Wrap Up Of Weeks Fourteen and Fifteen of Seventh and Fourth Grade

I am trying to post a little wrap-up of each week of grades seven, four and five year old kindergarten year throughout the 36 weeks I have planned for school this year.  I hope this will encourage mothers that are homeschooling multiple children (or who want to but are worried!), and  encourage mothers that even homeschooling children of multiple ages who are far apart in age is doable.  You can find week thirteen  here   and and further in back posts you can find a post pertaining to the first two days of school this year which gives insight to our general daily rhythm.

Rhythm:  We completed week fourteen before our Winter Break, and this week was week fifteen of school.  I made a very simple schedule with times on it for school in January, knowing that we might need to ease back into school.  I am so glad I did since we all ended up with the flu, and I have been the sickest out of everyone.  I didn’t get the cleaning and planning (ie, hunt for images ahead of time for our seventh grader’s block), but I am also so happy I plan all blocks over the spring and summer.  It really saves you when you fall sick over the winter break.  I highly encourage you to start thinking about the grade you will start in the fall and compiling your resources.  I am ready to start ordering things soon.

Kindergarten:  This week was a low energy week for our littlest guy, so it was mainly baking, making snowflakes, coloring and sitting in someone’s lap and playing hide and go seek when he had more energy and wasn’t coughing.  I think that is perfectly acceptable! 

Fourth Grade:  The week before Christmas Break we finished up some fractions – mainly adding and subtracting with like and unlike denominators.  We also worked hard on times tables.  This week, we have been reviewing math every day.  We finally started the fourth grade worksheets from Jamie York’s “Making Math Meaningful”, the fourth grade flashcards, and are still working on times tables every day.  We only do ten problems a day from the worksheets as our fourth grader is not ready to do thirty problems at a time.  Therefore, one day of Jamie York’s worksheets give me three days worth of practice.  We have also been working with measurement and time as well, and baking as a practical application of measurement.  We started Norse Myths yesterday and have gone back through some grammar (see Dorothy Harrer’s grammar book that is a free e-book on the Waldorf On-Line Library).  Today we went over punctuation, what is a sentence, types of sentences and made up sentences from the Norse Myths that we have read so far.  Next week we will review the Three Norns and work on past, present and future tense sentences.  We finished reading “Wheel on the School” this week.  Our cross stitch bookmark is done, so we will have a new handwork project to start next week.  There is still choir at church and we had a big Epiphany Pageant at church that our fourth grader played a part in.  It took quite a few practices, so I count that as drama and music!

Seventh Grade:  We kept plugging along with chemistry the week before Christmas and finished this block this week.  I have to say how absolutely pleased I am with this block. I think it was our seventh grader’s favorite outside of Colonial American History this year.   As mentioned, we used “A Demonstration Manual for Use in the Waldorf School Seventh Grade Chemistry Main Lesson” by Mikko Bojarsky.  This is very excellent, and I highly recommend it, but PLEASE be aware it is solely experiments – great experiments! – but you are going to have to hunt for biographies of chemists, artistic work, poetry, etc. to really bring this block  to life.  I recommend the (Christian, so pre-read if this bothers you) book, “Exploring the World of Chemistry; from Ancient Metals to High –Speed Computers” by John Hudson Tiner as a way to bring in great biographies and the history of chemistry and how chemistry fits into every day life. 

Our chemistry main lesson book ended up being:

  • Title Page/Table of Contents
  • Abbreviations/Symbols for Common Elements
  • The Combustion of Natural and Man-Made Items (table)
  • Wet on Dry Painting of Combustion
  • The Chemical Processes In the Candle
  • Burning Powdered Metals and Making Colored Flames
  • Limestone, Quicklime and Slaked Lime Cycle
  • The Limestone Cycle of the Earth
  • A Poem About Lime
  • The pH Scale
  • Properties of Acids and Bases
  • Cabbage Juice Indicator – what we learned
  • Neutralizing an Acid with A Base
  • The Water Cycle
  • Salt Solutions
  • Crystals from Table Salt
  • Water:  The Universal Solvent (chemistry book I mentioned above was very helpful)
  • Water as a Catalyst
  • The Nitrogen Cycle

Yesterday and today we jumped into our Africa block.  I am very, very excited about this block and really think it will be one of the best blocks of the year.   I introduced the continent of Africa, we talked extensively about the desert regions (and the people who live there – specifically the Tuareg and the San) and the rain forest, the life cycle of the baobab tree, made charcoal drawings of the acacia tree and the baobab tree, and I assigned my daughter to write a play based upon the life cycle of the baobab tree. She also made a terrific title page that I hope to share an image of in the future.

A busy but successful week of homeschooling. 

Many blessings,

Carrie

How To Have The Most Peaceful Family in January

Here is how:  turn off the screens.  Get rid of TV, computer screens, videos, video games…all the screens.  Have a screen-free  two weeks, cold turkey – just like that!  And then see how much better everyone does playing and getting along as siblings and decide to extend it further. 

Here are some wonderful things to do in January without any screens:

Cut out paper snowflakes, including really cool 3-D snowflakes

Dip candles

Roll candles

Play board games or card games with your children

Draw, paint, model

Whittle wood

Make popcorn together

Bake together

Play in the snow – build snow forts, have snowball fights, snowshoe, downhill or cross country ski, ice skate on a pond

Read and tell stories

Build forts inside

Take a walk outside in the cold – look for animal tracks or berries or birds or all of the above

Knit, crochet, cross stitch, finger knit, spin, sew

Sing and make music together – learn some new songs!

Clean, scrub, dust, work around the house – rearrange furniture

Go bowling or find an indoor swimming pool to swim in

Write letters to family and friends; write stories together

Snuggle on the coach with hot chocolate and marshmellows

Cook for a neighbor

Find a place of worship to attend and get involved

Throw a party

Clicker train your dog, cat, or other animal

Take care of plants; start seeds indoors when it it is time

Add your own ideas here!

Many blessings, enjoy January!

Carrie

Hunting For Solutions in Waldorf Homeschooling?

This is the time of year, homeschooling mamas!  I am back on some of the Waldorf Facebook groups and the questions about new beginnings are flowing in on those boards.  These tend to be many of the same questions people have over and over from year to year.  And that is okay, because the people who are searching for answers are often new and this is the cycle of things in homeschooling in general. 

Waldorf homeschooling in peace and joy requires that one lets go of creating a school environment in the home – you are a busy mother; you are not an entire paid faculty.  At the same time, Waldorf homeschooling also asks you to rise up and try.  Try to paint, draw, memorize, look for poetry.  Try.  Try and bring as much as you can as you strive.  That is joyful Waldorf homeschooling.  You have to be able to let go of guilt and enjoy the benefits of homeschooling – which is to be together as a family and to meet the child in front  of you.  Let go of your guilt and perfectionism and enjoy!

Here are a few of my tips for the specific common questions, which generally seem to involve rhythm and the early grades -

For questions about rhythm with very tiny children – all children under the age of 7 and even children under the age of  9 – I know you don’t realize it right now, but you have the most flexibility you probably will ever have should you choose to homeschool up into high school and the middle grades.  Please, please try to enjoy this time.  Rhythm doesn’t have to be difficult.  Start where you are!  The only person who can really make up a rhythm and make it your family’s own is YOU.  Write down on a piece of paper for a few days the activities your family does and when and then look at building your rhythm around that.  Look at your mealtimes and bedtimes and start there.

For resources about rhythm in general, I recommend all the back articles on this blog under rhythm; the book “Heaven On Earth” I think has more concrete advice than most.   The book “Beyond the Rainbow Bridge” has some concrete examples of morning garden in the back of the book  and it has a lot of the “why’s” you are really doing this– but remember, rhythm is a PERSONAL thing.  It is from you, inherent in your family, and it is a gift and an aid to help keep your family peaceful and to keep your discipline challenges low.  If preparation and cleaning up is part of your rhythm to activities, it is just there.  It just “is”, like the tide rising and falling.  There is  no arguing about it.  If bedtimes and mealtimes are peacefully set, there is only peace.  There is plenty of outdoor time. 

First grade jitters?  Again, please see first grade as the gift of time that it really is!  Such a lovely little grade with work on knitting, drawing, motor skills, crafts, festivals – and yes, learning letters and words and numbers and about the nature around us.  But most of all, first grade is still about the development of the body – go hike, go outside, snowshoe and swim, pick berries and apples.    All of these things, again, should be personalized to your family and the area in which you live.  I am certain Rudolf Steiner would not have wanted a classroom in Alaska in winter to look like my southern classroom in January.  Meditate on what you want to bring, and most importantly, observe and really look at the child in front of you.  This is teaching – look at the child, not the pages of a curriculum.  Bring the curriculum to the child, not the other way around.  There is a difference.

Second grade saints and third grade Stories of the Hebrew people come up over and over again.  I have many back posts that include these areas and don’t wish to reiterate it all here.    Please do hunt by grade under the “Homeschooling” tab.

Most of all, come to Waldorf homeschooling with a sense of peace, joy and moderation.  If it really is all so difficult and everything that veteran homeschool mothers say bother and upset you, perhaps this is not the path for your family or perhaps it needs to sit inside of you and germinate awhile. Sometimes it takes several years to grow into ideas that are very foreign – and the way the curriculum is designed around developmental age (not skill level), the way the curriculum teaches through art, the spiritual aspect that permeates all subjects, the proper approach to when harder sciences and such come in – are foreign ideas to many people and can take time to settle in peace as to how that will work in your own family.  Rome was not built in a day, as the saying goes, and sometimes we are too impatient.  Read and discover for yourself, let it sit, read and discover for yourself, and incorporate what you can.

Many blessings and joy,

Carrie

The Peaceful Family You Want……

Is within your reach.  Is not only possible and plausible, but waiting for you.   It begins with you.

Peace begins with feeling physically, emotionally and spiritually strong.  I see so many beautiful mothers who really neglect their health until something happens, and they know they HAVE to start making home cooking, menu planning, sleep, exercise, health appointments and other things necessary for them to enjoy good health because within it, their family cannot thrive!  If you are homeschooling or have stay at home children, putting these things as part of the rhythm is so important , along with the “how” – who will watch the children whilst you cook 20 freezer meals?  Who will watch your children if you go for a walk or do yoga, etc?  The “how” is as important as the “when”.

So many mothers are running on empty emotional tanks or still working on their baggage from their own childhood and childhood memories.  Parenting small children often brings these sorts of memories, feelings and triggers alive.  You can learn how to handle your triggers – your anger or anxiety, your own sadness even at your childhood – and not bring that into another cycle of emotional challenge for your own children.  I highly recommend family and marital counselors; many will work on a sliding scale.  I also recommend finding what fills your tank outside and apart from parenting as investing even just a little time in this area will fulfill you in such strong ways.  What is your dream?  For some it is begin home with children.  For some that is  is not all of their dream, but certainly part of their dream.  And the vision and dream can shift over the years – as we get older, into our later 40s and 50s – it seems to me that it becomes more important to have something to call our own as our own children grow up.

Spirituality is another area that many people seem to neglect or have little interest in…and yet the pull to the Divine Creator, I think is normally there and at some point this pull becomes a stronger and more intimate place than perhaps it had been before.  Some people experience a spiritual crisis where their entire belief system changes.  For some mothers, a belief system doesn’t have anything to do with religion, but it could.

When you are feeling on track yourself, you have the energy to deal with the things in your own home, and then you have the energy to deal with things outside of your home.  It seems to move in concentric circles of influence, so to speak.   

I would love to hear your plans for the New Year to begin with peace for you so it can extend into and weave throughout your whole family.  Let me know what you are up to!  What is your biggest priority for your own peace this year?

Blessings,

Carrie

5 Ways to Have A Peaceful Family Life in 2015

The idea to use one word to embody the direction, vision and scope of a year has been in use for some time now.  This year, I chose a word for my personal use but also a word for The Parenting Passageway. Our word for the year is “peace”, so you will be seeing quite a bit of that this year on this space – how to really craft peace into your family life.  To move us forward, I was thinking today of five ways to have a peaceful family life.

Know who you are and make apologies for it as you live your life and be the parent you want to be.  When you know yourself and really know your strengths and your weaknesses and work with that for the benefit of your family, it becomes an unshakable foundation.  Love who you are and  what you bring to the table. This confidence and quiet strength allows the family to shine!

Go for balance.  Look for balance throughout the cycle of the entire year.  For example, I am feeling a real need to keep January simple with time to be outside in the morning every day.  So I am working with that pull.  It may change in Spring and I will put together something different.  Look for  the balance with activities outside the home – are they all for one person, one child?  Are there too many?  We need balance to be both parent and person – is that there or is that always on a backburner?  Make this the year for balance for all members of the family!

Boundaries.  Part of having a happy family life is boundaries. Boundaries are love for children, and a happy family life is dependent upon boundaries.  I read a recent article about this topic not too long ago and I thought it hit why parents struggle with this so right on the nose. Give it a read http://www.janetlansbury.com/2014/03/parents-struggling-with-boundaries-3-common-reasons/

Rhythm.  Rhythm gives us an unceasing strength to pull from, just as the tide doesn’t tire of going in and out each day.  Rhythm doesn’t have to be complex, and a minute by minute rundown does not have to be listed on a piece of paper.  However, if you are homeschooling and have three children or more,  I personally have found you may need to write more of a schedule to go within your rhythm, if that makes sense, for the schooling part of your day.  If you can think of rhythm as how one anchors and nourishes all members of the family, this can lead to a peaceful feeling as everyone’s needs get met and validated.

Outside movement.  In these darker and colder winter months, it can be easy for some families to want to stay inside and hibernate. However, it is so important to get outside and move.  Movement literally re-wires the brain!  This is very exciting, and I hope to be able to write more about outside movement for you this year.  Children need movement – it is a true need just like air, food and water.  We all need connection with nature.  Making this a priority in 2015 will bring to you a most peaceful family!

Many blessings and joy for 2015 to you and yours,

Carrie

Peaceful New Year’s Wishes

This week between Christmas and New Year’s did not start out as I had planned.  I wanted a very quiet and calm place of nurturing and steady rhythm with a lot of time outside to hike and play.  I wanted time to dream and plan and unplug, which is what I normally do during these twelve days of Christmas and the twelve Holy Nights.  Somehow, instead we ended up with commitments almost every day (yes, I forgot to use my “X”’s on my calendar to “X” off days, I guess!)

Then I guess  our oldest daughter and I got sick with some sort of flu-like virus where we pretty much laid in bed for over 24 hours, too sick to do anything else…. And now the littlest one is down and out as well…..So that took care of our commitments, but not in the way that I had planned!

My wish for you  this New Year is the gift of steadiness – of not jumping into the highs and lows, but the sure knowledge of when to take a risk to do something new and when to know when routine is just right.  It is so important to remember that the most beautiful things in life are made up of the most ordinary moments.  I constantly get reminded of this, because when I say “yes” to something, something else usually happens to derail it! 

Here is a beautiful Irish blessing I shared on New Year’s some years ago, and I think its words ring true once again:

May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
with joy that long endures.
May all life’s passing seasons
bring the best to you and yours.

From an Old Irish Blessing, author unknown

Many blessings for a peaceful New Year with new beginnings of nourishment and love.

Carrie

Silence

For many meditating during these nights, silence is a theme for yesterday.  I am meditating on silence today as I think of the polarity between myself and St. John the Evangelist, whose feast day is today.  How do I bring silence and stillness into my life so I can have a more fruitful inner life?  I find it hard to deepen that if there is nothing but noise or clutter or chaos swirling around me.  So, having time to be home, to not rush, to have space and time is so important.  How can I construct the rhythms of my family and of my heart in order to have this space this coming year?

And when do I boldly proclaim the truth in words, the way St. John proclaims the Logos?  Do I speak truth when it is needed?  Do I do that boldly, tactfully or timidly?

While so many people say they want to quit homeschooling in November and February, I find that a bit ironic for me personally since I perceive those months to be ones of silence and stillness and I love that aspect.  Solitude is so different than taking a knowing break to replenish the soul.

How does silence manifest itself in your life?  Do you welcome it?  How does silence work with courage?

Blessings,
Carrie