31 Days to the Inner Rhythm of the Heart: Day Fifteen

Our 31 days to the inner rhythm of the heart, the root foundation of a house of peace, is in progress.  In the vein of those who are setting a New Year’s intention with “one word”, I offer the word of today to you: re-assess.   Read on for more

We are approximately half-way through our thirty-one days to the inner rhythm of the heart.  As a reminder, our words to help us on this journey include reconciliation, attentiveness, reverence, courage, love, relentless, unity, building, time, haven, steady, warmth and inner work.

I have heard from so many of you that have enjoyed this series, although there have not been a lot of discussions or comments made publicly on this blog.  I would love to hear about you and what process is working in your life.

So, today is your day to re-assess what is working and Continue reading

31 Days to the Inner Rhythm of the Heart: Day Fourteen

 

Our 31 days to the inner rhythm of the heart, the root foundation of a house of peace, is in progress.  In the vein of those who are setting a New Year’s intention with “one word”, I offer the word of today to you: inner work. (Yes, that is two words, but who is to quibble?  Smile) Read on for more

 

A lovely comment on the last post really made me think.  The comment was along the lines of, “how do I maintain warmth when I am trying to help a child with boundaries?”  Many mothers tell me how hard it is, that the reaction is to be cold, or stiff, or withdraw or pull away.

 

Some families do wonderfully with everyone going off to their separate spaces and having a little time to calm down before coming back calmly.  However, I have seen many small children in particular, who really need you to hold them calmly through their anger or tears or tantrum.  Older children and teenagers may need a cooling off period, but they don’t need an icy stance either.  What children need to hear and see most often is that “I love you.  We will work on this as a team together.”  And, this of course, requires, you to keep your ho-hum  and your warmth as much as possible.

 

I find if I am feeling emotions rise, or feeling as if I should withdraw, that something has triggered me and Continue reading

Time To Plan!

Hello Waldorf Homeschooling Mothers,

We are in a beautiful time of year right now.  Candlemas, February 2nd, has just passed.  This quiet day is a festival that I love and we live into in our home. In the book “All Year Round”, the authors write:

At the beginning of February, when the infant light of spring is greeted thankfully by the hoary winter earth, it seems fitting that we should celebrate a candle Festival to remember that moment when the Light of the World was received into the Temple, where the old yielded to the new.

I have been thinking about this passage for several days.  Elsewhere in “All Year Round”, the authors also wrote about tapping into “much deeper sources of hope and inner confidence.”

So, I feel this time of year is a gentle and renewing time to look to the upcoming school year.  If you are new to homeschooling, you will need to yes, look at your state’s requirements and laws.  You will probably sit with a calendar for a while and sketch out your year of festivals and holiday dates.  This back post may be of service:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2012/06/10/get-your-planning-on/  and this one:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2012/05/23/planning-tips-for-homeschooling-kindergarten-through-grade-four/

You may then even start to plan out the blocks for each grade or monthly work and play for your children in the Early Years.  For the grades, I always suggest checking with the AWNSA chart to see what is listed for each grade.  Homeschooling parents complain about this and say, “Well, our homeschools are not Waldorf Schools.”  No, this is of course true.  However, without the schools we would have no models to even really work from as the schools have done a huge amount of work to put Steiner’s pedagogical conclusions based upon the spiritual human being into practicality.  So, I think there is balance and truth to be gained by looking at whatever you are teaching from both angles in  a way – what might be done in a school, what would work at home and taking what resonates with you for your unique child.

Then, you can start to slowly and carefully compile your resources and read them a bit and let them sleep.  You will return to them again in a few months’ time to begin planning in earnest.

Many homeschooling parents rely on curriculum or curriculum guides and then agonize over the best one to choose.  I personally pull from a wide variety of resources, and take each block and make it my own.  Waldorf homeschooling is a vibrant, living path and requires a good amount of will forces from the parent to really make it work.  I wrote a post on choosing curriculum some time ago and I think it still stands:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/03/13/which-waldorf-curriculum-should-i-use/

This fall (of 2014) I will be teaching seventh grade, fourth grade and an early years child who will be 4 turning 5 in the fall.  These are three separate developmental stages to plan, and two grades with a good amount of material to cover, so I hope to begin now so I can have hope and inner confidence.  I hope you will as well.

Many blessings,
Carrie

31 Days to the Inner Rhythm of the Heart: Day Thirteen

 

Our 31 days to the inner rhythm of the heart, the root foundation of a house of peace, is in progress.  In the vein of those who are setting a New Year’s intention with “one word”, I offer the word of today to you: warmthRead on for more

 

Often in our parenting we can end up feeling almost like a victim.  “Why won’t my child sleep?”  “Why is this so hard?”  “Why does my teenager slam and lock the door to her bedroom?”  “Why is our family so volatile at times?  Why is it so hard for everyone just to be happy?”

 

We act as if we are the victim and reactive to our children’s whims, mood swings; captive to a child’s thoughts of the moment.

 

I offer to you as the antidote to this the thought of warmth.  You are the sun in your home, and your children come toward your warmth and light.  You are calm and steady.  You are the queen of your home.  You love, smile and hug your children and connect with them. 

 

If things are not going well you do not withdraw your warmth but can warmly smile through the crisis of that moment and say, “I love you”, but also keep so calm that things are defused or everyone takes a break and then comes back to work as a team on the problem at hand. 

 

Warmth is one of the most important aspects of being with children. They must feel your warmth, even if you are upset in the moment.  Take a breath, the moment will pass and your warmth will shine through once again. The more you practice this, the better  and easier it will happen.

 

Blessings,
Carrie

Sixth Grade Mineralogy

This is an interesting block to plan and do.  We actually started this block with a trip my sixth grader took to Luray Caverns in Virginia over the summer before our school year officially began.  We also took several trips to places of geographic interest in our state.  I think this is the best student and teacher preparation for this block – to really identify what is in your own state and go there!

The resources I used to plan this block included:

  • The Christopherus Homeschooling Resources “ A Rough Guide to Sixth Grade” by Donna Simmons – free
  • “An Environmental Science Curriculum For Middle School” by Craig Holdrege of The Nature Institute — free
  • AWNSA Waldorf Science Newsletter Volume 5, #10  – free
  • The Living Earth by Walther Cloos  – available through anthroposophic booksellers
  • Roadside Geology of Georgia by Pamela J.W. Gore and William Witherspoon
  • All  About Rocks And Minerals by Anne Terry White (an old book but worth the find) – used
  • Geography From A to Z:  A Picture Glossary by Jack Knowlton  (used)
  • The series by Jean Craighead George “One Day In The (Woods, Prairie, Desert, etc)  (all used)
  • The Story of Salt by Mark Kurlanksky and S. D. Schindler   (all used)
  • Books on fossils
  • Samples of coal – free from Coal Association
  • Samples of rocks for testing hardness – Amazon
  • “Geology and Astronomy” by Charles Kovacs

I took the broad view with this block, which was inspired by the Christopherus Curriculum “Rough Guide to Sixth Grade”, where Donna Simmons mentions to try to “weave” geology, biomes and weather together.

I  mapped out the major themes in this way, starting back with fifth grade botany:  plants —>biomes—> geography /geographic features influenced by —> water, wind, climate —>climatic change using glaciers as an example —>moving into more traditional mineralogy starting with granite and ending with a summary of rock cycle, metal ores and salt.

So, we started  by  picking up our botany main lesson book from fifth grade and reviewing plants.  We spent time outside looking at different habitats and biodiversity of plants and the animals that  we drawn there because of those plants.  We reviewed ecology terms (what is ecology?  what is biome?  a habitat? biodiversity?  a climax community?) .  Using the Nature Institute’s free plan, we talked about plants as food and a what a food web looks like in different habitats and investigated the introduction of the European Rabbit into Australia and other cases in our own state where the food web became altered by introduction of non-native species. We spent time talking about plants as producers, and plants that we eat and who/what are decomposers or consumers of plants.

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That was our first week and a half or so.  During our second week we moved into talking about how plants are found in certain geographic locations in the world and are grouped into biomes.  We talked about succession and made a biome map of North America.  We also started reading the Jean Craighead George series of books (very easy to read aloud, thin with pencil drawings) and our daughter has been working on drawing or painting each biome.  (This project has extended on past when the mineralolgy block officially ended, as have some other pieces that I mention toward the end of this post).

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Biomes depend upon climate and weather (rainfall).  Biomes are distributed throughout the world and are a way we can describe parts of the world.  The other way we can look at the world is through geography.  So we reviewed geographic terms and did some modeling of different geographic forms.  No  landform is static, of course,  and is affected by wind, water and weather. Our daughter wrote an original composition about the water cycle from the standpoint of a raindrop and also drew this in oil pastels.  We also talked about wind – trade winds, equatorial winds, westerlies, polar easterlies, etc in map form and lastly about weather and the five zones of the earth from a climatic standpoint.

The poem “Fire and Ice” by Robert Frost became our theme now, and we worked with this poem in movement and copper rods and finally captured it in our Main Lesson Books: Continue reading

31 Days to the Inner Rhythm of the Heart: Day Twelve

Our 31 days to the inner rhythm of the heart, the root foundation of a house of peace, is in progress.  In the vein of those who are setting a New Year’s intention with “one word”, I offer the word of today to you: steadyRead on for more

So far, our words to help us on a journey to a calmer, more peaceful home include open, reconciliation, attentiveness, reverence, courage, love, relentless, unity, building, time and haven . Today we are considering the word steady in creating a peaceful relationship with our children. Continue reading

31 Days to the Inner Rhythm of the Heart: Day Eleven

 

Our 31 days to the inner rhythm of the heart, the root foundation of a house of peace, is in progress.  In the vein of those who are setting a New Year’s intention with “one word”, I offer the word of today to you: havenRead on for more

In La Leche League, my favorite parenting organization, there is a good amount of emphasis and thinking about people before things.  This is rightfully so in regards to all people, but especially our children!  Children need our presence, our time, our attention.  They are far more important than things.

I hear a lot of chatter around the Internet of mothers being turned off by “beautiful” blogs.  Where is the imperfection, the humanity, the realistic look at living with children 24/7 we cry?  Living with children is a constant re-do of the cooking, cleaning, laundry – it never really ends and just cycles around and around.  That can be challenging for some parents who would love the home to stay clean for five minutes before the cycle begins again!

So we often say our children are more important than our things, and therefore our children are more important than cleaning our things and taking care of those things.  However, I am not certain it has to be as one-sided as we often seem to make it on the Internet.  It is almost this unspoken thing that if we are taking care of our children well, then we can’t take care of our homes well.  If we take care of our homes well, then obviously our children are being neglected and they will grow up and have to enter therapy!  And to be fair, some of us do have memories of our mothers cleaning, cleaning and we were to be seen and not heard, and it is not pleasant.  I do understand that!

What I am suggesting is a middle way of viewing the home as a haven.  If you read the last post in this series, I talked about time and being home.  Being home for copious amounts of time is a first good step to having time for this middle ground of caring and nourishing our children and the physical space in which we live.

I feel that this nourishing and care for the home may be more important than we make it out to be because I talk to so many mothers and they tell me their stress level is so much higher when their homes have clutter piled everywhere.  They tell me when no one picks up after him or herself and they feel as if they are the only one helping to care for the home they feel stressed and they tend to yell.

So I do think having a no-yelling home DOES have something to do with the physical environment and what routines or rhythms are in place to help take care of nourish the home.  The home is a very real extension of the people who live there.  When we have a baby, especially a first baby, and even into early childhood, things  in the home will not be done completely nor perfectly.  However, there is a difference between recognizing that and doing what can be done versus deciding nothing can be done at all.   Again, the middle ground is important.  For those of us who have completely perfectionistic tendencies about cleaning and clutter, learning to have realistic expectations is so important.  I know people who don’t have children.  Their things don’t mysteriously move places!  Some of them are exceedingly neat and clean from top to bottom after they cook – because they are not cooking three or more times a day for a hungry children! So, realistic expectations and finding that balancing point is so wonderful.  Many mothers do tell me that when things are reasonably picked up and reasonably clean, they feel lighter and happier.  This is the reality we are searching for in making our homes a haven.  A haven is not a picture from a magazine of beautiful homes where no one lives.  A haven is a home where children and children’s friends play, a home where pets are loved, a home where there is a certain harmony between the adults in the home.  And this really can start with a welcoming physical environment.

Many mothers begin by simplifying and reducing as much clutter as possible.  This is the first step toward beginning to establish routines and rhythms that take a little time each day that can be done together as a family.  This is the first step toward bringing order out of chaos.  This is an interesting back post for you to read on this subject:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2011/03/30/an-ordered-outer-world-for-a-peaceful-family/   and this outside post that was an inspiration to many:  http://www.studyinbrown.com/writing/2011/3/22/order-and-routine-making-straight-paths-for-peace-part-2.html

Many mothers enjoy a system such as Flylady to help them reduce their clutter and get started on baby steps to cleaning.  I love Flylady.  My home is generally reasonably picked up, but I don’t spend hours and hours on chores and I attribute this to a foundation of many years with  Flylady.   I don’t do things exactly like Flylady, but I do have small step routines in place.  

You can start laying the foundation of working as a team to nourish your home as early as the toddler years.  Liza wrote a beautiful post about this here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2011/06/28/guest-post-meaningful-work-for-toddlers/  .  Work in the home, and as a team, is another way to connect to our children, to establish a family unity, to attach ourselves to one another in love.

A home as a haven.  What a beautiful thought for the day.

Blessings and peace,

Carrie