Weeks Seventeen and Eighteen of Homeschooling Eighth Grade, Fifth Grade and Kindy

We are still here in January, awaiting snow or ice or some combination.  For the Deep South, even a tiny amount of precipitation shuts things down ( mainly due to ice), so it will be interesting to see what happens.  This weekend I planned to gather with some fellow homeschoolers to talk about our experiences in  homeschooling grades 5-9, so I hope that still can happen!

We have been busy the past few weeks – hiking a lot, horses, and two new choir ribbons earned!  Very exciting indeed.  We have been reading a lot, and drawing and building by the fire and just enjoying this month.

Kindergarten – So the past two weeks have really seen us trying to step up “work of the day”.  Lisa’s e-courses are always great at getting me back on track when I feel things are sliding a bit  and I am so appreciative.  This month is on play (plus rhythm as always) and it has been very in-depth and enjoyable learning.  We have been vacuuming, baking bread, dusting, cleaning windows, filling birdfeeders, painting, modeling, finger knitting (and yes, our kindergartener really wants to knit on needles like his big sisters), and making winter crafts like little suncatchers to freeze overnight and then hang up in our (sadly, one and only) tree.  We have been hiking a lot as well.  Our circle is still a Winter circle, and our story has been “Shingebiss”, which is one of my absolute favorites.

Fifth Grade – Ancient Egypt has been great fun.  We ended up with a wet on wet painting of the Land of Egypt and a summary, a painting of a Pharaoh, a drawing of a pyramid, a beautiful drawing of a man gathering papyrus and we have modeled pyramids .  We have listened to  all the tales of Isis, Osiris, Horus and Set; read the book “Pyramid”; played with hieroglyphics and the Rosetta Stone,  and we are now finishing up “The Golden Goblet”.  This week we moved into Ancient Africa, mainly the land of Nubia and also the Mbuti and the San.  Next year we will pick up with Hatshepsut, Aksum, Great Zimbabwe and more.  Right now my main goal was to point out that Africa was the cradle of civilization.  and  that there were many things happening on the African continent.  I just love Africa and look forward to covering more and more in these grades 5-8.

Lastly, we started at the very end of this week to cover just a bit about the Phoenicians.  Sixth Grade Rome makes more sense if you have just a tiny bit of background about the Phoenicians, I think.    Next week we will start a little math block involving the Ancient Americas and chocolate that I wanted to do in fall and it just didn’t happen.  So,  looking forward to that.

We have been working hard on spelling and math, and drawing and painting.  I hope during our math block we will do some more writing about the Ancient Americas as well.    We are also doing some handwork and reading aloud as a family.    That is nice for winter!

Eighth Grade – We are wrapping up physics. We did many experiments regarding the nature of air, the use of a clinometer, and made many flying objects and experimented with those.    We looked at the biographies of our children’s great-grandfather, who was a test pilot; Amelia Earhart; Ruth Elder; Bessie Coleman and the Tuskegee Airmen.  We got many books out of the library and have been having fun discussing everything from parachutes to hang gliders to jet planes.  We have learned the aviator alphabet and worked on portrait drawing as well in this block.

In World Geography, we are wrapping up Latin America.  We reviewed all the political and geographic features of Latin America,  a little about NAFTA, and our eighth grader chose a country to make a travel brochure.  We also are reading about the Panama Canal and a summary on that will go in our Main Lesson book.

Our next block is actually Geography of Asia, so that will count toward World Geography credit hours for high school credit.  We are relieved to have a little reprieve of doing geography on top of a Main Lesson!

We are still working on math daily and on Spanish I for our outside teacher.  4-H is starting to get busy again, but we are unfortunately going to miss poultry judging this year due to a time conflict, but there are plenty of things to work on.

I would love to hear what you are up to!

Blessings and love,
Carrie

 

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Weeks Fifteen and Sixteen of Homeschooling Eighth Grade, Fifth Grade and Kindergarten

It has been good to get back into a more normal routine after the holidays.  Normally we take a break until Epiphany, but this year we lost quite a bit of time in the fall, so we started back on Monday.  I made a revised schedule of blocks for both eighth and fifth grade, and whilst we will finish later than usual for us for the school, I feel that in light of the fall we are doing the best we can do. If you would like to look back and see what we were doing in weeks twelve through fourteen, please see this article

This week has been a beautiful celebration of Epiphany, culminating today and tomorrow in lots of time at church for our Epiphany Celebration where the children put on a scripted musical.  We are looking forward to it!  We also spent a lot of time hiking the past few weeks, including several times up a local mountain, which our kinder really enjoyed.

Kindergarten – Kindergarten in Week Fifteen (the week before we took off for the holidays) and Week Sixteen (this week) was spent hiking, ice skating, baking and cooking, wet on wet watercolor painting and modeling.  This week we moved into a Winter Circle, and the story “The Holy Nights” from the WECAN book, “Tell Me A Story”.  This week also centered around things for our Epiphany Celebration at home, including baking an Epiphany Cake.  Lots of fun!  Our kinder has been walking around adding and subtracting out loud, copying letters that others have written, and overall just appearing ready for what will come in the fall.  I am grateful he has this extra time to just be before he embarks on first grade.

Fifth Grade -This week we moved on from Ancient Mesopotamia and the land of Gilgamesh into Ancient Egypt.  We finished up Ancient Mesopotamia with three paintings and summaries of: the land itself, the  ziggurat and its role, and Gilgamesh.  Gilgamesh was one of the favorite stories of the whole year so far.  I am partial to the Geraldine McCreaghean version.  For Egypt, I pulled from various sources to describe the land of Egypt and the Nile River Valley, the life of the Egyptians and yes, pyramids and mummification. At the very end of the week we began the story of Osiris and Isis.  I hope to wrap Egypt up next week and move into Ancient Africa, something not typically covered in a Waldorf School curriculum, but one I wanted to cover this year so seventh grade Africa is not such a huge block with no background.  Then we will cover Ancient China, and of course, before the year is through, Ancient Greece.  We will be covering the Ancient Americas as tied in with a math block as well.

We are working hard on spelling and math daily.  We finished reading about John Muir and are starting to read “The Golden Goblet” as a read aloud to tie into Egypt.  Other than that, for drama, our fifth grader is Mary in our church’s Epiphany Celebration,so that has been rehearsals.  We are still riding horses as well through the winter months and lots of choir practice for the Spring Musical and ribbon practice for choir.

Eighth Grade – We finished Chemistry.  Everything this year has been at the pace of a snail, so I feel as if it has taken us awhile!  We made it through carbohydrates, and what ended up in our Main Lesson Books was a page about the three classes of carbohydrates, a comparison of the solubility of sugar and salt, and the breakdown of starch with hydrochloric acid and the use of  Benedict’s Solution to test for simple sugars.  We did quite a few other projects and demonstrations for carbohydrates, including making an iodine solution and testing for the presence of starch and many baking projects.  With proteins, we looked carefully at the special role of proteins in the body,  enzymes (which was also in seventh grade chemistry too), we burned proteins,  and looked at the coagulation of casein.  One of our major experiments was testing proteins using the biuret reaction, and more cooking.  We especially looked at bone broths and the role of protein in healing bone broths and went through the best way to make bone broths, the benefits of broth and recipes for broth.  Lastly, we looked at fats and oils – their role in the body, what  makes a fat saturated or unsaturated, what essential fatty acids the body cannot produce,  testing for fats, the use of coconut oil, extracting an essential oil from lemon peel (and did a black and white charcoal drawing of lemons), looked at common oils, and emulsions.  It was a full block, and now we are moving into physics.

I pared physics down due to running low on time so we are going to do mainly aerodynamics.  Our eighth grader’s great-grandfather was a test pilot, so I started with his biography and we looked at the aviator’s alphabet and the nature of air through several experiments. One of the main sources I am using for this is actually not a Waldorf resource, but the book “The Sky’s The Limit!” by Adair, Ivans, Shennan, et al in conjunction with “Physics Is Fun!” (a Waldorf resource).  Also, there are many wonderful biographies to look at – Amelia Earhart, the Wright Brothers, Bessie Coleman, and the Tuskegee Airmen.

We are still reading “The Brooklyn Bridge” aloud and will next read about Woodrow Wilson in preparation for our upcoming World History block.  Our eighth grader is reading Bradbury’s “The Martian Chronicles” independently now and is answering questions about these stories and themes twice a week.  We are reviewing decimals, percentages and ratios as well.  Our eighth grader has also been working hard on Spanish as a mid-semester project was due with an outside teacher, and also her 4H Portfolio was due as well.  Horses, choir and ribbon and piano practice and more 4H have kept everyone busy!

I would love to hear what you are working on.

Many blessings,

Carrie

 

 

Week Eight of Homeschooling Eighth and Fifth Grade: The Civil War and More

Last week we were on vacation, so here we are at Week Eight of school!  You can see what we did in weeks three through seven in this post.

Six Year Old Kindergarten: This week we have been working on an Orchard Circle to tie in with the apple picking we did before Michaelmas.  We also are working with the Feast Days of Saint Francis of Assisi  (October 4th) and St. Teresa of Avila (October 15th).  This week we have also taken long walks in the fall leaves, played outside, baked apples in varying forms, learned about the frogs along the creek in our area, and made little wet felted shooting stars to go with our story  “Hugin and the Shooting Stars” and Michaelmas.

This is also the week of the stomach virus (no fun) and also birthday week, so we have had fun getting ready for a little celebration at the park!

Fifth Grade – Botany, the block that never ends!  This is right up there with our Third Grade Native Americans block for length!  We are done this week with botany, despite a brief fight with a stomach virus and a day of taking our dog to the doggie hospital for follow-up appointments.  We started the week by recapping conifers and the ecology of the longleaf pine habitat in our state.  We moved into trees and visited our local arboretum.  Lastly, we explored the flowering plants through the Lily and the Rose and will end with a brief discussion about biomes.  I would like to get in a visit to either our State Botanical Garden or the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, so guess I will just see what will work out in our schedule. 

We have also been working hard on spelling, cursive writing, and math. We are currently reading “Ronia, The Robber’s Daughter” by Astrid Lindgren.  This week also was beautiful horses, choir, swimming and a horse show.

Eighth Grade – This week was working on typing, high school Spanish, and math.  In our geography track that we are working on all year, we worked on Main Lesson Book pages for Antarctica and North America and some supplemental reading.  In our review of the United States, we talked about an article that was originally published stating Houston would overcome Chicago as the third most populous city – and why this ended up being inaccurate.  We used news articles to look at population demographics and things that affect whether a city or town is booming or not, is a bigger city better, etc.  It was an interesting discussion!

Our block right now is American History. We started this week with the Gold Rush, and looked at how this affected the Native American population of California (and we also tied this into current events looking at the canonization of Junipero Serra by Pope Francis).  We also studied the life of a “49’er” – did they really get rich? and sang music from this time period.  We also  looked at the general increase of  technological inventions  in the beginning  of the nineteenth century and how this affected Americans (particularly how the cotton gin led to the entrenchment of slavery).  For more about the devastating effects of the cotton gin and African American historical figures from this time period, I highly recommend the PBS Series “Africans in America” (the hyperlink has the teacher resources) and you can find the videos themselves on YouTube.

We looked carefully at how  African- Americans were faring in the North and South as our prelude to the Civil War.  How were the lives of our African brothers and sisters the same or different?   We also opened our look at the Civil War with poetry about the Civil War, and quotes in general by Civil War Generals.  We started looking at the cause/s of the Civil War.

For this part of the block in general, I made a list of things we were going to cover and a list of “How To Become a Civil War Scholar” with the requirements for our Civil War Studies.  For example,  I made a reading list of books from the library regarding the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation, the Underground Railroad, medical care of soldiers during the Civil War and the role of women in the Civil War and  am requiring a half hour of reading a day from this stack in addition to what I am presenting when we are together. Mainly I am presenting through biographies, which has been quite a bit of research for me, but also a lot of fun.

We  picked several hands- on projects to do associated with this time period (my eighth grader picked making a pinhole camera and a telegraph).  We have also used the attainment of our Civil War Badge and Underground Railroad Badge through the National Parks service as part of this block’s experiential learning. We have several Civil War field trips planned and have already visited Manassas Battlefield this summer in preparation for this block as we were in that area.  The discussion about the Civil War will move us into Civil Rights in the spring and has already brought us into present day current events – notably, South Carolina’s decision to remove the confederate flag in July of this year.  The other things I am requiring in this Civil War section is the learning of several Civil War era songs, the completion of our Main Lesson book pages, and several lengthier essay length questions.  We are also making a glossary of Civil War terms and memorizing the Gettysburg Address.

There will be a test at the end of this American History block.  The only other block I have ever given a test on was Africa, because I loved that block so in seventh grade.  So, this will be new and interesting for my student. Ha.  I haven’t written the test yet, but will let you know!

We are finishing reading “Sacajawea” by Bruchac this week and moving into “Elijah of Buxton” and then the life of Harriet Tubman.  Independent reading assigned right now is “Rider of the Pony Express” by Ralph Moody and then Ray Bradbury’s “The Martian Chronicles” which actually ties into Westward Expansion, interestingly enough.

This week was also Wildlife Judging for 4-H, choir and youth group (a whole lot of youth group, which I am also volunteering in in various capacities), horses and a horse show.

Would love to hear what you are up to this week!

Blessings,
Carrie

Weeks Three Through Seven of Eighth and Fifth Grade

It is hard to believe that my last post on eighth and fifth grade was back in August; you can read that post here and see what we were up to!

Six Year Old Kindergarten – I described in my first post the joys of our liturgical year and August; for September we have moved into so many of the traditional Autumn things that I love – songs and verses about squirrels, chipmunks and apples; Suzanne Down’s sweet story about “There’s a Bear in Our Plum Tree!” and now the story “The Princess of the Flaming Castle” found in the red book, “Let Us Form A Ring”.  This month, we have focused on Saint Helena and Holy Cross Day, celebrated in the Episcopal tradition on September 15th, and reading lots of stories and saying verses about angels in preparation for the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels.  This has been a fun time of starting church choir for our little one, attending Sunday School and finally being old enough to go to Cloverbuds in 4-H when his big sisters attend our homeschool 4-H meetings.  So lovely!  Mainly we have been enjoying baking, painting, modeling, playing in the dirt, and being outside with the change of weather.

Fifth Grade – This botany block is stretching out to be the longest block we have ever done,much like the way our Native American block of Third Grade went on forever (same child as well!).  At any rate, once we got settled in, we enjoyed moving into algae and lichens and their varying connections to animals from our fourth grade Man and Animal block.  We moved into mosses and ferns with painting and modeling and walking in the woods.   We read “One Day in the Woods”, also by Jean Craighead George, and looked at the beautiful fern family in modeling and painting.  We went apple picking, and used the process of drawing and describing the apple tree and orchard as a basis for talking about the steps in writing – pre-writing, draft, revision, edit and final stage – and types of writing.  For conifers we have extensively discussed the ecology of the longleaf pine, which we will also be visiting this coming week; and how this habitat is intricately intertwined with the red cockaded woodpecker, one of the first animals I learned about when we moved to this state, and also with the keystone species of the gopher tortoise that we learned about in our fourth grade Man and Animal block and reviewed here. “Ecology of a Cracker Childhood”  by Janisse Ray is a great read for teachers looking to know more about this unique habitat.   We will have a field trip and poetry to look at trees, and a final look at botany with the flowering plants and an introduction to biomes.  It promises to be a full  last (hopefully last!) week. 

We have been reviewing a lot of math and spelling.  Music theory is going full force again with our choir director from church, along with choir practice itself and swimming and 4H.  Busy days! 

Eighth Grade – We finished our Platonic Solids (Stereometry) and Loci block.  Loci were great fun and we looked at the basic building blocks of loci and then moved into creating parabolas, hyperbolas and ellipses.  We then did some work with HOW one gets those formulas of volume.  Then we moved into American History.  We had done a Colonial/American History block last year in seventh grade, so in this grade we picked up with Thomas Jefferson, the Louisiana Purchase, Lewis and Clark and moved onward.  We have talked about the changes in transportation with the steamboat, the Golden Age of Canals, when Texas was an independent Republic and the Mexican-American War, the Pony Express,  and the inventions and changes that helped shaped America. I assigned a paper regarding Eli Whitney as I feel this ties into the pre-Civil War Era nicely.  We moved into the Civil War at the end of this week.

We did a more exhaustive literary analysis of Scott O’Dell’s “Sing Down the Moon”, looked at Navaho songs, and are now reading “Sacajawea” aloud.  There are many wonderful books to read about this time period in American history, and just not enough time!  We have continued with math, vocabulary and Spanish, and finally did start that World Geography, which will have enough hours at the end of the year and be rigorous enough to be a high school level course.  So far we have looked at types of  geographers and  their areas of study, the five lenses of geography, a review of globes, maps, latitude, longitude, different types of maps, and then delved quite deeply into Antarctica (where there is an island named after my husband’s family!), the explorers of Antarctica and its wildlife and now into North America.  

4-H has been busy with forestry judging (tree identification, tree diseases and insect identification, saw timber estimation and pacing) and now wildlife judging, along with choir and other activities. One interesting activity my eighth grader found through 4-H is Walk Georgia – for each certain number of minutes of movement, one “unlocks” one of Georgia’s counties on an interactive map and with this, pertinent attractions for that county are listed. What a fun way to review all of the counties of our state and stay active!

It has been a busy year so far…

Blessings,
Carrie

Weeks One and Two of Fifth and Eighth Grade

Hard to believe we are finishing up the second week of school.  After eight years of homeschooling the grades, and I guess more  years if you count in the last kindergarten year, I have come to a few conclusions regarding scheduling that could be helpful to other parents:

1.  Schedule your school year and have your blocks cover LESS time than the weeks of school you have available.  For instance, if you have 35 weeks for school, plan blocks for 32  weeks.  This way, you can take advantage of being a homeschooler and go visit places around you, go to neighborhood farms, or whatever it is in your area that you would like to visit and do during the school year and  not feel guilty about “losing days”.  This is not as big an issue in grades 1-5, as these experiences work into the curriculum and there is less “bookwork”,   but I think it does become more of an issue in the upper grades.

2.  Schedule your starting date carefully.  For quite a while when my oldest was little, we always started after Labor Day.  Then I adjusted and started when the children in our neighborhood were starting .  This year, our start date was around then.  One child in the grades was enthusiastic to go back and the other child was decidedly not.  So, you may not make everyone happy, but I feel like this year we could have started a few weeks after we actually did.

Six Year Old Kindergarten – It is so much fun having a little kindergartner in the house!  We have worked with the stories of St. Herman of Alaska, St. Mary and this coming week St. Aidan as part of our family religious life.  We have had a very long circle with foot plays, fingerplays,, and songs based upon the them of the garden, especially sunflowers and insects.  I have taken the story of “Hans and the Beautiful Flower” and modified it for our season and geographic area and told it with silk marionettes, with wooden figures, and without props.   We have baked, painted, made seasonal crafts, and modeled with beeswax.  Kindergarteners,, at least mine, are such willing helpers around the house too, so all the cleaning and sweeping is part of our daily lives and tasks.  Our little guy is just naturally counting forwards and backwards as part of life, and picking out letters and sounds by himself.  So, I think when we get to first grade next fall it will be a fun year.  I already have an idea for a theme for first grade circulating in my head!  Other than that,  he is busy playing and being active.

Fifth Grade –  We started this year with a good, solid rhythm.  We have two opening verses, several tongue twisters and then math games with either bean bags, a ball or copper rods, along with a botany verse and sometimes a tie-in with grammar.  Then we normally review math, cursive writing and/or some spelling, and have a brief break for a read-aloud .  These past few weeks we have read Holling C. Holling’s “Tree in the Trail” and “Paddle to the Sea” and got acquainted  with maps of the United States… Then we have a little verse for  beginning our main lesson and we have been diving into botany.  Our first week of botany felt a little unsettled and rather lukewarm, but this second week focusing on fungi and moving into algae has been very good.  We had a mushroom hunt and  have been doing drawing, wet on wet painting, and clay modeling of mushrooms.  We have practiced quite a bit of shaded drawing.  Next week we have a field trip planned to a local garden, and I hope to keep things active the rest of this block.  I have more to say on this block since it is our second time through the material, and I hope to write a post on this topic. 

Eighth Grade – Our eighth grader was not ready to go back to school, so rather an unenthusiastic first week…although the work itself has been fine.  Our eighth grader really enjoys geometry and geometric constructions, but I am still really thinking about this Platonic Solids block.  One of the main pieces of this block that I learned in a workshop from our local Waldorf School is the transformation in clay from one Platonic Solid to another.  Both my daughter and I found this rather daunting and difficult.  Constructing these solids  through the construction of paper nets and making models was more successful, and I think working with dowels and  beeswax would be another way to approach this, although neither of these approaches has the fluidity of transforming one solid to another.  We tied each element into one of the elemental forces (air, wind, water, fire and finally the cosmic force) and into where it generally appears in nature, but it all still felt rather flat to me.  The resources we used  including “Making Math Meaningful”; “Mathematics in Nature, Space and Time” and the little book “Platonic Solids” by Sutton, plus my notes and experiences from the workshop I attended. We moved into Loci toward the end of this week – constructing curves from straight lines, such as the Parabola, etc.  “Making Math Meaningful” was helpful in this endeavor, although sometimes I find their instructions less than clear for non-mathematician me.

We have also been reviewing math, doing vocabulary, and reading “Across Five Aprils” and digging into literary analysis of this book.  We have also spent some extra time discussing some life skills – great conversation skills and personal finance.  I had grand plans to do World Geography for two afternoons a week to tie all the geography we have been doing since fifth grade together, but that hasn’t come together.  I will see if we can get that started next week.

We have been doing some handwork in the afternoons, and busy in general with horses, 4H, and swimming.

Hope you all have had a good start to your school year!

Blessings,

Carrie

Struggling With Preparing For Grade Five?

I am in the throes of watching another “drop-off” in Waldorf homeschooling.  This time around it is the eighth/ninth grade drop-off where many families chose not to homeschool anymore or choose more traditional academic routes.   It can be a lonely place to be, but yet in many ways this is reminiscent of the “drop-off” between fourth and fifth grade for many families (and in preparing for first grade before that!)  So, if you are sort of struggling to prepare for fifth grade, I would say you are in good company and  that it could possibly even be a natural part of the Waldorf homeschooling cycle for parents with children this age. I sometimes wonder if on a soul level we as parents are mirroring the “fractioning” off the fourth graders themselves are doing (remember fourth grade fractions and what that reflects in a class?!)

The reasons families have struggled is varied but seems to boil down into these categories:

Parenting:  Differing expectations of “protecting childhood” (much murkier than in the early years!)  now that the child has gone through the nine year change.  How much should the world really be opening up?

My caution:  Make sure the world is opening up in a nine/ten year old way, not a sixteen/seventeen year change way.  Ask parents who have teenagers if you are unsure!

The curriculum content:  Yup, I am going to say it out loudMany parents are uncomfortable regarding the amount of anthroposophy underlying the fifth grade curriculum.  Whether it is likening different plants to childhood development ( remember, anthroposophy relates to knowing the human being and how the world is a reflection within the human being) or the progression of Ancient Civilizations to reflect epochs and soul development, to the story of Manu and the Flood placing Manu in Atlantis, the content and the underlying pinnings can be challenging.

My suggestions:

  • Decide what is really authentic for you to bring as a homeschooling parent.  I personally do not use the story of Manu and the Flood beginning in Atlantis, for example, because it is not authentic and living for me.   I have had some conversations with friends  from India regarding these subjects and I want to feel comfortable presenting Ancient India in light of these conversations and thoughts.
  • Read some more and see with time and “settling” how things feel for you – which leads back to authenticity, but this time in a more objective and clarifying way then just dismissing things out of hand.  I don’t want to bury my head in the sand, and I do want to know what Steiner said about these things.  However, many of the things about Ancient Civilizations seem to be more in Steiner’s general writings, not the educational lectures.  The educational lectures talk a lot about Greece, for example.   It takes time to digest and to decide how deep one wants to read into these subjects.
  • Listen to veteran homeschooling mothers and what they discovered going through things.  Here is veteran Waldorf homeschooling mother Lauri Bolland’s take on botany. Well-worth reading!
  • Understand what Steiner said about the evolution of human consciousness.  Whether or not you agree with this is up to you, but again, food for thought.
  • Hang in there and breathe.  Sometimes the more you can be steady and bring things on a level you are comfortable with for your family, the next time around different things will click in different ways. Hold true to who you are and what your family culture is, and see how you can work with the curriculum as well.  To me, sixth and seventh grade are much more straightforward in a sense…

The academic side of the curriculum.  Some parents really leave Waldorf homeschooling behind because fifth grade is a big jump in content and in academic content.  If you feel pressured about where your child is and not feeling as if the curriculum is working for you in this arena, it is easy to think about abandoning it for another method of homeschooling that is either more traditionally academic or less academic.

My suggestion:  Remember, you are homeschooling this way for a reason. What drew you to it, how does it fit your child, be the teacher and get creative!

Tell me your stories about preparing for fifth grade.  Did you struggle?  How did it resolve?

Blessings,
Carrie

The Cost of Overscheduling Your Children

There was a very good post  recently over at “Becoming Minimalist” entitled “How To Slow Down Your Family’s Schedule” which did a great job in pointing out some of the problems with over-scheduling children in our world. I wrote a post some time ago about choosing time outside the home wisely.  In that article I mentioned several points, specifically in reference to the homeschooling community, where because children are not out at school all day, parents often feel the need to get their children out after homeschooling is done.  Here are a few of the discussion points:

  • I don’t think children under 12 need anything, although many parents of 11-12 year old girls have told me they felt their girls “needed something to do” whereas boys seemed to not care until age 14 or so.
  • Teens ages 13-15, somewhere in that time frame, really do seem to need something.  If you haven’t overloaded them with activities up until this point, then adding one or two activities may seem like enough to them.
  • Families with one child seem to vary on how they approach things – read the comments from the previous blog post.
  • Families with four or more children seem to pick activities where all children can participate at once, whereas families with one to three children seem to run around a lot more with the children all doing separate activities!
  • The DRIVER (parent) is often the one who is tired out!
  • Many parents noted they would love to stay home and have informal play with other children, but no children  are at  home in their neighborhood or they may live far out in the country and there are no children.  Children are interacting in structured activities these days, not in playing street games, tag and riding bikes like thirty years or so ago.

I think it could possibly take a full-on public health campaign in the United States to really change the perception of parents that there is value in UNSTRUCTURED play and to not sign their children up for every activity.  I am so glad to know so many of you are trendsetters and are pointing the way toward family being home!

If you want to pare down your schedule, here is a list of suggestions that other parents have told me works:

Discount activities that meet over the dinner hour.  Don’t be so willing to trade a structured, led by an adult outside your home for the benefits of the family dinner hour.  (and there are many benefits; there have been studies).

Let each child pick ONE thing per semester.  Many things now, at least in the United States, seem to run all year round, but see what you can find.

Delay the starting ages for doing activities outside the home.  “In our family, you get to pick an activity to do outside the home when you are “X” years old.”

Figure out when is YOUR day with your children if you are really busy with activities.  How many days do YOU need to be home to feel happy, to have the house the way you want it, etc.

You can try my method:  I put a big X over certain days of the week and do not allow myself to schedule anything on those days.  I have talked about this is in back posts.

Can you let go of guilt?  Every article, including the “Becoming Minimalist” post above, mentions how wonderful free, unstructured play with other children is, yet most parents say there are no children to play with!  Can you feel okay with your child playing by themselves or with their siblings for many days of the week?

The reality is that most homeschooling parents, at least most Waldorf or holistic homeschooling parents, do not want to be out every day and see the value in being home.  They see the value in space and time for development.

I think part of the problem is that most parents are working, and therefore no one is home and the child has to be somewhere.  Also, the ending time of school can vary and take away the down time of the afternoon.  For example, the middle school (grades 6-8) in my area get home around 5 PM, at which time they must eat and do homework.  So, part of this question I think becomes what do we do until economics – attitudes- amount of homework changes? A  tall social order!

Love to hear your thoughts and your thoughts on the “Becoming Minimalist” blog post.

Blessings,
Carrie