Planning Eighth Grade

So I started planning  Third Grade first, since it will be my third time teaching third grade and therefore has a sense of familiarity. I wrote several posts about the planning process for third grade here.  Now I am looking at planning eighth grade next, since it will be my second time teaching eighth grade.

I really like eighth grade and am looking forward to it. This particular student has very strong opinions about what she will or won’t participate in, and she won’t really try to do anything with a block she doesn’t want to do. So I have had to think long and hard about what I really think is essential in eighth grade for soul development and what blocks will be well-received as well.

It doesn’t help that I think eighth grade seems to me one of the years with the least amount of “must do” soul material.  Yes, there is a Revolutions block, but some schools put that in ninth.  There is an idea of “modern” and getting children up to present-day, but again, many schools also spread that into ninth grade if they have a high school program.   The AWNSA chart for the Waldorf School curriculum includes The Industrial Revolution to the Modern Day; American History; Shakespeare and poetry; stories about different people of the world and their folklore and poetry; reviewing all grammar; writing including newspaper reporting, business writing, writing a short play and spelling; Latin and Greek and vocabulary building exercises; World Geography and geography of Asia, Australia and Antarctica; Chemistry, Physiology, Physics  including aerodynamics and meteorology; Three Dimensional Geometry.  “Making Math Meaningful” by Jamie York for Grade 8 includes geometry and platonic solids as a block (which I did the first time around in eighth grade but I will not do this time);  and number bases and loci as another block.

You can see some of the ideas I planned the the first time around in eighth grade  for our oldest child.  You can see how I planned high school American History between eighth and ninth grade in order to earn a high school credit in American History (this is something that would happen in homeschooling, not a Waldorf School setting). You can see my post about Eighth Grade Chemistry here, and  I went through each week of eighth grade beginning here, with weeks one and two.

So, my tentative –  totally subject to change-  plans right now include:

August and September – Physics and Meteorology

October – Oceanography

November – Short Stories

December – Short Stories

January – Revolutions

February – Two weeks of aerodynamics;  American History

March – American History

April/ May -Energy,  Carbon, Climate, and the Environment (my own invented block)

Each of these blocks will work closely on academic skills.  I am not doing the typical eighth grade Chemistry block which focuses on the human body or cooking and fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, we are not doing the typical Physiology block either, and we  will do Shakespeare in High School.  We will be doing World Geography one day a week and go through all regions of the world, including the typical eighth grade geography block countries.

My main idea for the week’s rhythm is to bring four days of being together as this student will have an outside academic math class one day a week.  Three days will be main lesson work, and one day will be geography.  We will do math daily together and a lot of math investigation as a family.

I would love to hear what you are planning! Have you started planning your block rotations yet?

Blessings,

Carrie

 

 

5 Steps For Raising Children To Have An In-Depth Life

In this day and age, it seems as if sometimes the most intimate and horrific things can be reduced to an emoticon.  There are not enough emoticons in the world for tragedy, outrage, and horror. And, in cases of serious challenges with rights and wrongs on both sides, there is no clear button to push on social media to express the grey.  So, instead of raising our children in an environment that expects easy and shallow answers to life’s grey questions, let’s raise them to become deep and intimate beings with capacities for willing, feeling, and thinking.

Keep your children close.  Not to micromanage, not to hover, but to be present and attentive to what the true deep needs of children are.  All children have little wants that they think are needs, but it is our job as parents to figure out what is it that this child truly and deeply needs. And we can only do that if we are paying attention over a long course of many years.    We learn to read this child through all their changes, just as when we live in one place we learn to read the signs of each season in the sky and land.  Attention leads to depth in relationships and the first ability of the child to empathize with another human being.

Keep your children outside.   Connection with nature is the foundation of emotional and mental stability, the foundation of academic greatness in many subjects due to developing keen observation skills for minute changes, but it also becomes a time when a child can learn to be with themselves. Only when we can rest peacefully in ourselves (and perhaps in  the things that are bigger than us)  can we truly have deep intimacy with others and the challenges confronting humanity.

Keep your children off of social media as long as possible.  Social media devalues things to a click, an emoticon, a passing by glance.  As much as I enjoy social media for myself, I also didn’t grow up with it and become a rich thinker through debates on all kinds of issues right at our dinner table.   Encourage reading, dinner time discussion every night, and meaningful conversations with real people.

Keep your children with great role models.  Of course, be the best role model that you can be, but I think it does take a village to help raise children,  especially as a child grows.  We never know what other teacher, what neighbor, what other adult at a place of worship or in an activity that a child loves that might spark a light in our child’s soul. Sometimes it is something that seems so small to us that makes such a big impression on them.  Build up great relationships between your children and the mentors, neighbors, or extended family they love.  I know in this day and age, where coaches are not trustworthy, neighbors are not what they seem,  etc. that this can seem scary.  However, I think it is worth the effort to find the adults you love and that your children really can be guided by.  Different seasons may need different role models outside of the family, but it is worth persuing.

Keep your children even in their relationships.  As children age into the middle grades, and early high school years, it is easy for friendships and crushes to come and go. Help your child sort out their  capabilities for emotional intelligence, how they treat people fairly, how sometimes old friends are actually the best friends, what to do when friends hurt them, how to react to conflict, how to be assertive and set boundaries and more.  This is another thing that seems simple, but if you do not have time due to outside pressures of your own, you will not be present to help your child navigate this piece of life that is becoming more and more important in today’s world.

Slow down, and embrace being unbusy.  Children are in your home for 18 years usually. It is a long time, but also short.  If you don’t slow down, you might just miss it.

Blessings and love,
Carrie

planning + Waldorf + simple

 

So, I have homeschooled quite a long time – from Kindy second year to tenth grade this year that is 11 years.  And in doing this, I have found that some years were just simpler than others. We aren’t a Waldorf School at home, we don’t have a staff, and we have real life things to attend to – meals, housework, perhaps outside activities with older children.  And in a year of overwhelm, we also have divided energies.  The very real and hard thing about Waldorf homeschooling is it often isn’t possible for a student to progress super independently in main lesson book work.  Students need, and deserve input of their homeschooling teachers, just like all students do.  This isn’t like passing off a textbook and workbook and assigning problems.

So, in an great effort to keep thing as simple as possible, let me share with you some ways Waldorf veteran homeschoolers plan.  It IS different than a Waldorf School, and that is okay.

  1.  Health and family relationships take priority.  So this might mean we get to one less block a year than a school setting.  It may mean our school year looks longer, or shorter.  So long as we are in compliance with the homeschool laws of our state or province, we are doing okay.  But homeschooling first and foremost is about sustainability.
  2. We combine ages for main lessons.  I don’t advise anyone to teach more than three main lesson periods a day.  It is exhausting!   If you have six or more children, you might have four main lesson periods, but I would look for ways to combine, rotate days for some children, and school mostly year-round to fit in blocks for everyone.
  3. We put most everything in the main lesson period we are having with a child or children.  Some people do put handwork separate, and some families have only one to two children and they can do a lot of “separate” periods for painting or handwork or cooking or whathave you.  Most of us who have older children and multiple children must economize and make these things part of the artistic or practical response to a main lesson.
  4. We find many resources at the library.  Yes, there will often be need for some specific Waldorf resources, but I find the longer people Waldorf homeschool, the more they are not afraid to take resources from any stream and they can make it Waldorf.  Waldorf Education is a living and breathing entity specific to the child in front of us and to the specific geographic place where we live.  We follow the curriculum of the school setting, and honor the major impulses of experience before head thinking, sleep as an educational aid and more, but again, we are not and cannot be a school at home.
  5. Rhythm is key.  It takes a lot of energy to hold Waldorf main lessons; holding that space takes a lot, and we need to make sure as homeschooling parents we have time for OURSELVES.  This is also a key to sustainability over the years.
  6. We are committed to this.  The Waldorf homeschooling market is TINY.  You won’t find Waldorf materials at state homeschooling conferences.  You won’t find a lot of us around even to have community.  Many Waldorf homeschoolers have never seen a Waldorf School in real life.  We need to be patient with ourselves as we learn.

When I think about simple, I also try to think beyond the big picture and see how this will in reality, flow every day.  I wrote a post a little while back that had a little planning form for homeschooling parents to use.  It had two main lesson periods on it and more.  Here are some more ideas for putting together rhythms.

Ideas for rhythm #1:  (Two  Main lessons)

  • Family Breakfast/Chores
  • Circle Time for those under 9 or Warm Up time for the entire family
  • Math warm up for the whole family or divided by level (Personally, I think grades 1-5 could go together and grades 6-9 could go together).
  • Main Lesson Period #1 (what will other children be doing?)
  • Walk, play or tea break or Lunch if you start later in the day.
  • Main Lesson Period #2 (what will the other children be doing?)
  • Walk, play, or tea break or Lunch
  • Practical Activities ( could include music as a family, handwork, crafts, baking, gardening)
  • Free Reading or Reading Aloud
  • End of School Day

Ideas for Rhythm #2: (Two Main Lessons)

  • Family Breakfast/Chores
  • Music Practice or Movement
  • Main Lesson #1
  • Practice Period for handwriting, math, or individual music practice
  • Tea or Lunch
  • Main Lesson #2
  • Handwork

Ideas for Rhythm #3: (Kindy plus 3 Main Lessons)

  • Family Breakfast/Chores
  • Circle Time with littles/Kindergarten story
  • Main Lesson #1 (includes movement and art)
  • Main Lesson #2 (includes movement and art)
  • Lunch
  • Main Lesson #3 (rotate so not every day has three main lessons, on the off day put in kindergarten practical work)

Ideas for Rhythm #4:  (Three  Main Lessons, Grades)

  • Family Breakfast/Chores
  • Main Lesson #1
  • Tea
  • Main Lesson #2
  • Movement, Cooking, Practical Arts
  • Lunch
  • Main Lesson #3 – some days have this be an extra practice period for math or language arts

The ideas are infinite!  Please share with me your favorite rhythm for the grades that has worked well and is relatively simple!

Many blessings,
Carrie