Ten New and Exciting Resources For Fall

I am so happy to be gathering resources for fall, and want to share some of the new things I have discovered.  Some of these are Waldorf Education resources, and some are mainstream resources that I am using for upper level subjects or resources .  Enjoy some of these titles that might (or might not) be new to you! ( I have absolutely no affiliation with anything listed here; just simply sharing some of my finds).

  1.  “Exploring Nature With Children” ebook – this is a fantastic nature curriculum you can use across ages and grades. Lynn is completely familiar with Waldorf Education and is a reader of this blog, in fact! (Hi Lynn!)  It covers an ENTIRE year (summer months too!) and is only 15 dollars with a viewpoint that is easily used with Waldorf or Charlotte Mason homeschoolers (or anyone interested in nature studies!)  It has suggestions for books, artwork, writing, observation, and more.  Highly recommend.  There is a code for a 20 percent discount until Saturday, June 3rd: NATURE20.
  2. “Learning To Breathe: A Mindfulness Curriculum For Adolescents to Cultivate Emotion Regulation, Attention, and Performance” by Patricia C. Broderick, PhD.  This is a book regarding emotional regulation, stress-reduction skills, and mindfulness techniques with a 6 or 18 week program for adolescents. There are separate student workbooks.  I am planning on using this with both my tenth grader as part of our year long health course and our seventh grader, whose physiology block will dovetail with high school health.  I think talking plainly about emotions and tools to deal with stress and emotional regulation are very important for this generation of children.   I am grateful mine are old enough to have plain discussion about this subject, although I will be delving into more depth with my high schooler than my seventh grader.
  3. “Embryology Experienced Through Modeling In Clay” by Christian Breme (sold through Waldorf Publications).   This book comes with a DVD, and will be a part of our Embryology block in tenth grade, along with the next product:
  4. “Embryo In Motion: Understanding Ourselves As Embryo”  by Jaap van der Wal. This is a complete DVD lecture set to help me understand the anthroposophic viewpoint of embryology.
  5. “The Poetry Handbook”” by Mary Oliver.  A block of epic poetry is a traditional mainstay of tenth grade, and usually one hears about Gilgamesh, The Odyessey and the like, but I want to extend the art of looking at poetry and writing poetry into the twice a week writing I am doing with combining our seventh and tenth grader.
  6. “The Dyscalculia Toolkit” by Ronit Bird, for ages 6-14 with 200 activities and 50 games to help solidify. Some of the games I will be using with our second grader just as fun things to do, and some of the things I will be using with our seventh grader to review basics in a new and different way.
  7. “Math In The Garden”  – I love this book. I originally couldn’t find this book for under  50 to 100 dollars and requested it through inter-library loan. I really enjoyed it and thought it had some wonderful ideas, and  now have found where to order it for 30 dollars.  I am very excited to work through the projects in this book!
  8. “A Waldorf Journey Podcast” – I have enjoyed many of these episodes and it is always nice for me, as a homeschooler, to hear how things are done in a particular classroom, and to stimulate my own thought of how this relates to our homeschooling journey. (Hello to Meredith!).
  9. “Spelling By Hand” by Jeremy Hermann (sold through Waldorf Publications).  I am looking forward to receiving this resource and promise a full review on this when it arrives here!  It is booklet-sized at only 36 pages, but I have heard good reviews on this product.
  10. Jamie York’s Middle School Math Conference.  The middle school grades are online, and very accessible. I will be taking the seventh grade math conference and am looking forward to it.

I hope some of these resources are inspiring to you as you homeschool plan! Please share with me any resources that you are finding wonderful right now.

Blessings,
Carrie

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Struggling with Homeschooling Burnout?

I think this is the time of year where I get a spate of emails either from excited parents who are ready to embark upon their homeschool journeys or I get just the opposite – emails about burnout, dashed expectations, and exhaustion.  Parents with homeschooling burnout wonder what to do if they don’t want their children to go to a brick and mortar school, but yet they cannot see any resolution to the challenges before them.

I experienced true burnout this year, and I am not afraid to share what worked for me in hopes it will help other homeschooling parents.

Part of the challenge:  Part of  burnout, for me,  had to do with homeschooling for ten years with most summers taken up at least partially or fully with homeschool planning (vacation, anyone?). I notice in some Waldorf Schools the teachers seem to take sabbatical after taking a class through eight years.  We do not have that option at home, as we often have younger children to continue homeschooling or we are homeschooling into high school.

Part of the solution:  Stack some vacations in the worst part of the year to get me through; plan less weeks and less days per week in order to work in planning time during the school year.

Part of the challenge:  Homeschooling for many years children of wildly different ages who have wildly different developmental needs.

Part of the solution:    No child is going to get their day 100 percent tailored to them in a homeschooling situation where the family has children of massively different ages.   As a homeschooler, it is easy to look at what a Waldorf School might offer and think that this would be better for the child.  However, comparing a Waldorf School and Waldorf homeschooling is often like comparing oranges and grapefruit – same family, but perhaps distant cousins.  Home is not school and school is not home.  Reaching a balance not just over the course of a week or a month or a year is important, and to take a really long-term view that the child will get what they need by the time they graduate.  Remembering why we homeschool for each developmental period is important and helpful.

The other part of this solution is to impart more responsibility to the older children where one can, and to know sometimes it isn’t in the academic arena or the artistic arena, but it may be the older student can be helpful with smaller children or responsibility around the house.

The third idea is to look carefully at outside activities.  It is harder to say no to worthy outside activities that  a high schooler wants to do if they only have a few years left full time at home, but it is simple to tell younger children they simply must wait – or to choose activities the whole family can enjoy together!

Part of the challenge:  High school was not only a curveball for our oldest, but it was a curveball for ME.  Most of the parents in my area homeschool high schoolers using traditional textbooks, online classes, or the use of a hybrid school where their child is in classes two to three days a week with homework to do on the other “off” days.  What I kept hearing over and over was how homeschooling high school was so wonderful, how all it was was facilitating work and the student did everything on their own.

This could be the case for many Waldorf homeschoolers, but I don’t think this is always the case.  Many of us are still directly teaching high school subjects and very involved. We also may be trying to figure out that whole balance of blocks versus year long courses , workload,  and how to grade things.

Part of the solution:  Let it go.  Courses can extend throughout the high school years in homeschooling.  Preserve the relationship.  See if you can find in-person support from someone who has homeschooled similarily to how you have homeschooled, but also understand that every teenager has a different rate of neurologic development, and therefore that person’s experience may not be your experience at all!   In the middle teen years, I see  very pronounced differences in the development of the brain and the profound effect this has upon high school.  No one talks about that at all on homeschooling blogs, so I am saying it!

Part of the challenge:  The parent is still developing and going through seven year cycles; older parents can have challenges and we all seem to age a little differently.The decade of the 40s can also  be where many mothers are squished between taking care of elderly parents or parents with health problems, homeschooling, running a household, and getting children to activities.  It can be overwhelming.

Part of the solution:  Rest, exercise,  and healthy eating is a key.  Making time for your own health does nothing but stabilize the school situation.  If you have shorter days due to your own health needs and you decide to homeschool with shorter breaks throughout the year in order to accommodate this, well, we  have that flexibility!  The other piece of this is to go back to your spiritual practices – what strengthens your inner resolve and strength?

These are just a few of the things I did this year to help myself.  I would love to hear from you if you have suggestions to help mothers suffering from burnout! What would you say to be encouraging and helpful?

Blessings,
Carrie

How To Get Your Early Planning Going!

Hello Friends!

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

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

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

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

Many blessings,

Carrie

 

Shame, Guilt, and Fear Are Not Parenting Strategies

Hello Friends!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings,
Carrie

Spring Menu Planning

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

Here are some thoughts and links I have been perusing:

Breakfast:

Spring breakfasts from the Food Network

Smoothies, of course.

Lunches:

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

Tuna Salad, any variation

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

I also want to try these: Poppy Seed Chicken Pitas

Dinners:

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

Sweet stuff:

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

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

Blessings and love,
Carrie

 

 

Resources For Planning This Summer

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings,
Carrie

 

Celebrating May!

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

This month we are celebrating:

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

14th -Mother’s Day

19th- The Feast of St. Dunstan

20th- The Feast of St. Alcuin

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

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

29th- Memorial Day

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

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

Other things on my mind:

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

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

Many blessings,

Carrie