How To Help Your Children Grow Up To Be Healthy Adults

Have you ever felt like every time you turn around that the news about this generation of children is just sad and scary?  There was an article on CNN.com yesterday about how 1 in 7 children and teen have a mental health condition (and that half go untreated).  Couple that with the statistics cited for all the new childhood epidemics, including asthma, ADHD/ADD, allergies and allergic eczema, food allergies and intolerances, celiac disease, obesity, learning disorders, autism, depression and anxiety, growing rates of suicide…people wonder what is going on with this generation of children?

We already know much of the answer to that:

  • Many are experiencing a hectic, arrythmical life, sometimes due to parental choice but sometimes due to no fault of the parents –  the fact is  that economically the entire family may have to work long hours just to cover rent and put food on the table
  • Many children are experiencing lack of loving adult presence – some children do not have a lot of  parental presence, true community,  or extended family involvement
  • Many are not experiencing enough movement, free play, or time outside in nature; too much adult-directed activity from an early age
  • Increasing  land, food, air, and  water toxicity 
  • Many are experiencing  too much screen time and not enough sleep
  • Many are not experiencing enough loving boundaries and not enough true and deep present attention …. If children could regulate themselves like adults and adult like an adult, they wouldn’t need a childhood. They could go straight into adulthood!
  • An increasing academic load from preschool onward that doesn’t account for the neurologic development of the brain nor how humans learn best. Hint: it’s not just through worksheets and pencil/paper work
  • Stress about college and grades  from the earliest of teen years (or even before) onward

So, what can YOU do as a parent to protect your children and provide a stable upbringing for your children so they can become healthy adults? I have some ideas!

Cut out screens when you are home and replace it with time outside; free play; undirected play, and yes, even play that you used to do that is now considered risky, like climbing trees and being out in the woods.

Set times that your children need to be outside if you live in an area that can support that. Otherwise, make going to places of nature a priority on weekends.

Teach your children how to do things around the house and give them chores to do. Do them as a family and teach them how to do it first, and then let them take responsibility

Set bedtimes and mealtimes.  Have a family night; spend time together, and expect good manners as a way of showing each other that you love each other.

Cut down the hectic pace of your life as much as possible!  Your children won’t die if they don’t do every extra-curricular activity under the sun

Get your own baggage and woundedness in order!  Your children deserve your time, your energy, your attention.  They need you to be your best you so you can support them!

Teach your children healthy habits about sleep, food, water, movement, how to deal with physical illness with both regular and alternative medicince and when they are old enough techniques for mindfulness and how to deal with stress.  Model this for them yourself!

Look at the child in front of you and what he or she needs.  Look at what boundaries would help balance them and make them healthy and set those boundaries lovingly.

Learn how to communicate lovingly with your children and guide them.

Protect them from stress. They shouldn’t have to handle stress like a 40 or 50 year old adult.

Promote developmental education in your school systems or homeschools  that include the arts, movement, volunteering, mindfulness, activities of kindness.  If you want to know what this would look like or what you could do, please email me at admin@theparentingpassageway.com.  

I would love to hear your ideas!

Blessings,

Carrie

 

 

 

 

 

 

a day of love

St. Valentine’s Day is tomorrow.  Many do not celebrate, thinking it a grand conspiracy of the card and candy manufacturers, but some families use it as a springboard for focusing on loving significant others, children, and pets for the entire month of February.  Perhaps we can settle into finding the love and wonder that comes with our everyday actions.

Whenever we assume positive intent, we are showing love.

Whenever we choose to see the light in someone, we are showing love.

Whenever we use good manners, we are showing love.

Whenever we use kind words, we are showing love.

Whenever we are working as a team in the home, we are showing love.

Love is an action; the most sacred and wonderful action of all to show someone that they have a beautiful light inside of them, that they belong, that their life and their talents are sacred, and that they are wonderful.

And the beautiful thing is that we can start right in our very own homes and in the very own otherwise-might-be encounters of everyday life.  These are the moments that build and bridge into connection, acceptance, and warmth.  The people we love and laugh with are right in front of us, and if we do it right this quiet goodness is going to make a mark upon the next generation of our country’s leaders, innovators, and creators.

May we love one another, and treat one another with kindness.

Blessings,
carrie

 

teens who don’t want to drive

Some teens are excited and ready to drive in the United States, but the latest thing that many parents are lamenting is that their teen doesn’t want to drive or even attempt to get their license.  This phenomenon has even hit mainstream news sources, like in this article by National Geographic.  It is definitely a national trend that I don’t think has an end in sight.  We are seeing a true shift that I think will last generations and may even extend as car technology changes.

I have read many of the articles on this subject, observed many of my teen’s friends, and have come up with some ideas of why this trend may be…

  1.  Teens are working less. You might wonder what this has to do with driving, but hear me out.   If the emphasis is placed on academic success rather than school being something one does in addition to other things, then the teen may not have the time or motivation to get a job due to so much homework and extra classes.  If they don’t have a job, they may not have money to pay for gas or insurance, let alone to save up for a car.  The teens I know who are driving the most  have a job!
  2. Teens have more friends on-line and are dating less than previous generations.  There is less reason to go out of the house.  Teens are no longer going to the mall and hanging out – they can hang out and shop in their rooms.  They may not be running out of the house to go pick up their girlfriend.   The digital age has changed the landscape of adolescence forever.
  3. Many teens have anxiety ( I have read estimates that span anywhere from 10 to 25 percent of the teen population, depending upon what criteria is used), and the feeling that you could die or you could kill someone while driving a car makes driving a less than  tantalizing proporition to many teens.
  4. There are alternatives – rides with friends, Uber, public transportation, walking, and yes….parents often started  driving their children to activities at earlier ages, and are continuing, so why give that up?

Here are a few of my suggestions in dealing with reluctant teens –

I think the philosophy is always that the parents will do things for their children until the child can take it over for themselves.  In general, this age might be determined just by readiness cues and  seeing how responsibile the child  is in doing what needs to be done under supervision and then independently.  In the case of driving, the ability to drive is dictated by state laws, by learning new skills under supervision,by testing,  and yes, I think by having incentive.  So if your teen is reluctant to drive, perhaps have a conversation about expectations and what is holding your teen back.  Are your expectations clear to yourself and to them?

If you want your teen to learn to drive, and they are already feeling overwhelmed with schoolwork and activities, you may need to clear some space so they have the time to learn to drive.  It isn’t like cramming for an academic test.  It requires time, space, practice.

They may not want to learn to drive with you.  Or they may not want to learn with all their siblings in the car.  Some will learn better with Driver’s Education, some will learn better with a trusted relative or neighbor.

Figure out the expectation for how to pay for gas, insurance, a car.  These things can really hold teens back. If they have no car to drive or no way to pay for gas or insurance because they don’t have a job, what is the incentive for obtaining a license to drive?

Address anxiety. Sometimes having a timeline, a driving instructor, etc can help an anxious teen break things down into steps that seem doable.  The idea of testing may also provoke anxiety.   And as much as I hate to say it, I know people who never were comfortable driving and nearly always lived in areas where there was good public transportation available.  It may be hard to think this way if you live in an area where good public transportation doesn’t exist, but that may be where your teen ends up as an adult.

Lower your expectations.  Most of the new drivers I know are driving surface streets to school and back (probably a 5 miles radius) or to a job that is also within a five mile radius.  Not every new driver is ready to drive all over the city.  Think about where your teen would be okay driving when they do get their licenses.  This is particularly important for homeschooling families, who many times do have classes or activities that are far away.  If you goal is for that teen to drive to those far away things, your teen may or may not be comfortable with that as a new driver.

Would love to hear your thoughts,
Carrie

lovely february

I know February can be a dreary month, but I love Candlemas and Valentine’s Day, so I try to envision glowing light and love over the days of this month even if the cold weather continues outside!  Typically February is our coldest month here in the Deep South, but we are not having cold weather and will be up in the upper 60s (F) this week.  At any rate, I am sure it will drop and be cold again!

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

February 1– The Feast of St. Brigid

February 2 – Candlemas – I recommend these two back posts:  The Magic of Candlemas and glorious candlemas

February 14 – St. Valentine’s Day – try this back post:  Celebrating Valentine’s Day in the Waldorf Home

We don’t mark Chinese New Year very well on our own, but we used to with friends and it was always wonderful.  If you have an opportunity to go to a Chinese New Year celebration, I highly recommend it!  You can see this back post from 2009 about how my friend would lead a wonderful celebration that included our family:  The Chinese New Year in the Waldorf Home

Homeschooling in February:

I am taking things easy.  We have some outside testing and doctor’s appointments this month, and that always messes up our rhythm, so I am planning on being happy with whatever we accomplish this month and not worry.

I have thought time and time again that perhaps our homeschooling journey is coming to an end …. It will be interesting to see things that happen and am resting in these thoughts for the future this month.

third grade – we will be finishing up our  block of Hebrew Stories/Old Testament tales as traditional in the Waldorf curriculum in this grade, and we will be moving into a block about 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  finishing our  block on Revolutions that  included 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 from Oak Meadow.  Our eleventh grader also has AP Psychology, Pre-Calculus,and  AP Language and Composition outside of the home.  We are busy arranging the end of year AP tests,  taking the SAT (she already took the ACT), and looking at colleges.

Self-Care:

This is the MOST important part of the rhythm!  If I am not on, I cannot lead anyone else. If I am unmotivated and dragging, I cannot homeschool effectively. If I am not feeling any energy, then it will be harder to nurture our home or to invest time in the relationships that matter the most!

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 include journaling, meditating, tapping (EFT), use of The Book of Common Prayer daily, and epsom salt baths.

For this month, I am very focused on meal planning and exercising.  My health is improving each month, and I think by April I will be feeling much better!

The other thing I am focused on is getting back into my career. I did pediatric physical therapy for years, but am thinking about switching into Women’s Health and this will require quite a  lot of work, but I think the calling is there!

Home-care

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 in the “Earthways” book. I know it is an Early Years book, but I love the transparencies, the little Valentine’s Day crafts…. I hope to post pictures of some of our processes on Instagram @theparentingpassageway and on The Parenting Passageway’s Facebook page.

I would love to hear what you are up to this month!

Blessings and love always,

Carrie

 

 

glorious candlemas

I hope you had a wonderful time celebrating The Feast of St. Brigid on February 1st and Candlemas/The Presentation of Our Lord Jesus Christ/Groundhog Day yesterday on February 2nd.  This is the time of year in the Northern Hemisphere that the days are lengthening a bit.  In some countries, the first snowdrops, a beautiful little white flower, are emerging from beneath snow.

We think of the first beginnings of light, and a beautiful candle festival helps mark the occasion.  There are so many ways to make candles, including rolling beeswax sheets, dipping candles, pouring beeswax into half of a walnut shell (and you can push in a little candle in order to have little floating lights, which are always fun for children), and you can make earth candles where you pour a candle and place a wick directly into a hole into the earth.

This is a wonderful time to change over your nature table if you have one going to mark the seasons.  Flower fairies, branches in water that are budding,  a single candle, perhaps leading up to the markings of St. Valentine’s Day and then a little Lenten Garden (dish garden)  are all appropriate. All winter greenery is taken down.

In the back post The Magic of Candlemas, I have listed a number of different ways to celebrate.  I like to celebrate things for more than one day, and especially feel that those of you with small children should never feel like you missed the one day and feel pressured about that.  Remember, these days mark seasons beginning and ending, and what we carry inside ourselves around this time of year.

I love the idea of growing the light inside all of us.  I have had a very productive five weeks of inner work where many major areas of my life are now on a different track or moved forward.  It has been so satisfying, and I hope you feel the stirrings of new inner growth for yourself.  I always think of this verse this time of year (so fun for small children to be buried under silk scarves and awaken, but also reminds us that it is time for us to move forward, to embrace the new, to find our initiative and willing):

In the heart of a seed,

Buried deep so deep,

A dear little plant

Lay fast asleep.

Wake, said the sun,

And creep to the light.

Wake, said the voice

Of the raindrops bright.

The little plant heard,

And arose to see,

What the wonderful

Outside world might be.

Blessings today and always,

Carrie

 

 

 

 

 

Book Study: “The Winning Family: Increasing Self-Esteem In Your Children and Yourself”

This is a fantastic book by Dr. Louise Hart with lots of solid advice for creating a peaceful and productive family life.  You can see back posts regarding Chapters 1-10; today we are looking at Chapter 11, which is entitled, “Parenting Leadership Styles.” One of the very first blog posts I wrote in 2008 back when I started writing was about gentle discipline as authentic leadership, so I was excited to delve into this chapter.

The chapter begins with asking the basic question:

  • Were you raised by tyrants?
  • Were you raised by not being raised?
  • Were you raised by leaders who balanced their powers with freedom and caring?

In an autocratic (tyrannical) parenting style, children often want to be told what to do because they are trying to avoid punishment and they want to please their parents. Children raised in this style often lack a sense of personal responsibility and distrust their own feelings.  They may be compliant or they may become rebellious and defiant over time.

In a permissive parenting style, parents give up any power at all and may be checked out due to substance abuse problems, their own baggage and woundedness, illness, or disinterest. In these families, because there are no rules, children don’t learn any boundaries at all, have trouble with limits, feel they have the right to do whatever it is that they wish, or may take on a role reversal with the parents.  They may eventually become violent toward their parents or seek out highly structured groups as an adult.

In a democractic leadership style, everyone’s needs in the family are considered important. Parents offer choices and treat their children as capable beings who can make decisions. They teach children how to take responsibility.  They provide structure.  Children learn to respect rules and become responsible, and how to become capable.

Some families have a mix of styles between parents – one may be very permissive and the other very autocratic and rigid.  This happens frequently, but by realizing this and talking about this, even by employing family meetings, different choices can be made.

When children are small, we have to assume control and provide boundaries and as children grow, we can provide a framework for freedom with responsibiity and good choices at the forefront.  We provide a sense of teamwork and empowerment. In Appendix C of this book there is a helpful table summarizing the information in this chapter.

More to come!

Blessings and love,

Carrie

 

Identifying Dyslexia For Homeschooling Parents

Many of us who homeschool have students who have challenges with learning in some form.  In Waldorf homeschooling (or even in a Waldorf School setting), because formal academics begin in first grade, there is an interesting thought that learning disabilities will be caught later, and therefore attempts at remediation will begin later.

I don’t think this has to be the case. If you, as a homeschooling parent or as a teacher in a school setting are working with children on preliteracy and literacy skills, then identifying possible signs of dyslexia should be not just something nice that maybe one knows or doesn’t know, but it should be an absolute requirement.

One of the latest books out regarding Waldorf Education and literacy, and in my opinion the best book  is “The Roadmap To Literacy:  A Guide to Teaching Language Arts in Waldorf Schools Grades 1 through 3” by Janet Langley and Jennifer Militzer-Kopperl.  One of the points in this book is that up to 40% of students will discover that letters represent sounds that make up words easily; 30-40% will need extra practice to move forward; 20-30% will absolutely need intensive direct teaching in a very detailed and sequential way. In a school setting, this last sub-set of students might be working with a reading specialist and in a home setting, they will need extra hours with us directly teaching in a clear manner. So not every difficulty in learning to read, but every situation requires careful thought.

In the homeschool setting, particularly with Waldorf methodology, there can be a lot made of later reading that is normal, the student is dreamy, just give them more time and the student will catch up. This absolutely does happen and I do not want to discount it.  However, as the mother of a child who is dyslexic, I do wish more parents would confirm that there is no underlying signs of dyslexia, visual, or auditory processing programs before just deciding it will come.  I also wish more Waldorf teachers, mentors, and curriculum providers would point out the possible signs of underlying problems that are larger than just needing more time.

Visual and auditory processing problems can be c0-morbid with dyslexia, but visual therapy will not fix true dyslexia – it will fix the problems with tracking or convergence that contribute to learning challenges, but the dyslexic brain is neurobiological in origin.  

So, there are consistent signs that parents should be aware of that could indicate dyslexia.  I highly recommend looking at the International Dyslexia Association website for more information.  You might consider delving deeper if your student (source Schenck School public presentation, 2018; International Dyslexia Association):

  • Does not rhyme words well (this is huge; most four year olds and kindergarteners catch on to rhyming quickly!  This is absolutely an early sign of trouble if it does not improve with practice)
  • Does not divide words into syllables well
  • Divide sentences into words well
  • Does not discriminate words in phonemic sounds
  • Cannot delete roots or syllables or phonemes to make new words or substitute a phoneme in a word (ie, if you have the word lighthouse, and you ask the student to say the word again but don’t say “light”, they cannot do it or they cannot take the word bog, change the o to an a and make the word bag)
  • Cannot identify whether a specific phonemic sound is at the beginning, middle, or end of a word.

Once the student has gotten into bigger steps in trying to read or write, if your student:

  • Cannot write words or sentences
  • Cannot blend sounds together
  • Cannot decode nonsense words (think of Dr. Suess kind of words)
  • Cannot segment words into syllables or identify sounds and letters
  • Cannot decode consonant-vowel-Consanant words, or letters with simple blends after practice

Usually somewhere between grades 2-5, students are spelling well, have handwriting that is decent, can read and spell, can recall words, and yes, most fifth graders, even late bloomers, can read.  There is also a self-assessment at the International Dyslexia website here and also a good handout here that points out that 74 % of the readers struggling in third grade end up struggling in ninth grade (again, due to true developmental dyslexia, not just being a late bloomer), but that is is never too late, not even for adults, to improve through a structured literacy program.  Remediation may take 2-3 years or longer.

If you have checked a lot of the above indicators for your student, I suggest testing.  In the United States, this can be hard for parents as private testing through a neuropsychologist for a full battery of tests often costs thousands of dollars.  However, what testing gives you is a clear diagnosis, clear accomodations (especially important for those in high school for testing and those wanting to go to college), and it gives ideas for remediation.  It is also important because student with dyslexia have marked difference in reading, writing, spelling, speaking, and math due to neurobiologic expression, teaching methodology used and more.

In between testing and waiting, some things can help. If you are Waldorf homeschooling family, you may be familiar with the book “Take Time”, or “Bal A Vix X”.  You might be famliar with the idea of extra lessons or curative eurythmy.  Most programs recommended for literacy are those that employ Orton-Gillingham techniques.  One other approach is Lindawood/Bell, especially for those students without the ability to handle CVC words.

The other thing to think about is looking at the other pieces we often see  associated with dyslexia, whether that is difficulties with executive functioning tasks, speech challenges, dyscalculia, anxiety, sensory processing pieces, ADD/ADHD, social-emotional difficulties, dysgraphia, can also be part of what needs to be addressed.  It is a complex range, and many parents worry about their children.  Every single student with dyslexia is an individual and each student has their own strengths to build upon.

Blessings and love,
Carrie