inward thirteen

Once the twelve year change is finally done, many teens hit a more inward phase.  This can be around thirteen and half, or for some just over fourteen years of age.  Sometimes we see this in the way a teen withdraws into their own room, or into their own art or whatever their interest is.  Some draw close to a beloved parent or other adult whom they trust and enjoy spending time with, but some teens are almost hyper-critical of their  parents, especially their mother, and are mainly just a shadow disappearing into their rooms.  It may seem that on the surface that not much makes them happy, so they sort of come across as the Eeyore of the family.

While the media often portrays this type of developmental stage as a teen wearing black sitting in (or wanting!) a  black room in a dark mood, I think it is a little more positive than that.  By withdrawing, the teen begins to figure out who they are in relation to their family, their friends, their community.  He or she protects him or herself from other’s criticisms, almost like the coccoon of a caterpillar so that the teen can emerge as the butterfly later down the road.  In homeschooling, I think this idea of the coccoon can extend to actually wanting to attend school because there may be more “privacy” there – an independent life without parents looking over one’s shoulder, or siblings looking over one’s shoulder.

Does this look different for a child raised with a lot of family attachment?  I think it does.  The really attached children I have seen, no matter what their type of schooling, often seem to withdraw from peers  but crave being in the family more, particularly those coveted one on one dates with a parent.  They may spend time in their rooms, but also enjoy “dates” with their parents without siblings around, may roll their eyes at some traditions or the idea of family vacations, but still have a terrific time. In fact, I think this age can be one of the times where we feel as if our insistence upon the family unit may really pay off!  However, if  you have done this, and you don’t feel like this age is working out that way for you and your teen and you feel like you failed, don’t panic.  Every teen has a different personality, a different temperament, a different love language, a different level of extroversiona  and introversion.  As long as there is nothing involving self-harm, being bullied or bullying other people, etc and you feel you have done all you can, then you can hold  your steady with your ho-hum.

Here are a few of my top tips in dealing with thirteen/fourteen year olds going through a more inward phase:

  1.  Keep a steady rhythm, especially limits on technology if that is involved, and bedtimes.  Meals and eating patterns seem to get more erratic around this age, so I think not just relying on the teen to fix themselves something but to have family meals continue just the same.  Your protection is important right now for health and developing healthy habits – this child is not 17 or 18 or even 16; there is a difference!
  2.  Do not  push for constant involvement with siblings or cousins or even friends, but do have some expectation as to what their part in a healthy family life would look like – game nights? Dates out with a parent?  A sibling day between your 13/14 year old and a sibling?  Family vacations- with or without a friend?  Do they have to help take care of a younger sibling? I find for many homeschooling families with these patterns in place, things may not shift a whole lot, but for some families it does depending upon the personality of the teen – so again, make your expectations known and be ho-hum about the emotional response.
  3. Many thirteen/fourteen year olds feel deeply at this age, but their responses can often be one word; they may shy away from physical touch by a parent.  Only you really can observe the child in front of you and decide how to approach that, when to push or not push for that further emotional intimacy. Sometimes it is okay for things to lie fallow for awhile; it is okay to be ho hum about things; please do not criticize so harshly – thirteen and fourteen year olds really take it to heart.
  4. Do plan time alone with your thirteen/fourteen year olds, especially if you have younger siblings in the house.  Many teens desperately need time away from younger siblings.
  5. Teens of this age usually have interests, and if they do not have interests, I think that for the sake of balance, see what interests you can help your teen discover.  Encourage and spend time on those, within balance. Many younger teens try to do all the things, and find themselves cranky and exhausted.  Protection is important for this age, but so is interest in the real world, in different cultures, in different ideas – otherwise the teen remains the center of his or her own universe into adulthood.
  6. Teens this age usually grow in the idea of responsibility and that not everything is someone else’s fault. If you don’t see this coming along, that may be something to nurture.
  7. The most pivotal time for adolescence is the fifteen/sixteen year change, so if you are dealing with things that seem out of the norm problematic, I highly suggest counseling and getting outside help in order to set up a better foundation for that change.  Boundaries and consequences, close family times, may be something that is argued about, but also leads to the adolescent feeling most secure.
  8. Sometimes adolescents need help in calming their emotional life and learning how to be less impulsive and dramatic, and some need help in raising empathy, sharing emotions, forming relationships.  Only you can decide what your teen needs.
  9. Adolescence is not a stable time, and many missteps can happen between the ages of 14-18.  Some adolescents really develop critical problems in their thinking about themselves and the world, or develop habits that aren’t healthy. You really need to be around, present, and while maintinging a ho-hum attitude, be ready to provide protection, or balance for your teen when they can’t do it themselves, consequences and boundaries for when they try out the wrong things, and help sooner rather than later if things are problematic.  Rudolf Steiner, the foundation of Waldorf Education, often said the times of hearing the inner voice most strongly may occur around ages 19, 38, and 56, so we try to give our teens the best foundation we can in the times of 14-18.

There is much more to say about the healthy development of adolescents, but I would love to hear your experiences. What were you like as an adolescent?  Does that influence how you are parenting your teen?

Blessings,

Carrie

Skills for High School (and life!)

We have one teen getting ready to go look at colleges and apply in the fall, and one child who will be entering high school in the fall.  These are such  interesting and often challenging ages to parent. I don’t think I ever doubted my homeschooling skills as much as I did when my oldest was in eighth and ninth grade.  I think this is because we as parents can see what skills will be needed for success in  the upper grades of high school and what will be needed in college, and we wonder what we will do if things don’t come together  (or as homeschooling parents we wonder if we are doing enough).

This leads me to a question:  what do you think eighth and ninth graders really need to be able to do in order to navigate high school (and life) successfully? I woud love to hear your thoughts!  Here are a few of my ideas for the important skills teens need for high school and beyond:

Communication Skills – this includes written communication, public speaking,  recognizing nonverbal cues in other people, presentation skills, and being able to collaborate on a team.  I think this is where things such as vocabulary and fluency in writing and speaking  counts, and so do things such as knowing how to introduce oneself and others.

**Ways to develop this:  4H and Toastmasters, work and volunteer experience, being on a team in any area- sports or otherwise, communicating effectively at home and pointing out cues and emotions,  increasing vocabulary in the later middle school years.  If you are the homeschooling teacher – assigning papers, research papers, and oral presentations.

Organizational Skills – this includes physical space planning (ie, the teen can find what they are looking for), mental organization, planning and scheduling, time management, prioritizing

**Ways to develop this – using a calendar or planner, using checklists, working with deadlines  for your homeschool, developing accountability outside the home to mentors, other teachers, volunteer work or a part-time job

Leadership and Teamwork – this, to me, involves initiative, making decisions, contributing, responsibility, respect of others and listening to others, humility, problem solving

**Ways to develop this – volunteer and work opportunities, allow decision making for teens and don’t bail them out of the consequences, let your teen figure out the possibilities – don’t do it all for them

Work Ethic -this includes dependability, determination, accountability, professionalism

**Ways to Develop This – assignments with deadlines in homeschooling, don’t skip the hard or boring all the time, work and volunteer experiences, the development of healthy habits at home which requires a regularity in doing things

Emotional Intelligence – self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, social skills

**Ways to Develop This- talking to teens about their feelings and helping them use “I” statements and how to be active listeners, basic anger management and conflict management skills,mindfulness techniques,  nurture motivation when your teen is interested in a subject or has a passion and teach them  how to set goals around their passions, provide and model optimism and encouragement

I would love to hear your ideas!  What do you think is important?

Blessings,

Carrie

PS. If you are looking for more on this subject, you might enjoy this back post on Life Skills for Seventh and Eighth Graders and some of the resources I recommend!

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

 

Eighth Grade Sustainability Block

One of the other blocks we will be doing in eighth grade is a block on sustainability.  The blocks on sustainability will also carry us into high school should our eighth grader choose to homeschool high schooler.  I originally heard of this block as a suggestion from Christopherus Homeschool Resources, Inc and it may have been in one of the earlier editions of the book

These are my plans for a three week block on sustainability, using the following books and resources:

  • Energy Island by Allan Drummond
  • Generating Wind Power by Niki Walker
  • Environmental Engineering and the Science of Sustainability
  • Biomass: Fueling Change by Niki Walker
  • Geothermal, Biomass, and Hydrogen:  Future Energy by Jim Olhoff
  • Ocean, Tidal, and Wave Energy: Power From the Sea by Lynn Peppas
  • One Well:  The Story of Water on Earth by Rochelle Strauss/ ill. Rosemary Woods
  • The Science of Climate Change:  A Hands-On Course by Blair H. Lee
  • Vanderbuilt University’s Resources for Teaching Sustainability
  • Lesson plans from The Water Project  (51 page download of lesson plans)
  • How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint by Joanna Yarrow
  • Sustainability:  Building Eco-Friendly Communities by Anne Maczulak, PhD
  • Native Defender of the Environment by Vincent Schilling
  • Field trips

Sustainability can be a hard topic for a three to four week block of teaching because it covers so many things, and I also wanted to highlight we are looking so much at sustainability these days due to climate change (so we need to know the science of climate change to understand sustainability).  So that is two major topics in one block for a middle schooler!

During this block we will be reading “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” as our read-aloud.  This is how I set up this block, choosing essentially climate change, alternative energy, and water scarcity as the topics we will touch on (note we will do the LABS first if a lab is mentioned, and cover the concept part of the lab the next day after sleeping on it, so a little different than the way some resources are set up).  I will figure out the artistic work and main lesson book work closer to when we start this block as this is a spring block and it still quite far off.

Week One

Question: What impact do we have upon the environment and the world?

Day One:  What is Sustainable Development?  (social/environmental/economic – where do these areas overlap?  How?)/Biography of Ben Powless or Tom Goldtooth/How Sustainable Are We –  What is a Carbon Footprint? Carbon Footprint Quiz (my plan is to do this block around Lent so we will talk about ways to reduce our carbon footprint as part of our Lenten practice)/Air and Greenhouse Effect sections from Blair Lee’s Book, labs

Day Two:  Review/ Carbon Footprint results (and yes, at this point I will work in some of our religious beliefs because we put a very large emphasis on environmental justice in our church)/ Greenhouse Gases and Labs from Blair Lee’s book

Day Three:   Review/Combustion Reactions and Concentrations of Carbon Dioxide, labs from Blair Lee’s book/

Day Four:  Review/Feedback Mechanisms and labs from Blair Lee’s book/

Week Two:

Day One:  Review/Weather versus Climate/Rising Sea Levels and Melting Ice Sheets from Blair Lee’s book/

Day Two:  Review/Adaptation/How We Help

Day Three:  Review/Read the book “Energy Island”/ Wind Power – its history and where we are now around the world with wind power (case example of Denmark)/Build a windmill generator/Biography of Winona LaDuke – Question to think upon:  Could wind power become a major way we power the United States?  Why or why not?

Day Four:  Review/Finish Wind Power/ Concerns of Wind power -role of environmental engineer

Week Three:

Day One:  Review/Solar Power/local solar power intiatives in our community/field trip

Day Two:  Review/Solar Power building- solar pizza oven

Day Three: Review solar field trip and projects; Review Carbon Cycle and Biomass energy/Brazil as example of Biomass energy

Day Four:  Review/Wave, Tidal, Ocean energy/  Energy from Dams – are dams damaging? Visit to our local dam

Week Four: (I chose water as our last area of sustainability to look at) (would love to have a field trip to a local water filtration plant this week)

Day One:  Review the water cycle/Read One Well:  The Story of Water on Earth/ Use Water, Water Anywhere lesson plan from The Water Project

Day Two:  Review sustainability spheres we started with in the beginning/ Use Dirty Water – So What? lesson plan from The Water Project

Day Three:  Review with quiz from The Water Project on the Dirty Water- So What lesson/make a Tippy Tap in the backyard

Day Four:  Review/ Use Village Voices plan from The Water Project/finish up all work

Blessings,
carrie

 

 

 

Eighth Grade Oceanography

Oceanography is one of those blocks that I think makes perfect sense for eighth grade – if we are going to study meteorology in eighth grade, why not oceanography?Seeing the large picture, from the heavens to the depths of the sea is awe-inspiring for me as a teacher and for my students.    It goes well with physics, earth science, chemistry, biology, and even geography and history.  I love marine biology in particular, and live in a coastal state, so this one makes perfect sense to me!  Meteorology and oceanography usually re-appear in the Grade 10 high school curriculum of many Waldorf Schools.

The first time I went through eighth grade I did oceanography and meteorology together.  This time around I am doing physics and meteorology together and running oceanography as a separate two-week block.

The main resources I use to put together this block includes the following:

  • Oceanography: An Invitation to Marine Science by Garrison (used college textbook)
  • Explore The Southeast National Marine Sanctuaries with Jean-Michel Cousteau
  • Oceans for Every Kid by Janice VanCleave (I don’t really love her work but sometimes find a gem)
  • Marine Biology:  Cool Women Who Dive by Karen Bush Gibson
  • Down Down Down:  A Journey To The Bottom of the Sea by Steve Jenkins
  • Journey Into The Deep: Discovering New Ocean Creatures by Rebecca Johnson
  • Stories of William Beede, Sylvia Earle, Eugenie Clark, Jacques Cousteau
  • Hydraulics and Aeromechanics by Mikko Bojarsky (Waldorf book available through Waldorf Books or Rudolf Steiner College Bookstore)

My basic outline (and we cover a lot of ground in two weeks!):

Day One:  Review the Water Cycle/What Is An Ocean?/Interesting Ocean Facts/Explorers of the Oceans (Phoenicians through James Cook) – Question to leave student with:  Why are the deepest parts of the oceans not in the centers?

Day Two:  Review/To Understand the Oceans We Have to Understand Plate Tectonics/Biography of Marie Tharp/ Question:  is the motion in the ocean caused only by ocean currents?/

Day Three:  Review/Lab on Ocean Currents and Fluid Mechanics – biography of Kakani Katija (see National Geographic)/ Edward Forbes/Ocean Zones Introduction – Question: How much of the ocean has been explored?

Day Four:  Review/ The HMS Challenger/ Barton and Beede’s Bathysphere (library books and Bojarsky’s book)/ Aqualung to SCUBA/Remotely Operated Vehicles/Different jobs in Marine Science – biography Ashanti Johnson

Week Two:

Day One and Two:  Review/ Zones in Detail -sunlit zone, twilight zone, dark zone, abyssal plain, trenches – what lives there?  chemosynthesis, cold seeps, brine pools, methane freezes, deep sea coral gardens in the dark depths, whale falls – biography Lauren Mullineaux (see Oceanus magazine)

Day Three and Four:  Review/Census of Marine Life 2000-2010 /what did we find?/Biography of Natalie Arnoldi/ Climate change and the ocean (which we will follow up in our Climate Change/Sustainability block a few months later)

I essentially go through this outline and write a presentation for each day and decide on labs.  I usually think of review and artistic activities in the weeks preceeding the block.

Oceanography is always so fun to explore and great to tie in field trips if you live near or can get to a coastal area!

Happy adventuring,

Carrie

 

 

 

 

Upper Grades: Getting To The Essence of A Waldorf Block

The concept of “soul economy,” teaching in such as way as to succinctly represent themes and polarities in the world and then letting that knowledge sink down into the subconscious through sleep as an educational aid, is a concept in Waldorf homeschooling that sounds wonderful but  often feels like a mystery to attain without a lot of experience or teacher training!  For example, when I first started homeschooling the upper grades, about fifth grade and up, I realized I was trying to cram a lot of information into the blocks.  It was a feeling, perhaps from my own public school education, that I needed to pick out the most important things to represent the essence of a time period but also I *needed* to get through most of the book of Greek myths or most of the biographies of famous people in Rome or most of the timeline of American History or most of the experiments for different concepts in physics or whatever it was.  Yes, I tried to pick the most pertinent tales or biographies for the child in front of me, so in that sense it was personalized, but it was still that feeling in my head that we had to get through *all the things*.

Something shifted for me going through the fifth grade and up material a second time, and I think also combined with going through now the first two grades of homeschooling high school, which gives you a much better perspective on these upper grades.  I got much better about really narrowing down the pertinent points and choosing for my child what they needed to hear.  We really have this as such a luxury in the home environment!

I think in order to get at an essence of a block though, you have to know the material.  This actually can be problematic for us as homeschooling mothers when we approach new material because we may be looking at new material across several grades.  For example from my own time through sixth grade – there I was,  two college degrees, and I knew very little about the Roman History covered in sixth grade!  Not really enough to pick what were the watershed moments of this time period and also to choose what really my daughter and her temperament and development needed to hear.  Again, I did much better with this the second time around as I was familiar with the material!

So, what can you do if it is your first time through a block of material? How do you find the essence?

Honestly, I think pick 4-6 “things” out of that block that you really want to bring to life for that time period, block of physics or chemistry, concepts of grammar or  tales of mythology.  I wouldn’t pick more than that.   You really can’t do it justice. Find the broad arc and themes, or the broad polarities in science, and pick things that illustrate that. Arcs, themes, polarities, should be your mantra. Then you can pick what really speaks and stands out to you for your child.

Check out the suggestions in the book “Towards Creative Teaching: Notes to an Evolving Curriculum for Steiner Waldorf Class Teachers” edited by Rawson and Avison.  I think their suggestions at least helped me think about what I really wanted to economically bring.  This book says things such as, “One of the three great discoverers – Vasco de Gama, Ferdinand Magellan and Christopher Columbus – might be taken to represent the time of the great discoveries.” (Page 153).  That is just one example of many suggestions as to how to pair things down and gather the essence of a particular block.

Think what and how concepts can be integrated across blocks. By that I mean, can the themes and polarities of one block be reinforced in another block?  For example, history, math, science, world religions, and handwork can all overlap.  Botany and mineralogy often overlap into geography and how people lived, and vice versa.  Many of the  concepts of sciences overlap. What overlaps personally to your child because of where you live in the world? What is reinforced by living where you live and how you live or the people in the child’s environment?  That is another part of homeschooling.

Use art with drawing, painting, modeling, poems, songs,  drama, and recitation of poetry in order to tie it all together.  These arts are so wonderful and what makes a Waldorf Education different from anything else.

Just a few musings.

Many blessings,
Carrie

 

 

Planning Eighth Grade

So I started planning  Third Grade first, since it will be my third time teaching third grade and therefore has a sense of familiarity. I wrote several posts about the planning process for third grade here.  Now I am looking at planning eighth grade next, since it will be my second time teaching eighth grade.

I really like eighth grade and am looking forward to it. This particular student has very strong opinions about what she will or won’t participate in, and she won’t really try to do anything with a block she doesn’t want to do. So I have had to think long and hard about what I really think is essential in eighth grade for soul development and what blocks will be well-received as well.

It doesn’t help that I think eighth grade seems to me one of the years with the least amount of “must do” soul material.  Yes, there is a Revolutions block, but some schools put that in ninth.  There is an idea of “modern” and getting children up to present-day, but again, many schools also spread that into ninth grade if they have a high school program.   The AWNSA chart for the Waldorf School curriculum includes The Industrial Revolution to the Modern Day; American History; Shakespeare and poetry; stories about different people of the world and their folklore and poetry; reviewing all grammar; writing including newspaper reporting, business writing, writing a short play and spelling; Latin and Greek and vocabulary building exercises; World Geography and geography of Asia, Australia and Antarctica; Chemistry, Physiology, Physics  including aerodynamics and meteorology; Three Dimensional Geometry.  “Making Math Meaningful” by Jamie York for Grade 8 includes geometry and platonic solids as a block (which I did the first time around in eighth grade but I will not do this time);  and number bases and loci as another block.

You can see some of the ideas I planned the the first time around in eighth grade  for our oldest child.  You can see how I planned high school American History between eighth and ninth grade in order to earn a high school credit in American History (this is something that would happen in homeschooling, not a Waldorf School setting). You can see my post about Eighth Grade Chemistry here, and  I went through each week of eighth grade beginning here, with weeks one and two.

So, my tentative –  totally subject to change-  plans right now include:

August and September – Physics and Meteorology

October – Oceanography

November – Short Stories

December – Short Stories

January – Revolutions

February – Two weeks of aerodynamics;  American History

March – American History

April/ May -Energy,  Carbon, Climate, and the Environment (my own invented block)

Each of these blocks will work closely on academic skills.  I am not doing the typical eighth grade Chemistry block which focuses on the human body or cooking and fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, we are not doing the typical Physiology block either, and we  will do Shakespeare in High School.  We will be doing World Geography one day a week and go through all regions of the world, including the typical eighth grade geography block countries.

My main idea for the week’s rhythm is to bring four days of being together as this student will have an outside academic math class one day a week.  Three days will be main lesson work, and one day will be geography.  We will do math daily together and a lot of math investigation as a family.

I would love to hear what you are planning! Have you started planning your block rotations yet?

Blessings,

Carrie