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

31 Days to the Inner Rhythm of the Heart: Day Thirteen

 

Our 31 days to the inner rhythm of the heart, the root foundation of a house of peace, is in progress.  In the vein of those who are setting a New Year’s intention with “one word”, I offer the word of today to you: warmthRead on for more

 

Often in our parenting we can end up feeling almost like a victim.  “Why won’t my child sleep?”  “Why is this so hard?”  “Why does my teenager slam and lock the door to her bedroom?”  “Why is our family so volatile at times?  Why is it so hard for everyone just to be happy?”

 

We act as if we are the victim and reactive to our children’s whims, mood swings; captive to a child’s thoughts of the moment.

 

I offer to you as the antidote to this the thought of warmth.  You are the sun in your home, and your children come toward your warmth and light.  You are calm and steady.  You are the queen of your home.  You love, smile and hug your children and connect with them. 

 

If things are not going well you do not withdraw your warmth but can warmly smile through the crisis of that moment and say, “I love you”, but also keep so calm that things are defused or everyone takes a break and then comes back to work as a team on the problem at hand. 

 

Warmth is one of the most important aspects of being with children. They must feel your warmth, even if you are upset in the moment.  Take a breath, the moment will pass and your warmth will shine through once again. The more you practice this, the better  and easier it will happen.

 

Blessings,
Carrie

31 Days to the Inner Rhythm of the Heart: Day Eleven

 

Our 31 days to the inner rhythm of the heart, the root foundation of a house of peace, is in progress.  In the vein of those who are setting a New Year’s intention with “one word”, I offer the word of today to you: havenRead on for more

In La Leche League, my favorite parenting organization, there is a good amount of emphasis and thinking about people before things.  This is rightfully so in regards to all people, but especially our children!  Children need our presence, our time, our attention.  They are far more important than things.

I hear a lot of chatter around the Internet of mothers being turned off by “beautiful” blogs.  Where is the imperfection, the humanity, the realistic look at living with children 24/7 we cry?  Living with children is a constant re-do of the cooking, cleaning, laundry – it never really ends and just cycles around and around.  That can be challenging for some parents who would love the home to stay clean for five minutes before the cycle begins again!

So we often say our children are more important than our things, and therefore our children are more important than cleaning our things and taking care of those things.  However, I am not certain it has to be as one-sided as we often seem to make it on the Internet.  It is almost this unspoken thing that if we are taking care of our children well, then we can’t take care of our homes well.  If we take care of our homes well, then obviously our children are being neglected and they will grow up and have to enter therapy!  And to be fair, some of us do have memories of our mothers cleaning, cleaning and we were to be seen and not heard, and it is not pleasant.  I do understand that!

What I am suggesting is a middle way of viewing the home as a haven.  If you read the last post in this series, I talked about time and being home.  Being home for copious amounts of time is a first good step to having time for this middle ground of caring and nourishing our children and the physical space in which we live.

I feel that this nourishing and care for the home may be more important than we make it out to be because I talk to so many mothers and they tell me their stress level is so much higher when their homes have clutter piled everywhere.  They tell me when no one picks up after him or herself and they feel as if they are the only one helping to care for the home they feel stressed and they tend to yell.

So I do think having a no-yelling home DOES have something to do with the physical environment and what routines or rhythms are in place to help take care of nourish the home.  The home is a very real extension of the people who live there.  When we have a baby, especially a first baby, and even into early childhood, things  in the home will not be done completely nor perfectly.  However, there is a difference between recognizing that and doing what can be done versus deciding nothing can be done at all.   Again, the middle ground is important.  For those of us who have completely perfectionistic tendencies about cleaning and clutter, learning to have realistic expectations is so important.  I know people who don’t have children.  Their things don’t mysteriously move places!  Some of them are exceedingly neat and clean from top to bottom after they cook – because they are not cooking three or more times a day for a hungry children! So, realistic expectations and finding that balancing point is so wonderful.  Many mothers do tell me that when things are reasonably picked up and reasonably clean, they feel lighter and happier.  This is the reality we are searching for in making our homes a haven.  A haven is not a picture from a magazine of beautiful homes where no one lives.  A haven is a home where children and children’s friends play, a home where pets are loved, a home where there is a certain harmony between the adults in the home.  And this really can start with a welcoming physical environment.

Many mothers begin by simplifying and reducing as much clutter as possible.  This is the first step toward beginning to establish routines and rhythms that take a little time each day that can be done together as a family.  This is the first step toward bringing order out of chaos.  This is an interesting back post for you to read on this subject:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2011/03/30/an-ordered-outer-world-for-a-peaceful-family/   and this outside post that was an inspiration to many:  http://www.studyinbrown.com/writing/2011/3/22/order-and-routine-making-straight-paths-for-peace-part-2.html

Many mothers enjoy a system such as Flylady to help them reduce their clutter and get started on baby steps to cleaning.  I love Flylady.  My home is generally reasonably picked up, but I don’t spend hours and hours on chores and I attribute this to a foundation of many years with  Flylady.   I don’t do things exactly like Flylady, but I do have small step routines in place.  

You can start laying the foundation of working as a team to nourish your home as early as the toddler years.  Liza wrote a beautiful post about this here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2011/06/28/guest-post-meaningful-work-for-toddlers/  .  Work in the home, and as a team, is another way to connect to our children, to establish a family unity, to attach ourselves to one another in love.

A home as a haven.  What a beautiful thought for the day.

Blessings and peace,

Carrie

31 Days to the Rhythm of the Inner Heart: Day Six

 

Our 31 days to the inner rhythm of the heart, the root foundation of a house of peace, is in progress.  In the vein of those who are setting a New Year’s intention with “one word”, I offer the word of today to you:  love.  Read on for more…

 

It takes courage to create the family you want, and to create yourself as the parent you wish to be.  The main underpinning for all the actions is love:  the love of a parent for a child. 

I don’t know many parents who have children and plan to become disconnected from and angry with their children.  Yet, in a society that often encourages the separation of children from the family under the guise of socialization and independence, it often happens.  In a society that encourages tuning out and passive entertainment over real presence with real people, it often happens.  We are a society that seems to have forgotten what children and what childhood is all about.  We are a society that often celebrates the attachment of our children to other peers rather than an attachment to, and as part of, the family unit.

If you are struggling with anger towards your children, I am here to tell you that your love as a parent for your child is the way to reverse this.  It is the road that underlies increased patience and calmness.  If you can go and look at your children whilst they sleep and see how very small and innocent they truly are, if you can think of them in their best moments, if you can see where your love molds and shapes their hearts, you can do this.

You are being attentive through the use of an accountability partner and the use of a journal.  You are looking not only at times of stress, overwhelm, and anger, but when you are your best self with your children.

Now is time to move into laying the foundation of the family: love.  Author Ursula K. LeGuin once wrote:

Love doesn’t sit there like a stone

It has to be made like bread,

Remade all the time,

Made new

 

What are you doing anew each and every day to make love in your home?  Every child and every person has a different love language, but I can tell you that for most children their love language will include “quality time” as at least one of the languages.

 

Ideas for quality time:

Be outside together and play and be active

Teach your children how to do something, from how to  bake bread to tying shoes to how to fix things around the house

Cook together and eat meals together

Read a book together

Tell stories together

Create traditions for the day, week and year together

Take your children places

Snuggle together

Listen.  Let them talk and listen.

Play games together – play their games!

Roughhouse and play backyard sports together

Do arts and crafts and woodworking together

Take children with you on an errand to the farmer’s market, the dump, the home improvement store

Work as a family together

Share your spiritual traditions together

Take one child out to breakfast

Have a date once a week

Let the child choose how to spend time with you

 

Share your favorite ways to show love and unhurried time with your children in the comment box.  This is the best place to focus your attention this week, as love is the connection that leads to more love and  less anger.  It provides the well that you can tap into when anger threatens to rear its ugly head.  Love is the strongest power of all.

 

Many blessings,
Carrie

The Nativity of St. John The Forerunner

 

Today is the day of St. John, the Forerunner!  It is a time where the earth is exhaling as if in a deep dream, the deepest of languid sleep,  the height of  summer light and a time where perhaps the Christian Celtic vision of the “thin places” – the veil between the material and spiritual worlds – is so readily apparent.

 

We can feel this rhythm within us, and with this special time in June comes this Feast.  St. John comes to us, with his fiery spirit reminiscent of the Prophet Elijah, to connect us to a sense of repentance, of anticipation, of movement forward with connection to Christ. 

 

There is a renewal held in fire and for centuries people have celebrated this time with bonfires on the tops of mountains and hill tops.  This makes me think of “Hind’s Feet On High Places”, where Hannah Hurnard writes, “The life of the praying person is a journey farther and farther up and farther in, to places God Himself has spoken about to the attentive heart.”

 

Where is your attention?

Where is your Holy Silence?

What is God telling you?

Where is your renewal and your reconnection to God?  What does that mean to you?

How are you being cleansed and renewed by the circumstances in your life?

 

There is a cleansing held in the water.  We see St. John the Forerunner conveying the great spirit of cleansing, of binding and abiding, in his baptism of Christ.  

This weekend I went tubing with a group of friends. It was fun, and it was so much like life. There were banks and shoals and rocks, fast water over rapids and slow lazily drifting pools.   If you didn’t work with the person you are connected with, you didn’t get very far.  If you were not thoroughly yoked to your partner, the rapids would take you apart.  You may have thought you had it all figured out because you had a pole in your hand to keep yourself from getting stranded, but then your pole would be swept away in the current and drift away and you were left with trying to figure out another plan and relying upon people who were coming down the river path to assist you.  Such a loss of control, swept along in the vastness of the current. 

So much like life, and so much to say about this time of cleansing and renewal. 

 

What can you let go of?  What is not serving you anymore and why are you holding onto it?

Who  and what needs to be in your life?

Is it really that serious or should you be floating instead of trying so hard to use your pole to push against the current?

Where is your cleansing and your freshness of the soul?  What are you doing spiritually to support yourself as you go “farther up and farther in”? 

 

Here is to a fresh vision, a new hope, a cleansing and renewing, a new chance for meaning,

Many blessings,
Carrie

Sunday Books: Completing The Circle

 

Back to Sunday Books!  We are in the homestretch of this book, and I am looking forward already to our next book….I just love summer reading, don’t you?

 

This chapter is entitled, “Paradise Lost:  The Nine Year Change.”  I know this chapter will be of interest to many of you out there who have children verging on this developmental stage!

 

In this chapter, Poplawski writes about how Billy Collins, a Poet Laureate of the United States, poignantly captures the essence of this age in a poem called “On Turning Ten”:
The whole idea makes me feel
like I’m coming down with something,
something worse than any stomach ache
or the headaches I get from reading in bad light—
a kind of measles of the spirit,
a mumps of the psyche,
a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul.
You tell me it is too early to be looking back,
but that is because you have forgotten
the perfect simplicity of being one
and the beautiful complexity introduced by two.
But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit.
At four I was an Arabian wizard.
I could make myself invisible
by drinking a glass of milk a certain way.
At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince.
But now I am mostly at the window
watching the late afternoon light.
Back then it never fell so solemnly
against the side of my tree house,
and my bicycle never leaned against the garage
as it does today,
all the dark blue speed drained out of it.
This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself,
as I walk through the universe in my sneakers.
It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends,
time to turn the first big number.
It seems only yesterday I used to believe
there was nothing under my skin but light.
If you cut me I would shine.
But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,
I skin my knees. I bleed.

 

Poplawski traces the stages of development that come around age two, age nine and age sixteen.  The nine year old is standing alone in a sense and realizing their separateness from their parents and the world for the first time.  Waldorf Schools address this stage by working with the very rich stories of the Hebrew people as found in the Old Testament.

 

Poplawski points out other challenges many nine year olds face – their early learning abilities often become challenged and the child has to try to memorize things for the first time, the child emotionally withdraws, the child needs time and space and privacy.  Children this age can feel stressed and anxious over chores, activities, homework.  Parents can help by limiting their child’s activities and making sure there is ample time to dream and just be. 

 

Poplawski writes about the importance of the parental role:

The nine-year-old child is yearning for autonomy, but parental warmth,
affection, and support continue to be important. Though the child can be irritable
and seems to want to push away, he still needs hugs and comforting from the
adults around him. A nine-year-old will sometimes hover near a parent wanting
and waiting for a reassuring hug, but hesitant to ask for it. A child will sometimes
be more prickly and hyper-sensitive with one parent more than the other, this
being affected by the respective temperaments of child and parents. Sometimes
one parent needs to step back and let the other be more involved with the child.
Many children have some psychosomatic symptoms around this time. Heart
palpitations, breathing problems and headaches are not unusual. Nine-year-olds
tend to be worriers and some physical symptoms may be related to that. Nightmares
—dreams of being chased or being bitten by a snake or even of being murdered—
are common and no reason for great concern. Dreams of storms and runaway
fires are also frequent.

For the nine-year-old, suddenly cut off from the world, forced to stand on her own, and beset perhaps by physical problems, anxiety is a dominant emotion.
Hence, the child depends on the structure and guidance that watchful adults can give to provide stability and a sense of security. The child needs the solid authority of teachers and a firm parental presence. Otherwise she will be overwhelmed by a sense of insecurity.
The nine-year-old likes to have rules. Adults need to be fair and consistent in enforcing them, however. Fairness is important for the nine-year-old.

 

Talking about life and death, the meaning and mystery of life, praying, asking about religion and prayer are all very common things in the life of a child going through this developmental change.  Children in this stage are still young, but must be recognized as the young men and women they are becoming.  How are we assisting our children in getting to an adulthood that encapsulates the ideals of duty to humanity through this stage?

 

Many blessings,
Carrie

Circle and Activities For St.John’s Tide

 

Happy Summer!  St. John’s Tide, or The Feast of The  Nativity of Saint John the Baptist as it called traditionally in the church, is almost upon us!  I have a back post about Midsummer Day/St. John’s Tide here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/06/09/midsummers-day-st-johns-tide-day/

 

Here are few things we are enjoying in our home as we prepare for this special day, both in church and at home.

 

Circle:

This is a tune from the “Summer” Wystones book:

In the Summer Garden

Where we singing go

Light is flowing

Glowing flowing while the roses grow

 

Then I will add this version which I made up, to the same tune:

In the Summer Garden

Where the sun’s a- glow

St. John’s coming

Making straight and narrow the paths go

 

A Traditional Waldorf Verse, found in many different sources:

I am the sun

And I bear with my might

The earth by day, the earth by might

I hold her fast, and my gifts I bestow

To everything on her, so that it may grow

Man and stone, flower and bee

All receive their light from me

Open thy heart like a little flower,

That with my light I may thee dower

Open thy heart, dear child, to me,

That we together one light may be.

 

Ring Game For The Young Child:

Sally go round the sun

Sally go round the moon

Sally go round the chimney tops

On A Sunday afternoon – whoops!

Saint John, who ate locusts and wild honey, makes me think of bees in this summertime.

Bees Verses:

Five Busy Bees

Five little busy bees on a day so sunny.

(Hold up all fingers.)

Number one said, I’d like to make some honey.

(Bend down number one.)

Number two said, Tell me where shall it be?

(Bend down second finger.)

Number three said, In the old honey-tree.

(Bend down third finger.)

Number four said, Let’s gather nectar sweet.

(Bend down fourth finger.)

Number five said, Let’s take pollen on our feet.

(Bend down thumb.)

Humming their busy little honeybee song.

Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz! (Fly fingers.)

From Nature Boxes for Early Childhood Educators, Debbi Williams, Story County Conservation Board

 

Here is the beehive, where are the bees?
     clench fist and bring out fingers quickly one by one
Hidden away were nobody sees
Watch and you will see them come out of their hives,
One, two, three, four, five,
Buzz, buzz, buzz.

 

One little bee blew and flew.
He met a friend, and that made two.

Two little bees, busy as could be–
Along came another and that made three.

Three little bees, wanted one more,
Found one soon and that made four.

Four little bees, going to the hive.
Spied their little brother, and that made five.

Five little bees working every hour–
Buzz away, bees, and find another flower.

And you could end with the traditional favorite:

Ring around the rosies

Pocket full of posies

Ashes, ashes, we all fall down

Cows are in the meadows

Eating buttercups

Thunder, lightning, we all stand up!

 

Some little activities to enjoy:

Read the story of Saint John from the Holy Bible  – such richness for all ages!

Make some small hanging suns – directions page 105  of the book “All Year Round”

Make some bees for your nature table:  http://ancienthearth2.blogspot.com/2010/07/summer-bees-needle-felting-tutorial.html  (no dry needle felting for young children, please! However,  they could paint rocks like little bees)

Wet –on-wet watercolor painting with yellow

There are stories in the back of the Summer Wynstones and also a story for older children in the back of the book, “All Year Round”. 

 

 

Many blessings on The Feast of The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist!

Blessings,
Carrie

Sunday Books On Summer Time: “Completing The Circle”

 

Yes, Sunday Books is apparently on “summer” time and today instead.  Summer is about relaxing, so please excuse the island time on The Parenting Passageway this week.  I hope you all are having a relaxing summer as well.

 

This chapter is about the esoteric view of the human being and its value in education.  Many of you who read this blog and are familiar with Waldorf Education are also familiar with how Rudolf Steiner viewed the human being in esoteric terms.   Steiner writes in many different terms for many different audiences.  He started in academic philosophy, wrote for workers and artists and for the public intellectuals, and later went on to write for a group of Theosophists who at that time of the era of  World War One in Germany were searching for spiritual renewal from the East and many of the terms Steiner used were from Ancient Hinduism in order to fit in with that audience.  He broke with this group ten years later, but the terms have remained.  (Poplawski makes a differentiation between the terms of Sanskrit and the terms Steiner used with the group of theosophists but it has been described to me in many lectures through my Foundation Studies that these are similar and used during this time period in Steiner’s writings).

 

(If you are Christian and having trouble with this esoteric view, all I can say is that whilst this chapter describes how Rudolf Steiner saw the body, soul and spirit of the human being using his terms, religious traditions have always discussed this.   I am Christian, and the Christian church has known and understood this for centuries.  Here is a link for my Christian readers and there are many more articles if one chooses to search:  http://en.allexperts.com/q/Eastern-Orthodox-1456/2010/12/Body-soul-spirit.htm. This is how, based upon my religious tradition, I work with my own children in my own homeschool – I consider the body, the physiological processes that make up the body and then  the soul with its parts of the  inner eye (the nous) and its passions (the “irrational part”).

 

So Steiner saw the human being as a physical body that is shared with also the mineral kingdom,  an etheric body of life forces that also are akin with the plant kingdom with its physical form and life forces, the astral body which we share with an animal kingdom where the animals also have a physical body with life forces but also passions, desires, will, consciousness. Lastly, the human being as an “I” is seen as Steiner by our spiritual self, which is a source of discernment, insight and conscience.  Poplawski points out that varying religious traditions talk about what happens to the “I” after death. 

 

Poplawski moves on to talk about the development of the human being in seven year cycles.  The infant is born with a body, the life forces, the soul and the spirit, but these unfold according to developmental stages.  The physical body develops slowly, the life forces of an infant are intertwined with those of its mother.  As these life forces become more independent from the mother, then the child becomes ready to develop memory and thinking at this time, which is why in Waldorf Education academics formally begin in the grades.  (Although I would also add this makes sense according to childhood development according to other schools of thought in education and psychology as well). 

 

Poplawski points out that the intertwining in the first period of the life forces is primarily dependent upon the mother but that during the second seven year cycle, the forces there are shaped by the emotional and moral life of the community around the child.  Poplawski also points out that this is the time to think still about protection of the child from harsh realities of adult life. 

 

Poplawski points out that the third seven year cycle is the realm of adolescence and that many children are being rushed into this cycle even though they are younger.  As the mother of an almost twelve year old, this particularly resonates with me.  Poplawski writes:

 

Between ages seven and fourteen, the child should be allowed to mature and develop at an unpressured pace, particularly in his feeling life. For this the child needs to be protected, held, and directed by his parents and teachers in their roles as loving but firm authority figures. The child will then feel safe to experiment in a playful and innocent fashion, instead of being thrust too early into the more complex and confusing realm of grownup love and hate, the extremes of agony and ecstasy and trauma. Media and commercialism are the most common culprits in stealing the innocence of children in stable families. In broken families, the
children are afflicted as well by parental tensions and conflicts. Too early an exposure to these influences and experiences can desensitize the child and maim his or her later ability to tackle the complex issues of human relationships with equanimity and common sense.
With the onset of adolescence, the feeling nature is released from the physical and etheric bodies and gradually becomes able to deal with the challenges of a more complicated emotional and social life. Parents and other adults around the child need to slowly relinquish the often uncomfortable role of authority figure that they have played. Virtually all traditional cultures have recognized the spiritual reality of the maturation of the child’s astral body and have marked this in “coming
of age” ceremonies. While these have largely disappeared in our culture, the Jewish bar mitzvah and Hispanic “sweet sixteen” celebrations are remnants of this tradition. Not until age twenty-one, though, is the individual fully accepted as an adult.

(Carrie’s note:  I think Poplawski is referring to the tradition of the Quinceneara in many Hispanic families and cultures, which is at age fifteen, not sixteen!)

We help the child develop through a steady rhythm, through being warm and loving, through consistent mealtimes and bedtimes, through protection from adult stresses and by providing a life that is simple.  The adult must work on themselves so they are not providing emotional outbursts in front of the children.  (Hard work!!)  A wholesome and whole foods diet is also important.  Clear and firm boundaries on behavior is also seen as extremely important in Waldorf parenting and education.  Boundaries are needed for a child to grow in a healthy way.  This can be very difficult for parents in this day and age who do not have a clear relationship to authority themselves.

 

For the older child, it is the unfolding soul that needs protecting. A child of
ten, or even of thirteen, is not ready to deal with the world of “drugs, sex, and rock and roll,” though in many instances this world may have already been thrust upon her. The attention and vigilance required of parents to create this protection for children and early teenage children is great and also time-consuming. Parents must stand not only as role models but as authority figures in providing guidance to their children. Being an authority figure does not mean being authoritarian.
Parents need to stay interested in what their children are interested in and maintain an active dialogue with them and their friends. But parents need to recognize that their primary role is not to be their child’s buddy, but rather to be a source of higher judgment that sets reasonable standards of behavior and follows through to see that they are observed.

 

We want to promote that which is true and good in the life of the grades aged child, and to protect children before the age of 14 from entering adolescence too soon.  Being in nature, cultivating a relationship to the arts and handwork and music is important.  Sports that are intensive can be more of a drain than a help. Chores and doing work for others, and being part of helping in a community is also extremely important.  Older children need the experience of caring for the poor, the aged, the young, the disabled and the ill.

 

Finally, each family needs a clear set of behavioral and moral standards that are made explicit, that are taught to the children, and that are modeled by the adults. Manners, civility, consideration of others, truthfulness and honesty, the treatment of all family members, friends, acquaintances, and strangers with respect, and speech that is civil and free of profanity are all part of this. There is a coarsening today in speech, behavior, and morals that can be redeemed only by conscious
and concerted efforts within each family.
Religious instruction and practice can also be important for a child, even if the parents themselves are not motivated in this direction.

Poplawski talks about how the adolescence needs space, and one or two wholesome activities to do…but how not to overdo activities.  The adolescent also needs even more time from parents to be at hand and vigilant as he or she explores the world. 

 

This all can sound demanding and perhaps can induce guilt in some parents, but Poplawski writes:

 

Fortunately, raising a child is not an exact science. There is a built-in forgiveness
factor and hence some room for flexibility. Make more time for your children,
especially as they grow older. Take frequent looks at your family and its life together.
Ask whether you meet your own standards of civility, of morals, of spirituality.
Finally, protect your children from losing their childhood prematurely—neither
you nor they will regret it.

 

This is a lot of food for thought, and I would encourage you to read this chapter for yourself and see what resonates with you.  This is available as a free ebook at the Waldorf Library on-line.

 

Blessings,
Carrie

Summer Rhythm

 

Happy Summer to all!  It is summer here in the United States, although some parts of the U.S. are having colder than usual weather, to be sure!

 

One thing in summer is to enjoy the expansive space and time of the endless days of heat, warmth and sunlight and a time of rest from academic work and a rhythm better suited to colder days.  However, I also receive many letters from readers asking about a rhythm to the days, about what to do with sibling bickering, should they continue doing circle time with smaller children…what  to do, what to do.

 

I used to not plan for summer at all and was content to let the endless days of swimming here in the Deep South unfold.  However, the older my children have gotten, and the more children we have had, it was clear some bit of rhythm was being craved by all.  Having a simple framework for when at home in the summer can be a big help towards staving off any summer bickering and a relief to children to know they have long stretches of time to play, but also special things to do, even at home that makes special summer memories.

 

For my youngest little three year old, I am thinking of having a small circle time of songs and fingerplays and footplays three days a week, along with a story this month.  We have been doing the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears for almost a month now, which is  still well-loved and enjoyed, so that will be the story I will continue.  My older children enjoy time for crafting, preparing for festivals, painting and baking, and all of us enjoy time to be with friends.  I look at what days we will be home and what days we will be out. I also look at what days we will swim, what days we will be with friends and are there any days of the week in which we may just be home (no swimming and no friends to play with but just a good ole’ family day).  I also use this summer time for things I mentioned a few posts back on a Simplicity Monday – decluttering, planning for fall homeschooling, and regular cleaning and cooking.

 

We have had an expansive time of summer so far with travel and horse camp, so this coming week will be a week to settle into summer and being home.   A sweet summer circle and story, crafting, Father’s Day preparations, and baking, along with lots of swimming and being with friends, should round out the week nicely.

 

If you are interested in ideas for summer, here are a few back posts that you may find enjoyable:

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2011/06/09/guest-post-creating-a-magical-summer/

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2011/05/24/summer-stories-and-summer-nature-table/

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/07/21/summertime-bickering/

And the famous July Doldrums!  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/07/31/down-and-out-the-july-doldrums/  and here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/07/05/the-july-doldrums-again/

 

Can’t wait to hear all of your wonderful ideas and plans for summer! 

Love,

Carrie

A Plough Monday Reflection: Gathering A Rhythm That Works For You

 

It is that time of year – almost time or completely time for back to school after a long winter break  for most parents and school-aged children. Whether you have children under the age of seven, children that you are homeschooling, or children attending school outside of the home, a good rhythm provides a beautiful anchor for your year of wonder, learning and love as a family.

 

Rhythm is what anchors us as human beings into the cosmos.  Our bodies are attuned to this rhythm if only we don’t dull our feelings and forget the seasonal ebb and tide that we too participate in, even if only at an unconscious level. 

 

I propose that you start this year with some quiet meditation and prayer as to what is really working in your family, and what is not working.  How can you garner a rhythm that works for you?  Do you need to cut back on outside activities?  If you are a working single parent, how would simplifying your schedule look for you?

 

I would love to see you start with YOU.  If you, as the mother and in conjunction with your partner or spouse, can set a rhythm for you  and the adults in your family, then you can slowly help your children come into rhythm.

 

Here are some areas to look at:

  • What time are you going to bed?  Are you getting enough sleep?
  • Are you up before your children, even if it is just by a few minutes?  If not, what is your plan in order to keep everyone happy whilst you fix breakfast, get dressed, get organized for the day?  Can you do any of it at night?
  • What do you do for yourself and how often?  When do you find time to pray and meditate?  Exercise?  Are there things you do for yourself on a daily basis that are just for you?
  • When do you have fun with your children and your family?  Daily, weekly?   When do you get to spend time with your children and just BE with them and enjoy them?
  • What nourishing images and beauty do you have in your home? 

 

I have always advised starting with the basics of sleeping and meal times. Then you can add in nurturing care of your home.  Some mothers who really need an intensive start up beginning to a new rhythm will enlist family or friend help in order to really get their home in as much order as possible and then work with a chore and menu system to maintain their space and time.

 

Then, please do look at what your family members are doing to help nurture your home.  A basic tenant of Waldorf parenting and homeschooling is that all family members can contribute to work in the home.  What are your children doing to help take care of your home?  Smaller children under the age of six weave in and out of work, but those six and up can and should certainly have responsibilities.

 

Lastly, I think it is important to evaluate your rhythm based upon the season.  Right now, in the United States, we are experiencing winter.  Winter requires a different pace than other seasons.  Winter requires a look at sleep; the sun is setting earlier and also rising later.  How do your sleep patterns take this into account?  What about food: warming foods and even spicier foods have been traditional for winter, along with herbs that support the immune system.  Warmth for the body is very important; we look at having up to three layers on top and two on the bottom.  I think winter can also be an important time to replenish oneself, to slow down, to reevaluate.  What does this look like for you?

 

I can’t wait to hear how all of you are doing after these holiday weeks.

Many blessings,
Carrie