Time To Plan!

Hello Waldorf Homeschooling Mothers,

We are in a beautiful time of year right now.  Candlemas, February 2nd, has just passed.  This quiet day is a festival that I love and we live into in our home. In the book “All Year Round”, the authors write:

At the beginning of February, when the infant light of spring is greeted thankfully by the hoary winter earth, it seems fitting that we should celebrate a candle Festival to remember that moment when the Light of the World was received into the Temple, where the old yielded to the new.

I have been thinking about this passage for several days.  Elsewhere in “All Year Round”, the authors also wrote about tapping into “much deeper sources of hope and inner confidence.”

So, I feel this time of year is a gentle and renewing time to look to the upcoming school year.  If you are new to homeschooling, you will need to yes, look at your state’s requirements and laws.  You will probably sit with a calendar for a while and sketch out your year of festivals and holiday dates.  This back post may be of service:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2012/06/10/get-your-planning-on/  and this one:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2012/05/23/planning-tips-for-homeschooling-kindergarten-through-grade-four/

You may then even start to plan out the blocks for each grade or monthly work and play for your children in the Early Years.  For the grades, I always suggest checking with the AWNSA chart to see what is listed for each grade.  Homeschooling parents complain about this and say, “Well, our homeschools are not Waldorf Schools.”  No, this is of course true.  However, without the schools we would have no models to even really work from as the schools have done a huge amount of work to put Steiner’s pedagogical conclusions based upon the spiritual human being into practicality.  So, I think there is balance and truth to be gained by looking at whatever you are teaching from both angles in  a way – what might be done in a school, what would work at home and taking what resonates with you for your unique child.

Then, you can start to slowly and carefully compile your resources and read them a bit and let them sleep.  You will return to them again in a few months’ time to begin planning in earnest.

Many homeschooling parents rely on curriculum or curriculum guides and then agonize over the best one to choose.  I personally pull from a wide variety of resources, and take each block and make it my own.  Waldorf homeschooling is a vibrant, living path and requires a good amount of will forces from the parent to really make it work.  I wrote a post on choosing curriculum some time ago and I think it still stands:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/03/13/which-waldorf-curriculum-should-i-use/

This fall (of 2014) I will be teaching seventh grade, fourth grade and an early years child who will be 4 turning 5 in the fall.  These are three separate developmental stages to plan, and two grades with a good amount of material to cover, so I hope to begin now so I can have hope and inner confidence.  I hope you will as well.

Many blessings,
Carrie

Sixth Grade Mineralogy

This is an interesting block to plan and do.  We actually started this block with a trip my sixth grader took to Luray Caverns in Virginia over the summer before our school year officially began.  We also took several trips to places of geographic interest in our state.  I think this is the best student and teacher preparation for this block – to really identify what is in your own state and go there!

The resources I used to plan this block included:

  • The Christopherus Homeschooling Resources “ A Rough Guide to Sixth Grade” by Donna Simmons – free
  • “An Environmental Science Curriculum For Middle School” by Craig Holdrege of The Nature Institute — free
  • AWNSA Waldorf Science Newsletter Volume 5, #10  – free
  • The Living Earth by Walther Cloos  – available through anthroposophic booksellers
  • Roadside Geology of Georgia by Pamela J.W. Gore and William Witherspoon
  • All  About Rocks And Minerals by Anne Terry White (an old book but worth the find) – used
  • Geography From A to Z:  A Picture Glossary by Jack Knowlton  (used)
  • The series by Jean Craighead George “One Day In The (Woods, Prairie, Desert, etc)  (all used)
  • The Story of Salt by Mark Kurlanksky and S. D. Schindler   (all used)
  • Books on fossils
  • Samples of coal – free from Coal Association
  • Samples of rocks for testing hardness – Amazon
  • “Geology and Astronomy” by Charles Kovacs

I took the broad view with this block, which was inspired by the Christopherus Curriculum “Rough Guide to Sixth Grade”, where Donna Simmons mentions to try to “weave” geology, biomes and weather together.

I  mapped out the major themes in this way, starting back with fifth grade botany:  plants —>biomes—> geography /geographic features influenced by —> water, wind, climate —>climatic change using glaciers as an example —>moving into more traditional mineralogy starting with granite and ending with a summary of rock cycle, metal ores and salt.

So, we started  by  picking up our botany main lesson book from fifth grade and reviewing plants.  We spent time outside looking at different habitats and biodiversity of plants and the animals that  we drawn there because of those plants.  We reviewed ecology terms (what is ecology?  what is biome?  a habitat? biodiversity?  a climax community?) .  Using the Nature Institute’s free plan, we talked about plants as food and a what a food web looks like in different habitats and investigated the introduction of the European Rabbit into Australia and other cases in our own state where the food web became altered by introduction of non-native species. We spent time talking about plants as producers, and plants that we eat and who/what are decomposers or consumers of plants.

WP_20140129_018

That was our first week and a half or so.  During our second week we moved into talking about how plants are found in certain geographic locations in the world and are grouped into biomes.  We talked about succession and made a biome map of North America.  We also started reading the Jean Craighead George series of books (very easy to read aloud, thin with pencil drawings) and our daughter has been working on drawing or painting each biome.  (This project has extended on past when the mineralolgy block officially ended, as have some other pieces that I mention toward the end of this post).

WP_20140129_020

Biomes depend upon climate and weather (rainfall).  Biomes are distributed throughout the world and are a way we can describe parts of the world.  The other way we can look at the world is through geography.  So we reviewed geographic terms and did some modeling of different geographic forms.  No  landform is static, of course,  and is affected by wind, water and weather. Our daughter wrote an original composition about the water cycle from the standpoint of a raindrop and also drew this in oil pastels.  We also talked about wind – trade winds, equatorial winds, westerlies, polar easterlies, etc in map form and lastly about weather and the five zones of the earth from a climatic standpoint.

The poem “Fire and Ice” by Robert Frost became our theme now, and we worked with this poem in movement and copper rods and finally captured it in our Main Lesson Books: Continue reading

Gallery of Work From Sixth Grade Ancient Rome

We have finished a block on Geometry, Ecology/Biomes/Mineralogy and Ancient Rome so far.  We started Physics this week, and still have quite a bit left for the school year, including European Geography, Medieval History, Business Math and hopefully a few weeks to fit in a small block on American Colonial History.  Hopefully we will continue to move at a careful and steady pace through this semester and finish up all we need to finish!

Ancient Rome was a block that I have laid out in some detail regarding resources, and what we read and did here  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2013/11/20/sixth-grade-ancient-rome/  and here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2013/12/16/sixth-grade-ancient-rome-2/

Here is the title page for the first main lesson book of Rome:

WP_20140106_003

I mentioned in a previous post that we began with the story of The Aenid.  This drawing was done completely in hatching, and took quite a long time to accomplish.  There was no outlining at all.  Hatching is worked on in the Waldorf curriculum beginning in the fourth grade, and I think you can start to see the fruition of that technique in these more complex drawings in the sixth grade:

WP_20140106_004

We worked on maps of the Seven Hills of Rome and painting the Seven Hills of Rome:

WP_20140106_006WP_20140106_011

We then moved into such things as “Horatius Keeps  The Bridge” in painting, and the crossing of the Alps by Hannibal:

WP_20140106_010WP_20140106_008

We did some black and white drawings in pencil (not charcoal, although we will be doing charcoal drawings this semester) with shading from the book detailed in one of the previous posts “When The World Was Rome.”  In the Waldorf curriculum, it is important to get adolescents to work with grey areas of shading.  The suggestion of drawing from photographs of busts was in the Christopherus Roman History Unit Guide, and I recommend it.  Portraiture is difficult, and really comes into play more eighth grade and high school from what I understand, but it was a worthy endeavor.

Here is our daughter’s Julius Caesar and my Julius Caesar: Continue reading

Sixth Grade Ancient Rome

(For the first part of this block, please see this post:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2013/11/20/sixth-grade-ancient-rome/).

I detailed in a previous post how we tackled our first three weeks of Rome, including drawing, painting, and mosaics, along with the resources we used.  The first three weeks also included, toward the end, an assignment to read “The Bronze Bow”, as suggested in the Christopherus Roman History Guide (http://www.christopherushomeschool.com/Sixth-Grade-Roman-History-Bundle-p/chrb0010.htm – however, I do not have this newest version but only the older version so do be aware there has been a revision!)  and we orally discussed this book and its major themes.

So, our major work in the first three weeks included drawing a beautiful Continue reading

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