Creating the Heart of Family Life

The heart of the home and homeschooling lies within us to create. This can be a difficult work, especially when our children are small and we feel like we are inventing something brand new and discovering layers of ourselves and our family. It involves sinking into challenges and imagining new solutions. It involves finding balance and health, exploring wonder, finding gratitude. It’s a good place and a good work for these times of sadness, despair, tumult. The next generation is depending upon it.

How we do this looks different for each and every person.

For some, it could involve prayer, meditation, or other spiritual work.

For some, it could involve family meetings and great communication with a spouse or partner.

For some, it could involve having self-care and time to create and think and plan.

For some, it could involve a strong rhythm to find time.

For some, it could involve a lot of time outside in nature in order to feel centered and ready to take on the tasks of homemaking, parenting, homeschooling.

For some, it could involve finding the goodness in each day, and seeing the wonder.

For some, it could involve spending less time on social media.

For me, I have done all these things over the years in an effort to keep homemaking and homeschooling (and now working outside the home) sustainable. Prayer is a touchpoint of my day, and so is communicating with my spouse – walking and working together helps. When our children were small they went to bed early and that also gave us some time to talk and catch up. Rhythm is the biggest single help to me on a very practical level to make sure I have time to do all the things I need to do.

My challenge to you is to choose the most essential parts in order to make the heart of your homemaking and homemaking and make your rhythm around those! I can’t wait to hear how things go for you.

Many blessings,

Carrie

Waldorf Homeschooling Then and Now

When I started homeschooling my five/six year old (the first year I really count, that six year old kindergarten year), it was 2005-2006 and resources for Waldorf homeschooling were sparse. There was Marsha Johnson’s Yahoo Group (remember those?), Donna Simmons was coming out with some products, Melisa Nielsen was coming out with products and there was Live Education! There were some books you could get by mail from the Rudolf Steiner Library and you could order Steiner’s lectures. I actually found Waldorf Education because I had seen Waldorf homeschooling mentioned in a library book and I read Steiner’s educational lectures first before I even saw a Waldorf school or curriculum.

As homeschoolers, we were hungry for knowledge and how to do things, and the school community was happy to have us come experience a community festival at a school, but there wasn’t much else offered in terms of support. Most of us couldn’t afford a Waldorf School for our multiple children, and that was that.

Today, there is a (relative) explosion of resources out there.

Buyer beware.

I am saying this because I think Waldorf homeschooling is very strange in a way. You don’t hear of any other kind of homeschooling method where people seem to prey on the fact that this type of homeschooling is “hard” and there are proper ways to do things and you will never be enough (so you should spend a lot of money to figure this out). You don’t hear that in classical circles, you don’t hear it in Charlotte Mason circles – why in this circle? Over an educational method Dr. Steiner started for the children of workers in a cigarette factory? Where he gave some weeks of lecture, and off the first Waldorf teachers went with his indications and created something that was obviously special and grew around the world? It is special – but I think Dr. Steiner wanted it to be accessible ! You can learn to do this! Dr. Steiner’s lectures were good enough for the first Waldorf teachers, and they can be good enough for you too!

You are enough. You can do this. If you feel as if or if you have been told that this way of homeschooling is so difficult, I want you to instead focus on your own strength and tenacity. Your own hunger for this way of living and education to heal yourself, heal your family, and to provide your child with amazing benefits to be well-rounded and to be a healthy adult.

Do you need help? Look at the back posts here. There are maybe 13 years or more of back posts on here! Every grade, block, age is covered. And it’s free! Ask on the Waldorf homeschooling FB groups where there are seasoned, veteran homeschooling mothers who can help you. There are free resources for the early grades online.

No, it is not going to look exactly like a Waldorf School. We as homeschoolers tend to be broader and have to combine things for our multiple children because trying to do three main lessons or more a day is too much – and that is ok! Look at Steiner’s original indications for subjects with child development – much broader than the narrow grade at a school. It’s okay.

Do you need help with art? The art is about creating and the process. Yes, the finished products can be beautiful but that’s not all there is. Maybe you are terrific at math. Or gardening. Each homeschool will have its own flair. I am still terrible at handwork, but I can sing, paint, draw, model, and play instruments. Find your strengths, you can find resources in your community for the rest. Practice daily! You will get better.

What is the first step? Rhythm – which will look different in every household, and understanding biography, development. Look at your family, and the child in front of you.

Sometimes the best way to go with Waldorf homeschooling is to jump into it.

Did I chose the right sized main lesson book that first year for form drawing? Nope.

Did it ruin my child’s life?

Nope.

Was I incredible at handwork? Nope, but I could do other things!

Did I nail every finer point of a block the first time I went through it? Nope, but I sure learned a lot.

Many of us did this for YEARS with no help, on the outside of even the fringes of the Waldorf School movement which was already an alternative movement anyway. We used library books to make blocks, ordered things we hadn’t seen in person, got art supplies, and did our best. This way of homeschooling, while different because it has a distinct spiritual view of the human being, subjects to correlate with the development of the human being, and is based in the arts IS different but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it! And you can figure it out as you go along. Let go of your perfectionism and the school picture. This is homeschooling, which is separate in my mind from a school setting.

I don’t think Dr. Steiner would have wanted it any other way. Waldorf homeschooling has the ability to be accessible, to help heal generations, to help us know ourselves deeply and to see and be goodness, truth, and beauty.

Blessings,
Carrie

August Anchor Points

I could not be more excited that glorious August is here! The month of sunshine and sunflowers, lakes, and fun – and here in the deep south, it’s also time for back to school. But it’s also my birthday month, and I think 51 is going to be a fabulous year! I am so excited!

The things we are celebrating:

August 6th- The Transfiguration of Jesus Christ

August 8th- My Birthday!

August 10- School starts!

August 15- The Dormition of St. Mary

August 28 – our oldest child will be 20! Doesn’t seem possible! ❤ She is a sophomore at univeristy!

Ideas for Celebration:

  • Making a  beautiful triptych to celebrate the life of St. Mary.  There are many wonderful ideas regarding this on the Internet.
  • We have about another month of tubing, swimming and water park availability to us, so we hope to take advantage!
  • Camping – it can be super hot here, but I am already making camping in the fall a priority.
  • Gazing at the stars
  • Horses!  With our new farm, we are busy getting the interior of the barn ripped out and then we ordered new stall fronts – and we need to paint it! And then our horses can come home! Can’t wait. We also have plans for chickens and I am hoping for two goats. Plus our bees are doing well, and we are planning on adding three more hives in the spring.
  • Walking in the mornings
  • Working out.  Move!  During quarantine, I have been using Beach Body (no affiliation at all, just happy to have it when I can’t go to the gym!) At the end of the month my oldest daughter and I are starting 75Hard!

The Domestic Life:

This a good time to take stock of needs for fall/winter in clothing, shoes, outside gear, school supplies, art supplies

I also think this a great time to go back to manners.  Children are often in an expansive place with summer weather and may need some help in remembering school behavior, work ethics and manners!   Rhythm is also a huge help with that.  It’s a key word for this month and the structure of the rhythm of school does us all good!

Meal planning gets us through because I am too busy to have to spend a lot of time every day planning.  So, I like to plan 2-4 weeks of meals and shop in bulk!  More on that coming soon.

Homeschooling:

We are jumping into sixth grade (for my third time!).  I am looking forward to it, and pretty much decided to start with Mineralogy and then Greek History before we move into the other blocks. So excited for this year! Our sixth grader is involved with 4-H and horses and it truly is going to be a great year!

Our eleventh grader is in an outside hybrid homeschool program, so mainly I am helping with homework there! We are so proud of her!

We are super proud of our girl at university! She is an amazing adult. She and I took a mother-daughter trip in July, just the two of us, and it was awesome!

Self-Care and Rhythm:

With farm life, working, homeschooling, consulting — I am working on keeping my morning rhythm of self-care, and making time for exercise and food prep! This is really, really important to me. My spiritual work is also paramount right now!

My other huge piece of self care is  my supplements! I have some long term effects from getting Covid over a year ago, and supplements that were derived from my lab work are really helpful! I have also been napping on the weekends, which has been very helpful.

I want to hear what you have learned during quarantine, how August is shaping up for you, how is school looking?  I have been super busy doing homeschool consulting this month! If anyone needs help with homeschool planning or planning for family life, please email me at admin@theparentingpassageway.  My rates for a half hour phone call are super reasonable and I have helped lots of moms this month!  I also answer fast questions via email for free, and always give my single moms free help. Please let me know if I can help you!

Lots of love and many blessings,
carrie