Why We Homeschool The Middle School Years

 

I can only talk about our own personal journey regarding homeschooling.  This is an individual walk, and I can only give my experience.  Once people “get over” the hurdle and accept homeschooling as a viable option for the younger years and even the early grades, I agree that I  often hear “well, I plan to homeschool until middle school” or “I plan to homeschool until high school”.    Many homeschooling parents, at least in the Waldorf community, have told me they feel not only is there a huge decline in folks homeschooling this age group of children,  but that also the number of resources drops off dramatically.  It can be a hard and isolating road.

One of my Dutch friends was explaining to me the other day that in the Netherlands they say those ages are “being between the napkin and the tablecloth”.  You are not a child, yet not an adult.  You are  not really treated as an adult, but you don’t really feel like a child.I

Something that is well accepted in developmental circles is the fragility of the budding self that occurs around the age of 12 and 13.    Bodies start changing, voices start changing in boys, limbs are long and heavy.  And there is this beautiful and vibrant fragility I see in the teenagers ages 13 and 14 that I get the pleasure of being with.  They are finding themselves and their own passions and their own opinions.   To me, it is almost like a butterfly struggling to come out of its cocoon.    The Gesell Institute writes about the  needs for privacy often seen in a thirteen-year old:   “by withdrawing and refusing to share, Thirteen protects something far too fragile and half formed for others to see, his budding personality.”

So, I think there are two sides to this. In American society at least, I think the idea of the sullen, withdrawn teenager has gone much too far.  Space is important, but it must have a balance of space within the community.  And to our family, the most important thing for this period for their overall education  is for our children to be with  family as their community and with the well-trusted adults and friends they have developed.  Eugene Schwartz recently gave an interesting lecture Continue reading

Creating Your Own Forest or Farm Homeschool Kindergarten Experience

 

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

Resources for Seventh Grade

 

One thing I think that you should start doing if you are going through the grades for the first time, is to gather lists for each grade – books by topic, possible field trips in your area, etc.

There are some ideas by curriculum writers or Waldorf teachers for seventh grade, in no particular order:

This is a list of books that I am personally finding helpful so far and wanted to share. This is absolutely by no means an inclusive list, or a list of “doing it right.”  It is just a list of possibilities.  By subject:  Continue reading

Are We Doing It All Wrong?

 

 

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

Seventh Grade Homeschooling: Here Is The Real Deal

 

Most of my friends will tell you I am honest, probably to a fault.  I tend to say what I think, even if I put it in the nicest words possible.  (Sorry to my friends who have to put up with me!)    So, I have to be honest and tell you a few things about planning seventh grade.

 

It is disappointing.  It is challenging.  It can be frustrating.  It is not for the faint of heart.

Ha!  There it is!

So many of the resources and previous places that provided direction seems to “dry up” or it becomes incredibly vague as to “how” to do seventh grade.  There are only about three or four curriculum providers providing any direction at this level at all, whether that is articles, workshops, or full curriculum.  That may sound like enough to choose from and draw from, but I don’t think it is, to be honest.  None of them have completely resonated with me.  Each curriculum provider seems to provide different suggestions and ideas – which is wonderful in one sense, to see the possibilities – but also daunting in another sense, because it seems as if no matter what path you follow you may be “missing something”.  I understand all of education, whether school or at home, is going to have things we don’t learn –there are many things I didn’t learn even going through university twice in two very different plans of study!  I don’t believe there is an education that exists without gaps, but what I find disappointing is that threads that are started don’t always seem completed in seventh and eighth grade.  A strong start, but not a thought to how the scope and sequence will finish out in some of these home programs.    For example, in seventh grade, some put in almost no geography; or some put in one region of the world but not another region, some put in chemistry but not physics; all seem to put in physiology; none put in American History (not even the American curriculum providers!) and leave the entirety of American history for eighth grade which I think, at least for me as an American, is terrible.   And, some providers, when they start American history,  skip the pre -colonial times and pick up at Manifest Destiny into the Civil War.   Some put in astronomy whilst others did this in sixth grade, some put in separate blocks for geometry and algebra and some combine these subjects into one block.

Middle school is a lot to pull together, and yes, the oft -used phrase “Every homeschool will look very different in middle school” does apply  here, as it does to every grade.  But again, within that freedom, I think we need to find the developmentally appropriate form.  This is not only the capstone ending for the eight grades, but also a preliminary foundation for high school.  And, for many homeschoolers whose high school careers morph into community college and other things out into the world around age 16, the decisions in seventh and eighth grade could be important.

The one thing I did was go back to the AWNSA chart.  No, this is not to say homeschooling should look just like this, of course,  but to see past what a homeschool curriculum provider *thinks* would be feasible or  *could* be possible in the home or just what their own personal bias is and to then compare and see what is possibly done in a school (but maybe not because I don’t know as a class teacher can fit all this in either!) can be helpful, I think.  It helps you to know what you can do, what you can draw from, and to look for the reasons WHY these subjects are developmentally appropriate and then look at your own child and your own family.

 

According to the AWNSA chart, this is seventh grade: Continue reading

June: Time To Plan

 

In May, I wrote a post about “preschool” planning here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2014/05/25/notes-for-preschool-planning/, plans for fourth grade:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2014/05/22/plans-for-fourth-grade/, and this post about planning:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2014/05/05/may-time-to-plan/

 

I think, finally,  I have the blocks for my seventh grader mapped out.  It was a lot of wrestling with the curriculum, which I shall write about at some point.   In the meantime, while I was wrestling with what blocks and where, I wrote out a general flow for six of the blocks, knowing the order  and such would evenutally come.

 

I haven’t done much for fourth grade yet, other than to lay out a general flow to the school year, but  I have planned our Local Geography block and started to put together a flow for math for the entire year. Continue reading

Are Homeschooled Children Less Likely To Be Physically Fit?

 

As a physical therapist, I am very concerned about the impact of competitive sports on growing bodies (you can see more about that in this back post).  However, I am equally concerned with the rising rates of obesity, Type II Diabetes, and lack of exercise in our youth.  Statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention show that less than half of children ages 12 to 15 are aerobically fit.  You can see more in the National Public Radio news article entitled, “Are American Teens Becoming Even Wimpier Than Before?”

In the past, I  have also wondered about the physical fitness levels of many homeschooled children.  There was a study done recently regarding physical fitness levels of homeschooled children versus children that attended school.  It was published in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine and posted on Facebook sometime during this spring, but I cannot find a link to it.  The research had  a small sample number as I recall, so it may not be completely conclusive, but the results were that the homeschooled children were NOT as physically fit.

Why would this be? Continue reading