Wrap-Up of Week Twenty-Three 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 weeks twenty one and twenty two   here   and further in the 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.

Living With The Seasons:  In our home, this is the season of Lent.  We have been at church more, and I have been doing some extra inner work.  Things have been peaceful and calm in Lent, (even with extra choir practices for the musical!).  When we really put the extra effort into ourselves and our own inner work, it really does radiate out into our families. 

Kindergarten:  This is the last week of our “King Winter” circle and our “The Rabbit and the Carrot” story.  Next up will be a Spring circle and the “The Little Red Hen” (the Irish tale in which there is a mouse, a cat, a little red hen and a fox).   We have been painting, whittling, and taking long walks in the morning with the nicer weather.  There has been an upswing in play and being outside overall.

Fourth Grade:  This week we finished up our look at the human being and animals through the lens of the metabolic-limb, rhythmic and head and nerve-sense systems. For this, we looked at the American bison and the cow for the metabolic-limb system, the dog and the lion for the rhythmic system, and the eagle for the head and nerve- sense system.  Our exploration of the eagle has now led into birds.  We are looking at groupings of our feathered friends, we have read the book “For The Birds:  The Life of Roger Tory Peterson”.  We spent some time looking at the general characteristics of birds, the different environments in which birds live and how they adapt, our own state bird, and the prairie and water birds.  We have done a good amount of drawing, painting and poetry to go with this week.

We are still reading “Thorkill of Iceland” as our read-aloud and are also painting different scenes  from this book.  Spelling has come from our main lesson and also sight words.  In math we are still working on subtraction, addition, multiplication and division.  Lastly, we have started a new handwork project.  Our daughter also earned one of her levels in choir and was very happy to see her hard work pay off.  Practices for our church’s spring musical and a play with friends are continuing.

Seventh Grade:  We are hard at work on our physiology block.  I discussed this in a separate post.  This week we finished up the digestive, circulatory and respiratory systems, spoke in length regarding nicotine addiction, and are now moving into Human Fertility and the Reproductive System. 

Our daughter has been working on math quite a bit and has finished the Key To Geometry books 1-5, Key To Algebra 1 and 2, and Metric Measurement 1.

Choir, church musical practice, 4-H and horseback riding are still going along…

Would love to hear what you are working on this week.

Blessings,

Carrie

Parenting Toddlers: A Hands-On Adventure!

Toddlers (which I deem ages one through three, with ages three and four being “nursery school” aged, and ages 5 and 6 being kindergarten aged) are in a very special place in life.  They are all about movement and doing!  They are developing speech!  They are discovering their world.

Parenting toddlers is a hands-on adventure.  It is not one to be embarked upon by yelling from the sofa, “Don’t do that!”  Get up and get moving with your toddler.  A toddler needs constant supervision and reasoning, and punishment does not have a positive effect. Spanking is harmful!  This  is a bulletin from 2012 from the American Psychological Association regarding spanking.  Thirty countries have banned corporal punishment in all settings, including the home. 

There has been much debate in the parenting of older children regarding the use of  rewards or even punishment in terms of  the use of “taking something away”.  (Of course if there is a safety issue with an object, it may need a boundary and a rest!)   I bring this up now, because if you are parenting a toddler for the first time, you are figuring out your parenting style and learning what works and what doesn’t.  You can see an article about the link between materialism and this style of parenting  here.  Here is an article about  “Rewards and Punishments” from the Natural Child Project.  Alfie Kohn has an article about “The Risks of Rewards”  here.   However, if one also searches Pub Med and other places for articles regarding the effects of rewards, I have found the research to be more conflicting and much of the research to be associated with either food/diet related or with children with ADHD.  More work is clearly needed in this area as it applies to real, in-life, parenting.

So, back to the present moment of living with a toddler who in turn is mainly  living in their physical body and who is exploring everything in the world new.  Here are some tools that may be of great assistance:

An Ongoing Loving Relationship with YOU.  That is huge.  Children need to feel connected and loved.   You are not going to do everything right in parenting a toddler, but you can still hold your child and love your child.  You can tell your child positive things, and you can actively respond to your child’s needs. You can listen!   Here is a bulletin from 1991 from the Pediatric Clinics of North America regarding active listening, natural consequences and logical consequences:  the importance of active listening and natural consequences.  Consequences are harder with toddlers (ie, rarely is a toddler refusing to brush their teeth choosing to get cavities and rarely is a toddler who won’t wear a jacket wanting to be cold or get sick), so we also need strong doses of loving limits housed within the following areas….

A Strong Rhythm to your day.  This means that you, as the parent, should be getting up at the same time each day, going to bed at a rhythmical time, providing meal preparation and meals about the same time each day and having a routine that your toddler can settle into. Work, play, rest and love are so important.

The Environment.  It is important that you look at the things in your home with an eye for beauty, order, and yes, putting things up you don’t want a toddler to get into unsupervised up.  Simplicity is key.  Toddlers do not need a million toys, but they do  some open ended toys along with doses of love, sunshine, work, play and rest.

Work.  Toddlers love to work and they need to move their bodies.  Everything will take more time, yes, but what else are you really doing?  Many parents whose toddlers watch a good deal of media have told me they do it because they need to fill up the day with something.  There is a beautiful post here about working with your toddler.

Play outside.  Going outside in the  morning and in the afternoon is not too much for a toddler – (and not just in a stroller or being worn either, let them run and play and get energy out and move!

And when things go wrong?

Distraction can help.  Distraction with singing, humming and moving through things can be helpful. 

Time-in for tinies.  If a temper tantrum ensues, try a  time in for tinies

Have strategies before the time of a melt-down.  Think it through.  Almost every toddler challenge known to man is listed in this back post, along with  ways to solve them.

Movement and singing.  If you want your toddler to put on his or her coat, try helping your toddler’s arm into the coat whilst singing a song about going outside. 

Always go back to the basics of sleep, rest, hunger.

Respect the need for protection for your toddlers.  Toddlers are not miniature adults.  They are wide open to the world and as such do not need a lot of stimulation.  Being in their own homes and neighborhood is enough of a world for a toddler.

Blessings 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

Courage

The Twelve Days of Christmas and the Twelve Holy Nights is a time when we slow down and listen to our deep inner selves, and what the Divine Creator and spiritual world is presenting to us as we silence and still ourselves enough to listen.  It is this time of year, that if we are open, we can see the year that is coming and wonder at some of the things of virtue of humanity in the world.

I was meditating today on the virtue of courage.  In the Christian calendar, we see this virtue in the life story of St. Stephen, the first martyr of the church. This is also a traditional virtue for many who  meditate during the twelve Holy Nights.

Courage encompasses so many things – courage helps us forgive the unforgiveable.  Courage helps us to be honest in tough situations.  Courage helps us to stick to our values and morals even when it is not popular.  Courage helps us try things we are unsure of which is a way to grow and change.  Courage helps us chart a new path and direction.  Courage doesn’t promise safety, but the ability to move forward in strength even under the worst of circumstances.

Parenting takes courage.  Boundaries are very important in parenting, and it takes courage to set a boundary and help children achieve a healthy balance between form and freedom.

I would love to hear your thoughts about courage and the role it plays in your life.  How do you see courage within yourself for the upcoming year?

Blessings,
Carrie

Let’s Read: Simplicity Parenting

 

We are at the last of this wonderful book, the epilogue, in which we see many of the principles of simplicity parenting applied to real-life cases.  The epilogue opens with the case of six-year-old Carla, who is full of aggressive and controlling behavior.  Kim John  Payne notes that the parents wanted to “please and appease” and that the six-year-old was well on her way to complete domination and control of the home.  Yet, this story is here because it shows that there is not an “ideal family” candidate for simplicity parenting and that any family can benefit.  Simplicity is not just about simplifying stuff, but clearing out the space to be in each other’s hearts and to nurture each other.  Increasing rhythm in the home, having more consistency in daily life is nothing but calming to the families of today.  Meals and bedtime routines are still the hallmark of making a house into a home.  He talks about the “sliding” we can do as parents into the company of our children. 

It all takes time and energy, but the benefits of balance can be so outstanding for family life.    I would love to hear your story about attaining balance and a simpler life!

Blessings,

Carrie

A Special Offer for Parenting Passageway Readers!

 

Although it is only September, we  have already endured bouts of cold weather around the United States and  The Farmer’s Almanac is predicting a colder than usual winter, especially for the eastern part of the United States.  Warmth is so important for our children.  Warmth allows our children to settle in, to not be restless, to rest and sleep and grow better, and to reach their fullest potential as human beings.

We see this in many cultures all around the world in the  dressing of babies warmly, even in subtropical and tropical climates.  When our children are warm enough, then energy will not be diverted from the growth and maturity of the nervous system  in order to just keep warm. 

As a rule, three layers on the top with one layer tucked in, and two layers on the bottom is recommended.  Here in Georgia I like two layers on the top and two layers on the bottom, just depending upon how cold and windy it is.  Contrary to popular belief, the Deep South does see snow and we do get freezing temperatures.   My favorite article about warmth by Mary Sutton, MD, appears in this back post  as reprinted with permission. 

Because of the importance warmth plays in the health and well-being of our children, I am excited to announce Green Mountain Organics (my favorite place to get woolens)  is offering the readers of The Parenting Passageway 20 percent off woolens for winter through next weekend with the code pp20.

Many blessings, happy woolens,

Carrie

Let’s Read: Simplicity Parenting

 

We are up to my favorite chapter!  Chapter Five, entitled “Schedules” is well-worth reading for yourself.  I don’t believe parents in the United States intend to overschedule their children, yet that is where so many families are in reality, and this chapter offers a hard look at what we are doing, why we are doing it and what we could do differently.

This issue is not a new one.  Kim John Payne points out that David Elkind’s book “The Hurried Child” first asked the question as to whether children were being pushed toward adulthood in the form of “super-competency” because parents lacked the time or interest for parenting.  This was in the early 1980s.  The latter half of the 1980’s saw a real focus on the child’s accomplishments and achievements.  These trends are not new. 

How do children spend their time?  According to this chapter:

  • Children ages 6 to 11 spend many hours in front of a television screen and a computer screen
  • School takes 8 more hours than it did in 1981
  • The amount of time in structured activities has doubled
  • Time spent doing homework has also doubled – with the implementation of No Child Left Behind, students are averaging an hour and twenty minutes a night of homework.
  • Children have 12 hours less free a week than they did – about 25 percent of a child’s day is “free” on average; in 1981 the average child had about 40 percent of his or her day free.

 

Kim John Payne points out that, “And it is really so bad to be busy?  Why aren’t their busy kids seen as fulfilled rather than frantic?  What is wrong with wanting your children to have as many opportunities as possible?  I don’t think the central issue of “overscheduled” kids is motivation – either the parents’ or the kids’.  Most parents are driven by good intentions…In wanting to provide for their children, here again parents act with generous motivations.  But just as too many toys stifle creativity, too many scheduled activities may limit a child’s ability to direct themselves, fill up their own time, to find and follow their own path.”

 

Some children really do not know what to do with even moments of spare time because they are used to having every minute structured.  Kim John Payne points out that interest in an activity can be real and sustained over time for children but that time, leisure and other interests often help a main interest to  grow.   Children need unstructured time.  This is coming out in more and more studies and childhood psychology literature  regarding the development of executive function in children – things such as working memory, mental flexibility, reasoning, judgment – are enhanced by non structured activities, not by structured ones. 

 

Awareness is the first step in stepping off the overscheduled  burden.  Play happens in unstructured time and opening up schedules lends itself to spontaneous moments .  If a child has fewer activities, then a parent’s schedule (who is often a driver) will also open up as well.  This can impact the entire family  in a positive way.

 

How do you simplify your outside activities?  Does your family need help in this area or is the balance easy?

Blessings,
Carrie