This is the first three weeks of studying Ancient Rome in sixth grade. We actually starting preparing for this block about a week before our Mineralogy block ended by reading aloud the Aenid as chronicled in Penelope Lively’s book, “In Search of A Homeland: The Story of The Aenid.” We started by drawing a picture from this book on our first day, along with reading the synopsis of the Aenid by Dorothy Harrer in her book, “Roman Lives.”
We then started reading in Charles Kovacs’ “Ancient Rome” the story of Romulus and Remus. We painted the Seven Hills of Rome and talked about Horatius Keeps the Bridge (the historical event and the poem, “Horatius At The Bridge” by Lord Macaulay and also got the book with the complete poem in it to read), and also painted that scene as well. I found the Christopherus Roman History guide to be helpful with some of the summaries and map drawings at this point. Our daughter worked hard on a mosaic stepping stone for our garden during this week as well.
During the beginning of the second week of Rome, we drew a Continue reading
I have memories of November from growing up in Upstate New York; cool, crisp leaves crunching underfoot, frosty mornings, snow on the ground, dim sunlight through clouds and a gray that hung in the air. There were animals out, but there was a hush and a chill that let one know autumn was winding down and winter was on its way. I think for partially that reason, I really enjoyed this post by Elizabeth Foss (I just adore her and her writing!): http://www.elizabethfoss.com/reallearning/2013/11/november-silence.html
November always seemed like a still and silent time to me; a time to think and ponder and prepare. And so, heading into the holidays, I am pondering and preparing: Continue reading
I love Martinmas, this time of taking the beautiful spark of light within each of us, carefully carried from the height of summer expansiveness by the courage and bravery as seen in St. Michael, that can now light up the darkness of the earth and the human journey.
Lantern walks are a most popular way to work with the festival for all. A Lantern Walk does not even have to be a coordinated community effort; it can even be as simple and sure as walking around your own house or yard together with your lanterns. For small children, this can be just as wonderful as a community event.
There are beautiful things to file here for your next Martinmas celebration.
Here is Lily’s beautiful St. Martin (I just loved her Santa Lucia and I love her St. Martin as well! This is on my list to make for next year!): http://blockaday.com/stitching-for-martinmas/
I liked this post from Charming The Birds From The Trees: http://charmingthebirdsfromthetrees.blogspot.com/2013/11/saint-martin.html
The little story and sweets found here could also be kept in your files until next year: http://www.celebratetherhythmoflife.com/2010/11/martinmas.html
The geometric lanterns found here could be lovely for older students: http://waldorfmama.blogspot.com/2008/11/martinmas.html
This little lantern bunting is so very sweet: http://rhythmofthehome.com/2011/08/martinmas-lantern-bunting-waldorf-felt-seasonal-craft/
Finally, this post from The Magic Onions has a beautiful needle felted tapestry embedded in it, along with verses, songs and other lovely goodies: http://www.themagiconions.com/2012/11/a-thanksgiving-blessing-and-the-waldorf-tradition-of-lantern-walk.html
In part two in this series, I made some observations about movement being the foundation for attention and focus; about movement being the foundation of learning and about movement leading to being comfortable in the body and therefore giving the child the ability to be comfortable in the world. Every movement is one that involves not only the motor system, but all of the sensory systems (mainstream sources consider five senses, Waldorf Education considers twelve senses and neurologic research considers hundreds). Rolling, for example, is a motor experience that can involve a high degree of pelvic movement and weight shifting on a motor level, but also a sensory one where the visual, vestibular, proprioceptive and tactile systems are highly engaged. Obviously cognition and motivation play a part as well.
We always wonder about children who skip developmental stages that are considered normal or “neurotypical”. I did mention before, and it deserves mention again, that each child has a unique footprint to his or her own movement patterns, and asked readers to consider just the simple act of getting from laying on your stomach to sitting on the edge of your bed; it can be done in many different ways!
However, what if whole stages are skipped? One of my readers brought up her child who never really rolled well from being on the back to another position, and other readers have brought up children who skipped crawling.
These are questions with answers that must be observed carefully from within the child with the background question in one’s mind of “what does this developmental stage or action offer to the child?” and by observing what the child is doing in a holistic way and with love and interest.
Part of a way to look at this means asking ourselves, “What does the child gain by rolling (or by crawling on all fours or whatever the activity is)? What is the child gaining by the way the child is doing this now?” Again, I have mentioned in previous posts that some children come with special gifts and will not progress through these typical stages and whatever they experience out of a developmental sequence can be beneficial for them where they are functioning upon this earth.
I would like to address a few points particularly about rolling and crawling. Rolling is one of the motor skills that is Continue reading
(Carrie here: I am so grateful to Stephanie for sharing her experiences and journey here. I think those of you who have children with differing abilities and who are wondering what to do with Waldorf Education at home will be very inspired! Stephanie writes:)
Carrie invited me to share some of the interesting ideas we’ve learned so far on our special needs path with our micropreemie daughter, who is now eight years old. When our daughter was born on the borderline of viability, we knew that learning and developmental problems were likely to arise. When we met in the office of a preemie researcher at Harvard, Heidi Als, we asked what we could do to support our daughter’s healthy development. One of Dr. Als’ first suggestions to us was to use Waldorf Education. At the time, I had no idea what that was.
In retrospect, I consider our time before finding out about Waldorf Education to be our Dark Ages! I say this because our daughter is a child for whom living a Waldorf lifestyle and using the Waldorf School curriculum makes all the difference in her emotional stability and her ability to function in life. As a parent, it has been one of the hardest things to know that children like her need Waldorf Education the most and yet there are so few Waldorf resources available to families like ours. We took up the challenge in our family and started with making the changes suggested in the book “Simplicity Parenting,” by Kim John Payne.
In looking for further ideas and resources, we found the Otto Specht School (named after Rudolf Steiner’s first student), where our daughter started First Grade. These are some of the elements that the teachers have shared with us:
1. The teachers do not try to cover the entire curriculum each year, but they try to get to the essence of the curriculum for each year. I think this point sounds deceptively simple on the surface – until you actually try to pin down the essence for the child with whom you are working!
2. The teachers are not harried or rushed, ever, as far as I have seen. My daughter’s teacher is found of saying Continue reading
I think one thing parents should be very aware of is how the development of movement takes place. Movement of the ages before birth to age three is especially tied to relationships with other human beings. I love how Rahima Baldwin Dancy writes about this time period:
This change in consciousness from infancy to three years involves waking up, in the sense that the participatory consciousness of the newborn gradually becomes replaced by a strong sense of self (just try opposing the will of a two-year-old!). Before this strong sense of I can emerge, the child must first develop language, thinking and memory.
Penetration of the body, which culminates in walking, is a fundamental task of the baby’s first year. Talking is a key task of the second year. And thinking and memory are areas of tremendous development in the third year. -You Are Your Child’s First Teacher, page 67.
If we think about this from a sheer physical, materialistic perspective, the brain starts to develop around the third week of gestation and continues to develop throughout the lifespan of the human being. By age 6, the brain has about 90 percent of its adult volume. The characteristic gyri and sulci of the brain develop between the weeks of gestational week eight and gestational week 36, with some development extending into the post-natal period. The human brain is an unfinished organ, and Rudolf Steiner saw this and wrote about it — quite a remarkable idea for the early twentieth century, especially considering that the decade of the 1990’s was the decade labeled the “decade of the brain”. What Steiner added to this thought about the unfinished brain being influenced and developed by movement and the development of the senses was that the soul and spirit within our bodies works on the brain itself, and that the environment works on our internal organs. The limbs and dexterity of the limbs has much to do with the health of the child in the physical, social, emotional and intellectual realms.
If one talks to pediatric therapists, they can outline a pretty set standard of physical development that they learned in school. Not every child will go through this path of development, but the pieces children do accomplish is beneficial. Every self-initiated movement and accomplishment not only brings development of the body and the brain, but develops the will of the child and his or her own satisfaction.
The quality of movement is most important, and the physical path typically looks something like this, (as an example we will use the progression of an infant who is on his or her back): Continue reading
I don’t know as I have much advice in this area as the homeschooling group that I helped found closed this past spring. This group lasted six years and it was a gratifying experience in that it led to some wonderful mothers connecting to each other and some of the children finding wonderful friends. So, I guess in that sense, it was very successful.
From experiencing the life cycle of a group, which really is similar to the life cycle of almost any group, here are my suggestions for you to think about if you are in the process of forming or growing a Waldorf homeschooling group: Continue reading