Gathering Love

I was thinking specifically about new parents, and parents of children in the age of birth through seven when I wrote my post “Gathering Grace” recently.

One thing I think about with the children aged seven through fourteen, who really are in the heart of childhood, is that they should be gathering love. Continue reading

Are You Raising A Potted Plant?


There should be warning signs for parents on every child in America:  “Warning!  This is not a potted plant!  This is a human being that needs sunshine, free play in nature and lots of movement throughout the entire lifespan!  Warning!”


Too often our children today are treated like potted plants. Sterile, not moving, in a pot, watching only one view because the inherent nature of the human being to move is essentially ignored by our predominate educational system, our medical system, and our society at large. 


Children of all ages, birth through twenty-one, need to MOVE.  Children birth through age seven should be developing their will, their doing.  Movement also is learning.  I have read research estimates that 80 percent of the brain is devoted to taking in sensory information and deciding what to do with that information.    Almost any long-time teacher will tell you that most children are kinesthetic learners. 


We know from current research that school aged children need at least three to four hours a day of true rough and tumble outside play. Heavy work benefits ALL children and ALL adults.  We are wired for it!


In a classroom setting, just having ten minute breaks to really move every two hours can completely increase learning.  According to a 2006 study in the journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, children with ADHD who take movement breaks for ten minutes every two hours show a 20 percent improvement in “on-task behavior.”


In Waldorf Education, we look at movement to be about a third of our learning time if possible.  We play movement games for math, we walk our forms before we draw them, we have eurythmy and Bothmer gymnastics in the Waldorf School setting, we include folk dancing in the curriculum for certain grades, we have drama and gardening.


You CAN do this at home and it will not complicate your homeschool, but enhance it!


Simple ways to start:


Finally, are you moving in your free time?  Are you cleaning, gardening, working? Hiking and biking and swimming and skating?  Or are you sitting down on your computer?  Just sayin’.  Smile


Happy Moving!


Planning First Grade For Your Oldest Or Only Child

I have been thinking a lot about planning first grade as I am finishing up first grade for the second time, this time with my middle child. Going through this grade again made me think especially about the differences in doing this grade with a first (or only) child, and doing it again within a larger family dynamic.  So, if you are planning for first grade for your oldest or only child, I want to encourage you that you have quite a bit of leeway, to keep it simple, to not overplan and to make sure you are including some very fundamental things that may not have much to do with those letter stories or the math gnomes!

Oh yes, please be sure to include form drawing, knitting, crafts for the season, harvesting.

Yes, you want to go through the math blocks.  Yes, you want to introduce the letters – but many parents I speak with have oldest or only LITTLE GIRLS who are already reading.  So I say, concentrate on the artistic end of drawing the letters.  Let them write a sentence for each letter and practice really good handwriting, if your little girl is bent that way.  You can start word families in the last block or so of first grade; sight words generally are better left until second and third grade unless your child has a prodigious memory and is already doing it.  Let your child read for pleasure, but you continue to read aloud to this child too.  Make music and sing!  Do chores and work around your home.

But please schedule time for the most fundamental skills of first grade:  movement and getting the child in his or her body, time out in nature, and social interaction with other children.  Does your child do well with only one other child?  What does your child do in a small group?  Are they good with children older or younger or not?  Do you have a community you do things with?  Continue reading

Rhythm: Part Four

I talk to so many mothers who have children of multiple ages and who are very concerned as to  how to fit in multiple main lessons, or what to do with their children when their ages are spread out between the Early Years and the grades.  It can be daunting, and many veteran Waldorf homeschoolers say that you cannot schedule that many main lessons without going insane….but then how to do it?

Let’s start at the beginning.  If you have a first or second grader, and the rest of your children are under the age of 7, then life should be relatively easy.  You can often think in terms of outside time together, a circle for all, a story geared to the kindergartener, perhaps the main lesson for the first or second grader, nap and quiet time (and perhaps do something else for fifteen to twenty minutes with the first or second grader during quiet time),  the work of the day geared toward the kindergartener but including all, and finish with playing outside.   My friend Sheila has a lovely post about her rhythm with her fourth grader and her Early Years child here:

With two children involved in  main lesson work, I think it is still possible to either put them “together” if they are close in age…ie, a first grader and a second grader could both hear folk tales, but work on slightly different academic levels.  If the two children needing main lessons are further apart in age, then you may want to have separate main lesson times.  Then for other lessons, such as foreign language or handwork, you could combine the children but have them work at their own levels.    I think all of that is possible with only two children needing main lessons, even with younger children in tow.  I think this is the sort of thing you must jump in and try and switch around as needed.  It is daunting when I go to the homes of my homeschooling friends who are not using Waldorf methods and their homeschooling is a lot of workbooks, worksheets, independent reading textbooks, and videos.  Waldorf homeschooling is different, and sometimes only by doing it can we wrap our heads around how it will work for our family and what that will look like!

I will have a fifth grader, a second grader, and a two year old turning three in the fall.  I am planning my essential rhythm to look like this:  Continue reading

First Grade Handwork





This is not a typical first grade project, but my first grader really wanted a stuffed gnome “big enough to sleep with”.  She worked on this gnome once a week from about the end of August or so until the end of March, with some small breaks for wet felting projects here and there.  She knit all the different multi-colored squares, and her handwork teacher in our homeschool co-op knit the face of the gnome and did the sewing and stuffing (my first grader also did the beard).  This is a sweet project for a child who has patience to make something this large.


Many blessings,


Late To Waldorf? Overwhelmed?

If you are coming in late to Waldorf homeschooling or feel overwhelmed and overrun by dogma, I have a solution for you!  Please read the lectures given by Rudolf Steiner compiled in “The Renewal of Education.”  This set of lectures, given to a group of Swiss public educators only eight months after the first Waldorf school formed, is so accessible. The foreword is written by a favorite Waldorf educator of mine, Eugene Schwartz, in which he compares and contrasts Waldorf Education to John Dewey and Maria Montessori’s work and sheds light on the hallmarks of Waldorf Education:  the self –renewal and self-development of the teacher, the balance that feeling provides in education, and the approach of Waldorf education to the holistic child.

Waldorf education approaches the child from four different avenues. Continue reading

First Grade Wet On Wet Painting For Saint David’s Day

Today is one of my favorite feast days:  The Feast of St. David of Wales!  There are many wonderful stories about Saint David.  I decided today to use an element from one of the many stories about St. David to bring wet on wet watercolor painting to our first grade daughter.

There seems to be a lot of confusion and mystery regarding wet on wet painting for those families new to Waldorf.  Watercolor painting, in and of itself, has been around for quite some time – think of brush painting from Asia, and the watercolors of the German Renaissance Master Albrecht Durer.   Waldorf Education has a beautiful of approaching watercolor painting for children in the kindergarten and the grades.

In first grade, we go through each color one at time by itself  (which is very beautiful and reverent….I mean, in this day of visual bombardment how often do we get to experience the pure beauty and joy of one color?), then two colors and then some first grade teachers will move into three colors.  Eric Fairman , Master Waldorf grades teacher, discusses the approach he took in his first grade Path of Discovery guide if you are looking for more information.  If you are looking for other resources to help you discover wet on wet painting, please do have a look at this back post:

So, today I had heavy watercolor paper soaking in a tray of water whilst I told some brief stories about St. David, including how he went into Wales to spread the message of the Gospel, how the monastery he founded was very simple where the monks pulled the ploughs for sowing the fields, how he and his monks ate no meat, and how St. David was called the “waterman” not only because he would only drink water but because he would often pray submerged up to his neck in cold water in those Welsh lakes.  I also talked about the miracle of the ground lifting him up so people could hear his message.

Then, to lead up to our painting, we ended with the story of  the battle between the Welsh and the invading Saxons. Legend has it that the Welsh were losing until St. David pointed out that the dress of the two sides was so similar they could not be told apart in battle. He suggested each of the Welsh put a leek in their hat or dress, and the Welsh went on to win the battle.  When a Welsh leek flowers, it looks like a daffodil, so we worked together to create the beautiful colors of the daffodil in our painting.

First we painted our whole page yellow.

(There was once a beautiful daffodil standing as bright as the sun itself.  The daffodil was so lovely that everything in God’s creation wanted to be close to this sunny, lovely daffodil.)

Even the sky moved closer in to see the daffodil, but dared not to get too close to touch the daffodil.  The sky did not want to mar the daffodil’s radiant springtime beauty!

(Paint blue creeping in at the edges, round and round on the page, circling in, until a patch of yellow daffodil is still present).

And all the sky, and all the meadow, rejoiced in the daffodil’s beautiful light.

(If you look carefully at this painting, you can see the darker blue on the outer border, green like meadow as the blue and yellow mixed, with a yellow center as a daffodil).

The main thing to wet on wet painting is to just get the supplies and paint! Paint yourself first and then bring it to your children!  They will thank you!

If you need more help, here are two free resources I suggest:  (multiple parts)

and this resource by Sarah Baldwin, with multiple parts:

Many blessings and joy!