A Plea For Summer Neighborhood Play

It can be a lonely summer for children in neighborhoods these days.

In our neighborhood, I see children at the pool but usually after 3 or 4.  Some parents are working all summer, and I totally understand.  But even with the parents who are not working, the children are often in summer camps that cost hundreds of dollars, probably a thousand dollars,  by the end of the summer.

It is sort of a vicious cycle.  Children who are staying home in the summer have no friends to play with; no one is outside; no one is at a neighborhood pool until later and then the parents probably feel as if they must put their child in something so the children will have something to do. And the cycle keeps going round and round.

Summer has somehow become this merry-go-round of more and trying to fit in more before school starts again.  If we, as parents,  don’t start reclaiming some of the slowness of our children’s childhoods,  I think upcoming generations will have an even faster and more hurried life.

What strikes me most is the loss of neighborhood play in mixed-age groups( without parents hovering).  In a neighborhood group, or even in groups of kids on the farm, children figure out the play, the rules, and how one wins.  One stomps off and gets mad and comes back – learning emotional regulation.  One is totally irritated with a commanding older child in the group, but there is a group to buffer this, and children learn how to get along with those who are different than themselves – without an adult telling them how to do it.

The children playing in the neighborhood get to develop decision-making skills. They get to develop their bodies as they bike all over, swim all day, and generally avoid going inside.  They get off of any screens and they get off their bottoms.

So, this summer, even if camps are on your list for your children, I am begging you to consider getting the children in your neighborhood outside.  If it takes a parent to get the ball rolling at this point because it seems kind of foreign, then so be it.  Invite everyone to bring a bike, a scooter, a water gun – and then back off.  Let the children play.  Maybe something wonderful will happen.

Blessings,
Carrie

 

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A Belated Happy Fourth of July!

Happy Belated American Fourth of July to you, my dear readers. We just came back in from out of the country, so my posts are running a bit behind.  I hope you are still in a celebetory mood!

The Fourth of July has been noted as a day of celebration since the  adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress in 1776.  It became a federal holiday only in 1870 but has always been associated with parades, festivities, speeches,  bonfires, and more. It is a chance every year to celebrate what is right in our country, and yes, what needs attention.  This is extremely important especially in times of crisis and difficulty and division.

I was thinking about this in light of my morning routines recently.  After going through a rather tumultuous school year where every day was just sort of survival mode and get-through-the-day mode and take -care- of -whatever -crisis was brewing that day, things finally seem to be better.  I have a lot more energy. I am exercising again.  And, I am conscious about getting the day off to a great start and starting each day anew and afresh in order to be the best for my family and whomever my Creator places in my path that day.

We can do this in our homes as well.  One of the things I have enjoyed doing is using the techniques from Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod.  I combine this routine with my religious leanings.  You may enjoy doing this with your family and a modified version with your children. The main thought of this book is that a morning ritual of  self-investment is a way to elevate the entire consciousness of humanity.  Imagine if the whole of the United States, and the whole of the world would be full of love for each other and would be able to extend kindness and generosity all over the world.

Let us use the Fourth of July as a time for new beginnings for all of us at all levels- individual, family, community, nation, and world. Moving forward toward the highest ideals that we hold and value.

Blessings and love,
Carrie

Screen Free Summer Activities

I have noticed that summers are different for kids than they used to be.  Younger kids have their days filled up with camps and other strucutured activities whilst their parents are working, so there aren’t a lot of kids at the pool or  out in the neighborhood during the day.  Many younger teens are not outside either, and many older teens are not getting jobs, so I am wondering what children and teens are doing all day in their homes.  I thought maybe parents would like a list of some activities to do to help their children through the summer!

  • Chores and work- Summer can be a great time to clean things out, donate things, deep clean, paint a teen’s bedroom and change the decor
  • Thrift store shopping – can be fun with changing decor or finding motors and small appliances to take apart
  • Pool, lake, beach swimming (some teens may go through a phase where they don’t want to go to the pool or lake because it’s “boring”; some teens go through a phase where don’t want to be in a bathing suit)
  • Sewing, knitting, and other projects – keep a stash of yarn, fabric remnants, buttons, and more around
  • Painting, drawing, modeling
  • Encourage your children to write and put on a play
  • Backyard water fun – sprinklers, basins of water, the hose
  • Baking
  • Building projects – could be large scale outside building or Lego’s or building blocks or boxes!
  • Making tents from old blankets/sheets/blankets indoors or outside
  • Backyward camping
  • Create music together; sing together
  • Gardening
  • Create collages or other multi-media art together
  • Board games and puzzles
  • Stacks of books from the library
  • Model airplanes, model building
  • Older teens can work for money – babysitting, pet sitting
  • Volunteer work
  • Observing nature; nature journaling; catching and releasing frogs, toads, salamanders, lizards, insects
  • Train your dog, your horse, your hamster, your chicken!

For smaller children:

  • Chalk
  • Jump rope, hopscotch, bubbles, sandbox, swing
  • Tea parties
  • Doll play
  • Dress-up clothes
  • Use something like a sit n’ spin or a mini trampoline
  • Play kitchen – you can create one
  • Play dough
  • Face painting
  • Balloon play – volleyball or baseball with balloons
  • Cover a table with a blanket – instant fort
  • Lacing and beading

Field Trips for the Family:

  • Hiking
  • Trip to beach or lake or river
  • Theaters
  • Puppet shows
  • Fire stations and police stations
  • Zoos or aquariums or animal rehabilitation centers
  • Historical Sites
  • Mini-golf
  • Bakery trip
  • State and National Parks
  • Horseback Riding on trails
  • Berry Picking

Joyful June

May was kind of an end of the year whirlwind for us, and so I am so happy to have June arrive.  The world is bursting with green, the lakes and streams are overflowing, the days are humid and hot, there is sunshine and rain.   The days are long and full of sunshine, and everyone is happy to be out in the hot sun and in the water.

Our goals this lazy month include being outside and in the lake and pool as much as possible; to have picnic dinners; to finish up some medical appointments for the children, and to generally have as much fun as a family as possible.  The adults are hoping for some wonderful child-free time this month and some dates; we are all  hoping to move and  exercise a lot this month and just enjoy that feeling of being alive and the sense of growth and throwing off the stagnation of winter. In other words,  celebrating the slow summer.

This month we are celebrating:

Major feasts/holidays:

9- St. Columba – there is a little story here and we will make a little moving watercolor picture with a boat and dove

11 – Feast of St. Barnabas – St. Barnabas was an encourager, so I am thinking along the lines of having a family night with games and fun and encouraging each other and really celebrating us as a family. I have a number of photographs of our family we never framed and hung, so that could be another project!

14- Flag Day

17- Father’s Day

21 – Summer Solstice

24 – The Nativity of St. John the Baptist/ St. John’s Tide (see this back post for festival help!)

29- The Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul

Minor feasts we will celebrate mainly through stories:

12- St. Enmegahbowh – first Native American priest in the Episcopal Church of The United States

19- Sahu Sundar Singh of India- I found a book here

22- St. Alban – an interesting You Tube video filled with giant puppets to celebrate St. Albans Day in England!

(here is the aside note about these feast days: – I have had a few folks ask me about the Calendar of Saints in the Episcopal Church…The Episcopal Church USA is part of the Anglican Communion, which is an international association of churches composed of the Church of England and national (such as Canada, Japan, Uganda, for example) and regional (collections of nations) Anglican churches.  Each province, as it is called, is autonomous and independent with its own primate and governing structure.  So, different feast calendars within the Anglican Communion share the Feast Days and Fast Days listed in the Book of Common Prayer, but there may be “lesser feasts and fasts” as well.  The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York are our “primus inter parus” (first among equals) but hold no direct authority outside of the England, but is instead a force of unity, vision, persuasion,  for the entire Communion.  We don’t really govern off of creeds, for example such as the Westminster Catechism in Presbyterianism, but find “the law of praying is the law of believing” and therefore The Book of Common Prayer is our way.  The Anglican Communion has in it elements of the Reformation and Anglo-Catholicism, depending upon the individual parish, but it is not “Catholic Lite”.  It has a distinctive Celtic way to it as that was what was established long before alignment with the West.  We pray for the unity of the Church (the whole of Christendom) and therefore “Anglicans have preferred to look for guidance to the undivided church, the church before it was divided by the Reformation and especially to the first centuries of the church’s life….to “tradition”, the worship, teaching and life of the church in its early days.” (page 65, Welcome to the Episcopal Church by Christopher Webber. Hope that helps!! ))

Ideas for Celebrating June:

  • Here we are going to the lake and pool, gardening, camping, going to water and splash parks, kayaking, and mini golf!
  • Blueberry Picking – Strawberries are about done where we are, but blueberries are coming soon
  • Try out different popsicle and cold drink recipes
  • Gardening – especially with an eye to our friend the bee
  • Hunt fireflies at night
  • Stay up and gaze at the stars
  • Have bonfires and camp fires and make s’mores
  • Go camping or camp in your backyard
  • Summer  puppet theater outside! Shadow puppets!
  • Lavender!  We are making soap with lavender!
  • Celebrating nature!

Back posts about summer that you might enjoy:

Celebrating Summer With Small Children: A Waldorf Perspective

Joyous Summers With Children

Summer stories and the summer nature table

Summer reading with “Set Free Childhood”

Keeping The Slow Summer With Younger Teens

A Summer Parenting Project For You (2010)

For Homeschool Planning:

Re-reading “Discussions With Teachers”

Building Your Homeschooling Around Rest

Can’t wait to hear what you are up to!

Blessings,
Carrie

 

 

 

 

 

10 Ways to Reset This Summer

Who in the Northern Hemisphere is excited about summer?  I sure am!  We made it through a school year full of challenges that we had no control over, and I am so glad summer is here.  I can’t wait to reset, and here are my top ten ways for “Summer Reset”!

  1. Pledge to have a slow and simple summer.  Summer, to me, is a time of incredible physical growth for most children and even teens.  They are so busy growing and being in their bodies really helps provide balance for a school year!  Don’t worry about them “being bored”.  Did you know that psychologists say that it is healthy for children to have boring summers?  So don’t worry about scheduling things; feel free to say no!
  2. But do keep a skeleton rhythm going on – all the sun, at least in my area, without a lot of respite, can lead to this huge daily out-breath for children (and adults!).  So, having those meal times, rest times after lunch, and bedtimes are still important.
  3. Plan some meals so you don’t have to worry about cooking. I love simple salads, fish tacos, and crockpot meals during the summer!  So much fresh produce to love.  While you are at it, streamline your cleaning for summer.
  4. Keep lots of open time to sit and ponder and read and dream.  I think this is important for homeschooling mamas as a balance to a busy year of teaching!
  5. Find your time in nature.  Even if you did nothing all summer but get outside and threw a weekend or two of camping in, it would be an incredible summer for your kids.  If you want a little inspiration, try the 1000 hours outside Facebook page.  Here were a few ideas for a summer of nature for parents who are working all summer  in this back post from 2014.  Here are a few favorite pictures of my children when they were small, doing summer things.  I don’t post pictures often (maybe twice in ten years?), so enjoy!
  6. Have some things tucked away for the inevitable rainy day.  I love to have little craft kits, or for older children sometimes science kits or things I don’t normally buy  for just such days.  Mainstream homeschool supplier Rainbow Resource often has great deals on any sort of science kit, older child toy like K-Nex, even wooden toys, and lots of great deals on books.
  7. Make appointments for yourself- go to the dentist, doctor, GYN, alternative health care provider.  Most homeschooling mothers I know never have time to do these sorts of appointments during the school year, and it is hard to physically re-set if your hormones or thyroid levels are off or you are suffering from adrenal exhaustion.
  8.  Take time ALONE to rejunvenate. Some mothers actually take a few nights and homeschool plan somewhere alone.  If that isn’t possible, could you garner a few afternoons without your children in order to just think, plan, or do nothing?
  9. Read some classic children’s literature to your children.  There are some great suggestions here in Christine Natale’s gorgeous 2011 guest back post  about creating a magical summer.  Reading great literature is refreshing for everyone!
  10. Spend lots of time each day just relaxing in whatever form that means to you!

Looking forward to a sunshine summer,

Carrie

What I Want My Children To Learn During Lent

For whatever reason, I just love church during Lent. I love the tolling bells, the Decalogue (the repeating of the Ten Commandments), the Confession and Absolution, and the Trisagion.  And that is just at the beginning of the Divine Liturgy!   Lent, to me, is the time where I wander with my Lord in the desert. It is the time when I remember that my Lord was sent here to die for all of humanity and in order to truly be successful in life one must die to self and reach out into humanity in an intimate way.  For some reason, this comforts me in the midst of my wanderings and temptations and frailities of being human.

This really is so abstract for children, and since part of healthy parenting and Waldorf homeschooling really is in the way we help children unfold the deep truths  of life over time,  I am always considering in Lent what I want my children  of varying ages to absorb.

For those under  age 9, I like to go over our Baptism Vows and talk about baptism and belonging.  Part of the Baptism Liturgy for us as Episcopalians includes such beautiful language as “Will you strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being?” and the prayer to give those baptized “an inquiring and discerning heart, the courage to will and to persevere, a spirit to know and love you, and the gift of joy and wonder in all your works” .  When we are baptized, we belong. Belonging and goodness is a wonderful part of baptism and how we concretely go out into the world to witness to love.  This is so easy and wonderful to do with small children!  Bake for neighbors, help others, help small creatures, wonder together!    We also take a good  look at what things are different in church – there are no flowers, for example, only branches.  There is less and less music and singing.    These very physical things in the Liturgy signify this is a different season.

For those  ages 9-14, I like to talk about how Lent corresponds to the forty days Jesus was in the desert being tempted by Satan.  God didn’t make Jesus do anything, but Jesus chose the hard things anyway.  We can choose good choices, even when the good choices are hard.  We talk about what we gain when we let things go, and how the spirit of Lent can open us to doing something positive – and then we take those concrete steps to do something positive for those around us and for ourselves.  So many wonderful conversations around this!

For older teens ages  15 and up, I still like to talk about Lent and choices, but also about the choices we have inside of us and our attitudes, our attitude toward people and the least among us.  We talk about how often the devil is not only in the world, but inside us in that we all have the ability choose good or evil, how we react to things, how we rise up.  We have a choice to be selfish and think only of ourselves or do something more.   The world is can be grey,  the choices are not always easy or pat or rote, and older teenagers totally know  and get this.  However, just as the  good choices of Jesus were for us, for humanity, we  as human beings can also make choices that help others for the greater good of humanity. Love can become the meaning in the world if we choose that and let that flow.  Rudolf Steiner wrote in his lecture “Love and Its Meaning In The World”:  “We have to leave our acts of love behind in the world, but they are then a spiritual factor in the flow of the world events…..Love is the creative force in the world.”  So, how do we bring love to the world?  That is the question for the older teenager to find in themselves and in the gifts that they have to share with the world.

May we all send out love,

Carrie

Celebrating Valentine’s Day In The Waldorf Home

February is consistently labeled as the month where all homeschoolers want to quit.  The dreary weather often makes those of us in the Northern Hemisphere want to head for warmer locations and sunshine, and get rid of school altogether!

But really, Valentine’s Day can be our little spot of sunshine!  There are all kinds of things to make and do, and it can be a lovely pink and red time of showing love for one another.  I love Lisa’s Valentine’s Day post over at Celebrate the Rhythm of Life and would like to add some resources so you can have an amazing  handmade Valentine’s Day celebration!

Verses –

Good morrow to you, Valentine.
Curl your locks as I do mine,

Two before and three behind,

Good morrow to you, Valentine

-From “Festivals, Family, and Food: Guide to Seasonal Celebration” by Diana Carey and Judy Large, page 9

Games:  The book mentioned above has a suggestion for a Valentine Ring Game ( so you would need a group large enough to form a ring).  It is sort of a version of “Duck Duck Goose” involving a handkerchief and song.

Stories: The book “Tell Me A Story” from WECAN  has the story “A Million Valentines” by Suzanne Down; Suzanne Down’s Juniper Tree Puppetry website also has an entire book of Valentine Day stories here.

Activities:  Making Valentines out of red, white, and pink paper, lacey doileys or leftover lace is a fun activity.  Also,  making little felt hearts with a string, sort of like a pendant necklace is fun, or to sew two little felt hearts into a brooch.  One year we found heart shaped buttons and made little bracelets with buttons.

You could also consider the Swedish-type hearts made out of paper that sometimes one sees around Christmastime.  They are really sweet and may appeal to older children.

“All Year Round” has a suggestion of making bird biscuits and hanging them from a branch.  You can try my Pinterest Board for more suggestions, including biscuits to feed the birds, felt heart garlands, little lanterns, and more.

One thing we like to do is to have a pretty breakfast table with flowers and fun decorations.  Little garlands of red felt hearts are easy to make last minute and are very sweet hanging up.  Many of the crafts on my Pinterest board would make a pretty table.

When we think of activities, we also include acts of service.  If there is anyone in your neighborhood that is alone, elderly to visit, or a food bank that needs donation, those are all great ways to spread Valentine’s Day love and cheer.

Food:  Having a tea party seems to fit in well with this day.  On The Parenting Passageway Facebook page, I posted a picture of the flowering tea we had at Candlemas.  These would be fun at Valentine’s Day too, and everyone enjoys watching the flower unfurl in the hot water of a clear tea pot.

If you have wonderful pictures of your Valentine’s Day fun, please do post it over on The Parenting Passageway Facebook page or share a link below.

Blessings,
Carrie