Get Your Planning On: A Homeschooling Form You Can Use

Child’s Name Child’s Name Child’s Name Child’s Name
Block Name
Academic Goal
Artistic Goal
Spiritual Development Goal
Feasts of the Church
(insert your own religious practice here)
Important Dates
Misc Notes

This is a sample of the kind of form I fill out at the start of every block for children in the grades (although I did devote one column toward themes I am thinking about for our almost three-year-old).  Once you have gone through the steps I outlined here in this post, you can go through this form and start thinking about where your individual child is, and what you are hoping to accomplish in this particular block.  Knowing the calendar of your religious practice and other important dates also helps to set the tone around the block.  Life is the curriculum!

Here is a sample of this form, filled in briefly for my first block. Continue reading

Get Your Planning On!

Time to get your game face on and get planning!

I actually don’t have everything planned out for my school year yet, whereas in the past I was usually done by this point!  We have had a lot going on in my family, but now I am ready to start!   Are you ready to start as well?   I know many mothers who have all their resources  lined up right now, whether that is through the library, through curricula they bought, by looking at the curriculum charts – but now really need to start detailed planning.

Planning can really save your behind during the school year, if you forgive my bluntness.  It is truly important – even if your plans get off track or you even don’t follow some of your plans during the school year – there really is security in working through the material over the summer and preparing.

The first thing to do, after gathering your resources, (or gathering your ideas about where you are going to find your resources), is to  a time each week when you can sit down for two or more hours so you can focus without the children running around and just think and PLAN.  EVERY WEEK. Slow and steady wins the race, so talk to your spouse, partner, babysitter and place this sacred time in your calendar.

The next place, where I always start, is with the BIG PICTURE.  There are several themes this can take: Continue reading

Rhythm: Part Seven

 

In Part Five of this series on rhythm, we looked at the number one challenge toward establishing rhythm:  going out too much and saying “yes” to too many things outside the home.  Today, I want to tell you THE SECRET about having a successful rhythm.

 

It is getting out of your own way.

 

Release your anxiety and your fears.  Parent after parent after parent that I talk to who have homeschooled children who have graduated from homeschool say their children were well-prepared for college and for life, no matter what method the parent chose to homeschool!  Amazing and true! I see so many mothers who are worried, anxious and joyless in their parenting and homeschooling, and this is what the children see!  Don’t be wishy -washy and uncertain; fearful and scared!

 

Take the bull by the horns! Be confident!  Get your ho-hum on, and jump in where you are!  If you “fall off the routine bandwagon” jump back on where you are that moment.  It takes time to get a rhythm that works.  Commit to it as a forty day project. 

 

Your parenting may not be perfect!  Your homeschooling may not be perfect!  Mine isn’t; I make so many mistakes and things could always be done differently – but you know what?  I have an overall sense that my children are going to be JUST FINE. 

 

And in my weak moments, where I feel like something is not going to turn out well, or I start coming from a place of fear, I get down on my knees and pray.  And after I do that, I call a friend when my children are not around to overhear, and get a well –deserved pep talk.  I talk to my supportive spouse and surround myself with positive thinkers.

 

But most of all, become a positive thinker yourself.   Your children need to see that mistakes do not define who you are; they are only gateways and doorways to improvement and understanding. 

 

There are no guarantees in parenting or homeschooling; you do what you can do. Have some fun and act confident.  Make decisions, stick to them, change what is not working, quit talking so much and DO.

 

Many blessings on your journey toward rhythm as a basis of joy in your home,

Carrie

Christian Links and Resources to Love

Goodness, I think the last post I did about Christian Resources was this post from May of 2010:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/05/13/more-christian-resources-for-your-waldorf-home/.  Time for an update!

Many of you who are long-time readers know that we are heavily involved in our Episcopalian church – through the Children’s Choirs (yes, multiple choirs! Our two oldest girls just sang in our annual Spring Church musical and I was very proud!), through instrumental music lessons at church and through Sunday School.  I am teaching the Kindergartners this year with a great teaching team.   Grandpa is an Episcopalian priest, so it is wonderful to have him as a resource in our family.  I am always on the lookout for great religious resources,and will continue to pass what I find on to you, my faithful reader.

Here are some of the Christian books, articles and resources I have been enjoying as of late.  Much of what I read is actually Orthodox Christian, so you will see a mix of different denominational resources in this list: Continue reading

Rhythm: Part Four

I talk to so many mothers who have children of multiple ages and who are very concerned as to  how to fit in multiple main lessons, or what to do with their children when their ages are spread out between the Early Years and the grades.  It can be daunting, and many veteran Waldorf homeschoolers say that you cannot schedule that many main lessons without going insane….but then how to do it?

Let’s start at the beginning.  If you have a first or second grader, and the rest of your children are under the age of 7, then life should be relatively easy.  You can often think in terms of outside time together, a circle for all, a story geared to the kindergartener, perhaps the main lesson for the first or second grader, nap and quiet time (and perhaps do something else for fifteen to twenty minutes with the first or second grader during quiet time),  the work of the day geared toward the kindergartener but including all, and finish with playing outside.   My friend Sheila has a lovely post about her rhythm with her fourth grader and her Early Years child here:  http://sureastheworld.com/2012/03/18/brass-tacks-my-homeschooling-day/

With two children involved in  main lesson work, I think it is still possible to either put them “together” if they are close in age…ie, a first grader and a second grader could both hear folk tales, but work on slightly different academic levels.  If the two children needing main lessons are further apart in age, then you may want to have separate main lesson times.  Then for other lessons, such as foreign language or handwork, you could combine the children but have them work at their own levels.    I think all of that is possible with only two children needing main lessons, even with younger children in tow.  I think this is the sort of thing you must jump in and try and switch around as needed.  It is daunting when I go to the homes of my homeschooling friends who are not using Waldorf methods and their homeschooling is a lot of workbooks, worksheets, independent reading textbooks, and videos.  Waldorf homeschooling is different, and sometimes only by doing it can we wrap our heads around how it will work for our family and what that will look like!

I will have a fifth grader, a second grader, and a two year old turning three in the fall.  I am planning my essential rhythm to look like this:  Continue reading

Planning Time!!

It is the most wonderful time of the year! No, Virginia,  it is not Christmas, but it is planning time as all the boxes start to arrive in the mail.  There are lists to be made, supplies to be ordered,  rhythms to be tackled,  and prayers to be made regarding what to be involved in outside the home.

Sounds like a lot doesn’t it?  It can be for me too!

A few simple steps always help me… Continue reading

Interesting Links This Week

I found some interesting links to share with you all this week.

First, I found this free 58 paged document that describes all the how’s and why’s of chalkboard drawing in Waldorf Education and provides samples of chalkboard drawings for grades one through eight here:  http://www.antiochne.edu/ed/waldorf/projectJohnsonCatie.pdf Continue reading

Late To Waldorf? Overwhelmed?

If you are coming in late to Waldorf homeschooling or feel overwhelmed and overrun by dogma, I have a solution for you!  Please read the lectures given by Rudolf Steiner compiled in “The Renewal of Education.”  This set of lectures, given to a group of Swiss public educators only eight months after the first Waldorf school formed, is so accessible. The foreword is written by a favorite Waldorf educator of mine, Eugene Schwartz, in which he compares and contrasts Waldorf Education to John Dewey and Maria Montessori’s work and sheds light on the hallmarks of Waldorf Education:  the self –renewal and self-development of the teacher, the balance that feeling provides in education, and the approach of Waldorf education to the holistic child.

Waldorf education approaches the child from four different avenues. Continue reading

Waldorf Perfect Re-visited

 

I wrote a post awhile back about this whole notion of  Waldorf guilt,  and the dangers and impracticality of striving for perfection here :  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2011/05/16/waldorf-perfect/

 

I find this is the time of year we need to  re-visit this topic.  Curriculum fairs are popping up all over,  and mothers are starting to look toward planning for fall again whilst trying to finish up this school year.

 

I want to reiterate here that homeschooling is about family.  It is about love, warmth, laughter and joy, and spending time together.  If you find that your homeschool rhythm, or the things you are trying to learn or do with your homeschooling are consistently draining to you in your quest to be “Waldorf Perfect”, warning signs should be going off.

 

Waldorf Perfect is a perfect recipe for burn-out and for leaving Waldorf homeschooling altogether. 

 

Yes, Waldorf homeschooling is about inner development balanced with doing.  I see a lot of imbalance out there – mothers who are doing, doing, doing, doing and then that turns to drudgery, or mothers who are involved with inner work but no doing, or mothers who are just researching and not putting anything into action.

 

Please know that just as every class teacher has different strengths and weaknesses, so does each and every individual homeschool.  We have to try and learn and expand in the areas where we are not strong, but I also don’t think we should abandon the things that make us feel joyous and nourished.  I love to draw, paint, model, and make needle felted creations.  I don’t love to knit; I do it when I need to in order to work alongside my daughters, but I don’t spend a lot of my free time on it.  I like to try to garden, but my garden has its share of successes and failures.  I love movement and being outside, and I love movement games with music.  My homeschool reflects me, my joys, my strengths. Your homeschool will look different. 

 

There is no perfect recipe for Waldorf homeschooling; but there are essential truths of childhood development to work with.  Goodness, Beauty and Truth.  Head, Hearts and Hands.  Willing, Feeling and Thinking.  There are skills to be worked with and learned.  Most of all, there is an opportunity to know yourself, to know and observe your child and know what special things you can bring to your child to help them, guide them and teach them. 

 

But there must be warmth, laughter, love and enjoyment.  We are not creating a Waldorf school in our homes but our own family life with a homeschooling experience.  Your religion, your culture, all of that should be reflected within your homeschool.

 

Don’t try to be perfect.  Try to love.  Try to learn.  Try to strive and do better each and every day.  Be faithful in the small things. 

 

Have fun exploring each new seven year cycle and knowing that in respecting the child’s development, you will know what will come in when. 

 

In Joy,

Carrie

First Grade Wet On Wet Painting For Saint David’s Day

Today is one of my favorite feast days:  The Feast of St. David of Wales!  There are many wonderful stories about Saint David.  I decided today to use an element from one of the many stories about St. David to bring wet on wet watercolor painting to our first grade daughter.

There seems to be a lot of confusion and mystery regarding wet on wet painting for those families new to Waldorf.  Watercolor painting, in and of itself, has been around for quite some time – think of brush painting from Asia, and the watercolors of the German Renaissance Master Albrecht Durer.   Waldorf Education has a beautiful of approaching watercolor painting for children in the kindergarten and the grades.

In first grade, we go through each color one at time by itself  (which is very beautiful and reverent….I mean, in this day of visual bombardment how often do we get to experience the pure beauty and joy of one color?), then two colors and then some first grade teachers will move into three colors.  Eric Fairman , Master Waldorf grades teacher, discusses the approach he took in his first grade Path of Discovery guide if you are looking for more information.  If you are looking for other resources to help you discover wet on wet painting, please do have a look at this back post:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/02/02/resources-for-wet-on-wet-watercolor-painting/

So, today I had heavy watercolor paper soaking in a tray of water whilst I told some brief stories about St. David, including how he went into Wales to spread the message of the Gospel, how the monastery he founded was very simple where the monks pulled the ploughs for sowing the fields, how he and his monks ate no meat, and how St. David was called the “waterman” not only because he would only drink water but because he would often pray submerged up to his neck in cold water in those Welsh lakes.  I also talked about the miracle of the ground lifting him up so people could hear his message.

Then, to lead up to our painting, we ended with the story of  the battle between the Welsh and the invading Saxons. Legend has it that the Welsh were losing until St. David pointed out that the dress of the two sides was so similar they could not be told apart in battle. He suggested each of the Welsh put a leek in their hat or dress, and the Welsh went on to win the battle.  When a Welsh leek flowers, it looks like a daffodil, so we worked together to create the beautiful colors of the daffodil in our painting.

First we painted our whole page yellow.

(There was once a beautiful daffodil standing as bright as the sun itself.  The daffodil was so lovely that everything in God’s creation wanted to be close to this sunny, lovely daffodil.)

Even the sky moved closer in to see the daffodil, but dared not to get too close to touch the daffodil.  The sky did not want to mar the daffodil’s radiant springtime beauty!

(Paint blue creeping in at the edges, round and round on the page, circling in, until a patch of yellow daffodil is still present).

And all the sky, and all the meadow, rejoiced in the daffodil’s beautiful light.

(If you look carefully at this painting, you can see the darker blue on the outer border, green like meadow as the blue and yellow mixed, with a yellow center as a daffodil).

The main thing to wet on wet painting is to just get the supplies and paint! Paint yourself first and then bring it to your children!  They will thank you!

If you need more help, here are two free resources I suggest:

http://thewonderofchildhood.com/2011/06/wet-on-wet-watercolor-painting-set-up-2/  (multiple parts)

and this resource by Sarah Baldwin, with multiple parts:

Many blessings and joy!

Carrie