A Special Guest Post For Developmental Friday: The Fourteen- Year- Old Boy

I am so honored to have author Lea Page, a longtime homeschooling mother and veteran parent, here with us today.  Lea raised and homeschooled her two children in rural Montana. She now lives and writes in New Hampshire.  Her new book, “Parenting in the Here and Now”, promises to be an amazing read for all parents.  Her book has a page on the Floris book website here.  This book is scheduled for publication in the UK on April 16th, and will be available from Steiner Books and other bookstores in the US a few weeks later.  It is available now for pre-order on Amazon.  Enjoy Lea’s beautiful post about Advent, waiting, and the fourteen year old boy.  I am so pleased she is here with us!

The 14 Year Old Boy—or—Waiting for Him to Emerge from the Cave

Advent is the perfect time to consider the fourteen-year-old boy. Think of the classic gesture: he withdraws into his room, which he now prefers to be unlit and untouched by any human hand, most especially yours. When he responds to you—IF he responds—it may be monosyllabic.

For parents, this time can be challenging and frustrating. We want him to come out and… do something! Say something! Reassure us that he is…. what? who? The delightful thirteen-year-old that he used to be? He can’t.

This withdrawal is how—in his messy, unmade bed way—your fourteen-year-old walks into the mystery of deep reflection and infinite possibility. The whole year is a transition. It will be, for him, a journey into and out of the Advent spiral. He walks into darkness alone, in search of that single flame at the center. And then he tips his candle to that light and kindles his own. If you have watched a child walk an Advent spiral, you know that they emerge lit from within.

Advent is a time of waiting and of faith. And so it is with our fourteen-year-old boys. We must wait, and we must have faith. And more than that: we must hold them in our hearts with reverence, even when the smell of their socks is staggering.

The fourteen-year-old still sees the world as black or white, either/or, good or bad. He is beginning a journey where he will discover that most of the world operates in the grey area and that there is a positive and negative aspect to everything, depending on the circumstances. It’s all relative. Continue reading

An Introduction to Waldorf Homeschooling

 

To me, there are five main areas which come together to compose a Waldorf homeschool:

The Inner Work and Inner Life of the Teacher – this is of paramount importance, and the basis and foundation of Waldorf homeschooling.  Who you are and where you are on your inner path and spiritual work  is more important than the subject you teach.  Your will, your rhythms, your outlook, your spiritual work, will determine far more for your child than anything else – especially in the world of homeschooling where you are both parent and teacher.

An Understanding of Childhood Developmental Phases – I write about childhood development extensively on this blog.  Suffice it to say the view in Waldorf Education is that the human being is a spiritual being and that we continue to change, develop and grow throughout our lifetime.

Temperament of the grades-aged child (and in the teen years, emotion and personality) – We need to recognize not only the temperaments associated with the various developmental stages, but also the temperament of  our own child and ourselves and how to bring balance to that within our homeschooling experiences.

An Understanding of the Curriculum and How to Adapt it to Your Child and Homeschool:  We can start with such things as Steiner’s lectures and the secondary literature of the pedagogy.  However, the time we live in, the local geography, customs, language, local festivals and cultural events are all points in which the learning experience starts within the child and the child’s world. So, therefore, we must be familiar with not only the curriculum, but also with our own child and our own observations and meditation as to what that child needs, and then how to have the curriculum fulfill the needs of the child.  Dogmatic story-art-summary rhythms are often not helpful in the home environment and there are many ways to bring the rhythms of Waldorf Education to the home.

An Ability to “DO”, rather than just read.  This includes not only the ability to hold a rhythm and be organized, but also the ability to learn new things for oneself both in the area of the arts and in academic subjects.  For example, few of us were taught geometry the way the curriculum is outlined, and one most be willing to take a subject, even a familiar subject and see how  to dig into it and look at it from a spiritual perspective and to view art as a spiritual activity.

Many blessings,
Carrie

Wrap Up of Week Twelve of Seventh and Fourth Grade

Hard to believe our first “trimester” was over as of Friday!  We have been in school for a full twelve weeks (starting week thirteen today!) and I do have a full thirty six weeks of school planned (although we will see if we stop at thirty four weeks instead).  At any rate, I feel as if we have accomplished quite a bit and I also feel like we are hitting a stride.  Some days are still rough, as always in homeschooling, but many days flow.  I love how so many areas of seventh grade bleed into each other and cycle around.  It really makes for great unity in this grade I think.  Fourth grade with its strong and passionate feeling life has always been one of my favorite grades as well.

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 week eleven here and  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2014/11/08/wrap-up-of-week-eleven-seventh-and-fourth-grade/  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: During week twelve we did much better starting earlier.  I was talking to a friend of mine who also has three children and we both had come to the realization that at this stage of the game, the start time matters so everyone can get what they need in and also that we can get done at a reasonable hour!

Kindergarten:  During week twelve we were still in Autumn circle, autumn fingerplays and songs, and “The Pumpkin Hotel” by Suzanne Down.   We were busy singing for Martinmas and will move into an extended circle during week thirteen melding elements of our autumn circle with gnomes, King Winter, and Martinmas lanterns and singing to extend our Martinmas celebration.  Despite the chilly weather, it has been prime acorn gathering season down here, and since we have a big bowl we have gathered on our nature walk, we are going to do the story “The Acorn Mill” this last week before we break for Thanksgiving.

Fourth Grade:  Week Twelve saw us diving into summary writing about Continue reading

Children Who Resist School Time–Part Two

Homeschooling parents are often faced with the challenging task of teasing out why a child would resist a time of instruction and then what to do about it.  I was puzzling over this in the first part of this series and put forth some questions I always run through here.

I think there are two major thrusts to this – the part that YOU, as the parent and teacher, can change or put forth differently  and then also the part of the child.  Two separate but intertwined things that together can make a beautiful and fun experience or just lead to headlock.

In our home, I try to put forth a ho-hum attitude of  “this is our life”, the idea of not talking too much (which sometimes I fail at miserably, especially with the child that tends to throw me the most resistance), the idea of expecting things to generally go  well  and that we must work together in order for this to be a successful experience, and that we are a team.  I try to be careful about balancing the needs of three children of widely disparate ages within our school experience, and I try to be careful about what I expect.  However, I also feel older children ( especially those post nine year change) should start to have a sense and idea about personal responsibility and the part they play in making homeschooling a success or not.   This post is mainly geared toward those post-nine year change children.  (If you have questions about children in the Early Years or grades 1-3, please leave them below in the comment box. Perhaps I can write a different post).

It seems to me that in Waldorf homeschooling and homeschooling in general that we often talk about the “teacher” end of it.  What we should, could, be doing differently and how we should and could do that and we plan and plan again.  What we often don’t seem to want to talk about is that some children are just not peaceful when it comes to this sort of thing.

Some Waldorf Schools seem to fail miserably in the area of what to do with the child who is disrupting the entire grades class, and some schools have gone on and  accepted discipline policies that are very clearly outlined.   Some Waldorf Schools now only give a child two or three chances in the grades classrooms before they are expelled from the school.     Do you have a thought about  what to do with the disruption and lack of respect by your children in your own homeschool day, and the consequences of that?  What do you do?  If someone asked you what do you do if your child misbehaves in school consistently and, would you have a consistent answer for that?  Or would the response be just what you are feeling in the moment?

I often check myself by asking myself if I am letting them develop habits that will not serve them later in life at all? Am I giving them a false sense of freedom that will not hold true in the outside world?  Am I instilling in them a sense that they are above any rule, request or idea and how will that serve them as they lead their own families?  Is this such a bad habit that they are complaining about any contribution to not just homeschooling but family life in general?  Charlotte Mason talks a lot about habits, Steiner talks a lot about rhythms and building the will.  Are we doing our children favors in the way we approach our children’s resistance to things?

I think every family has a different way of dealing with situations such as these, a way that feels comfortable to them.  I  would just encourage you to find out what your way is, make the rule and consequence and that the children know that, and then follow through.  This is beyond homeschooling and into building a healthy adult.

I think discipline, this guiding of each other and the idea of instilling inner discipline  in general is part of how we grow up and live mature adult lives.  So therefore,  I am more Continue reading

Wrap Up of Week Eleven Seventh and Fourth Grade

 

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

Children Who Resist School Time

 

Sometimes I see mothers post on different forums regarding their child who is ‘’resisting” doing much of anything the parent/teacher presents.   I think sometimes bloggers are reluctant to blog about this because perhaps they too, are in the trenches of it all and don’t feel as if they have much to offer than to say, “It happens here as well.”  (Which in and of itself can be nice to hear, too).   No one really seems to want to talk about when things implode, or that bad days do occur, even in blogland.   Andrea over at Waldorf Salad and Cottage Fries wrote a   great post here about what happens when homeschooling becomes a battleground and how to make adjustments.

I have been thinking a lot about this.  I think the things that help me the most is to know myself, know my child and to know the curriculum.  I am a good teacher, and I am an even better teacher if I don’t have to spend my time dealing with children who are resisting everything and we spend our morning more in a headlock over what they don’t want to do rather than what we can do together to learn and have fun.  I am sure many of you feel that way!

Here is my list of observations regarding when things aren’t going well – something homeschooling has given me lots of  practice with! Continue reading

Homeschooling Eighth Grade History In The Waldorf Curriculum

 

The work I am doing in teaching our American Colonial History block in seventh grade and thinking a bit to eighth grade has prompted a bit of a search for me for history resources to help guide my teaching.  I  recently went over to the Waldorf Library On Line and read the free ebook, “The Riddle of America” (which also would be lovely for those of you preparing for fifth grade next fall), and it was a great read for those of you interested in a perspective regarding American geography and history.

The thought of eighth grade history really has me a bit stymied.  Many talk about how the goal is to get the child up to “modern day times”.  However, I do know parents who put that “Revolutions” block in ninth grade.  Everything in history is also circled around again in high school, so I have been pondering this and how much detail or how far do I need to go in eighth grade.   I just found this blog post  about teaching eighth grade history and it was very helpful to me.  I am still thinking.  I also found this video, which I haven’t watched yet, about teaching American history in the eighth grade Waldorf classroom.

The thing I am finding most helpful, though is  the 123 paged AWNSA document, “Colloquium on American History”. It talks about teaching American history in high school, Waldorf high school teachers give many examples of what is taught when and why (and how this varies from region to region!), and looking at bias within history.  When I pull it up as a search, it goes directly to an Adobe document and I am not sure how to link to it, but it should come up if you search.

Here is a   document  by Betty Staley that details the high school grades, but also alludes to the seventh and eighth graders and their developmental changes and how the curriculum fits into that:

Would love to hear from you about this subject.  Many Waldorf homeschooling mothers have told me the history blocks can be difficult to plan because the biography/symptomology approach is foreign to them and the blocks cover huge expanses of time in grades one through eight.

Many blessings,
Carrie