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,


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,




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!


Top Ten Tips For Homeschooling Waldorf Kindergarten

It is easy to get caught up in the external trappings of Waldorf kindergarten – the pretty silks, the wooden toys, and even things like the color of the day or the grain of the day or gnomes.  Not that we don’t love those things, but I think if that is where we stop, we are truly missing the heart of the Waldorf kindergarten.  So, here are my top ten tips regarding Waldorf kindergarten for the three to six year old at home:

1.  Be prepared to hold a daily and weekly rhythm, and firm and loving boundaries consistently.  This can be very difficult for parents as many parents have no rhythm to their days or are constantly on the go and too busy.  A healthy home life involves slowing down, being present, holding boundaries with love.  And doing it day after day.  This is our sacred work in parenting.

2.  Work provides the basis for healthy play; be prepared to stick to the rhythm of work even if your child does not participate. Older kindergarteners will participate; younger children may imitate in play; but either way the work is done because it is IMPORTANT work for the nourishment of the home.  My only caveat is that in the home environment we also should have the time, space and freedom for snuggles, for love, for being able to just be with our children.  It should all  have a balance to it, an inbreath and outbreath.  Conversely, if your whole day is following your child around and nothing is being led by you, then that is an area to look at and bring in the important work of the home.

3.  Create space and time for play; have warm natural objects for play.  It doesn’t have to be expensive wooden toys!  It can be boxes with stacks of seashells, stones and pinecones!  But the space and time for a child to learn how to play by themselves, from their own initiative, is important.  You can be a “character” in the play, but keep your hands busy.  This is your child’s work.

The other piece of this is the cues that we can take from our friends involved in farm and forest-based education.  Being in nature is the true place for beautiful play and the development of the senses and gross motor movement and core strength we are looking for in the kindergarten years.  This is the true preparation for the academic work that will take place in the grades.

4.  Your child needs more silence, more time to themselves,  and less of your hovering and words and direction.  It doesn’t mean that your children don’t need  you, but that it is part of the health of the individual child to have time and space to self-initiate, to learn in their own world of play as they imitate your work and your inner attitudes.

5.  Speak in verses and songs;  provide pictures with images as you speak with clear speech.  Silence provides time and space for your child to initiate his or her own words. Stories and songs are the food of the Waldorf Kindergarten.  The stories you make up about the little things around your home and neighborhood are the best stories.

6.  Protection is the key to the Waldorf Kindergarten – questions and answers and explanations for the child, more questions for the child, so many choices, the use of so many gadgets and screens to entertain children all takes away a child’s self-initiative, their own ability to modulate and self-regulate their own emotions, the unfolding of their own development, and their ability to imagine and problem-solve.  Protection is an important neuro-stimulator.

7.  Boundaries relax children.  They may kick and scream against it,  you may have to gently hold them while they scream and kick, but they will relax into it eventually.  Waldorf teachers vary on the use of the phrase “You may” do something versus  “You will” do something, but  no matter how you say it, a boundary still needs to happen.  A strong rhythm is the best boundary holder of all.

8. Help children learn how they can love and support each other.  We often don’t have this in the home if it is just a young child and us, without mixed age ranges. I don’t know as a three or four year old needs much in the way of “socialization” outside the family unit, but I think by five and six most children would like to have a friend or two and I think this is important for social development.  Building up community is important for the homeschooling adult and the children.  This may be done by you starting a homeschool group, a playgroup, or just an outside day at a park with friends. 

9.  And after saying all of this, I am going to sound paradoxical when I tell you that who we are is more important than what we do.  Are we truly loving and kind or do we bad mouth people behind their backs?  Do we approach our tasks lovingly and with joy or are we bitter and full of resentment?  How are we working to develop the inner qualities we want our children to emulate?  This involves taking up spiritual initiative within our own lives in whatever capacity that means to us.  Rudolf Steiner laid out a path with his ideas, I use a path of Christianity through my religious denomination, and different people have different ways, but the point is that you work on cultivating the spirituality that is within in you that connects you to other people and to the world and causes you to see how things are interrelated.

10.  Remember that the ultimate goal of Waldorf Education is that the human beings once again learn how to live with each other, that we can connect with the “other”, that we see how things are interrelated, that we can serve humanity with love.  It helps to begin with the end in mind.

I have very specific back posts about Waldorf in the Home for the one and two year old, the three and four year old, the five and six year old, along with posts on puppetry, festivals, stories, movement and gross motor development, the development of the hand, modeling and wet on wet painting.   You do not need a fancy curriculum.  Save your money for art supplies, and child-sized tools for work in nourishing the home or a membership to your state parks. 

Many blessings,


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…


Nimble Feet in Waldorf Education

The tasks of the first three years (to be upright and walk; speech and then thought) are intricately tied into Waldorf Education.  We see that the legs are connected with gravity and the surface of the earth, and as the feet move it is often with an inward swing in relation to the joints of the knee and the hip even when we walk in a straight line.  The right foot is seen as moving counterclockwise and the left foot moves clockwise as archetypal patterns.  You can read more about this in the book “Foundations of the Extra Lesson” by Joep Eikenboom.  As our hands become “free”,  and no longer needed for locomotion as we stand and walk upright, they become useful as tools, for expression, for work, for caring for another in lifting gestures as we react to sensory impressions.  Feet  remain in contact with the ground, for the most part, in a stretching movement for walking. Stretching and lifting provide a counterpoint for each other within the development of the body.  One is as important as the other; one is the balance for the other.

There are many books containing hand gesture games, fingerplays and other verses and songs involving the hands.  Yet, the development of the nimbleness of the feet is an important component of the stretching of the body and the development of the will.

There are many ways to incorporate feet into verses, songs and rhymes.  Almost any rhyme typically used for the hands can be used for the feet in some capacity with a little creativity and incorporated into circle time.  Stomping, being on tip toes, patting the soles of the feet are all wonderful.  Autumn brings to mind horses having horseshoes put on, cobblers mending and tending to shoes, giants stomping, gnomes stomping and walking up and down stairways to the inner earth, all manner of forest and farm animals trodding softly or loudly.   Traditional rhymes such as “Shoe a little horse, shoe a little mare” and “Cobbler, cobbler, mend my shoe” work well for foot plays and combinations of toe and foot wiggling, bearing weight on different sections of the foot, and using the feet across midline.

Older children can work with some of the exercises suggested in the book “The Extra Lesson”.  Some of the foot exercises tie into remedial work for children who are restless or children who have trouble sleeping or who suffer from nightmares and challenges with writing.  Foot dominance is tied to the dominance needed for writing and for a sense of spatial awareness in general.  The nimble foot, the nimble mind!


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.