The Simple Homeschool

I have been talking to more and more mothers regarding planning for the upcoming school year, and one theme has been recurring:  they want simple.

  • They want curriculums that take into account that most mothers are time-constrained, either by activities or by having multiple children.
  • They want to know that when they spend a lot of money on a curriculum, that the curriculum is planned out.  Most mothers seem to want a day by day plan.
  • They want ideas for the magical parts of homeschooling – movement, drawing, music, painting, modeling, and how to bring the academic ideas to life through these vehicles.
  • They do want academic progression
  • They want to know how to take their spiritual and religious life and help their children absorb that in an age- appropriate way in the home environment
  • But most of all, they want simple.

In some respects, many people homeschool, not because they want to make life harder or to stress themselves out with having more complex days, but because they wanted a slower pace of life that allowed for more time and more connection with their children.

I think simplicity can actually start in planning. Planning helps ensure that you are not doing too much, but yet that some of your bases, especially for those past the age of ten, are covered.  For example: Continue reading

Best Books For Fourth Grade

In the past I have detailed reading lists for the Early Years and then each grade, grades one through four.  Here is the list for grade four here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2011/06/02/waldorf-homeschooling-fourth-grade-reading-list/

Some of my favorite books from this year never made it onto that preliminary list, so I thought I would share here.  One of these is the book “Rascal” by Sterling North.  This book was a favorite for the year.  You can see the review Sheila over at “sure as the world” gives it here:  http://sureastheworld.com/2012/05/14/read-this-book/  You could work this book into one of your Man and Animal blocks, but also into a U.S. Geography block.  There is also the book, “Pagoo”, about a hermit crab, from Holling C. Holling, that I think should be on your list as well.

Speaking of Holling C. Holling brings me to something else.  Continue reading

Gathering Love

I was thinking specifically about new parents, and parents of children in the age of birth through seven when I wrote my post “Gathering Grace” recently.

One thing I think about with the children aged seven through fourteen, who really are in the heart of childhood, is that they should be gathering love. Continue reading

Are You Raising A Potted Plant?

 

There should be warning signs for parents on every child in America:  “Warning!  This is not a potted plant!  This is a human being that needs sunshine, free play in nature and lots of movement throughout the entire lifespan!  Warning!”

 

Too often our children today are treated like potted plants. Sterile, not moving, in a pot, watching only one view because the inherent nature of the human being to move is essentially ignored by our predominate educational system, our medical system, and our society at large. 

 

Children of all ages, birth through twenty-one, need to MOVE.  Children birth through age seven should be developing their will, their doing.  Movement also is learning.  I have read research estimates that 80 percent of the brain is devoted to taking in sensory information and deciding what to do with that information.    Almost any long-time teacher will tell you that most children are kinesthetic learners. 

 

We know from current research that school aged children need at least three to four hours a day of true rough and tumble outside play. Heavy work benefits ALL children and ALL adults.  We are wired for it!

 

In a classroom setting, just having ten minute breaks to really move every two hours can completely increase learning.  According to a 2006 study in the journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, children with ADHD who take movement breaks for ten minutes every two hours show a 20 percent improvement in “on-task behavior.”

 

In Waldorf Education, we look at movement to be about a third of our learning time if possible.  We play movement games for math, we walk our forms before we draw them, we have eurythmy and Bothmer gymnastics in the Waldorf School setting, we include folk dancing in the curriculum for certain grades, we have drama and gardening.

 

You CAN do this at home and it will not complicate your homeschool, but enhance it!

 

Simple ways to start:

 

Finally, are you moving in your free time?  Are you cleaning, gardening, working? Hiking and biking and swimming and skating?  Or are you sitting down on your computer?  Just sayin’.  Smile

 

Happy Moving!

Carrie

Rhythm: Part Four

I talk to so many mothers who have children of multiple ages and who are very concerned as to  how to fit in multiple main lessons, or what to do with their children when their ages are spread out between the Early Years and the grades.  It can be daunting, and many veteran Waldorf homeschoolers say that you cannot schedule that many main lessons without going insane….but then how to do it?

Let’s start at the beginning.  If you have a first or second grader, and the rest of your children are under the age of 7, then life should be relatively easy.  You can often think in terms of outside time together, a circle for all, a story geared to the kindergartener, perhaps the main lesson for the first or second grader, nap and quiet time (and perhaps do something else for fifteen to twenty minutes with the first or second grader during quiet time),  the work of the day geared toward the kindergartener but including all, and finish with playing outside.   My friend Sheila has a lovely post about her rhythm with her fourth grader and her Early Years child here:  http://sureastheworld.com/2012/03/18/brass-tacks-my-homeschooling-day/

With two children involved in  main lesson work, I think it is still possible to either put them “together” if they are close in age…ie, a first grader and a second grader could both hear folk tales, but work on slightly different academic levels.  If the two children needing main lessons are further apart in age, then you may want to have separate main lesson times.  Then for other lessons, such as foreign language or handwork, you could combine the children but have them work at their own levels.    I think all of that is possible with only two children needing main lessons, even with younger children in tow.  I think this is the sort of thing you must jump in and try and switch around as needed.  It is daunting when I go to the homes of my homeschooling friends who are not using Waldorf methods and their homeschooling is a lot of workbooks, worksheets, independent reading textbooks, and videos.  Waldorf homeschooling is different, and sometimes only by doing it can we wrap our heads around how it will work for our family and what that will look like!

I will have a fifth grader, a second grader, and a two year old turning three in the fall.  I am planning my essential rhythm to look like this:  Continue reading

Fourth Grade Zoology, Part One

Part of this fourth grade year looks specifically at animals,usually in two separate blocks, for several reasons.  One reason is in part because children of this age just love animals, but also because once past the nine-year change children are fully ready to move into how they themselves relate as individuals to the natural world.  Steiner felt zoology and botany were also necessary precursors for children to really be able to delve in and understand history well from the age of twelve onwards (You can see the lecture “Teaching History and Geography” in The Renewal of Education if you are interested more in this connection). And, like all subjects in Waldorf Education, this one is really also about the upright human being and the moral education of the student.

Steiner’s idea was to help children of this age to develop a relationship with nature. Continue reading

Late To Waldorf? Overwhelmed?

If you are coming in late to Waldorf homeschooling or feel overwhelmed and overrun by dogma, I have a solution for you!  Please read the lectures given by Rudolf Steiner compiled in “The Renewal of Education.”  This set of lectures, given to a group of Swiss public educators only eight months after the first Waldorf school formed, is so accessible. The foreword is written by a favorite Waldorf educator of mine, Eugene Schwartz, in which he compares and contrasts Waldorf Education to John Dewey and Maria Montessori’s work and sheds light on the hallmarks of Waldorf Education:  the self –renewal and self-development of the teacher, the balance that feeling provides in education, and the approach of Waldorf education to the holistic child.

Waldorf education approaches the child from four different avenues. Continue reading

Lesson Planning: A Sample Form

In one post I shared my personal form for the rhythm of one of our days of the week, but I was recently thinking about a sample form or list that could help mothers plan their Grades One through Eight  homeschooling according to the eight pillars of artistic work of Waldorf Education that we have talked about in the past on this blog.  Academic subjects are taught through artistic work in Waldorf Education; this is an enlivening form of education for the child.

Please take this as a “I thought of this in quickly and you might be able to tweak it or use parts of  it or come up with something even better” kind of way, not as a definitive end product.  Smile

Anyway, this is what I was thinking: Continue reading

Homeschooling Fourth Grade: Norse Myths

I have enjoyed this block of Norse myths; I remember doing Greek myths in the fifth grade in my public school education but I never  formally did Norse myths so these stories are fairly new to me.  It is always very exciting as a homeschooling parent to delve into uncharted lands!

I also think Norse myths fit and match the moral ambiguity the post-nine year change child is discovering in the world.  The Norse myths, as they head along toward Ragnarok, also bring forth new depths of emotions in the complexities.  Many children are outraged, saddened, in disbelief of the ending.

One other thing that has been interesting to me and my own development as a teacher has been drawing on the blackboard for this block.  I wanted to share some of my drawings with you…

I drew this recently……Here is Odin on Sleipner, his eight-legged stallion:

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Here is another one of Odin I drew at the beginning of this block; I feel my drawing abilities have improved a lot through this block: Continue reading

Children Who Dislike Everything

I was going through some papers this weekend and came across an article by Michael Howard that I had printed out called, “Educating the Feeling-will in the Kindergarten” and this quote just popped out at me:

“The defining characteristic of feeling will is the capacity to live deeply into the inner quality of something outside us, knowing and feeling it as if we are within it or it is within us. In the early childhood years a healthy child is naturally inclined to drink in the inner mood and qualities of places and persons.  It is one of the tragedies of our times that the ways of the world, including the life of the family and school, can dull rather than foster this natural soul attachment.  Tragically, many young children come to kindergarten with a sense-nerve disposition already strongly developed.  Their thinking has become prematurely intellectual and abstract, and their feeling life inclines toward strong personal like or dislike.”

I have been seeing so many tiny children yet with so many big opinions.  Have you been seeing this as well?  Continue reading