Finding Peace: The Steady Home

One of the first ways we often try to bring peace to ourselves and our families is through our physical homes.  I think this is a lot of the popularity of the simplicity and minimalist movements – this longing for peace is at the root of taming our physical environments.

Sometimes our physical surroundings can be a great place to start.  When I see new mothers come to Waldorf parenting and education, they often are very interested in playsilks, wooden toys and the seasonal table.  This is because perhaps in transforming our environments with our hands, we transform a little bit of our hearts.

What would a steady home look like to you?  To me, it would include:

On a physical level:  knowing where things are and where they go, at least in general.  The ability to keep clutter at bay.  A general cheerful cleanliness that is not too fussy but is maintained.

On a rhythmic level:  having enough time at home that there are routines to managing the home, cleaning the home, and for meal planning and preparation.  Also, on a rhythmic level, I think a steady home includes time for rest, naps, and  sleep.

On an emotional level : knowing that we have unrushed time.  Unhurried time.  Knowing that there is time for self-care and also for spiritual needs to be met within the home.  This may be a little out of the realm of the physical home, but I think these emotions come out in the physical surroundings in the home.

I think what all these areas have in common is TIME.  As parents and homeschooling parents, we can look at our days as time. Sometimes when all children are small, we are looking at ways to fill time – the long walks outside; the afternoons of blowing bubbles or playing outside (or just general ways to feed everyone and keep them safe and alive until bedtime :)). Sometimes as children grow up, we are looking at ways to capture time and make more efficient use of it because there are more things that are happening.  Time gives us the ability to be rushed or not, and rhythm provides a key toward unlocking time and energy as we parent.  We have to begin with some sort of end in mind of how we want time to impact how we manage our homes.

Please share your favorite ways to look at time and rhythm, your priorities in the physical home, how you tame clutter and how you find rest.

Many blessings,


How To Protect The Middle Years of Childhood In Four Easy Steps

We read a lot about protecting early childhood in the literature of  Waldorf education and Waldorf parenting, but did you ever stop to think that the time of middle childhood is also a time to also be honored and protected?  There are certain watermarks in Waldorf education where the child is seen as undergoing substantial developmental and transformative change – usually at six/seven, age nine, age twelve and age fifteen/sixteen. So, the logical conclusion is that a child experiences the nine year change and the twelve year change before he or she enters the fifteen/sixteen year old change.  This seems so obvious when one says this – that the years between ten and fourteen are steps leading up to the changes at fifteen and sixteen –  and yet in our society it all seems to become rather blurred.  I think we should honor and protect this time instead of rushing through it on the way to driving, dating, and getting ready for college.    The years in which  a child is ten to fourteen is truly the heart of childhood in so many ways, this truly golden middle of childhood if we as parents and we as a society can really take a step back and protect and honor this time.

Nourishing play is one of the top ways to protect these years.  Ten to fourteen year olds still really play and play hard if you let them and this impulse for play has not been squashed!  This is a ripe age of all kinds of outdoor play, large games of different types of tag and pick-up games of any kind of sport are enjoyed typically.   If you give a child unstructured time instead of a busy structured schedule, this can be such a gift in nourishing play!

Simplicity is another key in protecting the middle years…simplicity in scheduling (and not over-scheduling) a child in these ages leads to the time to play, daydream, rest their growing bodies, read, create and tinker.  These can be some of the most fruitful years for this sort of exploration and freedom.  Ten to fourteen year olds are full of wonderful, innovative ideas.

Autonomy  is another way to protect this beautiful age of the golden age of childhood…but perhaps not in the way we often see  in society.  Please, please remember that there really is a difference between a ten and sixteen year old, and yes, even a fourteen year old and a sixteen year old.  Let us not rush into freedom of technology without boundaries, or such a peer-oriented state that we associate with those who are on the verge of young adulthood.  Freedom for this age group might mean being able to shop alone in a store for a few minutes while you are in another part of the store , maybe it is the ability to ride or walk somewhere  in a group of peers,  or being able to find and be in some secret place outside alone.  All of this, of course, depends upon what kind of place you live in and safety factors, but I think it is safe to say that many of us remember being this age and having the freedom to be gone most of the day riding our bikes or being outside between after school and dinner without parents knowing where we were every second.  Every family will feel differently about this, of course, but I think that is one example of the type of freedom that seems normal for this age group and wanted by children of this age.

Lastly, I think one of the most important ways to protect this stage is seeing the sacred.  One of the things I have noticed about children today of these ages compared to years past is this “dropping down” of an attitude of toughness and boredom and “I am too old for that”.   I am sure many of the mothers out there remember playing dolls or Barbies at ages ten to twelve, whereas for many little girls these days, these are not activities for ten to twelve year olds anymore.    Nurturing wonder, nurturing joy and  love and compassion are really important for these ages.  Toughness, boredom, rolling of eyes and not wanting to participate in family activities may be considered part of these ages these days, but I think parents of children these ages really need to step in and gently guide and lead.  Lead with love and connection.

Please share with me your favorite ways to honor the child who is ages ten to fourteen…and how to make this a lovely,  slow stage that is honored and not rushed into the realm of being an older adolescent.

Blessings and love,


Block Layout Plan for Ninth Grade Waldorf Homeschooling

So this coming fall marks a big occasion – we will have a high schooler in the house!  Making the decision to homeschool high school is a big one in and of itself, but to try to homeschool high school in a Waldorf way is also a big decision and an interesting project.  Many of you know that the Waldorf Curriculum really culminates in the high school and speaks to the development and awakening of the adolescent in a beautiful way.  In a Waldorf high school the subjects are taught by specialists and there are still blocks but there are also classes that run in tracks – (usually math, foreign language, some sort of Literature/Composition) plus all the increasing artistry around things such as blacksmithing, glassblowing, and other manner of things that we don’t often have access to at home.  It can sound daunting, but the home environment can be a truly great springboard toward preparing  a student for the future due to its inherent flexibility and real- life experiences.

So, we are hoping our high school will be a mix of blocks and tracks, of course, but also that it will be experiential, artistic, centered around outdoor education, 4-H activities and outdoor skills and also around our student’s passions and interests and serving in our community as well.  Having this real hands-on component I feel is essential for the restlessness of most teenagers who are ready to “do”.  So it may or may not really look like a “traditional” Waldorf high school depending upon the day, but I think it will very much meet the needs of our adolescent who likes to “go and do” and “learn and teach”.

These are the blocks we are planning for ninth grade in a very preliminary state:

Living Chemistry – 3 weeks

Native American and Colonial History with Basketry and American Art – 5 weeks – tracing the Native American tribes of the Southeast and focusing on some of the beautiful Native American sites in our own state along with Colonial History

Comedy and Tragedy – 4 weeks

Earth Science – 4 weeks

Christmas Break

Physics –  3 weeks

Revolutions – 3 weeks – will recap American, Industrial and Digital Revolutions along with Russian Revolution and Chinese Revolution and Chinese Cultural Revolution from eighth grade; will add in this block a more in-depth look at the French Revolution,  Simon Bolivar and Latin American independence, and also the Mexican Revolution

The Short Story – 3 weeks

Math/Probability – 2 weeks

History through Art – 4 weeks

Physiology – 3 weeks

The “tracks” we are planning include high school Spanish II through an outside source, English Literature, Algebra I, probably a separate “Art Foundations I” tract of studio art projects and field trips to combine with hours from History Through Art block to make a credit, and most likely biology.  I know Waldorf Schools don’t run biology in a track class, but I am a science geek and I need the higher end of  biology hours for our daughter who is most interested in medical careers.  So, in total we are hoping to earn credits for those track classes, plus American History (blocks from ninth grade combined with blocks and experiential hours  from eighth grade), and Music I.  This year our eighth grader will earn high school credits for World Geography and high school Spanish I.

While it may sound like a lot,  it actually is not that different from what we have been doing in seventh and eighth grades. If you are in the lower grades and reading this, please don’t panic.  It will all make sense when you get here.  Your homeschool high school  will look different than mine because every child and every family is different, but you will come up with the best way to meet your homeschooler’s needs. That is the whole joy of homeschooling high school.  Trust that the homeschooling that worked so well for your younger child can still work for your adolescent.

Blessings and love,



Great Sixth Grade Read-Alouds

I realized I have a post for great books and read-alouds for the Early Years through fifth grade but nothing for the older grades!  So, without further ado, here are some of my favorite and recommended books for sixth grade, along with some suggested by other parents.  I have not read every book on this list, so please leaf through for yourself.

For those of you Waldorf homeschooling, I tried to note books that would go great in those sixth grade blocks!  Also, please realize that most Waldorf sixth graders are twelve years old or very close to twelve, so these are listed with that age in mind. And as always, please pre-read for your sensitive reader!

Possibilities from Grades Four and Five that you might have missed or want to re-visit:

  • All of A Kind Family – Sydney Taylor  (series)
  • Augustine Came To Kent – Willard
  • Because of Winn-Dixie – DiCamillo
  • Bed-knob and Broomstick – Norton
  • The Bee Book ; Little Bee Sunbeam – Strait (Waldorf book)
  • Big Red – Kjelgaard (series)
  • The Black Stallion – Farley
  •  The Children of Green Knowe – Boston
  • Chronicles of Narnia – C.S. Lewis
  • The Dragon Boy – Samson (trilogy)
  • Finn Family Moomintroll – Jansson (series)
  • Anything by Edith Nesbit
  • From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler – E.L Konigsburg
  • Anything by Eleanor Estes
  • Anything by Elizabeth Enright
  • Anything by Edward Eager
  • Heidi
  • Hitty: Her First Hundred Years – Field
  • The Matchlock Gun- Edmonds
  • Tuck Everlasting – Babbitt
  • The Great Turkey Walk -Karr
  • Secret of the Andes – Clark ( or save for when you study the Incan Civilization)
  • The Wheel on the School – DeJong
  • I hope if you are American you have read the Wizard of Oz series!


Sixth Grade:

  • Adam of the Road – Gray (Medieval)
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn;  The Adventures of Tom Sawyer – Twain
  • Anne of Green Gables – L.M. Montgomery
  • Ben and Me – Lawson (and others by Lawson)
  • Madeleine L’Engle
  • The Bronze Bow – Speare  (Rome)
  • Brother Dusty Feet – Sutcliff (Elizabethan England)
  • Call It Courage – Sperry
  • Captains Courageous – Kipling
  • Carry On, Mr. Bowditch – Latham (could be in seventh grade with navigators and exploration as well)
  • Catherine, Called Birdy – Cushman (Medieval England)
  • Crispin:  The Cross of Lead – Avi (Medieval England)
  • The Dancing Bear – Peter Dickinson (Byzantium, 558 AD)
  • Dogsong; Hatchet – Paulsen
  • The Door in the Wall – de Angeli (Medieval)
  • El Cid – Geraldine McCaughrean
  • Far North – Hobbs
  • Favorite Medieval Tales – Pope
  • Galen and the Gateway to Medicine – Bendick
  • Geron and Virtus – Streit (Waldorf book) (Rome)
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – Rowling – the characters grow up, so please be mindful in looking at the later books when the protagonists are 16 and 17 year olds!
  • The Hidden Treasure of Glaston – Jewett (Medieval)
  • The High Deeds of Finn Mac Cool – Sutcliff
  • The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkein
  • Homecoming – Voight
  • Books by Lois Lenski
  • Books by Jules Verne
  • Books by Jean Craighead George
  • Books by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Books by Rudyard Kipling
  • Stories of King Arthur
  • Little Women – (and others ) – Alcott
  • Mansa Musa – Burns (picture book, fascinating subject)
  • Mistress Masham’s Repose – T.H. White
  • A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver – E. L. Konigsburg  (Eleanor of Aquitaine) and also The Second Mrs. Giaconda (Da Vinci)
  • Queen’s Own Fool – Yole and Harris (Mary, Queen of Scots)
  • Redwall – Jacques
  • Anything by Jean Craighead George
  • Smoky the Cowhorse – James
  • Son of Charlemagne – Willard
  • String, Straightedge and Shadow – Diggins
  • Sundiata (picture book but fascinating subject) – Wisniewksi
  • This Dear-Bought Land – Latham (1607 America)
  • Tuck Everlasting – Babbitt
  • The Trumpeter of Krakow – Kelly (15th century Poland)
  • Walk Two Moons – Creech
  • The Weirdstone of Brisingamen – Garner
  • The Westing Game – Raskin
  • The Wilderness Tattoo – Steele (Hernando de Soto)
  • The World’s Desire – Haggard and Lang
  • The Yearling – Rawlings

I saved most of the explorer and American history related books for seventh grade (when I usually do a Colonial History block and also explorers ) and eighth grade (especially for literature related to World War I and World War II) but if you are looking for titles related to this for sixth grade, I am happy to throw them out there.  Please look for upcoming posts on great books for grades seven through nine, and also I would love to hear your suggestions for sixth grade/twelve year olds.



Finding Peace

March seems to be this consistent time of the year that I look for, yearn for, and strive for  PEACE.  (Really!  You can see this post about “Peaceful March” all the way back in 2010:

This month, I want to approach the idea of peace differently than I ever have before.  Come join me in exploring peace through our…

Hands – the “Hands” part of this is really the physicality of the environment we live in – our homes, and also our bodies.  We live in our bodies.  How can our physical body be peaceful to us? I would love to talk about that and share some things with you that I have been looking at lately in regards to the peaceful home and the peaceful body.

Heart – Heart is our peaceful tone in our homes.  It is how we maintain our relationships in our home, speak to and guide our children, and how we maintain friendships.  It is also our one-ness and unity with the spiritual world and with nature.  How do we keep initiating deeper and deeper conversation with our own intimate spirituality?  How do we keep going deeper and deeper into a love for the world?

Head – Our head includes our thoughts, how we train our thoughts, how we deal with anxiety and worries.  I think in this we could also think about how we approach homeschooling in general – how do we homeschool FROM a place of peace and in a peaceful way?

Looking forward to exploring peace with you this month,


Weeks 23 and 24: Homeschooling Eighth, Fifth and Kindy

The past few weeks have seen spring come in with full force – one moment is rather beautiful and warm and the next minute it is literally thundering and sleeting at the same time.  Our homeschooling has gone in spurts and fits as well, but overall has been fairly productive…

Kindergarten:  We moved from a late winter circle into an early spring circle and also into our new story about a little leprechaun from Suzanne Down’s wonderful little book, “Spring Tales”.  We have been enjoying walks outside, even in blustery weather,   and collecting interested dried seed pods still hanging on some of the foliage.  We have been wet on wet painting with blue and yellow, modeling, baking and reciting nursery rhymes.  We also spent a good deal of time on the stories of Saint David of Wales as part of our religious tradition.

Fifth Grade:  We are still  roaring through the mythology of Ancient Greece.  For some reason, this feels much less laborious than it did when we did this block with our first child.  We went through the minor gods and goddesses and the heroes of Ancient Greece (Perseus, Theseus, Hercules, Jason).  We wet -on- wet painted Prometheus bringing fire down to earth, and we did a painting of   Hermes, Orpheus and Eurydice.  We have modeled Grecian urns/pottery and drew the different types of columns found in Greek architecture.  We have also worked through many beginning geometry exercises, the life of Euclid, the six types of triangles and degrees in angles.  We will be continuing through more geometry in the coming weeks.  We also started reading the epic of Odysseus since we finished Lois Lenski’s “Strawberry Girl”.

Toward the end of this school week,  we moved into the Ancient Americas with our math block.  I used Marsha Johnson’s “The History of Chocolate” math block as a springboard to create a block combining review of four processes of math, decimals,  the mythology of the Toltecs, Mayas and Aztecs and a little about the Ancient Americas, and chocolate.  I just don’t see how I can live here in the United States and not talk about these early cultures in Native America in fifth grade.  The first story I told was the Toltec story of how chocolate was brought down to earth (which sounds similar to the story of Prometheus from Greek mythology) and we talked about the cacao tree. We also practiced all four math processes through word problems involving the cacao pods and beans and the process of fermentation.

We are still working hard on spelling and math every day.  Other than that , practices for two separate plays (one a Waldorf play and one a spring musical at our church), ribbon practice for church choir, horses, and 4H are keeping us busy.

Eighth Grade – Whew.  That is all I can say.  Our  Geography of Asia block has ended, but we are still tying up loose ends with a Daruma doll made out of paper mache that needs finishing touches and a diorama of the Great Barrier Reef and a one page report on that in the works.  We finished up our Oceania summary and have a wet on wet watercolor painting to go.  Whew.

We are now in our last history block of eighth grade, which has the challenging task of covering from about The Gilded Age through the War on Terrorism and Digitality.  So this week we have mainly covered the biographies of Rockefeller and Carnegie, the Gilded Age and all the myriad of things going on in that short time period, and looked at examples of architecture of The Gilded Age (especially the regional attraction we have visited:  The Biltmore House in Asheville, NC).  We also looked at the life of Albert Einstein, his theories and examples of this in the news with the discovery of gravitational waves.  We  looked at the overall themes of imperialism (which we had already covered in our seventh grade block on Africa last year), and the themes of totalitarian rule and our own Bill of Rights and are moving soon in the Russian Revolution and World War I.  Wish us luck as we continue to cover major themes in this block.

We are still reading, “Red Scarf Girl” as a read aloud.  Our eighth grader  has said this is her favorite book of the entire year.  She finished reading “The Good Earth” and we used that book as a beginning springboard to analyzing literature beyond plot – so into themes, symbolism, atmosphere, atmosphere, point of view.  There was also a test.  Our  next book is “Breaking Stalin’s Nose” and we will delve even deeper into literary analysis, including more about foreshadowing and tone and all the other things mentioned above.  These are good exercises for this second semester of eighth grade as over the summer I will be assigning three books to read, analyze upon a theme and write an essay.  For independent reading, our eighth grader is reading a book that ties in with what we are doing now with World Geography about growing up in Palestine.

In World Geography, we are finishing up the projects regarding Asia from our block but now continuing with our weekly studies.  We are studying the Middle East right now, along with Southwest and Central Asia.  We went back and reviewed the history of the Middle East from Biblical times through now, including Palestine and the creation of Israel.  We also spent a good deal of time looking at OPEC and also Afghanistan and the War in Afghanistan.  These issues probably could have been left for high school, but an introduction here is sufficient.  Perhaps we will do a more in-depth study of the Middle East in high school as well.   In the meantime, we got about twenty books out from the library regarding individual countries in the Middle East, Southwest and Central Asia and will be leafing through all of those this week.  We haven’t decided what to put in our Main Lesson Book yet regarding this area of the world; there is so much!!

In math we are working daily.  Our eighth grader is busy with ribbon practice for church choir (that Anglican chorister tradition!) , the spring musical and the presentation for 4H this weekend.

I would love to hear what you have been up to!



These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things: March

Despite Shakespeare’s warnings to “beware the Ides of March”, March lives in my head as this beautiful, peaceful month of new foliage peeking out along with little spring flowers.   A month of wind and gardens to be made.  A month of sunshine tossed with splattering rain and a little wind…but a good month full of shining new possibilities just as spring is beginning to emerge!

This is a month that includes both the solemnity of Lent and also  celebration with remembrances of holy people.  We have the following festivals on our calendar:

March 1- Feast Day of St. David of Wales – He is the Patron Saint of our parish, and I have shared as many stories as I could find about him with our children.  We got to celebrate at a very festive liturgy the last Sunday in February, and we sang all Welsh music and the children’s choirs all processed with daffodils.  It was quite lovely, and set such a tone for this month! Here are two back posts on celebrating with St. David of Wales:  and here is one regarding painting:

March 17- Feast Day of St. Patrick – also so much fun, so many wonderful stories and books for the book box and crafts to do and food to make! You can see this back post on celebrating St. Patrick’s Day for ideas, along with ideas for other spring festivals:

Holy Week and Easter – also so big that it has about six back posts or more.  Here is one to start you off about Lent and Holy Week:

March  25 – The Feast of the Annunciation –  which will be marked with our parish

March 30 – St. Innocent of Alaska –  I plan to keep this one simple since this month has a multitude of saints to celebrate and Easter!  However, I do want to talk about the life of this Saint. The Orthodox Church in America has some wonderful resources for children regarding this Saint.

These are a few of my favorite things for the family:

  • Making spring and herbal tonics!
  • Spring cleaning with natural cleaners and essential oils!
  • Deep cleaning and purging of things – getting down to the essential.  I know I am slow to the Konmari movement, but I am looking forward to delving more deeply into this.  If you, like me, you are late to the game and  are wondering what this is, here is a title to start you off:  …Also, the author’s book “Spark Joy”
  • Also, I have plans to look at our outside spaces and outside play toys and see what needs to be removed or added to..

These are a few of my favorite things for small children:

  • Beautiful, nourishing spring tales!  Try this back post:
  • Re-vamping the play areas – rotating out toys, re-designing the play spaces themselves so they are inviting.  I really enjoyed this post about one family’s loose part play block corner:
  • Gardening with children – planting seeds, telling stories about the Earth, spending time outside

These are a few of my favorite things for children in the grades:

  • Poetry really calls to me in the month of March.  I hope to spend some tea-times reading lovely poetry and memorizing a few poems along the way.
  • Making and flying kites
  • Making spring toys that flutter in the wind – little sticks with crepe paper attached or rings with trailing streamers to run around with in the wind
  • Jump roping rhymes and hand clapping games

These are a few of my favorite things for teens:

  • Gardening!
  • Volunteering comes to mind for teens in this month
  • Hiking and being outside
  • Attending plays and musical concerts

These are a few of my favorite things for my own inner work:

  • This seems to be a month where I always feel drawn to start a new spiritual study.  I have not decided what study I am going to do this month, but it will be something.
  • Examining closely my own prayer life

These are a few of my favorite things for self-care and health:

  • Follow-up doctor’s appointments from January and February; dentist appointments
  • Getting out and walking every day
  • Checking Vitamin D levels through a simple blood test
  • Use of chiropractic and massage
  • Doing yoga
  • Taking time each morning and evening and checking in with myself and how I am feeling.

These are a few of my favorite things for homeschooling:

  • Re-vamping the space we are using for homeschooling
  • Seeing if there are appropriate field trips
  • Planning for fall.  It is wonderful to start now!

Please share with me what is inspiring you this month!