I have written a few back posts about Grade Three, (and will have one on our last Old Testament block coming up), but I wanted to throw out a few things about Grade Three in general for those of you starting to plan. (And other Grade Three mothers, please do chime in with your experiences!)
Here are a few of my thoughts, in no particular order:
- I would highly suggest if you are using a curriculum and not designing your own to really stick with ONE curriculum and not try to incorporate everything from everywhere. It really can be overwhelming to do that in this particular grade. I am sure others would disagree here, but I think keeping with “one thing” may help keep you steady for this grade, especially if your child is going through developmental changes. My daughter was fully nine when we started this grade and we hit the nine year change in our fall work.
- Make your home environment work for you in the practical work of third grade – do cooking with measurement, go outside and garden, make cheese, can produce, take field trips, etc. This really should be a fun year designed to really meet the needs of that nine -year- old or almost nine- year- old.
- Along this same vein, though, you don’t have to get completely crazy. You don’t have to build a whole house, visit a farm for a month, etc. In a Waldorf School, there would be an entire class full of children working on a building project, not just one child, so one might expect the project to be bigger. In a Waldorf School, the farm trip might be just one weekend or a series of day trips in a few separate times. Steady.
- Do not panic if your year is rougher in spots due to the nine year change. Hold steady!
- Try not to panic and push the academics in a way that excludes everything else. In doing this, you will lose the fun of homeschooling and lose sight of the balance to the willing, thinking and feeling that Waldorf Education provides. I know some parents become stressed over standardized testing and such, ( especially as some states like mine start testing at the end of third grade), but most Waldorf homeschooled children seem to do well above average on these tests judging from their parents’ reports.
- Do remember the importance of movement and break up the day with movement, games and the like.
- If you feel as if you don’t know what a third grader typically would be doing in terms of what level of spelling words, or grammar or math problems, do shore up your own resources for you, the teacher, so you have appropriate things to share. Eric Fairman’s Path of Discovery Grade Three is a good place to start for math, the Christopherus Resource “Living Language” may give you some ideas for the language arts end of things. I think as the grades go up, this is where many parents start to stumble in a way, trying to think of the spelling words that might be at the right level from the story and pulling out the examples of grammar from the stories and the math problems because – well, then we have to think as well! LOL. And (oddly enough sounding), not every child in third grade even needs formal spelling and grammar work; this really will depend on the child, so one must assess and evaluate over the summer and really think about where the child is. Remember to keep the scope and sequence of the Waldorf curriculum in mind; it really is all in there!
- Do remember to hold a steady rhythm with boundaries: the nine year change is a time of pushing and checking against those rhythms, those fence posts of limits, a time of inward crisis that can manifest itself in outward ways.
- Consider carefully outside activities. It is easy to get caught up in many things for the child to do (well, at least in my area of the U.S.), but continually remind yourself that this is a nine -year- old child who still wants to play and to allow time for that is of utmost importance.
- A nine-year old child, may, as part of their nine year change feel lonely and wish for time socially with friends. It may be a good time to look at this social network if you have not been doing that right along. I often find it can be harder for the nine-year-old to meet homeschooled friends later as everyone starts to have different schedules dependent upon the size of the family and grades/work of other children in that family, and what activities the children are involved in. And, no, there is nothing wrong with having friends from all schooling options, of course.
- Keep the hands and heart in mind: does this story move my child? Does it appeal to all the temperaments? What work will we do beyond what we write down on a page in our Main Lesson Book? This would be a great year to start a cookbook, illustrate a book of Psalms copied for handwriting, grow different kinds of herbs for a garden. Don’t forget modeling and painting and singing and recorder to really round out this year.
Hope that helps a few of you in your planning!