Developmental Homeschooling

We are in a unique position as parents and as homeschooling parents in that we get to work with the development of the unique child in front of us daily. It’s a large task to be able to see a larger picture of development, and the very unique, personal development of the child in front of us and to be able to weave this into the fabric of family life.

After many years of parenting and homeschooling, I have a few suggestions when you start to lose the forest for the trees.  The first one is to look at rhythm.  Rhythm is very important in sustaining family life in a healthy way and in sustaining development in a healthy way.  A recent example in my own life is that our  ten year old had been quite cranky as of late, and I realized today how much his behavior improved when his audio books were cut off.  His mood improved dramatically, and he become engaged and involved in other things.  This is an example of something you think you know after raising a certain number of children, but we still have to stop and think. Are we keeping consistent rising and bed times and rest times?  Are we having healthy meals?  Are we all getting outside enough and moving enough?  Are we connecting? Am I gently leading and guiding in a way that is appropriate for the child’s age?  Rhythm provides that ebb and flow of work and play, rest and activity, caring for ourselves and caring for others that helps us be strong and flexible for the every day life we face.

My second suggestion is to truly understand human development.  If you do, you will understand the stages that are fairly typical and be able to keep your ho hum attitude.   You will know there are profound changes generally around the three year mark, the 6/7 mark, at 9 years, 12 years, and at ages 15/16.  We also know some ages are louder, more aggressive, brasher like age four and age eight, and some ages can be more inward and anxious like at age nine. This is where I started this blog, with the concept of childhood development and how that fits into parenting and homeschooling, and ten years later I am more convinced of its importance than even when I was starting out.

Lastly, the third suggestion is that love and connection is what makes the family go round.  Having times of rest, play, ordinary rituals, sharing a spiritual life and purpose together all make things ready to grow and bloom.

Many blessings and love,

Carrie

The Revolution of July

For those of you who have been reading for the past ten plus years,  you know July sometimes was not my favorite month.  The heat of July can be oppressive here in the Deep South, the air can feel still, time can seem to stand still when you have small children with endless days of trying to beat the heat.  I even wrote posts about July Doldrums and More July Doldrums. Eventually June and July  turned into my months to do homeschooling consultations with to parents all over the United States so that cheered this ambivert up considerably! (Jubuliant July!)  I no longer dread July!

This time of #covid and history-making change has made me think this July is going to be revolutionary.  I hope it doesn’t retreat into status quo, stillness, and a dead end. We must not give up the fight  for peace, for unity, for justice, for change within ourselves and our communities.  We must embrace these times we are living in and help move things forward for the better.

We can use social media to amplify voices, we can write to our local representatives, donate, we can speak up to the people we know even if it’s hard, and  we can prepare to vote and get involved.  The place to begin a revolutionary change lies within ourselves.  What are our hearts telling us we should be doing in this month?  Our inner work matters because now more than ever, our homes and families must stand for safety and community and love. How can become more generous, more loving, more kind, more aware, more longing for justice?  How can we become people of reconciliation in our communities and in the world?  We are being called to important work in this day and time; let us not neglect what our calling  and part may be, however small.  What sparks of peace are you lighting in your own family and community?  How are we helping the very least amongst us?

On a different note, July in the ordinary time of the homeschooling family is also a month to plan, plan, and plan for homeschooling.  To that end,  veteran homeschooler Amanda Evans and I are planning a FREE Zoom call for grades 5/6 THIS SUNDAY  July 5 EST 7-8:30 and Tuesday, July  7 from 7-8:30 for grades 7/8/9.  Please email coastalwaldorf@gmail.com in order to register.

Hold fast to the true, the right, the real, the love, the promise of hope.

Blessings in hope,

Carrie

 

Waldorf Homeschooling? Read This!

In the book, “Assessment for Learning in Waldorf Classrooms: How Waldorf Teachers Measure Student Progress Toward Lifelong Teaching Goals” by Ciborski and Ireland, the authors point out that: “Waldorf curriculum and pedagogy are flexible.  A College of Teachers governs the pedagogy in every Waldorf School, and has the authority to approve changes and innovations to enable the school to meet the needs of its students and families…..Most schools include community service projects in the curriculum.  Some schools have changed the foreign  languages to reflect offered to reflect the ethnicities of the student body or surrounding community; some have increased time allotted to physical education and competitive sports popular in neighboring schools; most schools have incorporated environmental issues into science, geography, and other subjects.  The curriculum is a guideline and is meant to be appropriate to the times and to the place as well as the age of the children.”

So, with this in mind you should feel FREEDOM to work within the curriculum.The curriculum itself is a spiral where if you cover grades 1-12,  you will cover subjects and skills in greater and greater depth.  Whilst the indications are based upon the indication of Rudolf Steiner and the many Waldorf teachers who have worked in Steiner Schools for 100 years, each teacher is charged with meeting the child in front of them and the needs of child within community. 

The constants within this include:

  • Seeing the child as a spiritual being that has an individual and community-centered destiny to fulfill – how does the human being relate to the cosmos, the earth, the time we are living in?
  • An encouragement of  the capactities of each individual child to become healthy, purposeful and one who values all of life; one who does what is right in a situation; one who can think independently, creatively.  A well-rounded individual

In developmental stages of 0-7 (doing), 7-14 (feeling but not emotions all over but rather eliciting a connection to the material that draws forth an experience and helps develop compassion and morality), 14 and above in high school (thinking), we generally teach:

  • Knitting in the early grades moving into more complex handwork
  • Music (singing and playing instruments), games, dancing, festival celebrations are important and included
  • The use of the arts to increase cognitive capactities
  • Form drawing to increase the neural connections of the brain, practice for writing, moves into geometry
  • Math – developing logic and math skills through games, recitation, practical life work, skill progression in all grades;
  • The history blocks – myths and legends moving into proper history; all cultures and religious traditions are explored, turning points of history, great contrasts, great biographies, hope in strife
  • Science – nature stories moving into phenomenological science involving all branches of all science.
  • Language arts – reading, writing, speaking; great poetry and literature; stories from every culture and religion

Subjects are taught in blocks (one subject in a main lesson period of two hours a day for 3-6 weeks being typical) with practice sessions for math and language arts skills depending on the block being covered.  This main lesson includes a rhythm of new work on one day, deepening of the material, reviewing practice the second day and the third day involves reinforced learning with collaborations in the classroom setting or writing or illustrations.  Outcomes include  projects, performances, projects, diagrams, drawings, written assignments, homework, tests, quizzes. The teacher is constantly developing themself through collaboration and nightly reflection.

I have heavily focused our homeschooling experience around service,  the different stories of the peoples of the world, social and racial justice, and science, especially focusing on marine science, ecology, biology, sustainability.  This is not to say we didn’t do math or  sing or do handwork or read wonderful literature or do chemistry.  I just think those were more our overarching themes perhaps. Your homeschool will look different!  There are not many “Waldorf” curriculums to pick from on the market and honestly almost any material can be “Waldorf.”  I use mainly used books and the library and yes pieces of varying curriculums (some Waldorf, some not Waldorf) to create my own experiences that intersect my family’s needs, where we live, and our religious beliefs as Episcopalians. I have used a variety of materials and at this point am rather eclectic within a developmental framework from my studies  that makes sense to me.  You can do this too!  I have over 10 years of posts on this blog covering birth through mainly grade 10, with general posts about grades 11 and 12 and high school overall.  We just graduated our first graduate this spring and she is off to a four year out of state university.  You can do this!

If you are interested in homeschooling this way and not sure how to adapt it for you and your family, please feel free to email me at admin@theparentingpassageway.com or to set up a phone consultation.

This is within your reach and grasp!  I feel homeschooling will be growing this year due to the uncertainty of #covid19, and now is the perfect time to start planning your year, and what you envision your children will need out of their education as results.

Many blessings and much love,

Carrie

 

June

Normally I love June – beaches, lakes, and pools.  Puffy and fluffly clouds sitting on blue skies. Glowing fireflies, campfires, and friends.  June is a wonderful month.

This year, I have loved being outside in June, but I don’t feel joyful.  There is so much work to do regarding anti-racism, and we absolutely, must must must as parents be a part of this work if you aren’t already.  So, while I have a list of some typical things that we do this month, I want to encourage you this month to

#vote- this may have already happened in your state, but primaries in my state are being held today.

#educateyourself – 

For Homeschoolers (or any other parent wanting to add to their child’s learning): Back Post tracing Africa through the curriculum: This is how I extended Africa through every grade in the curriculum (from 2017, so not up to date for recent events, but still good . Hope to write an updated post soon.) Don’t forget I also have lists like this for Indigenous Studies and for Latin American Studies. All on this blog.

Our African American literature block for high schoolers: Tenth Grade Literature. One of our biggest reads for high school, which we read in both 9th grade and then again in 12th grade was “Their Eyes Were Watching God.”  Some of our other favorites for middle school/high school:

Poetry: 

  • “Fundamentalism” – Naomi Shihab Nye
  • “Still I Rise” -Maya Angelou
  • “We Real Cool” – Gwendolyn Brooks
  • “Eventide” – Gwendolyn Brooks
  • “Georgia Dusk” – Jean Toomer
  • “Dream Deferred” -Langston Hughes
  • “Haiku” – Sonia Sanchez
  • Music Lyrics as Poetry: “Get It Together” by India Arie and “The Evil That Men Do” by Queen Latifah; “The Rose That Grew From Concrete” by Tupac Shakur
  • “Ego Tripping” -Nikki Giovanni
  • “American Hero” – Essex Hemphill
  • “To Some Supposed Brothers” -Essex Hemphill

Literature:   

  • “Rootedness: The Ancestor as Foundation” – Toni Morrison (essay)
  • “The Sky Is Grey” -Ernest Gaines (short story)
  • “The Burden of Race” – Arthur Ashe (nonfiction excerpt)

Nonfiction, tied into American Government

  • “Just Mercy” – Bryan Stephenson

Assigned Reading between 10th and 11th Grades:

  • “Beloved” – Toni Morrison
  • “Invisible Man”  –  Ralph Ellison (probably will end up doing together as first book in fall)
  • “Dear Martin” – Nic Stone
  • “All American Boys” – Jason Reynolds
  • “Piecing Me Together” – Watson

Also, if you look at the back posts for seventh and eighth grade, you can see how I personally traced African American history in our country.  There are so many posts I can’t link them all here.

Book List:

  • So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
  • White Fragility:  Why It’s So Hard for White People To Talk about Racism by Robin DiAngelo
  • The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
  • Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
  • The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
  • Stamped  both the kid and adult version and How To Be An Anti-Racist by Ibram Kendi
  • I’m Still Here by Austin Channing
  • The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

#talktoyourkids – start early and often.  I think this can be a lot harder if you live in an area with little diversity.  We have  a very multicultural group of friends, neighborhood, and city, so I personally found these conversations easy to initiate, but I know that isn’t the case for everyone.  Start simple.  If you have a school aged child and you have never addressed these issues, I think you can always start with the idea that we stand up for what is right, we stand up for people who are being “picked on” – something every child can identify with, and then move into how sometimes people are not liked or hated just because of the color of their skin, and then you can talk further about where we are here and now and then how we got here and why it is so important to stand up for what is right.  I don’t know if that helps.  Just an idea.

#donate – Black Mamas Matter Alliance, 

What we actually will be celebrating this month:

14- Flag Day

20 – Summer Solstice

21- Father’s Day

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

 

How to Celebrate:

  • I am enjoying decluttering many homeschool books.
  • Blueberry Picking
  • Kayaking, boating, going to the lake
  • Enjoying time on the farm with horses; my big kids picked up polo through a friend that has a bunch of polo ponies at her house so they have been going there to play
  • Being together – game nights; movie nights with our older teens
  • Slip and slide for our rising fifth grader
  • No pool this summer due to #covid19

The teaching fun:

  • Last year, I was teaching a group of teachers at a local Waldorf homeschooling enrichment program this month.  That was fun!  There is a lot of uncertainty about school in the fall, so I will be waiting to see what is needed!
  • I finished my pelvic floor health certification and launched a business!  Flourish Pelvic PT, Lactation, and Wellness LLC on FB and @flourishwellnesspt on IG.
  • And, I have homeschool planning to do for fifth grade.  Our senior graduated and will be off to out of state university in the fall, and our tenth grader is at our local hybrid high school that runs four days a week.   I have been posting about homeschool planning on FB and IG, so go on over and check out all the photos and ideas there!

Inner Work:

  • Prayer and lots of it!
  • Exercising daily and walking over 10,000 steps daily because that helps focus my mind.

I would love to hear what you are up to and how you are coping during these sad and often overwhelming times.

The Christian Corner: Episcopalian Homeschooling

SInce I have readers from nearly every country, from Australia to India and Nepal to many  Middle Eastern countries, (thank you readers!) who all represent many different religious, I don’t write a lot about the spiritual component to our homeschooling.  This site is about child development, healthy families, and healthy education other than to say that spirituality is an essential part of our humanity not to be ignored or cast aside.  However, every now and then I put a post out about what we doing with our religious studies, so today is an offshoot off the 2018 post about the Episcopalian/Anglican homeschooling according to developmental stages.

This year with our fourth grader, we are in the stage of Belonging/Heroes that I feel goes with the ages 7-14.  As a refresher, this is originally what I laid out for this age:

From Ages 7-14, Episcopalian homeschooling is about BELONGING and HEROES.

  • We are still modeling BELONGING by the way we act toward others in daily life.  In this stage, we not only expect our children to model our behaviors that include and help people, but we hope to start to be able to see this action on their own.
  • We still are going to church and celebrating the church seasons, the Eucharist, the feast and fast days, and we see now the stories in the Bible as a deeper level of encouragement in our own walk for loving ourselves, each other, and the Earth.
  • As older children question things, we talk about how we use our intellect and experience as part of our experience with God.  Faith, tradition, reasoning, and experience are all part of being an Episcopalian.
  • We get our older children to participate – older children can acolyte, participate in Children’s Choir and the Royal School of Church Music Program, help with the nursery, attend Sunday School and Vacation Bible School and summer camps.  We help and encourage relationships with the other children in the parish. My parish is pretty large, about 800 families, and I think there are probably close to 20 schools or more represented, so school attendance isn’t the deciding factor for friendship in our parish.
  • We still use the Book of Common Prayer in daily and weekly life.
  • We still spend lots of time in nature. Some at this stage will chosee to look for Episcopal summer camps – they are all over and provide incredible immersive experiences into nature and closeness to God.
  • We develop more faith by participating in the life of the church.  We get involved with causes, with the classes and offering of the church, and if what we want is not there, we step up as parents and get involved.
  • We start learning the stories of the heroes of our faith – the people who made the Anglican faith what it is
  • My little mini-rant about Heroes of the Faith:  King Henry doesn’t count.  I shudder actually when people talk about that as if they don’t know any of the real ways and real heroes that made this strand of Western Christianity different than anything else.  Anglicanism was different than anything else because of where it happened –  The church was aligned with many Celtic beliefs and moved toward the customs and beliefs of the Western church with the Synod of Whitby, but in many ways still retains a good deal in common with its Celtic beginnings and with the church before the split of the Reformation.  So in a way, it was and still is its own thing!  If you want to debate me about King Henry, I will just delete your comment because it is a source of contention to me that people don’t know more about either their own denomination or others can’t be bothered to find out and just comment on things they haven’t researched.  #sorrynotsorry
  • Heroes from the Holy Bible, and yes, the Feast Days of Saints that we celebrate (and the idea that we can all be Saints!  A little different concept in the Anglican Communion)
  • Toward the end of this period, I like to talk plainly about the 5 Marks of Mission of the Episcopal Church of the U.S., which are:
  • To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
  • To teach, baptize and nurture new believers
  • To respond to human need by loving service
  • To seek to transform unjust structures of society
  • To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth
  • We can start to talk to older children (7th and 8th grade) about the history of the church as involved in the Social Gospel period of history, our role in the Civil Rights Movement, our role in equality for LBGTQ people, and our positions on civil rights,  the environment,  and more.

So, for this year for fourth grade we have used these as our main resources (outside of attending church, singing in our children’s choir and volunteering):

  • The Holy Bible
  • Book of Common Prayer
  • General Missionary Stories that correspond to our liturgical calendar
  • “Plants Grown Up”  which is more a Reformed Protestant source, so I modify it to suit our needs
  • “How The Bible Came To Us” by Meryl Doney that talks about the structure of the Bible, and how translating the Bible came to be – would be good for fifth graders as well.
  • We are finishing the year studying the first part of the book of Daniel from the Old Testament and using Kay Arthur’s book, “You’re A Brave Man, Daniel!”.

For next year, fifth grade, I have plans to continue down the same vein by using the first four resources mentioned and am still researching our other plans!  We will probably be working with the last of the 5 Marks of Mission by working with the environment, which also fits in well with our plans to study botany in fifth grade.

Blessings and peace,
Carrie

Fourth Grade Grammar

The best way to learn grammer is to hear proper grammar being spoken, to write (and revise and write again) nwith good grammar, and to read good works of literature. If you have a reluctant writer, I  think you can let the study of grammar ride for a little bit in the homeschooling environment and just perhaps try to write without pressure.  However, for some children, the study of grammar can be helpful in reaching new heights in writing. For other children, many  write well without much in the way of formal grammar.  We do, however, want  enthusiasm for writing for the future because there is quite a bit of it in middle school and certainly high school.

This is my third time through fourth grade, and this particular student has been a very reluctant writer, so this block is a good exposure towards writing more and the mechanics of writing.  My tack in this block was to do a preassessment – Dorothy Harrer has a little list of third grade free writing assignments in her  little book An English Manual for the Elementary School available for free at Online Waldorf Library. In this way, I could look at his overall writing – his flow of thoughts, how he writes, the quality of the sentence structure, capitalization, spelling, grammar – just within free writing.

We went through the second and third grade lessons from the above book rather quickly, focusing on the different parts of speech first with different colors in sentences on the board, and naming them BOTH with the “little person” version (naming words) and the “bigger people version” (nouns).  I pulled poems out of  books by Caribbean poets and reinforced with examples from those poems.  Then we moved into the fourth grade lessons and are moving through types of sentences, parts of speech, adverbs, prepostions, tenses, adjectives, linking and helping verbs.  For some children, understanding grammar helps them understand how to write.  Our fourth grader is very much like that.

I anticipate this block to take about six weeks or so.  For the first three weeks, I will take things relatively slow and have free writing, correcting writing I put on the board, looking for parts of speech in poems and such plus some of the specific things I listed above and free write something once or twice a week.  For the last three weeks, we will delve into writing three smaller pieces a week, using our work to tie stories, paintings, and writings with the stories from the book , Myths of the Sacred Tree, which I think is a wonderful bridge between fourth and fifth grade.  Excited as we head towards fifth grade!

Would love to hear what you are up to!

Blessings,
Carrie

Launching Into Life

I am Christian, and today is the first day of Lent.  Many people are familiar with the custom of receiving ashes on this day, Ash Wednesday.  It is a day where we hear the refrain, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

But Ash Wednesday is more than that, it is a promise of light coming to shine out of darkness.  It is a promise of joy to come.  It is a promise of things that we cannot see, but that will move us and change us for the better forever.

I find this season of waiting during the last semester of senior year much like this.  Senioritis, slogging through that last bit of school, waiting for college acceptances, can all feel a little uninspiring or like a very long path without a lot of variation in the days.  But there is promise and joy to come.

Our oldest has an amazing brightness ahead of her, and we are thrilled for her new journey and adventures.  But that hasn’t blinded me to the gamut that mothers feel around this time with their seniors because sometimes it can feel dark or at the very least like a gray path that no one else is taking in the rush of the “lasts” of senior year.

If your child is going on to trade school or the military, I see you.

If your child is in the throes of addiction and trying to get healthy, I see you.

If the bad choices and lack of responsibility of your teenager have been difficult this year, I see you.

If you are worried that your child is socially immature or easily swayed by peers and now headed away from home, I see you.

If you are worried because your child is fighting anxiety, depression or anything else, I see you.

If you feel like you are losing your best friend and you aren’t sure what you are doing after this because you have put so much into parenting, I see you.  Graduation is a change for parents too.

I see you all and I love you.  Change is inevitable; some seasons are easier than others.  Children do grow into adults that also have responsibility and choices to make in how they live their lives and we cannot do that for them but that transition between their responsibility and how much to step in can be a blurry line at times.

May we all look forward to the promise of spring, the promise of renewal, the promise of good days to come.

Many blessings on this Ash Wednesday,
Carrie

Fifth Grade Homeschool Planning

Our youngest is going to be a FIFTH GRADER in the fall!  It doesn’t seem possible that we will have a high school graduate/college attendee, a high school sophomore, and a fifth grader this year! So exciting!

Fifth grade is one of my favorite years in the Waldorf curriculum and I can’t wait to tackle it for the third time!  I have an idea of approaching it in a different way in the past, and have essentially divided the curriculum by semester.  This is because I fully understand the  developmental reasons and anthroposophical reasons that the main stream of fifth grade in a Steiner School is the consciousness found developing though the Ancient Civilizations covered, but I always grappled with having to fit in North American Geography as well.  I felt that as an American, Ancient Africa and the Ancient Americas were not fully represented,and that  this was a disservice children. And yes, there is time for this in further grades in middle school and high school, but I was still bothered by it.

So this year I am doing things a bit differently and sort of dividing things into two semesters where we spend almost an entire semester on the North American geography part of the curriculum and a semester on Ancient Civilizations in the manner of most Waldorf fifth grades around the world.

August – North American Geography/Social Studies – Mexico and Central America, stories of the Olmec and the Maya ; Math Review in practice sessions

September – Botany; practice sessions devoted to freehand geometry

October – Math/Practice of Decimals and Fractions; Metric System using Canadian Geography –  3 weeks

November/December – Language Arts – The Stories of Hawaii – American Geography – The West, Southwest, Midwest, and Alaska

 

January – North American Geography – Great Lakes Region, Northeast, Southeast

February – Stories of Ancient Civilizations – 7 weeks, including Ancient Africa and the Nahua and Aztec as similar to Egptyian consciousness – see the book “Riddle of America” at the Waldorf Library On-Line for more about this

March – Botany

April – Greek Mythology

May – Greek History; practice sessions gardening and math

I am really looking forward to planning this out in detail.  I will be happy to share these blocks for sale once we have gone through them and of course look for notes for these blocks here on the blog, as well as previous posts from when I went through these blocks two other times!

Blessings,

Carrie

Waldorf Homeschooling: Early Foundations and Raising Functional Adults

We definitely don’t want or need to run our homeschooling experiences like a brick and mortar school, and if we are Waldorf homeschoolers we cannot recreate a Waldorf School experience that takes a main lesson teacher and a host of speciality teachers in our home.  Nor should we!

However,  I think good habits does lay a good foundation for the future in homeschooling.  In Waldorf homeschooling, I see a lot of people give up around the third grade year as they get frustrated with the curriculum content, and then again at the middle school mark as the amount of teacher preparation really goes up and there are more outside activities.

One of the main unspoken things about this time period of third grade and up, though, can be this notion of “my child won’t do anything that I ask.” (So, therefore, we need to change the curriculum)

There are certainly ways to get around that – what parts of this subject ARE interesting to your child? Are they getting enough movement and sleep?  Are they on a screen all the time?  Nothing excitement-wise seems to compare to screen adventures.

And, is it really the curriculum or is it a responsibility/good habit kind of issue?

It can be that we didn’t really lay down good habits in the early grades to prepare for what’s coming, and we failed to keep any enthusiasm for learning our child had.  I have three children with different personalities – one loved school, one hated it, and one tolerates it.  I totally understand different personalities.  But, if we are being honest and taking 100 percent responsibility for what happens in our homeschooling, then we need to go back and look at our part in things.  One quote has really resonated with me over the years:

In first seven-year period child develops through imitation: in second through authority; in third through individual judgment – Study of Man, Rudolf Steiner

So, in those early years are we setting up good habits? What are we showing our children?  Are we always on our screens , do we hold a rhythm, how much actual work are we doing around the house?  This rhythm and work sets the foundation for what happens in the years 7-21.

In the years of 7-14, are we setting the tone for a loving authority?  There are some things that just have to be done.  If the child is complaining, do we just back off and say never mind…. which teaches nothing…. or do we follow through that I am asking you to do this, we will do this, I can help you and will be here for you?  This is an important step!  To think ahead, and really mean what we are asking the child to do in school (not busy work) and to follow through even if they are complaining.

And lastly, in the period of 14-21, are we giving opportunity for individual judgment?  Sometimes, yes, for learning, I find this easier for an outside teacher in whatever form that takes – and it may be in sports or outside activities, not in homeschooling, but I think teens really need that experience of making something count.  This can be a part time schedule of classes in your public school system if your state allows that, an online class, a tutor, a hybrid school if your state has that, etc.  but I think it is important that the teen get a taste of accountability and failure and success in the world in something that matters.  This is also why I think teenagers holding jobs  and being involved with something that is “team” (sports, marching band, theater, a team) are really important.  Individual judgment needs to be exercised within a realm of accountability.   This is how individual judgment and being a functional young adult occurs.  But it all begins with those early year and early grades foundation!

Many blessings,

Carrie

 

 

 

Finding the Balance Between Being A Parent and Being A Homeschool Teacher

What is this elusive balance of which people speak about?

We are all searching for it, like it is the holy grail (that no one can really find).

So here are the truths about balance as I see it, after many years of homeschooling and preparing to graduate our first homeschool graduate  in the spring:

There are seasons.  Some seasons of parenting are just busier than others, and some seasons of teaching are busier than others.  There were years were I went to every homeschooling conference I could find, read every homeschooling book and lecture I could find because I was hungry for it all.  With Waldorf homeschooling, I had to learn the arts-based end of things that I had never learned or refine the skills I did have.  It was a lot of work.

Some seasons are more intensive in parenting.  Our two high schoolers  really, really need me right now.  Perhaps not as much for academics –  I farmed some outside classes out for our oldest high schooler, and our middle child is technically  homeschooling but is in a hybrid school so I don’t really feel as if this is the homeschooling with all the planning and teaching I am used to! – but emotionally availability is important for our adolescents. I think as parents, we always want to be the soft space for our children to land.  So, it can be a constant check-in – do they need me more as their emotional guide right now than as their homeschool teacher?  Do I have the bandwidth to do both well right now, or do I need to focus on one area?

It’s okay to not do everything.  Outer balance for the family and yourself comes at a cost; there is a cost to wholeness.  Sometimes you have to say no to something in order to be able to go away with your spouse for a long-needed, long-neglected few nights away because you have both been just pushing and grinding out 12-14 hour days.  Sometimes you need to say no to something fun because you really need to be home and regrouup. Sometimes you need to say no to push yourself out of the house and connect with community. I think this is why there will never be a defining “this is how you do balance” because everyone needs something different for their own kind of balance on the outside.

Balance for the inner self is another kind of balance.  There is a lot of talk about self-care and also about designing a life that doesn’t feel exhausting.  Again, there are seasons in life and some seasons are just exhausting and you get through the best you can.  Balance for self can really be divided into not just caring for our physical bodies, but for our emotional and spiritual selves as well.

Investing in this for ourselves takes time, and often takes the support of our family and friends.  It is hard to invest in self-care if you can never catch a minute to yourself, especially if you have been running on empty for years.  The emotional toll of parenting and homeschooling can be high – the constant worry of am I doing enough?  Am I not doing enough?  What does the future hold?   My main suggestion in this is to look at sustainable routines and habits when your children are smaller that involve more than just you doing and directing everything – sustainability that involves others besides you sets a great habit as your children grow and their lives outside of the home become more intensive and more adults are involved. If you are a single parent, do you have friends like are like family?  Get over not wanting to ask for help!  Plan some time for just you to recoup in a rhythmic way – weekly? monthly? quarterly?    You will be a better parent and teacher for it, and the years can fly by with no time to touch base within yourself or with your partner alone if you don’t plan at all. (And if you make this your resolution for 2020, I want to hear about it and how it goes!)

Know yourself, and know your children.  That is the true key to providing balance.  Some children are self-motivated; some are not.  Some thrive on a more strict schedule; some don’t.  If you know yourself well and your children well balance is much clearer to see.

If you are a new homeschooler, my greatest piece of advice goes back to sustainable routines and rhythms for the family.  You can plan all these wonderful lessons and take all weekend, and every night before teaching to work on these plans (and you may have a very compliant child that will follow your lesson plans – many of us are not that lucky!), but do not neglect your greater role within your family and in your own humanity.  You are more than a homeschool teacher, you are a wonderful parent and human being who also deserves to have a life outside of homeschooling if you want that (some are perfectly happy solely homeschooling, and that’s awesome too! However, I think for many of us close to 50 or early 50’s, we are earning for something more outside of that. Just my experience. If you are in your 20’s to mid 40’s, this may not resonate).  For some, this outside life may be small, like seeing a friend a few times a month or it may be large, like homeschooling parents who still work or are in  school or who are very active in their communities.  Only you can decide how that balance will play out, but you have the choice in how you do it.  Don’t just keep piling more on your plate without conscious thought.  Know yourself and what really fuels you as this is your life too, not just your children’s life.

I would love to hear your ideas about balance in homeschooling and parenting.

Many blessings,
Carrie