Stop. Yelling. Forever.

Kindness begins in our homes and in our own hearts.  Yelling sometimes happens, but yet there is nearly always another way to handle situations rather than yelling at our children.  Yelling often reflects our own inability to control our own frustration, or fears, or the helplessness and frustration we can feel if the child is repeating the same behaviors over and over despite every boundary.

This is the time of year when there are many “stop yelling” challenges or promises of so-many-days-to-stop-yelling.  I guess there can be merit in kick -starting something and bringing it to the forefront, but just like “diets” and “working out”, one has to choose to make this a lifestyle, a consistent habit, a way to approach things for all time, not just for a designated period.  This is because how we respond to our children matters. It really does.  We will not be perfect, but we can make not yelling the absolute standard we are trying for, and replace that with connection to our children.

To stop yelling, there has to be a commitment that yelling is  just NOT the way to handle things.  There typically is not much productive communication with yelling.  Usually that is just the end stage when everything has “gone beyond” where the parent wanted it to be.  It is the last resort, the last car of the train.    The other piece needed in this quest is the forgiveness of oneself and the grace to keep to that ideal when things don’t go as we want and we make a mistake.  Parenting involves grace.  And trying again.  And trying harder.

With small children ages 9 and under, you can replace yelling with these things:

Rhythm.  There are so many back posts on rhythm on this blog.  Rhythm is discipline. Rhythm helps you set boundaries, make decisions, lets children know what is to come so they can relax and be secure in that.  Rhythm is your friend, yet few parents in this day and age seem to view it that way.  I promise that rhythm will help you feel more relaxed and confident in your parenting.  It will help you not yell out of frustration or feeling overwhelmed!

Talk in pictures to your child, and use physical movement with your pictures and rhymes embedded in your rhythm of the day.

Inner work for yourself.  Getting up before the others in your house, or catching quiet time after lunch, so you can recharge mentally and emotionally is really important.  Having small children can be a great time for hands-on growing in patience.

Commitment to your own health (and not perfection in outside things). I find many times mothers are yelling, because quite honestly, they are not getting any help from their spouse or partner.  They are not sleeping enough, they are trying to do way too much with tiny children about.  This is not a race, it doesn’t have to be perfect. In the world of Waldorf, there are jokes about how everything has to be organically grown and processed by hand and all this.  Yes, in a classroom, with a team, with beautiful things that have been made over a span of twenty years, this is possible.  It may not be possible at home with four tiny children under the age of six.  Be easy with yourself.   Listen to your own voice.  What is most important for you?  What is MOST important for your child?  You are not a bad mother!

Calm.  Can you keep things calm, especially for the 7-9 year old?  They don’t need a million classes or  a million places to be.  That is just stressful for everyone!  They need time in nature, time to freely and deeply play, and time to just be.  Can you give them that?

Have a plan for the bad moments.  When everyone is yelling and screaming, what is your plan?  When you are trying to get dinner on the table, what is your plan?  What triggers you the most and what can your response be instead of yelling?

If you cannot find a compassionate response to your child, what does it take for you to get to that compassionate response?  Can you delay talking about things?  A boundary can be the most compassionate thing that needs to happen, but can you be calm in setting the boundary?   That is the key.

For children ages 9 to teens:

Space.  Children this age can still be on top of  you and chattering.  Sometimes we just need space. A walk.  A bath alone.  Ask for help.  Ask for space.  Check your own health.  I still find many mothers with children of this age (who may also have little ones still) can be very  depleted  health-wise, which impacts how they feel toward chattering and mess and everything else!  What are your thyroid and hormone levels? Your Vitamin D levels? Are you sleeping?  What are doing for yourself?  It becomes vitally important to re-discover pieces of yourself if you lost this along the way with younger children.

A rhythm of how to do things, including cleaning up.  Yes, it  takes work to get to that point, but I find one reason mothers of children this age yell is that the children create a trail of mess from building forts or legos or skateboard ramps …and leave a trail of half finished projects every which way that somehow ends up the sole responsibility of the mother to clean up .  Everyone can clean up, everyone can pitch in, and  it is okay to set boundaries on where mess will take place.  In the family, we all work together.

Opening the outside world.  Some yelling for parents for this age group seems to happen in regards to pushing boundaries about the “outside world” over and over and over…especially for those ages ten to twelve (and I think girls more than boys? Boy moms, please comment!).  Decide ahead of time — Yes or no?  Decide how important it is for  you to keep things low-key in this  age -range, and why and how you will do that.  What are the boundaries? What is the balance between child activities and family activities or adult-alone activities?  If you open things more widely  now, what will the “openings” be in the teen years?  Decide things now.  Older children of 11-12 and through the teenaged years may not feel like they fit in anywhere, and it is your job to hold steady.

Inner work for you.  What are the values of your family?  What does your child really need at this age?  What is most essential?  How are you walking the walk for what you most want to see in your children?  Rhythm is an essential key to reflecting what is most important in your family – if it is important, but no time goes to it in the rhythm of the day or week, then it is a great sign for re-alignment.

Younger Teens (ages 13-15):

Communication in conflict. The number one reason parents write to me about yelling at their children in this age range is how teens immaturely try to communicate when they are in conflict (ie, talking back, trying to use “logic” but they don’t really have stellar logic yet, etc).  Teens need help knowing how to resolve conflict, how to apologize – the parts of an apology, how to be an effective communicator.  It takes time to develop these skills, and the neurobiology of the brain needs to catch up.

Anger.  Teens often get angry with their parents and feel misunderstood.  How will you handle the anger of your teen?  Does this call forth triggers for you that cause you to yell?   How can you turn anger  on both the sides of you and your child into communication?

Responsibility and Accountability.  Teen are often headed into a phase where things “count”.  Grades may count for college, projects count towards grades, etc.  Time management skills are still being learned, and parents often are yelling when everything is down to the wire for projects or things.  Pressure can make everyone feel snappy. How can you diffuse this?

Rhythm and physical movement are still really important for the teenaged years.  This can really decrease stress, decrease anger on all sides, and lead to reduced frustration.

I would love to hear your best tips for not yelling.   Please share and help all the other mothers out there.

Many blessings,

Carrie

 

 

 

 

Weeks Seventeen and Eighteen of Homeschooling Eighth Grade, Fifth Grade and Kindy

We are still here in January, awaiting snow or ice or some combination.  For the Deep South, even a tiny amount of precipitation shuts things down ( mainly due to ice), so it will be interesting to see what happens.  This weekend I planned to gather with some fellow homeschoolers to talk about our experiences in  homeschooling grades 5-9, so I hope that still can happen!

We have been busy the past few weeks – hiking a lot, horses, and two new choir ribbons earned!  Very exciting indeed.  We have been reading a lot, and drawing and building by the fire and just enjoying this month.

Kindergarten – So the past two weeks have really seen us trying to step up “work of the day”.  Lisa’s e-courses are always great at getting me back on track when I feel things are sliding a bit  and I am so appreciative.  This month is on play (plus rhythm as always) and it has been very in-depth and enjoyable learning.  We have been vacuuming, baking bread, dusting, cleaning windows, filling birdfeeders, painting, modeling, finger knitting (and yes, our kindergartener really wants to knit on needles like his big sisters), and making winter crafts like little suncatchers to freeze overnight and then hang up in our (sadly, one and only) tree.  We have been hiking a lot as well.  Our circle is still a Winter circle, and our story has been “Shingebiss”, which is one of my absolute favorites.

Fifth Grade – Ancient Egypt has been great fun.  We ended up with a wet on wet painting of the Land of Egypt and a summary, a painting of a Pharaoh, a drawing of a pyramid, a beautiful drawing of a man gathering papyrus and we have modeled pyramids .  We have listened to  all the tales of Isis, Osiris, Horus and Set; read the book “Pyramid”; played with hieroglyphics and the Rosetta Stone,  and we are now finishing up “The Golden Goblet”.  This week we moved into Ancient Africa, mainly the land of Nubia and also the Mbuti and the San.  Next year we will pick up with Hatshepsut, Aksum, Great Zimbabwe and more.  Right now my main goal was to point out that Africa was the cradle of civilization.  and  that there were many things happening on the African continent.  I just love Africa and look forward to covering more and more in these grades 5-8.

Lastly, we started at the very end of this week to cover just a bit about the Phoenicians.  Sixth Grade Rome makes more sense if you have just a tiny bit of background about the Phoenicians, I think.    Next week we will start a little math block involving the Ancient Americas and chocolate that I wanted to do in fall and it just didn’t happen.  So,  looking forward to that.

We have been working hard on spelling and math, and drawing and painting.  I hope during our math block we will do some more writing about the Ancient Americas as well.    We are also doing some handwork and reading aloud as a family.    That is nice for winter!

Eighth Grade – We are wrapping up physics. We did many experiments regarding the nature of air, the use of a clinometer, and made many flying objects and experimented with those.    We looked at the biographies of our children’s great-grandfather, who was a test pilot; Amelia Earhart; Ruth Elder; Bessie Coleman and the Tuskegee Airmen.  We got many books out of the library and have been having fun discussing everything from parachutes to hang gliders to jet planes.  We have learned the aviator alphabet and worked on portrait drawing as well in this block.

In World Geography, we are wrapping up Latin America.  We reviewed all the political and geographic features of Latin America,  a little about NAFTA, and our eighth grader chose a country to make a travel brochure.  We also are reading about the Panama Canal and a summary on that will go in our Main Lesson book.

Our next block is actually Geography of Asia, so that will count toward World Geography credit hours for high school credit.  We are relieved to have a little reprieve of doing geography on top of a Main Lesson!

We are still working on math daily and on Spanish I for our outside teacher.  4-H is starting to get busy again, but we are unfortunately going to miss poultry judging this year due to a time conflict, but there are plenty of things to work on.

I would love to hear what you are up to!

Blessings and love,
Carrie

 

Meal Planning for January

I love these cold January days.  We have been hiking numerous days in a row, the sun shining through the bare trees, the hawks flying around us, the rivers running fast and high.

We have also been home, basking in candlelight, salt lamps, cozy woolen warmth and fires.  Books and board games and creating things.  It makes my heart so happy.  We have had places to get to, but not so much that one feels rushed or overwhelmed.  I love this time of year.  One thing I deeply enjoy this time of year is the warmth and love of the kitchen. I have a pot of bone broth going right now.  I love to cook and I cook frequently.  Warming foods seems so important.  I am no cooking expert at all, but I would love for my readers to  share some ideas for your favorite foods for this month and ideas for meal planning, and I will share a few of mine.

For warming drinks for little people, I like warm apple cider and raspberry tea.  For older children, I like hot chocolate.  Bone broths can also be a satisfying hot drink.

Smoothies feel a little out of place to me in January when it is cold, but I have to admit that sometimes a smoothie is my breakfast or lunch when everyone else wants something that is higher in carbohydrates that I don’t feel like eating.  I like ice with water, chocolate protein powder, a banana, and a little bit of chocolate coconut almond butter.  You could also add greens to it, and whatever powdered adaptogenic herbs you like.

For breakfasts, we have been having spinach scrambled eggs in tortillas with salsa, waffles on special festival days, buttermilk pancakes, and oatmeal done in a rice cooker with cinnamon and chopped apple.  Also, we have been juicing.  For my husband especially I have been making a combination of beet, apple, pear, carrot and lemon.  It is yummy, and our six year old really likes it too!

Lunch has always been the hardest meal for me to figure out.  I recently took Beauty That Moves Freezer Cooking Class.  I love Heather’s recipes, and I have been trying out many of her recipes from this class for lunch.  So, right now on our rotation we have some legume dishes, soups, and rice bakes and I usually cook fish for one lunch a week.

For dinner, we usually do some sort of crockpot meal.  This can include pastured chicken or pork from our local farmer or some sort of bison, along with some vegetarian meals.  I am not huge on wheat, but we do like barley or millet mixed with lentils or split peas or roasted potatoes and lots of vegetables.

I have been trying to cut desserts down after the holidays, which is hard with the sweet tooth of all the children, so if we have to have something baked apples are so warm and lovely.

I would love to hear what you have been cooking!

Blessings,
Carrie

The Impulse of Martin Luther King Jr.

Only three  American federal holidays are named after specific people:  George Washington’s birthday, Abraham Lincoln’s birthday and Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  The impulse of Dr. King has been on my mind as of late, in this month of celebration of his life and legacy.  I have long written about bringing the American impulse into Waldorf homeschooling  and American festivals into the cycle of the year, and this is the first chance we have to do this in a formal way in 2016.

We are lucky to live in the Deep South and within driving distance of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic site.  It was a beautiful day as we explored the site, which included  the Ebenezer Baptist Church Heritage Sanctuary, The King Center (which includes biographical exhibits on Dr. King and Coretta Scott King, Rosa Parks, and Mahatma Gandhi), Historic Fire Station No. 6,  the King Birth Home, the Historic Residential Area and the National Park Visitor Center.  Dr. King is widely celebrated for his oratory prowess, his work in the American Civil Rights Movement as a strategist and his tireless purpose of peace.  He was the youngest person to ever receive the Nobel Peace Prize at the time.

The federal holiday of Dr. King has turned most frequently into a day of service, so I encourage you to use this day as a day of community service and giving  with your family.

If you are searching for resources for songs and stories for the day, I recommend the following:

For stories, try the story “Impressions” over at  Sparkle Stories.  This story should be up on Monday.  I believe telling stories from your own heart are the best and in keeping with Dr. King’s amazing oration, but there are amazing  picture books regarding Dr. King.   For picture books, I like the book “The Cart That Carried Martin” (pre-read, it is about his funeral) and  the book “I Have A Dream”.  I also have been looking at the book, “Love Will See You Through” (for older children).

For music, I love the spirituals:  Yonder Come Day; Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, Go Down Moses; Hold On; Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around.

If you are searching for more regarding the impulse of Martin Luther King Jr in light of Waldorf Education and the work of Rudolf Steiner, I recommend AnthroMama’s  post from 2009.

I would love to hear your family’s traditions for this holiday.

Blessings and love,
Carrie

 

 

 

 

The January Book Box

These are the books we are diving into this month.  I hope to hear what you are reading to your children, too!

(For those of you home educating with Waldorf Education, please do remember that small winter verses are sufficient up to four years of age or longer and then simple little told stories.  You can look up back posts to see the progression of verses and nursery rhymes to repetitive stories to longer stories to eventually longer stories, simple books and chapter books.  There is a progression, so know this list is intended for those searching, but not necessarily for all of these to be read at one time to a child  no matter what age! You are the expert on your family!)

Seasonal Festivals/ Spiritual:

  • The Christmas Story Book, published by Floris Books – stories up to Epiphany divided by age.
  • St. Seraphim’s Beatitudes:  Blessings for Our Path to Heaven by Priest Daniel Marshall
  • The Theophany of Our Lord by Sister Elayne
  • In our house, the Anglican Communion has many wonderful Saints to recognize this month, so I keep many books on hand about these Holy Men and Women.
  • For Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I like “The Cart that Carried Martin” (look at the Amazon review and leave out the inaccurate line); “Love Will See You Through” (I would put it for older children myself than the reviews indicate); and many more wonderful books.  Go to your local library and browse and see what resonates with you and your family.

Seasonal/Winter:

  • Grandmother Winter by Phyllis Root
  • The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
  • Snow by Roy McKie and P.D. Eastman
  • The Biggest, Best Snowman by Margery Cuyler
  • Winter by Gerda Muller
  • Snow by Uri Shulevitz
  • Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton
  • Snow Princess by Susan Paradis
  • Sun Bread by Elisa Kleven (and bake some bread!)
  • The Story of the Snow Children by Sibylle von Offers
  • Red Sled by Patricia Thomas
  • Winter is the Warmest Season by Lauren Stringer (I really like this book).
  • The Mitten by Jan Brett
  • The Hat by Jan Brett
  • Winter Eyes: Poems and Paintings by Florian

Seasonal/Nature:

  • Winter on the Farm (My First Little House Books)
  • The Big Snow by Berta and Elmer Hader
  • Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
  • Cub’s Big World by Sarah Thompson

Winter Tales, for older children:

  • The Polar Bear Son:  An Inuit Tale by Lydia Dabcovitch
  • A Promise Is A Promise by Robert Munsch and Michael Kusugak
  • The Eskimo Twins by Lucy Fitch Perkins
  • A Day On Skates by Hilda van Stockum

I would love to hear what you are reading!

Blessings,
Carrie

 

Weeks Fifteen and Sixteen of Homeschooling Eighth Grade, Fifth Grade and Kindergarten

It has been good to get back into a more normal routine after the holidays.  Normally we take a break until Epiphany, but this year we lost quite a bit of time in the fall, so we started back on Monday.  I made a revised schedule of blocks for both eighth and fifth grade, and whilst we will finish later than usual for us for the school, I feel that in light of the fall we are doing the best we can do. If you would like to look back and see what we were doing in weeks twelve through fourteen, please see this article

This week has been a beautiful celebration of Epiphany, culminating today and tomorrow in lots of time at church for our Epiphany Celebration where the children put on a scripted musical.  We are looking forward to it!  We also spent a lot of time hiking the past few weeks, including several times up a local mountain, which our kinder really enjoyed.

Kindergarten – Kindergarten in Week Fifteen (the week before we took off for the holidays) and Week Sixteen (this week) was spent hiking, ice skating, baking and cooking, wet on wet watercolor painting and modeling.  This week we moved into a Winter Circle, and the story “The Holy Nights” from the WECAN book, “Tell Me A Story”.  This week also centered around things for our Epiphany Celebration at home, including baking an Epiphany Cake.  Lots of fun!  Our kinder has been walking around adding and subtracting out loud, copying letters that others have written, and overall just appearing ready for what will come in the fall.  I am grateful he has this extra time to just be before he embarks on first grade.

Fifth Grade -This week we moved on from Ancient Mesopotamia and the land of Gilgamesh into Ancient Egypt.  We finished up Ancient Mesopotamia with three paintings and summaries of: the land itself, the  ziggurat and its role, and Gilgamesh.  Gilgamesh was one of the favorite stories of the whole year so far.  I am partial to the Geraldine McCreaghean version.  For Egypt, I pulled from various sources to describe the land of Egypt and the Nile River Valley, the life of the Egyptians and yes, pyramids and mummification. At the very end of the week we began the story of Osiris and Isis.  I hope to wrap Egypt up next week and move into Ancient Africa, something not typically covered in a Waldorf School curriculum, but one I wanted to cover this year so seventh grade Africa is not such a huge block with no background.  Then we will cover Ancient China, and of course, before the year is through, Ancient Greece.  We will be covering the Ancient Americas as tied in with a math block as well.

We are working hard on spelling and math daily.  We finished reading about John Muir and are starting to read “The Golden Goblet” as a read aloud to tie into Egypt.  Other than that, for drama, our fifth grader is Mary in our church’s Epiphany Celebration,so that has been rehearsals.  We are still riding horses as well through the winter months and lots of choir practice for the Spring Musical and ribbon practice for choir.

Eighth Grade – We finished Chemistry.  Everything this year has been at the pace of a snail, so I feel as if it has taken us awhile!  We made it through carbohydrates, and what ended up in our Main Lesson Books was a page about the three classes of carbohydrates, a comparison of the solubility of sugar and salt, and the breakdown of starch with hydrochloric acid and the use of  Benedict’s Solution to test for simple sugars.  We did quite a few other projects and demonstrations for carbohydrates, including making an iodine solution and testing for the presence of starch and many baking projects.  With proteins, we looked carefully at the special role of proteins in the body,  enzymes (which was also in seventh grade chemistry too), we burned proteins,  and looked at the coagulation of casein.  One of our major experiments was testing proteins using the biuret reaction, and more cooking.  We especially looked at bone broths and the role of protein in healing bone broths and went through the best way to make bone broths, the benefits of broth and recipes for broth.  Lastly, we looked at fats and oils – their role in the body, what  makes a fat saturated or unsaturated, what essential fatty acids the body cannot produce,  testing for fats, the use of coconut oil, extracting an essential oil from lemon peel (and did a black and white charcoal drawing of lemons), looked at common oils, and emulsions.  It was a full block, and now we are moving into physics.

I pared physics down due to running low on time so we are going to do mainly aerodynamics.  Our eighth grader’s great-grandfather was a test pilot, so I started with his biography and we looked at the aviator’s alphabet and the nature of air through several experiments. One of the main sources I am using for this is actually not a Waldorf resource, but the book “The Sky’s The Limit!” by Adair, Ivans, Shennan, et al in conjunction with “Physics Is Fun!” (a Waldorf resource).  Also, there are many wonderful biographies to look at – Amelia Earhart, the Wright Brothers, Bessie Coleman, and the Tuskegee Airmen.

We are still reading “The Brooklyn Bridge” aloud and will next read about Woodrow Wilson in preparation for our upcoming World History block.  Our eighth grader is reading Bradbury’s “The Martian Chronicles” independently now and is answering questions about these stories and themes twice a week.  We are reviewing decimals, percentages and ratios as well.  Our eighth grader has also been working hard on Spanish as a mid-semester project was due with an outside teacher, and also her 4H Portfolio was due as well.  Horses, choir and ribbon and piano practice and more 4H have kept everyone busy!

I would love to hear what you are working on.

Many blessings,

Carrie

 

 

Preparing the First Block of First Grade

Some of you are already thinking of planning your first block of first grade.  I have just planned our first block.  This is my third time teaching first grade, and while each child is so different, I think there are some general tips that can be helpful to any parents planning a block.

If you have looked at the festivals of the year, your school year calendar, observed your child, and planned what blocks when plus gathered resources, you are ready to start planning your first block in detail.  If you are NEW to Waldorf homeschooling, you really need to understand the “why” and “how”. WHY do we do form drawing as the first block and HOW is it typically done?    Steiner’s educational lectures are the cornerstone in this regard, along with secondary pedagogical resources.

Many parents look at each block in terms of setting a goal for artistic work, soul development, and academic capabilities.  First grade is especially about getting children into their bodies, so to me this is an especially logical place to start.  I like to come up with an outline for each day and week. So, in our case, I have our day started with movement,  using the movement block rotation listed at the Movement for Childhood website. I also like to plan “movement breaks”  from this website as I know I will need them during the time spent with my child.

Then I look at establishing a daily order:  for example, after movement our order may be  our opening verse and active circle, active math, what the main lesson (in this case, form drawing) actually will be each day , and the ending of our day.  In our case, our first grader will also spend time each day working with his older sisters, so that will be listed as well – what they will be doing with him each day, whether that is cooking or handwork or reading to him or playing games.

Once you have this order of what happens during the time you are together,  and what happens each day of the week outside of the “main lesson time”, it is easy to make a template and start to plug things in from your resources or to make up what you need from your own creative and authentic self.  What will your movement, opening verse, active circle, active math, main lesson work be each day?   Look things up and create your own things!  You can write your own poetry or verses or songs and make up your own poetry!  Steiner outlined the first several days of first grade in his lectures, so looking at his indications is also an essential first step to planning the main lesson part of your template.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to draw from your child’s interests when it is developmentally appropriate.  For one child, when we did form drawing, I drew a lot from a story I made up about pond life and the movement of the animals, wind and things around the ponds in our local area.  For another child, I did form drawing based upon the stories and characters of Brambly Hedge.  You will find the right thing for your child if you just sit with it all for a little bit.  It will come. Trust the inspiration that comes to you!  It will be the right thing for your child.

Many blessings, and thank you for letting me share,

Carrie