Sixth Grade Ancient Rome

This is the first three weeks of studying Ancient Rome in sixth grade.  We actually starting preparing for this block about a week before our Mineralogy block ended by reading aloud the Aenid as chronicled in Penelope Lively’s book,  “In Search of A Homeland: The Story of The Aenid.”  We started by drawing a picture from this book on our first day, along with reading the synopsis of the Aenid by Dorothy Harrer in her book, “Roman Lives.”

We then started reading in Charles Kovacs’ “Ancient Rome”  the story of Romulus and Remus.  We painted the Seven Hills of Rome and talked about Horatius Keeps the Bridge (the historical event and the poem, “Horatius At The Bridge”  by Lord Macaulay and also got the book with the complete poem in it to read), and also painted that scene as well.  I found the Christopherus Roman History guide to be helpful with some of the summaries and map drawings at this point.  Our daughter worked hard on a mosaic stepping stone for our garden during this week as well.

During the beginning of the second week of Rome, we drew a Continue reading

A Guest Post: One Mother’s Experience With Curative Waldorf Education

(Carrie here:  I am so grateful to Stephanie for sharing her experiences and journey here.  I think those of you who have children with differing abilities and who are wondering what to do with Waldorf Education at home will be very inspired!  Stephanie writes:)

Carrie invited me to share some of the interesting ideas we’ve learned so far on our special needs path with our micropreemie daughter, who is now eight years old. When our daughter was born on the borderline of viability, we knew that learning and developmental problems were likely to arise. When we met in the office of a preemie researcher at Harvard, Heidi Als,  we asked what we could do to support our daughter’s healthy development. One of Dr. Als’ first suggestions to us was to use Waldorf Education.  At the time,  I had no idea what that was.

In retrospect, I consider our time before finding out about Waldorf Education to be our Dark Ages! I say this because our daughter is a child for whom living a  Waldorf lifestyle and using the Waldorf School curriculum makes all the difference in her emotional stability and  her ability to function in life. As a parent, it has been one of the hardest things to know that children like her need Waldorf Education the most and yet there are so few Waldorf resources available to families like ours. We took up the challenge in our family and started with making the changes suggested in the book  “Simplicity Parenting,” by Kim John Payne.

In looking for further ideas and resources, we found the Otto Specht School (named after Rudolf Steiner’s first student), where our daughter started First Grade. These are some of the elements that the teachers have shared with us:

1. The teachers do not try to cover the entire curriculum each year, but they try to get to the essence of the curriculum for each year. I think this point sounds deceptively simple on the surface – until you actually try to pin down the essence for the child with whom you are working!

2. The teachers are not harried or rushed, ever, as far as I have seen. My daughter’s teacher is found of saying Continue reading

Having A Successful Homeschooling Group Experience

I don’t know as I have much advice in this area as the homeschooling group that I helped   found closed this past spring. This group lasted six years and it was a gratifying experience in that it led to some wonderful mothers connecting to each other and some of the children finding wonderful friends.  So, I guess in that sense, it was very successful.

From experiencing the life cycle of a group,  which really is similar to the life cycle of almost any group, here are my suggestions for you to think about if you are in the process of forming or growing a Waldorf homeschooling group: Continue reading

Computers: A Waldorf Perspective

This post is about computers within the curriculum of the Waldorf schools.  Most Waldorf schools obviously do not have a computer lab or computer classes in grade one through eight, but computers are used in high school.  Each high school seems to be putting together their own curriculum as they see fit at this point in time, as you will see below.

For a general reference, we have the AWNSA curriculum chart.  According to the “Waldorf School Curriculum:  An Overview for American Waldorf School Teachers” chart from AWNSA Publications,  the development of skills goes as follows: Continue reading

Third Grade Native American Block

We started our third grade year with a little block of form drawing and handwriting, which I wrote about here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2013/09/06/beginning-of-third-grade/  and that morphed into a full-fledged Native American block focusing on how the First Peoples lived and continue to live traditionally on the land.  I based this block around the Christopherus Homeschool Resource’s notion of the “People of the Plains”, “People of the Desert”, “People of the Land and the Mist”, etc as I really wanted to tie the different Native American tribes into their shelters and daily life as influenced by the land.  This is a major theme for third grade work on a developmental level for the nine-year-old.

We made many projects, including a leather pouch with fringe, a talking stick with feathers, small miniature tipis and canoes for our four year old’s play, a diaroma of a People of the Woodland scene, a model of a chickee for the People of the Swamps, a clay totem pole for People of the Land of the Rain and Mist,  and a large clay adobe dwelling based upon instructions in “Learning About the World Through Modeling” by Arthur Auer.  We also sang many songs, played songs on our Choroi flutes, played Inuit games for People of the Land of Snow and Ice, painted watercolors for People of the RIce, People of the Plains, People of the Land of Snow and Ice, and People of the Desert.  We also went to a Native American Pow Wow in our state.  This is also a great block for shelter building, gardening, cooking, natural plant dyeing and weaving.  We are still planning to build a large loom and tie it into some reading about the People of the Desert and their sheep even after this block ends…It was a lot to fit into one block, but we had a really good time!  We are also fortunate in our state to have a preserved Mound Dweller site that we visit at least once a year and will be doing that after this block ends as well.

I painted a narrative of  the land for each region and each region’s tribes, and also told stories from different tribes from each region.  I used the stories to review vowel sounds, word families, consonant and vowel blends for my third grader.  This is easy to do from the stories because these consonant and vowel blends are everywhere in written word  This can lead to word families such as a wigwam word village, a village of igloos, etc all with word families written on them.  My third grader created and wrote summaries with a  focus on these word families and phonics blends, and worked with spelling words each week from the stories of different tribes.

Resources that I found useful were: Continue reading

Sixth Grade Geometry

Waldorf education holds geometry in high regard, and works with geometry in some form from first grade onward. In grades first through fourth we mainly draw geometric forms in math, form drawing or even in painting.  Fifth grade usually becomes the first grade with a real geometry block, but it involves constructions more with a straight edge.  Sixth grade typically marks the movement into a geometry block that uses a compass.  Many of the resources available through Waldorf booksellers and companies will carry you through multiple grades, as sixth grade is the beginning of constructed geometry that is continued into seventh grade with perspective drawing and a closer study of the Pythagorean Theorem , and  then into the number progressions, the Golden Proportion and proportions of the human form, along with Solid Geometry,  in eighth grade.

For this block, you will need Continue reading

Homeschooling Multiple Children –The Lesson

I have often said on this blog that part of homeschooling is knowing when to continue and get some things done, and when to know to leave it and go to the park that day!  Those of you who homeschool in a Waldorf way probably are nodding your heads right now!  I  myself was having a harder time toward the end of  this week with my little almost four year old during some of the main lesson time for his older siblings.  It is an almost universal theme when I talk to homeschooling mothers.

I also get quite a bit of email regarding what to do with younger siblings (ie, nursery aged of ages 3 and 4, and kindergarten aged of ages 5 and 6) during main lessons for the older, grades-aged children.  I have written about this subject again and again, so there are many back posts you can run a search for and see under the “Homeschooling” tab.

This is the main lesson for homeschooling life though:  if you are so harried and so busy trying to fit “school” in that there is no time for your littles, then you simply must sit down and think through what needs to change.  I had to do that this week.  There is no shame in re-assessing, re-evaluating and tweaking things to run more smoothly!

The fact is that if we are trying to run our homeschooling as if our smallest children  don’t exist or matter and are only there to “hang out” whilst we work with the older children, then this is not laying a good foundation for family life  (nor is it laying a good foundation for  grades work when the time comes for this child!).

This is because this is the curriculum for the young child is absolutely laying a foundation.  This is done through: Continue reading

Third Grade Read Alouds

Our third grader has heard quite a few read -alouds during this almost two months of homeschooling this year, and I wanted to share a few of our favorite titles with you.

The Third Grade curriculum focuses largely on how humanity lives on earth, being here on earth and our connection to the divine and authority and  the journey we make as human beings.  It is a beginning foray into a protagonist a child can identify with, as opposed to solely archetypal characters, but  I would urge you to hold off on literature with darker and more mature themes. This is a bridge year with literature for children who nine or almost nine.  Waldorf parenting and education, I feel at its core, is often about keeping children as “young” as possible as long as possible. A good rule of thumb is to help your child choose literature where the protagonist is about the same age as your child, and if you have a sensitive child, to always pre-read.

Here is what we have read so far this year: Continue reading

Visual Challenges–Part Two

I like this quote from the Christopherus Living Language book, page 258:  “One of the main premises of this book is the belief that early academics are not healthy for children and that it is perfectly normal for many children, especially boys, to not learn to read or write until 9,10, or even 11 years old.  In my experience, the vast majority of these children are perfectly healthy and there is no problem. However, it would be irresponsible of me to not remind people that there certainly are those children whose inability to read/write stems not from a picture of normalcy and health, but because of one of a range of challenges or problems.”   

Exactly!  In my last post, I laid out some of the foundations of learning to read, write and spell – through movement, through vision including a screening checklist for visual challenges even if acuity is 20/20 for grades-aged children (ie, those seven years of age and up), and looking at hearing and speech.  That post is here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2013/09/19/visual-challengespart-one/

So, continuing with our focus on vision, what do you do if your child is identified as having visual challenges?

This topic has come up a bit in my email this week, and interestingly, was also the topic of an article in the Renewal:  A Journal for Waldorf Education, Spring/Summer 2013 entitled, “Seeing and Learning:  Identifying and Ameliorating Early Vision Problems” , written by Susan Johnson, an anthroposophic allopathic physician.

In this article, Susan Johnson discusses the necessity of both visual tracking and visual convergence in reading and writing.  She writes in the Renewal article , “Eyes that are tracking or converging asymmetrically will create images that are distorted and/or doubled.  Equal vision is also necessary for depth perception.”

Dr. Johnson writes about Continue reading

Simplicity Monday: The Five Secrets to Setting A Rhythm For Your Home

Rhythm is one of those things that many parents talk about, wonder about, and can have such trouble implementing.  Here are my top five secrets to garnering a rhythm that supports a peaceful home life.

Visualize your home and walk through a day in your head.  Where was it smooth and flowing and joyous?  Where was it sticky and difficult and everyone fell apart?  I don’t think a rhythm is about throwing out who you are, who your family is,  what your family culture is in order to replace it with something that someone else does, but rather to build upon the successes in your own home.  Every family does something really well, so what is your thing that you do really well that you could build upon? Continue reading