First Two Days of School: Seventh Grade, Fourth Grade and Kindy

 

People who are curious about homeschooling always want to know how it rolls with multiple children and how it works teaching multiple grades using Waldorf Education at home.  It is undoubtedly different than a Waldorf school, and yet I feel indebted to the schools and the resources the Waldorf school teachers use as I gleam so much from the teachers and their resources.

We celebrated our first day of seventh grade, fourth grade and kindy (our four year old will be five in October, so this is his five year old year) yesterday.  What follows are two days in the life of our homeschooling adventure.

On most of the “first day of school” in years past our older girls would dress alike in something new or wear something pretty from what they already had.  This year they dressed up in something they already had, took the dog and their little brother for a quick walk (all barefooted) and came back and we took first day of school pictures (still barefooted).  They quickly checked on their hamsters, fish and frog and then came to the school room.  We opened our school day around 8:15 with prayers and confession, and then a reading from “Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends” (Christian book). We are alternating this book in the morning with some of the writings of St. Theophan the Recluse.  Next we moved into singing and fingerplays for our four year old and ended with a story from Juniper Tree Puppets’ Old Gnome Through The Year book.  I had wet on wet watercolor painted a very large background with a pond and frog puppets on sticks that move within the painting and had needle felted a gnome for the telling of this story.  The older girls then grabbed their folders of independent work (fourth grader reviewing coinage in math and seventh grader reviewing United States geography) and the little guy and I went downstairs.  He worked on tying his apron in the front, measuring ingredients,  and stirring with one and then both hands to make a big batch of yellow, lemon essential oil scented salt dough.  After we cleaned up, I took him outside (still in his heavy apron) to hunt for beautiful sticks and presented him with a very small pocketknife. (If you would like to know more about this, please see the writings on the Forest Kindergartens in Germany and Europe, and also the woodworking book for 3-5 year olds by  Master Waldorf teacher Marsha Johnson.) I demonstrated and modeled the use and care of the knife and how to whittle and  he very carefully whittled the bark off the end of a small stick to be a fishing pole for the Old Gnome puppet in our story under supervision.  Once the whittling was complete for the day, I put the knife away in a very safe place. Our seventh grader then took over the supervision of her brother  whilst I worked with our fourth grader.

Our fourth grader began with Continue reading

Let’s Read: Simplicity Parenting

 

RHYTHM.  Does that word strike fear or guilt into your heart when you hear it?  Rhythm should be something that is inherent to your particular family, and it should be a source of freedom, not any negative emotions.  Kim John Payne opens this chapter by noting:

“Life today for most families is characterized more by randomness and improvisation than rhythm.  Tuesday wash day?  Cookies and milk after school?  Sunday roast beef dinner?  With both parents working outside the home, these kinds of weekly markers may sound more quaint than realistic.  Family life today often consists of whatever is left over, in terms of our time and energy, when the “work” of the day is done.  When I ask a mother or father to describe for me a “typical day” in their home, nine times out of ten they begin by saying there is no “typical”.

Just as there are inherent rhythms in the rising and setting of the sun each day and the change of seasons, there are rhythms inherent in us and our own bodies.   Our families often too, hold their own inherent rhythms. Our children, in this often hectic world where children are pushed to be miniature adults, NEED rhythm more than ever. It is a source of dependability, a source of reliability and promotes the child’s feeling that the world, their world,  is a safe and secure place!   This is the essence of believing the world is a good place!  This is also the first stirrings of boundaries and of family identity. Rhythm is what you do in your family.

Too often today children are the center of the family, a sun in which the parents orbit around the children’s desires (which is totally different from the what –I-want IS actually what-I –need in the years of being an infant!).  Instead, family life, should be that needs of the whole family are set forth as a beautiful trajectory, yes, like the arc of the sun rising and setting in the sun, and the children find their places on the trajectory.  This helps children find their own place in the family and the world.  The children are part of something bigger than themselves. Rhythm is the thing that can most help with this arc.

This is also important from the viewpoint of simplification.  Rhythm does not assume Continue reading

Monthly Anchor Points: August

 

Anchor:  a person or thing that can be relied on for support, stability, or security; mainstay: Hope was his only anchor.

When we work to become the author of own family life, we take on the authority to provide our spouse and children and ourselves stability.  An effective way to do this is through the use of rhythm.  If you have small children, it takes time to build a family rhythm that encompasses the year.  If you are homeschooling older children and also have younger children not yet ready for formal learning, the cycle of the year through the seasons and through your religious year becomes the number one tool you have for family unity, for family identity, for stability.

I wrote about my homeschool planning method of marking seasonal and liturgical ideas down for each month in past posts, which has led to the creation of this series.  Now we are extending our mood of celebration into August!  I wrote about  August last year  as well. It is interesting to see how the same month can feel the same in so many ways, and yet so different.

This is the month that I associate with heat, rain showers, lakes, blackberries, anticipation, and the quality of  humility.  It is a month where fall peaks around the corner in some ways and we know school and more regular rhythm is indeed on its way! Continue reading

Gentle Discipline By Age–Part Three

 

Gentle discipline is the mainstay of parenting life, because it encompasses guiding and validating the authentic spiritual being that is every human being and child.  It is a mindset to live by and parent by, and if you can master some of these techniques, you will find yourself even having more positive communication and conflict resolution with other adults.

I have wanted to do a round-up of techniques by age, and here it finally is beginning.  I hope it will be helpful to you, and do please feel free to add your own thoughts or experiences to this list.

In Part Two,  we focused on birth through age 4.  Today we are going to look at ages five and six.    The mainstay of gentle discipline for these years begins with our own inner work and development, as discussed in Part One of this series.

Birth through age  four encompasses a time of protection, physical movement, warmth and trust and love in a caregiver and in a good world.  The ending of this stage sees the use of the words “I” and “no” not as an act of defiance or disobedience, but as growth into individuality.  Ages five and six also sees the same  importance of protection, physical movement, warmth, and love and trust in a caregiver continue.  However, play and social experiences now expands during these years, (although some children will not blossom into truly enjoying other children until the six/seven year transformation).  Play is the main theme for these years, and also a  look at the willing gesture involved in roles, power, and control. Continue reading

July: Time to Plan

 

Here in the Deep South, many homeschoolers will be starting school again in a few weeks.  I love this time of anticipation of fall, and am looking forward to heading back into some more rhythm.  The children seem ready as well, so we will continue to enjoy nature and all her summertime glory (and fall glory too, with camping and trips to the beach in the fall), but I am feeling more ready to get going!

 

I wanted to share with you some of my favorite resources for planning: Continue reading

Tea and Conversation With Our Daughter–Part Two

 

I wrote the very first part of this post quite some time ago here.  Back then, I had a small idea about topics where I thought I might like to speak into our daughter’s life over time, just layering in things here and there.  When I wrote that post, our oldest daughter was ten and a half.  Now she is turning thirteen in a few weeks, and I can see she is  really within that wonderful beginning of the  realm of thinking;  a time of the  beginnings of  cause and effect in a thoughtful, mindful way; a time of  moving from feelings into “what-choices-do-I-make-off-of-these-feelings”; a time of snippets of moving from love into duty, with glimpses of ideals and values that I suspect will blossom so much more in the later teenaged years.

When my daughter was younger, it was all about modeling, and also the doing work of the household and garden.  Now that she is older, it is still about  all of those things, but we can start to have some thoughtful  discussions and reading.  This was the little list I started out with in that old post, and I wanted to share with you all some of the resources I have found to address these topics.  (Some of these are Christian, because I am Christian, but many of them are also easily adaptable to many belief systems). Continue reading

The Rant: Kind Children For Life

 

(I would like to thank my friend Molly for brainstorming with me for this post!)

Earlier this week, I was at the pool  with some beautiful mother friends, and one of them mentioned a recent article in the Washington Post about raising kind children.  You can read  this article , and I highly suggest you do.   I have read it over.  And over. And over.

 

What is most stunning to me about this article is this particular statement:

About 80 percent of the youth in the study said their parents were more concerned with their achievement or happiness than whether they cared for others. The interviewees were also three times more likely to agree that “My parents are prouder if I get good grades in my classes than if I’m a caring community member in class and school.”

 

Don’t get me wrong; like most parents I would like my children to be happy and to have a happy life doing what they love.  But, to have this at the expense of or exclusion of caring about others is totally disagreeable to me.  Kindness and love really and truly is the pinnacle of the human being.   It is to be found within ourselves, and how we hear and interact with the other.

 

How or why would this be happening?  Eighty percent is an incredibly high number!  I was pondering this, and this quote from the sweet little book “Wonderful Ways to Love a Teen….even when it seems impossible” by Judy Ford, M.S.W. popped into my head:

 

Some parents tell me that weeks go by without their saying anything more than hello and good-bye to their teenagers, not because they haven’t wanted to be with one another, but because their lives are loaded with demands and obligations.  The years from junior high to high school can be one big blur.  Soon the kids are graduating, and you barely remember what happened.

 

Children need to have kindness modeled for them everyday in their interactions; they need to be connected enough to their parents that their parents will help guide them in the tougher places and situations that often come up especially for middle schoolers and high schoolers; they need to have balance and time to breathe – not a schedule so packed in with rigorous academics and extracurricular activities that the home just becomes a “home base” on the way off to somewhere else.   If we can slow down and connect, then we can work on kindness.  But that requires time to talk, listen, exchange ideas.

 

I have been writing about kindness for a long time; you can see this 2009 post.   The Washington Post article had some good points to make; another resource I would like to point out is Zoe Weil’s 2003 book, “Above All, Be Kind.”  Weil’s book is focused upon humane education and educated decisions regarding consumerism.  Her book is divided into sections by age, including birth through age 6, the years of 7-12 and the teenaged years.  A constant focus on respect, reverence, responsibility, (as often mentioned in Waldorf Education and also a focus  in Weil’s book), is a promising way to lay a foundation for kindness, no matter what the age of your child.  Author Weil uses reverence as a focus in the early years, respect as a focus in the middle years, and responsibility as a focus for the teenaged years.

 

Above all, we must embody what we want our children to see.  We must slow down life enough that the pressure of outside activities and achievements does not become more important than showing love and kindness to others.  All the achievement in the world cannot really buy happiness, yet kindness often has a magic of its very own.

 

In this age where we are bombarded with information about parenting, discipline, how to navigate school, sports and friends, we can lose sight of  the the most important lesson of all in relating to each other: kindness.

Blessings,

Carrie