Finding the Balance Between Being A Parent and Being A Homeschool Teacher

What is this elusive balance of which people speak about?

We are all searching for it, like it is the holy grail (that no one can really find).

So here are the truths about balance as I see it, after many years of homeschooling and preparing to graduate our first homeschool graduate  in the spring:

There are seasons.  Some seasons of parenting are just busier than others, and some seasons of teaching are busier than others.  There were years were I went to every homeschooling conference I could find, read every homeschooling book and lecture I could find because I was hungry for it all.  With Waldorf homeschooling, I had to learn the arts-based end of things that I had never learned or refine the skills I did have.  It was a lot of work.

Some seasons are more intensive in parenting.  Our two high schoolers  really, really need me right now.  Perhaps not as much for academics –  I farmed some outside classes out for our oldest high schooler, and our middle child is technically  homeschooling but is in a hybrid school so I don’t really feel as if this is the homeschooling with all the planning and teaching I am used to! – but emotionally availability is important for our adolescents. I think as parents, we always want to be the soft space for our children to land.  So, it can be a constant check-in – do they need me more as their emotional guide right now than as their homeschool teacher?  Do I have the bandwidth to do both well right now, or do I need to focus on one area?

It’s okay to not do everything.  Outer balance for the family and yourself comes at a cost; there is a cost to wholeness.  Sometimes you have to say no to something in order to be able to go away with your spouse for a long-needed, long-neglected few nights away because you have both been just pushing and grinding out 12-14 hour days.  Sometimes you need to say no to something fun because you really need to be home and regrouup. Sometimes you need to say no to push yourself out of the house and connect with community. I think this is why there will never be a defining “this is how you do balance” because everyone needs something different for their own kind of balance on the outside.

Balance for the inner self is another kind of balance.  There is a lot of talk about self-care and also about designing a life that doesn’t feel exhausting.  Again, there are seasons in life and some seasons are just exhausting and you get through the best you can.  Balance for self can really be divided into not just caring for our physical bodies, but for our emotional and spiritual selves as well.

Investing in this for ourselves takes time, and often takes the support of our family and friends.  It is hard to invest in self-care if you can never catch a minute to yourself, especially if you have been running on empty for years.  The emotional toll of parenting and homeschooling can be high – the constant worry of am I doing enough?  Am I not doing enough?  What does the future hold?   My main suggestion in this is to look at sustainable routines and habits when your children are smaller that involve more than just you doing and directing everything – sustainability that involves others besides you sets a great habit as your children grow and their lives outside of the home become more intensive and more adults are involved. If you are a single parent, do you have friends like are like family?  Get over not wanting to ask for help!  Plan some time for just you to recoup in a rhythmic way – weekly? monthly? quarterly?    You will be a better parent and teacher for it, and the years can fly by with no time to touch base within yourself or with your partner alone if you don’t plan at all. (And if you make this your resolution for 2020, I want to hear about it and how it goes!)

Know yourself, and know your children.  That is the true key to providing balance.  Some children are self-motivated; some are not.  Some thrive on a more strict schedule; some don’t.  If you know yourself well and your children well balance is much clearer to see.

If you are a new homeschooler, my greatest piece of advice goes back to sustainable routines and rhythms for the family.  You can plan all these wonderful lessons and take all weekend, and every night before teaching to work on these plans (and you may have a very compliant child that will follow your lesson plans – many of us are not that lucky!), but do not neglect your greater role within your family and in your own humanity.  You are more than a homeschool teacher, you are a wonderful parent and human being who also deserves to have a life outside of homeschooling if you want that (some are perfectly happy solely homeschooling, and that’s awesome too! However, I think for many of us close to 50 or early 50’s, we are earning for something more outside of that. Just my experience. If you are in your 20’s to mid 40’s, this may not resonate).  For some, this outside life may be small, like seeing a friend a few times a month or it may be large, like homeschooling parents who still work or are in  school or who are very active in their communities.  Only you can decide how that balance will play out, but you have the choice in how you do it.  Don’t just keep piling more on your plate without conscious thought.  Know yourself and what really fuels you as this is your life too, not just your children’s life.

I would love to hear your ideas about balance in homeschooling and parenting.

Many blessings,
Carrie

 

 

Supporting Young Adults Past High School Graduation

This is such a hot topic amongst my friends right now since many of us have young adults in the age range of 18-20.  We have debated responsibiity and freedom, future plans and goals or lack thereof, and how we help our young adults transition into being healthy, happy, independent adults.

We all kind of know the options – four year college, two year college, vocational or trade school, military, gap year, or full time employment.  The teenaged brain isn’t a mature one, and many teens have developmental needs that impact the timeline of further independence as well.  There really aren’t easy answers, and every young adult is different in what they need in terms of support.  It can get a little crazy at this age and almost becomes a pressurized comparision time just like it did way back in the  baby and toddler years of who is sleeping through the night first, who is walking first – only now it is who knows what they might like to do for a career, are they going to college, if they aren’t going to college what does that transition to independent living look like?

Things are different now than when we started out.  Financial constraints are real.  A full time job that pays federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour would require a 94 hour work week in order to afford a one bedroom apartment (typically).  You can see a breakdown of this by state here.  Also keep in mind employees that are tipped could make more or less than the minimum wage.  I also find many young adults who are used to a certain standard of living from their family (my area is a suburb that definitely has a mix of poverty and wealthy), are reluctant to try to branch out on their own  because they essentially want and expect what their parents have and probably built up over many years.

Student debt is real.  The student debt figures from 2017 stood at $1.4 trillion overall, with the average student loan debt in 2017 being $34,000.  Some students, depending on their major, have reported being underemployed or with difficulty entering the job market.

So, perhaps for some of these reasons, for  the first time in 130 years, according to the Pew Research Center, those 18-34 are more likely to be living with parents than married or living with a partner (see article here).  There was also a  super interesting article here at The Washington Post that pointed out another potential cause.  It suggested that there are many young able bodied men without college degrees that are happy being underemployed or unemployed, living with their parents and playing video games.   In part, this article said, ” The paper attributes one-third to one-fifth of the decline in work hours by less-educated young men to the rising use of technology for entertainment — mainly video games. The new study has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal, and the researchers say they are continuing to refine the precise figures. But other prominent economists who reviewed it for this story said it raises important questions about why so many young men have abandoned the workforce….[ He added], “They find evidence that a portion … of the decrease in work time of less-educated young men can be a result of the appeal of video games.”

So, if you are supporting your 18-19 year olds, or you are coming up to that age in a few years, what are some things you could be thinking about for this transitional period?

1 – Actually making it a transition.  Can they pay you rent if they are living with you?  How will you handle that?  What about responsibilities around the house?  Do they hold a job?  Why or why not?  Are they playing video games in place of employment?

2 – How can you help them with further training for employment?  What do they need to go to trade school or a two or four year college? Or will they work a job and get on the job training?  Is the cost of training/education realistic debt-wise in comparison to a salary that can be made?

3-What are their relationships like?  How can they tap into community? Is there something beyond screens that is healthy and satisfying?

4- Are you rescuing them?  The best way to prepare for life isn’t just a high school diploma or a GED, but  to learn is from mistakes and natural consequences.

5 – Do you trust your young adults to create their own lives, even if it looks different from what you envisioned?  

6- Do you know your own boundaries? What works for you and your family in relation to your young adult.  What are your expectations, your attitude, your ideas?  It’s easier to think about this before the situation comes up and you are in the middle of it.

Everyone has different stories and experiences.  Leave me a note in the comments and tell me what worked or didn’t work!  Would love to hear your tips and ideas!

Blessings,

Carrie

Eighth Grade Meteorology

I will be the first to admit meteorology isn’t my favorite subject and I don’t think I am the best at teaching it.  I love oceanography though, and I usually place meteorology at the end of that block in eighth grade for about a week and a half.  My resources for this block usually include whatever used college meteorology textbook I have on hand, an understanding of the human being in front of me who is in eighth grade (what would be appealing?  Interersting?  Enlivening?  Meets that need for the idea of revolution or rebellion ore extremes?)  And, I think about all the past experiences we have had with weather throughout all the early grades – this is the culminating experience in a way in understanding all of that.

So I usually start with an opening on an extreme weather incident.  In the past, I have used Hurricane Katrina because it was in the Southeast where I live, and it was easy to trace the human impact of the aftermath right to our own city.   I think one of the main points to get across is that the United States has the greatest variety of weather of any country of the world.  Severe weather events such as tornadoes, flash floods, and intense thunderstorms, as well as hurricanes and blizzards, and more frequent and more damaging than in any other nation.  The weather has a strong effect on world economy as well as by influencing agriculture, energy use, water resources, transportation and industry.

Then I usually talk about  the Earth as a system, and how we can break Earth down into solid Earth, but also the water portion (hydrosphere) and the gaseous envelope we call the atmosphere. These parts are all interrelated, interacting, or interdependent parts that form a complex whole and that we, as human, influence in our actions.

Usually I spend an entire day or more on atmosphere, how it is divided into four layers  on the basis of temperature, the interplay of energy between the atmosphere and Earth.  I typically will end the day with a question:  why is the face of our planet ever changing and the lunar surface hasn’t appreciably changed in nearly 3 billion years?  (so the answer runs along the lines of….  if Earth had no atmosphere like the Moon, our planet would not only be lifeless, but many of the processes and interactions that make the surface such a dynamic place could not operate.  Without weathering and erosion we would more closely resemble the moon).

We can review the four layers of atmosphere and dive into the troposphere, the bottom layer in which we live.  This is the chief focus of meteorologists because it is in this layer that essentially all important weather phenomena occurs.  Almost all clouds and precipitation as well as our violent storms are born here.   We can talk about the different cloud formations and cloud identification.

Usually then I move into how nature doesn’t like extremes.  You might think that nature is nothing but extremes, especially extremes of weather, but in nature extremes occur as nature attempts to correct an imbalance or release stress.  The Earth/Atmosphere/Ocean System is an example of this.  the radiation from the sun warms the ground, and the atmosphere is heated from below, which results in an imbalance:  cold air, warm ground.  Stress builds as natures tries to distribute the heat, resulting in a storm.

All of that takes about a week to really delve into detail.  We usually do interesting chalk drawings of clouds, I usually do some little weather experiment demonstrations, and I usually assign a report on the human impact of Hurricane Katrina so we work on that.

The next week, I usually talk about fog, rain, snow, sleet and then move into  winds.  Why do we have wind?  Of course wind is air flowing from areas of higher pressure to lower pressure, but if the Earth did not rotate, and if there were no friction, air would flow directly from areas of higher pressure to areas of lower pressure.  Because both factors exist, wind is controlled by combination of forces – pressure-gradient force, the Coriolis effect, friction.

 

Then we talk about more extreme weather.  Thunderstorms are associated with cumulonimbus clouds that generate heavy rainfall, thunder, lightning, and occasionally hail.  Annually, the United States experiences about 100,000 thunderstorms and millions of lightning strikes. We talk about lightening and thunder and move into superstorms and tornadoes.  Tornadoes are  violent windstorms that take the form of a rotating column of air or vortex  with maximum winds  approaching 480 kilometers per hour.   There is a tornado intensity scale, and then we usually talk about the difference between tornadoes and hurricanes and how a hurricane forms and decays.  I usually end with ideas about weather forecasting and plant the seeds for a block about renewable energy and  climate change.  For that block, I pretty much base the climate change part around the book  The Science of Climate Change: A Hands-On Course.  It isn’t “Waldorf” but it is accurate information and digestible for middle schoolers. To me, this block isn’t usually in the typical Waldorf School eighth grade curriculum, but it is the most difficult

Cheers,

Carrie

 

 

 

Science in the Waldorf Curriculum

It’s been a long time since I wrote a post about science within the Waldorf Curriculum.  You can see the post explaining the basics of the science curriculum throughout the grades, and the Goethean approach to science in the Waldorf curriculum.  Today, much like  I have laid out the scope and sequence in many areas of the curriculum, such as Africa or Latin America through the curriculum, here is an overview as I would like to see it for American Waldorf homeschoolers:

Grade One and Grade Two:  These blocks typically are about experiences in nature, naked eye observation of nature.  I would like to see blocks such as form drawing based in the ecosystem in which the student lives.  Other ways children work with nature in first and  second grade includes gardening, cooking, care of pets, outdoor play, festival celebrations, toy-making, observation of the sky  and weather with the naked eye.  First Peoples tales regarding nature phenomena are appropriate in these grades, especially second grade.  I would also like to see an emphasis on herbal gathering and  preparation of herbal products in these grades.  In second grade, I usually do a block based on seasonal changes with poetry and very simple explorations in earth, water, air, fire in second grade – and then circle back around to this in fourth grade.

Grade Three:  Based on the stories of the Hebrew People and, in the American Waldorf homeschooling experience, the First Peoples, we find knowledge and develop skills in homebuilding, gardening and farming, textiles and dyeing.  I also think there should be a large emphasis on cooking in this grade as this is the basis for chemistry in the upper grades.  Another block that could be moved forward is the idea of bringing weather phenomena into greater consciousness.  Nature stories from the First Peoples continue to be important.

Grade Four:  In this block we begin the sequence of relating man to the different parts of the natural world; in this case Man and Animal.  This is tied into careful observation making, and yes, perhaps the first real report that is written by the student.  I think this block should also include a large part about the state’s animals and habitats, which is a mixture of local geography and Man and Animal.  I also like to spend several weeks on the ocean and ocean animals, and this can also tie back into the weather done in third grade.  You can also add an extra block for special areas of interest, such as birds of prey or African animals or insects.

In this grade, I like to do  a block that echoes second grade on earth, air, wind, and fire.  This year will be using the book  “Earth, Water, Fire and Air” by Walter Kraul.  The third block I like to do, again, as an American, is to talk about Benjamin Franklin and his work as a scientist and do some of the simple observations around magnetism and electricity. This may be early compared to the traditional Waldorf curriculum, but I think it could fit well by teaching through story the discoveries of Benjamin Franklin and it introduces an American figure.. #sorrynotsorrytodeviate

Housebuilding, gardening, farming, textiles, cooking, baking,  dyeing can all contiue.  I also make the fourth day of our school experience a “nature day”.  This year we will be studying different types of birds each week.  I also like to keep telling Native American nature tales, especially about the natural formations in our state, which is a precursor to the mineralogy in sixth grade.

I also like to do a weekly health lesson in fourth grade, even though that isn’t required by my state.  Oak Meadow’s weekly health lessons for K-3 grade can be expanded upon for your fourth grader if you decide to go this route.

Grade Five:  Botany is usually the science scheduled for this year, but I think you can expand it a bit and talk about habitats and keystone species in your area and what plant habitats they depend upon.  I also like to bring in biographies of naturalists and botanists, particularly George Washington Carver and women ecologist and naturalists. Botany of course leads into herbalism and the insect world as well, so you could have a whole block that builds on what you did in first through fourth grade with herbs.

Fifth grade also is a great time for talking about general inventions across the world – the wheel, transportation and how it evolved, even printmaking since that ties into botany.  It can be short, and I think you get this piecemeal talking about different ancient civilizations and what each civilization innovated and created, but it’s nice to have it all in one place.  This could be a short two week kind of block, but it’s a nice introduction to all the historical changes the student will be seeing in grades 6-8.  I also like the idea of a tunnel and bridges block and feel could fit well into this year.

We keep on working with cooking, gardening, building, dyeing, and  for our last child I plan to continue weekly health lessons.

Grade Six:  Mineralogy,  physics, and naked eye astronomy ( I use the persepctive of Native American astronomy)  are the typical sciences studied this year, but there are a few extras I like to add on.   In mineralogy, I like to talk about dinosaurs and fossils which can be used for exposure to ideas such as evolution and the  geologic time record, and I think this time around we will be discussing climate change.  In physics and in later chemistry, I always include biographies and particularly biographies of women and people of color.

I  like to include Greek and Roman Science – usually aqueducts, tunnels, watermills.  One thing I have toyed with is doing an entire block on medicine or based on Galen and the Gateway to Medicine.  This could tie into any health studies required in your state.  I am contemplating this for the next time I teach sixth grade!

Lastly, I think there should be an ecology unit in this grade – general biomes, food webs, energy pyramids, etc.   It goes well with mineralogy and the previous studies of botany and zoology, and sets a great foundation for seventh and eighth grade studies.  You could also do a great block on insect life in this grade or go further into zoology.

In this grade, using the fourth day for nature studies can go either way. By seventh grade, I usually don’t have the time to devote a whole main lesson period to nature studies alone and still keep a four day week.  Sometimes I like the idea of working more “workshop style” for nature studies in seventh and eighth grade – ie, 2-3 days on a particular nature study topic.

Grade Seven:  This grade is jam-packed full of science, with blocks in physiology, physics (usually hydraulics or aerodynamics or both), astronomy using optics, and chemistry. You can also work a lot of science into the history blocks – for example, optics and the Islamic Golden Age.   I would like to see a zoology block added here to touch on more traditional life sciences subjects and more animals from fourth grade, and if there was time I would love to see a block about climate change in either this grade or eighth grade.

I also think it is very important to work on reading non-fiction passages about science and working to understand them well in seventh and eighth grade.  This is an important skill for research paper writing and for high school.

Grade Eight:  There is a lot of science in this grade, including more chemistry, physiology, and physics, along with meteorology (and I  include oceanography with the meteorology).  I think part of this could block could be the biography of Marie Tharp and the theory of continental drift.

I think there should be a block on climate change and  renewable energy and also a general look at water conservation (Project WET could be a good starting point).  Another possible interesting block could be one on the biographies of Charles Darwin, Robert FritzRoy and Jean-Baptiste Lamarck.

This is also a good place to put a computer science kind of block in preparation for high school – understanding how to build a computer, how one works. It could be quite wonderful to build this block around Ada Lovelace.

Just a few ideas for my favorite subject!

Many blessings,
Carrie

planning the first two blocks of fourth grade

So, now we are up to the nitty gritty of planning.  Details on that in just a moment!

I have posted a few updates on Facebook at The Parenting Passageway page and on Instagram @theparentingpassageway, but here is an official updated planning post for fourth grade and where I am now…

  • I have laid out our school year and matched each week of our school year to a main lesson block topic
  • I looked at our “big picture rhythm” and thought ahead about festivals and birthdays
  • I have laid out a general rhythm for the school week – Mondays are journal writing and movement (and on selected Mondays, writing a rough draft of a letter in place of a journal entry); Tuesdays are yoga and journal writing; Wednesdays are  movement and the day for our fourth grader to cook dinner; Thursdays are mindfulness games, cleaning day, painting day, and instead of main lesson we will have nature studies or STEM kinds of activities or both.  Fridays we take off.
  • I made a quick list of each block by week on a legal pad and jotted down some brainstorming notes for practice ideas and projects.
  • I gathered many of my resources and grouped them into piles  by block or topic.
  • My block list for fourth grade, with one block still undecided and now I am leaning towards inventors because my son is really interested in birds and engineering.
    • August – Math Review of Measurement/Fractions (will introduce fractions over the summer) – I think with birds (American folk tales, which I switched – originally it was in November)
    • September – Cherokee and African-American tales leading into local geography
    • September – Man and Animal 1 (2 weeks) (tales from Lawrence Yep’s The Rainbow People, added)
    • October – Man and Animal 2  (tied into animals of our state, keystone species of our state, review of geography) (tales of the beginning of The Dwellers of Asgard in Padraic Colum’s book, “Children of Odin”)
    • November – Math – Geometry, review of fraction skills – adding and subtracting fractions (soul food tales of Odin from “The Children of Odin” by Padraic Colum)
    • December – Tales of Thor (changed, tales from  D’Aularies’ Book of Norse Myths),The Dream of King Alfdan from Isabel Wyatt in “Legends of the Norse Kings” , knots and forms
    • January – Math, Fractions – Norse Myths as “soul food” and we will draw or paint off of those (tales of Loki, Loki’s punishment, the Twilight of the Gods)
    • February –  Birds of Prey, report writing
    • March – Weland the Smith (undecided and at the moment I can’t seem to locate either book in my house since I am in the midst of cleaning out our school room.  End of year woes).  Or Inventors. My little guy would love a block on constructing bridges or something like that.  Totally not Waldorf, but I am looking at my child.
    • April – Earth, Air, Wind, and Fire (soul food tales from The Golden Stag by I. Wyatt); Camping
    • May – African Tales (tales from the San, tales from the Bantu people, Yoruba myths)

So, now we put the nitty-gritty together for each block, using the daily rhythm I have already created to know our rhythm, and knowing the parts of a main lesson block.

First, I read the resources for each block and jot down ideas on a form I made up.   I read my resources with ideas for the GOALS I want to see accomplished each block.  I don’t think you can effectively TEACH a block just by picking out story content.  Telling stories isn’t the same as teaching, so there is an idea of “soul food” – these are the stories that are needed for the development of the archtypal human being, and then there is the idea of what goals (skills, foundations, capacities) that need to be developed during the block.

So, for our first block I pulled from  “Math Wizardry for Kids” (Barron’s); “Making Math Meaningful:  Fun With Puzzles, Games, and More!”, “Math Games and Activities” by Claudia Zaslavsky; “Introducing Fractions” by Marilyn Burns.  I usually check in with Pearson’s “Teaching Student-Centered Mathematics” and York’s “Making Math Meaningful” for general progression and ideas as well.   I don’t tend to use a lot of stories in math for fourth grade, but instead use hands on activites.  I will tie in some of our math hands-on work to our bird of the week since our fourth grader loves birds!

I pulled forms from “Creative Form Drawing Workbook 1” by Angela Lord.

Our stories came from “With A Wig, With A Wag,”edited by Jean Cothran.  These we will model, paint, draw from each week during our extra art lessons.  I do this because for me, unless it is geometry, I find it difficult to really work on art with a fractions block. Just me.

I decided what birds we are going to study (one kind each week) for our bird loving little student and what other nature we will be looking at for our Thursday Nature Day.

I pulled together ideas for music, art, cooking, movement, yoga, mindfulness.

It’s a little jumbled on the form I created, but I can follow it.  You can see a picture of a few sample weeks on FB and IG.

For our second block, local geography, I pulled from the same form drawing book and math games books.  I used “The Mapmaker’s Daughter” by MC Helldorfer for for the idea of maps;  and then my own notes from going through this grade two previous times regarding local geography.

Second, I plugged in ideas for our opening verses, practice work,  review of our main lesson/practice, main lesson work, closing verse, lunch verses,  our art/crafting/music/cooking slot after lunch and our Thursday birds/nature/survival skills.  I think I will be writing out ideas for movement separately.

Third, I have to write some things out for main lesson.  Some things are like refer to page X in a certain book, but sometimes I have to write out a story or a narrative about something.  For example, I have narratives written out for the different types geographic provinces of our state, the first settlers in our state, and the first staple crops of our state.  You can do this ahead of time or the week before.  Just know what you need a narrative about and which sections really need that!  When you get into upper level grades, pretty much everything needs a narrative.  For something like math, which I approach more hands on and less story like in fourth grade, I might not need the narrative, but I will need an idea of how to progress math within each lesson.

Then the fun part of putting things in my own main lesson book begins!  More on that later.

Blessings,
carrie

my teen is lonely!

It’s itneresting that I hear this not only from homeschooled families, but also from families who have teens in a school setting, and probably more from the families with teens in school.  The teen years can be hard in that teens are often figuring out who they are.  Cliques and bullying can be an huge issue, especially in the middle school grades of 6-8, despite everything said at school about inclusion and being kind to everyone. IN high school, this seems to dissipate, but friendships often fade away and shift, particularly around tenth grade typically.

It can be hard for parents to navigate this time.  Sometimes it can be hard to tell what is loneliness versus moodiness versus being withdrawn versus being anxious and depressed.  Teens may be moody (and when does that line cross from moody to depressed?), and  they can withdraw from groups of friends they previously enjoyed to be with a new group of friends (which many times is around 10th grade).  Maybe the teens feel as if they tried many of the clubs or things geared to their interests, but for whatever reasons, they didn’t make good friends out of it.

I have read some sources that say lonely teens go on to be lonely adults because they don’t learn how to function in groups and practice social skills.  Well, if that isn’t panicking to the parents of a  lonely teen, I am not sure what is!  And I don’t think that is necessarily true.  I have a different take. I think as human beings we are always changing, always growing, and that it doesn’t have to be that way.  Change is possible.  Some people are more introverted,  and if your teen is, they may be happy with a smaller circle of friends both as a teen and as an adult.  But if your teen is lonely, I think change can come  in the upper years of high school and in college, and often these teens garner friends for life in a different setting.

In dealing with this situation, I think it is very important that first and foremost your teen spend time with you and the family.  This connection is loving and grounding.  It may not replace the  friendships and peers that they are lonely for, but they will  know they will always be loved and that the family is the first place of friendship.  

And,  in this connection and grounding with us, we can help facilitate. No, you can’t set up  really set up playdates for mid to older teens, but you can talk to your teen about how sometimes we have a circle of acquaintances and that it is great to reach out to someone you don’t know as well to see if they would like to do something.  Providing that bit of emotional coaching can be really helpful.  I have seen that many teens are lonely, but none of them seem especially willing to reach out!  That is so hard.  We can also encourage jobs, volunteer work, and activities where teens spend a good amount of time with other teens for a common goal – sports, music, theater, robotics, speech and debate – whateve

For those of you with younger teens, you  can encourage groups of friends going to do something instead of having just only one friend that everything is done with.  This helps for the high school years where things dissipate a bit more. Tenth grade is particular seems to be an age where many friendships fall apart and the social circle shifts.  You can help your younger teen explore interests and connect with peers over that interest.

I would also make sure you as the parent are not projecting your wishes for your teen’s social life on to them.  Make sure that they are actually seeking friends before you offer any words or actions to them.  They may be happy with the way things are, and it is up to us to respect that.  So make sure it is true loneliness, and not just you projecting that you think they are lonely!

Lastly, teens connecting over the Internet has replaced much of the going and hanging out somewhere, so I think always being aware of your teen’s digital connections is important, whether they are lonely and seeking friends on-line or that they feel their social needs are met through on-line venues. It really is open to us to keep the lines of communication open on that and to set and use the  boundaries we set as a family regarding media usage.

I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions for parents dealing with their lonely teens.

Blessings and love,

Carrie

 

Updated Fourth Grade Planning

I have posted a few updates on Facebook at The Parenting Passageway page and on Instagram @theparentingpassageway, but here is an official updated planning post for fourth grade and where I am now…

  • I have laid out our school year and matched each week of our school year to a main lesson block topic
  • I looked at our “big picture rhythm” and thought ahead about festivals and birthdays
  • I have laid out a general rhythm for the school week – Mondays are journal writing and movement (and on selected Mondays, writing a rough draft of a letter in place of a journal entry); Tuesdays are yoga and journal writing; Wednesdays are  movement and the day for our fourth grader to cook dinner; Thursdays are mindfulness games, cleaning day, painting day, and instead of main lesson we will have nature studies or STEM kinds of activities or both.  Fridays we take off.
  • I made a quick list of each block by week on a legal pad and jotted down some brainstorming notes for practice ideas and projects.
  • This week I gathered many of my resources and grouped them into piles  by block or topic.

In my last post here, I detailed the order of my blocks.  So I started here:

  • August-  Man and Animal 1 which will flow into….
  • September/October – Local Geography and Man and Animal 2 – we will be looking at the regions of our state through habitats and our local animals/camping
  • November – Math/Introduce fractions
  • December- Geometry/ Form Drawing – most likely will draw from Viking Hero Tales by Isabel Wyatt
  • January – Norse Mythology
  • February – Birds of Prey (special interest of my student)- each morning I am going to try to work in fraction problems related to birds!  That should be interesting!
  • March – Weland the Smith – rather dark tale, but I think our son will love it.
  • April – African Tales/African Hero Tales/camping trips
  • May – Math in the Garden (leading into Botany for Fifth Grade)/ camping trips

And this is where I currently am from that:

  • August – Math Review of Measurement/Fractions (will introduce fractions over the summer) – I think with birds
  • September – Cherokee and African-American tales leading into local geography
  • September – Man and Animal 1 (2 weeks)
  • October – Man and Animal 2  (tied into animals of our state, keystone species of our state, review of geography)
  • November – Math – Geometry, review of fraction skills – adding and subtracting fractions (soul food American folk tales)
  • December – Thorkill of Iceland or Viking Tales, undecided, knots and forms
  • January – Math, Fractions – Norse Myths as “soul food” and we may draw or paint off of those
  • February –  Birds of Prey, report writing
  • March – Dream of King Alfdan or Weland the Smith (undecided and at the moment I can’t seem to locate either book in my house since I am in the midst of cleaning out our school room.  End of year woes).
  • April – Earth, Air, Wind, and Fire (soul food tales from The Golden Stag by I. Wyatt); Camping
  • May – African Tales

Right now I am essentially grouping books and resources into piles by block, and throwing possible read-alouds near there.  As I put blocks together more fully, I will post pics on IG/Facebook and update here.

Many blessings,

Carrie

Taming Your Chaotic Household

Most children need a calm and secure home life in order to thrive.  Children who have extra challenges such as being highly sensitive, higher needs, AD/HD, etc really need this.  The main question parents ask me in relation to this idea is:

How do I get this?  I want it but I don’t seem to be able to get it!

There are easy steps you can take toward taming chaos in the family.

  1. Find the triggers for everyone in the family. Sometimes we can readily identify what our children’s triggers are, from clothes to routine changes to foods to light and sound, but we also need to think about the triggers of the adults in the house.  If we understand what all of the triggers in the family are, we can more easily all live in peace together.
  2. If the child is out of control, we don’t add fuel to the fire and ramp it up – we provide a calm response.  Be the calm.  Inner work of any form – prayer, meditation, yoga, physical exercise/walking meditation, being in nature – all helps us be the calm.
  3. We don’t blame the other adults in the house.  We enlist each other’s strengths, we give each other outs if things are getting intense, and we work as a team.  Some families need counseling to really grasp this as a technique.
  4. We provide a home environment that is calming and secure:  we take care of addictions and baggage, we provide balance, we provide a clean environment that is reasonably orderly, we provide routine and boundaries.  We provide love and connection and listening.
  5. We take care of the basic levels of calm by providing adequate hours for sleep, healthy meals, and really monitoring the effects of sleep and different kinds of foods on our children.
  6. Lastly, if our child is school-aged, we do our best to find educational settings that match what our children need.
  7. If we are drowning, we get help.  It can be a trusted family member or friend to help you organize, it can be that you ask for help with meals, it can be that you take time off of homeschooling and deal with the physical space in your home.   Ask for help and be open to receiving it.

I would love to hear how you tamed your own chaos!

Blessings and love,

Carrie

guest post: the child is the curriculum community

I am excited to share with you today a beautiful guest post today by Annie Hass, a talented artist and Waldorf homeschooling mother of 3 whom I am forunate enough to have as a friend.  She and her homeschooled son have created a beautiful endeavor that is combining so many things the homeschooling community has been wishing for – support, connection, book studies, ideas about self-care, homeschooling ideas, art tutorials, lesson plans by the block for Waldorf homeschoolers.  If you like holistic homeschooling, arts-based homeschooling or Waldorf homeschooling, I think you will love her new site!  I intend to put many homeschooling ideas over there, both for free and for sale.  Here is what Annie writes to you all:

The Child is the Curriculum:  Helping You Bravely Create Your Own Waldorf Homeschool Curriculum: A Manifesto!

Over the years online I have seen people ask so many times over “What is the best Waldorf curriculum to buy?” and a slew of varying answers would reply, all very valid and heartfelt responses. Just as often as I have seen this, I have also witnessed expressed frustration at the amount of money people have spent on various curriculum, especially when they didn’t wind up using all of it! Always in the back of my mind, I wondered why people weren’t selling curriculum by the main lesson block (the Waldorf version of a unit study). It was as if everyone was truly funneled into buying an entire year or more, or even a lifetime membership! That’s quite a commitment, especially for parents brand new to Waldorf. To many, Waldorf can seem too difficult, hard to understand, inaccessible, expensive. . . and the worst: elitist.

What makes Waldorf Education so out of reach for many? There is a multifaceted answer. The Waldorf schools themselves will cost a person $8000 – $14,000 per year. Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf Schools never intended it to be this way. Even with his recommendation that government should have no involvement with the Waldorf schools, he knew that the seed he planted would grow. He paralleled these recommendations with other ones for ethical banking and the economy that would make the Waldorf schools affordable for everyone called the Threefold Social Organism. Even though those recommendations were mainly ignored by society, the Waldorf schools were not. The Waldorf movement continues to grow and the demand for Waldorf inspired education grows by the hour. Even despite the cost. The cost remains high for both Waldorf Schools and curriculum, but is this necessary? Not when we remind everyone that Steiner said that Waldorf Education is a pedagogy, not a curriculum. He also said it can be applied anywhere. . . city or country, high or low income, and is not connected to circumstances. Waldorf Education at its core is a deep understanding of the human being. 

Another reason Waldorf seems out of reach for so many is the very materialism that Rudolf Steiner was trying to help us avoid. In this materialistic era, Waldorf can really seem like its all about the “stuff.” The natural toys, the supplies, and the expensive books, can be extremely tempting and make you feel like you NEED them to be truly Waldorf. You don’t. You can practice Waldorf best when you are really understanding your child. Anything else you can bring them should be there to serve this purpose! Their invisible needs should always come above and beyond the physical world. Steiner emphasized the importance of beauty and quality. . . but only it how it serves us inwardly, not for its own sake. You can give your child a sense of beauty and quality around them without giving a kidney at the same time! I will repeat the last sentence of the last paragraph: Waldorf Education at it’s core is a deep understanding of the human being.

Yet another reason Waldorf seems so out of reach is focusing on what we are doing as teachers more than who we are. We are often so consumed with bringing the “right” facts, and doing it the “right” way and feeling no confidence in ourselves to understand our children and how to bring them things. It really parallels what is going on with diet in the modern world. People long ago didn’t have to be told what to eat, they just ate. So too, have we lost our ability to spiritually understand how to educate in a meaningful way. We forget to do the inner work on ourselves. We forget that we can educate by understanding ourselves more, and seeking understanding of our children more is really what is most needed. The things that we actually do, and the specific things that we bring in a certain way only exist to serve this purpose. I will repeat the last sentence of the last two paragraphs: Waldorf Education at its core is a deep understanding of the human being.

One more reason many people just cannot fathom truly Waldorf Homeschooling, is that they think they do not have the time. When you have a peak at curriculums or a peak inside the schools and get a glimse at all that they are doing, you can get a feeling that you cannot possibly do all that it entails. It’s just too much! You may feel that you don’t have the skill, you may feel you need to overhaul your whole lifestyle, you may feel like you need to do as much in a day as a school does… complete with extra subjects!! You don’t. You can work all the necessary elements of Waldorf Education into your school year, in a way that works for your specific family. Your version of Waldorf will not look like anyone else’s, and that’s as it should be. Waldorf should mold into your life, your life shouldn’t have to mold into an outer other form of Waldorf. I will repeat the last sentence of the last three paragraphs: Waldorf Education at it’s core is a deep understanding of the human being.

I could go on, but I think I am getting the point across. So how do you create your own Waldorf curriculum? You stay at the core. Anytime you go astray from the core of what Waldorf is, you remind yourself again and again and again if you have to. If you want to truly do Waldorf at home, your time is better spent reading Steiner’s free online lectures than it is mulling over thousands of toys, hundreds of opinions, pressure to do anything that is too much, or anything that distracts you from the core. Spend time gaining a deep understanding of the human being.

One thing you will also need is some kind of support, whether it is local or online. When we speak with others on this path, it can really be reassuring and also a constant reminder to stay at the core of Waldorf! I have thought about creating a curriculum for the Waldorf Homeschool community in the past, but instead, after all I have been through, I decided to create something else instead. An extremely low cost website that helps homeschoolers create their own! A website that helps support them spiritually on their journey. The Child is the Curriculum is a Global Online Waldorf Homeschool Community and A La Carte Curriculum Source. It is just a baby now, and with lots of love and growing, members will help it blossom into a big beautiful vibrant thriving file sharing Waldorf community that supports and encourages parents of all incomes and circumstances.

Our goal for this new community is twofold. We have created a community space that is separate from social media, where homeschooling parents can come together to support one another and have a place to share their own unique gifts with the community. Also, we created a space where these resources are affordable and easily accessible. We want you to be able to both select content from other teachers/parents, and submit your own content. We want you to be able to custom curate your own curriculum while getting lots of support!

What are the benefits of a cooperative?

  • ~ Teacher Autonomy: you will no longer feel the weight of needing to do things in one specific way. Others will be sharing their unique way and it will inspire!
  • ~ Organized for Convenience: It’s organized by block and topic so you can easily find what you need as well as many who have shared their way of exploring that topic.
  • ~ Alternative to Social Media: Forums have the ability to foster lifelong friendships and make deeper connections. Social media can be a time drain, and a space for specific goals can help you stay focused and feel support.
  • ~ Book Clubs and Study Groups: Dive deeper with others by really getting at the core of Waldorf with our book club section! Let us help you study so it is more understandable.
  • ~ Book recommendations: Let us help you find books in your price range, and ones that meet what you really need so you aren’t wasting time and money.
  • ~ Downloads Feature: Upload and Download, sell or donate, your files! With a PayPal account, you can withdraw the funds you make from selling your ideas and purchase tutorials and blocks of other teachers!
  • ~ Forum Discussion and Mentorship: Receive help and discuss every grade and subject! We also have sections for caring for yourself as a parent, seasonal festivals, special needs, skill building, and so much more to help you.
  • ~ Blogging Platform: Create your own blog in our system to privately share your journey with other members. Or, link to your outer blog!
  • ~ Buy/Sell Trade: A section that allows you to swap your used Waldorf goods or buy from others
  • ~ Calendar and Events: mark seasonal festivals, plan each festival in our holiday/festival section, join us for Zoom conferences, and get updated about podcasts and webinars!
  • ~ Albums and galleries: Share your images or browse albums of others for inspiration!
  • ~ Teach a class! Use our Book Club system to teach a paying class. Charge other members a fee to come into your club and give your expertise on a subject or host one for free!
  • ~ Video tutorials: We have a video tutorial section for premium members. Share your own videos to get premium membership. Please see our website for more information!

Ultimately, this cooperative serves to remind you to stay at the core of Waldorf. The rest is there to help you feel empowered and inspired. We hope to help more homeschoolers gain the confidence they need to chart their own course! The Waldorf Homeschooling community really needs to shake things up a bit, throw off some myths and out of touch feelings, and bring everything back to being about the human being. In truth, you have already created your own curriculum. . . your very own child! 

Our community is located at www.thechildisthecurriculum.com

We hope to see you there!!!

 

Warmly,

Annie Haas

(Carrie here:  Hope to see you over there!  Many blessings and love)

 

 

 

 

 

 

owning it

This weekend I had the pleasure of presenting three sessions at a Waldorf homeschooling conference in the Southeast.  It was amazing to be there with Melisa Nielsen of Waldorf Essentials, Jean Miller of Waldorf-Inspired Learning, Jodie Mesler of Living Music, Judy Forster of Mama Jude’s, Brian and Robyn Wolfe of Waldorf*ish, and inner work leader Sheila Petruccelli.

A whole Friday night and Saturday focused on Waldorf homeschooling  for early years through high school and creating a peaceful home!   Can you imagine?

And as I looked around, it struck me that these participants – who had come to the Southeast from as far away as Seattle and Denver and Missouri  and all over the Southeast – had come here to do the work.  This made me so happy because…..

If we want something , we have to own it.

We have to figure out the work that will go into our goal, and map out the plan to get it done, and then have the initiative to really dig in and follow through.

Nothing is going to just fall into your lap.  It takes some time and effort.

This includes concrete goals in business, homeschooling, homemaking, parenting,  and life and also the goals of such elusive things as “happiness” or “peace.”  I always tell my older children that happiness will not fall on top of them like an anvil falling out of the sky , flattening the cartoon character.  We create these things in our lives, and we perservere through the things that are up and down in life with a focus on finding these things even in the bad moments.

So, ask yourself:

  • What would that goal look like for me?  Are my expectations/goals realistic?
  • What would be the  baby steps that I need to do to break down this goal?  What is one concrete step I could take today today?
  • Who could I help be on my team to help me create this goal?  What part would they need to play?

Get out of your own way, put yourself in the game, and help your children do the same.  This is responsibility. For a good American football analogy,  put yourself in the game and run the actual play, so to speak.  If you sit on the sidelines, you will never contribute to the touchdown as part of a team or make the touchdown yourself. 

What are you struggling with today and how can you own that?

 If you need help, I will be opening a few consultation slots in April.  I do this only a few times a year, so if you have something burning on your mind to accomplish for parenting or homeschooling, email at admin@theparentingpassageway.com so we can talk by phone! (I put out all my lesson plans and childhood developmental tips for FREE on this blog, and I have for ten years, but the phone consultations for paid clients. :))

Blessings and love,

Carrie