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

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

Sixth Grade Geometry

Waldorf education holds geometry in high regard, and works with geometry in some form from first grade onward. In grades first through fourth we mainly draw geometric forms in math, form drawing or even in painting.  Fifth grade usually becomes the first grade with a real geometry block, but it involves constructions more with a straight edge.  Sixth grade typically marks the movement into a geometry block that uses a compass.  Many of the resources available through Waldorf booksellers and companies will carry you through multiple grades, as sixth grade is the beginning of constructed geometry that is continued into seventh grade with perspective drawing and a closer study of the Pythagorean Theorem , and  then into the number progressions, the Golden Proportion and proportions of the human form, along with Solid Geometry,  in eighth grade.

For this block, you will need Continue reading

The Twelve Year Old

Here is the picture of the true physical being of a twelve year old:

The forces of growth now become active in the bony system of the body.  The muscles, which were previously bound up with the rhythmic system, become part of the mechanical working of the skeleton….Limb activity appears clumsy when this process begins, and this is made more complicated by the further accelerated growth of the physical body.  The girls have already shown growth in their height and weight, but now it is the boys who take a turn and begin to make visible changes.  If you watch closely, you will notice that the girls start to develop hips and the indentation of the waist, also the breasts begin to form.  Other changes that are not as easy to see are fuller lips and the cheekbones, which begin to emerge from the skull. – Eurythmy for the Elementary Grade by Francine Adams

Rudolf Steiner talked about how this time, the sixth grade year, is a time where the bones are first perceptible.  The child is moving into a heavier, more muscular, time of development.  In this way, things like copper rod exercises as done in eurythmy in the Waldorf Schools show that the rod is indeed the extension of this perceptible bone and provide the challenge and precision a twelve year body needs.  This year of sixth grade and being twelve is a time of challenge, precision, looking forward.

Many twelve- year-olds seem to detest movement outside of a favored sport or two, but they also seem to love a challenge. Something specific such as hiking,  or learning a skill such as how to paddleboard or kayak, can really fill the child’s need for challenge.  They really need you as a model to get out and be physical, and to be outside and be physical as a family.  They need you to help initiate it all.  In Waldorf Schools, gymnastics becomes an adjunct for geometry (Bothmer Gymnastics).  We cannot bring that at home, but we can do our best to bring in movement and also a social experience, so important for twelve year olds.

So, there is this heaviness of the child on the earth that I just described, but there is also Continue reading

Guest Post: A Homeschooling Manifesto

One of my best friends wrote these words, and was gracious enough to let me share these words with the world.  I can see this being printed out and put on refrigerators everywhere for a dose of encouragement.

Thank you to my dearest friend, Andrea Hartman!  These are her fine words:

I remember back to when we were homeschooling, on those really hard days when the house was a mess, and I was a mess, and the kids were a mess, and I would be having the passing thought  that I should send them to school.  School would be better for them than this.

We had to do public school this year.  We might have to again.  You might have to one day.  It’s not the end of the world, but now I see the public school experience not from my own experience, but from the experience of my children.  I feel like I am really blessed with the knowledge of ‘both sides of the coin’ here.  We are planning to go back to homeschooling this coming fall, so I have written a Homeschooling Manifesto. I didn’t write my little manifesto to discuss the negatives of school, but to reconnect myself with the essence of homeschool.  I’d love for you to read it, file it away, and on those crazy days, you can pull it out and remind yourself of what you are really doing.  I promise you, I will be reading it next year, many times.  ;-)  I hope you enjoy it!

 

Today, in New England, it was a beautiful day. Sunny, breezy, low 60’s. Perhaps to my Florida family, this is a chilly day, made for long sleeves and snuggles. But to my northeastern friends, this was a day for opening windows, climbing trees, and running through the grass barefooted.

As I gratefully cracked open my own window over the kitchen sink this afternoon and felt the cool breeze on my face, I realized that these three aforementioned activities are so very symbolic of the choice our family has returned to- homeschooling.

For a variety of reasons, our family tried public school this year. I must say, that of all the public schools out there, this is one of the best. Not because of test scores or academic standards, but because it is old and has character, it is small and cozy, and the principal is there every day, accessible and available to chat with a smile on her face. One cannot say this of many public schools. Continue reading

More Musings On Grade Six

Something has happened to me on my way to planning grade six:

I grew a little.

I don’t mean literally of course, but what I mean is in seeing the essence in the curriculum as we enter into these upper grades.  I am seeing the holiness in the curriculum and how that relates to my children, to me, and to our interconnectedness to the world.

In the Waldorf curriculum, the sixth grader is usually twelve or close to twelve.  And many things begin happening at this time:  turbulence.  A passionate acceptance or rejection of things.

And I was thinking what I had to possibly offer.  Do I have anything?  Sometimes, like many mothers, I don’t feel like I have reserves.  I certainly have not felt like I had much to give this year.  And, this thought is tinged by this being that time of year where almost all homeschoolers I know feel as if the year has been stale or flat.  So we have to sort through how we feel to whether or not within our feelings  lies any truth.

The big picture of sixth grade, to me and from my end as a homeschooling parent includes: Continue reading

The American Impulse In Waldorf Homeschooling

I think in Waldorf homeschooling, we have a unique chance to take the indications and pedagogy built by the indications of Rudolf Steiner and the Waldorf Schools and build off of them toward our own culture or our own religious impulses.

The American impulse in Waldorf homeschooling is something I really want to discuss today.  I alluded to it in one of my last posts where I referred to the Neoclassical period of American history here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2013/03/17/pondering-portals-part-three-media/

I have been deeply disappointed as to the depth and breadth of the American spirit as covered within the Waldorf Curriculum as according to the AWNSA chart, which otherwise I love and use for planning my year. There are a few nods to American literature and Continue reading