This Could Be My Favorite Post

…. ( A reader alerted me on 11/7/2012 that this link didn’t work and she couldn’t find the original post.  On quick search I couldn’t either, but this post is similar: http://www.elizabethfoss.com/reallearning/2012/08/lets-talk-about-learning-with-little-ones.html   Enjoy!)

,,,,of all the things Elizabeth Foss has written.  Go and check it out!

http://www.elizabethfoss.com/reallearning/2011/07/lets-talk-about-learning-with-little-ones.html

 

How is that for lovely heading into the weekend?

Many blessings,
Carrie

How To Grow A Homeschool Group

Mothers tell me all the time that they wish they had a homeschooling group that met their needs.Sometimes what forms as a loose group in the beginning really doesn’t hold as the years progress because I often find around the age of five or six, families get really antsy if this child is their oldest.  They may to decide to put their children in school or they may change homeschooling methods, and then you have to start all over again!

It is worth it though to have this structure in place.  A homeschooling group of friends is so important to the grades child.  They may have other friends who go to public or private school, but to have a group of friends who are being schooled in the same way, and even in the same method can be invaluable.

Continue reading

Mural-Sized Moving Pictures

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Moving pictures are a beautiful way to illustrate the action of a story or verse.  Some resources, such as this little book from Bob and Nancy’s, “Making Picture Books With Moving Figures”  (http://www.waldorfbooks.com/teaching-resources/kindergarten-nursury/early-childhood-resources/storytime)  talk about drawing these pictures, but I like to wet on wet paint them.  One afternoon last week, I made these two scenes out of 9 pieces of watercolor paper (seven for the scenery,  plus two small pieces to make puppets of the boat, one Peter puppet and two puppets of Jesus) for a program at our church.  Continue reading

Guest Post On First Grade Readiness: A Comprehensive Look Through High School

 

(7/16/2011 – Comments on this post are now closed!  Thank you for all your comments and questions!)

Our guest post today comes from Donna Simmons of Christopherus Homeschool Resources (http://www.christopherushomeschool.org/home.html).  This is a very comprehensive look at the topic of first grade readiness.  This article includes her perspective as a Waldorf educator, but also as a parent and homeschooler, and includes a deep understanding of the foundation of Waldorf Education, but also includes more mainstream resources for those of you seeking those.

This article is long, but I encourage you to read all of it.   Donna will be answering your questions left in the comment box in regards to this post, and we both look forward to hearing your thoughts. 

Here is Donna….. Continue reading

Waldorf School Graduates

 

Three phases of research findings regarding graduates of Waldorf Schools in North America are up for free at The On-Line Waldorf  Library.

These study findings are really much too long to be summarized in a blog post in any manner that will do justice to them, but I think a few points can be pulled out.  I do encourage you to go and read all of the findings so these things are put within the proper context. Continue reading

One Mother’s Review of Live Education!

I have no personal experience with Live Education! so I am pleased to offer one of my reader’s experiences with this curriculum for you all to read.  Thank you to Eva, a homeschooling mother of five bilingual children,  for writing this piece.  I think you will find this review to be balanced and interesting not just from the perspective of the curriculum itself but how Eva uses Live Education with her large family.  I love to see how other Waldorf homeschooling families do things, and I love Eva’s blog!  Please do be sure to check out her beautiful bilingual blog here:  www.untroddenpaths.blogspot.com

Review of Live Education!

Live Education! is a Waldorf curriculum for grades kindergarten through 8. It can be used either in a school or a homeschool setting. It was founded in 1997 by Rainbow Rosenbloom, who was later joined by Bruce Bischof. Live Education! offers separate curricula for each grade and provides consultation services and an online community as part of their services. All consultants are trained Waldorf teachers and/or have been involved with Waldorf education for many years. I’m reviewing the first edition of the curriculum, but am aware of some changes and improvements.

Each grade’s curriculum captures the essence of what would be taught in an American Waldorf school, focusing on the main lessons. Main lessons usually comprise the subjects English, mathematics, history, geography, physics, chemistry, and nature studies in grades 1-3; the latter is later divided into botany, zoology, and human studies. Foreign languages, music, art, handwork, woodworking, physical education, and eurythmy are not covered unless they pertain to the main lessons, e.g., learning to play the recorder, or drawing and painting as the artistic part of each subject.

Putting the kindergarten curriculum aside, each grade is organized in a similar fashion. There are several slim booklets dedicated to one topic, but sometimes interwoven with a second topic, especially in the lower grades. The nature studies booklet for grade 2, for example, also contains ideas for math. Ideas are important in this curriculum. Some lessons are spelled out for the teacher, for instance the ones on history in the upper grades, but quite often you find only suggestions for what you might do with a topic. The enables the teacher to truly make the material being covered his or her own. It also helps grant a certain amount of freedom to the teacher and his or her personal circumstances. For some people this is truly inspiring, others might feel at a loss. To get a feel for each grade one has to purchase the material in advance and read through all the booklets before knowing what the grade is about. It is possible to pick up a booklet and start teaching (I have done this after just having had a baby), but one doesn’t really get to know the material well in this way.

Each grade always provides a short description of the development of the student as a person and shows why certain subjects appeal to that age. There are references to Rudolf Steiner’s writings and sometimes to writings of other educators in the Waldorf education tradition. Each grade also suggests how the material could be divided up. The characteristics of a main lesson are discussed in detail for each new level with the three parts of opening activities, lesson presentation, and lesson application. Ideas for the opening activities include reciting poems, math facts, recorder playing, and more. The lesson presentations are quite often laid out in detail to be read or told to the child. Sometimes additional books are recommended or required. Most lessons are followed by lesson activities. These activities are varied, ranging from compositions, drawings, modeling, cooking, and dictation to hands-on projects like making a simple plow. There are many colorful examples and instructions on how to paint certain watercolor pictures or how to make a drawing. In fact, one of Live Education!’s strong points is how well it conveys the artistic element to the user — something which is missing from similar publications. Each grade also has bibliographies, reading lists for children, and other interesting reading suggestions.

The curriculum includes plenty of material, more than I’ve typically been able to cover. Some subjects have more detailed lessons than others. History and the sciences are covered in depth and detail; English and math sometimes get incorporated in other lessons, e.g., in grade 5 you practice composition within your history studies. For math practice some volumes in the Key to Series are used or recommended. I wish there were a similar series to supplement Live Education!’s English lessons. Some children require regular practice to retain new concepts. I have found myself using a few selected titles to give my children added practice in that area. I use Charlotte Mason type materials or sequentially organized materials depending on the learning style of my particular child. The same is true for spelling. Live Education! gives spelling lists and word groups for the lower grades, but only suggests that you take your spelling practice from the lesson you are presenting in the upper grades. Though this might be the ideal, it can be too time-consuming for a homeschooling family, or a particular child might require more consistent review of previously learned words. Here books like The Natural Speller, Sequential Speller, or Spelling Power fill the need. I know that some people talk about Live Education! burnout, but it is possible to use Live Education! even with a larger family. (I have five children, aged 2-12).

The kindergarten curriculum is organized differently. Four booklets address the four seasons, and a separate booklet describes the kindergarten at home. Instructions for activities like painting, drawing, and modeling with beeswax are given. There is also a section on storytelling and organizing a kindergartener’s day. Festivals are described, and appropriate songs, rhymes, crafts, and stories are given. There are additional reading lists for children and parents in each seasonal booklet. Having worked in a Waldorf kindergarten in Germany for several years myself, I can attest that the material is adequate and plentiful. Some parents might need more visual aids to create the atmosphere of a Waldorf kindergarten, though. I only have the first edition of the kindergarten curriculum, but it seems to me, judging by the samples on Live Education!’s website, that the curriculum has been widely improved and expanded.

Not only has the kindergarten curriculum been revised, but some of the grade levels have also. The revisions seem to be in the area of presentation, arrangement of materials, and additions to lessons. I haven’t seen the new texts, but I do hope that one of the biggest complaints I have about the booklets has been solved: bad editing in the form of many typos. I’ve also noticed that a new booklet on English (The Sentence Sounds a Melody) fills some of my suggestions for more practice in English.

This is my eighth year with Live Education! All in all I have been very pleased and inspired by it. I know that many people criticize the cost, but I think it is comparable to other materials. Buying a year of Sonlight, Oak Meadow, or even some other Waldorf suppliers is not so different. I once tried putting together my own curriculum for grade 2, but in the end it was not any cheaper, required even more work, and was not as rich as Live Education!. I like that the people behind Live Education! are actually trained Waldorf teachers themselves, who have been exposed to the education in different settings. I wish Live Education! could also give help in foreign languages, handwork, woodwork, even religion (I’m from Germany where religion is taught at the Waldorf schools). For those subjects I rely on Rudolf Steiner’s Curriculum for Waldorf Schools by Karl Stockmeyer, in the German original. I also wish Live Education! would help with purchasing or recommending sources for main lesson books, art supplies, and handwork supplies. Maybe a special discount or buying option with Mercurius could be arranged? Furthermore, I suggest that the online forum at Live Education! should be moderated, because the participation is very poor. It could be such a help for users. Nevertheless, without Live Education! my teaching would be not as varied as it has become, and I’m deeply thankful for the help and insights they have given me over the years.

Eva is a homeschooling mother of five bilingual children, aged 2-12. She comes from Germany, where she was involved with the Waldorf community for several years. She resides in New York with her American husband in the middle of nowhere. She documents her homeschooling journey at her blog: Untrodden Paths.

A Blog I Am Really Enjoying

Are all of you familiar with Bella Luna Toys and its new owner Sarah Baldwin?  I am really enjoying her blog; for those of you with small children (or without! LOL) and an eye on this first seven year cycle please do check her articles out here:  http://blog.bellalunatoys.com/.  If you would like to learn more about Sarah please see here:  http://blog.bellalunatoys.com/about  (although she doesn’t mention anything about being an author which she is!  Here is a link to her book here:  http://www.waldorfbooks.com/edu/curriculum/kindergarten.htm?zoom_highlight=sarah+baldwin)

Here are a few of my favorite articles from this blog:

http://blog.bellalunatoys.com/2010/waldorf-homeschooling-letting-go-of-perfect.html

and here:

http://blog.bellalunatoys.com/2010/waldorf-dolls.html

Love this and love to you all!

Carrie

Eurythmy In The Waldorf Home

(I originally wrote this piece for Donni over at The Magic Onions.  Donni does a great job covering different facets of the world of Waldorf.  Please do go check out her blog here: http://themagiconions.blogspot.com/)

Eurythmy was invented by Dr. Rudolf Steiner and his wife Dr. Marie Steiner-von Sivers in 1912.   It has often been called “visible speech” or “visible song”, and is not only a performing art, but also part of the educational curriculum  within the Waldorf School setting.  This is unique to Waldorf Education and eurythmy is often viewed as the pinnacle of the artistic component of Waldorf Education. 

Eurythmy essentially integrates all the subjects taught within the Waldorf curriculum in a whole-body movement. The “Guidelines for Eurythmy in the Waldorf School”  as put forth by The Eurythmy Association of North American and adopted by best practices by AWNSA and the Pedagogical Section of the School of Spiritual Science has  this to say about the place of eurythmy within the curriculum:  “The special skills children develop in eurythmy include bodily and spatial orientation, a sense for rhythm and measure, teamwork and social awareness, bringing poise, self-confidence, and the ability to think for oneself. The movements of eurythmy are filled with meaning which is of the same nature as language itself. The eurythmy curriculum offers exercises to provide a deeply somatic, kinesthetic understanding of all the subjects in school, including, for instance, math, geometry, botany, physics, chemistry, history, color, optics, poetry, and music. The wisdom of eurythmy supports the totality of Waldorf education. “It is the supreme example of a principle in all Steiner education that movement comes first. For it is the activity of the limbs which awakens and vitalizes the experience of the head.”

A eurythmist typically graduates from a four-year  to five-year  program.  The curriculum typically involves attending eurythmy classes once a week from Kindergarten through Grade Three, and then from Grade Four through Twelve attending twice a week.   Certain eurythmy exercises correspond to certain stages of development, and the eurythmist works with the Class Teacher to support the subjects being taught.   I have heard Eurythmy referred to as “soul gymnastics” because the whole life of the soul can be moved through these exercises the way a gymnast moves the physical body through exercises. 

Many Waldorf homeschoolers want to try to bring this art to their homeschool.  I feel this could quickly become the children just imitating some of the physical gestures (if you even know those!) and not really getting the essential part that makes up eurythmy – the etheric gesture.  Furthermore, the gestures of speech should certainly be brought by a trained eurythmist. 

So what is a Waldorf homeschooler to do?

I would implore you to look for purposeful and precise movement that goes with verses and rhymes and songs.  Look for what movement and gesture you and your child could experience with oral recitation and poetry in the grades.

There are many resources for movement and gesture in the Waldorf homeschooling arena.   Two resources listed specifically for eurythmy come to mind. These  include “Eurythmy For The Young Child” by Estelle Breyer (for the Early Years, some things are suitable for Grade One) and the “Come Unto These Yellow Sands” by Molly van Heider. (covers preschool through Grades Nine to Twelve).    Neither of these resources will show you what gestures to bring for things such as letters, but will give you suggestions for what letters or  purposeful movements go with the songs and stories and verses in the books.  If you would like to see what eurythmy in a classroom would look like, I suggest you try the 2006 DVD of David-Michael Monarch entitled “The Waldorf Curriculum Through Eurythmy” from the Whole Parent, Whole Child conference and available through Rahima Baldwin Dancy’s website. “Joyful Movement” by Donna Simmons of Christopherus Homeschooling Resources is  not a eurythmy resource per say, but certainly has many ideas for movement in the home environment and is very practical and accessible to the Waldorf homeschooler. 

But best of all, experiment with your own heartfelt gestures for stories and verses.  Try to bring out the exaggerated physical movement of the  characters and archetypes in the stories you tell to your own children.  Work on incorporating singing and clapping games into your homeschool. Work with skipping, stamping, tip-toe walking, walking on heels and the polarities found between quiet and loud and small and big gestures. 

Your homeschool can have as much beauty in movement as you can offer;  from the small points of beauty in your own rhythm to the sounds of careful recitation to precise movement and gestures to beautiful music to warmth.  These things build the etheric body for the future health of our children.  

Many blessings,

Carrie

The Christopherus Waldorf Curriculum Overview for Homeschoolers: A Review

“The Christopherus Waldorf Curriculum Overview For Homeschoolers” by Donna Simmons is an engaging resource that will take you grade by grade, topic by topic, through what is typically done in a Waldorf School, and most importantly, how to work with this in the home environment and how to use your home as the advantage that it is within your Waldorf homeschooling experience.

Homeschooling with Waldorf is not about re-creating a Waldorf School within your home; being home as advantages in its own right.  Donna Simmons writes in the preface of this work that she wrote this book “…because there seemed to be a distinct lack of material available to homeschoolers presenting Waldorf education in a meaningful, yet doable way.  I wanted to help parents catch a glimpse of the depth of knowledge that informs Waldorf education and to also enable them to find their own way of working with it, preventing burnout and feeling of overwhelm.”   She also notes on page 4 that “Waldorf-inspired homeschoolers, in my opinion, should not seek to copy what happens in Waldorf schools, but rather to understand how and especially why certain topics, subjects, methods and practice occur in Waldorf schools, and then find material that fits the bill.”  I think those statements resonate with so many Waldorf homeschooling mothers!  I like that the mission of Christopherus Homeschool Resources, and indeed this resource, is to help parents learn about Waldorf education and bring it into their homeschool experience, no matter what method they would label their homeschooling. 

Part One includes chapters on Waldorf Education and Homeschooling, A Visit to a Waldorf School, The Waldorf Home, Homeschooling with Waldorf.  Part Two includes a look at grade by grade and topic by topic (which includes tracing language arts, handwork/crafts/gardening, foreign language, math, music, history (including fairy tales, legends and myths), art (drawing, painting, modeling), geography, form drawing, science, and movement/games/sports through the curriculum.  Part Three includes the chapters Home is not School, Nuts and Bolts, Questions and Answers and A Peek at the Future:  High School.

Donna Simmons writes about the first three seven-year cycles of ages 0-7, 7-14 and 14-21 and provides insights into these phases that will shape your children for the rest of their adult lives.  She provides a look into a Waldorf school grade by grade (grades 1-8) and then looks at “The Waldorf Home” in Chapter Three.  This chapter has such important information regarding how to be a homemaker.  This is one of my favorite quotes from page 42:  “Play clips and pink cloths aside, it seems to me that there is a fundamental principle or understanding which surely must live in a home which strives to be “Waldorf”….Taking in, living with, thoughts around what is best for a child as she grows, what helps her develop and flourish, needs to be the basis of our family and home life as much as it needs to be the basis of our homeschooling.”    She talks about developing a rhythm in the home, about discipline and how discipline looks different depending upon which seven-year cycle the child is in,  views on media and how this changes as the child grows…really profound things for ALL parents to think about, not just Waldorf homeschooling parents.

She talks about love being the bedrock for the Waldorf-inspired homeschool, and the importance of self-development along with knowledge of child development.  In the grade by grade section, each grade is discussed with a possible schedule for the year laid out.  There are lists for resources of each topic/subject and suggestions as to how to bring these things at home.  I like the chapter entitled “Home is not School” where the differences between home and school are thoroughly discussed.    Donna Simmons writes on page 198, “To my mind, family is the number one reason to homeschool.  I feel that for many people homeschooling is the way for them to build truly healthy families which nurture healthy individuals.  Within such a setting wonderful educational opportunities can arise and by working with Waldorf, which is concerned with each individual’s health, we can watch our children and families flourish.’    Yes!

There are suggestions for child-led versus curriculum, working with multi-age children, designing a schedule.  The Question and Answers section alone probably has many of things Waldorf-inspired homeschooling parents wonder about.

This is a resource that will help you through many years, and I think one you will turn back to over and over.  It offers pearls of wisdom for beginner and veteran Waldorf-inspired homeschoolers alike.  Here is a link so you may look at it for yourself:  http://www.christopherushomeschool.org/bookstore-for-waldorf-homeschooling/essential-christopherus-publications/waldorf-overview-for-homeschoolers.html

Many blessings,

Carrie

A Little Linky Love and Previews!

Thank you to  my top 11 referrers for the past 30 days (uh, why top 11?  I don’t know – just to be quirky I guess!)

www.daguanyan.5d6d.com (This looks like this is in Chinese!  Hello over there! :)  I have not Google translated you, so I have no idea what you are discussing, LOL but welcome and hello!)

www.catherine-et-les-fees.blogspot.com (Hello Canada!)

www.untroddenpaths.blogspot.com

www.fabiolaperezsitko.blogspot.com

www.eileenspace.blogspot.com

www.blumieboys.blogspot.com

www.blumieboys.blogspot.com

www.hiddendell.blogspot.com

www.inspire.com   — preemie discussion group (Hi there, fellow mothers of preemies!  Yes, I think I have mentioned here before that I was born prematurely, my professional background was 12 years in NICU work as a developmental/feeding therapist and one of my children was also born premature!  Hello there!)

www.everyday-beautiful.blogspot.com

www.womanwifemomma.blogspot.com

So, this past month we covered A LOT of ground from boys to temperaments to “Discipline Without Distress” to parenting plans to the foundational years of ages 9-12, to planning for homeschool.  Hard to top!

For July, we will be finishing up that very last chapter in “Discipline Without Distress”, starting “Hold On To Your Kids”, and taking a month-long focus on marriage- what makes a good marriage, what can be done to strengthen marriages, communication in marriage and more!  I hope you will enjoy it.

Also looking for continued feedback as to what you would like to see in this space!

Live big and love your children,

Carrie