These Are A Few of My Favorite Things: May

Here’s a branch of snowy May,

A branch the fairies gave me.

Who would like to dance today, 

With a branch the fairies gave me?

Dance away, dance away,

Holding high the branch of May.

-from Spring: A Collection of Poems, Songs and Stories for young children by Wynstones Press

I love May, in all her green and blooming glory.  Down here in the South, the weather can be quite warm and the pools are opening for the season.  It is the end of the school year, and everything is bursting with vitality!

This month we are celebrating:

May 1 – May Day; also the Feast of St. Philip and St. James

May 2, 3, and 4 – Rogation Days

May 5 – The Feast of Ascension

May 8- Mother’s Day

May 15 – Whitsun; The Feast of Pentecost

May 19 – The Feast of St. Dunstan

May 20 – The Feast of St. Alcuin

May 30- Memorial Day (and our wedding anniversary!)

May 31- The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

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

  • Hiking on The Feast of Ascension, watching clouds
  • Making Pentecost crafts
  • Gathering for May Day and dancing around a May Pole!
  • Making crafts for Memorial Day, Memorial Day parades
  • Pedal toys – trikes and bikes! Have your own Memorial Day parade

These are a few of my favorite things for grades-aged children:

  • All of the above, plus
  • Following Screen Free Week May 2-8
  • Swimming and miniature golf
  • Playing in the water and sand
  • Observing all the dragonflies, bees, and butterflies
  • Calming rituals for rest times and the end of the day.  I strongly believe that children ages 8-13 still need earlier bedtimes and I work very hard to make that happen. Calming rituals and rhythm are soothing for sleep!

These are a few of my favorite things for teens:

  • All of the above, including screen free week
  • Spring cleaning and spring decorating of the home, gardening tasks
  • Spring cooking, making special treats for The Feast of Ascension and Memorial Day
  • Planning surprise May Day baskets for neighbors, and doing things to serve others.
  • Picnics at the lake
  • Later night walks in the warm air – great time to talk after the smaller children have gone to bed

These are a few of my favorite things for myself:

  • Celebrating our family with family meetings and family game night.
  • Celebrating our marriage with a night out.
  • Vigorously moving 5 to 6 days a week, whether that is through yoga, hiking, at the gym, or whatever I choose.
  • Drinking lots of water and herbal teas.
  • Going through the “You Are Loved” Bible Study by Sally Clarkson and Angela Perritt.  I am really enjoying it.

These are a few of my favorite things for homeschool planning:

I haven’t planned too much yet and am finding it hard to get back on track. My plan right now is to spend several afternoons this month at the library and see if I can write up some of the missing presentations for sixth grade and then that grade will be done, along with finishing up soe plans for ninth grade biology.  Then I will start to start write for first grade. I have an idea for a quality of number/first math processes block and am still searching for just the right idea for presenting the letters.

Hope you are doing some celebrating this month.  Please share your May plans!

Many blessings,
Carrie

Advertisements

Weeks 29 and 30: Homeschooling Eighth, Fifth, and Kindy

We took a lovely week to be at the sea and had a little holiday.  I spent a little time thinking about our rhythm, which has withstood quite a number of disruptions this year.  We need a strong ending to the school year, so I think I pretty much came upon refining our rhythm to be: me working out early/breakfast; going over our Anglican Spiritual Studies; time for our kindergartener; recess; Main Lesson for our fifth grader; Main lesson for our eighth grader and then a late lunch and more recess.  Several days a week we may have to come back to finish up main lesson kinds of projects and such.  So, it feels comfortable and do-able for the rest of the school year to me at this point and I am hoping to have a great ending to the school year.

Kindergarten:  We have had a grand time with our Spring Circle.  Our story has been Suzanne Down’s “Spring Kite Music” from her book, “Spring Tales”.  Our general rhythm has been baking on Mondays, crafting on Wednesdays, and painting on Fridays with Tuesdays and Thursdays being our days out at Forest Kindergarten.  We have also been making and playing little homemade games – things such as a variation of a homemade Candyland – and other games.  We have been singing and doing a lot of little finger plays for Spring as well.  Such a sweet time.

Fifth Grade – Our fifth grader is finishing up a block that combined Canadian Geography with the Metric System.  Our main project for Canada has been a giant salt dough map where we have been painting provinces, rivers, and marking towns.  We have been using the metric system to go over the height of landmarks, distances between towns, what we would eat in our meals in Canada in grams and liters.  We have been reviewing and practicing a lot with the four math processes, and fractions.  We finished reading the book “Seabird” by Holling C. Holling and have now moved into reading about Hawaii in preparation for our North American Geography block.  We are also working diligently on spelling as well.

Eighth Grade – We finished tracing the events of the Cold War through four decades, mainly through the biographies of Eisenhower, JFK, Nixon, and Reagan.  This included the arms race and the Space Race, the benefits of space exploration and where space exploration is today (and a lovely tie in was seeing the rocket launch on the Florida coast whilst on vacation), the Korean War, the Bay of Pigs invasion and the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War and the differences between a president such as Nixon and detente and Reagan’s policies.  Then we moved into the War on Terror and all the different groups and players involved from the Persian Gulf War right up to today.  Our last foray this week is into the Age of Digitality – the history of the Internet and the World Wide Web and challenges of this century.  Our Main Lesson book pages have included amazing writing and art work for this block.  We are looking forward to starting Oceanography tomorrow.  We are starting the first few days by tying in to some of the peoples who traveled the oceans in different watercrafts, and then a little about plate tectonics and a beautiful look at the all the wonders of the ocean floor.  I am very excited about this block!

In World Geography, we finished up Africa and also Russia.  We have reviewed all the geography of Russia, the different ethnic groups within Russia, Russia’s history, and the Trans-Siberian Railroad. The only place we have left to study is Europe, so it feels good we are coming to the end of our year-long geography course.

I am ready to keep forging ahead with our homeschooling year, and also looking forward to get back on planning for first, sixth, and ninth grade. I have actually felt more stumped by first grade lately in planning, but recently came up with some creative ideas that I think will lead to a fun first grade for our littlest.

I would love to hear what you are working on!

Blessings,

Carrie

Finding Peace: Nourish

We want to nurture the highest levels of empathy and compassion in our children and yet we so often fail to model this in our attitudes toward ourselves and our own health.

If we think about it, we often perceive we have no time to spend on our own health.

We do not move our bodies as often as they should be moved and we eat things that do not make us feel well.

We often don’t say positive things about our own body.

Time flies by, and we are so good at getting the children into their doctor, dentist and other health care professional appointments; yet we haven’t been to a doctor or dentist in years.

We are so good at making sure our children relax and rest and go to bed, yet we consistently de-value our own need for rest and relaxation.

Time flies by, and we fail to re-connect with friends or give ourselves time and space for building community.

We fail to let people in on our deepest emotions and trials, for fear of being vulnerable or that no one will really listen or care.

So, in this glorious Eastertide,  I ask that you consider nourishing yourself in whatever form that looks like for you.  The simple act of putting your own needs for health and whatever that may look like to you may be the single most radical  thing you can do to hold a steady home and steady parenting this year.

Nothing will happen without a plan and without wanting this transformation.  It takes courage to say that you need to exercise each day for your own health, to have a night out with friends, or to make all those health care appointments that need to happen.  Yet,  what a positive thing we can show our children:   that parents taking care of themselves and being human beings and adults is also of value and that these things can be balanced with being a wonderful and connected, mindful parent.  So, if only in baby steps, I encourage you to nourish yourself.  Let this be your legacy for this year and here to finding yourself on this same date next year in a better and more wonderful place.

Blessings,
Carrie

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,
Carrie

 

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,

Carrie

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,
Carrie

 

 

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.

Blessings,
Carrie