Monthly Anchor Points: December

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 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.

Somehow I completely missed doing a monthly anchor post for the month of November!  You can, however, glance back at this post about the silence and stillness of November the silence and stillness of November and also this post I just wrote about  Thanksgiving.

Gratitude is a major theme in the month of November, and here is a February 2012 post about  gratitude and a   Thanksgiving 2011 post about gratitude.

We are coming into the month of December, a month of anticipation and preparation in the Christian Calendar. This post talks  Advent from a Waldorf perspective.  If you are from another faith tradition and are blogging about this month, please leave a link to your blog below so my readers can find you!   I am Christian and therefore can only write from the perspective of our authentic Christian life, but so appreciate other perspectives.

One thing I am thinking strongly about is how we as a family make a very conscious effort to slow down, not speed up, this holiday season.  You can see my contemplation about that in this post about the  simple holiday season.  and this post which holds  answers to parents’ holiday questions.

My Orthodox friends have already begun their Nativity Fast.  We begin here with the first Sunday in Advent on November 30th.  The monthly points that are our anchor this month include: Continue reading

An Introduction to Waldorf Homeschooling

 

To me, there are five main areas which come together to compose a Waldorf homeschool:

The Inner Work and Inner Life of the Teacher – this is of paramount importance, and the basis and foundation of Waldorf homeschooling.  Who you are and where you are on your inner path and spiritual work  is more important than the subject you teach.  Your will, your rhythms, your outlook, your spiritual work, will determine far more for your child than anything else – especially in the world of homeschooling where you are both parent and teacher.

An Understanding of Childhood Developmental Phases – I write about childhood development extensively on this blog.  Suffice it to say the view in Waldorf Education is that the human being is a spiritual being and that we continue to change, develop and grow throughout our lifetime.

Temperament of the grades-aged child (and in the teen years, emotion and personality) – We need to recognize not only the temperaments associated with the various developmental stages, but also the temperament of  our own child and ourselves and how to bring balance to that within our homeschooling experiences.

An Understanding of the Curriculum and How to Adapt it to Your Child and Homeschool:  We can start with such things as Steiner’s lectures and the secondary literature of the pedagogy.  However, the time we live in, the local geography, customs, language, local festivals and cultural events are all points in which the learning experience starts within the child and the child’s world. So, therefore, we must be familiar with not only the curriculum, but also with our own child and our own observations and meditation as to what that child needs, and then how to have the curriculum fulfill the needs of the child.  Dogmatic story-art-summary rhythms are often not helpful in the home environment and there are many ways to bring the rhythms of Waldorf Education to the home.

An Ability to “DO”, rather than just read.  This includes not only the ability to hold a rhythm and be organized, but also the ability to learn new things for oneself both in the area of the arts and in academic subjects.  For example, few of us were taught geometry the way the curriculum is outlined, and one most be willing to take a subject, even a familiar subject and see how  to dig into it and look at it from a spiritual perspective and to view art as a spiritual activity.

Many blessings,
Carrie

Developmental Fridays: The Thirteen Year Old

(Life got busy, so this week’s Developmental Friday is today!)

“Every now and then, in fact more or less at yearly intervals during the teenage years, Nature puts on the brakes and effects a sudden and sharp turn in the young person’s behavior. So it is for many at thirteen.

All of a sudden, as we have observed earlier at three and a half and again at seven, there is a marked turn toward inwardizing, withdrawal, uncommunicativeness,uncertainty about self and other people and the world in general, almost a slowing down of metabolism.” – from “Your Ten-to Fourteen-Year-Old” by Louise Bates Ames, Frances Ilg, Sidney Baker

Thirteen year olds typically withdraw physically and emotionally, tending to be critical, unfriendly, and suspicious, according to the Gesell Institute books. However, before we despair as parents upon reading this, the Gesell Institute sees these developments as “extremely positive and constructive” and a sign that the adolescent is protecting his or her half –formed, budding personality.    Waldorf Education also tends to take a positive view of the thirteen year old in the throes of these changes, as the book “The Human Life” by George and Gisela O’Neill  points out that the teenaged years are the time when the intellectual forces come to the forefront, but also  that emotional and personal elements also take a role now

Major Features Of The Thirteen-Year-Old Continue reading

A Waldorf View of Thanksgiving

“For most American households the Thanksgiving celebration has lost much of its original significance.  We can remediate the consumer holiday it has become by creating a Thanksgiving gathering and feast in kindergarten for the children and their families, where we give a living example of gratitude and joy for what we have and what we can share together.” – “Celebrating Festivals With Children” by Freya Jaffke

We begin sowing the seeds for Thanksgiving celebration by the observation of all the reverent moments that make up our very ordinary days throughout the entire year.  Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate the harvest being in, and this has been done in different varying festivals since ancient times.  The American Thanksgiving is just one festival of many that exemplifies the manifestation of the harvest as a culmination of the gratitude and reverence we share throughout the year with our children.

Thanksgiving is one of America’s oldest festivals, and one of ten federal holidays declared by the United States Congress.  Although schoolchildren often trace it back to the Pilgrims and a harvest gathering, the first national observation of Thanksgiving was actually proclaimed by President George Washington in 1789.  Thanksgiving was celebrated  erratically after this date by individual states and at different times, and Sarah Hale, editor of the Boston Ladies Magazine and Godey’s Lady’s Book, championed the idea of having a national day of Thanksgiving for nearly 15 years before Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving to be the last Thursday in the month of November in 1863.   You can read Lincoln’s proclamation here.   It actually took until 1941, when Thanksgiving was proclaimed a national holiday by the United States Congress, to arrive at its current date of the fourth Thursday of each November.

Simple tasks that we can undertake for this festival with small children  include Continue reading

From Reading to Action: “Waldorf Education In Practice”

We are looking at the book “Waldorf Education In Practice:  Exploring How Children Learn in the Lower Grades” by Else Gottgens, Master Waldorf Teacher and Mentor.  You can see my first post about this book  here.

Chapter 1  “BEFORE”: What Parents Should Know

This chapter is addressed to parents and to the two concerns most parents share about  the first three grades: Continue reading

Wrap Up of Week Twelve of Seventh and Fourth Grade

Hard to believe our first “trimester” was over as of Friday!  We have been in school for a full twelve weeks (starting week thirteen today!) and I do have a full thirty six weeks of school planned (although we will see if we stop at thirty four weeks instead).  At any rate, I feel as if we have accomplished quite a bit and I also feel like we are hitting a stride.  Some days are still rough, as always in homeschooling, but many days flow.  I love how so many areas of seventh grade bleed into each other and cycle around.  It really makes for great unity in this grade I think.  Fourth grade with its strong and passionate feeling life has always been one of my favorite grades as well.

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 eleven here and  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2014/11/08/wrap-up-of-week-eleven-seventh-and-fourth-grade/  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.

Changes in the Air: During week twelve we did much better starting earlier.  I was talking to a friend of mine who also has three children and we both had come to the realization that at this stage of the game, the start time matters so everyone can get what they need in and also that we can get done at a reasonable hour!

Kindergarten:  During week twelve we were still in Autumn circle, autumn fingerplays and songs, and “The Pumpkin Hotel” by Suzanne Down.   We were busy singing for Martinmas and will move into an extended circle during week thirteen melding elements of our autumn circle with gnomes, King Winter, and Martinmas lanterns and singing to extend our Martinmas celebration.  Despite the chilly weather, it has been prime acorn gathering season down here, and since we have a big bowl we have gathered on our nature walk, we are going to do the story “The Acorn Mill” this last week before we break for Thanksgiving.

Fourth Grade:  Week Twelve saw us diving into summary writing about Continue reading

Developmental Fridays: Questions From the Field About the Seven-Year-Old

Some time ago,  I asked on The Parenting Passageway Facebook page if parents had specific ideas for posts they would like to see and there were two questions about the seven-year-old.  So, in honor of those families with developmental questions, Fridays will be “Developmental Fridays”.  I think it is always comforting to know that our whilst our children are individuals, each with his or her own destiny, the human life is one of stages where others have trod before (and other parents have made it through).

The first question was regarding seven year old girls and their friendships.  This first thing I thought of was something veteran Waldorf Teacher Marsha Johnson shared some time ago on her list about the six/seven change and community.  I hope you find this post to be a good read.

The second thing I thought of was was this post about peer relationships in the six to eight year old  here.  There are many great comments regarding different situations parents were dealing with on this post, so please do take the time to scroll through the comments!.

The second question asked had to deal with a seven year old transitioning to the “real world” – where things are not fair, why do people do hurtful things, why are things not as black and white as they seem….Well, as to the “gray” part of life, I do not think that gets fully differentiated until adolescence and beyond.  Twelve year olds still live in a black and white world, which is why in the Waldorf Curriculum we work with charcoal drawing – to work with and see some of  those shades of gray.

Seven is about growing up, and about learning rules.  If a seven year old is in a Waldorf School, they may be learning how to be a learner in a grades classroom, and learning how to get along socially, and noticing things as they stand a bit apart from the “oneness” with the world (which I think sees hints now in some children and then it really comes to a head during the nine-year-change).  I think being Continue reading