to be tolerant of frustration, and to have their persistence rewarded rather than just  their success.

In other words, Dr. Seligman has targeted five areas in which children need our help:

1.  To help our children live for something bigger than themselves.  The more a child believes (or an adult) that “I am all that matters” of course, the more blows will hurt.  Things such as religion, duty to the nation, community, family used to be buffers against depression, in Dr. Seligman’s view and in the view of many in the psychology community,  and now we need to figure out what to do when “self has become all important”.

2.  To not rescue our children from negative feelings.  Dr. Seligman writes, “ But feeling bad has critical uses, and all of them are needed for learning optimism and for escaping helplessness.”

3.  To help our children deal with frustration and challenge.

4.  To help our children learn to deal with overcoming helplessness.  “Any complicated task your child might undertake consists of several steps, each of which is more or less easy to fail at. “  If your child fails at a subset, the child can learn to give up and leave the situation, which becomes learned helplessness.  Or your child can stay in the situation and act and try to change the situation, which eventually becomes mastery.  Children need to fail.  If we protect our children from failure, then we deny them the chance for mastery.

5. To set clear limits and enforce those limits for our children.  “The more freedom the child had, the lower his self-esteem.”

Interesting read, with more to come.

Blessings,

Carrie

Sunday Books: “Toys Are NOT Us”

We are continuing with our look at Thomas Poplawski’s book “Completing The Circle”. Again, this book is available for free online at the Waldorf Library.  Today we come to the chapter regarding consumerism and children’s toys:

Manufactured, ready-to-use toys are more present in our lives and in the lives of our children than at any time before in history. This is the result of aggressive product development, advertising, and marketing by large toy companies. These companies are primarily interested in toys that will sell and make a profit, not in toys that will foster the healthy development of children.

Research has shown the benefits of less toys, less structured toys, and a childhood based in play and song.  Having less toys increases the chances that children will engage in social play.  Simpler toys provides the child a chance to construct their own world of play. Continue reading

Sunday Books: “The Power of Play”

We are continuing on with our look at Thomas Poplawski’s “Completing the Circle”, available for free at the Waldorf On-Line Library.  Today’s chapter is about the power of play, especially free play.  In a world full of enrichment classes and a myriad of scheduled activities for the youngest children, free play is consistently undervalued.  The author writes:

In school and even at home, there has been the unending effort made to give
the child every possible advantage by pushing early academic learning and the
early development of specific skills, this in spite of the fact that educational research
has found no evidence that such early “enrichment” programming provides any
long-term advantage for most children. Only disabled children and those from
deprived circumstance, like those served in the Head Start program, clearly benefit
from them.”

The author cites that the American school system bias against play may be historically influenced by Maria Montessori’s methods, Puritanism and Freud.    Yet, we all know that imaginative play is a huge correlate to verbal fluency, mathematical thinking, and genera thinking.    But perhaps most importantly,

“Russ concluded, however, that imaginative play is the tool that every child uses to learn to cope with stress in life and that to interfere with the child’s learning how to play in a healthy manner imperils the later development of emotional regulation and coping skills…..

Brown was asked to investigate the background of a young man who some
years ago shot and killed nineteen people from a tower at The University of Texas
in Austin. He found that Continue reading

Sunday Books: “Taming The Media Monster”

We are continuing our look at Thomas Poplawski’s book Completing The Circle by looking at the chapter entitled, “Taming The Media Monster”.  You can access this book for free here:  http://www.waldorflibrary.org/index.php?option=com_booklibrary&task=view&id=1202&catid=133&Itemid=3

The author begins this chapter with the scenario of a kindergarten teacher discussing her Waldorf School’s media policy and the various reactions of parents who are divided into two camps – one thinking the policy is too extreme, too invasive and the other camp who thinks the policy is perfect.  He writes: Continue reading

“Working Material for the Class Teacher Forming The Lessons of Grades One Through Four”

 

This is a little gem,  a document put into a bound book along with the few pages of the working document I mentioned in my last post (“Examining the Waldorf Curriculum from an American Viewpoint”).  On page 18 of this manuscript, there are several “golden rules” for teaching from a Waldorf perspective and I thought I would highlight a few for you.

 

1.  Thinking, feeling, willing – you hear this a lot in the world of homeschooling blogs and literature but the point is to always bring the subject at hand back to the child.  How does this have to do with your child, how does this concern your child? This takes careful child observation and in this, we can tailor our homeschooling to the child.  It always goes back to the human being.

2.  Doing then understanding, whole and then parts.  This is opposite of how many adults function (ie, first we as adults have to understand in order to “do”), so this can take some getting used to.

3.  The world is beautiful!  I love this one, because it sums up my philosophy of life.  Here is a direct quote:    “For the teacher there is the stumbling-block that he sees what is NOT beautiful in the world.  His task and his exercise will be to see the beautiful in everything and point it out.”  Bring everything into a picture. This is why individual biography is so important in fourth grade and up (after the nine year change). 

4.  Rhythm.  Rhythm is still important – movement and resting, listening and speaking, group activity versus individual activity.  How do we work with this in the home environment?  This is an important question.

5.  Practical life.  Waldorf homeschooling is first and foremost an education of beauty, and of beauty in the practical life.

 

One last quote:  “Of course we must take care take care today that the child does not become precocious, that he is not made “old” too quickly, which is that the times and the overall environment want to achieve with force, and so we must develop willing, imagination and warmth of heart as strongly as the intellect.”

 

Lovely thoughts to ponder today,

Carrie

Sunday Books: Completing The Circle

We are continuing our look at “Completing the Circle” by Thomas Poplawski, and available for free at the Waldorf On Line library.

(If this link does not work, then please go to Waldorf Library On-Line, hit books from the left-hand menu, hit “ebooks” and go the the “C”s to find “Completing The Circle”.  I have tried to fix the link twice; it worked for me but apparently some are still having trouble with the link,)

We are looking at the chapter entitled “Losing Our Senses.”

This chapter should be required reading for all parents.  It is scary, it is frightening and essentially posits that the human brain of the younger generation is changing in response to the fast-paced and busy technological world we live in.  Research done over decades in Munich, Germany by the Rational Psychology Association (GRP) has shown that not only are the senses of  smell and taste declining, but by the mid-1980’s, the receptivity of nearly all senses was declining.  Poplawski writes: Continue reading

Sunday Books: “Completing The Circle”

“An angel comes down to earth, conceived and received within the womb of her mother. There she grows the garments for her new home, and henceforth, she will wear the heavy robe of a physical body. After the months that this process takes, she emerges into a startling world of bright lights, cacophonous sounds and strong smells. With that first breath of terrestrial air, a visitor of timeless pure being is born into the temporal matter of earth. And with the tasting of mother’s
milk, so begins the education of this angel we now call child. For in this sweet substance of milk, the child first brings the outside world into herself.”

And so begins the book “Completing The Circle”, written by one of my favorite authors, Thomas Poplawski.  Here is the link to the ebook:  http://www.waldorflibrary.org/index.php?option=com_booklibrary&task=view&id=1202&catid=133&Itemid=3

This book asks the important question of how we prepare a child to meet these times of hurry, sophistication, and technology whilst preserving the unique gifts, destinies, and callings that all children have? Continue reading