Waldorf Homeschooling Middle School: Charcoal Drawings

 

The  Waldorf curriculum moves into not just using art as the vehicle for the subject, but for bringing in the fine art of drawing of itself in the middle school and high school years.   Different teachers seem to bring in charcoal drawing at different points, so like everything in the curriculum, this demands that you observe your child carefully and see when you think it is appropriate to start this journey. The Waldorf School Curriculum: An Overview for American Waldorf School Teachers (chart) lists: Continue reading

Brief Notes on Homeschooling Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Grade

 

I have recently been jotting down a notes regarding fifth, sixth and seventh grades.  These notes will probably only make sense if you are coming up to these grades and you are a Waldorf homeschooler. Smile  If you are planning for these grades, I hope these ideas are helpful.

 

Fifth Grade: Continue reading

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

The Twelve Year Change

 

Within the pedagogical literature of Waldorf Education, there seems to be  a lot more press about the developmental changes at ages six/seven and nine than there is about the developmental changes at twelve.  This is unfortunate, I believe, because some of the biggest changes within the first two seven year cycles take place at age twelve.

Ages six and seven may be more of a “you’re not the boss of me” age, and nine may be an age of sensitivity and tenderness as children often seem to experience an underlying realizations about loss, life cycles, and separation, but twelve, to me, has the most dramatic changes and unfolding out of these three transitional periods.

A good deal of separation of the child’s own personality really begins at this age, and shows in the will of the child.  The child may set  now set goals, especially in learning, and may work at activities to really conquer something in the outside world that they are interested in intently.  The will shows up coming from a place of inner individual moral development and personality.

The social element awakens;  there can be a  grouping off, especially after grade six. You start seeing this generally as early as around age ten, which is where fractions is introduced into the Waldorf curriculum in grade four, and this grouping off continues to progress.   Many people remember this about the middle school years.   It is important  to make sure the children are in a group in a healthy way at this point – trekking, hiking, kayaking, caving and other bodily will exercises in a group is stimulating for this group and age.

You start seeing development that looks more based upon gender at age twelve than ever before.  Girls tend to band together socially in a way that can be different than the boys – more hanging out, daydreaming, talking.  The boys can be brimming with activity.  Physically the girls are different than the boys.  As the girls approach puberty, Continue reading

More About The Twelve Year Old

 

The last post I wrote about the twelve year old was here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2013/09/10/the-twelve-year-old/.  I have a little girl who is almost thirteen now, and I wanted to write some more things about the twelve year old before we move out of this age.

 

First of all, The Gesell Institute has some things to say about the twelve year old in general terms which most parents find helpful.  In general, the age of twelve is more calm and tolerant of everyone around them than eleven year olds.  Isn’t that a relief?  Twelve year olds tend to be kind of detached with their mothers, and sometimes with their family in general,  but friendly.  Twelve is also  often willing for adults to have some of their own “adult’’ life and not watch too carefully over that.  Twelve year olds are more tolerant of siblings (sort of!)…in general, twelve year olds get along well with siblings who are under the age of four and those over the age of sixteen.  So, sibling quarreling can still exist.  Friends are important, too.  Most twelve year olds are branching out to have a larger social circle.  I have found this to be true with some homeschooled children, and not true with others.  Opportunities to make friends and be a friend are part of being twelve.

 

Other points about twelve: Continue reading

Sixth Grade Medieval History

 

You can see where my sixth grader and I left off in history in this last post about Ancient Rome here http://theparentingpassageway.com/2014/01/24/gallery-of-work-from-sixth-grade-ancient-rome/  (There are three separate posts about Rome on this blog).  We moved on to Medieval History this past month so I  wanted to finish up our sixth grade history journey for you all.

 

My main resources were: Continue reading

Puberty Part One

Often on Waldorf lists and groups, I see threads regarding puberty.  These threads typically concern the outward signs of puberty, or perhaps issues not of puberty but of sexuality, such as a discussion on what to tell a six-year old or a nine-year old about sexual relationships.

I have already discussed in an earlier post how the development of the child during something such as the nine year change is viewed from a spiritual place that looks at the development of the soul, and how the curriculum and parenting in a Waldorf way meets the child during this point whether outward, physical signs of puberty are taking place or not.

This is one of the best articles I have read regarding puberty Continue reading

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.

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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).

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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:

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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:

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

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

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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