Homeschooling Mama, I See You

I see you.

You, up researching different methods of homeschooling and curriculums into the wee hours of the night.

You, trying to thrive on one income and an old car with multiple children and still have money to put towards curriculum and supplies and outside activities.

You, trying to explain to your partner and extended family why homeschooling meets your children’s needs so well.

You, who hasn’t done a good job going to the doctor or dentist  for yourself in quite awhile because it means dragging four children with you whom you homeschool without much in the way of support or breaks.

You, single mom, working and still making homeschooling work.

You, who has the child with the hardest things on the inside that no one recognizes in your child.  You see the depression, the anxiety, the anger – and you keep on researching, getting help, and putting one foot in front of the other.

You, who has the child with learning disabilities that you are working so hard with one one one and wondering if it is enough or if other people will see homeschooling as the reason your child is behind instead of being possibly ahead of where he or she would be in other settings

You, who has the twice exceptional child wondering how to make the most of homeschooling for giftedness but also the most out of all therapy, rehabiliation, and doctor’s appointments.

You, who are agonizing over homeschooling high school – if it’s the best thing, the right thing, how to do it, will it screw up their lives forever?

You, trying to pick the best read-alouds and worrying how to get the best education to your children and meet all the needs.

You, trying to juggle the house, a baby, a toddler, a preschooler, and the grades.

You, trying not be tired at night after a full day of homeschooling  so you can  be awake enough to converse with your partner.

You, in the trenches.  I see you.  I see the wholeness of you and you are enough.  You are worthy, you are wonderful.

You are doing a great job.  We are all a mess and we are all beautiful. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Blessings and love,
Carrie

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Planning Fourth Grade

So, fall of 2019 will be my third time teaching fourth grade, and it is a fun grade!  This is my tentative block plan –

August-  Man and Animal 1 which will flow into….

September/October – Local Geography and Man and Animal 2 – we will be looking at the regions of our state through habitats and our local animals/camping

November – Math/Introduce fractions

December- Geometry/ Form Drawing – most likely will draw from Viking Hero Tales by Isabel Wyatt

January – Norse Mythology

February – Birds of Prey (special interest of my student)- each morning I am going to try to work in fraction problems related to birds!  That should be interesting!

March – Weland the Smith – rather dark tale, but I think our son will love it.

April – African Tales/African Hero Tales/camping trips

May – Math in the Garden (leading into Botany for Fifth Grade)/ camping trips

We will be doing math daily and extra reading and spelling practice as my little guy is behind in  academic skills. We will also be working on survival skills in conjunction with his ninth grade sister, and in handwork we will be working on cross-stitch throughout the year.

It’s going to be a fun school year in the fall!

Blessings and love,
Carrie

Planning Ninth Grade

This is the second time I will be teaching ninth grade.  This time is a little different, as I have a child with more specialized academic needs who wants to go to a four-year college.  So, I am thinking less in terms of blocks and more of underlying themes for our year.  Some of the things I think our student really needs and will want for her chosen future field (equine studies or animal science) will match traditional Waldorf school subjects for ninth grade and some will not. The homeschooling environment, as I found out the first time through ninth grade, is incredibly different than a classroom high school setting or even a Waldorf high school setting, and  I think deserves to be treated as such.

Ninth grade is an interesting year as some Waldorf Schools put things like the Revolutions block in eighth grade and some in ninth grade; most do the blocks that highlight the polarities contained within this age such as Comedy and Tragedy and Thermodynamics, but other blocks seem to be  not as standard.

So, in a way, all of this is freeing.  I have a student who dislikes main lesson book work at this point (as did my first ninth grader); and a student who needs more practice and overlaying of knowledge than a block format due to difficulties with working memory.  So, our high school may look more like extended subjects than four to six week blocks. And I think for high school that is perfectly okay, so long as we continue to use sleep as an aid for memory.

My main plan is to center our year around a theme of wonder within the themes of Earth Science/Prehistory of the Earth; much of this is reflected in the book lists of Build Your Library Grade 9, which isn’t Waldorf at all but has a good list of titles. We will be using the Christopherus Earth Science as a jumping off point for our year.   We will be working on poetry and short essays along with literature that will go with our Prehistory theme.  Our nod to traditional Waldorf ninth grade will be finding the polarities within these topics.

Electives will include survival skills, choir, and orchestra.  Our foreign language will either be Spanish I using Living Language Spanish and the many resources we have around the house. Most of all, we want to parlay our student’s love of animals, equines, and animal science and behavior into working one day a week shadowing or volunteering with a professional – and we know lots of those.

I will let you all know how this plays out!  Putting together plans now.

Blessings and love, can’t wait to hear if you are ordering resources yet,
Carrie

Waldorf Resources For Homeschooling High School

I am thinking about high school again as I ordered some things for ninth grade (next fall; we are halfway through eighth grade) in with the Christmas orders! LOL.  You can see my post about Homeschooling High School: Should You? about some of the factors in deciding to homeschool high school, but today I want to talk a little bit about some of the Waldorf resources specific to homeschooling high school!

The tiny amount of resources available for those of us Waldorf homeschooling high school is growing!

Here is what I know of at this writing:

First of all, I think everyone considering homeschooling high school should read “Education For Adolescents” (free PDF) and “Kinesthetic Learning For Adolescents” (free)

For all subjects, there are some free resources available through The Online Waldorf Library.  These include compendiums on high school subjects throughout all the grades.  I have found great articles, ebooks and more regarding high school math; high school history and literature; high school science.

For math especially, there are publications available for purchase through Waldorf Publications and through Whole Spirit Press for Making Math Meaningful’s High School work.

For more complete curriculum:

Pieces of Live Education!can be used for early high school

Earthschooling has a high school curriculum written by Waldorf teachers for grades 9-12 – digital/video format.

Waldorf Essentials– Melisa Nielsen offer coaching for the high school grades, which is also free for members of her Thinking, Feeling, Willing program.  Waldorf Essentials has a ninth grade guide, and is working on other guides for grades 10-12.

There is a resource several people have alerted me too, Melisa Nielsen of Waldorf Essentials included, which is the course about the high school Main Lesson by Waldorf teacher Charisse Louw from Cape Town, South Africa.  Here is a link to a course, with a special price that extends until Black Friday (the day after American Thanksgiving)Waldorf High School Main Lesson: The Word

Jean Miller also does wonderful consulting; here is a post about what Waldorf homeschooling in high school looked like for her and her three children.

Christopherus is working on their high school curriculum and working with students directly.  This is an abbreviated version of a note from Donna Simmons (full text on The Parenting Passageway Facebook page):

Dear friends,

 

As many of you know, Christopherus is now expanding into high school. We are completing our middle grades curriculum (6th gr available in June 2019) and have already made a start with high school.

 

I am currently teaching language arts with an emphasis on writing and also history,via small group phone calls and individualized assignments, to a group of 9th graders. Our first semester is drawing to a close and there is the possibility of a few new students joining us in the new year. We do not use computer-bases learning in any way and indeed, half the class do not have their own emails.

 

I am also starting to compile a list of present 8th graders interested in joining the Fall program for 9th graders. This list is getting long! Do get on it if you are interested!

 

I am about to create an audio download about preparing for 9th grade for  all parents of homeschooled 8th graders, whether they wish to work with me or not. Our present group has had a steep learning curve in terms of deadlines and other expectations! I will help parents prepare in advance for some of this in the course of their 8th grade. Watch our newsletter, another special announcement email and homepage for further details.

 

If you are interested in any of this, please email me as soon as possible. Again, if you are interested n the winter/spring 9th gr classes,please get in touch immediately as it takes a bit of time for us to explore this possibility.

I would be very, very grateful if friends of Christopherus would kindly spread the word about these programs to anyone who might be interested. I am currently developing a 6 week residential program on an off-grid site for students 16-19 which will be very exciting!  Keep in touch if this interests you!

 

donna@christopherushomeschool.org

These are the resources I am aware of, hopefully with more to come as the Waldorf homeschooling high school market increases and there is more demand!

Many blessings,

Carrie

 

Making A Waldorf Curriculum Work For You!

There is so much chatter on the Facebook groups and on IG regarding Waldorf Curriculum and finding a curriculum that matches the family. Usually this means a family wants a more open and go curriculum where they don’t have to spend hours putting things together or adding to a curriculum, or it may mean they are searching for a more multi-cultural approach than what is out there currently.

This is a challenge, because at its heart, Waldorf Education is a way of educating and developing yourself, as the teacher, a way of understanding the development of the human being as a spiritual being and THEN bringing to life the indications that Rudolf Steiner left behind to the specific student in front of you also tailored to the specific place and culture in which you live.  On top of that, the indications most developed was in this work was developed by the Waldorf Schools, and as we all know, school is not home.   Certain blocks, which may or may not reflect your heritage or culture, are matched to the archtypal developement of the human being, but perhaps don’t resonate with you.   What a challenge!

To make things more complex. there are not many choices on the Waldorf homeschooling market compared to homeschooling curricula and products in general.  I think there is room for more products to emerge, not less.  Each curriculum has a different voice, just as in a Waldorf School each classroom teacher has a different voice and way of doing things. True Waldorf Curriculums are not really open and go as they are supposed to guide a teacher toward creating their own stories, finding the things that really speaks to that teacher/classroom or teacher/student dyad.  In this way, it is a lot like parenting and finding your own empowered voice to bring this to life for your children.

However, I understand:

  • Being new, never having seen a Waldorf School and trying to Waldorf homeschool
  • Living in a place that has ZERO support.  There are absolutely no other homeschoolers Waldorf homeschooling!
  • Wondering why things are they way they are – why are there Hebrew Stories in Third Grade?  Why are there Ancient Mythologies in fifth?  Why can’t we find much about America in the curriculum and as an American what can I do with that?
  • What can I adjust/change and what do I really need to leave into the curriculum for my homeschooled student?
  • Making main lessons work for our family – Waldorf teachers often can’t imagine teaching three main lessons a day or combinbing main lessons, yet Waldorf homeschooling mothers do this EVERY DAY. We rock!

It can feel frustrating!  So here are my ideas about curriculum and making it work for you:

  1.  Look at the blocks brought by the schools in your region.   You can easily search Waldorf Schools all over the world from your computer.   Many blocks are the same across the world, but sometimes there are different ones tailored to place and culture.  These give us the glimmers into what can be that also had a solid pedagogical foundation.
  2. That being said, don’t give up on the traditional blocks completely- find a way to bring in what your family needs.  I wouldn’t eliminate a traditional block because there are specific reasons for that block to be there as it relates  to childhood development, but I would consider adding a block or adding stories for handwork, painting, modeling, cooking, festivals that reflect our individual place and time within an understanding of the development of the child.  I have done back posts tracing what I see as some of the ways to put Latin America and Africa into the blocks here:  Extending Africa Through The CurriculumExtending Indigenous Cultures Throughout The Curriculum Extending Latin America Throughout The Curriculum
  3. Stick to a curriculum and do your best to make it work. Work with the author(s) of that curriculum in consultations!   It is much easier than skipping around in the long run.  You will develop a system (and it will be simpler than trying to gather from 20 resources unless  you use 20 library books to put a block together, which is what I do a lot).  You can see more about choosing a curriculum here: Which Waldorf Curriculum Should I Buy?
  4. Read Rudolf Steiner’s lectures.  Yes, I know for some people they are difficult.  Or you don’t agree with everything in them.  That’s okay. His work will change you and your view of the human being regardless.  I suggest “Discussions With Teachers”, “Practical Advice To Teachers”, “Education for Adolescents” for the grades, and “Kingdom of Childhood” and “A Child’s Changing Consciousness” for those of you with small children.
  5. Work with art.  I used to set up an ironing board in my bedroom with paints mixed, water ready and paper and jump out of bed in the morning and paint for ten minutes when I had tiny children. If you aren’t a little bit hungry and willing to DO something, this form of education may not work for you and your family in the long run.  And that’s okay, but if your goal is to make this work for your family, you are going to have to work a little.
  6. Work with your own biography.  The book I used in Foundation Studies, which is the introductory training you must complete before Waldorf teacher training,  was “The Human Life:  Understanding Your Biography,” by George and Gisela O’Neil.  I also have gone chapter by chapter through Betty Staley’s book, ““Tapestries”,” which is another good one.
  7. Consider community.  You may find non-Waldorf people who can knit and help you and  your children learn.  You may form a study group to read Steiner’s lectures or books related to Waldorf Education or a group to paint together or a group for festivals.  All the workshops and study groups I have been in have really helped by journey and even if I stopped doing Waldorf Education tomorrow, I wouldn’t regret that time because it helped me understand myself and the human being better.
  8. Patience.  “Doing Waldorf” isn’t add -water instant.  It is a journey and a growth process.  Your Waldorf may not look like someone else’s.  Capitalize on your strengths and slowly work to bring in the things you are less sure of.

If you need help and would like a consult with me, please email me at admin@theparentingpassageway.com.  I do phone consultations at different points during the year, and will be opening up a few slots in December for a mid-year check in.

Lots of love to you all,

Carrie

Using the 168

There are 168 hours in the week.  Once we take out hours for sleeping and eating, my goal this school year has been to use the remaining hours well. So what does this look like?

I think for our family, it means making good use of rhythm.  Rhythm is an important part of strength for individuals and in the family at all times, but I have found it even more important this year as I am working toward regaining my health and with having three children in very different levels to work with in homeschooling.

The main parts to rhythm for our family are-

  • Rest and sleep – we don’t skimp here and will cancel things in order to rest!
  • Warming meals –  I usually prep food by roasting large pans of veggies, making salad that will last several days, batch cooking any meat. We connect over our meals together and eat three times a day together most days of the week.
  • Movement, play  and FUN- movement and play is super important, so that is a priority. Play and movement most often happens outside for us, so we can lap up the Vitamin D and being in nature.
  • Work in nurturing our home (aka, chores) but also creating beautiful things to make our home lovely. Many of the chores I work around school times, bath times (ie, clean the bathroom while one child is showering, pick up downstairs before dinner whilst things are cooking)
  • School is important as well, but overall health is the greatest priority.
  • Outside activities

Something that really has shifted for me over the past  few years was a realization that I was essentially spending only one to two hours a week on me in a conscious way.  Sure, there was the downtime after everyone went to bed but there was very little conscious thought about things for myself and if there were things for myself, inevitably something else needed my attention and what I planned to do for myself was tossed to the wayside and cancelled.

So, deciding to spend up to 10 percent of the 168 hours on ME was quite a perception-changing event. That’s 16 -17 hours a week?!!   I could focus on my own health for 16-17 hours a week?  What would that look like?  Where would those hours come from?  Would it only happen at midnight (Hahaha)?  What would I do with those gift of hours? Right now I am mainly spending those hours in medical appointments and in physical activity, but I can see things expanding in the future!

Prepping is VITAL to making the best use  of our 168 hours. You can see below for what it looks like for us.  I am actually reluctant to put it out there.  Some will be aghast and say it is too much out of the home.  Remember, when all my children were under 14/15 years old, we homeschooled most mornings and went out only in the afternoons.  Now it is much more chaotic with the addition of outside classes for our high school junior that are all over the place in addition to having two horses to help care for, but this is real life, and I want to be transparent as to how homeschooling evolves the older children get!  We also have three out of five of us  in our family who are extroverts, and need time to connect with community and other people!

So, this is how we do it, and what it looks like for us!  Take what works for you and your family and leave the rest behind!

Mondays – (Crockpot meal) (Laundry)

  • Homeschool third grader at barn whilst older two are in lessons
  • Come home and finish third grader and homeschool eighth grader
  • Eleventh grader has outside class/third grader and mommy at park in sunshine/eighth grader homework
  • Music lesson for third grader with Dad; Rest for everyone else
  • Yoga at night for the mommy

Tuesdays – (Fast grilled meal/roasted veggies/salad)(Laundry)(Vaccum)

  • Waldorf homeschool enrichment program for eighth and third graders
  • Homeschool during this time with eleventh grader
  • Grocery shopping/Medical appointments as needed after 3:15
  • Rest
  • Gym for me at night

Wednesdays-(Meat/roasted veggies/salad)(Laundry)(Dusting)

  • Homeschool all children
  • Eleventh grade outside class (park time for third grader or gym time for me or meet a friend out)
  • Rest
  • Barn time
  • Exercise if didn’t happen earlier or Coffee with friends as able

Thursdays (Crockpot) (Laundry) (Vaccum)(Kitchen)

  • Homeschool third grader
  • Check in with eighth grader
  • Outside class for eleventh and eighth grader
  • Rest
  • Music for all/ music plus karate third grader (all in same place) (grocery store/errands for me)
  • Barn with Dad as able for eleventh and eighth graders
  • Yoga as able

Fridays- (Homemade pizza or breakfast for dinner)(Bathrooms)(produce and egg delivery)

  • Homeschool all children
  • Medical appointments late morning to early afternoon as needed (chiropractor)
  • Barn
  • Rest
  • Possible date night with husband
  • Some Fridays are days off with friends or field trip day

Saturdays (Clean house)(Laundry)(Fast cook chicken meal)

  • Yoga or gym early morning/ Rest/Barn or something fun with family

Sundays

  • Church/Sunday School
  • Rest/Prep for week ahead
  • Soccer for third grader
  • Eleventh and Eighth Grader Music Rehearsal/Youth Group

Tell me what you do with your 168!  Make it count, and most of all, have fun!

Lots of love to you all,

Carrie

 

 

 

 

Homeschooling High School – Should You?

There are quite a few good resources out there for homeschooling high school, (not for homeschooling a Waldorf-inspired high school per se, but homeschooling high school in general).  Many parents whose children are in seventh or eighth grade wonder if homeschooling high school is for them.

We are three years into homeschooling high school with our oldest child now, and looking at options for our eighth grader for high school next fall.  I think it is important to at least look at options for several reasons…

  1. I don’t know how it is in your area of the world, but here while every student can be “accepted” to public high school in the later high school years, the school system does not have to accept the credits already completed and may make the student re-do classes.  This is important to know.  At least  in my area, it is much easier to enter into high school when it begins in 9th grade and pull out and finish up homeschooling than it is to start homeschooling and then try to enter public school  in 10th or 11th grade!
  2. Homeschooling, for the most part, can be a very decentralized process – so that could mean a lot of driving and extra money toward classes or things that might normally be “free” in school and wouldn’t involve you driving.  For example, our oldest has taken some AP classes.  This involved extra time in finding these classes, and extra money to pay for the classes and the driving to and from the classes.
  3. Is you child super extroverted or introverted?  I know some extroverts who are still happy to homeschool high school, and some extroverts who are happy to do something like dual enrollment, but there are many extroverts who want to be a in a school environment and be involved in all the traditional high school things withinin a more traditional high school community.  Some want a much bigger social pool than the sometimes small numbers that homeschooling high school leads to, depending upon your area, so that may also be a factor to think about.
  4. How well do you and your teenager work together?  If it is going to be nothing but you nagging your child to get work done, or if  you feel your child tends to withdraw and not want to work hard for you, you might consider a more traditional high school plan.  It is hard to facilitate something with only one other (reluctant) student, and sometimes a group does lead to more interesting projects, more interesting perspective, and more interesting conversations.  You can create this with work at home for sure – open up your house to all homeschoolers for projects or perspectives around a study area, for example, but some students thrive in a more traditional environment.
  5. In this vein, does your child prefer in-person learning or do they prefer to learn on-line?  Not every student enjoys on-line classes, and while there are on-line high school classes for subjects, some students want or learn better in  a classroom experience.
  6. Are you decent at keeping track of records?  Do you know when things normally happen as far as standardized testing, financial aid deadlines, college applications?These things are important if your child wants to apply to a four year college as you will be playing guidance counselor along with your other roles in homeschooling.

If you think it sounds like I am against homeschooling high school, I am not. We are homeschooling high school, after all, and looking at doing it again!   However, I think some of the homeschooling high school sites tout homeschooling high school as this thing where the student works independently and you have interesting conversations, and  that’s about it, and are not pointing out some of the larger issues to think about.  Homeschooling high school takes time and availability of the parent, and it also depends somewhat upon finances, ability to get your student to places if options for homeschooled high schoolers in your area exist as far as outside classes or activities,  the homeschooling high school community in your area, and your student’s goals  for what they want to do after high school.  Sometimes post-graduation goals are best met in the home environment, but sometimes a more traditional path can also work, and some students prefer this.

For those of you homeschooling high school, what are the things you thought about with this decision?  Share your wisdom!

Blessings and love,

Carrie