Hearts of Courage: Michaelmas

From – Rudolf Steiner’s January 15, 1915 lecture The Great Virtues:

Another virtue can be called — though it is difficult to describe it exactly — the virtue of Courage. It contains the mood which does not remain passive towards life, but is ready to use its strength and activity. It can be said that this virtue comes from the heart. Of one who has this virtue in ordinary life it can be said: he has his heart in the right place. This is a good expression for our condition when we do not withdraw in a timid way from things which life asks from us, but when we are prepared to take ourselves in hand and know how to intervene where it is necessary. When we are inclined to get moving, confidently and bravely, we have this virtue. It is connected with a healthy life of feeling, which develops bravery at the right moment, while its absence brings about cowardice.

We are living in a time and place in which we must call upon our courage and quell our passivity towards life, and we must teach our children how to become active.   I was thinking about this article about how teenagers are growing up more slowly and in fact in their twenties are now acting like teenagers of the past (based upon studies of  8 MILLION teenagers!)  There needs to be leaders in this generation, and it is up to us to prepare them.  Therefore, I  think there is no better theme to meditate upon this Michaelmas season as the Northern Hemisphere looks inward with a self-consciousness toward contemplation of the things that will make health and healing flow into our children and the world and how we can equip our children and our teenagers, our young adults, to meet this world.   The things going on in the world requires us not to check out, but to help.

The outer trappings of the festival of Michaelmas are quite lovely for  small children, and especially fun in a large group with many different ages playing parts in a Michaelmas display of a dragon with knights and St. Michael.  There are many ways we can celebrate at home as homeschoolers as well; this is a great post for beginners or those with younger children called “Michaelmas Is Coming!”

If you want even more suggestions for celebrating, or need suggestions for older children, even high schoolers, try this back post: “A Month of Michaelmas”

But most of all, this is the time for serious adult inner work.  We turn inward from the consciousness of nature that we have been drawn to, this outward expression that marks the summer, and work inward to discover the dragons within us that need subduing;  how to bring our dreams and light to our family and the world.  One medititation that many associated with Waldorf Education use is the Foundation Stone Meditation.  You may find this link through the Anthroposophical Society, Portland Branch to be helpful as it includes a PDF chart of working with this meditation in conjunction in a 7-fold rhythm for days and seasons of the year.

The conflict between the dragon and St. Michael lives within us; how can we activate our own consciousness in order to find the deeds to help our children and the world?

Blessings,

Carrie

 

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Chore Wars No More!

Not too long ago, I posted a picture on The Parenting Passageway Facebook page about how I taught our seven-year-old (eight years old soon) how to do his own laundry and tossed a picture of our (rather ugly) chore chart up there as well.  One of the major questions was how to get children to do chores without whining, complaining, bickering, fighting back, needing a million reminders.

I don’t think I have yet discovered that secret, but I do have a few things to share that have helped us over the years….

CHORES ARE JUST PART OF LIFE.  For a long time, I didn’t even refer to doing household work as “chores.”  That just sounds so negative to many of us!  I referred to it as “taking care of our home” (or our pet, or each other).  We do it out of love and gratitude that we are all living together and have a roof over our heads and enough to eat, and it isn’t a negotiable thing.  We just do it. We are a team, and we take care of each other because that is what living in a family is all about.

So in that vein, I had to discover…

REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS FOR THE CHILD.  For children under 7, I don’t expect much but weaving in and out of most adult work, being able to assist me with things as part of our daily rhythm (so maybe there is a wood polishing/dusting day, and all the supplies are out and ready.  And we do it together!  Maybe it is soup day and I have the veggies ready to cut, a cutting board out, etc,  and we do it together!).

Self-care is part of “chores” at this age.  The average age of a child being able to dress independently is five.  So in allowing leeway for deviations above and below the mean, you can see how even this little bit of self-care might not be super realistic for some children.  But, I would break things up that I wanted  to see a child work toward into baby steps.  Maybe it was helping lay clothes out at night. Maybe it was the child can get the shirt on, but needs help with the pants or shoes, etc.   and just keep working slowly toward complete success.

We develop good daily habits by using our daily rhythm as mentioned above for things that are nourishing to our home and family, and in picking up the toys before dinner (unless it is a great building project or something!), putting our clothes in the hamper, picking up our room before or after dinner, etc.  At this point, it is all routine and habit we are doing together for the more “personal” chores – self-care, taking care of our room.

If you have multiple children under the age of 7, I would divide them into teams so you are dealing with two at one time and not more than two.  However, that is just me.  I would make sure we were doing things together, and that the expectations were very clear as to what needed to happen – steps before bedtime, cleaning things up, where the supplies are,  how to do it, and how to put the supplies away.  If there was pushback, I tend to try either imaginative, pictorial talk (put that pumpkin in the wheelbarrow might be an example for putting a shirt into the hamper), or if I am exhausted, it may be more just standing there with me looking at them until they decide to do what they know they are supposed to, or we keep on  doing  it together if it really is to hard to do it alone.  And I really evaluate that.  Usually before bed is a generally terrible time to have a lot of expectations, so looking at what time you are expecting things to happen also helps.

Some little boys in particular as not really motivated unless you mention times, or a race, and then they race around to do things in order to beat the clock or what have you.

In First Grade, age 7, I have children do chores but often I am in the same room either doing it with them or sending them off with me watching them and available to help.  Maybe I am folding laundry and they are off watering plants in that room or the surrounding rooms.  I have shown them the expectations, how to do it, how to clean up the tools needed, and I am available for questions. Hopefully our daily rhythm and doing self-care for so many years has helped develop skills in taking care of self and self-space. I still expect a first grader to need help brushing teeth and bathing and all of that – some need help all the way into being 10! Every child is different, so look at your child, and decide how you can empower them to be capable.

In Second Grade, age 8, I expect more of an ability to get out the tools they need for family cleaning and care on their own and do the chore, but I am still around. A chore chart is a good reminder of what needs to be done.  At this point, I do not include things such as dressing, or self-care or even making a bed or picking up a room as part of chores. These are things that happen because it is the right thing to do and the chore chart has things that help the whole family.  I usually do include on the chore chart bringing sheets down to be washed, doing laundry, and cleaning of a room on the chart.  You could do this any way that you wanted that made sense to you!

For Third Grade, age 9 to age 14, I know that children of this age are highly distractable. If you send them off to do a chore, chances are they will forget what you asked them to do before they even get there.  So, my solution to that is to  use a chore chart (less ability to argue when it is just what is on the board), pick certain times of the day when chores are done and I am around to help, assist, direct, or remind. I usually pick before lunch and after dinner, because it is easy to remind a child before they sit down to eat and ask if their chores are done and to check those chores out!  Did they do it the way I wanted?

For those ages 15-18, I assume the reason chores do not happen is that these teenagers are so busy doing other things.  They are engrossed in school work or doing something!  So, my fix to this is to use a chore chart, and to make it so I check the chores before they are heading out somewhere else. If the chores aren’t done, then they need to take the 15-30 minutes to do the chores and then they can go.

I would love to hear your chore dilemma and how you do things in your house! We all do it differently, and there is no one right way.  You will find the best way for your family and your particular children!  Chores and caring for our surroundings is our first experience with team work that we need the rest of our lives, so I think it is super important and worth persisting and making the time to teach our children how to do it all.

Blessings,
Carrie

You Can Plan A Year Of Math – Here’s How!

I recently put a photograph of the books and resources I have used for math throughout the Early Grades on The Parenting Passageway Facebook page , and I also posted some photographs last week of our second grader using the story of ” Anansi, Brother Breeze, and the Pear Tree”, manipulatives, and more to work on math.  If you like photographs and microblogging, please do and like the Facebook page (and Instagram is to come!)

At any rate, there was a great thread attached to these photographs that got me thinking about how I go about planning a year of math. So I pulled out some of my resources and thought about the template I have developed over the years to really dig in and plan.

Steiner:  I usually start with Steiner’s lectures on math and go back and look for relevant information.  Over the summer, this typically includes “Discussions With Teachers,” “Practical Advice To Teachers,” and “Foundations of Human Experience.” I am a Waldorf homeschooler, so any resources I bring to the table I insert them into this particular framework.

Current Research: I have been following the work of Jo Boaler and some of the most current neuroscience regarding teaching math. So I usually go through “Mathematical Mindsets” by Jo Boaler again and refresh myself.  Jo Boaler also has open courses through Stanford University that one can take and learn about teaching math.

Then, I do look at the traditions of the Waldorf School for that particular grade, including sample lessons.  For these, I usually look at things such as “Making Math Meaningful” by Fabrie, Gootenbos, and York; “Teaching Mathematics in Rudolf Steiner Schools for Classes I-VIII” by Jarman.  These help me plan out our math goals for the year and to break that down into what might be the goals for particular blocks.  In the early grades, I find the skills more broad and fluid and often intertwine throughout the year and grades, whereas the upper grades still have that but a block starts to begin to be very focused – algebra in seventh grade, platonic solids in eighth grade, etc.

Then, I start planning blocks with the stories and the art as my inspiration.  I often go in with an idea in mind in terms of what types of stories that might be interesting. So for second grade,  I really had nothing more than the thought of Anasi the Spider stories for one block (cooking Caribbean food and drawing, perhaps?), lumberjack math for one block (drawing, perhaps, but maybe something with food and singing hearty campfire songs and flannel fabrics!), a winter-y tale or winter-y folk tale block (maybe building some kind of a winter village??) , and a math in the garden block to start.

Then I start meshing the goals of our year with the blocks and filling in details.  For this, I need not only the Waldorf School goals but to really LOOK at the child in front of me.  Where is this child?  For this, I need to break down those skills and figure out HOW AM I GOING TO TEACH THIS?  Sometimes what helps me here is something like David Darcy’s “Inspiring Your Child’s Education”; and mainstream books geared to second grade such a “Second Grade Math” by Litton; Math Excursions 2 by Burk, Snider, Symonds: and books of verses, games and rhymes.  One book of games that I like is actually “The Dyscalculia Toolkit” by Ronia Bird. There are many games that really teach number sense and those foundational building blocks for number sense and higher-level math!  I also like “Games for Math” by Peggy Kaye and I have heard great things about “Family Math”. I also look to books like “Active Artithmetic” by Anderson and “Rhythms, Rhymes, Games and Songs for the Lower School.” You can also see my Pinterest boards  ( by grade and also two separate math boards for lower and upper grades)  for many of the ideas I have collected.

For a product that you can use that does have daily lesson plans or that you could integrate into ANY curriculum you are using, I like “Math By Hand” for grades 1-4.  I have used this since our now-tenth grader was in the early grades. In the beginning , there were no daily lesson plans, but there are now, and those could be a lovely jumping off point.  I am sort of a math lover, so we do a lot of math compared to most homeschoolers, so I still use a variety of resources, but this is one of our resources!

The daily practice between blocks shows us how to really practice and get this into our bodies and minds, and also how to progress from from block to block.  However, I think the biggest mistake people make with daily practice is that they don’t really have a goal by week for any of it.  What is the child supposed to be learning, what is the child supposed to accomplish,  in math during the non-block time?  To me, there should be a sense that something is mastered, or a foundation laid at least, in between blocks. As an example, I used the first three weeks of second grade this year to review counting by 1s, skip counting, movement in math, Roman Numerals in games, making tens in games, regrouping numbers into the twenties, all four processes,  and even casually introduced place value in a story before we ever hit our first math block of Anansi Tales where we are really delving into all four processes, place value, and factoring.  I also try to remind myself that daily practice also  includes all the circle/warm-up games, verses and fingerplays, things you weave into cooking and handwork, movement and more!

I think this sort of template can work for ANY grade!  Math seems to be the subject that intimidates homeschoolers the most, and I really want to de-mystify it.  Math is fun, it is all around us, and we should be as literate in math as we are in reading and writing.  We should expect our children to be mathematicians, becaue everyone is one!

 

Review: “Africa: A Teacher’s Guide”

You all know how much I loved the book “Hear the Voice of the Griot!  A Guide to African Geography, History, and Culture,” by the very wonderful Betty Staley.  Well, imagine my enthusiasm for an updated version of this book that just came out from Rudolf Steiner College Press called simply, “Africa:  A Teacher’s Guide:  Ethnology, Geography, History, Culture, Stories, Art.”

In comparing these old and new editions side by side, the older edition is 390 pages of material not including the pages of notes, bibliography, and index.  The new version is 446 pages, not including notes, bibliography and index.  So what material has been added?

Both books are divided into African Geography; African History; Regions of Africa;  the Inner Africa;  Fairy Tales;  Fables, Myths and Poems; Saints and Other Holy Figures;  and Other Aspects of African culture.

In the first section, African Geography, the maps have been updated. South Sudan is included now, Zaire is now labeled as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gambia is included,  other countries such as Cote d’Ivorie and Equitorial Guinea are labeled with their updated names.   More information has been added about the Mountains, Rivers, and the Great Rift Valley  in the new edition.   The chapter on “The Animals of Africa” has changed quite a bit.  The old edition included the cheetah, the hippo, the chimpanzee, adn the ostrich.  The new edition includes an introduction and insight into the African safari experience, elephants, the cheetah, the hippopotamus with more information than previously, the lion,  and then the chimpanzee and the ostrich.  There are also many more teacher suggestions for working with the animals.  There is a separate chapter called, “Careers with Animals” that highlights biographies of some of the researchers of animal behavior, including Cynthia Moss, Joyce Pool,  David Sheldrick, Daphne Sheldrick,  and Jane Goodall.  These would be good stepping-off points for fourth graders to hear and could be worked with through high school as well.

Section Two on  African History, particularly the part regarding Egypt, has been substantially re-worked to also include the rise of the Coptic Church, the role of Islam in Egypt, the biography of Anwar El Sadat, the Arab Spring of 2011-2014.  Then there is the section on Ethiopia that was in the previous edition.  The list of teacher activities is the same.  The sections on ” Great Kingdoms of West Africa” looks to be about the same as the old edition, but the section on” Islam” in North and West Africa has been updated. The chapter regarding “Europeans in Africa” has been updated and reworked and includes more teacher suggestions.   It truly presents slavery as the horror that it was.  Chapter Ten, “The Awakening of National Consciousnes In The Twentieth Century” has been updated to include more about the end of the Second World War to movements of independence, the situation of the African states in the post- WWII period, the status of the colonies, the influence of the Cold War, and more. More biographical sketches are included, and a look at different countries and their roads after independence was acheived. A new biography of Wangari Maathai is included as well.

Section Three of the book is “Regions of Africa.” Note that in the new edition, this section begins on page 149 and in the old edition this begins on page 109, so that gives you an idea of the amount of material added.  The font between edition is slightly different, so that may account for some of the page difference, but overall there is new material. There is an update to West Africa’s section with an update regarding the story of Jim Staley and his story of being a teacher in a newly-independent Nigeria and his return in 2008.   There are a few new suggestion under the teacher section for West Africa as well.  The East Africa section has a new biography added of Kimani Nganga Maruge, and new reflections on East Africa that covers an additional 12 pages from the previous edition.   There are also more suggestions for the teacher.  The Central Africa chapter remains the same, including references to Zaire, which is now the Democratic Republic of Congo, and I am unsure why that was not updated since it was updated in the map section in the beginning of the book. The Chapter on Southern Africa has also been updated with thoughts from 2012 and a new biography on Jabulani Banda.

Section Four is on “The Inner Africa,” and covers the San spiritual view of life (unchanged), the Bantu spiritual view (unchanged), and added teachers suggestions (these stories are for grades 4 and up).  Chapter Eighteen in the new edition is about Ethiopia also appears unchanged.  Section Five is “Fairy Tales, Fables, Myths, and Poems.” The new edition adds “Akimba and the Magic Cow” to the folk tales section.  Section Six on “Saints and Other Holy Figures”  appears unchanged.  Section Seven, “Other Aspects of African Culture,” which includes art, music, songs, and foods (the recipes are in a mix of English and metric, just to be forwarned!) The Epilogue is different.

So, I think it is worth it to have the newest edition.  This book was obviously years of research in the making, and I feel it can be a wonderful resource for grades early years through grade 12 in Waldorf Schools, and also for mainstream teachers.

Many blessings,
Carrie

 

Planning The High School Years

High school planning is challenging because of the becoming.  I can tell you  I think the largest, biggest, scariest, most brilliant leaps in development happen between ages 15-17 and it happens in ways so hard to predict!  So on one hand, who wants to plan high school so far ahead and pigeon-hole what beautiful opportunities and passions come out of growth?  On the other hand, who wants to think myopically and make the world very small and not plan far enough ahead so that opportunities will  then not be available for the young adult?  I think this is the fine line that every homeschooling family straddles.

So far, I can only tell you our plan for one child, who is currently in tenth grade,  and what we think the next few years will look like.  I am happy to share that; I am also happy to share that ninth and tenth grade have been vastly different for this child and that things are emerging daily that could be a path to something for the future that I cannot even foresee yet.  There really are no planned out tracks or goals for a career right now, no set path.  This child would prefer to have four years of high school and not pursue dual enrollment. In my area, dual enrollment is insanely popular and perhaps for good financial reason.  But I also understand my child and how she wants the excitment to enter college as a freshman (or in taking a gap year and then entering) and how she wants the beauty of the full college experience as a new freshman and how she doesn’t feel ready for dual enrollment with many older students. And I think that is okay!

So, my main advice to you in planning high school is to:

LOOK AT YOUR CHILD.  What is their temperament, their personality, their interests? Are there any outside academic high school classes in your area and if so, does your child want to take them?  Does your child want to go to college?  Do they know what they want to do or do they have an area in which they shine that might lead to a career path?  Do they want to do dual enrollment? Or not?

THINK ABOUT BEING MINIMAL.  High school can suddenly seem very, very complicated.  In all states in the United States, you can create a transcript for graduating high school.  However, if your child is interested in applying to college, there may be certain requirements the college or university is looking for.  So look at the public college system in your state and see what the requirements look like.  After freshman year, perhaps your student will be willing to chime in on a few colleges they like and you can look at those requirements as well.  So, it doesn’t have to be complicated, and it doesn’t have to be limiting. There are many ways to meet science or history requirements,  and many unique areas of focus that would count depending upon the final goal upon high school completion.  Most homeschooling families who have homeschooled multiple children through high school have commented that every high school path has looked different for each teenager.  As it should be – THAT is one reason why we homeschool high school!

DON’T PANIC.  150 hours is usually a humanities credit, and a 180 hours is usually a science with lab credit.  You can fulfill this a variety of ways – hours of experience, using a textbook and getting through most of the textbook, or honestly, when you feel the material has been mastered.  Some will use CLEP tests or SAT II Subject Tests to prove mastery.  If you keep track of what you do as you go along, you will have no trouble putting a transcript together.

CHASE THE PASSIONS. This is why we homeschool high school on one hand, but on the other hand, not every homeschooled kid has this insane passion that takes hours a day.  Be easy on this if they don’t have a passion, but do look for the opportunities that make homeschooling worthwhile!

WALDORF WHAT?  Many of you here are Waldorf homeschoolers and I am here to tell you whilst there is almost no information out there, it is possible to homeschool Waldorf in a high school manner using a mix of track (all year) classes and block classes (just like you did in grades 1-8).  Check out the Waldorf High Schools around the United States on-line and you will see the same blocks over and over with some geographic variation, just like in grades 1-8.  The AWNSA chart created by David Mitchell details high school in it, as does books by Stockmeyer and the book by Finser.  You will be putting together blocks yourself just as you have done through the middle school years when less curricula was available. you can do this!

Our plan right now, for one very specific teenager who wants to go to college and pretty much likes only math (LOL) and whose siblings’ high school courses will look much, much different:

We did World Geography as a year-long course (Oak Meadow’s high school course)  in Grade 8 and High School Spanish I in Grade 8.   These credits could count toward high school if we need them – especially the foreign language.

Ninth Grade – we did Biology as a year-long track class with labs (Oak Meadow with things I added to it); American History (through blocks that added up to enough hours between eighth and ninth grade); Algebra I (outside class in our town); Spanish II (Oak Meadow); and Literature and Composition I (including the typical Comedy and Tragedy block found in ninth grade) and math blocks (see Making Math Meaningful for High School for more information on these blocks).  Typical Waldorf blocks also include Art History, which would count toward a fine arts credit if a college requires it and you add in fine arts projects or toward an elective credit.  We had a credit with Music Theory and Performance (vocal, piano).

Tenth Grade – AP Environmental Science is our year-long track science class (outside class in our town); we will start World History in several blocks and finish that in eleventh grade; United States Government and Civics as a year-long course (and tied back into Greek History and Civics that is a popular block in Waldorf Schools); Literature and Composition I (taught in blocks, this year, Ancient Literature, Epic Poetry, Contemporary African-American Poetry/Essays) and math blocks.  Books with reports throughout the year.  Health and Physical Fitness (Oak Meadow).  Geometry and Algebra II/Trig were the other two outside classes our tenth grader chose to take (two credits total) along with the math blocks found in tenth grade Waldorf Schools.  Our embryology block will tie back into our Biology credit from ninth grade.  We will also have another credit with Music Theory and Performance II.

Eleventh Grade – Chemistry will be our science, I believe, along with several blocks of botany found traditionally in Waldorf Schools and blocks on astronomy.  We will finish World History and include resources on world religions, usually found in Waldorf Schools in this grade.  Eleventh Grade English is usually Dante, Parsifal and more in this grade, so still deciding that route.  Books with reports throughout the year.  Math will be Precalculus and possibly AP Statistics as outside classes (two credits).  We will most likely have another credit in music and will apply the hours in our History Through Music block to this.

Twelfth Grade – Physics and Calculus will be our outside classes, most likely along with AP English and AP Psychology, also outside the home.  The traditional Waldorf blocks include literature such as  Faust , Transcendentalists, and Russian literature, so I will be drawing from those, and History through Architecture.  We most likely will have another credit in music and I would love to cover Marine Biology, but we will see how far we get.

There are some things we may not cover, such as a lot of Earth Science, which is covered in Waldorf Schools. However, I think for the most part, our plan lines up to both some of the things found important developmentally in Waldorf Schools and also meets requirements for the more competitive colleges our teen is dreaming of applying to.

So that is our plan, but mostly we want to be flexible and allow time for all of our teen’s passions, of which there are a few (mainly horseback riding and musical ventures, and involvement at our parish).

Tell me your high school plans!

Blessings,
Carrie

Glorious Golden September

September is such a glorious time of leaves turning colors, seed pods, harvesting the last fruits of the season, and yes, preparing for winter in many parts of the United States. Despite the fact we in the south are still going to the beach and the lake, we too feel the passing of the season of summer.

In the book “All Year Round,” the authors write,”The equinoctial point is soon passed and the earth begins to inhale on long, mighty breath towards winter, drawing the sun’s fire downward to set the leaves aflame and cook the fruit to perfection.”  It is a time of drawing strength, and the meteor showers and the season of Michaelmas comes upon us to remind us we have the power to slay and subdue dragons.  The season  of Michaelmas has always been one of my favorites.

This month, we are celebrating:

  • September 5 – Labor Day
  • September 8 – The Nativity of St. Mary, the Theotokos
  • September 21 Autumn Equinox and the Feast of St. Matthew
  • September 29 Feast of St. Michael and All Angels

There are also many other Anglican and Orthodox Saints that I hope to celebrate this month, at least by reading something to the children!

The Home

  • The seasonal table is transitioning to yellows with dried flowers, seed pods, bunches of oats or wheat or corn that are dried, cornucopias, nuts, acorns, leaves and little “helicopters.”
  • I am going through and taking stock of fall and winter clothes and purging what we do not need.
  • Fall menu planning – a time of chili, soup, stew, warming dishes
  • Crafting – I have been making a doll for our second grader’s Christmas present, and I have some new window stars made during last month’s solar eclipse. I have some autumn crafting ideas on my Pinterest board, but I think I am going to start with Michaelmas crafts  and autumn lanterns as I feel very pulled toward that this year.
  • On a more somber note, there are large storms brewing out  in the Atlantic as I write this, and my region of the country is feeling compressed between storms and the flooding of Houston, TX.  Many people there have lost their homes and everything they had.  I am thinking of my Texas readers and holding them in my heart.   For the region in which I live our major threats are also hurricanes, tornadoes, and flooding.  So,  gathering up emergency supplies and having things readily available in case of a need to evacuate is always a good thing, and I am getting ready to go through our supplies again.

Self-Care

  • I planned all of my annual check-ups/preventative care in August prior to starting school again. However, if you haven’t done these check-ups yet, September, the month of new beginnings and school starting in many parts of the United States, could be a good time to do this simply because it is easy to remember!
  • I am working on skin care.  Sometimes the older I get, my skin becomes less glowing in the fall after days at the lake in summer.
  • Exercise!  With the falling of the sun and the lessening of daylight hours, it is even more important to get exercise in.

Homeschooling

Well, tenth, seventh , and second grade are zooming along.  We are ending our second week of school.  Our tenth grader has three classes outside the home plus Waldorf blocks and other subjects with me.  We began with math review for seventh and tenth grade, and a mini-block on the life of Buddha, a look at The Silk Road (seventh grade), the Tibetan Diaspora (tenth grade) and a reading of Hesse’s “Siddhartha.”  We will be heading into separated blocks soon that will be the Renaissance for our seventh grader, and our tenth grader will be studing U.S. Government and Civics.  Our little second grader has been reviewing math, and doing form drawing and some writing through the Jataka Tales. Our next block with be a math block, including geometric shapes and all four processes and place value.

I would love to hear what you are up to!

Blessings,
Carrie

My Favorite Natural Products For Your Healthy Family

One thing that many Waldorf families have in common is a love of things that support  total health. Many families choose Waldorf Education and Waldorf homeschooling because they feel this supports the development of the whole child in an appropriate way. Many families who choose Waldorf Education are also interested in a healthy, organic lifestyle and products that support family health, self-care, cleaning, and more.

I have been buying and eating organic food for the past 25 years. In this time, I have also embraced the use of herbs and the making of herbal infusions, essential oils, alternative health care systems, organic personal care products and cleaning products and more. Many, many people are futher along on this path than I am, but today I wanted to share some of my favorite family care, personal care, and cleaning products. I know many of these kinds of products could be easily made by hand, especially things such as laundry detergent and deodorant, and sometimes I have, but I also wanted to share my favorite brands with you (no affiliation, just happy using the product) so if you are short on time or just getting started on this path, you will have some tested recommendations!  Please do feel free to add your own recommendations in the comment box, share your favorite product lines, and more.

I have asthma, and we are headed into flu/cold season here in North America as well, which is always cause for concern for my lungs.  Therefore I  use the Environmental Working Group guides for products to often help discern which products have a higher risk of respiratory effects.

Family Care

I have used both homeopathics from  Boiron and  many of the herbal tincture products from Herb Pharm for both adults and children. My favorite general things to have on hand include arnica gel, collodial silver, and oregano essential oil.  I also like to have a selection of something similar to a Thieves Oil  as we head into flu/cold season.  You can find recipes on-line as to how to make a version of Thieves Oil out of basic essential oils.

My favorite supplements and probiotics so far are from the Jarrow line.

To make herbal infusions, I typically order directly  from either  Frontier Co-op or Mountain Rose Herbs.

Water Filters – I am currently looking for both in-house filters and shower filters.   If you have a recommendation, please leave it in the comment box!

(We also use allopathic preventative medicine and chiropractic medicine for general health as well, but this post is mainly about products!)

Personal Self-Care

For deodorant,I like Purelygreat and the Bergamot and Lime Schmidt’s. I have tried Primal Pit Paste without good success due to senstitive skin, but that seems to be what most people I know use.  I have also heard good things about Piperwai deodorant from several people now. Deodorant is fairly easy to make as well.

For lotion, I tend to use just straight oils instead or a combination of oils mixed with a facial lotion or body cream.

Facial cleanser/anti-aging products.  My dermatologist remarked to me that she felt cleanser in general wasn’t as important because it is on your face such a short amount of time compared to creams, serums, eye cream, etc.  so to invest in better quality brands for those things.  Derma E has some products that are rated highly in the Environmental Working Group SkinDeep Database (and some are not).  I don’t really have any tried and true favorites in this category yet.  I keep trying new things!  Please leave me your recommendations!

For shampoo and conditioner, I have not found ANY natural shampoo that I have liked for my hair type and texture. I have on my list to try Carina Organics Shampoo and Conditioner and see if I like those.

Soaps/body wash –  I like shea butter soaps and those generally score well on the EWG database. I find olive oil based soaps drying for my skin.  This one is a little hard for me since I was raised on Dove soap, LOL.

ToothpasteDavid’s Natural Whitening Toothpaste in peppermint is supposed to be good; does anyone use it?  It is flouride-free.  For  small children, we used flouride-free toothpaste and Kiss My Face toothpaste for the older children.  Our teens now prefer a regular brand of whitening toothpaste (yup, I know).

Hand soap – I like to try to find things at Amazon’s Subscribe and Save for products such as these, but Amazon doesn’t seem to carry any of the products marked with the green gold standard or a “1” , the next level down,  in the Environmental Working Group Skin Deep Cosmetic Database.  Miessence and Beautycounter both get high marks in this category; perhaps you can find a person who sells those products, or order from the ATTITUDE line directly from their  website.  ATTITUDE is one brand that seems to get consistently high marks in the EWG Database for both personal care products and cleaning products.

For sunscreen, (which I don’t wear a lot except on my face/neck and the backs of my hands due to the blocking of Vitamin D, probably much to the horror of some medical professionals),  I try to choose from the EWG Best Sunscreen list.

For all of the above items, I try to check the Environmental Working Group database several times a year since recommendations change due to manufacturer’s changes in formulation.

Cleaning Products

Laundry Detergent – is super easy to make; however, if you are in a pinch and want laundry detergent you can try BioKleen powder; Seventh Generation Free and Clear, or ATTITUDE laundry detergent.  Or, many folks use soap nuts.

All purpose cleanser is also easy to make and you can add essential oils to make everything smell lovely.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner – many natural substitutions here, but  Green Shield or Seventh Generation scores high on the EWG list for a premade one.

Dishwasher Detergent/Powder and Detergent for Hand-Washing Liquids – I like ATTITUDE for both the dishwasher and hand washing of dishes.    I have also used Seventh Generation and Ecover in the past; I think Seventh Generation scores higher in the EWG database though.

Share with me your favorite tried and true natural and organic products! I always love to hear people’s recommendations!

Blessings and love,

Carrie