The Winning Family: Increasing Self-Esteem In Your Children and Yourself

Who’s pulling your strings?

Chapter 21 is called “Who’s Pulling Your Strings?” and I love it because it points out that “growing up is the process of making the shift from an external to an internal authority, or locus of control.”  So, when children are little they look to PARENTS to be the authority because they only have an external locus of control.   Over time, as a child develops and matures, children learn how be confident and how to have responsibility for themselves, their responses, their reactions.  (You might be wondering exactly HOW to do this; this is the cruxt of understanding development and why it is so valuable in parenting!  Go to the header and click “Development” and a drop down menu by age will appear.  These posts will give you guidance as to what to expect at each age and how you can empower your children to become functional adults.  More on raising functional adults later this week).

This shift occurs, in my opinion, when we let children make mistakes and learn from those mistakes.  The author writes on page 213, “Many people trust others more than they trust themselves.  They don’t know their own values, opinions, beliefs, habits or identity.  They look outside themselves for approval, for a sense of worth, for happiness.  Fully grown adults, they may still look to others to clean up after themselves or to rescue them from problems.”   The authors has an entire section on the difference between cancer patients who decide to just “die obediently right on schedule” versus patients who take control and decide their cancer is not incurable.

The author gives exercises to help develop your own sense of self on page 215, and I can’t wait to try them out! There is an entire list of great suggestions on page 216-217 of how to move your children from external locus of control to internal locus of control.  I highly suggest you look at these pages.

Chapter 22 is “Play”.  Play is a universal language.  We can meet children at their level during play.  The author talks about how children who are entertained with a “high TV diet” wait to be entertained for their play.  Children can actively entertain themselves, but screens often thwart that between humor that is mainly put-downs, violence, and commercials to encourage consumerism. Children are born with a love of work – work is play, play is work.  Parents make the distinction.  If we put back fun into our work, then our children will enjoy it as well.   Have fun, and laugh.  Laughter is the best immune booster out there!  Other great tips in this chapter.

Chapter 23 is “The Winning Environment” and I love this chapter as it talks about how children need “optimal growing conditions in order to thrive.” The author has a checklist for what a winning environment would look like on page 226. This is a short chapter, but worthy to read.  Chapter 24 is also short and called, “Extending Your Family” and talks about how important the extended family is – American families used to be multigenerational, extended families which is not always the case now.  Kids used to be able to see how grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, all got along with each other and resolved conflict.  They got to see how different people handled life events. If a parent died, other family members would step in and keep the family going (this happened to me, so this wasn’t so many generations ago).  Today we have smaller households, and people and families are more isolated. Communities are often not supportive.  Neighbors don’t always pop in and out. The hard work of raising children is  lightened by sharing with others.  I believe this is the main reason mothers are exhausted today: no community!  Different families are being formed today, one extended often by friends, and I think this is so valuable.  I couldn’t raise my children without my good friends at this point!

The last two chapters of the book are about the winning family, and how this family can come in many shapes and sizes and forms.  What they share is connection, a sense of the family team, a balance of being close and separate, and the idea that we are all better together than apart (my wording). There is no perfect family, like a highlight reel on social media.  But there can be a great family that is always becoming as we help create it and rise to challenges together.   Chapter 26,  the last chapter talks about “A Winning World,” because families are where societies begin.   “Self-esteem begins in the family, but doesn’t stop there.” – page 240.

This is a terrific book, and I highly encourage you to read it this summer if you haven’t already. I also encourage you to get a copy of “Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles” for our next book study!

Blessings,

Carrie

Science in the Waldorf Curriculum

It’s been a long time since I wrote a post about science within the Waldorf Curriculum.  You can see the post explaining the basics of the science curriculum throughout the grades, and the Goethean approach to science in the Waldorf curriculum.  Today, much like  I have laid out the scope and sequence in many areas of the curriculum, such as Africa or Latin America through the curriculum, here is an overview as I would like to see it for American Waldorf homeschoolers:

Grade One and Grade Two:  These blocks typically are about experiences in nature, naked eye observation of nature.  I would like to see blocks such as form drawing based in the ecosystem in which the student lives.  Other ways children work with nature in first and  second grade includes gardening, cooking, care of pets, outdoor play, festival celebrations, toy-making, observation of the sky  and weather with the naked eye.  First Peoples tales regarding nature phenomena are appropriate in these grades, especially second grade.  I would also like to see an emphasis on herbal gathering and  preparation of herbal products in these grades.  In second grade, I usually do a block based on seasonal changes with poetry and very simple explorations in earth, water, air, fire in second grade – and then circle back around to this in fourth grade.

Grade Three:  Based on the stories of the Hebrew People and, in the American Waldorf homeschooling experience, the First Peoples, we find knowledge and develop skills in homebuilding, gardening and farming, textiles and dyeing.  I also think there should be a large emphasis on cooking in this grade as this is the basis for chemistry in the upper grades.  Another block that could be moved forward is the idea of bringing weather phenomena into greater consciousness.  Nature stories from the First Peoples continue to be important.

Grade Four:  In this block we begin the sequence of relating man to the different parts of the natural world; in this case Man and Animal.  This is tied into careful observation making, and yes, perhaps the first real report that is written by the student.  I think this block should also include a large part about the state’s animals and habitats, which is a mixture of local geography and Man and Animal.  I also like to spend several weeks on the ocean and ocean animals, and this can also tie back into the weather done in third grade.  You can also add an extra block for special areas of interest, such as birds of prey or African animals or insects.

In this grade, I like to do  a block that echoes second grade on earth, air, wind, and fire.  This year will be using the book  “Earth, Water, Fire and Air” by Walter Kraul.  The third block I like to do, again, as an American, is to talk about Benjamin Franklin and his work as a scientist and do some of the simple observations around magnetism and electricity. This may be early compared to the traditional Waldorf curriculum, but I think it could fit well by teaching through story the discoveries of Benjamin Franklin and it introduces an American figure.. #sorrynotsorrytodeviate

Housebuilding, gardening, farming, textiles, cooking, baking,  dyeing can all contiue.  I also make the fourth day of our school experience a “nature day”.  This year we will be studying different types of birds each week.  I also like to keep telling Native American nature tales, especially about the natural formations in our state, which is a precursor to the mineralogy in sixth grade.

I also like to do a weekly health lesson in fourth grade, even though that isn’t required by my state.  Oak Meadow’s weekly health lessons for K-3 grade can be expanded upon for your fourth grader if you decide to go this route.

Grade Five:  Botany is usually the science scheduled for this year, but I think you can expand it a bit and talk about habitats and keystone species in your area and what plant habitats they depend upon.  I also like to bring in biographies of naturalists and botanists, particularly George Washington Carver and women ecologist and naturalists. Botany of course leads into herbalism and the insect world as well, so you could have a whole block that builds on what you did in first through fourth grade with herbs.

Fifth grade also is a great time for talking about general inventions across the world – the wheel, transportation and how it evolved, even printmaking since that ties into botany.  It can be short, and I think you get this piecemeal talking about different ancient civilizations and what each civilization innovated and created, but it’s nice to have it all in one place.  This could be a short two week kind of block, but it’s a nice introduction to all the historical changes the student will be seeing in grades 6-8.  I also like the idea of a tunnel and bridges block and feel could fit well into this year.

We keep on working with cooking, gardening, building, dyeing, and  for our last child I plan to continue weekly health lessons.

Grade Six:  Mineralogy,  physics, and naked eye astronomy ( I use the persepctive of Native American astronomy)  are the typical sciences studied this year, but there are a few extras I like to add on.   In mineralogy, I like to talk about dinosaurs and fossils which can be used for exposure to ideas such as evolution and the  geologic time record, and I think this time around we will be discussing climate change.  In physics and in later chemistry, I always include biographies and particularly biographies of women and people of color.

I  like to include Greek and Roman Science – usually aqueducts, tunnels, watermills.  One thing I have toyed with is doing an entire block on medicine or based on Galen and the Gateway to Medicine.  This could tie into any health studies required in your state.  I am contemplating this for the next time I teach sixth grade!

Lastly, I think there should be an ecology unit in this grade – general biomes, food webs, energy pyramids, etc.   It goes well with mineralogy and the previous studies of botany and zoology, and sets a great foundation for seventh and eighth grade studies.  You could also do a great block on insect life in this grade or go further into zoology.

In this grade, using the fourth day for nature studies can go either way. By seventh grade, I usually don’t have the time to devote a whole main lesson period to nature studies alone and still keep a four day week.  Sometimes I like the idea of working more “workshop style” for nature studies in seventh and eighth grade – ie, 2-3 days on a particular nature study topic.

Grade Seven:  This grade is jam-packed full of science, with blocks in physiology, physics (usually hydraulics or aerodynamics or both), astronomy using optics, and chemistry. You can also work a lot of science into the history blocks – for example, optics and the Islamic Golden Age.   I would like to see a zoology block added here to touch on more traditional life sciences subjects and more animals from fourth grade, and if there was time I would love to see a block about climate change in either this grade or eighth grade.

I also think it is very important to work on reading non-fiction passages about science and working to understand them well in seventh and eighth grade.  This is an important skill for research paper writing and for high school.

Grade Eight:  There is a lot of science in this grade, including more chemistry, physiology, and physics, along with meteorology (and I  include oceanography with the meteorology).  I think part of this could block could be the biography of Marie Tharp and the theory of continental drift.

I think there should be a block on climate change and  renewable energy and also a general look at water conservation (Project WET could be a good starting point).  Another possible interesting block could be one on the biographies of Charles Darwin, Robert FritzRoy and Jean-Baptiste Lamarck.

This is also a good place to put a computer science kind of block in preparation for high school – understanding how to build a computer, how one works. It could be quite wonderful to build this block around Ada Lovelace.

Just a few ideas for my favorite subject!

Many blessings,
Carrie

Whitsunday: The Wild Goose

When we had Leonbergers, we frequently took them to our closest large lake to swim.  We swam on days in the late summer and early autumn when the leaves were changing and no one was really around.  One day I pulled up to the lake, ready for our preschooler and baby and dog to swim, only to find our car literally surrounded by so many geese I couldn’t open the door.  Our dog was lying peacefully on the floor, but once I made the decision to open the door, she sprang into action and chased the geese not only away from the car, but jumped into the lake, furiously paddling with that spent up energy from chasing the unpredictable birds.

As an Episcopalian, our strongest roots may be in the Celtic Church.  On Sunday, our priest mentioned that for the Feast of Pentecost (Whitsunday), Celtic Christians associated this festival not with a dove, but with a wild goose. The account of Pentecost – bewildering, astonishing – was seen as symbolized not as much with peace but as with perhaps fiery new beginnings, a sense of wonder and astonishment, a sense of  the untamed and wild.  What would happen next in the big story of the lives of these people, the world?

As we come into the season of Summer (and in the church calendar “Ordinary Time”), I often see the expansiveness and new beginnings of this time of year.  Children grow so much physically over the summer, and go back to school ready to begin new material, new growth.  Summer can be a time for casting off the old, and making room for the new. This can be a time of unparalled strength and creativity.  Here are some beautiful cross-cultural images to help you get started.  If you create something, please post it here or on the FB thread on The Parenting Passageway FB page.  I would love to honor you and your creation!

So, in that vein, I wish you time to create every day – whether that creation is in art, in music, in writing, in care of your home, in care of your neighbors.  Enjoy this beautiful season.

Blessings and love,
Carrie

the winning family: increasing self-esteem in your children and yourself

Today we are delving into Chapters 19 and 20 in this wonderful book by author Dr. Louise Hart.  We are moving through this book, and will be starting our new book entitled  “Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles” by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka and it comes in audiobook and Kindle editions, along with the traditional paperback and hardcover versions, so grab a copy to be ready for  later summer!  Here is the Amazon link (no affiliation)

Chapter 19 is titled, “Obsession with Perfection.”  This chapter opens with a description of the author trying to be a perfect hostess but not enjoying herself or her guests.  She writes: “When I realized how much my perfectionist expectations were inhibiting my lifestyle and cramping my self-expression, I decided to make some major changes.  I gave myself permission to attempt things I never thought I could do and enjoy myself more.  In doing so, I have taken more risks, made more mistakes, and gained more wisdom.  From the vice of perfectionism, life is much more fun and a lot easier – page 179

I love this, and I think many of us can relate as recovering perfectionists. Being a perfectionist essentially means we are looking for what is wrong, for meeting unrealistic or impossible expectations.  Perfectiontists see the world as black and white – it is good or it is bad.  One thing wrong, one mistake, means things are bad.  Perfectionists often cannot accept themselves or others. Making decisions turns into anxiety – because what if it is the wrong decision?  It also turns into the perfectionist overworking, because no one else can do the work correctly. Children who are perfectionists often have all of this ahead of them.  Help tame your own perfectionism, and that of your children’s with the tips beginning on page 183.  In addition to these tips, I urge you to look at all the work and resources around growth mindset.

Chapter 20 is about “Cultural Barriers to Self-Esteem,” and begins with a description of codependency.  Major symptoms of codependency include low self-esteem; being a people pleaser; feeling like a martyr;  having poor boundaries; seeking outside distraction from feelings such as food, work, sex, alcohol; feeling addicted to and trapped in damaging relationships; feeling powerless the change relationships; being unable to express true love andintimacy.

Perhaps the very first step toward overcoming these things is our own self-talk.  Then we can listen to how we talk to our children. We should not speak negatively of ourselves or others, and we need to look at the good things about ourselves and others.  If indeed we must “love our neighbors as ourselves,” which is tenet of nearly every major religious and spiritual core, we must begin with loving ourselves.  We must learn to take good care of ourselves, and in this way we can take good care of our children too.

There are great sections in this chapter on always pleasing others (do you have a permanent smile because you are happy or because you want everyone to like you and you don’t think your feelings count?); assuming you are responsible for everyone else’s lives (news flash, people are responsible for themselves and you can’t control what other people do); that our bodies are okay the way they are; avoidance strategies and dualistic thinking; comparison traps and more. This is a great chapter full of practical advice!

We have five chapters left and then on to our new book!  I have gotten a lot of email that so many of you have really enjoyed this thought-provoking book!  Let me know what you think!

Blessings,

Carrie

on a totally practical note…what do i do with my kids this summer?

Sometimes summer time can be  hard instead of magical!   If you are like me, my summers growing up were basically being kicked outside, hanging out out with the neighborhood kids, biking to a pool where my parents didn’t have to come with me.  However, not many of us have that anymore.  You might be wondering what to do with no one for your children to play with.  If you are working parent, you  know the struggle of having to divide the time off that you receive from your job and work with camps and babysitters to fill in the time.  If you are a stay at home, maybe your children are normally in school a good portion of the day and now you are wondering how to fill in time.  If you have teenagers, summers may feel different to you then when your children were small and you could just turn on a sprinkler and bring out popsicles and everyone was relatively happy.  So many different scenarios, but all looking for ideas!

One thing I realized early on is that summer for us, especially when my children were younger, was that summer required a bit of planning!  In order for things to flow, then I had to have at least a skeleton outline of what would happen, and I needed some ideas.

My first idea was always meaningful work.  This is really important for all children, from toddlers to teens.  Teens may be getting paid for work outside the home, but meaningful care and nurturing of the home is always important and should be a major foundation of the day and week.

Depending upon where you live, you can make being outside your number one priority after meaningful work.   Our days were often as simple as chores, park or a small hike in the morning, verses and songs or fingerplays, lunch and quiet time, a read aloud for the older children, pool or lake in the afternoon, dinner, bed.  Small children don’t need much more than that!  We often did some camping as well, and things like tubing on the lake or a nearby river (always a hit).

Sometimes if the weather was oppressive, our rhythm would become more elaborate with a  baking , painting, gardening, etc on certain days of the week – more like a rhythm we kept during the school year.  At the beginning of the summer I usually would invest in creating a box of goodies.  Maybe it was a few new puzzles, books, games, art kits – some new things that I would have to pull out on rainy days or times when things were getting dicey at home.  If you don’t have money to do this, don’t despair!  There are many lists of summer science and art activities, summer math activities, and other fun things to do with chalk and bubbles on Pinterest.

For children that were nine and up, we often  would tie in field trips to whatever grade we had just studied or were going to study in the fall.  We made trips to museums, aquariums, berry picking, living history museums, local attractions, or day or overnight trips to things just outside our immediate area.   Here is a list of summer activites that includes field trips:  Screen-Free Summer Activities.

Tell me how you are juggling your summer!

Blessings,
Carrie

be in it for yourself

Any sort of real, lasting, meaningful, and effective change has to come from within yourself.  If you want something badly enough, you will own it and you will feel empowered to take the next steps and to find a way.

This applies to anything from health to better parenting to homeschooling.  Instead of seeing all the obstacles and challenges, you can start to see solutions and steps.  This is the most powerful part of the whole process of being in it for real.

My favorite tools for doing this include:

Affirmations – I keep affirmations on my desk and say them daily. Affirmations, to me, are a verbal picture of what I envision happening in my life.

Vision Board – I keep a vision board up that targets different sections of my life, but I am about to make a vision board specific to my ideas for business and starting my own little mother-sized practice when I am through with physical therapy.

Prayer – Prayer is an essential part of me listening to the small, still voice of God and Spirit, and discerning the best path for myself.

The Mastermind – Every one needs a mastermind of people who empathize with where you are and spur you on to do better and to improve.  The connection and love is invaluable.  This goes along with having wonderful mentors.  I know so many wonderful people who have never hesitated if I said would you love to get a cup of coffee with me – I would love your input on something?  I would love to hear your story and how you got where you are, and see if you have any input on my ideas.  It’s amazing!

The steps – having steps broken down daily and weekly helps things to actually get down.  It isn’t enough to just have a general goal, you have to have a plan and take action.

Gratitude – Gratitude is such a big player in life.  How we look at things, how we frame things, how we get out of our own way all stems from getting rid of negative self-talk and focusing on gratitude.  I like to write down gratitude before bed, and also say words of gratitude to myself in the morning.  So grateful for each and every day that I am here to make an impact.

Getting your self-esteem under control – sometimes people have big egos, but most people I meet actually struggle with feeling like they don’t know enough, they don’t have it together, they don’t have all the answers.  This keeps us in the shadows and keeps us from contributing to the world.  Everyone has something to give.  You do know enough, you do have it together, you do have the answers you need for you and for the people that come into your life.

Other techniques I have used in the past include visualization and journaling.  I would love to hear what you use to encourage yourself, break through barriers, and commit to walking the steps you know you really need to!

Many blessings and love,
Carrie

 

june abloom

I love June – beaches, lakes, and pools.  Puffy and fluffly clouds sitting on blue skies. Glowing fireflies, campfires, and friends.  June is a wonderful month.

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

9- St. Columba – there is a little story here and we will make a little moving watercolor picture with a boat and dove

11 – Feast of St. Barnabas – St. Barnabas was an encourager, so I am thinking along the lines of having a family night with games and fun and encouraging each other and really celebrating us as a family. I have a number of photographs of our family we never framed and hung, so that could be another project!

14- Flag Day

17- Father’s Day

21 – 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

Minor feasts we will celebrate mainly through stories:

12- St. Enmegahbowh – first Native American priest in the Episcopal Church of The United States

19- Sahu Sundar Singh of India- I found a book here

22- St. Alban – an interesting You Tube video filled with giant puppets to celebrate St. Albans Day in England!

(here is the aside note about these feast days: – I have had a few folks ask me about the Calendar of Saints in the Episcopal Church…The Episcopal Church USA is part of the Anglican Communion, which is an international association of churches composed of the Church of England and national (such as Canada, Japan, Uganda, for example) and regional (collections of nations) Anglican churches.  Each province, as it is called, is autonomous and independent with its own primate and governing structure.  So, different feast calendars within the Anglican Communion share the Feast Days and Fast Days listed in the Book of Common Prayer, but there may be “lesser feasts and fasts” as well.  The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York are our “primus inter parus” (first among equals) but hold no direct authority outside of the England, but is instead a force of unity, vision, persuasion,  for the entire Communion.  We don’t really govern off of creeds, for example such as the Westminster Catechism in Presbyterianism, but find “the law of praying is the law of believing” and therefore The Book of Common Prayer is our way.  The Anglican Communion has in it elements of the Reformation and Anglo-Catholicism, depending upon the individual parish, but it is not “Catholic Lite”.  It has a distinctive Celtic way to it as that was what was established long before alignment with the West.  We pray for the unity of the Church (the whole of Christendom) and therefore “Anglicans have preferred to look for guidance to the undivided church, the church before it was divided by the Reformation and especially to the first centuries of the church’s life….to “tradition”, the worship, teaching and life of the church in its early days.” (page 65, Welcome to the Episcopal Church by Christopher Webber. Hope that helps!! ))

How to Celebrate:

  • I am enjoying decluttering many homeschool books.  I am on my last child to homeschool and he will be in fourth grade, so I feel like it is time to let some resources go.
  • Blueberry Picking
  • Kayaking, boating, going to the beach (at the lake, no chance to drive to our nearest beach)
  • Enjoying time on the farm with horses
  • Being together – game nights; movie nights with our older teens
  • Chalk and bubbles for our rising fourth grader, who is enjoying just playing.

The teaching fun:

  • Yup, it is time to gather up the high school transcripts for our oldest who will be a senior in the fall.  She has visited all the colleges she wanted to visit, and now we need to get the transcripts and applications together.
  • I am teaching a group of teachers at a local Waldorf homeschooling enrichment program this month.  That brings me energy and should be fun.
  • I start my own journey as a student again in July for a certification in physical therapy for the pelvic floor.  Lots to do there!
  • And, I have homeschool planning to do.  I have been posting about that on FB and IG, and go in spurts, so I need to jump back in this week with more doing.
  • We are still homeschooling until  at least the end of June and possibly into the second week of July as we have some things to finish up.  That’s just the way that worked out this year.  It isn’t my ideal, because I like the break for myself, but sometimes it happens. 🙂

Inner Work:

I have been super focused on having gratitude.  This includes affirmations, writing down things I am grateful for large and small, and reaching out to people to whom I am grateful and who had an impact upon my life.  It’s a lovely month to do this.

I would love to hear what you are up to!

Blessings,
carrie