Realistic Expectations: Day Ten of Twenty Days Toward More Mindful Mothering

In Day Nine of “Twenty Days Toward More Mindful Mothering”, we looked at our abilities to set boundaries.  And, one thing I really wanted to hammer in was that boundaries work both ways – it is not something that we only set for our children, but something we also set for ourselves.  We need to set boundaries on how we handle the emotional things in life, especially the negative emotions in life that people hand us or that we think cause us to feel the way we do, because as we do this we model this for our children.  We must help our children rise up out of their own negativity as well, if they have those tendencies, and do that through the boundaries we set on how we allow ourselves to be treated.

A large part of setting boundaries for children is knowing what are the realistic expectations for each age. If you are setting a boundary based upon some idea that the child “should” be able to do this, but the child really is not developmentally capable of this, then this is going to be a problem!  It is one thing to help a child rise up to something that are capable of doing, but one must also be realistic and not expect ten year old things out of a three-year old!

This by itself could be a small book, but let’s point out a few highlights for realistic expectation for age three up through age eight in this three-part post!


AGE THREE: Three is very, very little.  Very TINY.  Say that with me!  TINY!   According to Waldorf parenting and pedagogy, the first three years are for the establishment for walking (which takes about two and a half years to be a very mature walker without needing the arms for balance, being able to run, stop and start suddenly, etc); then the development of speech and the development of thinking as first seen by use of the term “I”.  These are the main goals for the first three years. 

Then we start moving into other areas…

Some parents get very upset around the three and a half year mark as children start to exert some will and push against the forms of the day and the rhythms you have crafted. This is very normal.  Typical developmental things about the three and a half -year-olds include (this is according to the Gesell Institute, not necessarily my personal opinion!):


Age Three and A Half

  • Turbulent, troubled period of disequilibrium, the simplest event or occasion can elicit total rebellion; strong and secure gross motor abilities may turn more into stumbling, falling, at this age; new- found verbal ability such as “I’ll cut you in pieces!” and lots of whining   — Keep your ho-hum on! Continue reading

Part Two of Day Nine: Twenty Days Toward Being A More Mindful Mother


We last were talking about boundaries in this post:


Boundaries are an interesting thing; once attached parents realize that they and their children are not the same person and that boundaries are really necessary, it can be hard for some parents to know what to put boundaries around (hint:  if it wouldn’t fly out in public with other adults or children, if it hurts the child or others, if it destroys property, it shouldn’t fly in your home!) and then often even still harder to know how to put the boundary in place without yelling or communicating in other ineffective ways.  Knowing developmental phases are really important here, and there are many back posts on The Parenting Passageway about gentle discipline and the “how-to’s” of each age.


But there is another interesting consideration about boundaries, and that is how boundaries are a two-way street:  boundaries are not only for the benefit of the child, to help the child grow and mature into the kind of adult we and others would like to be around, but they also model for our children how to place boundaries on the negative energy of other people.  How do we deal with anger, guilt, blame from other people, whether it be our children, family members or others? Do we accept and carry it around like a purse or do we know how to set boundaries to keep ourselves sane? It is an important consideration to model this for our children.


If I model for my child that I do not accept a child yelling and screaming AT me with blame, accusation… but that I am so happy to listen when we can talk calmly and without that blame and accusation,  then I am showing my child  how I deserve to be treated and how we should all treat each other.   I am showing that I choose not to accept and carry around  the negative emotions of others toward me, but that I will work toward the opportunity of calm problem -solving. 


I have a dear friend who talks about how people, and even children,  can “machine gun” you down with their emotions – whether that be angry accusations and blame or screeching and wailing and crying and complaining.  We want to raise a generation of children who will not be machine gunners.  We want to raise a generation of children who can let their emotions out, in an appropriate way, without all the verbal spillage, blame,  and anger onto others.


In this regard, I think Non-Violent Communication can be a tool, an inner framework for you, the adult,  to use as a model in handling emotion.  The verbosity of NVC does not, to me at least, fit well into the developmental framework of the child under the teen-aged years according to Waldorf methodology (and this is a place where you will find Waldorf people with differing opinions, so take what resonates with you).    Here is a link to some free resources regarding NonViolent Communication:


Take some time to meditate on the boundaries you set around yourself, especially emotional boundaries.  Being a parent does not mean you become the dumping ground for your family’s emotional negativity.  It is okay to have a boundary around that and to implement constructive ways to deal with negative emotions within your family. 


Many blessings,


The Melancholic Child–Ages 7 and Up



(This post is not meant to address children who are clinically depressed.  Please speak to a health care professional if you feel your child is depressed). 


Then you should know exactly which children lean toward

inner reflection and are inclined to brood over things; these are

the melancholic children. It is not easy to give them impressions

of the outer world. They brood quietly within themselves,

but this does not mean that they are unoccupied in their

inner being. On the contrary, we have the impression that they

are active inwardly.  – “Discussions With Teachers” Lecture One, Rudolf Steiner


Rudolf Steiner was not the first person to work with the ideas of the human temperaments;   the Greek physician Hippocrates incorporated the four temperaments into his medical work and the temperaments have made their way into medicine and psychology since then.  Rudolf Steiner linked the four temperaments to not only his ideas regarding the four fold human being, but also to the different developmental cycles of the human being.  For example, he felt the early childhood years of birth through seven were a predominantly sanguine time.


When we look at children, I have spoken to many mothers who feel the predominant temperament of their child is melancholic.  Many melancholic children have a particular physical body type – tall, slender, mournful eyes, a slow gait.  They tend to think a lot about the past, themselves, and they have a good memory concerning things that happen to themselves.   They tend to analyze, brood and have a strong attention to detail.  Many times they are bothered by the idea of imperfection.  I find many melancholic children in my own life can be rather inflexible, and when things do not happen according to the pictures or thoughts they have laid out, they can become extremely upset or angry.


Many times melancholic children seem to have a poor quality of relationships with others.  These may be the children who have only a few good friends.  They can be drawn into relationships if something strikes them as unjust or unfair; sticking up for the underdog is often part of a melancholic child’s connection and sympathy to another person’s pain and suffering.


Here is my area of caution after working with many families over the years:  Please do not confuse the melancholic child with something else.  I have talked to many mothers who felt their child was melancholic, but when I looked at the child in person and observed them and the family, it seemed to me that the whole family may have been in  a stressful, rough patch that was feeding the child’s feelings that the world was not a good place and that the child was working with this sad, unjust feeling as projected from the mother or other attachment figure in the family.  Once the family became stabilized, the child also stabilized.  This is not true melancholia as a temperamental trait. 


I have also seen videos of children with sensory issues whose parents were clearly worn out by a child’s behavior and sometimes the child would respond with complaining and  brooding to try to arouse the parent’s attention and sympathy.  This is a scenario too long and complicated to get into via electronic medium, but again, I don’t think that is a true melancholic child.  That is a child trying to elicit attention and increased energy from a parent.  The take away  message is that if your own energy is really low, your child may be acting melancholic to try to arouse something out of you!   We must always look to ourselves first. 


And complaining does not always equal a melancholic child either.  I think we have to look at the whole picture of the whole child.  A child may complain and feel lonely through the nine year change, for example, but that is a developmental stage, but not true melancholia as a tempermental trait.


The way to work with a melancholic, as advised by many resources, is to listen carefully to the melancholic child’s deep and brooding thoughts and to tell them stories about others who have suffered or times of your own suffering in order to connect.


I think this works well in a classroom,  and we can also use it in the home environment.  However, I think there is something more that should predominate with a melancholic child in the home environment:  we have to be careful to listen, but not be a captive stage for hours on end by long tales of the woe of the melancholic child.  This can be a tricky balance!  The melancholic child should not set the tone for the home; we should as parents set the tone for our house.   In the home environment where we are with our children 24/7, it is important to demonstrate to the melancholic child how we protect our own emotional boundaries because this is an important aspect of modeling emotional health for this temperament type.  We can carefully listen to our child and then say  that we have certainly heard them, and that we will carry their thoughts with us whilst we go do the dishes or brush the dog.  We can help engage these children in real work, and get them physically moving instead of wallowing in their own negativity.   I find melancholic children often need more exercise and sometimes even more opportunities to be socially drawn out  than they may be prone to want themselves.  Melancholic children are often happiest being creative and reading, which is wonderful, but physical movement and community is very important for these children. 


In my mind, this temperament also needs a strong religious and spiritual life as they grow into adolescence and adulthood in order to have something to hold onto. We want to balance these children and all four of the temperaments that are within them and within us all.



Friday Linky Love!


I have a great list of links for you all today!


First of all, I have to say the launch of Atlanta Homeschool Magazine has only added fuel to my fire that Atlanta has a vibrant homeschooling community!   A family in my very own homeschool group partnered up with the magazine to help see it come to life, so I feel very excited for them!  Here is the link where you can check out the premier issue for  free:  . 


Another wonderful mother  in my homeschool group sent me this link to a gorgeous post from the Fifth Grade Botany block.  There is also a list of botany resources this particular family used in order to put together their block.  Check it out here:


My oldest is only in fifth grade, and in that time frame of homeschooling, I have seen quite a few families come and go as far as having a homeschool experience inspired by Waldorf Education.  I am thoroughly impressed with Annette, who makes Waldorf work for her, in her Christian home, with her six children.  Love to you, Annette!  Check out her Waldorf Wednesday Link-Ups:


We made these coconut flour muffins; my oldest and I enjoyed them whilst my husband and middle child did not.  I think they are yummy!


And, in the midst of moving houses in two weeks and teaching, I am already gathering thoughts for sixth grade next year (and third grade too!)…Here is a lovely link for sixth grade:


Much love, happy weekend,


A Few Parenting Passageway Notes…Your Input Is Needed!

Well, this has been a fun month!  The Parenting Passageway has over 1,000 folks over on  its Facebook page, which is just humbling and amazing!  If you are on Facebook and  would like to be a grand part of that, I would be honored to be part of your Facebook world:!/TheParentingPassageway/posts/527264543957823?notif_t=feed_comment

One of the things I asked over there was now that we are oh-so-close to finishing up the book study where we went chapter by chapter through “The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work” is what book YOU would love to see next!  What book do you love and feel could be very helpful to other mothers out there?  I look forward to seeing your input in the comment box.  (If you are wondering what books we have already done, click “Book Reviews” from the drop-down menu above; we have done some great parenting books if you are searching for good reading!)

This month we will also be going through the last half of the twenty posts of “Twenty Days Toward More Mindful Mothering”, so look for those to brighten your parenting journey!

I am hoping to eventually have a sister site to The Parenting Passageway that will have all the book recommendations in one place on Amazon,and some more of my favorite goodies.  Right now we are in the midst of moving, but maybe after we are settled in and I am feeling inspired – perhaps right after the New Year!

I would love to hear what is going on in your world, what books and topics you would love to see covered here, and how I can be helpful to you!

Love to you all, thank you so much for being such a blessing to me every day,


Chapter 11: “The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work”


We are almost done with this book!  This chapter is all about creating a solid foundation for marriage through shared meaning, shared traditions, a shared family unity.


“Marriage isn’t just about raising kids, splitting chores, and making love.  It can also have a spiritual dimension that has to do with creating an inner life together – a culture rich with symbols and rituals, and an appreciation for your roles and goals that link you, that lead you to understand what it means to be a part of the family you have become.” (pages 243-244).


I love that outlook, and how families create their own family culture.  I have written about creating family culture before on this blog, and this chapter just confirms for me how important doing this truly is for the health of a family.  It is not that a couple feels the same exact way about everything, but that there is an interplay and meshing of values and beliefs and attitudes to form this new family identity. 


In this chapter you will find a beautiful questionnaire starting on page 246 that discusses “Shared Meaning” and provides an interesting bit of food for thought regarding rituals, roles in the family, goals, and symbols of family life together.


The section on “Family Rituals” begins:  “It is a sad fact that less than a third of U.S. families eat dinner together regularly, and more than half of those that do have the television on during dinner.   This effectively ends conversation during dinner.  Creating informal rituals when you can connect emotionally is critical in marriage.”  This section has an exercise on rituals.


There are also exercises regarding family roles, personal goals, and shared symbols.

An excellent chapter for those working on creating a new family culture!


Many blessings,


One special note is that the culture that develops

The Secret to Homeschooling Children In Multiple Grades


I will never forget one of the stories of my husband’s great-grandparents. They were celebrating their seventy-fifth wedding anniversary and people at church asked great-grandma to stand up and say a few words about having a successful marriage.  She stood up, and probably to the chagrin of most of the people there wanting inspirational words, said, “Well, it hasn’t been easy!” and sat back down again.


I feel a little like this when readers ask me about homeschooling children in multiple grades, especially in the land of Waldorf Education, where things are often  so….teacher intensive…..


It just isn’t always easy.  (I know, not what you want to hear! )


Oh, sure, people can give you tips.  I have given out “tips” before, especially in this post:  and in this post:  and here:


This is the thing with “tips”:  they are things that may work for one particular family, and that family is not your family..  So tips may be helpful, but they also may not resonate with you.  It may not work for your family.  You are the only one on this crazy homeschooling adventure that can figure out what works for you and your family!  You are the expert! 


Make a plan, keep it loose with plenty of time and space (yes, those of you who read this blog know I love those two words in relation to development and also in relation to homeschooling)…It is hard to know with different children what they will  blow through quickly and what will take more time, especially the older they get. For example, there is a much wider range in abilities in reading, writing and math in second through fourth grades than probably at any other time, I think, which can make it harder to plan the first time through those grades… Every child is different, and you are homeschooling to meet your children’s needs…so you tailor around that, not some blog you read where everything looks perfect!


Because there is no perfect way to Waldorf homeschool, and you find differences of opinion even amongst Waldorf homeschoolers.  And there is no life that is so calm and peaceful that it never influences how you feel in the moment about homeschooling…     Today I had a child who needed to get stitches out and whilst I was on the phone with the doctor regarding that, toddler man fell and knocked both front teeth which were now bleeding all over and we needed groceries and one child needed to be somewhere.  (So, theoretically, if I  could teleport, I could have gotten to all four places at once, but since I don’t have a nifty Dr. Who telephone booth, I couldn’t).   I say this to point out that sometimes it is not homeschooling itself that is stressful, especially since all of this happened during the afternoon,  but just the crazy of life that swirls around and that sometimes penetrates into making us feel like life would be easier if we were not homeschooling multiple children!  (Or just that life would be easier if we were sitting on a beach somewhere drinking something fruity with a little umbrella in it! Ha!)


But  that my friends, is the secret to thriving with homeschooling:  embrace the chaos.  Can you roll up and down on the roller coaster and smile? Can you keep your footing and calm amidst the wild ride?


Because if you have multiple children, multiple main lessons, along with younger children,  it will be a juggle.  And the juggle may extend down to the children: my children often alternate distracting or playing with a toddler whilst I work with one of them; (unless he is nursing or otherwise enthralled near us); there really isn’t all this time and space to just hang out that other homeschooling families often seem to have.  But this season is short, and in a few months it will be something different!  This I know for sure:  things change!


So, on my good days , I like to think homeschooling with multiple children teaches flexibility and resiliency.  Oh yes, we have rhythm for creating good health for the future adult (but remember that  it is the rhythm that works for us and no one else!), but we have the flexibility and resiliency that comes with having multiple children of different ages and in different seven year cycles.  We also have great time learning all the time, not just in “main lesson” because there are so many opportunities for learning with different temperaments and personalities and ages within the family. 


And on my bad days, it just looks a lot like crazy.  Smile


But the one thing that carries me through, and the one thing that I think you really do NEED as the secret to homeschooling multiple children is a strong spiritual footing.  If your inner work, your walk with your Creator is off, than all the days start to look like crazy instead of the beautiful blessings that God provided. 


Start your day with prayer, with silence to hear the voice of the Spirit, weave your religion into your schooling and your life…and then just  roll with it.  Crazy, chaos or not!


Blessings and love,

A Little Taste of The First Day of Fifth and Second Grade

WP_000110Folks all over have been posting about their first day of school.  As usual, I am late to the party. We started school three weeks ago in an effort to have some time off around the date we move into our new home.  Here in the Deep South, school tends to start in August, sometimes as early as the first of August, so we were in the company of many children we knew who had already been going to school for weeks!

Our first day of Fifth and Second grade was welcomed by the children, and the older girls insisted upon wearing matching outfits as their “uniform.”  We took a picture of the all the children by the front door.  Usually Daddy takes the children out for breakfast on the first day, but this year he was traveling, so we decided to jump in anyway.

I always start with a bit of review from the previous year, (or  begin with something that we didn’t finish!  LOL).  And I usually start with form drawing.  So, this year my second grader began with running forms.  Some of you may be familiar with a story by Donna Simmons in the Christopherus Form Drawing book that incorporates quite a few running forms for first grade (, and I decided to start there since we didn’t use that particular story last year.

My second grader can have some challenges with spatial relationships, so we warmed up with quite a few exercises where I peeked at overall body dominance and hand-eye tracking, hand-eye-foot tracking and then moved into practicing these forms with chalk on the driveway, walking the forms with our eye on a fixed point facing various directions, drawing the forms on each other’s back and guessing what they were, drawing them in the air, drawing them on the blackboard and scrap paper and then finally placing them in our main lesson book.  We also began a review of math – numbers and counting, skip counting, Roman Numerals, all four math processes.  After running forms, we moved into the mirrored forms typical of second grade with some Trickster Tales from the Cherokee, found in this book:

Our fifth grader started with some geometric forms found in the Christopherus Fourth and Fifth Grade syllabi (   One of the first forms we tackled was the (not-so-simple) circle.  I garnered some grand inspiration from the book, “A Beginner’s Guide to Constructing The Universe” (

We started with a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson found in the above book:   “The eye is the first circle/The horizon which it found is the second/And throughout nature this primary figure is repeated without end.”  So we looked at each other’s eyes, and we looked at the horizon.  What circular things did we see in each other and in the cosmos?

We read the book, “North Star:  St. Herman of Alaska”, as a read aloud for all of us, and looked carefully at the picture of the Northern Lights, such a circular pattern in the painting in the book, and such a grand representation of the cosmos.  We liked it so much we got out our paints and painted it.

Here is the book’s picture of the Northern Lights, and here is what we painted below.

We then looked back at the sky, and wondered at this idea that if we took the trajectories of the planets around the sun, the moon around the planets, the galaxies itself and tracked that around a fixed point, it would also look rather circular..There is a good picture in the “A Beginner’s Guide to Constructing the Universe” book…So we painted this (blue watercolor paint over the trajectories done in yellow beeswax crayon):

We dropped rocks into water to look for the dispersion of energy, which to our eye can look like a circle, and talked about other things we could find in nature that is circular.

All shapes are possible within the circle, and one person that came to mind was the great artist Giotto.  I pulled out this book and we looked at Giotto’s famous frescoes and then I told this story:

A long time ago in the country of Italy, a little boy was born to one of the village blacksmiths. As he grew it was apparent he had a certain light about him. He observed everything in great detail, and had such merry eyes and inquisitive countenance that made everyone in the village love him. His name was Giotto, and he helped his family by watching the sheep of the family amongst the rolling hills of the Italian countryside.

One thing Giotto loved to do was draw and paint the things he observed. He was a keen observer, and he could draw things in such a lifelike manner that it would make all the villagers stop and admire his talent. One day, the greatest Florentine painter Cimabue discovered Giotto drawing pictures of his sheep on a rock. They were so real, they looked like they could wander off the rock and start grazing right then and there! Cimabue was astounded, and asked Giotto’s father if he could take Giotto on as his apprentice.

Giotto went on to do such marvelous work and he kept his funny sense of humor and merriness. Once when Cimabue was absent from his workshop, Giotto painted such a lifelike fly on a painting that Cimabue was working on! When Cimabue returned to his workshop to pick up his paintbrush again, he saw the fly and kept trying to brush it off! Giotto broke into laughter and the two had a merry chuckle over the painted fly that was so lifelike Cimabue was convinced it was real!

As time went on, Giotto painted beautiful frescoes on the walls of many chapels throughout Italy and became known as the most important Italian painter of the 1300’s. But yet, when Pope Benedictus the XII contacted him and asked him to send a painting representative of his skill in order to come to Rome and paint for the Roman Catholic Church, Giotto only drew a beautiful and simple circle and sent that back by messenger to the Pope.

Why would the greatest artist in Italy do that?

So we talked about that, about what that perfect “O” really symbolized to mathematicians, artists and theologians alike – the prefectness of the circle, how all shapes can be accommodated within the circle, how the circle became the symbol of heaven and paradise.  We worked with drawing round circles freehand.  Ours were not nearly as perfect as Giotto’s!  After this, and over the next few weeks, we moved into other geometric shapes – the triangle, the quadrangle family- and then into lines, points, and rays.

And we off to the races in fifth and second grade!  We have since move into a block on Botany for our fifth grader and a Saints and Heroes block for our second grader, which I hope I get a chance to write about soon.

If you have posted your first day of school on your blog, I would love to read it.  Please leave a link below.  If you don’t have a blog but would like to share your first day with my readers, please leave a comment in the comment box!

Many blessings on a new school year,


The Journey Of Softening Ourselves

I wrote a variation on this post for my homeschooling group list, but thought the topic was important enough to share, so here are some of my thoughts on this topic for my readers here at The Parenting Passageway…

Many of us are attracted to Waldorf Education because we ourselves are in need of healing, and also because we want our children to have childhoods that they do not have to recover from.  (Sometimes, in my darkest moments, I fear for our nation because I worry the next generation will be too busy healing from their own childhoods and their own troubles and will not be strong enough to tackle the problems of the “other” within their communities—if we can only take care of ourselves, how can we hope to help with issues of peace, justice, education and more?  Just an aside note and digression…)

Sometimes we come to Waldorf Education with things that have helped buffer us against the world in the past:  sharp words, quick and sarcastic wit, a “I will get them before they get me” kind of attitude,  our misguided attempts at communicating whilst still protecting our own woundedness from the possibility from any further assault….

And then we enter the world of Waldorf Education; this beautiful lazured land of natural toys, gorgeous handwork, learning how to live a practical life, how to bring things in at the right time for our children.  We work and strive toward rhythm:   toward having calm and steady days.

But there is more, and that piece is ourselves.  Rudolf Steiner wrote that children respond not just to our teaching, but to WHO we are.  Who we are is precious, and in order to see that, sometimes we have to strip away some of the rough exterior buffers we have built up over the years, because the very way we carry ourselves,  dress ourselves, speak to our children and to others matters distinctly.  We then can  notice things in the world of Waldorf Education and wonder… Continue reading

The Work of The Biography


One of the most important things Waldorf teachers do in their teacher training is to look at their own biographies.  It is a vital step, because children respond to not just WHAT we teach, but WHO we are.  This is true in parenting as well.


I am in my second year of Foundation Studies in Anthroposophy and the Arts, and we are doing some biography work.  It is very interesting, and I wanted to share some of the resources and exercises as we go along for those of you who are interested in this kind of work for your own personal development in teaching and parenting.


Many of you know that Rudolf Steiner looked at the human lifespan on earth as working in seven year cycles ( although he was not the only one who looked at the human lifespan through seven year cycles).  He saw the human being as a threefold human being, so when we look at biography we must consider the physical body, the soul (Bernard Lievegoed refers to this as the psyche in his book, “Phases:  The Spiritual Rhythms of Adult Life” and the spirit (which, again Bernard Lievegoed refers to as the “biographical skeleton” in his book).


One of the first exercises we did in class was to take an index card and write one word or phrase that describes our physical body in the upper left hand corner and in the right hand corner we were to write down several “themes” that one could see at work in our life.  In the center of the index card, we had to make a list of important events in our life.  We had about five minutes to do this, so you could not sit and think for too long… (If you are going to do this, please grab an index card and do it before you read the next SPOILER part!!)


It was interesting to see how some people wrote down lots and lots from their childhood, and how some wrote almost nothing from their childhood but a lot from their adult life.  Some people put things in their biography like when they learned to ride a bike without training wheels and some put in their college degrees….


One of the major resources I like for understanding the human life span is Betty Staley’s, “Tapestries” – I went through this book chapter by chapter and you can see those posts here:


In our course we are referring to Bernard Lievegoed’s work, which I like, and also this book, which is out of print: “The Human Life” by George and Gisela O’Neil:


Food for thought this Labor Day weekend,