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

Visual Challenges–Part One

I have been receiving a bit of mail regarding visual therapy and what to do about visual challenges, so I thought I would address that topic here.

Waldorf Education, both in school and in homeschooling,  is often known as “that method where the children learn to read late.”  This is true in one sense, as we start academics directly in first grade the way many schools in Europe used to do, and the progression through the first few grades is slower than what we might be accustomed to in the United States in public school.  In fact, it is true that many Waldorf teachers find children, especially boys, do not become fluent writers and readers until ages 9-11.  Many of these children are active, healthy, normal children.

However, I want to look at this a little closer for homeschoolers.  Noted Master Waldorf teacher Eugene Schwartz has stated  in many of his lectures that two-thirds of a third grade Waldorf School classroom typically is reading at a third grade level.  If this is true, then one must believe that there is progress in the first few grades toward reading.  Progress toward reading includes movement with cross lateral integration (more about that in a minute), oral recitation with memory, writing and then reading is being made in first, second and third grade, if the parent is working with the child in a Waldorf way.

The corollary of this, is of course, that if this is true that the majority of children in third grade are reading at grade level, then we also know one-third of the class will not be reading at grade level by the end of third grade.  In Waldorf homeschooling communities, we often hear of children who were not reading, not reading, and then suddenly around the age of 11 or 12 or so the child can suddenly read everything and anything.

So the challenge for the homeschooling parent often becomes one of  – is this just a normal pace of development for this particular child and I  just need to leave it alone or – is there something going on that needs to be addressed earlier?

I think to answer this question we must first look at Continue reading

The Twelve Year Old

Here is the picture of the true physical being of a twelve year old:

The forces of growth now become active in the bony system of the body.  The muscles, which were previously bound up with the rhythmic system, become part of the mechanical working of the skeleton….Limb activity appears clumsy when this process begins, and this is made more complicated by the further accelerated growth of the physical body.  The girls have already shown growth in their height and weight, but now it is the boys who take a turn and begin to make visible changes.  If you watch closely, you will notice that the girls start to develop hips and the indentation of the waist, also the breasts begin to form.  Other changes that are not as easy to see are fuller lips and the cheekbones, which begin to emerge from the skull. – Eurythmy for the Elementary Grade by Francine Adams

Rudolf Steiner talked about how this time, the sixth grade year, is a time where the bones are first perceptible.  The child is moving into a heavier, more muscular, time of development.  In this way, things like copper rod exercises as done in eurythmy in the Waldorf Schools show that the rod is indeed the extension of this perceptible bone and provide the challenge and precision a twelve year body needs.  This year of sixth grade and being twelve is a time of challenge, precision, looking forward.

Many twelve- year-olds seem to detest movement outside of a favored sport or two, but they also seem to love a challenge. Something specific such as hiking,  or learning a skill such as how to paddleboard or kayak, can really fill the child’s need for challenge.  They really need you as a model to get out and be physical, and to be outside and be physical as a family.  They need you to help initiate it all.  In Waldorf Schools, gymnastics becomes an adjunct for geometry (Bothmer Gymnastics).  We cannot bring that at home, but we can do our best to bring in movement and also a social experience, so important for twelve year olds.

So, there is this heaviness of the child on the earth that I just described, but there is also Continue reading

Beginning of Third Grade

I am doing  third grade for the second time this year, and I have to be honest and say it is much more fun this time around.   I revised my starting plans several times almost up until the last minute, so we have ended up starting with Native Americans.  I am so glad we did!

We start each day with a time of the heart as a whole family.  We use the Morning Devotionals from The Book of Common Prayer, we recite Prayers of the People (form three from The Book of Common Prayer), recite Psalm One (because when that is memorized by each of our older girls they will get a necklace with a tree pendant!).  We then usually do Circle Time and practical work for the smallest member of our family, our three-year-old.

Next up is movement and math for my children in the grades.  We play a lot of games, and do a lot of movement to keep going over addition and subtraction facts and multiplication/division tables.  I bring form drawing on Mondays.  Usually I start with a whole block of form drawing, but this year I decided to combine  forms and movement with a block on cursive writing.  One of my dear friends told me about this book, and it was a great inspiration for this block: Continue reading