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 weeks nine and ten here and and further in 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.
Changes in the Air: I alluded to changing our daily rhythm due to seasonal changes and also to feeling as if we need a greater dose of movement each day. I have also found at this point in the school year, almost a trimester complete, that with three children I need to have more of a schedule with times than a rhythmic flow in order that all the children get what they need. That is a large change from past years when I really had more of a flow than set start times and end times, etc. So I am still meditating on this, but right now I am thinking we will start at 8 with prayer, connecting with each other in love; 8:30 walk our dog; 9 start with our little kindergartener and his daily work and this can extend with our thirteen year old helping him as 9:45 is about the latest I can start with our fourth grader. So whilst I am working with our fourth grader, our seventh grader can assist him and then also do some independent work in math or rough drafts of summaries and creative writing pieces whilst he plays by himself. At 11:15 our seventh grader would be with me, with our fourth grader and kindergartener together. Lunch at 12:30 and rest. At 2, several days a week I would like to do crafts and handwork and several days a week do the requirements for the presidential fitness awards. I have not figured out where to put foreign languages in this nor music practice…so I am still thinking. For my own sanity, I don’t want to do any school past 3 and several days a week I would like to end earlier than that. Thinking!
Kindergarten: This week was mainly an autumn circle, fingerplays and seasonal songs, making broth and soup, making banana bread, and the story of the Pumpkin Motel found in Suzanne Down’s “Old Gnome Through The Year.” There is still whittling going on as our oldest shared one of her wooden animals that she started with him and he is whittling and sanding quite happily. However, I still feel there needs to be a bit more to his day so I am thinking about that in relation to the rhythm/schedule above. I am happy he has friends his age to play with many days of the week because as a third child and with his personality, he seems to crave that.
Fourth Grade: This week we are solidly into local geography. We began with Continue reading
(This is geared specifically to preschool/kindergarten ages)
Some Waldorf schools will send out a letter to parents of prospective children ages 3-6 to explain the goals of a Waldorf Kindergarten: to nurture a sense of wonder and curiosity, to instill confidence and discipline, and to encourage reverence for a world that is good. Letters such as these also often mention children that thrive in a Waldorf preschool/kindergarten environment may share certain traits. For example, this may include little to no media exposure, healthy sleep rhythm, the ability to follow and comply with teacher’s directions, being independent in the bathroom, etc.
I have been mulling this over quite a bit. What are the goals of a HOMESCHOOL Waldorf kindergarten? What kinds of families really thrive in using this type of education, designed and made for schools, at HOME? I am sure those of you who are experienced Waldorf educators will come up with many ideas! Please feel free to add to this list in the comment box as I think my list is just a beginning.
The goals of a Waldorf HOME kindergarten program, in my opinion: Continue reading
After I wrote my last post about the first two days of school, I had a comment by one of my sweet long-term readers who asked if every day went as smoothly as those two days. Those two days did go smoothly, but certainly it is not always smooth. Sometimes it is super rough and awful. Or one child is having a hard time and it is impacting the flow of all the other children and our day. That is life homeschooling multiple children.
Part of life in homeschooling is also just life. This week involved going to the barn, our family attending (and me leading) a breastfeeding support group session, numerous calls and emails and such that needed to be returned after said meeting, two visits by friends to our home on separate days, a run to the allergist and grocery store, a visiting aunt who is here through the weekend to teach machine sewing and work on a mini-quilting project with my seventh grader (which is normally more eighth grade in a Waldorf School, but this particular aunt lives far away so I am happy to take her up on it now!), (our fourth grader also doing a mini project to help brush up on measurement skills and look at textiles and then will have a turn machine sewing in eighth grade for her very own), a husband who traveled out of state the majority of the week, and the pet care of two hamsters, fish, frogs, and a large dog plus meals and housekeeping. That is all life and part of homeschooling as well. Especially as your children grow older, they may have more activities or passions they are investigating and have distinctly different needs than the children in grades one through four. Life may expand outside the home, but being within the home is still the basis of homeschooling and the more you are home, the more smoothly things will run, in my experience.
So, how does one manage life and homeschooling? Continue reading
People who are curious about homeschooling always want to know how it rolls with multiple children and how it works teaching multiple grades using Waldorf Education at home. It is undoubtedly different than a Waldorf school, and yet I feel indebted to the schools and the resources the Waldorf school teachers use as I gleam so much from the teachers and their resources.
We celebrated our first day of seventh grade, fourth grade and kindy (our four year old will be five in October, so this is his five year old year) yesterday. What follows are two days in the life of our homeschooling adventure.
On most of the “first day of school” in years past our older girls would dress alike in something new or wear something pretty from what they already had. This year they dressed up in something they already had, took the dog and their little brother for a quick walk (all barefooted) and came back and we took first day of school pictures (still barefooted). They quickly checked on their hamsters, fish and frog and then came to the school room. We opened our school day around 8:15 with prayers and confession, and then a reading from “Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends” (Christian book). We are alternating this book in the morning with some of the writings of St. Theophan the Recluse. Next we moved into singing and fingerplays for our four year old and ended with a story from Juniper Tree Puppets’ Old Gnome Through The Year book. I had wet on wet watercolor painted a very large background with a pond and frog puppets on sticks that move within the painting and had needle felted a gnome for the telling of this story. The older girls then grabbed their folders of independent work (fourth grader reviewing coinage in math and seventh grader reviewing United States geography) and the little guy and I went downstairs. He worked on tying his apron in the front, measuring ingredients, and stirring with one and then both hands to make a big batch of yellow, lemon essential oil scented salt dough. After we cleaned up, I took him outside (still in his heavy apron) to hunt for beautiful sticks and presented him with a very small pocketknife. (If you would like to know more about this, please see the writings on the Forest Kindergartens in Germany and Europe, and also the woodworking book for 3-5 year olds by Master Waldorf teacher Marsha Johnson.) I demonstrated and modeled the use and care of the knife and how to whittle and he very carefully whittled the bark off the end of a small stick to be a fishing pole for the Old Gnome puppet in our story under supervision. Once the whittling was complete for the day, I put the knife away in a very safe place. Our seventh grader then took over the supervision of her brother whilst I worked with our fourth grader.
Our fourth grader began with 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
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
“I also did not like the word “preschool” since it implies that somehow the learning done before age 5 is not valid. In my mind, there is no such thing as “pre” school. In most European countries, there is not even such a word as preschool. The children attend daycare until age 6 and then start formal education at age 7. When I attended an international conference, the European participants thought it was quite humorous that I kept referring to our young preschoolers as students. This showed my cultural bias in that we think of even our youngest children as responsible for measurable learning.
– From “Forest Kindergartens: The Cedarsong Way” by Erin K. Kenny
If you are planning for preschool, (and you can see more about what I think about “preschool” here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/11/11/waldorf-101-waldorf-preschool/), focus on a strong component of rhythm to your days being present together at home. The things that preschoolers are working on – washing themselves, using the bathroom, the gentle rhythm of setting things up for a snack or lunch and then washing dishes and clearing plates – those extraordinary moments of everyday life is what the core curriculum for preschoolers should be. Continue reading