Teaching A Main Lesson

“A Teacher’s Thoughts for His Children”

You who descend out of heaven’s brightness

Now descend to earthly darkness

Thus through life’s resisting forces,

Spirit radiance to unfold

Spirit warmness to enkindle

Spirit forces to call forth-

Be you warmed through by my love

Radiant Thinking

Tranquil Feeling

Healing Willing —

That in Spirit’s heights will rooted

And in Earth’s foundations working

You may servants of the world become

Spirit illumining

Love evoking

Being strengthening

–Rudolf Steiner

Sometimes I get asked about main lessons, blocks, main lessons.  If you are new to Waldorf education, some of those terms and explanations can be found in back posts on this blog.

Teaching, in any methodology, should be an art.  It should be something living between the teacher and the student in front of that teacher.  It cannot be found in the pages of a textbook, nor really can it be found even in a plan made a few months ago in hopes that this particular block will hit the developmental mark.

Instead, I invite you to consider daily the goals of education before you, so beautifully written in this verse by Rudolf Steiner.  What are the goals for the student?  Radiant thinking, tranquil feeling, healing willing, that the student is an intermediatry between heaven and earth to become love.  What are our goals as a teacher?  To become that spirit of warmth and love that leads the student to these goals, that helps us all become the Spirit illuminated in the world, where love is sowed amongst humanity.

This is why, to me, Facebook groups about Waldorf Education are so problematic.  This is an education of a spiritual degree, which requires artistry and thought on the part of the teacher.  You cannot find that in any pages of curriculum.  Look at this verse; it has the secrets of what you need to know in order to teach.

That being said, many of the questions of a main lesson do center around the “HOW”?  How do I bring this, I need some pure mechanics and form to bring to this spirit.  Here are some thoughts about teaching the main lesson.

(Sleep)  This can be physical sleep, in meditating upon practice skills and capacities, or it can be a deeper sleep like letting a block with new concepts rest.

For the TEACHER, we need to set our meditation and intentions for the day. What are we going to accomplish today?  In physical therapy sessions, we often have a “mini-goal” for that session that contributes to a longer term goal – teaching is much the same way. What is the long-term goal with this block?  How is today helping us get there?

The Warm- Up – Usually this is the beautiful verse Steiner left for his students (there is one for grades 1-4 and one for grades 5-8).  Sometimes this leads into circle games, poetry,  singing, movement.  As of note, I  dislike turning this time into a music lesson for a breathing instrument (I think that should be a middle lesson), and I dislike turning it into a math lesson (I think that should be a practice session).

Recall – This is perhaps the most neglected part of the main lesson amongst Waldorf homeschoolers. I find the indications in most curriculums wholly lacking – retell the story or act it out and then move on.  This is extremely boring, and perhaps more applicable to the stories of the lower grades, but certainly not satisfactory for the upper grades.  One must dig into one’s creative well in order to come up with some better ideas for recall.  In history, games work well.  In science, I find building up an arc of concepts crystallized by not only the experiment we are recalling from yesterday but from several previous day’s experiments to be worthwhile.   Recall also takes the form of art – we are recalling as we model or draw or paint something from the story; we are materializing it before our own eyes and in our own ways.  Recall can also be things like dictation or  working with a math game with movement.

I think this is the part that you should be PLANNING out ahead of time and not just leaving to what strikes you when you are teaching. Come with some innovative plans and creative ideas!

Recall leading into practice/bookwork –  What are we doing with the story content as far as the capacities we wish to build?  This is not a strict practice session in terms of reviewing all the concepts we have built up over time, but we can work on work that really brings home what we have done in the recall.  This is usually what we think of as the “academic part” of the main lesson – the writing, the example math problems in the main lesson book.

Practice often can be made up on the spot (ie, more math problems in a similar vein as the recall, answering questions that lead into writing from the recall, but some teacher-parents may find it easiest to have ideas  and examples written down ahead of time. If you are not good at making up math problems or drawing main lesson book pages on the board whilst students watch, then you need to plan this out ahead of time!  In this vein, you can keep your own main lesson book that you complete one step ahead of your student!

New content – This is where we further what will become the work tomorrow by introducing a story or biography that the student can sleep on overnight.  Sometimes the new content can come after the warm-up as well, or it can be at the end.  Again, this is up to the creativity of the teacher and the student in front of the teacher.

In the home environment, other parts of the day might include a rotating middle lesson like in a school (handwork, music, gardening, etc), practice lessons for skills in language arts and math, and time for read-alouds.  It is up to you to make the schedule fit your family, not to make your family try to fit a schedule of a Waldorf School.

The last part of the main lesson for the TEACHER only is to ask oneself – did I provide warmth and love?  Did we laugh?  Did we do something new?  Did I promote radiant thinking, tranquil feeling, healing willing?   And off we go, bringing our ideas and meditations to the spirit world for a new day of teaching tomorrow.

Many blessings,

Carrie

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Toolbox of Tips For Communicating With 9-12 Year Olds

This is second in a three-part series of discipline, communication, and development for 9-12 year olds so we can all be more effective parents!  The first part to this series can be found here and got a warm reception from readers as it tackled discipline, responsibility, protection, sports, emotional intelligence, and more.

One thing I love about this age is that I think we have a chance to make a big impact on how we resolve conflict and communicate with one another.  The home is really the first and most major place in which children learn this!

So, the first thing to be aware of is what is your communication style?  I find many adults have a really hard time helping 9-12 year olds with conflict and communication within the family because they themselves were never taught communication skills or conflict resolution?   So, I think we need to think of things such as:

  • How do we deal with things and other people when things are not flowing smoothly? How do we react? What do we say?
  • Do we accommodate conflict by being a people pleaser and backing down on our boundary?  Do we avoid conflict and run away?  Do we become competitive and try to win over why we are right?
  • How good are we a collaborating during times of conflict?
  • Are we direct?  Can we say and use “I ” statements directly when we communicate – “I am frustrated!”  “I am angry!”  But……
  •  What do we do with those feelings then, though?  Take it out on everyone around us?  Yell, scream, shut people out, cry?
  • Do we put people down when we are frustrated or irritated at the situation?  What do we perceive as “disrespect”, why, and what do we do about it?
  • Do we use steps in resolving conflicts?  Only then can we really model.

For younger children, we often think of things such as using our bodies to walk over to the child, connecting with the child and getting the child’s attention, using a calm voice with a simple request, helping the child follow-through in the request.  If conflict ensues, it often is just a matter of hungry/tired/exhausted/needing connection, helping the child calm down, following through or making restitution.  Attacking, lecturing in a long tirade, blaming doesn’t do anything to teach a child how to communicate or solve conflict.

For older children, things become infinitively more complex however.  There is often less of a “working together” model in place developmentally, which is normal, but it can also impact communication and openness.  Here are some suggestions to lay a good baseline:

What are the ESSENTIAL family rules (boundaries)?  Not like pick your socks up off the floor, but the really essential things. What specifically triggers the adults in the family, and the 9-12 year olds and makes the house less peaceful?  What is so essential it can’t be avoided, but what is not essential and could be discarded?  Pick and choose the ESSENTIAL.

In our family, this does include respect and good manners for one another.  Manners are how we show we care about one another, and we should have respect for the fact that we are all different people with different temperaments, personalities, and interests living in the same house together.

If there are things like doing homework or completing chores causing conflict in the family how could you break it down into an action plan that garners cooperation?

Make the family a place of POSITIVENESS and SUPPORT.  One of my favorite phrases to use with my children is, “I am here to help you.  Tell me what you would like to see happen.”  That opening often sets up a much better conversation.

Make the family a place of TEAMWORK.  This is often set in ages birth-9, but it is never too late to start!

EMPOWER.  Children ages 9-12 are not going to do things the way you do them as an adult, but the more empowerment you can give them within the rules of the house and what needs to happen. What will happen if responsibilities are not done?  If poor words are chosen?  If the child becomes completely angry?  Figure these things out in a time of quiet and calm, and have it ready to go and draw upon.

START TEACHING. Responding to what other people say in a defensive way is not an effective way to communicate, and just like learning to walk or throw a baseball, learning how to communicate takes PRACTICE.  A few hints:

Everyone must be calm. This step often takes much, much longer than everyone would like.  Take the time to calm down. Come back later.  There are few things that have to be solved in a split second.

No defensiveness. No yelling. No name calling.  No accusations.  No physicality. If any of these things happen on the part of your 9 to 12 year old to you, stay calm.  Tell your child you would like to help them.  Most 9-12 year olds can still get really overwhelmed by emotions, and need space and time. Defensiveness, yelling, name calling, accusations only ramps up the whole thing and instead of problem solving it is just emotions spilling everywhere.

We can all disagree, but the reality is if we all live together, we have to come up with solutions that work for the family, and we have to agree upon boundaries and rules in order to  live together.  Nine to twelve year olds are often not really logical, so it is important to help guide the discussions.

Listen carefully, and talk about how things happened and what you would each like to see happen.  Come up with a plan.   Make restitution.

I would love to hear your experiences in communicating with your 9-12 year olds!  Let’s exchange ideas!

Blessings and love,
Carrie

 

 

 

Book Study: “The Winning Family: Increasing Self-Esteem in Your Children and Yourself”

Chapters One and Two of this lovely book by Dr. Louise Hart is like a balm for the soul! The opening of chapter one talks about how the real work of parenting is often unsupported and undervalued.  Parenting is the most important job as what we do when our children are small often goes on to affect not only the child him or herself, but future generations.  The author points out we are influenced by our family, our culture, and the times we live in – but that the family can be the most important influence.

We have a choice as to what patterns we have learned and if we choose to repeat these patterns with our children.  We can rise above our old patterns, if only we can see them for what they are!  The author suggests taking a look at our own biographies – what made us feel loved or not loved, what was discipline like in the family in which you were raised, what helped you feel good or bad about yourself, how did the people in your family communicate? We can learn from our own biographies and heal our own woundedness.  We can do this in place of wounding our children.

Children imitate us, so let’s give them the models of how we think, how we love, what we value, how we problem- solve, how we resolve conflict.  We are teaching and modeling for our children all of the time!  If we don’t have new and productive patterns to give, then we must raise our own self-esteem in order to have this to give to our children.

In Chapter Two, the author talks about how we make healthy children from the inside out by valuing who the child is, what the child is, and accepting the child as they develop and grow.  We show them that we have self-worth and our own dignity.  We have the absolute right to be treated with self-respect, the right to be happy, the right to accept ourselves.   People with low self-esteem will try to prove themselves through what they do (possibly workaholics or bragging about accomplishments), what they have (materialism), what they know, how they perform in front of others, how they look, who they are friends with or married to.  These are external conditions!  People who seek approval or who are people pleasers are thinking of external value.  True self-esteem is based upon who we are.  We can cherish ourselves and who we are!

Children look up to us as adults and authority figures.  We reflect back to them what we “value” and see in them.  This becomes the basis for self-image for children, and influences their lives.  Children identify with labels given to them.  Our children are not broken; they don’t have deficits.  They are who they are, their strengths and their challenges.  Let us love them in joy. Self-esteem with children begins with bonding.  This early primary attachment through touching, rocking, cuddling, cooing, making eye contact, soothing, breastfeeding becomes the bonding for the future.  Love with complete acceptance is outside of daily behavior or “bad days”.

“Children have their own life force, their own opinions, dreams, and destinies.  The challenge of parenting is to allow and encourage children to be themselves while guiding, supporting, and celebrating their process of growth.  Successful parents not only love their children unconditionally, but also protect them, set limits, and assume as much responsibility as is necessary for the children’s age and developmental stage.” – page 13.  Such a great statement!  The limits and what we do for children should change with their age, and the letting go we do as children age into the upper teen years provides the basis for the older teenager’s self-confidence and self-worth.

There is a great self-esteem game to play at the end of Chapter Two – try it out!  This is such a tremendous book, please don’t miss out.  Grab a copy at your local library or through Amazon and follow along!

Blessings,

Carrie

Book Study: “The Winning Family: Increasing Self-Esteem In Your Children and Yourself”

The book, “The Winning Family: Increasing Self-Esteem in Your Children and Yourself,” by Dr. Louise Hart, is one of those older parenting books that is just a classic.  I have a copy from when I first started attending La Leche League meetings in 2001, and have kept this book around ever since.

The Preface to the book by the author presents the idea that children provide us opportunities to grow and that parenthood will stretch us, there are a variety and diversity of families – many forms, many sizes – but the best thing we can do is confront  and heal the issues from our own childhood.  This takes time and energy, but is so well worth it.

I love when the author writes, ” This book can be helpful for any person, from any type of family, who is ready to let go of dysfunctional patterns and reach for health, joy, and satisfaction; who believes that everyone can be a winner in his or her own right and that no one has to lose out.”

We can help our children with rules for family living, how we communicate, how we influence our children, how we set the tone in our family while yet acknowledging the vary different temperaments, personalities, and degrees of extroversion and introversion present.  We are the experts on our own family!

I invite you to grab a copy of this book and read through it with me.  You can find used copies on Amazon or another bookseller or through your local library. It is worth it to take the time to develop and begin anew.

Won’t  you join me?

Blessings and love,
Carrie

Free Lesson Block Plans and Ideas Grades 7-9

The ten year anniversary of The Parenting Passageway is coming up in October.  This blog has seen me through the days and years of when our oldest child was tiny, all the way through high school and three children homeschooling multiple times through the grades! Amazing all the different changes in ten years!

One thing that has been consistent about this blog is a love of developmental parenting and education.  I often felt Waldorf Education met the developmental needs of our children very well, and wrote about what we were doing in our homeschooling.  I extend an invitation to you to check out my thoughts regarding the different grades and what we did for certain blocks.

All of this information is free, and I hope you can use what you like out of it to put together developmental education for your own children.

Grade 7

Upper Grades: Getting To The Essence of A Block

Resources for Seventh Grade

Ideas for Teaching About Africa

Ideas for Teaching About Latin America

Seventh and Eighth Grade Chemistry

Guest Post: Seventh Grade Chemistry

Seventh Grade Physiology

Writing in the Middle School Grades

Charcoal Drawings

Drawing and Painting in Grades 6-8

Life Skills For Seventh and Eighth Graders

I went through seventh grade week by week , starting with Week One here

Grade 8

Block Rotation – second time through 8th grade

American History Blocks for Eighth Grade

Eighth Grade History

Eighth Grade Oceanography

Computers: A Waldorf Perspective

Emotional Health

Homeschooling Eighth Grade for High School Credit

Pondering Homeschooling High School

I went through eighth grade week by week for the entire school year starting with this post:  Week One Eighth Grade

Grade 9

Homeschooling Ninth Grade

Block Rotation for Ninth Grade

First Semester of Ninth Grade Wrap-Up

Homeschooling High School Biology

High School American History

Multicultural Literature Recommendations

Blessings,

Carrie

Free Lesson Block Plans and Ideas for Grades 4-6

The ten year anniversary of The Parenting Passageway is coming up in October.  This blog has seen me through the days and years of when our oldest child was tiny, all the way through high school and three children homeschooling multiple times through the grades! Amazing all the different changes in ten years!

One thing that has been consistent about this blog is a love of developmental parenting and education.  I often felt Waldorf Education met the developmental needs of our children very well, and wrote about what we were doing in our homeschooling.  I extend an invitation to you to check out my thoughts regarding the different grades and what we did for certain blocks.

All of this information is free, and I hope you can use what you like out of it to put together developmental education for your own children.

Grade 4:

Fourth Grade Handwork

Teaching Fourth Grade Norse Mythology

Norse Mythology

Local Geography

More Local Geography

I went through every week of fourth and seventh grade in 2014.  This is the Week One post

Fourth Grade Man and Animal Block

More Man and Animal suggestions

Switching To Colored Pencils

Grade 5:

Fifth Grade Block Rotation

Struggles with Preparing for Grade 5

Botany

Botany – second time through

Ancient Mythologies

Extending Africa Through The Curriculum

Greek Mythology and Ancient History

Using Mainstream Math Resources

I went through an entire year of  fifth and eighth grade week by week on the blog.  This is the Week One post

Grade 6:

Planning Grade Six

Block Rotation for Sixth Grade

Planning Sixth Grade Roman History

First Block of Ancient Rome

Ancient Rome

Ancient Rome – second time through sixth grade

Gallery of Work from Ancient Rome

Sixth Grade Medieval History

Medieval Block

Mineralogy Block -first time through

Mineralogy – second time through

Astronomy

Sixth Grade Geometry

 

Blessings,

Carrie

 

Free Lesson Block Plans and Ideas Grades 1-3

The ten year anniversary of The Parenting Passageway is coming up in October.  This blog has seen me through the days and years of when our oldest child was tiny, all the way through high school and three children homeschooling multiple times through the grades! Amazing all the different changes in ten years!

One thing that has been consistent about this blog is a love of developmental parenting and education.  I often felt Waldorf Education met the developmental needs of our children very well, and wrote about what we were doing in our homeschooling.  I extend an invitation to you to check out my thoughts regarding the different grades and what we did for certain blocks.

All of this information is free, and I hope you can use what you like out of it to put together developmental education for your own children.

First Grade:

Main Lesson Books, Lesson Blocks, Three Day Rhythm

First Grade Handwork  and First Grade Knitting

Form Drawing for First Grade

Brambly Hedge Form Drawing

First Grade Fairy Tales

Adapting “Along The Alphabet Path”

First Grade Science

Science in First and Second Grade

First Grade Math

Tips for Teaching First Grade Math

Resources for Wet-On-Wet Watercolor Painting

Second Grade:

Planning Second Grade – Part One

Planning Second Grade – Part Two

Second Grade Handwork

Second Grade Math

Second Grade Resources

Deconstructing Grade Two

Nature Ideas – Squirrels

Mural-Sized Moving Pictures

Third Grade:

Third Grade Handwork Projects

Third Grade Resources

Third Grade Wool Pictures

Third Grade Math – Part One

Struggling with the Old Testament Stories?

Stories of the Hebrew People – First Block

Stories of the Hebrew People – Second Block

Third Grade Native American Block

Notes About Third Grade

Ideas for Field Trips For Third Grade

Tips for Third Grade

Third Grade Read-Alouds

Two Resources for Gardening

 

Look for upcoming posts with FREE back posts listed for Grades 4-6 and Grades 7-9.

Blessings,
Carrie