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

Relaxed Waldorf Homeschooling

I wanted to thank all of you who participated and left comments in regards to the post Donna Simmons of Christopherus Homeschool Resources on Catherine’s blog.  You can see the original post here (and do be sure to read the comments, because that is where the discussion really is, including an interesting side thread on forming the space between two siblings who are very close in age): Continue reading

Fourth Grade Local Geography Block


We started school on August 22, so we are finishing up our local geography block. It was a fun block, and one I expanded into covering our whole state.  I did this for two reasons:  my daughter really has a good knowledge of local things; a keen sense of direction and was already offering to draw maps of everything local before I even got there (Can I draw a map of my room?  Look, I drew a map of my neighborhood!) and because I really want to start to cover U. S. Geography so we can do Canada and Mexico next year.

I think one thing to consider in this block is how heavily you will employ history. Donna Simmons talks about this at length in her Fourth Grade Syllabus, and it was something I pondered greatly.  Geography, to me, doesn’t mean much unless we know how it impacted the people living there (or how the people impacted it). So, I tried not to go overboard, but did lay a foundation for a few future things in the process. This is how I did it: Continue reading

Two Blogs With Fourth Grade Resources For Waldorf Homeschooling

This is the blog of one of my readers, and I think you all may like her page of Fourth Grade resources (scroll down, many of the resources are free on the Internet):

And this blog has many wonderful lessons for Fourth Grade (and there are also posts for Grades One and Two as well):

Thank you to these mothers for sharing their resources, ideas and inspirations!

Many blessings,


Waldorf Homeschooling Fourth Grade Reading List

Here is a list I have been compiling from different sources regarding typical readers and read-alouds for fourth grade Waldorf homeschooling.  Please do remember that your student should still be reading out loud to you each day and you should be reading out loud to them.

Here are some suggestions for reading; I am sure there are many more not on this list but it is a place to start.  These books can contain mature themes, more struggle and of what it means to be the complex human being, so most of them are recommended for those at least age 9 and up, and I would caution if your child just turned 9 and has not yet gone through the nine year change that you may wait to schedule these until the second half of the year.  My assumption in making this list is that your child is actually TEN, or close to ten, for fourth grade.

Continue reading

Homeschooling Waldorf Fourth Grade: Local Geography

The article “Geography In Fourth Grade”  by Franklin G Kane (available here: was a lovely starting point for me to read regarding the inclusion of local geography in the Fourth Grade that I am planning for fall.  Mr. Kane writes:

“The child around the ninth year undergoes an important turning-point in his development. As Rudolf Steiner pointed out, the whole approach to teaching must delicately adjust to meet the more  conscious, questioning and independent being. For one thing a child of nine or ten now begins to
feel more separate from the environment which until now he accepted as a larger homelike protection. As one of the ways to meet this, Dr. Steiner suggested that in the Fourth Grade a study of the local area should take place. Through observation of the history and geography of the local
environment, a picture develops as to why the industries, occupations, and way of life of his home have evolved to what they are.
Unlike the early study of history that has its origin in the broad, cosmic remembrances of the old  fairy tales and myths of long ago, the study of geography starts nearest the child and gradually expands, in the course of years, to take in a study of the whole world.”

I also keeping this scope and sequence of geography for the fourth through eighth grades in mind as I plan:

And, the last thing I am keeping in mind that in a Waldorf Education we start with the child and with the doing.  Map-making holds a dear place in Waldorf Education – drawing maps, modeling salt dough maps, etc.  This is a wonderful book by David Sobel that could really assist one in planning this block:

To create this block, I used suggestions from both the Christopherus Fourth Grade Syllabus and Marsha Johnson’s free files for Fourth Grade available at her Yahoo!Group.  Here is my tentative outline/ideas, and I hope it will be helpful to you as you plan in your own area and state (and note these are loose ideas, not written in a two or three day rhythm or anything!)

Week One -

Start with taking a bird’s eye look (something for a child past the nine year change!) at our schoolroom, my child’s bedroom and our home moving into our neighborhood –draw maps.  Take a blindfolded walk around our yard and in the little park in our neighborhood.

Walk outside of our neighborhood down to the main street of our community – make a diaroma of our community’s Main Street

Take a field trip to a historic site where there used to be a working Mill on a river near our house; this is what this land used to do and how people lived here!

Draw major features of our city into our Main Lesson Book along with facts about our city and how our city is part of a county

Over weekend between weeks one and two – hubby or I will rent canoe and take child on major river that runs through our area; on Labor Day we will venture to a canyon in our state

Week Two

Main theme this week is the story of the four elements that shaped our state and the animals and  people that settled here; and also geographic terms.  Plan to go to high mountain top near our home and look out over our region at what we can see and identify; visit a park area near our major river that child went canoeing on and build and play in the mud and sand to create land like our four elements story

A look at the special element of water in our state and all the waterways, where they begin and end and create a salt dough relief map of our state

Talk about the barrier islands of our state in story form of course and add to our salt dough map; add beeswax animals to our map – talk about our state animals

Draw a map of our state freehand with the five geographic regions of our state (not sure if this will be here or at the end of this block)

Over weekend between weeks two and three, visit local Native American Mounds

Week Three

Tell story of the Mound Builders, build a mound ourselves in sandbox and then in clay or salt dough

Tell story of the Native Americans in our area who conquered the Mound Builders and how they lived (review from Third Grade); plan to visit the Cherokee Museum in neighboring state

Talk about the Gullah culture, not detailed, in preparation for our trip; cooking projects!

Between weeks three and four hope to visit the coast which has the first developed city of our state and the barrier islands of our state

Week Four

Talk about first settlers in our state, first developed city; first capital city and how this moved around and how this was shaped by geography; make state flag and draw other state symbols

Talk about Gold Rush and farmers; visit farm preserved from days gone by; we have sifted for gold in the past at different places in the state so we can touch on that

Hang up a map of our state and mark places we have gone on this map; talk about how we are not driven so much anymore by industry in our state but by service and talk about several large local businesses.  Hope to visit some of those and finish up with a visit to our State Capitol building that is not far away.

A busy schedule, but at least some general ideas!    Hope that helps some of you who are planning.  All of this will of course be presented in imaginative story and form and not much emphasis on the horrible and terrible but the general flow of how the geography of our land shaped who settled here and why they settled here and how.

Many blessings,


A Skeleton Plan for Waldorf Homeschooling First and Fourth Grade

Apparently Kara over at Rockin’ Granola and I are on the same wavelength recently…..Several weeks ago I got this urge to make a quick skeleton outline of blocks that I am going to start in the fall with my First and Fourth Grader.  This sounds a little crazy for this time of year, perhaps, but inspiration really struck me and it took very little time.

During the quiet of the Twelve Holy Nights, I urge homeschooling parents to take some of these days and lay out a skeleton plan of the blocks you are going to tackle in the fall.  This way you will be ready to order supplies around March and you will be able to start putting your blocks together.  You will be so proud to have a jump-start on your next school year!

Here is my quickie outline for 2011-2012, subject to change at a moment’s notice.  Smile

(Of course this does not include the middle lesson (s) or the afternoon lessons…just the Main Blocks).

Week of August 29 through September 9 – First Grader Form Drawing and Counting Games (2 weeks) ; Fourth Grader Local Geography (3 weeks total)

Week of September 12-  First Grader Beginning Wet on Wet Watercolor Painting and Crayon Drawing (2 weeks total) ; Fourth Grader Local Geography

Week of September 19- First Grader Beginning Wet on Wet Watercolor Painting and Crayon Drawing'; Fourth Grader Math (3 weeks total)

Week of September 26- October 7  First Grader Introduction to Letters (5  weeks total); Fourth Grader Math

Week of October 10– Week of October 31 –  First Grader Introduction to Letters, Fourth Grader Man and Animal I  (4 weeks total)

Week of October 31/November 1 First Grader Fall Crafts and preparation for All Saints Day (1 week) ; Fourth Grader Man and Animal I

Week of November 7-December 2  First Grader Introduction to Numbers (4 weeks total) ; Fourth Grader Norse Myths (5 weeks total)

Week of December 5- December 16th First Grader Writing First Reader (2 weeks) ; Fourth Grader Math (2 weeks) with Grammar as Middle Lesson;  Advent Crafts

OFF December 19- January 7th

Week of January 9-January 13th First Grader Introduction to Pentatonic Flute and Counting Games (1 week) ; Fourth Grader Kalevala (3 weeks total)

Week of January 16-27 First Grader Science (3 weeks total) ; Fourth Grader Kalevala

Week of January 30th- February 3 First Grader Science ; Fourth Grader Local Geography (4 weeks total)

Week of February 6-February 24 First Grader Math (3 weeks total); Fourth Grader Local Geography

Week of February 27-March 9  First Grader Form Drawing (2 weeks); Fourth Grader Local Geography Man and Animal II (4 weeks total)

Week of  March 12-23  First Grader Word Families and Phonics /Make Readers (3 weeks); Fourth Grader Man and Animal II

Week of  March 26-30 First Grader Word Families and Phonics/Make Readers (3 weeks total); Fourth Grader Math  (3 weeks total)

Week of April 2- 13th   OFF

Week of April 16 and Week of April 23rd  Finish First Grader Word Families and Phonics/Make Readers (2 out of 3 weeks); Fourth Grader math (2 out of 3 weeks started before break)

Week of April 30 –May 18th First Grader Math (3 weeks); Fourth Grader  Four Elements (3 weeks)

Week of May 21-May 25 (1 week)  Drama, Stories, Review

Week of May 28th – safety week if we need to make anything up and push school further….Smile

Anyone else care to share their blocks for fall?

Many blessings,


The Foundation Years of Ages 9-12: Decreasing High-Risk Behavior in Teens

Many of you have been following along chapter by chapter the wonderful book,  “Discipline Without Distress:  135 Tools for raising caring, responsible children WITHOUT time-out, spanking, punishment, or bribery” by Judy Arnall.

The last chapter we reviewed was the chapter regarding the teenaged years.  There were some very sobering facts in there, such as suicide is one of the top three causes of death in teens, that the average marijuana use in the US is age 14, that many children have tried alcohol by age 12.  This really has hit home  for me personally as I know three mothers  who have really struggled with their teens in the areas of addiction issues and sexual promiscuity.  One of the teens recently overdosed, was the victim of a crime,  and lost his life.  This is a heart-breaking tragedy and I have felt so sad about this.  As parents we always wonder what we could have done differently in a situation like this, and my heart hurts for this family.

Judy Arnall, in this chapter about teens, goes through some of the things parents of teenagers need (for our teenagers to respect themselves and others, to have their teenagers feel successful in their relationships, school, work and community).  She lists some of the reasons that teenagers try high-risk behaviors such as curiosity, unhealthy self-esteem and want to feel good about themselves, lack of coping skills to deal with their problems and needing to escape, not understanding that they can say “no” to a sense of obligation or pressure from peers or  partners, needing to feel grown-up, needing to rebel, needing to fit in and win approval of peers, needing to escape uncomfortable feelings, feeling invincible and not understanding the risks/benefits/ consequences, not being able to communicate their needs to their family.

I would add a few things to this list:  besides curiosity,I think  boredom coupled with  a lack of guidance by caring adults to channel this boredom or curiosity into healthy things, and also I think there is a   lack of something bigger than themselves to worry about.  I think this is extremely important.

I was talking to a dear friend about this chapter and she was saying one thing that really helped her in her teenaged years was that she was very into horses and horseback riding and that she had a horse who depended upon her every day to take of it.   That is something bigger than yourself.

I talked  about this book regarding  rites of passage  (, and part of the book asks essentially “what does your child do around the house that you could not be without if they were not there?”  There it is again:  what is your child involved in that is bigger than himself or herself?  How is your child tied to you, your family, your community?

If the average age of marijuana use is 14, and the average child has tried drinking before age 12, I believe the foundation for decreasing high-risk teenage behaviors HAS to start around that nine-year change (and before, of course.  Attachment and security and so many things are laid during that first seven year cycle)  But in many ways, I think because that nine-year change is a watershed where your child starts to feel separate from others, separate from you and the family, different, is noticing things about how different families and people do different things,  now is the time to start.

I have an almost nine-year old, and I am trying to formulate some thoughts in my head as to how to create responsibility for my child that is bigger than her, how to keep time together,how to keep  communication open, and how to best answer her questions about life.    I am thinking hard.  I have four years until the teenaged years, and this time is precious to me.  Is it to you?

It is NOT enough to just talk about drugs and alcohol and sex.  Yes, those conversations have to be there and they have to keep going throughout these years.  But, there has to be ACTION.   How will you help your child/teen structure their time, their environment, so these behaviors are less likely to occur?  What are the top three things in your house that your child KNOWS is not negotiable?  What freedoms can you give, but also what RESPONSBILITIES go with these freedoms?  WHAT does your child have to look up to , to participate in, to take care of, that is bigger than himself or herself? 

What community OUTSIDE the family is your child involved in and accepted in – is it one that you have helped create or one that just happened along the way?  I am sure both can be okay, but it is important to know what is going on in that community.  For example, how well do you know your child’s friends?  Judy Arnall brings up the point of creating a “secondary community” away from the school environment if your child is in school – through church or other religious outlets, through Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts, through volunteering .   There HAS to be something bigger than themselves for these children.

Would love to hear your thoughts!

Many blessings,


Musings for Waldorf Third Grade/Fourth Grade

So, I am planning for homeschooling Waldorf Third Grade right now………

and I am glad I have started early.  There is a lot to figure out!

Many people talk about how Third Grade is the year of “doing” and how things in Fourth Grade really shift.  I actually see a bigger  shift occurring  in Fifth Grade, with the start of ancient history and such, with first through fourth leading up to this point in tracing human consciousness and evolution.  So,   I actually am planning Third and Fourth Grades together so they flow nicely.

This came about because I feel one has some decisions to make regarding Third and Fourth Grade:

1.  Do you want Third Grade to be the year of the Old Testament stories (Eugene Schwartz, Eric Fairman) or include Native American stories as well  (Melisa Nielsen, Donna Simmons)?

2.  Where will you put Native Americans? In with the Third Grade building block?  In with gardening in the Third Grade?  In with local geography in the Fourth Grade?

3.  Do you want to split the Old Testament Stories up between Third and Fourth Grade?  Donna Simmons makes an argument for that here:

4.  What about those Norse myths – do want a shorter block of those, several blocks throughout the year, do you want to do any part of The Kalevala?  The Norse myths are dark, good for a TEN-year-old, do you want to put them toward the end  of Fourth Grade depending upon your child’s birthday?

5.  In Fourth Grade, do you want to bring in US Geography along with local geography?  I have heard good things about the way Melisa Nielsen approaches local geography in her Fourth Grade curriculum guide, and I like how Donna Simmons lays out her approach to geography through the grades here:

According to “The Waldorf Curriculum Chart”  I have hanging on my wall, the following areas are typically covered in Third Grade:

  • History- Biblical stories as part of Ancient history and American Indian tales and fables.   History in the Fourth Grade includes  local history, why the early settlers chose your geographic location to live, how they developed the natural resources
  • You can see more about literature and skill development throughout the grades here:
  • Math – times tables, prime numbers, carrying and borrowing, problems in time and more goals are listed in other Waldorf math resource books (remember this is just a little chart with boxes!)
  • Housebuilding, farming, clothing are mentioned along with studies of the cycles of the year, soils, farm life, grains, vegetables and fruits, practical work in a garden, introducing colored pencils for writing (my daughter’s handwriting is exceptionally good so we probably are going to go with a fountain pen at this point), crochet work, forest walks and stories about trees and forests as an introduction to woodworking, beginning an instrument, lots of games and more!

Lots to think about!  Start now!