Homeschooling Middle School: Socialization and the Future

Several mothers of middle schooled homeschooled children whom I have spoken to recently (with children ranging from almost 13 to 14 and a half), have said that their children have asked for either classes with a peer group or expressed an interest in someday attending school.  My own older daughter recently told me she would like a Latin class in a group of peers, which I thought was interesting timing on the heels of some of the conversation between myself and other parents.

This question  has also given many of us  as parents a small wondering pause.  Many of the parents who have planned to homeschool through high school are wondering if the pull towards peers is going to become stronger and stronger and will our teens be happy homeschooling high school or will they want to do something different?  And then there is always that delicate balance of how much does a child get to decide for themselves what course their education is going to take during the teen years?  Much like many children do not have a choice whether or not to attend school, many homeschoolers feel a traditional academic school is not a good fit for their family, even in high school.  These are the delicate issues that must be grappled with.

And I think this wanting to be  in a peer group for classes and learning also points to a different piece – being with peers socially.  My daughter told me the other day that she loves homeschooling and wouldn’t change a thing about it, but she does wish she could see her friends more during the week.

Because there is a big change that happens in middle school homeschooling, I think.  Continue reading

A Special Guest Post For Developmental Friday: The Fourteen- Year- Old Boy

I am so honored to have author Lea Page, a longtime homeschooling mother and veteran parent, here with us today.  Lea raised and homeschooled her two children in rural Montana. She now lives and writes in New Hampshire.  Her new book, “Parenting in the Here and Now”, promises to be an amazing read for all parents.  Her book has a page on the Floris book website here.  This book is scheduled for publication in the UK on April 16th, and will be available from Steiner Books and other bookstores in the US a few weeks later.  It is available now for pre-order on Amazon.  Enjoy Lea’s beautiful post about Advent, waiting, and the fourteen year old boy.  I am so pleased she is here with us!

The 14 Year Old Boy—or—Waiting for Him to Emerge from the Cave

Advent is the perfect time to consider the fourteen-year-old boy. Think of the classic gesture: he withdraws into his room, which he now prefers to be unlit and untouched by any human hand, most especially yours. When he responds to you—IF he responds—it may be monosyllabic.

For parents, this time can be challenging and frustrating. We want him to come out and… do something! Say something! Reassure us that he is…. what? who? The delightful thirteen-year-old that he used to be? He can’t.

This withdrawal is how—in his messy, unmade bed way—your fourteen-year-old walks into the mystery of deep reflection and infinite possibility. The whole year is a transition. It will be, for him, a journey into and out of the Advent spiral. He walks into darkness alone, in search of that single flame at the center. And then he tips his candle to that light and kindles his own. If you have watched a child walk an Advent spiral, you know that they emerge lit from within.

Advent is a time of waiting and of faith. And so it is with our fourteen-year-old boys. We must wait, and we must have faith. And more than that: we must hold them in our hearts with reverence, even when the smell of their socks is staggering.

The fourteen-year-old still sees the world as black or white, either/or, good or bad. He is beginning a journey where he will discover that most of the world operates in the grey area and that there is a positive and negative aspect to everything, depending on the circumstances. It’s all relative. Continue reading

From Reading to Action: “Waldorf Education In Practice”

Else  Gottgens wrote about her experience in observing many Waldorf classrooms in Chapter Three of our book, “Waldorf Education in Practice”.

“So, as a mentor, what did I see in too many classes where I was asked to observe?

Beautiful reverence.

Quiet expectation.

And then, 20 minutes later:  Mayhem!”

The mayhem often began with “circle”. “Circle” , in the grades, is supposed to be a warm-up.  In Else Gottgens’ mind, many of the exercises, such as singing, reciting, finger plays, etc,  actually can be done better behind the desk, facing the teacher!

Surprised?

The author then wrote about including exercises that make the children conscious of their feet and legs and finger games, speech and singing, concentration exercises for listening, and  exercises to nourish the Twelve Senses.  She debunked  the notion that circle is a music lesson, a gym lesson, a speech lesson, a flute lesson and/or a math lesson all in one.  In fact, she wrote:  “The children should be moving a lot more during other parts of the Main Lesson.” This is for grades one through three, and very important!  Imitation as a force in the early grades is waning, albeit a large part of children until the nine year change, but authority comes to the fore in this period of childhood development.    The teacher no longer has to demonstrate and do everything with the child, but show the child and sometimes join in and sometimes step back and observe the child! Continue reading

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