Top 7 Ways to Fearlessly Waldorf Homeschool

I wrote a post about “fearless Waldorf homeschooling” in which I talked about how despite our fears regarding homeschooling, we are enough.  We really are.  Every family has its own unique circumstances, family culture, family dynamics, strengths that interplay with the Waldorf curriculum at home to make it unique and able to meet the child in front of us so wonderfully.  Homeschooling is full of possibilities, but it has to be sustainable for us as teachers and parents.  And for that reason, our homeschool adventures will never look like, and should never look  like a Waldorf School.

Here are ways I think we can fearlessly Waldorf homeschool, and leave our worries and doubts about this sometimes intense way of homeschooling behind!

Decide your priorities for homeschooling based on  the amount of energy you have.  Everyone has a certain amount of energy, and we all have a fixed number of hours in the day.  Are you a low, medium, or high energy person?  What does an ideal homeschooling day look like for you?  Remember my mantra  – the Waldorf homeschool will not, and should never look like a Waldorf School program!  So what are the top priorities from looking at all the things that Waldorf homeschooling can bring that your children, and you, really really need?  Resign yourself that you must likely won’t do all the things, and that is perfectly okay.

Design your priorities for Waldorf homeschooling around your strengths, and decide if the things you are weakest at is something that you actually want to learn and grow better at doing  OR if this is something that you can outsource!  For example, say knitting is hard for you.  Do you want to spend your energy learning how to knit and then teach your child, do you want to learn together with your child, or do you want to send your child somewhere to learn how to knit in your community?

Build your homeschooling around rhythm, but remember to include self-care in  your rhythm.  I don’t know what that would like like for you, but I think for many of us, sustainable homeschooling involves being more than just the person teaching or keeping up everything around the house.  It involves being a whole human being, and for many of us, we need some time either alone, with our spouse without children, or with our own friends in order to recharge.  It might involve when  you exercise, or when you sleep in or take a nap or meet a friend for tea.  Whatever it is, plan out your self-care for the week on Sundays.   Mark it in, arrange where your children will be, but do it.  Generally, homeschooling is not sustainable into the middle grades without this piece.  Burnout is real, and many people who start homeschooling and throw themselves into it with gusto either have to reinvent how they homeschool in the middle school grades or they put their children in school.  

We must always teach to the child in front of us.  What parts of these traditional blocks are of most interest to our child?  What things do we need to include in the grades that are developementally appropriate , meet our family culture, meet the time and place in which we live that are different than the Waldorf Schools?  

How do we deliver these lessons?   Waldorf homeschooling is about more than creating main lesson books!   There will always be children who hate to draw orwho hate creating main lesson books, and we must do more than just decide an education based in the arts, based around health and using sleep as an aid to memory,  is not for them.  In the home environment, we have so many creative options.

What is our end academic goal? I think far too many parents enter blocks without thinking about what they are trying to accomplish skill-wise – so think about this in your planning.  This keeps you confident and courageous!  What academic, social, emotional, physical and artistic skills is this material a springboard for?  What’s the end point? 

When in doubt, what will foster connection and responsbility in your child? Both of these are important, as the ultimate goal of Waldorf Education is that  human beings once again learn how to live with each other, that we can connect with the “other”, that we see how things are interrelated, that we can serve humanity with love.  It helps to begin with the end in mind. 

Blessings and love,
Carrie

 

beautiful january

I love January – the possibility of cold and snow, the bright days perfect for walks, the many possibilities of decluttering the physical environment and the body and the soul in January!  It’s going to be a terrific month!

celebrating:  

Here are some of the days we will be celebrating in January:

January 1 – New Year’s Day

January 6– The Feast of Epiphany and Epiphanytide that stretches until Lent begins on March 6th this year.

January 21 – Martin Luther King, Jr Day – also celebrated January 15 and April 4 in The Episcopal Church

Janaury 18– The Feast Day of St. Peter

January 25 – The Feast Day of St. Paul

homeschooling:

third grade – we are continuing to work hard on reading and are starting off our semester with a block of Hebrew Stories/Old Testament tales as traditional in the Waldorf curriculum in this grade.  We are using All About Reading for practice as well since reading has been a struggle and will continue daily work in math.  Please follow me on Instagram @theparentingpassageway as that is where I will be posting third grade work this month.

eighth grade – we are continuing with our year round course of pre-algebra, and starting our semester with a block on Revolutions that will include the American Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, The French Revolution, Simon Bolivar, and the Mexican Revolution.

eleventh grade – we are continuing with our year-long courses in Chemistry and in American Government/Social Justice.  Our eleventh grader also has AP Psychology, Pre-Calculus,and  AP Language outside of the home

sustainability –

I am a generous giver. I have decent boundaries, but can get really wrapped up in other people’s challenges and other people’s energy and take it all on as my own if I am not careful.  I have improved immensely in this area in the last 2 years, and am proud of my progress.  So, for even more sustainability and in the spirit of knowing that my needs are to be equally valued, this New Year I am prioritizing self-care in the form of exercise outside the home as I find it hard to exercise in my house, health appointments (which for me, since I had a health crisis last year, means still going to  doctor appointments), healthy eating, having super fun with my spouse and our friends, and using a protocol  created by acupuncturist Desiree Mangandog called “I Am Worthy”

I sit down and plan my self-care that has to be outside of the home for the week on Sundays.  Simple things I do at home that don’t require as much planning included journaling, meditating, tapping, use of The Book of Common Prayer daily, and epsom salt baths.

parenting-

third grader – there aren’t really any children that come outside to play with in our neighborhood and since his sisters are middle to older teens, movement (which I have to spearhead) is a priority above and beyond school.  His social needs are also a priority because he is very extroverted.

eighth grader – we are getting plans in place for homeschooling high school (all subjects will be homeschooled, none will be outside the home at this point). She is a great help in the house, and my parenting work with her are the typical goals in order to be successful in high school, and to continue to develop  connection to the family and  compassionate character.

eleventh grader – we are working on college visits, and getting through the junior year of standardized testing, and connection.  I think this is an important time to connect as a family and as a mother-daughter team.  We have an idea to take a little trip for just the two of us, so I think that will work out and be an amazing way to connect.

home life-

I am sticking with very simple cleaning and decluttering routines and asking for help. I cannot homeschool and do everything we do outside the home and do continue taking care of the house as if it is my ful-time job. However,  I also cannot stand a messy or dirty house as I am a very visual person, and we really don’t have the money for an outside cleaning person.  So, that leaves simplicity and asking for help as our family is a team!

Crafting – I love the little crafts I associate with January, including window stars, rose windows, snowflakes, candlemaking.  I hope to post pictures of some of our processes on Instagram @theparentingpassageway and on The Parenting Passageway’s Facebook page.

 

I can’t wait to hear what you are up to this beautiful January!

Blessings and love,
Carrie

 

The Things That Matter For Teens

I had a post with some of my favorite emotional intelligence books for 8-10 year olds on The Parenting Passageway IG not too long ago, and there was a question about resources for teens.  I think that’s tricky; many of the resources are either really babyish or really adult or honestly just try to be so hip any teen is just going to roll his or her eyes.  So one thing I have done lately is to just make a little list and plan to read through some articles as we put our own thing together.  This is my list; feel free to take it and adapt it for your teen.

Good Relationships:

  • Boundaries
  • Ways to Say No
  • Consent
  • When you judge others, you are judging yourself; acceptance as an essential ingredient in relationships
  • How to Apologize
  • Narcissist Gaslighting Checklist and other articles about narcissists

For Self:

  • Growth Mindset- Learning is a learned behavior
  • Recognizing Anxiety and What to Do About It
  • Recognizing Depression and What to Do About It
  • The Inner Critic and what to do about it
  • Common cognitive distortions
  • The Importance of Play and Rest
  • Being Present
  • The Importance of Wasting Time
  • Productivity Doesn’t Equal Self Worth
  • Self-care tips

Specific to Romantic Relationships/Marriage:

  • Things to Think about Before Marriage
  • Knowing yourself will help make the best relationship
  • Love Languages ( words of affirmation is most common love language)
  • Generosity
  • Should Your Spouse Be Your Best Friend?  ( do we expect too much from our spouses?  the importance of friends and couple friends)
  • Fighting fair
  • From bickering to listening
  • Turning Toward Instead of Away
  • The Good Enough Relationship

Parenting

  • Power of Gratitude
  • Teaching self-care to kids  through rhythm, sleep, rest, playing outside, nutrition, hydration, connection
  • The more we hug our kids, the more their brains develop
  • Post partum depression; new dads can get depressed as well
  • Benefits of raising children near family
  • Reflective listening skills and how not to use empathy and listening for self-serving purposes
  • The family meal
  • No punishments and no rewards

Blessings,

Carrie

 

 

 

Free Lesson Block Plans and Ideas Grades 7-9

The ten year anniversary of The Parenting Passageway is coming up in October.  This blog has seen me through the days and years of when our oldest child was tiny, all the way through high school and three children homeschooling multiple times through the grades! Amazing all the different changes in ten years!

One thing that has been consistent about this blog is a love of developmental parenting and education.  I often felt Waldorf Education met the developmental needs of our children very well, and wrote about what we were doing in our homeschooling.  I extend an invitation to you to check out my thoughts regarding the different grades and what we did for certain blocks.

All of this information is free, and I hope you can use what you like out of it to put together developmental education for your own children.

Grade 7

Upper Grades: Getting To The Essence of A Block

Resources for Seventh Grade

Ideas for Teaching About Africa

Ideas for Teaching About Latin America

Seventh and Eighth Grade Chemistry

Guest Post: Seventh Grade Chemistry

Seventh Grade Physiology

Writing in the Middle School Grades

Charcoal Drawings

Drawing and Painting in Grades 6-8

Life Skills For Seventh and Eighth Graders

I went through seventh grade week by week , starting with Week One here

Grade 8

Block Rotation – second time through 8th grade

American History Blocks for Eighth Grade

Eighth Grade History

Eighth Grade Oceanography

Computers: A Waldorf Perspective

Emotional Health

Homeschooling Eighth Grade for High School Credit

Pondering Homeschooling High School

I went through eighth grade week by week for the entire school year starting with this post:  Week One Eighth Grade

Grade 9

Homeschooling Ninth Grade

Block Rotation for Ninth Grade

First Semester of Ninth Grade Wrap-Up

Homeschooling High School Biology

High School American History

Multicultural Literature Recommendations

Blessings,

Carrie

Multicultural Literature Suggestions for Waldorf Ninth and Tenth Grade

This list is not all of the literature we read in ninth and tenth grade, but it is the literature we did that focused on treatment of minorities or women or were by minority or women authors.

9th Grade

In eighth and  ninth grade, our history covered mainly Southeastern Native American History/Native American history and American history (so keep in mind this book list was spread over two years for history if it seems like a lot to you!)

Poetry:

  • Langston Hughes
  • Phillis Wheatley  (as part of American History)
  • “A Brave and Startling Truth” by Maya Angelou

Drama as part of our Comedy and Tragedy block as suggested by Christopherus Homeschool Resources, Inc in their former main lesson unit book “Comedy And Tragedy” which I don’t think is available anymore.

  • The Damask Drum – Japanese Noh Drama
  • A Raisin in the Sun – Lorraine Hansberry

Novels for American History:   

  • Sing Down the Moon – Scott O’Dell (8th)
  • Sacajawea – Bruchac  (8th)
  • Freedom Train -Sterling;  (8th)
  • (The Last of the Mohicans was another big read for this block;  it does deal a lot with Cooper’s ideas about Native Americans and the French and Indian War in the Northeastern United States)
  • Black Like Me – Liddell-Benge

Nonfiction for American History

  • Let It Shine:  Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters –  Andrea Davis Pinkney (8th)
  • Indian Chiefs -Russell Freedman
  • Malcolm X – Linde (picture book; I used it for my own presentation about Malcolm X)
  • (general books about Martin Luther King Jr, John Lewis)

Literature: 

  • Rain Is Not My Indian Name –  Cynthia Leitich Smith
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God – Hurston
  • The Absolutely True Diary of A Part-Time Indian -Alexie Sherman
  • The Good Earth = Buck
  • Red Scarf Girl – Jiang
  • (interestingly, we also did two science fiction selections as well!)

10th Grade:

A block of Ancient Epics  is traditional in Waldorf Schools and developmentally tied to this grade, but we also did  a block of post-Harlem Renaissance African-American literature tracing vernacular  tradition in music traditions to poetry to a variety of written literature.

Poetry: 

  • “Fundamentalism” – Naomi Shihab Nye
  • “Still I Rise” -Maya Angelou
  • “We Real Cool” – Gwendolyn Brooks
  • “Eventide” – Gwendolyn Brooks
  • “Georgia Dusk” – Jean Toomer
  • “Dream Deferred” -Langston Hughes
  • “Haiku” – Sonia Sanchez
  • Music Lyrics as Poetry: “Get It Together” by India Arie and “The Evil That Men Do” by Queen Latifah; “The Rose That Grew From Concrete” by Tupac Shakur
  • “Ego Tripping” -Nikki Giovanni
  • “American Hero” – Essex Hemphill
  • “To Some Supposed Brothers” -Essex Hemphill

Literature:   

  • “Rootedness: The Ancestor as Foundation” – Toni Morrison (essay)
  • “The Sky Is Grey” -Ernest Gaines (short story)
  • “The Burden of Race” – Arthur Ashe (nonfiction excerpt)
  • “The Bean Trees” – Kingsolver
  • “The Joy Luck Club”  –  Amy Tan

Nonfiction, tied into American Government

  • “Just Mercy” – Bryan Stephenson

Assigned Reading between 10th and 11th Grades:

  • “Beloved” – Toni Morrison
  • “Invisible Man”  –  Ralph Ellison (probably will end up doing together as first book in fall)
  • “Dear Martin” – Nic Stone
  • “All American Boys” – Jason Reynolds
  • “Piecing Me Together” – Watson

Would love to hear some of your early high school multicultural selections!

Blessings,
Carrie

 

The Christian Corner: The Episcopalian Homeschool

I don’t normally spend a lot of time here on issues specific to homeschooling as an Episcopalian, but since there are no resources devoted to Episcopalian homeschooling at all (you can see more about that lament on back posts on this blog), and I have had multiple mothers ask, I thought I would lay out a few thoughts.  I hope eventually to turn this into some kind of e-book so those of you who are interested have a small resource to get started!

I like to think of the progression of Episcopalian homeschooling as a threefold structure, so these are my ideas.

From:

Ages 0-7, Episcopalian homeschooling is about BELONGING.

  • As parents, we model from our Baptismal Convenant that we “seek and serve Christ in all persons” and we “strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being, with God’s help.”
  • We go to church and celebrate the church seasons, the Eucharist, the feast and fast days. We look at the stories in the Holy Bible as God’s story of LOVE for us and for all others.   We, as parents, learn for ourselves what these things mean and it is part of our daily and weekly and yearly routine.
  • We USE our Book of Common Prayer in daily and weekly life.  This is important, because we don’t have a lot of creeds or statements the way other Christian denominations do.  Our path as Episcopalians is largely a path of prayer, of joy, and of standing up for what is decent and right.  It isn’t complicated.  But it does require work.
  • We spend lots of time in nature, not only because Episcopalians are concerned about climate change and want to be informed stewards, but because nature is a strong strand of our beliefs that ties back into the Celtic roots of Anglicanism.

From Ages 7-14, Episcopalian homeschooling is about BELONGING and HEROES.

  • We are still modeling BELONGING by the way we act toward others in daily life.  In this stage, we not only expect our children to model our behaviors that include and help people, but we hope to start to be able to see this action on their own.
  • We still are going to church and celebrating the church seasons, the Eucharist, the feast and fast days, and we see now the stories in the Bible as a deeper level of encouragement in our own walk for loving ourselves, each other, and the Earth.
  • As older children question things, we talk about how we use our intellect and experience as part of our experience with God.  Faith, tradition, reasoning, and experience are all part of being an Episcopalian.
  • We get our older children to participate – older children can acolyte, participate in Children’s Choir and the Royal School of Church Music Program, help with the nursery, attend Sunday School and Vacation Bible School and summer camps.  We help and encourage relationships with the other children in the parish. My parish is pretty large, about 800 families, and I think there are probably close to 20 schools or more represented, so school attendance isn’t the deciding factor for friendship in our parish.
  • We still use the Book of Common Prayer in daily and weekly life.
  • We still spend lots of time in nature. Some at this stage will chosee to look for Episcopal summer camps – they are all over and provide incredible immersive experiences into nature and closeness to God.
  • We develop more faith by participating in the life of the church.  We get involved with causes, with the classes and offering of the church, and if what we want is not there, we step up as parents and get involved.
  • We start learning the stories of the heroes of our faith – the people who made the Anglican faith what it is
  • My little mini-rant about Heroes of the Faith:  King Henry doesn’t count.  I shudder actually when people talk about that as if they don’t know any of the real ways and real heroes that made this strand of Western Christianity different than anything else.  Anglicanism was different than anything else because of where it HAPPENED –  The church was aligned with many Celtic beliefs and moved toward the customs and beliefs of the Western church with the Synod of Whitby, but in many ways still retains a good deal in common with its Celtic beginnings and with the church before the split of the Reformation.  So in a way, it was and still is its own thing!  If you want to debate me about King Henry, I will just delete your comment because it is a source of contention to me that people don’t know more about either their own denomination or others can’t be bothered to find out and just comment on things they haven’t researched.  #sorrynotsorry
  • Heroes from the Holy Bible, and yes, the Feast Days of Saints that we celebrate (and the idea that we can all be Saints!  A little different concept in the Anglican Communion) (the Saints this month in June have varied from St. Columba to St. Ephrem of Syria to St. Enjegahbowh to Sahu Sundar Singh of India), and then some of the traditional heroes: Bede the Venerable, St. Anselm, St. Thomas Becket, John Wycliffe, Thomas Cranmer, John Jewel, Richard Hooker, Samual Crowther, Janauni Luwum, Archbishop Tutu,  and more.
  • Toward the end of this period, I like to talk plainly about the 5 Marks of Mission of the Episcopal Church of the U.S., which are:
  • To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
  • To teach, baptize and nurture new believers
  • To respond to human need by loving service
  • To seek to transform unjust structures of society
  • To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth
  • We can start to talk to older children (7th and 8th grade) about the history of the church as involved in the Social Gospel period of history, our role in the Civil Rights Movement, our role in equality for LBGTQ people, and our positions on civil rights,  the environment,  and more.

Ages 14-21  We walk the talk by publicly professing our faith and Baptismal Vows, not only in confirmation, but in striving for justice for all people, for loving all people by trying to see Christ in them, and for standing up for the dignity of all human beings.  We profess our faith by walking in love.  

  • At this point,  teens get involved in running the life of the church – acolyting, helping at Vacation Bible School or summer camps or with the smaller children’s choir.
  • Teens start to think about their faith and if they want to publicly profess in Confirmation with hands laid on by the Bishop if they believe in The Apostles’ Creed (the Nicene Creed is said weekly, but the Apostles’ Creed is used at Baptism and Confirmation), if they believe and will continue in teaching what the apostles began, will persevere, will proclaim the LOVE of God in Christ to the world, to seek and serve Christ in all persons, to strive for justice and peace among all people and to  respect the dignity of every human being and be a part of the belonging that is the Episcopalian Church.
  • They can use their Book of Common Prayer and the resources of the church to have an active prayer life.
  • We help our teen investigate the resources of the Episcopal Church, so they can make an impact in the world. These resources include:

The Episcopal News Service

The Episcopal Public Policy Network

Episcopal Climate News  and  Green Anglicans

The Episcopal Peace Fellowship

Episcopalians Against Gun Violence  and  Episcopalians Against Human Trafficking

Episcopalian Migration Ministries

Episcopal Intercultural Network

  • Some teenagers will choose to attend an Episcopalian college.  The Episcopal Church has the highest number of people with graduate and post-graduate degrees per capita than any other denomination in the United States and has a strong system of colleges, both regular and historically black colleges and universities.
  • After Confirmation, which varies from parish to parish in what grade it occurs (in our parish it is tenth grade), the teenager is considered an adult and equal in the church. The last few years of high school and headed into the twenties are good times to deepen spiritual formation, become involved in and make good decisions based around what we believe as part of the Episcopal Church of the United States and part of the Anglican Communion.  Some will continue into college deepening their faith through Campus and Young Adult Ministries and some will even branch out after college to do things like Episcopal Service Corps or  partake in other ways to serve others.

Hope that helps,

Carrie

 

Part One: Friendships for Ages 10-11

Friendships are an amazing (and sometimes challenging thing!) for children of the ages ten to fifteen to really navigate! This week is friend week at The Parenting Passageway, and we will discover what children ages 10-15 really need to make friendships that thrive!

Ten- year -olds really love their friends, and it can be astounding all that a ten-year-old will know about their friends.  While it is true that some ten -year girls are in a dramatic fight with their friends for what appears every minute, many ten -year- olds really appreciate having loyal friends.  If neighborhood friends exist, that is probably the healthiest and most wonderful relationship for children.  Neighborhood loyalty can be strong, and a lot can be learned participating in neighborhood games and large groups.  (Sadly, this doesn’t seem to exist as much as it used to).  Ten is also the age for forming “groups” and  even participating in groups such a Girl Scouts.    Ten generally is not a hugely exlusionary age, although they may “forget” to invite people to a birthday party or their club that they made up – they may not really want that person there, but they don’t want to hurt that person’s feelings or lose that person who is a “friend”.  Lots of people are their “friends” – even if it is just an acquaintance from the next neighborhood over.

What you can do to help:  Talk to your children about how to  be a good friend, what is mean behavior, and what is plain bullying.  Encourage the neighborhood group and lots of outside play.  This is the age of games with rules that the children themselves make up (and break, and change the rules).  No adults should be needed.  If fighting erupts, don’t be dramatic with your child and give it a chance, because they may make up in a day or two.  Particularly if the arguments are amongst those in a neighborhood, it will blow over.  Do not give a child this age a phone!  All these little spits and spats that work out do not need a phone element involved!  If you think your child is being bullied,  try  the tips on this website.  Bullying is  different from mean behavior., and I like  this article because it talks about the difference between bullying and when exclusion is or isn’t bullying.    Social media exacerbates this, so please, do not give your child a phone!

Eleven -year-olds  can be a having a time of sadness and anger in general.  Eleven-year-olds often yell, cry, stomp away, become exceedingly competitive, and act very silly or giggly.  Eleven usually marks the beginning of choosing friends not just because of proximity, but because “we get along”.  Best friends are really important for many (not all) at this age, particularly boys.  Girls may still have more of a group to hang around with.  There may still be quarreling, but most eleven-year-olds can work things out.

What you can do to help:  Have your home be a place where eleven-year-olds want to land and be.  Help eleven-year-olds be outside to play and get physical energy out.  Talk to your child about being a good friend, and also about the confidences and loyalty that go along with being a “best” friend.    If they are super competitive, talk to them about how that fits in (or doesn’t) in being a great friend – does super competitiveness lead to incredible friendships and make people comfortable? When is competitiveness healthy and not healthy?

Later this week we will be talking about friendships for ages 12-13 and then ages 14-15.

Blessings,

Carrie