The American Waldorf Homeschooling Curriculum

Those of you who have followed this blog for years know that when I could come up for air from the busy times of being in the trenches with my own three children I have been dreaming of what an American Waldorf homeschooling curriculum would look like.  There is a chart compiled by the esteemed David Mitchell that many schools and homeschoolers use entitled, “The Waldorf Curriculum:  An Overview for American Waldorf Teachers” with the sub-statement in large letters:  “These course descriptions present possibilities for the American teacher to expand upon.”  This is the place where many American Waldorf homeschoolers look, and it can be a good overview for those looking to familiarize themselves with some of the things Steiner said, and some of the traditions of the Waldorf School.

I have written before in these posts about some of the American impulses I can see or visualize in the Waldorf curriculum:

Extending Inigenous Cultures Throughout the Waldorf Curriculum (Specifically for the Americas!)

Extending Africa Through the Curriculum (one of my favorite posts, suggestions for extending African history and culture all the way through tenth grade!)

Designing Eighth Grade American History Blocks

High School American History

Third Grade Native American Block

The American Impulse in Waldorf Homeschooling  (from 2013, that is quite some time ago!  I have been thinking about this subject for a long time!)

I appreaciate those of you who ask questions, who ask about the curriculum.  Because, in case you haven’t noticed, Waldorf homeschooling isn’t really popular. Yes, wooden toys and handmaking and nature is popular.  The idea of being “Waldorf-inspired” is often popular for kindergarten through second grade, but drops dramatically after that. I know of very few middle school and high school Waldorf homeschoolers – they are spread out around the entire United States.  Waldorf homeschooling itself is fairly unpopular.  You never see a Waldorf curriculum provider at a state homeschooling conference!  It is often mentioned in homeschooling how-to books as one of the methodologies of homeschooling, but not much beyond that.

Homeschoolers are a fiercely independent lot, and they want to tease out what Rudolf Steiner really indicated and in what lecture (was it in the educational lectures, the general anthroposophy lectures?  where?) and how this actually fits the child in front of them in this day and age.   It is teacher-intenstive for parents who are stretched for time, and it is specialist-intensive from the school model with separate teachers for so many of the subjects that make up what homeschoolers see as the beauty of Waldorf education – foreign languages, games and eurythmy, handwork, orchestra and voice and band, drama.  All of these things are hard to come by at home and are negatives for most homeschooling parents trying to distinguish between methodologies of homeschooling.  Perhaps the traditions of the Waldorf School, in the large sense are a wonderful fit for every child, but in a small sense some of it is very difficult for the average homeschooler. Some Waldorf teachers have gone on to argue how Waldorf homeschooling shouldn’t really exist, because Steiner was laying out indications for a school setting and how this model is not possible for home for one child, let alone multiple children of different grades being taught at the same time.  But then, we also hear that the Waldorf Curriculum is living and breathing as well and is adaptable to different geographic locations around the world – so why would it not be adaptable to homeschooling?   It can all be quite confusing, especially to those unversed in the traditions of the school or who haven’t read Steiner.

I started homeschooling my children for HEALTH.  Nothing was more important to me than their spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional health.  I have always felt Waldorf was the best educational vehicle to meet this goal.  It has very specific indications for the developing child, who is seen as a holistic being and it  is taught through the model of head, hearts and feeling life, and hands and practical work.  The stories for each grade meet that child, and we tailor our stories and curriculum to our particular locality , our particular place in the world!  This is such a hard thing to put in any Waldorf curriculum!  A Waldorf curriculum writer is not going to know about my tiny location in the Southeast, our particular ethinic and cultural background as a family, our particular interests, our health challenges,  and what is around me regarding places of geographic, cultural, and historical interst!   There will not be enough resources in any homeschooling curriculum to bend to all of that, so I write my own  year after year.

However,  I would like to see Steiner’s original indications for a breathing curriculum outline for American homeschoolers to love and be attracted to.  Otherwise, the healing impulse of Waldorf Education is going to miss most of a generation of homeschoolers in a time when our children’s health is more threatened than ever before.  This seems a complete shame to me at a point when what I care most about is the health of my children’s generation. I have been asked by several readers to write some blocks for specific content areas for specific grades in order to meet some of the American needs of the curriculum and I am contemplating that. 

Stay tuned for more.

Many blessings,
carrie

 

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The Human Being and Animal

This is a typical fourth grade block for Waldorf Schools, and it confuses many homeschooling parents!   I find it to be based in a deeply anthroposophic approach that transcends much more than zoology and takes some familiarity to really carry this approach.  I think the main assumptions of this block are very foreign to many people.  You can find the roots of this subject in Steiner’s lectures, particularly references sprinkled throughout “Discussions With Teachers.”  One thing Steiner says is that “...we should remain clear in our minds that a human being is really the whole animal kingdom.  The animal kingdom in its entirety is humankind.  You cannot, of course, present ideas of this kind to the children theoretically, and you certainly should not do so.”

So, we think about bringing this through example.  Steiner talks about  studying the animal world before the plant world, which Waldorf Schools typically do, and he talks about using cuttlefish, mouse, horse and a person as good examples.  He also talks about (in “Practical Advice to Teachers”, lecture 7), about relating all animals to the human being.  He advises animal study in third grade (which most Waldorf Schools and most homeschoolers don’t do), and then in the fourth grade  looking at the animal kingdom scientifically in its relationship to the human being, and then in fifth grade adding less familiar animals, and then moving the study into plants in the fifth grade, and more botany in sixth grade plus mineralogy in conjunction with geography.  Then one moves into physics, chemistry, and physiology of the human being and back into high school biologic sciences in grades 9-12.

So, the first place to start is to look at the human body.  What is the head like? What is the trunk like?  What makes human beings different than animals?  Eventually, through study, we find that what makes us different is our ability to be upright, which frees our hands to help and serve others.  Animals are wonderful, and very specialized!  Human beings are not so specialized, we are generalists.  We will never have the keen eyesight of the beautiful eagle, nor the incredible body that is so much a head and can do so many interesting things as an octopus, but instead in a way carry around these different aspects within ourselves and all the aspects of the specialized animals make up humankind.  We can look at different animals and see are they chiefly animals of a “head nature” or a “trunk nature” and look at different types of limbs…Charles Kovacs postulated in his book that human beings are the only true limb animals in a sense because our hands are then free to serve all of humanity.

I think the confusion comes in as some anthroposophic resources divide the animals by whether or not they are head, trunk, or limb animals OR through a look at the threefold nature of animals – are they mainly “ruled” by their metabolic/digestive system, such as a cow or bison; or by their  rhythmic system, like a dog, or by their nervous/thinking system?  Again, these are generally foreign ways to look at animals for those of us raised without a spiritual scientific look at the human being and the animal kingdom, so it takes some getting used to to decide if one or both of these approaches resonates.  I like to do both of these approaches in the first block of the Human Being and Animal. You can see how I do this in the notes of these blocks below.

After this introduction and tying in of the animal kingdom to the human being, we can then  move into a second block that shows all of the differen types of animals in perhaps a more traditional manner, but always keeping in mind sympathy and antipathy.   Where do different groups compare and where do they contrast?  This block usually contains a researched report as well.  So, one would cover birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, insects, mammals, etc as suitable for a fourth grader.  For this block, I like to tie it into our state’s animals, such as our state reptile, our state fish, etc to further illustrate the local geography a fourth grader has been studying during this year.   I also like to include a few weeks study on ocean animals specifically because we live in a state that has a coastline, and this furthers our study of local geography.  You have the upper grades to get into more specific zoological considerations if you add a zoology block in seventh grade, study animals along with geography of the world, and then of course in high school  you will have the biological sciences throughout the high school years.

The art opportunities in these blocks are amazing!  You can paint, draw, model with clay, create dioramas and origami and more.   Speech work with amazing poems, tongue twisters, and riddles is also so much of this block!  Field trips are also a wonderful part of this block, and we can do many!  We have done farm, aquarium, zoo, animal rehabiliation center, vet all as field trips for this block.

My favorite resources for this block include:  “Drawing From The Book of Nature;”  “The Human Being and the Animal” by Charles Kovacs; the free files from Marsha Johnson at waldorfhomeeducators@yahoogroups.com,  many library books about the specific animals I have chosen to present, “Learning About The World Through Modeling” by Auer, “Painting and Drawing in the Waldorf Schools”, the Christopherus “The Human Being and Animal” booklet; and there are free resources in the East African training manual for Waldorf teachers and Waldorf Inspirations.

So, in practice, just as an example, the last time I did fourth grade my blocks were structured somewhat like this:

Block One, Week One – 

Poetry for the Creation in the World, (we are Episcopalian so we used a prayer from our Book of Common Prayer).  I usually have the student lay down on a large piece of butcher block paper and we trace each other and have everyone fill in their own bodies with crayons or pencils.    We take a good look at ourselves, and write down what are some of the things we can do?  What can our younger sibling do?  What can adults do?

We also do a picture of ourselves as a round head, a crescent-shaped body, and limbs that are raying out at the hands. This idea came from Marsha Johnson, Master Waldorf Teacher, in her free fourth grade files available within her Yahoo Group waldorfhomeeducators@yahoogroups.com and she has more details on the why’s and how’s of presenting this in her files.  Once the drawing is done in crayon, we paint over it in watercolor paints and it makes a beautiful resist painting.

We talk about our heads and how our head sits quietly even if we are running and jumping around, how the head is along for the ride taking in everything around us as we process the information that comes in through our senses.  There are some animals that act almost wholly like a human head.  The cuttlefish is a prime example of this as the cuttlefish hardly moves but has to take water in and squirt it out in order to propel himself, and the cuttlefish takes in what he sees with his large eyes, and even his skin changes color in response.  Snails are another great choice, and fun to model with a sea shell and beeswax.    We have also looked at the squid (great fun to paint!) and talked about giant squid.

Week Two –

For animals that seem especially adapted to their environment due to their trunk, we first looked at the seal. This animal is mainly found in the United States far away from our state, but most children love the idea of seals so it seems like a good place to start.  Seals are fun to draw, and there is a wonderful poem by Rudyard Kipling called, “Seal Lullaby”.  We also talked about the  Eastern Harvest Mouse, since that is more specific to our region (but not as exciting as a seal! LOL).

Finally, we looked at the different limbs of different animals and connected these animals with how the limbs are specialized for the environment the animal is in.  The mole is a wonderful example; one of my children did a report on elephants and her interest in the elephant stemmed from our discussion of the elephant’s limbs.  We compared the padded feet of the elephant to the hooves of horses as well, and drew horses. Finally, we can compare this to the human being who doesn’t have specialized hands for flying, digging, or swimming but instead we can use our hands to serve others and the world. This is beauty in the world, and we can create it with what our hands do.

Week Three –

You could end as above, (some families do and that’s fine!) , or move into a threefold look at the animals.  I usually use the American bison as an example of an animal associated with  metabolic/digestive  forces, and this can lead to great modeling, dioramas, and probably rabbit trails into geography as the first thoroughfares of North America were traces made by bison and deer in seasonal migration and between feeding grounds and salt licks.  Many of these routes were followed by Native Americans and then later by explorers and  settlers (see how this all fits together as a foundation for the upper grades? )  I also like to mention our National Park System; most Waldorf homeschoolers in America have camped and explored different National Parks so this idea of protecting and preserving our lands is an important American concept.

We can then look at a the discerning, thinking American Eagle (beautiful poetry), and the rhythmical system that the dog is so associated with.  Great opportunities for modeling and making dioramas!  Lastly, we can create the very iconic Waldorf picture of the human being with the animals representing these realms superimposed on the human being. If we, as human beings are not specialists or ruled by one particular area, then what do we have?  We are generalists, and we can look briefly at the development of the human being.  Many fourth grade children are astonished to know that adults are still developing too throughout the life span!  We receive gifts from the animal kingdom, and have relationships with the animals kingdom for food, domestication, pets, and more but our gift to the animals is our abilities in conservation, in our stewardship, in our ability to wonder and awe at the beautiful planet we live on! We can talk about concrete ways we can help the animals.

The second block, at least the way I do it, is very specific to our state.  I live in the Southeastern United States, so I picked our state and regional animals to represent general animal categories.  The richest biodiversity of reptiles and amphibians in the United States is concentrated in the Southeast, so I usually start there.  This is a great time to paint, and to look at these creatures closely.  Salamanders are a great study.  For reptiles, I usually look at the American Alligator as this is a keystone species ( a keystone species is a species that has a very large affect on its environment even though the abundance of the species may be small, and it supports other species in its habitat). I find keystone species to be good subjects for reports as well.  For reptiles, I also like looking at turtles and tortoises, (finding out the differences!), and if you are in a coastal state, the types of sea turtles.  This also incorporates a lot of discussion about geography.  For example, our state has barrier islands, which hosts a large number of sea turtle nests.

In the second week, we usually look at birds.  This is also a good time to look at the biographies of such greats as James Audoban or Tory Peterson.  We can get a good general look at birds, visit falconers, places that rehabilitate injured birds, go to birds of prey shows, and more.  We also take a close look at our state bird and look at water birds as well.

Week three  and four is generally mammals, which is a huge and diverse category ranging from moles to flying bats to whales to manatees to donkeys.  Again, I try to stick more local as I think this makes the most sense to a fourth grader.  The American marsupial the opossum is very interesting to study, and I think educational as many people carry about misconceptions about the opposum.  We also usually look at beavers as those are right outside our neighborhood, and coyotes and bobcats as those are also close. Primates I tend to save until our seventh grade geography studies, but also can be looked at.

For week five, because we are a coastal state, we look at our own coast and animals in the coast.  I usually start with ideas about waterways (which end in the ocean in our state). So, as we find out about the watersheds in our state, we find out about the bass family as that is common.  Then we look at oceans.  We read about Jacques Cousteau and Sylvia Earle, and learn about the different ocean zones.  Ninety percent of marine life lives in the sunlight zone, but some that live in that zone dive down into the twilight or midnight zone (Sperm whales are a great example!).  We talk about the hatchet fish, the lantern fish, bioluminescence and some of the animals that live in these deep zones.  We also talk about the ocean floor and the trenches, which is a great foundation for  geography and mineralogy in the sixth grade.

Lastly, sometime in May to go along with our gardening, we look carefully at insects.  Which insects are creatures of the dark, which ones are hard versus soft, what is the metamorphosis of the butterfly and other life cycles?  Which insects are social?  How do pollinators work and what kinds of pollinators can we offer as a family to our insect friends?

These are just some ideas from my experience.  I hope you and your student have a wonderful time in this block!

Blessings and love,
carrie

 

 

Growth Mindset + Waldorf Homeschooling

Waldorf homeschooling and Waldorf Education is amazing in that it teaches and guides children to be true “Renaissance People” – ones who can nurture themselves, humanity and the environment, provide compassion for others, explore all of the traditional arts and handicrafts, music, drama, academics and more.

Growth Mindset is the idea that individuals can develop their talents and their learning through hard work, good strategies,  repeated mistakes and growth from those mistakes, and input from others, as opposed to just “I was born smart” or “I was born dumb.”  This idea is one that is certainly trending in both education and in business. So,  I want to be very clear that to me all the talk about “growth mindset” as a growing educational trend in public schools has been in Waldorf Education all along through such things as  repeated attempts at mastery, repeated resilience to do and try things that are foreign, not just  doing the things that are comfortable, the use of a strong classroom organism to help an individual grow and more.

So where does the idea of growth mindset fit into Waldorf homeschooling?  Sometimes it is harder at home, I believe.  We may have a second grader comparing him or herself to much older siblings.  We may have children that seem unmotivated no matter how much vigor we bring to designing a lesson, and with no peer group to carry it along, it can be harder.  These are a few of the realities that homeschooling families face in the day to day of being in the trenches with our children as teachers and as parents.  However, we can certainly impart a growth mindset to our children and we can do this in accordance with the developmental features of Waldorf Education.

For those under the age of 9, we MODEL growth mindset for our children.  We look for times when we make mistakes and bring what we have learned that to the forefront as in incredible model.  We can use words to describe the process and the hard work of creating rather than focusing on the outcome, and we can use  brillant phrasing -short and concise- to help our children.  If you don’t know what to say, try the list here.  We don’t need to psychoanalyze what growth mindset is for our six-year-old, but we just do it in our actions and in the way we approach thing. We help find strategies that help our children be successful, and help them develop the skills to try again.  Ways to do that include not just “book work” but problem solving in outdoor play in a group of children and allowing plenty of time for free play and exploration.  If you absolutely MUST read books to your children about growth mindset, please let it be a little more sideways than what you would use with a ten-year-old.  I like books like “Flight School” by Lita Judge; “Whistle for Willie” by Ezra Jack Keats; “Brave Irene” by William Steig, “Extra Yarn” by Barrett, “the Dot” and “Ish” by Reynolds as examples of growth mindset that don’t hit you over the head but show the model of resilience and perseverance.

For those ages ten and up, I think you can start to delve a little deeper, especially for those children that are struggling in this area due to perfectionism or due to learning disabilities and who have already realized they are not quite where their friends are academically.  We still model, we still use the great words, but we work hard to help THEM develop their own strategies to be successful.  This is what they will need in the upper grades.  I like books like “Hana Hashimoto: Sixth Violin” by Uegaki and Leng  as an example of the hard work needed to shine.    I think it can be important for both of these groups of children to hear this.

For those twelve and up,  you can get a little more heady since they have more skills to see cause and effect readily.  “Your Fantastic, Elastic Brain” by Deak and Ackerly is a good place to start, and there are some wonderful resources for growth mindset for middle schoolers available on Teachers Pay Teachers.  I have used this ten lesson unit by Angela Watson with our upper middle and lower high schoolers.  Books for children this age include “Salt In His Shoes” by Dolores Jordan, “Nadia, The Girl Who Couldn’t Sit Still” by Karlin Gray, “A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin,” and all the wonderful biographies we bring through history in the sixth through eighth grades as teachers.

For those past the 15/16 change and adults: They might enjoy Dweck’s “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.” and some of the other books about growth mindset available in the business section.   If a teen this age is not motivated, sometimes a gentle push toward a class or experience might just change their whole life for the better. This is the part of parenting that is hard – knowing how much to push and how much to let go when older teens are on the cusp of adulthood.  However, sometimes even older teens need an objective eye to encourage them to go for something great and to get a chance to stretch their growth mindset wings.  It will serve them well later in adulthood.

How are you nurturing growth mindset in a developmentally appropriate way?

Blessings,
Carrie

Planning Eighth Grade

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

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

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

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

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

August and September – Physics and Meteorology

October – Oceanography

November – Short Stories

December – Short Stories

January – Revolutions

February – Two weeks of aerodynamics;  American History

March – American History

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

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

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

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

Blessings,

Carrie

 

 

planning + Waldorf + simple

 

So, I have homeschooled quite a long time – from Kindy second year to tenth grade this year that is 11 years.  And in doing this, I have found that some years were just simpler than others. We aren’t a Waldorf School at home, we don’t have a staff, and we have real life things to attend to – meals, housework, perhaps outside activities with older children.  And in a year of overwhelm, we also have divided energies.  The very real and hard thing about Waldorf homeschooling is it often isn’t possible for a student to progress super independently in main lesson book work.  Students need, and deserve input of their homeschooling teachers, just like all students do.  This isn’t like passing off a textbook and workbook and assigning problems.

So, in an great effort to keep thing as simple as possible, let me share with you some ways Waldorf veteran homeschoolers plan.  It IS different than a Waldorf School, and that is okay.

  1.  Health and family relationships take priority.  So this might mean we get to one less block a year than a school setting.  It may mean our school year looks longer, or shorter.  So long as we are in compliance with the homeschool laws of our state or province, we are doing okay.  But homeschooling first and foremost is about sustainability.
  2. We combine ages for main lessons.  I don’t advise anyone to teach more than three main lesson periods a day.  It is exhausting!   If you have six or more children, you might have four main lesson periods, but I would look for ways to combine, rotate days for some children, and school mostly year-round to fit in blocks for everyone.
  3. We put most everything in the main lesson period we are having with a child or children.  Some people do put handwork separate, and some families have only one to two children and they can do a lot of “separate” periods for painting or handwork or cooking or whathave you.  Most of us who have older children and multiple children must economize and make these things part of the artistic or practical response to a main lesson.
  4. We find many resources at the library.  Yes, there will often be need for some specific Waldorf resources, but I find the longer people Waldorf homeschool, the more they are not afraid to take resources from any stream and they can make it Waldorf.  Waldorf Education is a living and breathing entity specific to the child in front of us and to the specific geographic place where we live.  We follow the curriculum of the school setting, and honor the major impulses of experience before head thinking, sleep as an educational aid and more, but again, we are not and cannot be a school at home.
  5. Rhythm is key.  It takes a lot of energy to hold Waldorf main lessons; holding that space takes a lot, and we need to make sure as homeschooling parents we have time for OURSELVES.  This is also a key to sustainability over the years.
  6. We are committed to this.  The Waldorf homeschooling market is TINY.  You won’t find Waldorf materials at state homeschooling conferences.  You won’t find a lot of us around even to have community.  Many Waldorf homeschoolers have never seen a Waldorf School in real life.  We need to be patient with ourselves as we learn.

When I think about simple, I also try to think beyond the big picture and see how this will in reality, flow every day.  I wrote a post a little while back that had a little planning form for homeschooling parents to use.  It had two main lesson periods on it and more.  Here are some more ideas for putting together rhythms.

Ideas for rhythm #1:  (Two  Main lessons)

  • Family Breakfast/Chores
  • Circle Time for those under 9 or Warm Up time for the entire family
  • Math warm up for the whole family or divided by level (Personally, I think grades 1-5 could go together and grades 6-9 could go together).
  • Main Lesson Period #1 (what will other children be doing?)
  • Walk, play or tea break or Lunch if you start later in the day.
  • Main Lesson Period #2 (what will the other children be doing?)
  • Walk, play, or tea break or Lunch
  • Practical Activities ( could include music as a family, handwork, crafts, baking, gardening)
  • Free Reading or Reading Aloud
  • End of School Day

Ideas for Rhythm #2: (Two Main Lessons)

  • Family Breakfast/Chores
  • Music Practice or Movement
  • Main Lesson #1
  • Practice Period for handwriting, math, or individual music practice
  • Tea or Lunch
  • Main Lesson #2
  • Handwork

Ideas for Rhythm #3: (Kindy plus 3 Main Lessons)

  • Family Breakfast/Chores
  • Circle Time with littles/Kindergarten story
  • Main Lesson #1 (includes movement and art)
  • Main Lesson #2 (includes movement and art)
  • Lunch
  • Main Lesson #3 (rotate so not every day has three main lessons, on the off day put in kindergarten practical work)

Ideas for Rhythm #4:  (Three  Main Lessons, Grades)

  • Family Breakfast/Chores
  • Main Lesson #1
  • Tea
  • Main Lesson #2
  • Movement, Cooking, Practical Arts
  • Lunch
  • Main Lesson #3 – some days have this be an extra practice period for math or language arts

The ideas are infinite!  Please share with me your favorite rhythm for the grades that has worked well and is relatively simple!

Many blessings,
Carrie

 

Homeschooling Third Grade Math- Part One

This will be my third and last time going through third grade with one of my children. I am starting to prepare, and in this post I talked about my steps to Third Grade planning.  Part of this planning for me after laying out the blocks of study for each month is to get a good sense of the progression of math and language arts through the year.

So first I think of progression and goals.  Over the years, I have found the main objectives for third grade math to be:

  • To use a variety of strategies to make sense of number and number combinations, including counting and regrouping and estimating
  • Vertical addition and subtraction
  • Working with mulitplication and division; Long multiplication.  Long division, division with remainders might be third or fourth grade depending upon the child.
  • Estimating answers the the nearest hundred or thousands.
  • Written and oral practice in arthimetic so things become automatic. Yes, trying to start learning the math facts.  If my child has a learning disability, I don’t expect memorization of times tables until after the twelve year change.  Just my experience.
  • Number patterns in the rectangular array of 144 that covers the times tables 1-12
  • Telling time on all clocks
  • Measures of time, capacity, length, mass, money.
  • Written word problems
  • Freehand geometric drawings and geometric explorations

I start thinking a little about how I want to approach the blocks. I decided my math blocks would be in November( Farmer Boy Math with time, four processes, moving from horizontal to vertical), February ( measurement, mainly length, mass,  time) and April ( multiplication and division mainly but all four processes, working with money) but that my August block would include a good dose of  math review within the main lesson, the September block would include liquid measurement with our preserving/farming/gardening block, and our May block will also include measurement with practical projects.  These would all be worked into the main lesson period.  The two books I like for looking at the big picture and what blocks might contain includes the books, “Making Math Meaningful:  A Source Book for Teaching Math in Grades One Through Five,” by Jamie York, Nettie Fabrie, Wim Gottenboos and the book, “Teaching Mathematics in Rudolf Steiner Schools for Classes I-VIII” by Ron Jarman.

However, I also do have a complete outline of the “practice math” we will do each day and sometimes I do use the “practice time” to introduce a math concept we will deepen in a block or use a game to go deeper into practice on a math concept we have previously covered.  For this, I usually assign a topic a month that I really want to bring, and just a smattering of the other math skills. One book I like for this is a non-Waldorf book called “Third Grade Math:  A Month To Month Guide” by Suzy Ronfeldt.  I don’t use it to the letter, (some of the focus for each month I don’t find matches up with Waldorf mathematics so I discard those), but I look to see ideas by topic.

Once I have the focus for the blocks and the practice math areas for each month, I just start filling things in with ideas for cooking, games, practical experiences, movement experiences, and mathematical problems and puzzles to solve. For some specific ideas for grades 1-3, I like the following books:

  • “Waldorf Education in Practice:  Exploring How Children Learn in the Lower Grades” by Else Gottgens
  • “Third Grade Math:  A Month to Month Guide” by Suzy Ronfeldt
  • “Games for Math” by Peggy Kaye
  • “Things That Come in Groups: Multiplication and Division” by Tierney, Berle-Carman, and Akers.
  • “Math By Hand” which is math kits and Waldorf
  • “The Dyscalculia Toolkit” by Ronit Bird, which just has fun games for everyone
  • “Math Games and Activities From Around the World” by Zaslavsky

I also try to find literature that reinforces the mathematical concepts we are learning.  This probably is not common in a Waldorf School setting, but I find it to be very common in the homeschooling setting.  Some of my favorite books for third grade math for a student include:

  • “Alexander, Who Use to Be Rich Last Sunday” by Viorst (money)
  • “Fattest, Tallest, Biggest Snowman Ever” by Ling (measurement)
  • “A Quarter for the Tooth Fairy” by Holzman (money; not sure if I will use this one yet as I haven’t seen it)
  • “Just Add Fun” by Rocklin (multiplication arrays)
  • Division books suggested but I haven’t looked at them yet:  “The Doorbell Rang” by Pat Hutchins; “One Hungry Cat” by Rocklin
  • For geometry:  “Grandfather Tang’s Story”, which many Waldorf homeschoolers use in second grade; “The Greedy Triangle” by Marilyn Burns; “The Josefina Quilt” by Eleanor Coerr; “The Keeping Quilt” by Patricia Polacco.
  • “13 Moons on a Turtle’s Back”; “The Twelve Months” picture book  by Krykorka; “An Amish Year” by Ammon: “Alice Yazzie’s Year” by Maher; “The Time Garden” by Edward Eager -Chapter book.
  • Measurement:  All the books by Robert Wells – “What’s Older Than A Giant Tortoise?”  “Is A Blue Whale the Biggest Thing There Is?” etc.
  • Large Numbers: “Can You Count To A Googol?” by Robert Wells

I also start looking for games to have on hand too – that could be another post!

Hopefully that gives you some idea of how to start with third grade math.  I would love to post some block examples and examples of practice by week in the future if that would be helpful to those of you planning.

Many blessings,
Carrie

 

 

 

The Cardinal Rules of Waldorf Homeschooling

I was thinking recently about what  would MOST help people new to Waldorf homeschooling or those struggling with burnout who need to re-center.  Sometimes we need this re-centering in February!

My personal “cardinal rules” of Waldorf homeschooling:

  1. Make LOVE the core of your homeschool.  This is always more important than any academic progress or Main Lesson or artistic focus.  This is the foundation of becoming and being human.
  2. Always work with not only your WHOLE child (physical body, life forces through rhythm, the feeling life and the spiritual life) but with the WHOLE family.  Homeschooling is about family.
  3. The homeschooling parent needs to feel stable in order to have successful lessons.  It is may be necessary to unschool, use a workbook, or do something else to get through a truly difficult or horrific season.  If you homeschool  long enough, I think it it will come out in the wash.  The homeschooling parent may need to work on his or her own baggage in order to bring this type of homeschooling successfully and it  may take time.
  4. Do what you can.  You cannot have a Waldorf School in your home.  Waldorf homeschooling follows in the traditions of the Waldorf School, but is not Waldorf School at home. It is Waldorf homeschooling; it is holistic homeschooling for all the human beings in the house!
  5. Celebrate the rhythm of the day, week, and year and hold on to it in a simple and sustainable way.  Celebrate the festivals, even with teens.  They will thank you later.
  6. Work from the local and innocent child in front of you to your home to your local area to your local state or province to your country to your region of the world to the world.  It will all come in time.  If you get nervous, look ahead to the later middle grades and the high school grades.  It is ALL there.
  7. Get a spiritual path for your family and KEEP it. Draw strength from it!
  8. Get out in nature every day and take time to camp, hike, swim, pick fruit, farm, be with animals, look at the woods or beach and wonder in awe together.
  9.  Remember goodness of the world –> beauty of the world –> truth in the world; gratitude  —> love —> duty (a love of the whole world with a desire to help humanity) as the most important things in the  basic seven year cycles of the child.
  10.  Keep striving to improve yourself and your interest in the world.  As your children grow,  you may feel more able to expand or practice art or develop other skills that will be used in your homeschooling adventures.

Many blessings and love tonight,
Carrie