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

From Reading to Action: “Waldorf Education in Practice”

 

We will be heading through this wonderful book chapter by chapter.  It is by the beloved Master Waldorf teacher Else Gottgens  and focuses on Waldorf education in practice for the first three grades.  (However, I think many pearls can be gleamed out of it for the older grades as well).  Else Gottgens was an amazing Master teacher who was a class teacher for 41 years and then began at age 61 to mentor other Waldorf teachers for the next 20 years.   She was in literally hundreds of Waldorf classrooms.    If you would like to know more about Else’s life and career, please see this article this article.

This book is about “ensuring Idealism meets Realism in a productive way.”  It is easy to read about Waldorf education, and so much different in practice when you are trying to teach (whether one child at home or thirty children in a classroom).  As a Waldorf teacher, we create moments of learning out of our own creative forces.  Whilst we can gleam examples and ideas in the pages of a book or a curriculum, we cannot find our own creativity there or the relationship with our own child there.  As a teacher, Continue reading

Children Who Resist School Time–Part Two

Homeschooling parents are often faced with the challenging task of teasing out why a child would resist a time of instruction and then what to do about it.  I was puzzling over this in the first part of this series and put forth some questions I always run through here.

I think there are two major thrusts to this – the part that YOU, as the parent and teacher, can change or put forth differently  and then also the part of the child.  Two separate but intertwined things that together can make a beautiful and fun experience or just lead to headlock.

In our home, I try to put forth a ho-hum attitude of  “this is our life”, the idea of not talking too much (which sometimes I fail at miserably, especially with the child that tends to throw me the most resistance), the idea of expecting things to generally go  well  and that we must work together in order for this to be a successful experience, and that we are a team.  I try to be careful about balancing the needs of three children of widely disparate ages within our school experience, and I try to be careful about what I expect.  However, I also feel older children ( especially those post nine year change) should start to have a sense and idea about personal responsibility and the part they play in making homeschooling a success or not.   This post is mainly geared toward those post-nine year change children.  (If you have questions about children in the Early Years or grades 1-3, please leave them below in the comment box. Perhaps I can write a different post).

It seems to me that in Waldorf homeschooling and homeschooling in general that we often talk about the “teacher” end of it.  What we should, could, be doing differently and how we should and could do that and we plan and plan again.  What we often don’t seem to want to talk about is that some children are just not peaceful when it comes to this sort of thing.

Some Waldorf Schools seem to fail miserably in the area of what to do with the child who is disrupting the entire grades class, and some schools have gone on and  accepted discipline policies that are very clearly outlined.   Some Waldorf Schools now only give a child two or three chances in the grades classrooms before they are expelled from the school.     Do you have a thought about  what to do with the disruption and lack of respect by your children in your own homeschool day, and the consequences of that?  What do you do?  If someone asked you what do you do if your child misbehaves in school consistently and, would you have a consistent answer for that?  Or would the response be just what you are feeling in the moment?

I often check myself by asking myself if I am letting them develop habits that will not serve them later in life at all? Am I giving them a false sense of freedom that will not hold true in the outside world?  Am I instilling in them a sense that they are above any rule, request or idea and how will that serve them as they lead their own families?  Is this such a bad habit that they are complaining about any contribution to not just homeschooling but family life in general?  Charlotte Mason talks a lot about habits, Steiner talks a lot about rhythms and building the will.  Are we doing our children favors in the way we approach our children’s resistance to things?

I think every family has a different way of dealing with situations such as these, a way that feels comfortable to them.  I  would just encourage you to find out what your way is, make the rule and consequence and that the children know that, and then follow through.  This is beyond homeschooling and into building a healthy adult.

I think discipline, this guiding of each other and the idea of instilling inner discipline  in general is part of how we grow up and live mature adult lives.  So therefore,  I am more Continue reading

Wrap Up of Week Eleven Seventh and Fourth Grade

 

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 weeks nine and ten here and 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:  I alluded to changing our daily rhythm due to seasonal changes and also to feeling as if we need a greater dose of movement each day.  I have also found at this point in the school year, almost a trimester complete, that with three children I need to have more of a schedule with times than a rhythmic flow in order that all the children get what they need.  That is a large change from past years when I really had more of a flow than set start times and end times, etc.  So I am still meditating on this, but right now I am thinking we will start at 8 with prayer, connecting with each other in love; 8:30 walk our dog; 9 start with our little kindergartener and his daily work and this can extend with our thirteen year old helping him as 9:45 is about the latest I can start with our fourth grader.  So whilst I am working with our fourth grader, our seventh grader can assist him and then also do some independent work in math or rough drafts of summaries and creative writing pieces whilst he plays by himself.  At 11:15 our seventh grader would be with me, with our fourth grader and kindergartener together.  Lunch at 12:30 and rest.  At 2, several days a week I would like to do crafts and handwork and several days a week do the requirements for the presidential fitness awards.  I have not figured out where to put foreign languages in this nor music practice…so I am still thinking.  For my own sanity, I don’t want to do any school past 3 and several days a week I would like to end earlier than that.  Thinking!

Kindergarten:  This week was mainly an autumn circle, fingerplays and seasonal songs, making broth and soup, making banana bread, and the story of the Pumpkin Motel found in Suzanne Down’s “Old Gnome Through The Year.”  There is still whittling going on as our oldest shared one of her wooden animals that she started with him and he is whittling and sanding quite happily. However, I still feel there needs to be a bit more to his day so I am thinking about that in relation to the rhythm/schedule above.  I am happy he has friends his age to play with many days of the week because as a third child and with his personality, he seems to crave that.

Fourth Grade:  This week we are solidly into local geography.  We began with Continue reading

Children Who Resist School Time

 

Sometimes I see mothers post on different forums regarding their child who is ‘’resisting” doing much of anything the parent/teacher presents.   I think sometimes bloggers are reluctant to blog about this because perhaps they too, are in the trenches of it all and don’t feel as if they have much to offer than to say, “It happens here as well.”  (Which in and of itself can be nice to hear, too).   No one really seems to want to talk about when things implode, or that bad days do occur, even in blogland.   Andrea over at Waldorf Salad and Cottage Fries wrote a   great post here about what happens when homeschooling becomes a battleground and how to make adjustments.

I have been thinking a lot about this.  I think the things that help me the most is to know myself, know my child and to know the curriculum.  I am a good teacher, and I am an even better teacher if I don’t have to spend my time dealing with children who are resisting everything and we spend our morning more in a headlock over what they don’t want to do rather than what we can do together to learn and have fun.  I am sure many of you feel that way!

Here is my list of observations regarding when things aren’t going well – something homeschooling has given me lots of  practice with! Continue reading