on a totally practical note…what do i do with my kids this summer?

Sometimes summer time can be  hard instead of magical!   If you are like me, my summers growing up were basically being kicked outside, hanging out out with the neighborhood kids, biking to a pool where my parents didn’t have to come with me.  However, not many of us have that anymore.  You might be wondering what to do with no one for your children to play with.  If you are working parent, you  know the struggle of having to divide the time off that you receive from your job and work with camps and babysitters to fill in the time.  If you are a stay at home, maybe your children are normally in school a good portion of the day and now you are wondering how to fill in time.  If you have teenagers, summers may feel different to you then when your children were small and you could just turn on a sprinkler and bring out popsicles and everyone was relatively happy.  So many different scenarios, but all looking for ideas!

One thing I realized early on is that summer for us, especially when my children were younger, was that summer required a bit of planning!  In order for things to flow, then I had to have at least a skeleton outline of what would happen, and I needed some ideas.

My first idea was always meaningful work.  This is really important for all children, from toddlers to teens.  Teens may be getting paid for work outside the home, but meaningful care and nurturing of the home is always important and should be a major foundation of the day and week.

Depending upon where you live, you can make being outside your number one priority after meaningful work.   Our days were often as simple as chores, park or a small hike in the morning, verses and songs or fingerplays, lunch and quiet time, a read aloud for the older children, pool or lake in the afternoon, dinner, bed.  Small children don’t need much more than that!  We often did some camping as well, and things like tubing on the lake or a nearby river (always a hit).

Sometimes if the weather was oppressive, our rhythm would become more elaborate with a  baking , painting, gardening, etc on certain days of the week – more like a rhythm we kept during the school year.  At the beginning of the summer I usually would invest in creating a box of goodies.  Maybe it was a few new puzzles, books, games, art kits – some new things that I would have to pull out on rainy days or times when things were getting dicey at home.  If you don’t have money to do this, don’t despair!  There are many lists of summer science and art activities, summer math activities, and other fun things to do with chalk and bubbles on Pinterest.

For children that were nine and up, we often  would tie in field trips to whatever grade we had just studied or were going to study in the fall.  We made trips to museums, aquariums, berry picking, living history museums, local attractions, or day or overnight trips to things just outside our immediate area.   Here is a list of summer activites that includes field trips:  Screen-Free Summer Activities.

Tell me how you are juggling your summer!

Blessings,
Carrie

be in it for yourself

Any sort of real, lasting, meaningful, and effective change has to come from within yourself.  If you want something badly enough, you will own it and you will feel empowered to take the next steps and to find a way.

This applies to anything from health to better parenting to homeschooling.  Instead of seeing all the obstacles and challenges, you can start to see solutions and steps.  This is the most powerful part of the whole process of being in it for real.

My favorite tools for doing this include:

Affirmations – I keep affirmations on my desk and say them daily. Affirmations, to me, are a verbal picture of what I envision happening in my life.

Vision Board – I keep a vision board up that targets different sections of my life, but I am about to make a vision board specific to my ideas for business and starting my own little mother-sized practice when I am through with physical therapy.

Prayer – Prayer is an essential part of me listening to the small, still voice of God and Spirit, and discerning the best path for myself.

The Mastermind – Every one needs a mastermind of people who empathize with where you are and spur you on to do better and to improve.  The connection and love is invaluable.  This goes along with having wonderful mentors.  I know so many wonderful people who have never hesitated if I said would you love to get a cup of coffee with me – I would love your input on something?  I would love to hear your story and how you got where you are, and see if you have any input on my ideas.  It’s amazing!

The steps – having steps broken down daily and weekly helps things to actually get down.  It isn’t enough to just have a general goal, you have to have a plan and take action.

Gratitude – Gratitude is such a big player in life.  How we look at things, how we frame things, how we get out of our own way all stems from getting rid of negative self-talk and focusing on gratitude.  I like to write down gratitude before bed, and also say words of gratitude to myself in the morning.  So grateful for each and every day that I am here to make an impact.

Getting your self-esteem under control – sometimes people have big egos, but most people I meet actually struggle with feeling like they don’t know enough, they don’t have it together, they don’t have all the answers.  This keeps us in the shadows and keeps us from contributing to the world.  Everyone has something to give.  You do know enough, you do have it together, you do have the answers you need for you and for the people that come into your life.

Other techniques I have used in the past include visualization and journaling.  I would love to hear what you use to encourage yourself, break through barriers, and commit to walking the steps you know you really need to!

Many blessings and love,
Carrie

 

june abloom

I love June – beaches, lakes, and pools.  Puffy and fluffly clouds sitting on blue skies. Glowing fireflies, campfires, and friends.  June is a wonderful month.

This month we will be celebrating:

The Slow Summer – think lakes and pools, tubing, horseback riding, camping, spending time with family and friends. All of my favorite things in one month!  Here is a wonderful guest post by Christine Natale, Master Waldorf Teacher and author about creating the magical summer

9- St. Columba – there is a little story here and we will make a little moving watercolor picture with a boat and dove

11 – Feast of St. Barnabas – St. Barnabas was an encourager, so I am thinking along the lines of having a family night with games and fun and encouraging each other and really celebrating us as a family. I have a number of photographs of our family we never framed and hung, so that could be another project!

14- Flag Day

17- Father’s Day

21 – Summer Solstice

24 – The Nativity of St. John the Baptist/ St. John’s Tide (see this back post for festival help!)

29- The Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul

Minor feasts we will celebrate mainly through stories:

12- St. Enmegahbowh – first Native American priest in the Episcopal Church of The United States

19- Sahu Sundar Singh of India- I found a book here

22- St. Alban – an interesting You Tube video filled with giant puppets to celebrate St. Albans Day in England!

(here is the aside note about these feast days: – I have had a few folks ask me about the Calendar of Saints in the Episcopal Church…The Episcopal Church USA is part of the Anglican Communion, which is an international association of churches composed of the Church of England and national (such as Canada, Japan, Uganda, for example) and regional (collections of nations) Anglican churches.  Each province, as it is called, is autonomous and independent with its own primate and governing structure.  So, different feast calendars within the Anglican Communion share the Feast Days and Fast Days listed in the Book of Common Prayer, but there may be “lesser feasts and fasts” as well.  The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York are our “primus inter parus” (first among equals) but hold no direct authority outside of the England, but is instead a force of unity, vision, persuasion,  for the entire Communion.  We don’t really govern off of creeds, for example such as the Westminster Catechism in Presbyterianism, but find “the law of praying is the law of believing” and therefore The Book of Common Prayer is our way.  The Anglican Communion has in it elements of the Reformation and Anglo-Catholicism, depending upon the individual parish, but it is not “Catholic Lite”.  It has a distinctive Celtic way to it as that was what was established long before alignment with the West.  We pray for the unity of the Church (the whole of Christendom) and therefore “Anglicans have preferred to look for guidance to the undivided church, the church before it was divided by the Reformation and especially to the first centuries of the church’s life….to “tradition”, the worship, teaching and life of the church in its early days.” (page 65, Welcome to the Episcopal Church by Christopher Webber. Hope that helps!! ))

How to Celebrate:

  • I am enjoying decluttering many homeschool books.  I am on my last child to homeschool and he will be in fourth grade, so I feel like it is time to let some resources go.
  • Blueberry Picking
  • Kayaking, boating, going to the beach (at the lake, no chance to drive to our nearest beach)
  • Enjoying time on the farm with horses
  • Being together – game nights; movie nights with our older teens
  • Chalk and bubbles for our rising fourth grader, who is enjoying just playing.

The teaching fun:

  • Yup, it is time to gather up the high school transcripts for our oldest who will be a senior in the fall.  She has visited all the colleges she wanted to visit, and now we need to get the transcripts and applications together.
  • I am teaching a group of teachers at a local Waldorf homeschooling enrichment program this month.  That brings me energy and should be fun.
  • I start my own journey as a student again in July for a certification in physical therapy for the pelvic floor.  Lots to do there!
  • And, I have homeschool planning to do.  I have been posting about that on FB and IG, and go in spurts, so I need to jump back in this week with more doing.
  • We are still homeschooling until  at least the end of June and possibly into the second week of July as we have some things to finish up.  That’s just the way that worked out this year.  It isn’t my ideal, because I like the break for myself, but sometimes it happens. 🙂

Inner Work:

I have been super focused on having gratitude.  This includes affirmations, writing down things I am grateful for large and small, and reaching out to people to whom I am grateful and who had an impact upon my life.  It’s a lovely month to do this.

I would love to hear what you are up to!

Blessings,
carrie

planning the first two blocks of fourth grade

So, now we are up to the nitty gritty of planning.  Details on that in just a moment!

I have posted a few updates on Facebook at The Parenting Passageway page and on Instagram @theparentingpassageway, but here is an official updated planning post for fourth grade and where I am now…

  • I have laid out our school year and matched each week of our school year to a main lesson block topic
  • I looked at our “big picture rhythm” and thought ahead about festivals and birthdays
  • I have laid out a general rhythm for the school week – Mondays are journal writing and movement (and on selected Mondays, writing a rough draft of a letter in place of a journal entry); Tuesdays are yoga and journal writing; Wednesdays are  movement and the day for our fourth grader to cook dinner; Thursdays are mindfulness games, cleaning day, painting day, and instead of main lesson we will have nature studies or STEM kinds of activities or both.  Fridays we take off.
  • I made a quick list of each block by week on a legal pad and jotted down some brainstorming notes for practice ideas and projects.
  • I gathered many of my resources and grouped them into piles  by block or topic.
  • My block list for fourth grade, with one block still undecided and now I am leaning towards inventors because my son is really interested in birds and engineering.
    • August – Math Review of Measurement/Fractions (will introduce fractions over the summer) – I think with birds (American folk tales, which I switched – originally it was in November)
    • September – Cherokee and African-American tales leading into local geography
    • September – Man and Animal 1 (2 weeks) (tales from Lawrence Yep’s The Rainbow People, added)
    • October – Man and Animal 2  (tied into animals of our state, keystone species of our state, review of geography) (tales of the beginning of The Dwellers of Asgard in Padraic Colum’s book, “Children of Odin”)
    • November – Math – Geometry, review of fraction skills – adding and subtracting fractions (soul food tales of Odin from “The Children of Odin” by Padraic Colum)
    • December – Tales of Thor (changed, tales from  D’Aularies’ Book of Norse Myths),The Dream of King Alfdan from Isabel Wyatt in “Legends of the Norse Kings” , knots and forms
    • January – Math, Fractions – Norse Myths as “soul food” and we will draw or paint off of those (tales of Loki, Loki’s punishment, the Twilight of the Gods)
    • February –  Birds of Prey, report writing
    • March – Weland the Smith (undecided and at the moment I can’t seem to locate either book in my house since I am in the midst of cleaning out our school room.  End of year woes).  Or Inventors. My little guy would love a block on constructing bridges or something like that.  Totally not Waldorf, but I am looking at my child.
    • April – Earth, Air, Wind, and Fire (soul food tales from The Golden Stag by I. Wyatt); Camping
    • May – African Tales (tales from the San, tales from the Bantu people, Yoruba myths)

So, now we put the nitty-gritty together for each block, using the daily rhythm I have already created to know our rhythm, and knowing the parts of a main lesson block.

First, I read the resources for each block and jot down ideas on a form I made up.   I read my resources with ideas for the GOALS I want to see accomplished each block.  I don’t think you can effectively TEACH a block just by picking out story content.  Telling stories isn’t the same as teaching, so there is an idea of “soul food” – these are the stories that are needed for the development of the archtypal human being, and then there is the idea of what goals (skills, foundations, capacities) that need to be developed during the block.

So, for our first block I pulled from  “Math Wizardry for Kids” (Barron’s); “Making Math Meaningful:  Fun With Puzzles, Games, and More!”, “Math Games and Activities” by Claudia Zaslavsky; “Introducing Fractions” by Marilyn Burns.  I usually check in with Pearson’s “Teaching Student-Centered Mathematics” and York’s “Making Math Meaningful” for general progression and ideas as well.   I don’t tend to use a lot of stories in math for fourth grade, but instead use hands on activites.  I will tie in some of our math hands-on work to our bird of the week since our fourth grader loves birds!

I pulled forms from “Creative Form Drawing Workbook 1” by Angela Lord.

Our stories came from “With A Wig, With A Wag,”edited by Jean Cothran.  These we will model, paint, draw from each week during our extra art lessons.  I do this because for me, unless it is geometry, I find it difficult to really work on art with a fractions block. Just me.

I decided what birds we are going to study (one kind each week) for our bird loving little student and what other nature we will be looking at for our Thursday Nature Day.

I pulled together ideas for music, art, cooking, movement, yoga, mindfulness.

It’s a little jumbled on the form I created, but I can follow it.  You can see a picture of a few sample weeks on FB and IG.

For our second block, local geography, I pulled from the same form drawing book and math games books.  I used “The Mapmaker’s Daughter” by MC Helldorfer for for the idea of maps;  and then my own notes from going through this grade two previous times regarding local geography.

Second, I plugged in ideas for our opening verses, practice work,  review of our main lesson/practice, main lesson work, closing verse, lunch verses,  our art/crafting/music/cooking slot after lunch and our Thursday birds/nature/survival skills.  I think I will be writing out ideas for movement separately.

Third, I have to write some things out for main lesson.  Some things are like refer to page X in a certain book, but sometimes I have to write out a story or a narrative about something.  For example, I have narratives written out for the different types geographic provinces of our state, the first settlers in our state, and the first staple crops of our state.  You can do this ahead of time or the week before.  Just know what you need a narrative about and which sections really need that!  When you get into upper level grades, pretty much everything needs a narrative.  For something like math, which I approach more hands on and less story like in fourth grade, I might not need the narrative, but I will need an idea of how to progress math within each lesson.

Then the fun part of putting things in my own main lesson book begins!  More on that later.

Blessings,
carrie

the winning family book study: increasing your self-esteem in your children and yourself

Today we are up to Chapters 16, 17, and 18 in this wonderful book by author Dr. Louise Hart.  We are moving through this book, and will be starting our new book entitled  “Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles” by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka and it comes in audiobook and Kindle editions, along with the traditional paperback and hardcover versions, so grab a copy to be ready for  later summer!  Here is the Amazon link (no affiliation)

So, off to Chapter 16- “Touch.”  The chapter opens with “the recommended daily requirement for hugs is: four per day for survival, eight per day for maintenance, and twelve per day for growth.  Touch is vital for life.”  We have all heard stories of babies who were deprived of touch and died, and have seen the importance of parents, caregivers, and volunteers who cuddle infants born prematurely who have to stay in the hospital.  Touch disorders – neglect, abuse, incest – are all trauma that needs to be healed.  Touch is not just sexual; it can be warm, affectionate, nonsexual.  This can be a hard thing for people to learn. There is an exercise in this book on page 153 modeled from a program in New Zealand; try it out!  There is an entire section of this book devoted to child abuse.  Sexual, physical, emotional, and verbal abuse needs to be discussed and healed in order for us to parent effectively.  Behavioral patterns are handed down from one generation to the next, so sometimes we have the first opportunity in our family to choose to break the cycle.

Abuse may have some common background traits: a history of battering the belief that beating is the “right way to discipline”; a view of the child as inherently bad and deserving of punishment; unrealistic views of childhood development; exepctation that children will fulfill the parent’s needs; lack of warmth; a negative focus; poor communication skills; abuse of power (the child “must be taught who is boss”); overpunishment for small things; isolation.  The author gives suggestions and examples from parents who have overcome this cycle.

Chapter 17 is about “Beliefs.”  Most of our beliefs are not conscious, and were handed down to us from our parents. We create this belief pattern and system and use it in our lives, even if the pattern becomes outdated.  On page 164, the author offers up some questions to look more closely at belief systems – what do you believe about life? what do you believe about children?  what do you believe about parenting and family dynamics with a partner?  We also carry expectations, attitudes, judgment, and self-talk, and then we behave as if our map of beliefs is true.  Therefore, in order to change our own behavior, we must change our beliefs.  And, we must be careful what belief system we are instilling in our children – this, to me, is the true power of inner work for the family. We must constantly weed and prune out the beliefs that are not good for our lives.

Chapter 18 is about “Self-Talk.”  Our internal dialogue (self-talk) becomes our beliefs, which creates our feelings, and our feelings become the basis of behavior and our behavior becomes our concept of self.  Self-concept is how we view ourselves at any given moment, and self-image is how we imagine ourselves to be.

Affirmations can help us flip our self-talk, that internal dialogue.  I rountinely use affirmations and visualization. Dr. Hart writes on page 172, “We tend to act out feelings – with words or behavior.  If we feel like winners, we act like winners – working hard, thinking clearly, an ddoing what we need to do to win….Over time, we tend to become what we think about the most.”

Our worst thinking may be polarized (black or white, either or, no middle ground); taking everything personally; projecting what is going on in our own self-talk to others; catastrophizing (imaging and expecting the worst); blaming; overgeneralizing.  Affirmations that you can repeat 20-30 times a day can help.  One affirmation story noted in the book is,”I am a loving and effective mother.”  I think more mothers I know need to hear that, internalize that, and believe it!

Change your mind, change your life.   As an aside, if you skip ahead to the appendixes, there are many valuable tools there, including “100 + ways to praise and encourage a child,” my very favorite “New Rules for Kids,” leadership styles chart, locus of control charts, more resources for parents.  The appendixes are great!

I would LOVE to hear from you.  Do you use affirmations? Have you had an abusive past and how did you overcome it?  As always you can also email me at admin@theparentingpassageway.com if you need help getting your family life together via phone consultation!

Blessings and love,
Carrie

 

my teen is lonely!

It’s itneresting that I hear this not only from homeschooled families, but also from families who have teens in a school setting, and probably more from the families with teens in school.  The teen years can be hard in that teens are often figuring out who they are.  Cliques and bullying can be an huge issue, especially in the middle school grades of 6-8, despite everything said at school about inclusion and being kind to everyone. IN high school, this seems to dissipate, but friendships often fade away and shift, particularly around tenth grade typically.

It can be hard for parents to navigate this time.  Sometimes it can be hard to tell what is loneliness versus moodiness versus being withdrawn versus being anxious and depressed.  Teens may be moody (and when does that line cross from moody to depressed?), and  they can withdraw from groups of friends they previously enjoyed to be with a new group of friends (which many times is around 10th grade).  Maybe the teens feel as if they tried many of the clubs or things geared to their interests, but for whatever reasons, they didn’t make good friends out of it.

I have read some sources that say lonely teens go on to be lonely adults because they don’t learn how to function in groups and practice social skills.  Well, if that isn’t panicking to the parents of a  lonely teen, I am not sure what is!  And I don’t think that is necessarily true.  I have a different take. I think as human beings we are always changing, always growing, and that it doesn’t have to be that way.  Change is possible.  Some people are more introverted,  and if your teen is, they may be happy with a smaller circle of friends both as a teen and as an adult.  But if your teen is lonely, I think change can come  in the upper years of high school and in college, and often these teens garner friends for life in a different setting.

In dealing with this situation, I think it is very important that first and foremost your teen spend time with you and the family.  This connection is loving and grounding.  It may not replace the  friendships and peers that they are lonely for, but they will  know they will always be loved and that the family is the first place of friendship.  

And,  in this connection and grounding with us, we can help facilitate. No, you can’t set up  really set up playdates for mid to older teens, but you can talk to your teen about how sometimes we have a circle of acquaintances and that it is great to reach out to someone you don’t know as well to see if they would like to do something.  Providing that bit of emotional coaching can be really helpful.  I have seen that many teens are lonely, but none of them seem especially willing to reach out!  That is so hard.  We can also encourage jobs, volunteer work, and activities where teens spend a good amount of time with other teens for a common goal – sports, music, theater, robotics, speech and debate – whateve

For those of you with younger teens, you  can encourage groups of friends going to do something instead of having just only one friend that everything is done with.  This helps for the high school years where things dissipate a bit more. Tenth grade is particular seems to be an age where many friendships fall apart and the social circle shifts.  You can help your younger teen explore interests and connect with peers over that interest.

I would also make sure you as the parent are not projecting your wishes for your teen’s social life on to them.  Make sure that they are actually seeking friends before you offer any words or actions to them.  They may be happy with the way things are, and it is up to us to respect that.  So make sure it is true loneliness, and not just you projecting that you think they are lonely!

Lastly, teens connecting over the Internet has replaced much of the going and hanging out somewhere, so I think always being aware of your teen’s digital connections is important, whether they are lonely and seeking friends on-line or that they feel their social needs are met through on-line venues. It really is open to us to keep the lines of communication open on that and to set and use the  boundaries we set as a family regarding media usage.

I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions for parents dealing with their lonely teens.

Blessings and love,

Carrie

 

Updated Fourth Grade Planning

I have posted a few updates on Facebook at The Parenting Passageway page and on Instagram @theparentingpassageway, but here is an official updated planning post for fourth grade and where I am now…

  • I have laid out our school year and matched each week of our school year to a main lesson block topic
  • I looked at our “big picture rhythm” and thought ahead about festivals and birthdays
  • I have laid out a general rhythm for the school week – Mondays are journal writing and movement (and on selected Mondays, writing a rough draft of a letter in place of a journal entry); Tuesdays are yoga and journal writing; Wednesdays are  movement and the day for our fourth grader to cook dinner; Thursdays are mindfulness games, cleaning day, painting day, and instead of main lesson we will have nature studies or STEM kinds of activities or both.  Fridays we take off.
  • I made a quick list of each block by week on a legal pad and jotted down some brainstorming notes for practice ideas and projects.
  • This week I gathered many of my resources and grouped them into piles  by block or topic.

In my last post here, I detailed the order of my blocks.  So I started here:

  • August-  Man and Animal 1 which will flow into….
  • September/October – Local Geography and Man and Animal 2 – we will be looking at the regions of our state through habitats and our local animals/camping
  • November – Math/Introduce fractions
  • December- Geometry/ Form Drawing – most likely will draw from Viking Hero Tales by Isabel Wyatt
  • January – Norse Mythology
  • February – Birds of Prey (special interest of my student)- each morning I am going to try to work in fraction problems related to birds!  That should be interesting!
  • March – Weland the Smith – rather dark tale, but I think our son will love it.
  • April – African Tales/African Hero Tales/camping trips
  • May – Math in the Garden (leading into Botany for Fifth Grade)/ camping trips

And this is where I currently am from that:

  • August – Math Review of Measurement/Fractions (will introduce fractions over the summer) – I think with birds
  • September – Cherokee and African-American tales leading into local geography
  • September – Man and Animal 1 (2 weeks)
  • October – Man and Animal 2  (tied into animals of our state, keystone species of our state, review of geography)
  • November – Math – Geometry, review of fraction skills – adding and subtracting fractions (soul food American folk tales)
  • December – Thorkill of Iceland or Viking Tales, undecided, knots and forms
  • January – Math, Fractions – Norse Myths as “soul food” and we may draw or paint off of those
  • February –  Birds of Prey, report writing
  • March – Dream of King Alfdan or Weland the Smith (undecided and at the moment I can’t seem to locate either book in my house since I am in the midst of cleaning out our school room.  End of year woes).
  • April – Earth, Air, Wind, and Fire (soul food tales from The Golden Stag by I. Wyatt); Camping
  • May – African Tales

Right now I am essentially grouping books and resources into piles by block, and throwing possible read-alouds near there.  As I put blocks together more fully, I will post pics on IG/Facebook and update here.

Many blessings,

Carrie