Spiritual Studies in the Episcopal/Anglican Homeschool

We were on vacation last week, enjoying some sun and sand.  After a rather rough time with the loss of people this fall and a beloved pet especially this spring, it was good to get away for a little bit.  The wonderful thing about vacations is that hopefully one finds time to think (although my joke is always that taking a trip with children is really a holiday, not a vacation! LOL).

At any rate, I was feeling a little consumed by some little words from the Book of Common Prayer found in the Baptismal Rite…In the baptism of a new member, the entire Body of Christ in the parish re-affirms his or her own baptismal vows –  to continue in the tradition of the apostles in fellowship, teaching and communion; to resist evil; to be a good example of Christ’s love in the world, to love and serve all people, to strive for justice and dignity and peace among all people, to respect the dignity of all every human being.  After baptism and chrismation, part of the prayer said by the priest is:

Sustain them, O Lord, in your Holy Sprit. Give them an inquiring and discerning heart, the courage to will and to persevere, a spirit to know and to love you, and the gift of joy and wonder in all Your works.

Those words always strike me as such a dovetail to what I want for my children to receive from our parenting and from our homeschooling.  And this brings me to Anglican Spiritual traditions within homeschooling.  This is actually not an easy subject.  In the Christian homeschooling market, there are many resources for all denominations of Christianity.  Yet, I think perhaps because there is such a strong and large tradition of Anglican and Episcopalian school choices, that at least here in the United States, I cannot find any single resource at all specifically directed to families of the Anglican Communion who are homeschooling.  The few resources I have found and adapted I have commented upon in blog posts in the past.

We learn about the church in community by attending Liturgy and also through activities within our church body. We break bread together on our knees in community, our baptisms are in community, we love in community.  Our children are involved heavily in choir and the Royal School of Church Music program.  Yet, in our home time where we are together as a family and a small home church so to speak , I have to be conscious and mindful.  My goals for right now when we start our school day include:

To open with prayer- which by its very nature, brings in The Book of Common Prayer, the Anglican view of time, the Saints we hold in communion, and the 5 Marks of Mission of the Episcopal Church (for example, this week we celebrate St. Alphege, Archbishop of Canterbury and Martyr, 1012; we celebrate St. Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury in 1109; and St George, the Patron Saint of England; but we also celebrate John Muir, whose life story fits into one of our mission marks:  “To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew life on earth”).  During this time, we explore also different paths of mysticism within the Anglican tradition and within the Body of Christ, and icons.

To read the Bible together and discuss intimately.  Some of the books from Cowley Publications, which is a ministry of the Society of St. John the Evangelist, a religious community for men in the Episcopal Church, have been helpful, along with books by author Vicki Black.

Lastly, we will spend a few moments each day discussing any of the following:   the Episcopal Church’s tenets, tenets of good Christian living, famous Episcopalians and Anglicans through biographical format, the Visual and Musical Arts of the Church, the three Creeds we follow, and the history of the Church of England, the Episcopal Church in America  and the Anglican Communion as a whole.

Many blessings and light,

Carrie

 

Weeks 25 -28: Homeschooling Eighth, Fifth and Kindy

These last few weeks have been heartbreaking.  The giant dog that we owned and loved, the best dog we have ever had out of the four dogs we have owned over our nearly twenty-four years of marriage, was diagnosed with bone cancer and died.  So, it has been a time of  great sorrow and now emptiness in our household.

It has also been a time of spring, of new life and new beginnings, and trying to homeschool in the midst of the jumble of emotions and juxtapositions has been a challenge.  We move forward each day, one foot in front of the other, and sometimes that is all that there really is.  In the meantime, we are moving slowly through our blocks, but here are some of the things we have been working on (if you need to see where last were, try this back post:    https://theparentingpassageway.com/2016/03/06/weeks-23-and-24-homeschooling-eighth-fifth-and-kindy/)

Kindy:  Holding a steady rhythm has been a real challenge throughout all the uncommon things going on.  However, we have managed to do braiding, wet felting and knitting; loose parts play; painting and modeling; hiking and biking and being outside in the yard especially.  Our dog really enjoyed that most in her last days especially, even when we all had to carry her outside.

We were doing an Early Spring Circle but now have changed into a circle of “Rabbit’s Adventure” as I have modified it from the book “Movement Journeys and Circle Adventures”.    Our story earlier this month was Suzanne Down’s “Lucky Patrick” and now we have moved to one of my seasonal favorites for spring, also by Suzanne Down, called, “Spring Kite Magic.”

Our preparations for Lent were way behind what we normally did, other than making wet felted eggs and dying eggs.  We missed all the Great Liturgies for Holy Week because I just felt too fragile and sad  (except for the Great Liturgy of Easter),  but I hope to attend the celebrations of Eastertide to the fullest.

Fifth Grade: We finished our Greek Mythology and we finished our math block of the Ancient Americas/Chocolate, where we focused on all four math processes, the stories of Toltec and Mayan mythology, and cooking with chocolate.  My original inspiration for this block was from Marsha Johnson, and you can find her notes on her “Magic of Waldorf” website, but I built on it quite a bit from there.  We also spent a bit of time this week on the  Ancestral Puebloans of the American Southwest and will swing back around to this when we do North American Geography in a few short weeks.  We kept on with geometry and have worked our way through the six types of triangles, discovering interior angles, the chords of a circle, quadrilaterals, some biographies of Ancient mathematicians and their discoveries,  and will be moving into circles and ellipses this week in conjunction with our new block.  This week we will be beginning a block on the metric system based around the geography and sites of our neighbor, Canada.  We just finished  the read-aloud of Padraic Colum’s Children’s Homer and will be starting Holling C. Holling’s “Seabird”.  My original goal was to make a board game of the journey of Odysseus, but I feel as if we are running out of time and no longer in that place as we have moved on in blocks. We shall see.  Other than that, we have been working on spelling in addition to the math.  I find when we have a math block it is very taxing for our fifth grader and there is not a lot of energy left for as many artistic pursuits, so cooking has been a good adjunct to this block.

Eighth Grade:  We finished the Gilded Age with a summary and a lovely map of the Biltmore Estate that is our regional representation of the architecture of the Gilded Age.  We did talk about Einstein, we discussed Trotsky and Stalin and the Russian Revolution and spent some time comparing totalitarian regimes to our own country and our Bill of Rights, and then moved into the causes, events and outcomes of World War I and read a biography of Woodrow Wilson.  (The causes of World War I tied in nicely into our World Geography course where went back over the history of the Middle East and the Ottoman Empire).

We talked about the outcomes of World War I planting the seeds for World War II, the Jazz Age and the Harlem Renaissance and  some poetry from that time period, drew a picture of the flapper for the Main Lesson Book, discovered the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, along with more poetry.  This week we are finishing up World War II – we looked at the causes of the war and conditions in Germany, Japan, and Italy;  we are reading a biography of Churchill; I told the stories of FDR, Hitler, Mussolini, Hirohito; we discussed the complete horrors of the Holocaust and the people who were lights within the Holocaust  – for this time around I focused on the role of the Grand Mosque in Paris as a short-term safe haven; we reviewed all the events of the war and the prominent American generals of the war, the horrors of Japanese-American Internment and the reasons the Allies “won”.  We looked at if there were any parallels between WW II and what is happening in our world with the Islamic State. FDR died here in our state, so it is my hope to visit Warm Springs and talk more about FDR’s life.  We are now moving into the aftermath of World War II and the timeline and  development of the events of the Cold War, including Korea, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War – mainly through biography, just as we did in studying World War II.   This week has mainly been the history of this period, including the struggle for Civil Rights, through the biographies of Dwight D. Eisenhower and JFK.

We will also look at the  Space Race, and the era of Reagan and  end with the War on Terrorism and the Age of Digitality before this block is over.  I Our eighth grader read “Breaking Stalin’s Nose” and we discussed it as a piece of literature, and now she is reading JKF’s “Profiles in Courage.”

In World Geography, we finished Oceania and also finished the area of North Africa/Southwest and Central Asia.  We looked thoroughly at the Middle East and its history again, through the modern era, and focused on OPEC and the Creation of Israel.  We read Julia Johnson’s “Saluki, Hound of the Bedouins” and our eighth grader drew a picture from that.  She also made a very large map in which we labeled all the tribes of the Middle East.  We covered the geography and culture of the sub-Saharan African countries and discussed the intertwining of electricity, economic growth and how South Africa has been displaced in economic growth by Nigeria and how it is predicted that Nigeria will be replaced by Ethiopia and possibly the Democratic Republic of Congo (in second place) by 2050 depending upon infrastructure and power.  We also have discussed President Obama’s 2013 initiative, “Power Africa”.    We have Russia and Europe to finish off our World Geography course.  I feel this course has been a very successful one this year and a high school credit will be well-earned for the amount of work it has been.

We are working on math daily as well, and I am looking forward to ending our World History block and moving into Oceanography and Meteorology in April.   Our eighth grader did her presentation on the Junior Ranger Badge/Get Outdoors Program for her 4-H presentation and is looking at options for 4-H next year.  I am also excited about a regional homeschool field trip group that has formed that has over 3,000 members and will be doing all kinds of wonderful field trips this summer.

I hope your spring is springy and sprongy and full of sweetness, always full of light in the shadows –

Carrie

 

What Experienced Waldorf Homeschooling Mothers Would Tell You…

When I was part of a Waldorf-specific homeschooling group here in my home state, one thing we did every year (and often several times a year!) was  get together to discuss “hot topics” about HOW to homeschool.  How do you do it with a new baby and multiple children?  With multiple children spread out in ages?  How do you do circle time with an only child?   How do you learn to paint or draw or knit or sing with an only child, with multiple children, in the spring when everyone has spring fever, when you have four grades to fit in?  These are things you really can only learn from other homeschooling mothers who have been through it!

Many very experienced Waldorf homeschooling families are no longer blogging for reasons ranging from having their work stolen and sold as part of a curriculum to their children’s requests for privacy to just the difficulty of talking about how to teach writing an essay for literature versus the much more fun task of talking about festival preparations and fairies.  (yes, and by the way, gnomes, fairies and festivals get a lot more blog hits than the academic high points of the older grades!)  This is so sad, though, for the newest generation of Waldorf homeschooling parents because these experienced families have so much wisdom and so many stories and kernels of wisdom that could be shared.

If you could sit down with a group of experienced Waldorf homeschooling families,  I think what  you would hear from them is:

It absolutely is hard work.  Incredibly hard work.  Over so many, many years.

You can do this.

It will be okay.

Your homeschooling will not be like a Waldorf School.  There is only one of you.

Teaching in a Waldorf environment is an art.  We have many more things in our heads than we could possibly bring in any one particular lesson, and we look at the children in front of us on that particular day in that particular moment and bring it.  It is less of a “how-to” and more of an intuitive art and relationship.  So hard for the new Waldorf homeschooling mothers to hear, but so true.

You can let go of some things, and in fact, you may have to.   There may be some things that are impossible to bring in the home environment.  Conversely, there are advantages to the homeschooling environment that can never be replicated in a school environment.

You can homeschool through high school.  Waldorf homeschooling provides a beautiful, rigorous, artistic, practical education that culminates in the twelfth grade.

Be proud of all the hard work you are putting into your children and your family.  In this day and age, it is often under-valued and under-appreciated.

But don’t view that investment as a guarantee.  Children come with their own things, they go their own ways, they may reject what you brought to them the older they get.  This happens irrespective of schooling sometimes.

Never sacrifice yourself, your health, your marriage, for a “perfect” way of homeschooling or a “perfect” curriculum.  Far better to have a happy family life, an encouraging, supportive and cooperative environment than to attain perfection alone and broken. Take care of yourself and your relationships, and then your homeschooling.  It will all work out.

The housework, driving, cooking, etc needs to be simple and as delegated as possible.  The ability to show our children HOW to nourish a home and the people in it, along with the land we are on, is vitally important.  Practical work in the home is the cornerstone of Waldorf homeschooling.    Don’t take that away from our children by never having them learn, but also go easy on yourself if you have teens and older children where there are activities outside of the home, multiple long grades to teach and you need to have simpler routines and rhythms and meals than in the past.

Remember that Love is the root of all Waldorf homeschooling…. https://theparentingpassageway.com/2015/07/14/the-root-of-waldorf-homeschooling-is-love

In love,

Carrie

 

 

 

Weeks Nineteen and Twenty of Homeschooling Eighth, Fifth and Kindy

This is the week of Candlemas, the halfway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox, and I find us just turning past the halfway point of our total number of school weeks this year.  If you want to know what we were doing in weeks seventeen and eighteen, try this back post https://theparentingpassageway.com/2016/01/21/weeks-seventeen-and-eighteen-of-homeschooling-eighth-grade-fifth-grade-and-kindy/.

Kindergarten –  I really cracked down on our rhythm in week nineteen and we have worked hard to stay on task with meaningful work and festival preparations for Candlemas.  One of our favorite activities for this week’s Candlemas festival was making little beeswax walnut boats with candles.  We also made earth candles at our homeschool classes, and rolled beeswax sheet candles at home.    This week was the beginning of our two day a week forest kindergarten program and our kindergartener was very happy to spend time with friends and be in the woods.  We feel extremely fortunate to have such a program available in our area.

Fifth Grade – Last week we finished up Ancient Africa.  I mainly focused on Nubia, Kush, Meroe, the Mbuti and the San, with more to come in sixth and seventh grades.   Our fifth grader did a beautiful pastel picture of the African pharaohs that ruled Egypt and we talked about how there are actually more pyramids in Sudan than there are in Egypt.  Ancient African history is so fascinating!   We then  moved into Ancient China and talked about the geography of the land, and extensively about the Gobi Desert and the Bactrian camel  and camel caravans.   Our fifth grader wrote a little piece from the first person perspective about being a camel puller on a caravan and also modeled a camel in clay.  We reviewed some Chinese legends and learned about the biographies of  Confucius and Lao Tzu, and the Great Wall of China.  My original plan was to move into math and the Ancient Americas this week but my fifth grader is begging to start Greek Mythology, so we started at the end of this week with the land of Greece and introducing Mount Olympus and the battle of the Titans.  I don’t mind moving blocks around at all.  This year has just been like that, so I am just going with the flow of it.

We finished reading “The Golden Goblet”  for our Egyptian studies and now we are reading “Understood Betsy”, which to me is a rather regional New England book that was one of my favorites when I was a child.  A lot of the read-alouds I have chosen for this second half of the school year have to do with regions in the United States in preparation for our final block which will be North American Geography.  We are still working hard on math – all four processes, fractions, a little bit with decimals.  We are also working with spelling and spelling rules.  Our fifth grader is also doing some handwork in a class that meets the same time as our kindergartener is in forest kindergarten, and working hard in choir and for the church’s spring musical.  Our fifth grader will also be taking part in a play some homeschoolers are putting on for studies in Greek Mythology, and of course, the beloved barn shows are starting back this month as well.

Eighth Grade  – We wrapped up physics with making flying objects and learning about gravity, lift, thrust and drag, and about wings and rotors.  Great fun!  We studied many, many biographies of aviators, as I mentioned in the last post in this series, and our eighth grader completed a pencil drawing of Amelia Earhart that turned out well.

We started our Geography of Asia block with a review of the geography and some of the history of China, along with a pencil drawing;  then we mainly focused on the Chinese Cultural Revolution and a comparison and contrast of  Mao Zedong/Tse-Tung and Chiang Kai -Shek.  After that,  we moved into Korea and a discussion of the geography and history of Ancient Korea and more modern history including the division of North and South Korea, the DMZ,  and what life may be like in North Korea.  We are now talking about Japan and Japanese history.  We will have Vietnam, and Borneo to talk about and then we will move into Oceania.  After this block, we will jump into Oceanography, which my inner marine lover is heartily looking forward to!

We finished our read aloud, “The Brooklyn Bridge” by Karen Hesse (please, please pre-read for your eighth grader as it is a wonderful book but has some more mature themes and may not be wonderful for very sensitive children) and we are now reading “Water Buffalo Days:Growing Up in Vietnam” , obviously about Vietnam, which we will cover next week.  I also have the books “Red Scarf Girl” and “The Good Earth” tapped to read for this block.

We are also working hard on ratios, direct and inverse proportions for math, and high school Spanish.  Choir and preparing for the  church musical and now a fortunate turn to have a class in doll-making for our eighth grader, is  also keeping us busy.  Horse shows are starting up again this month, so we are also busy at the barn.

I would love to hear what you are working on.

Many blessings,
Carrie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I would love to hear what you are up to!

Blessings and love,
Carrie

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I would love to hear what you are working on.

Many blessings,

Carrie

 

 

Preparing the First Block of First Grade

Some of you are already thinking of planning your first block of first grade.  I have just planned our first block.  This is my third time teaching first grade, and while each child is so different, I think there are some general tips that can be helpful to any parents planning a block.

If you have looked at the festivals of the year, your school year calendar, observed your child, and planned what blocks when plus gathered resources, you are ready to start planning your first block in detail.  If you are NEW to Waldorf homeschooling, you really need to understand the “why” and “how”. WHY do we do form drawing as the first block and HOW is it typically done?    Steiner’s educational lectures are the cornerstone in this regard, along with secondary pedagogical resources.

Many parents look at each block in terms of setting a goal for artistic work, soul development, and academic capabilities.  First grade is especially about getting children into their bodies, so to me this is an especially logical place to start.  I like to come up with an outline for each day and week. So, in our case, I have our day started with movement,  using the movement block rotation listed at the Movement for Childhood website. I also like to plan “movement breaks”  from this website as I know I will need them during the time spent with my child.

Then I look at establishing a daily order:  for example, after movement our order may be  our opening verse and active circle, active math, what the main lesson (in this case, form drawing) actually will be each day , and the ending of our day.  In our case, our first grader will also spend time each day working with his older sisters, so that will be listed as well – what they will be doing with him each day, whether that is cooking or handwork or reading to him or playing games.

Once you have this order of what happens during the time you are together,  and what happens each day of the week outside of the “main lesson time”, it is easy to make a template and start to plug things in from your resources or to make up what you need from your own creative and authentic self.  What will your movement, opening verse, active circle, active math, main lesson work be each day?   Look things up and create your own things!  You can write your own poetry or verses or songs and make up your own poetry!  Steiner outlined the first several days of first grade in his lectures, so looking at his indications is also an essential first step to planning the main lesson part of your template.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to draw from your child’s interests when it is developmentally appropriate.  For one child, when we did form drawing, I drew a lot from a story I made up about pond life and the movement of the animals, wind and things around the ponds in our local area.  For another child, I did form drawing based upon the stories and characters of Brambly Hedge.  You will find the right thing for your child if you just sit with it all for a little bit.  It will come. Trust the inspiration that comes to you!  It will be the right thing for your child.

Many blessings, and thank you for letting me share,

Carrie