Games Children (Should) Play

A large part of Waldorf Education includes an actual curriculum for games, that leads into sports in the middle school years.  There is a wonderful book called, “Child’s Play 1 &2” by Wil van Haren and Rudolf Kischnick that goes through what games correspond developmentally with what ages, and I thought I would detail some of this for those of you planning your homeschooling year, or even just for parents who don’t remember many childhood games or what ages they played certain games!

I love this quote from page 114 of this book:  True games are a source of health in which the child’s soul is repeatedly submerged, if he is not to miss our on the most valuable things.  However, this is not the only requirement.  In order to build up and play games and activities which are close to real life, it is important to have a thorough knowledge of the child’s essential core, on the one hand, and the moral value of the game relating to the particular stage of the child’s development, on the other.  The metamorphoses in the child’s development sometimes require one thing, sometimes another.  We should not lose sight of the child and his experiences of the world around him.  In themselves, games are worthless if they are not played at the right time and with the appropriate spiritual attitude.

From about ages four to seven, Continue reading

The Five Things About Waldorf Homeschooling I Want You To Know

I hear from many families who are interested in Waldorf homeschooling.  I do think the home environment is much different than the Waldorf school environment; it is much like comparing oranges and grapefruit in a way. A Waldorf school and Waldorf homeschooling are related with Waldorf Schools giving us a model of the curriculum for the school environment but homeschooling has a different flavor!

It is also different because it is up to us, as homeschooling parents, to hold things – to really create that form for the day, the month and the year.  Parents often become interested in Waldorf homeschooling because it is perceived as gentle, based in nature, the better-late-than-early category. It is those things, but there is more. We often hear how we take Waldorf homeschooling and what resonates about this with us and then it is Waldorf education.  However, I think there is more than this.

Actually, I think there are five essential truths that should be worked with regarding Waldorf homeschooling.  If you can get through these five things and feel like it resonates with you, then I think Waldorf homeschooling could be a success for you! Continue reading

Burn-Out In Waldorf Homeschooling: Part Two

This is a topic near and dear to my heart as there really does not seem to be a number of people blogging about using Waldorf homeschooling with their older children (especially middle school aged and up) anymore.  I don’t know if this is really because there are so few of us left or just that the folks who are really doing it and in the trenches don’t have the time to blog!  (And, as I head into sixth grade, third grade and four- year- old land this fall, I can totally understand that lack of time, so there is no judgment there, just an observation!)

Yet, I feel a need to point out that just because few of these blogs exist (which again, could mean there are more families out there doing this than we think!),  this way of homeschooling does not have to lead to burn-out.  It can become a long-term way of homeschooling, not just for for the “pink bubble” of the kindergarten years.  In fact, I think one can see a real pulling together of the curriculum and how it all ties together starting especially in fifth grade and up and it is beautiful and amazing to see the connections and the way these subjects are so enlivened!

So, my theory is that in order for Waldorf homeschooling to continue beyond the ‘”pink bubble”, I think it is important to understand what Waldorf homeschooling really is.  I think “burn-out” or being worn out with something often occurs when our expectations do not match the reality of what is at hand.  Children are the text in Waldorf homeschooling, but the teacher is the leader in Waldorf homeschooling.   We meditate on the child, we look at the development of the child in a holistic way, but we decide what we need to choose for stories and other things within the framework of the curriculum during the grades, how to work with these things on behalf of the child with help from the spiritual realm.  Again, the teacher works with the child and on behalf of the child,  but is the decided loving authority throughout grades one through eight.   If this is uncomfortable to you, and there are of course  degrees along this continuum, perhaps it is better to say Waldorf Education does not fit your family and to talk about what path is better suited to you. I personally find that a much more honest take than saying Waldorf homeschooling doesn’t work. If it doesn’t work for you, than I think that is okay, and BETTER than okay, because then you are on the path to finding what IS better for you and your family.  Life is too short to not be happy!

Secondly, I think burn-out often has to do with lack of boundaries. I went through some experiences this year where Continue reading

Guest Post: Burn-Out in Waldorf Homeschooling And A Special Offer For Parenting Passageway Readers!

My guest poster today is a wonderful homeschooling mentor many of you are familiar with:  Melissa Nielsen of Waldorf Essentials (A Little Garden Flower)! You can see her website here:  http://waldorfessentials.com/

Melissa is talking today about the topic of burn-out, blame and what to do!  Melissa writes:

I want to thank Carrie for this opportunity to guest post as this topic is close to both of our hearts and it is so funny how it comes up again and again this time of year.  We both felt like it would be a good blog topic.

 

Burn- Out. As a Waldorf homeschooling consultant, I am seeing more and more of this.  More and more moms that I know love Waldorf but some how have decided that it is too hard so they opt for “Waldorf-lite”, falsely believing that is all they can do.   I have taken some heat before for saying that I don’t believe in burn- out. I suppose I should qualify that and say that I don’t believe that Waldorf homeschooling is the cause of the burn -out.

Let me back up. This job is hard. It is dang hard. I think it could be harder than giant monsters fighting giant robots like in my sweet husband’s new favorite flick. It is hard. This job takes work.  I have been mothering for just over 16 years now. Children don’t come with manuals. They don’t know how to turn off on our bad days. They don’t understand menstrual cramps or a fight with our mother. They are just generally happy to be in their bodies and they don’t have a clue why we want them to stop jumping on the sofa or hitting their brother!   In my parenting career, I have been through a bunch – sometimes I stepped in the hole willingly and other times someone dragged me into it.  Each time I climbed out, I got up, made breakfast and we walked on.  I am their rock.  Without me time might just stand still for them.

I knew I wanted to homeschool before I had children. I discovered Waldorf education early on and like most moms that are new to it, I feel in love with the beauty of it.  Waldorf is a delight for the senses for certain! Like many of you, I had no support system.  I had an husband (now former) who was battling wars I couldn’t join him in.  I was alone. I made friends with Waldorf teachers that could direct me.  They gave me all kinds of advice on the curriculum, but none of them had really done this at home and certainly not with this many children. I had to figure it out on my own.

A bunch of children. No manual. All alone.

I learned that Waldorf, while it wasn’t easy, it was SIMPLE.  I learned that simple didn’t have to be easy.  I made goals for each child, goals for myself and then I learned to plan.  I firmly believe that it doesn’t matter how many children you have, you can do this. You just have to want it.  You have to be ready to wrestle some things to the ground – those things have NOTHING to do with Waldorf and everything to do with you.  I found that Waldorf could be this tremendous mirror for me. I learned to take care of myself for the first time in my mothering.  I learned to connect with Spirit in new ways.  I learned that I was a dynamic person, I just had to find her and let her out. We are ALL talented.  We just have to find those talents.   As long as I kept my temperament balanced and my inner work in check, then I had the time to do what I wanted and what I needed.  Sure there were years when it was not so easy, but those times are short.

Be a family with a purpose.

If you read Carrie’s blog regularly, then you know she promotes living ON purpose. Living on purpose takes effort.  It takes a plan.  It takes knowing what you want from life for you and your family. Do you have these Continue reading

Screen Time Rules

I love the writings and musings of  Elizabeth Foss and her mighty blog, In The Heart of My Home.  She is a lovely mother to nine children of varying ages,and wrote this all-encompassing post about “Screen Rules”.  I do hope you check it out:  http://www.elizabethfoss.com/reallearning/2013/07/screen-rules.html

Some of these rules are really wonderful for all of us, especially as homeschooling mothers.  Wouldn’t life in your home run more smoothly if your computer or phone was tucked away by 9 AM and not taken out again until school and chores were over? And,  I really appreciate the integrity represented here as the public image created on the Internet should always be what a person really is in his or her heart. I know many of my readers have younger children, but this would be a great list to tuck away and bring out for discussion with older children when the time is right.

Many blessings,
Carrie

Fourth Grade Handwork

 

I was going to post pictures of fifth grade handwork projects, and realized suddenly I had never posted the fourth grade projects!  Our homeschool group has been exceedingly lucky to have trained Waldorf handwork teacher working with us.  She really knows the Waldorf curriculum inside out, and has taught  many of the children for years, so can really  invent projects for them that are stunningly beautiful and fulfilling to the children.

 

So here are the fourth grade projects in all their glory:

The first project, which was actually done in between third and fourth grade,  was a bear that had a pattern of essentially knitting an entire row, then knitting half a row, purling a stitch and then completing the row.  He came out like this:

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Fourth grade is a time of cross stitching.  The designs for these projects were done by my fourth grader, including choosing the colors and such.  The pin cushion has leather backing so the pins will not stick through!

 

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The last project of fourth grade was a hedgehog that was knit but the face was done in the round.  This was a preparation for knitting in the round. 

 

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Blessings,

Carrie

Third Grade: Wool Pictures

 

 

 

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This time of year for me is not only for planning on paper for our fall homeschooling, but also time for de-cluttering, re-arranging the school room, and crafting some beautiful things to inspire us through the grades.  This fall, I will be teaching third and sixth grade with a cute little three year old in tow.

 

I wanted to make something to hang on the wall that represented Third Grade for our schoolroom and the picture of Moses and the burning bush was foremost in my mind.  There are images of this scene on the Internet and in iconography and I looked at many images before I decided upon an idea to use to paint with wool.

 

Making wool pictures is an easy project – all you need is plant-dyed wool felt for your background, plant-dyed wool roving, an iron and ironing board, and your imagination.  I order my plant dyed materials here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/mamajudes#   I don’t believe synthetically dyed materials will work  for this project.

 

Start with a background felt of your color choice.  Take the wool roving and tease it apart with your fingers.   Start to layer it in very thin layers into the shape that you want by taking small amounts of the fiber,  holding one end in place and stretching the fiber apart.  Pat everything down.  I suggest ironing the background with long periods of holding the iron and then layering in more fibers and the details that are more in the foreground.  The wool roving will then stick to the wool felt and you will have a beautiful, dreamy picture.

 

Here is a picture of this process; layering the background first:

 

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I pressed this with the iron, and then added in the bush with its green leaves.  Then I layered in special red wool roving into fire on the tips of the leaves and pressed that.  The figure of Moses came last.

 

These pictures are easy to do and so full of possibilities!

 

Many blessings,

Carrie

Fifth Grade Greek Mythology and Ancient History

 

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Greek mythology is a wonderful block.  These stories have lent so many expressions into Western Culture and much like expressions from the Bible, a student will be at a disadvantage to not know these stories, to be familiar with these expressions, and to later understand Greek civilization and how that has impacted our own history in the United States.

 

You can see the resources we used in my previous post regarding Ancient Mythology and Civilizations.  Our projects this block included a lot of drawing, including a large picture of Artemis as chosen by my daughter as her favorite to draw, modeling of columns and vases in clay (see the Christopherus Fifth Grade syllabus), drawing of columns, freehand map drawing, learning the Greek alphabet and writing a few simple phrases, and memory and recitation of poetry. 

 

We started in the land of mythology with the book of Greek Myths from D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths and then leading into the wonderful stories of Perseus, Heracles, and Theseus.  Here is a scene my fifth grader drew from the story of Perseus:

 

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I used Dorothy Harrer’s “Chapters In Ancient History” as an aid in contrasting life in Sparta and Athens, talking about the landscape of Greece, the school boy in Athens, and many of the biographical sketches.

 

We finished with the history of Ancient Greece, and Charles Kovacs’ “Ancient Greece”, did an excellent job in terms of making Greek History and Alexander the Great accessible, understandable and memorable.  I cried at the end of telling the story of the Battle Of Marathon.

 

One note about Ancient Greek History: many Waldorf homeschoolers put this off until sixth grade. My fifth grader was eleven for the entire school year, and close to turning twelve by the end of the school year, so I chose to go ahead and include it, but if you have a younger fifth grader you might want to place this in sixth grade.

 

More next time,

Carrie