How To Get Your Early Planning Going!

Hello Friends!

It has been a busy time of year here with finishing school, enjoying friends and squishing in pool time.  One thing I have been serious about since I came home revitalized and encouraged from the Waldorf Homeschool Conference in Orlando, FL is to jump on planning.  There is a lot to coordinate this year.  My seasonal/festival ideas for each month are written down from over the years, and our start/end/probably vacation dates are also written out. I had an idea of possible block rotations  (subject to change), and I have recently sat down and gathered resources.  Most of them are Waldorf resources; there are some Oak Meadow resources for my tenth grader; but many resources are just library books sorted into subjects or things off of Teachers Pay Teachers for high school  to fill in my own gaps or to work with specific works of literature for high school.  Then I made a list of what needs to be planned:

  1. High School Spanish 3 – I will be facilitating this through a traditional text book and additional readings and games I found on Teachers Pay Teachers.
  2. A combination health (for our tenth grader) and seventh grade physiology (traditionally done in a block in seventh grade but I am combining with my high schooler’s health) twice a week.
  3. A twice a week writing track where I am combining my tenth and seventh graders, focused on the wish, wonder, surprise theme traditionally found in Waldorf  seventh grade where we can focus on skill progression in writing and different types of writing for our tenth grader.
  4. Second Grade Blocks and Weekly Nature Study.  This will be my third time through second grade, so I am familiar with much of the material but hope to really bring fun and new ideas to it all and make it very active for our very active little choleric guy.
  5. Seventh Grade Blocks – to include physics, Renaissance and Reformation history, Exploration, astronomy, several math blocks and hopefully a little block on Colonial America at the very end of seventh grade.  I am going to save the whole of chemistry for eighth grade.
  6.  Tenth Grade Blocks – still debating on blocks; we never got to our ninth grade Art History block as we ran out of time and we have a few topics in Biology to finish. Other than that, I am planning blocks in US Government, Embryology, Ancient Civilizations and Ancient Literature, a block of poetry, and a block of Contemporary African-American Literature, and several math blocks.
  7. Fantastic Fun – these will be hands-on things on a single topic once a week all together.   I fully expect our second grader to be in the room for many of these topics that really mesh more with seventh and tenth grade such as African geography, Latin American geography, project-based math, navigation,  and more (essentially places where I felt seventh and tenth grade overlap) so I am thinking of the best way to approach some of this. Our second grader probably will just weave in and out, and much like the way I feel about younger children hearing stories that they will encounter later, it just is what it is.  Homeschooling is first and foremost about family and I don’t wish to banish him from our activities.
  8. My other big plan is to begin this school year and have a week or week and a half of the life of Buddha and Buddhism – this ties into the Silk Road for our seventh grader, and into the Ancient World for our tenth grader and it could tie into stories for our second grader.  I envision this primarily as an artistic time, and hope to work with creating clay sculpting (tenth grader) and black and white drawing (seventh grader) and some other projects.  I also plan to read Herman Hesse’s “Siddhartha” to the older children and work on some projects coordinated with that.
  9. Summer Reading lists – I am having our rising tenth grader read Barbara Kingsolver’s “The Bean Trees” and the book “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson. I also included a tenth grade reading list to pick several books of choice off of during the summer and school year for book reports.   I am having our rising seventh grader read, “Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World” and probably something that bridges the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

How are you coming along planning?  I wish for peaceful planning for you!

I think the best ways to get your early planning going is to see where you can combine children in blocks or topics, gather your resources, and just begin.  Where is the wonder and activity, and where is the skill progression for the upper grades? I would to hear from you how you are doing!

Many blessings,

Carrie

 

Shame, Guilt, and Fear Are Not Parenting Strategies

Hello Friends!

I just returned from an empowering workshop in Orlando, FL (Waldorf Homeschooling Conference).  About 60 of us gathered to hear talks about Waldorf homeschooling.  I gave talks regarding the development of the 12-14 year old and planning grades 6-8; teaching math in grades 1-5, and the yearly rhythm of festivals. It was wonderful to see and work with Jean Miller of Waldorf-Inspired Learning, Kristie Burns of Earthschooling, Jodie Mesler of Home Music Making, and Donna Ashton of The Waldorf Connection.   I encourage you to go ahead and mark your calendars for next May (2018) as this conference will be back again!  There are also conferences coming up in Myrtle Beach, SC in August with Melisa Nielsen of Waldorf Essentials. and in Orlando in October with Donna Simmons of Christopherus.

One of the best things about traveling alone is getting to deeply think about things. One thing that came to my mind  is that going to in-person conferences can be so uplifting and fulfilling.  And this got me thinking about the times we don’t feel fulfilled; the times when depletion, burnout, and exhaustion are absolutely real.  One thing that parents sometimes talk to me about is wanting to be a different or “better” mother than what they are now during those times of complete depletion.

They know that  shame, guilt, and fear are not parenting strategies, but they can come out in those moments when we are so depleted and run down and really handling way too much for one human being.   We just desperately need SOMETHING to go smoothly instead of everything being a struggle!  Many women my age are not only handling businesses or jobs full time or part time, possibly homeschooling many children and many different grades and subjects, parenting older children who need to be driven lots of places (I think the year before teens start to drive themselves can be the busiest year!) and who may have medical needs, and also handling the house, cooking, and sometimes parents who are growing older and who need assistance from things ranging from little to large.  No wonder we are exhausted and depleted!

So the shame, guilt, and fear come out in our own frustration.  It isn’t really a “strategy” that anyone chooses.  But what to do about it in a sleep-deprived, anxious haze can be truly difficult because it may be that in that moment, even something so very small can just cause a flood of tears or a torrent of anger and verbage.  Something just has to give in order for us to be the relaxed and peaceful parent we want to be.

Sometimes getting to the root of things takes bigger changes than we want to admit to and take.  It takes courage to really acknowledge how something is not working, and how things really need to change to benefit what many mothers see as a “selfish” answer because they feel any major changes might benefit themselves but won’t everyone else be unhappy?  But, your changes and your happiness can only have a ripple effect upon your family!

Drastic changes might include taking on or getting rid of a job; homeschooling versus school; getting help with an elderly parent; moving; getting help in cleaning your house.  (And yes, I understand finances are often a major stress for homeschooling families and most of us can’t afford things like this.  I clean my own house too! LOL).  Small changes might include taking time off of homeschooling during periods of high stress; changing a schooling schedule to have a shorter summer break; changing the way you homeschool or using outside help or garnering MORE help from your children and family members.  In the home and for personal health, changes might include getting up earlier to exercise or prepare healthy food; it might include going to bed much earlier so the morning can start off on a better note.  It might include getting a health checkup to make sure there are no physical causes to being exhausted.  It might mean enlisting a family therapist, a parenting coach or learning mindfulness techniques. I don’t know what it would mean to you.  But I do know that changes to help yourself only can help your children.

Instead of parenting from shame, guilt, or fear, we can then parent from a place of openness and communication and a dialogue.  We then have the time to listen and we are not so depleted that we can respond from a calm place that reflects our true values.

Thinking deeply today about this.  I would love to hear your thoughts! Please no blaming, shaming, or scolding mothers in the comment section.  We are all here to help each other!  What would you say in person, in a supportive way,  to the completely exhausted and depleted mothers I have been meeting?

Blessings,
Carrie

Spring Menu Planning

May feels like a lovely time to plan a Spring menu.  Of course, down here where I live it is 86 degress Fahrenheit today and we have been swimming in the community pool, but spring eating nontheless!

Here are some thoughts and links I have been perusing:

Breakfast:

Spring breakfasts from the Food Network

Smoothies, of course.

Lunches:

I am going to try making this:   Pepper -Rubbed Salmon with Melon Salsa

Tuna Salad, any variation

I also love any kind of fajita veggies wrapped in a lettuce leaf

I also want to try these: Poppy Seed Chicken Pitas

Dinners:

I have lately been making pork chops from our local farmer with cumin and other spices;  mango chicken; roasted asparagus and a lot of salad.

Sweet stuff:

My oldest has quite the sweet tooth.   I am currently searching for some delicious organic lemon-lime type desserts to make for her.

Please share with me what delicious spring dishes you have been making (or fall dishes, for my Down Under friends!)

Blessings and love,
Carrie

 

 

Resources For Planning This Summer

It is a very exciting time to be a Waldorf homeschooler!  There are many resources available for planning this summer.

First of all, Jamie York has middle school math workshops on-line this summer, along with in-person workshops in Boulder, Colorardo for Grades 1-3, Grades 4 and 5, and Grade 9, and Grade 10.

There is a conference in Orlando, FL on May 13, 2017 with Kristie Burns of Earthschooling, Jean Miller of Waldorf -Inspired Learning, Donna Ashton of The Waldorf Connection, Jodie Mesler of Home Music Making and myself.  Details are here.

Taproot Teacher Training is coming up in August with Barbara Dewey, Jean Miller, and many other experienced presenters.  You can find details here

Live Education! has a summer conference coming up in July  in Santa Cruz, CA.  Details are available on the Live Education! page

I believe there are other conferences and workshops coming up as well- please do chime in!

Blessings,
Carrie

 

Celebrating May!

There are so many glorious things to celebrate about May:  flowers and greenery, bees buzzing, spring time alive, and the activity of children everywhere perking up.  The world is ready to be outside in May in the Northern Hemisphere, and we feel the liveliness and promise of Spring.

This month we are celebrating:

1st- May Day – you can see back posts here  and here

14th -Mother’s Day

19th- The Feast of St. Dunstan

20th- The Feast of St. Alcuin

22nd-24th- Rogation Days – you can see this back post, “A Rogation Heart”

25th- Ascension Day – here is a post about celebrating this feast with children

29th- Memorial Day

31st- The Feast of the  Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

We will be strawberry picking.  Normally we also go camping in this month, but we camped in April instead and will be using May to finish up school.  I will be speaking at the Waldorf Homeschool Conference in Orlando, FL on Saturday, May 13, so preparing for that has been part of my month of May!  I hope to see some of you there!

Other things on my mind:

  • De-cluttering and deep cleaning with natural cleansers
  • Skin care (yes, skin care).  Time for radiant, dewy skin in May!
  • Spring tales for children and puppetry for small children
  • Gardening
  • The lake and the pool. Our pool is opening for summer this week, and the lake is beckoning
  • Spring menu planning!
  • Exercising. April we were gone a lot and it was hard to get a schedule, so here is to a balanced May that involves spending an amount of self-care (receiving) closer to the amount of time I spend caring for others (giving).
  • Screen Free Week starts today!   Here are some real-life strategies for reducing children’s screen time.

I would love to know what is on your mind for this month of May.

Many blessings,

Carrie

 

 

Now We Go Round The Maypole High

Now we go round the Maypole high, Maypole high, Maypole high

Now we go round the Maypole high,

Let colored ribbons fly.

See lasses and lads go tripping by,

Tripping by, tripping by,

See lasses and lads go tripping by

Let colored ribbons fly

Tonight we are celebrating the third Sunday in Eastertide, and the delight of  May Day is upon us tomorrow!

There are so many beautiful traditions associated with May Day, and it is sure to be a festival your family will enjoy.  Festivals involve the outer doing for children.  In this case, we could:

  • Have a  real Maypole and a Maypole dance.  Some traditional songs include “Now We Go Round the Maypole High” and “May Song”  (Which begins:  “Here’s a branch of snowy may, a branch the fairies gave me/Who would like to dance today with the branch the fairies gave me?”)
  • Make simple ribbon and bell anklets for the girls to wear in dancing the Maypole, and flower crowns
  • Make Mayday baskets of little paper cones with flowers in them for your neighbors or community helpers.  Alternatively, you could press flowers and make little May Day  cards.
  • Tell stories!  Possibilities include, “The Piper Who Knew But One Tune,” found in the book, “Celebrating Irish Festivals,” by Ruth Marshall or “Little Grey Rabbit’s May Day” by Alison Uttley
  • Play ring games such as “Nuts in May,” ball games, and sack races
  • Pick medicinal herbs and dry them.
  • Sing songs and do fingerplays about the cuckoo bird
  • Have a picnic lunch outside!
  • Make tissue paper flowers
  • Decorate your home with wreaths, garlands, and ribbons.  This is a tradition from England.
  • Serve a May Day cake after dinner.
  • There are directions for a Mayday decoration on page 88 of the book, “All Year Round.”

The inner work of the adult:

May Day was celebrated as freedom and exuberance of summer, and in the book, “All Year Round,” the authors state it is  a time of promise for the farmer, the young people weaving around the May Pole, the young girl washing her face in the morning dew.  Authors Druitt, Fynes, and Rowling write in “All Year Round,” (page 85):  “In most years, May 1st falls between Easter and Ascension.  In the forty days after Easter, the teaching of the Risen Christ gave the disciples glimpses of the Divine Pattern woven by the events of Holy Week.  By Ascension, these glimpses were only a memory, but the promise to His followers remained as their consolation – the promise, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20).   

Perhaps the inner work of the adult is to find the promise and hope within ourselves.

Have a beautiful May Day!  A final lovely thought:

In many lands the children bring

May Baskets for the first of spring,

And hang them on a neighbor’s door

To say that spring is here once more.

-A. Wynne

Many blessings in your celebrations,
Carrie

 

 

 

Eastertide: 50 Days of Beauty and Joy

Happy Eastertide!  I love the season of Eastertide, which began on Easter Sunday and will last until  Pentecost Sunday (which is on June 4th this year).

I find it comforting that the spiritual journey of Lent, often hard and arduous, gives way to an even longer period of joy and yes, even fun.  There are forty days in Lent, and fifty in Eastertide, which to me signifies and marks the very adult needs of beauty, fun, and play.

Oh yes, to play.  Adults need to play.  Play is not only the realm of children.  Play is often the creative wellspring of adults as well.  I am also convinced it a the key to adult  mental wellness.   We often seem to forget this in our drudgery of work, traffic, children’s activities, cooking meals and changing diapers and cleaning the house over and over, but  our need to play (and rest and relax) is every bit as real as our need to work and help each other.  The child inside of us is never far down if only we reach for him or her.

We recently began Eastertide by spending a few days camping on a remote barrier island that was accessible by ferry.  It was full of palmettos, sand dunes, beach,  live oak trees to climb,  and places to swim and walk.  There were wild horses grazing in the sand dunes, armadillos crossing our path (and raccoons trying valiantly to get into our food and water jugs).  It was five hours away from our home, but still in our state, and yet was so far away from the large and busy metropolitan area in which we live now.  We used to live in this area when we first were married, and moved for job opportunities, but I often miss the quiet, slower pace of that beautiful area of sun and sea.

In this fifty days of Eastertide, I challenge you to play, to rest and relax and notice beauty, and to find and take your joy in the ordinary moments.  They are there, even amongst the chores of housekeeping or holding tiny children.  They are there, even in the times of your teenager dealing with end of semester tests and finals.  They are there, even with your children who are feeling the call of spring and nature to be wild and untamed.   They are there, even in traffic and whizzing cars.  Find those moments and hold onto them for what they are; the seeds of creativity and relaxing love.

Happy Eastertide, my friends.

Blessings,
Carrie