Creating the Heart of Family Life

The heart of the home and homeschooling lies within us to create. This can be a difficult work, especially when our children are small and we feel like we are inventing something brand new and discovering layers of ourselves and our family. It involves sinking into challenges and imagining new solutions. It involves finding balance and health, exploring wonder, finding gratitude. It’s a good place and a good work for these times of sadness, despair, tumult. The next generation is depending upon it.

How we do this looks different for each and every person.

For some, it could involve prayer, meditation, or other spiritual work.

For some, it could involve family meetings and great communication with a spouse or partner.

For some, it could involve having self-care and time to create and think and plan.

For some, it could involve a strong rhythm to find time.

For some, it could involve a lot of time outside in nature in order to feel centered and ready to take on the tasks of homemaking, parenting, homeschooling.

For some, it could involve finding the goodness in each day, and seeing the wonder.

For some, it could involve spending less time on social media.

For me, I have done all these things over the years in an effort to keep homemaking and homeschooling (and now working outside the home) sustainable. Prayer is a touchpoint of my day, and so is communicating with my spouse – walking and working together helps. When our children were small they went to bed early and that also gave us some time to talk and catch up. Rhythm is the biggest single help to me on a very practical level to make sure I have time to do all the things I need to do.

My challenge to you is to choose the most essential parts in order to make the heart of your homemaking and homemaking and make your rhythm around those! I can’t wait to hear how things go for you.

Many blessings,

Carrie

Waldorf Homeschooling Then and Now

When I started homeschooling my five/six year old (the first year I really count, that six year old kindergarten year), it was 2005-2006 and resources for Waldorf homeschooling were sparse. There was Marsha Johnson’s Yahoo Group (remember those?), Donna Simmons was coming out with some products, Melisa Nielsen was coming out with products and there was Live Education! There were some books you could get by mail from the Rudolf Steiner Library and you could order Steiner’s lectures. I actually found Waldorf Education because I had seen Waldorf homeschooling mentioned in a library book and I read Steiner’s educational lectures first before I even saw a Waldorf school or curriculum.

As homeschoolers, we were hungry for knowledge and how to do things, and the school community was happy to have us come experience a community festival at a school, but there wasn’t much else offered in terms of support. Most of us couldn’t afford a Waldorf School for our multiple children, and that was that.

Today, there is a (relative) explosion of resources out there.

Buyer beware.

I am saying this because I think Waldorf homeschooling is very strange in a way. You don’t hear of any other kind of homeschooling method where people seem to prey on the fact that this type of homeschooling is “hard” and there are proper ways to do things and you will never be enough (so you should spend a lot of money to figure this out). You don’t hear that in classical circles, you don’t hear it in Charlotte Mason circles – why in this circle? Over an educational method Dr. Steiner started for the children of workers in a cigarette factory? Where he gave some weeks of lecture, and off the first Waldorf teachers went with his indications and created something that was obviously special and grew around the world? It is special – but I think Dr. Steiner wanted it to be accessible ! You can learn to do this! Dr. Steiner’s lectures were good enough for the first Waldorf teachers, and they can be good enough for you too!

You are enough. You can do this. If you feel as if or if you have been told that this way of homeschooling is so difficult, I want you to instead focus on your own strength and tenacity. Your own hunger for this way of living and education to heal yourself, heal your family, and to provide your child with amazing benefits to be well-rounded and to be a healthy adult.

Do you need help? Look at the back posts here. There are maybe 13 years or more of back posts on here! Every grade, block, age is covered. And it’s free! Ask on the Waldorf homeschooling FB groups where there are seasoned, veteran homeschooling mothers who can help you. There are free resources for the early grades online.

No, it is not going to look exactly like a Waldorf School. We as homeschoolers tend to be broader and have to combine things for our multiple children because trying to do three main lessons or more a day is too much – and that is ok! Look at Steiner’s original indications for subjects with child development – much broader than the narrow grade at a school. It’s okay.

Do you need help with art? The art is about creating and the process. Yes, the finished products can be beautiful but that’s not all there is. Maybe you are terrific at math. Or gardening. Each homeschool will have its own flair. I am still terrible at handwork, but I can sing, paint, draw, model, and play instruments. Find your strengths, you can find resources in your community for the rest. Practice daily! You will get better.

What is the first step? Rhythm – which will look different in every household, and understanding biography, development. Look at your family, and the child in front of you.

Sometimes the best way to go with Waldorf homeschooling is to jump into it.

Did I chose the right sized main lesson book that first year for form drawing? Nope.

Did it ruin my child’s life?

Nope.

Was I incredible at handwork? Nope, but I could do other things!

Did I nail every finer point of a block the first time I went through it? Nope, but I sure learned a lot.

Many of us did this for YEARS with no help, on the outside of even the fringes of the Waldorf School movement which was already an alternative movement anyway. We used library books to make blocks, ordered things we hadn’t seen in person, got art supplies, and did our best. This way of homeschooling, while different because it has a distinct spiritual view of the human being, subjects to correlate with the development of the human being, and is based in the arts IS different but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it! And you can figure it out as you go along. Let go of your perfectionism and the school picture. This is homeschooling, which is separate in my mind from a school setting.

I don’t think Dr. Steiner would have wanted it any other way. Waldorf homeschooling has the ability to be accessible, to help heal generations, to help us know ourselves deeply and to see and be goodness, truth, and beauty.

Blessings,
Carrie

August Anchor Points

I could not be more excited that glorious August is here! The month of sunshine and sunflowers, lakes, and fun – and here in the deep south, it’s also time for back to school. But it’s also my birthday month, and I think 51 is going to be a fabulous year! I am so excited!

The things we are celebrating:

August 6th- The Transfiguration of Jesus Christ

August 8th- My Birthday!

August 10- School starts!

August 15- The Dormition of St. Mary

August 28 – our oldest child will be 20! Doesn’t seem possible! ❤ She is a sophomore at univeristy!

Ideas for Celebration:

  • Making a  beautiful triptych to celebrate the life of St. Mary.  There are many wonderful ideas regarding this on the Internet.
  • We have about another month of tubing, swimming and water park availability to us, so we hope to take advantage!
  • Camping – it can be super hot here, but I am already making camping in the fall a priority.
  • Gazing at the stars
  • Horses!  With our new farm, we are busy getting the interior of the barn ripped out and then we ordered new stall fronts – and we need to paint it! And then our horses can come home! Can’t wait. We also have plans for chickens and I am hoping for two goats. Plus our bees are doing well, and we are planning on adding three more hives in the spring.
  • Walking in the mornings
  • Working out.  Move!  During quarantine, I have been using Beach Body (no affiliation at all, just happy to have it when I can’t go to the gym!) At the end of the month my oldest daughter and I are starting 75Hard!

The Domestic Life:

This a good time to take stock of needs for fall/winter in clothing, shoes, outside gear, school supplies, art supplies

I also think this a great time to go back to manners.  Children are often in an expansive place with summer weather and may need some help in remembering school behavior, work ethics and manners!   Rhythm is also a huge help with that.  It’s a key word for this month and the structure of the rhythm of school does us all good!

Meal planning gets us through because I am too busy to have to spend a lot of time every day planning.  So, I like to plan 2-4 weeks of meals and shop in bulk!  More on that coming soon.

Homeschooling:

We are jumping into sixth grade (for my third time!).  I am looking forward to it, and pretty much decided to start with Mineralogy and then Greek History before we move into the other blocks. So excited for this year! Our sixth grader is involved with 4-H and horses and it truly is going to be a great year!

Our eleventh grader is in an outside hybrid homeschool program, so mainly I am helping with homework there! We are so proud of her!

We are super proud of our girl at university! She is an amazing adult. She and I took a mother-daughter trip in July, just the two of us, and it was awesome!

Self-Care and Rhythm:

With farm life, working, homeschooling, consulting — I am working on keeping my morning rhythm of self-care, and making time for exercise and food prep! This is really, really important to me. My spiritual work is also paramount right now!

My other huge piece of self care is  my supplements! I have some long term effects from getting Covid over a year ago, and supplements that were derived from my lab work are really helpful! I have also been napping on the weekends, which has been very helpful.

I want to hear what you have learned during quarantine, how August is shaping up for you, how is school looking?  I have been super busy doing homeschool consulting this month! If anyone needs help with homeschool planning or planning for family life, please email me at admin@theparentingpassageway.  My rates for a half hour phone call are super reasonable and I have helped lots of moms this month!  I also answer fast questions via email for free, and always give my single moms free help. Please let me know if I can help you!

Lots of love and many blessings,
carrie

The Christian Corner

Since I have readers from nearly every country, from Australia to India and Nepal to many  Middle Eastern countries, (thank you readers!) who all represent many different religious, I don’t write a lot about the spiritual component to our homeschooling. I have written several back posts about Episcopalian/Anglican homeschooling, so those are up if you use the search engine box.  This site is about child development, healthy families, and healthy education so other than to say that spirituality is an essential part of our humanity not to be ignored or cast aside, I generally don’t say too mcuh.  However, every now and then I put a post out about what we doing with our religious studies, or something I am thinking about and today is one of those days.

I got a new journaling Bible during quarantine – it is the The Message Canvas Bible (Peterson) and I have enjoyed the contemporary language and coloring in all the art. I wanted something I could just color in rather than blank pages to create art, because I find if I get into creating art within the pages of my Bible it actually distracts me from reading and focusing a bit. That’s just me.

Anyway, today I was reading 2 Peter talking about confirming God’s invitation to us to be His and I love this: “So don’t lose a minute in building on what you’ve been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others.”

Sometimes we go through fallow periods where we are just getting by; our move to our farm four months ago threw us into a frenzy of doing things but we lost rhythm and many other things – we gained a lot of stress as there was just a lot to be done and there still is. Sometimes you have to go right back to basics and see where you are falling short and remember. Just remember who you are in the midst and what are the things that make up the foundation of your life.

Sending love to you, my friends.

Blessings,

Carrie

Fabulous Fifties

If we look at life in seven year cycles, we can see that development is both cyclical in a way and a spiral at the same time – hopefully we are taking our experiences and building on them in such a way that the years to come are better with what we have learned. The years of the thirties and forties are a great time of change, of growing, and of metamorphosis. Like all human development, there are individual journeys, but there are also pretty archetypal themes for different decades of aging.

Human beings continue to mature throughout their lifetime, so it is difficult to say, oh, our children are fully grown when they are 18 or 21 or oh, the brain fully develops around age 28…the reality is we are always growing, changing… we are always in need of encouragement and guidance, and if we do it right, hopefully we are always developing new capacities.

Maturity is that difference, that thing that stands in the gap so to speak. If 35 is a threshold for new insights, typically the late 30s and early 40s have a sort of loneliness to them. The beauty of this though, is that there is an awakening to community in the later 40’s into the 50’s. This community is made of the wonderful people who also are also set on growing wiser, finding truth.

I am almost 51 this year; 50 is a mystical number on many levels – in the Christian Bible, it signifies deliverance or freedom from a burden. I didn’t find 50 to be this for me personally as I am still in the thick of raising children and dealing with work and other matters. However, I do think it is the time to move from thinking into the realm of willing, and I think this is a time when many people feel the need to reach out beyond themselves or their family, into the world, and build community. I don’t think this is accidental, and I have experienced this this year: a true need and wanting to build community. I have seen it in the love for the community my children are building independent and separate from us as parents, but still intertwined. It’s quite lovely to experience.

In circles connected with Waldorf education and Rudolf Steiner’s study and insights into human development, 55 years and 10 months is seen as corresponding to the years of seven to fourteen but with increased health problems. While that doesn’t sound promising, it is a time when many report of a major surgery or major life-threatening illness. Is that always true? No, of course not. But it is this idea that the body eventually becomes a bit of hindrance and through that we can find new strength, new fortitude, new beginnings, newfound power so to speak, and this can lead up to a time of nearly never ending creativity at age 56 and beyond. And the time span of age 74 years and beyond can lead toward major works being published and projects created and finished because there this new creativity. A life’s work can be completed! Working on self development and self education is an important component of being able to do this work all the way into our 70s and beyond. I read an article in the New York Times that said by 2100, there will be 25 million centenarians. While very few people live past 115, there are a few who make it close to 120 years old. The question becomes, can these ages be a life well lived, a good quality?

I think the 50s are a good place to start.

Blessings,

Carrie

Book Review: “Colour Dynamics”

I was so excited to finally have this book! This was published way back in 2010 and then printed as a paperback in 2017/2018. I love the feel of the book and its landscape layout of the pages with color overlaying words and themes in the book. When I opened the pages, I realized it was as I had envisioned it in my head!

The contents include an introduction and materials needed to work with this book, and then it is divided into five parts ranging from one to three chapters. Part One is about exploring colors, painting the rainbow, combining colors. Part Two is about complementary colors, after-images (remember playing with light and color in physics in sixth grade in the Waldorf curriculum?) and other related topics, and Part Three is about the color circle and the polarity of red and blue.

Part Four is about sunrises and sunsets and using those archetypes as exploration for how we use an interplay of light and dark in creating atmosphere in our paintings (so valuable!) and how color plays a role in all that we see around us in nature. “How do we find our way into nature’s secrets?” the author asks on page 98. I love this and think this mood permeates throughout the entirety of the Waldorf curriculum. We can find polarities of color in nature, of course, but also in expanding and contracting, in and out breathing, polarities in size, active and passive and so on. So much of Waldorf education uses polarities to enliven the curriculum material we teach and in how we teach and guide children to find balance. In Part Five, there is a wonderful reference guide on page 121 regarding the thematic elements of each grade and corresponding help in this book. There is also an amazing glossary which is very helpful.

I encourage Waldorf homeschoolers, new and veteran alike, to set up a little painting station and just paint every morning. When my children were small, I set up an ironing board in the corner of my bedroom and when I awoke in the morning, I went and painted for five to ten minutes a day. It was very nourishing to me as the mother of small children, and it remains a wonderful practice. I can’t wait to use this book as inspiration for my own morning paintings.

I hope you enjoy this book as much as I have!

Blessings,

Carrie

Resources for Homeschooling Ninth Grade

The Waldorf arts-based curriculum is very beautiful in that it is a spiral that keeps growing deeper as teenagers move into a new developmental phase. Age 14 and up in high school is about finding truth in the world and taking responsibility. When it comes to homeschooling this age, the materials for Waldorf homeschooling do become less generally but there are some gems out there!

Ninth graders are interested in “What?” and how they can jump into the modern world with both feet. Polarities in feelings is evident, and Waldorf education works with this through the polarity of comedy and tragedy in literature, in charcoal drawing, and in science. Another interesting perspective can be found here: Parzival and the Journey of Adolescence – Waldorf Library

Some of my favorite resources for ninth grade are:

Literature: Comedy and Tragedy: Christopherus Homeschool Resources » Comedy and Tragedy. Later on I did a block of African American literature, and we did a lot of poetry and short stories. We also used some of the books from Oak Meadow’s A Hero’s Journey.

History: Some Waldorf schools do Modern History (European), some do Modern American history (consider downloading the two ebooks here :BookLibrary Manager | | eBooks | Colloquium on World History – (waldorflibrary.org)) , some do other types of history depending upon the school, but one mainstay block is History Through Art. I found this article helpful: Arts and Their Relationship to Adolescent Development – Waldorf Library. For the content of the block itself, I used Rudolf Steiner’s lectures, an art history book I had in the house from college, and the book Modeling the Head in Clay: Creative Techniques for the Sculptor: Lucchesi, Bruno, Malmstrom, Margit: 9780823030996: Amazon.com: Books

Foreign Language: We ended up using Oak Meadow’s Spanish and paying the enrollment fee for correspondence with a teacher for one child and the other child took Spanish outside the home in a hybrid high school.

Science: Earth Science: BookLibrary Manager | | eBooks | Earth Science – eBook (waldorflibrary.org) plus varying examples I found online at different Waldorf Schools, Biology: I created a year long course even though that is typically just one block at a Waldorf School using Holt textbook, an Oak Meadow Syllabus, this article: Waldorf Journal Project 9: Teaching Biology in a Human Context – Waldorf Library and many resources from Bookstore — The Nature Institute and this compendium: BookLibrary Manager | | eBooks | Colloquium on Life Science and (waldorflibrary.org). Ninth grade is also a great grade for field trips and classes at varying nature centers, etc. Many schools will do a block on thermodynamics and a block on organic chemistry as well.

Math: We did math with an outside class, but also used blocks on combinations and permutations with resources I found on Teachers Pay Teachers and a block on statistics. I also found this book helpful: BookLibrary Manager | | Grade Level | High School | Topics in Mathematics (waldorflibrary.org)

Other fun stuff was music, handwork, gardening, and all kinds of art.

Ninth grade can be a fun year! I would love to hear about your ninth grade experience.

Blessings,

Carrie

Joyful July!

This summer is flying by for our family, and I am hopeful that this month will be the best month of this year yet! I think (knock on wood) that we have turned a little bit of a corner with everything on our farm breaking and hopefully we can breathe a sweet sigh of relief. We have done an awful lot in the almost eleven weeks we have been here, so I think we should get a little reprieve before we start working on renovating the barn. All we have right now are our dogs and bees, but hope to have our horses over here in August, and then to add chickens.( If I had my wish, I would also have two alpacas, but that is another story!).

I have been thinking a lot about development and developmental homeschooling lately. I try to have a good amount of my homeschool planning done by the end of July if it is possible, but I think the place to start is always with development. I encourage you to go back and read some of the back posts about development. I linked some of my favorites here, and in the spirit of beginning with the end in mind, I started with the older ages:

After The Fifteen/Sixteen Change | The Parenting Passageway

Development of the Tenth Grader | The Parenting Passageway (this is age 15 for many Waldorf schools)

How Is Planning Going For Ninth Grade? | The Parenting Passageway (this is age 14 for many Waldorf schools)

Still Waters Run Deep: The Fourteen Year Old | The Parenting Passageway (more 14)

Developmental Fridays: The Thirteen Year Old | The Parenting Passageway

The Twelve Year Old | The Parenting Passageway

The Uneven Eleven-Year Old: A Traditional Developmental View | The Parenting Passageway

The Terrific Ten-Year-Old: A Developmental View | The Parenting Passageway

The Nine-Year-Old: A Traditional View | The Parenting Passageway

The Eight-Year-Old: A Traditional View | The Parenting Passageway

Peaceful Living with Your Super Seven-Year-Old | The Parenting Passageway

The Angry, Aggressive Six Year Old | The Parenting Passageway

The Fabulous Five –Year -Old! | The Parenting Passageway

Fantastic Four Year Old! | The Parenting Passageway

Peaceful Life with a Three-Year-Old | The Parenting Passageway

The Two-Year-Old: A Traditional Perspective | The Parenting Passageway

The One-Year -Old | The Parenting Passageway

In July we are also celebrating! Here are the things we are celebrating:

4- Independence Day

26- Feast Day of St. Anne and St. Joachim, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary

I am looking forward to sunflower festivals, catching fireflies, being in the pool and lake and at the beach and of course, being at the farm! Our nearly 20 year old and I have a little girls weekend planned as well, since I don’t get to see her as much during the school year as she is away!

Ideas for Things to Do With Children:

  • Fourth of July decorating; patriotic crafts
  • Find traditional patriotic American music to listen to!
  • Go to Independence Day parades!
  • Sunflower crafts
  • Drying herbs and making things from herbs
  • Picking produce; canning and preserving
  • Earth looms and weaving could be lovely; see my summer Pinterest board for even more craft ideas

Ideas for the Home:

  • Going through the school room or school area and cleaning out
  • Ordering art supplies and new resources for the next school year
  • Making new seasonal things for the home
  • Changing out toys if you are on a toy rotation for smaller children
  • Gardening – planting rounds of corn, green beans and peas, zinnias, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes right now!
  • Getting ready for a new school year with new art supplies

Homeschooling/ Planning:

I posted our plan for our sixth grader in June, but here it is again in case you missed it! (Our oldest is at university and our high schooler is going to be attending high school in some form, so I am down to homeschooling one child!)

Fall: August – Greek History (Most likely will base on Live Ed’s booklet), Nature Study in the afternoon; September – Mineralogy; October – Roman History to include European geography; November – Physics; December – Geometry.

Spring: January – Medieval History; February – Business Math; March – Medieval Africa and African Heroes, African Geography; April – Zoology; May- Botany

We have some confounding factors as I am working and our sixth grader will be doing math/science out and two days of a middle school only boys experiential program, which leaves us about two and a half days at home to do the things we want! However, I am rolling with it and I think it will be ok. With this being our third child, I have a good idea where we are headed, which makes middle school planning easier!

I would love to hear what you are up to. Happy Summer (Or Winter, Down Under friends) vibes!

Blessings and love,

Carrie

Making Memories in June

June is a beautiful month here in the Deep South. School has been out for a few weeks, the lake is ready and waiting, it’s hot but not too terrible. We are knee deep in renovations at the farm – I can’t even list it all here but we have had to do things like run water lines, put in heat on the second floor, fix the A/C, replace garage door panels and fix the mechanics, renovate bathrooms, renovate a barn, put up fencing….with more to come. Our bees are coming in next week, and we have chickens coming as soon as we get the chicken coop done. Hopefully our horses will be here in August or September.

But in the midst of scurrying around, and work, there are memories to be made this June. Some of the things we are looking forward to:

Boating on the lake

Going to the beach on the lake

Kayaking and camping

Berry picking and making jam

This month we will be celebrating:

The Slow Summer – think lakes and pools, tubing, horseback riding, camping, spending time with family and friends. All of my favorite things in one month!  Here is a wonderful guest post by Christine Natale, Master Waldorf Teacher and author about creating the magical summer

14- Flag Day

20 – Father’s Day AND – Summer Solstice

24 – The Nativity of St. John the Baptist/ St. John’s Tide (see this back post for festival help!)

29- The Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul

Summer Homeschooling and Development:

I am in the midst of beginning planning for our sixth grade blocks to begin in August! I cannot believe our third and last child is old enough to go to sixth grade. Sixth grade is one of my favorites and I have a few thoughts regarding fifth grade that we just finished as well, so stay tuned for those posts.

We also will have a junior in high school who will be doing online school because she will be working in horse training and needs the flexibility, and our oldest will be a sophomore at an out of state university. She had a fantastic freshman year, so don’t let anyone tell you that kids who were homeschooled cannot enter any arena where they want to go. The sky is the limit!

I am running back to basics this summer – it’s been a crazy time with getting our old house ready to sell, finding a new house, moving, renovating. So I need the basics in my life back, beginning with Gratitude: Eight Facets Of A Healthy Family Culture | The Parenting Passageway and Finding Rhythm With Grades-Aged Children | The Parenting Passageway. If you have littles under the age of 7, you might like this back post: Finding Rhythm With Littles | The Parenting Passageway

I would love to hear what you are up to and how you are re-charging!

Blessings,

Carrie

Planning for Sixth Grade

Our last child will be in sixth grade in the fall. This will be my third time teaching sixth grade, and I really enjoy the content of this grade that is so well suited to the twelve year old! We were in the process of moving and renovating a farmhouse the past few months and at varying points life took over fifth grade as we were trying to stay afloat and fix the major things like water and heating. We are still renovating, but things seem a bit more stable now as the school year here in the South is over (of course that’s how the timing worked out). I am a firm believer in summer downtime, so I doubt we will get much catch up this summer. So I am planning sixth grade with an eye towards some of the things we didn’t finish. We also have the added challenge of outside classes several days a week for math and outdoor school when I work, so limited time.

So these are my ideas for my current plan. We will be doing math daily and doing extra writing practice weekly.

August – Greek History (Most likely will base on Live Ed’s booklet), Nature Study in the afternoon.

September – Mineralogy

October – Roman History to include European geography

November – Physics

December – Geometry

January – Medieval History

February – Business Math

March – Medieval Africa and African Heroes, African Geography

April – Zoology

May- Botany

It’s going to be a fun year! I have a few field trips planned to the coast of our state and to a large canyon in our state for mineralogy and to our local museum that specializes in minerals and gems. We will also be busy getting our bees, chickens, horses and gardens settled, so that will be fun and busy as well.

Our other children right now are at an out of state university after being homeschooled through 11th grade at home and senior year was all outside classes, and our 16 year old has chosen an online school for her last two years of high school as she will be working and wants to start her own business.

If you are homeschool planning, I would love to hear what you are up to!

Blessings,

Carrie