How Temperaments Change During Adolescence

Many parents of children in Waldorf Schools and Waldorf homeschooling families are fascinated with the idea of the temperaments.  Waldorf Education routinely finds that middle place between nature (children are formed through genetics and family lines at birth) and nurture by working with individuality.  Each child has an individuality, and the temperament of a child provides us, as teachers and parents, a way to work with children.  We often talk about how not only are there temperaments in individual children – melancholic, sanguine, phlegmatic, and choleric temperaments – but that different stages of life are know for having a temperament as well.  Small children are often very sanguine, for example, on top of an individual temperament.  The teenaged years are often a very choleric time.

Our job as parents and educators is to nurture positive aspects of every temperament.  Too often on blogs and in books, I hear solely of the negative aspects of a certain temperament.  The other thing that is rarely mentioned is the transformation of the child’s temperament during adolescence.  This is seen as real individuality begins to emerge during adolescence.

We can always consider the  “sub” temperaments a child has – perhaps your child is choleric but has a strong melancholic side, for example.  These “sub” temperaments often influence such things as extroversion and introversion, level of excitability, and more.

In adolescence, we may see several transformations.  These are written about quite beautifully in the esteemed Betty Staley’s book, “Between Form and Freedom:  A Practical Guide to the Teenaged Years.”  These transformations are noted as follows:

  • The melancholic child often becomes a choleric adult.  This is often seen in a melancholic’s wonderful attention to detail that becomes so helpful in leadership (many cholerics are leaders!)
  • The choleric child often becomes a sanguine adult. During adolescence, they can be swayed by emotions to the point that they are easily pulled about like a sanguine.  This temperament can also have an  especially hard as their friends come into stronger individuality during adolescence.  Some cholerics can also have a strong melancholic undertone.  These teenagers need to be surrounded by loving friends and family and ideals so they can become adults devoted to truth and duty to humanity.
  • The sanguine child often becomes a phlegmatic adult. The changes and “heaviness” that puberty brings often slows the sanguine child down and helps them become reliable adults.
  • The phlegmatic child often becomes a melancholic adult.  This is noted as one of the more complicated adolescent temperaments.  Adolescence for this teenager can be about withdrawal, dealing with heaviness,  and trying to deal with their own frustrations.

Temperament study is so interesting.  Every year as part of my homeschool planning I go back and re-read things dealing with the temperaments. If you are interested in further reading about these changes, I highly recommend Betty Staley’s book.

Blessings,
Carrie

Ideas for Second Grade Math Blocks

I am in the middle of planning out math, at least the general progression and ideas, for our second grade year to begin in the fall. This is my third time through second grade, now with our youngest, and it is strange that it will be my last time through second grade math.

In constructing Waldorf math blocks for this grade, I am thinking of movement, and mathematical and artistic experiences to really bring math into the body and into liveliness.  Thoughts about these three things are the bedrock of the Waldorf math experience.

The “big themes” for the four math blocks of this year (which, in my mind and for my student),  include :   Decomposing numbers/Working with all four processes/Introduction to Place Value;  More Number Strategies/Working with Time;  Geometry; and lastly, A Synthesis of the Year).

I have thought of the “format”I want to follow in math this year.  For me this year, this is the idea of units of math throughout the entire year so I have a focus for daily math practice, and then ideas for the specific skill progression within a block.  The vehicle to carry these skills, which are stories and games, this imaginative form, will be the last specific  things I choose, keeping in mind the developmental needs of the second grader will be met by fables, tricksters, and saints.

My skill progression (so far) that I am thinking of for the year includes using all four processes for math, being able to use ten to add to numbers, fact families, estimating, two digit addition and subtraction, using a number line, working in grouping of numbers and decomposing numbers, place value (generally reading and writing numbers to 1000, comparing numbers, understanding place value), non-standard measurement in preparation for third grade  (although I may do some liquid measurement our last month of second grade in with gardening and being outside), three digit addition and subtraction, simple geometry, multiplication and division, and time.  I also looked at our state standards to see what is there!

For imagery, I have decided to pull our  first block from some stories I found in “Anansi the Spider Man” by Philip M. Sherlock.  The second block we  will be working with decomposing numbers and number strategies though American Tall Tales.  The third block that will be a synthesis of the year will be our gardening block in our last month and include writing and math, and may include a liquid measurement component in preparation for third grade (I mean, water and containers outside…What could be more fun?).  The geometry block I am modeling off of includes some geometry ideas from the Christopherus Second Grade Math book and some ideas about making patchwork quilts and gingerbread villages found in the mainstream book, “Math Excursions 2:  Project-Based Math for Second Graders” by Donna Burk, Paula Symonds, and Allyn Snider which I will modify (although I am not sure in what way yet!)

I use a variety of resources, both Waldorf resources and mainstream resources, in order to teach math in second grade.  My favorite Waldorf resources for this grade include the guide “Making Math Meaningful:  A Source Book for Teaching Math In Grades One Through Five” by  York,  Fabrie, and Gottenbos; “Mathematics in Rudolf Steiner Schools For Classes I-VIII” by Ron Jarman; “Math Lessons For Elementary Grades” by Dorothy Harrer; “Active Arithmatic!” by Henning Anderson, and varying form drawing books.

My favorite non-Waldorf resources for second grade include math games that I can take and re-work into a more imaginative scenario because games  are a math experience.  This is an important part of math and developing number sense.  The best examples of these imaginative games in a Waldorf context that I have found include Master Waldorf teacher Marsha Johnson’s files over at waldorfhomeeducators@yahoogroups.com (yes, a Yahoo Group. I know pretty much all groups have switched to Facebook at this point, but these files are a very important for the early grades, they are free, and I urge you to take advantage of them!).  Examples of mainstream math books that have ideas  that could be put into a more  imaginative Waldorf context include “Second Grade Math” by  Nancy Litton;  “Math Excursions 2: Project-Based Mathematics for Second Graders” by Burk, Symonds, and Snider already mentioned above; “The Dyscalculia Toolkit” by Ronit Bird; and “Math in the Garden:  Hands On Activities That Bring Math To Life” (White, Barrett, Kopp, Manoux, Johnson, and McCullough). Other experiences I am thinking of include cooking and gardening, nature walks, knitting, crafting for festivals, music and movement (rhythm is a basis of math!).

Are you planning second grade math?  I would love to hear from  you!

Blessings,
Carrie

 

 

Favorite Waldorf Homeschooling Pinterest Boards and You Tube Videos

I listed my new-to-me top ten favorite resources I am using for fall planning and today I want to share with you some of my favorite Waldorf Pinterest Boards and You Tube videos/channels.  We all learn in different ways, and Waldorf Education is such an experiential form of education, so if you cannot attend an IN-PERSON, LIVE training or workshop (which I recommend most highly!), then sometimes visuals and demonstrations via videos can be helpful.

Of course, any one can put up anything on the Internet. One wants to be discerning as to the myriad of things out there that are being labeled “Waldorf” or “Waldorf -Inspired” simply because this label can encompass products and viewpoints that are right on, and products and viewpoints that have nothing to do with Waldorf Education.    In one sense, Rudolf Steiner was not nearly as dogmatic as people make him out to be in regards to educational practices and what comes when; but on the other hand there are solid developmental reasons to place things in general categories:  early years till the six/seven year change; up until the nine year change; from the nine to twelve year old change, and lastly up to the fifteen/sixteen year old change.  We must view anything labeled as “Waldorf” through this development lens and  really pay attention to what these seven year cycles and transitional points  mean for educating a whole, beautiful child. I think if we are homeschooling with the goal of it being a “Waldorf” experience, then we must know about these developmental stages of the human being, and know why we do (or don’t!) do what we do and what is created dogma and what is not. If you are searching for more information on this subject, I refer you to this May 2017 post at Waldorfish and to this post by Jean Miller over at Waldorf-Inspired Learning regarding the the three stages of the Waldorf curriculum.  And, of course, there are many back posts on this blog detailing some of the things that Steiner said and wrote about. I will be writing another post shortly where I will tell you WHERE in Steiner’s lectures to find (or not) some of the major themes for each grade (or if it is standard because the Waldorf Schools have made these themes traditional?)

So, all that to say, is that there is inspiration every where when one teachers with Waldorf,  and if we know and understand development and broad themes, I have found gems to work into our homeschooling experience with the following:

Pinterest Boards:

  • Queen’s Lace is one of my favorites, with very extensive boards!
  • Waldorf Hannah   is also very extensive with many sub-categories by blocks or skills for each grade.
  • I think Waldorfish has found some of the most beautiful pins.
  • I would like to tell you about my own board as well.  I cover Early Years through Grade 12.

You Tube Videos:

Hope that is helpful.

Blessings,
Carrie

 

 

 

Joyous Summers With Children!

The outbreath of summer with its golden days, sultry heat, blue skies, dragonflies and bumblebees, and festivals is one of my favorite seasons of the year.  However, sometimes summer with children can have a bit of a bumpy entry (adjustment) or a bit of fatigue in the middle (lack of balance, sibling bickering!)

One of the things I think summer really needs is time and space, but also a skeletal structure to provide a little inbreath and outbreath; a little balance.  Children often run full tilt outside all summer long, and sometimes even just having a little grounding in the morning with chores and a small circle (for younger children) or artistic activity (for older children), and a pause in the middle of the day  for physical rest can be helpful and nourishing.

I like to plan some anchor points with crafts for festivals over the summer.  You can see some of my ideas here on my Summer Pinterest board, along with ideas specifically for June, July, and   .  These are months for creating a magical summer!   This back post by guest poster Christine Natale has many wonderful ideas for creating great summer memories.  I also wrote a post about celebrating summer with small children  if you are looking for something specific to the Early Years.

One thing to plan for includes summertime bickering.  I find bickering  between siblings can be at its height during the summer, and it is good to have a plan to deal with this so you are not caught off guard!

Lastly, consider summer stories and your summer nature table.  These can add a stabilizing, calming influence to your summer plans.

Off to enjoy a day of fun in the sun myself,

Carrie

Ten New and Exciting Resources For Fall

I am so happy to be gathering resources for fall, and want to share some of the new things I have discovered.  Some of these are Waldorf Education resources, and some are mainstream resources that I am using for upper level subjects or resources .  Enjoy some of these titles that might (or might not) be new to you! ( I have absolutely no affiliation with anything listed here; just simply sharing some of my finds).

  1.  “Exploring Nature With Children” ebook – this is a fantastic nature curriculum you can use across ages and grades. Lynn is completely familiar with Waldorf Education and is a reader of this blog, in fact! (Hi Lynn!)  It covers an ENTIRE year (summer months too!) and is only 15 dollars with a viewpoint that is easily used with Waldorf or Charlotte Mason homeschoolers (or anyone interested in nature studies!)  It has suggestions for books, artwork, writing, observation, and more.  Highly recommend.  There is a code for a 20 percent discount until Saturday, June 3rd: NATURE20.
  2. “Learning To Breathe: A Mindfulness Curriculum For Adolescents to Cultivate Emotion Regulation, Attention, and Performance” by Patricia C. Broderick, PhD.  This is a book regarding emotional regulation, stress-reduction skills, and mindfulness techniques with a 6 or 18 week program for adolescents. There are separate student workbooks.  I am planning on using this with both my tenth grader as part of our year long health course and our seventh grader, whose physiology block will dovetail with high school health.  I think talking plainly about emotions and tools to deal with stress and emotional regulation are very important for this generation of children.   I am grateful mine are old enough to have plain discussion about this subject, although I will be delving into more depth with my high schooler than my seventh grader.
  3. “Embryology Experienced Through Modeling In Clay” by Christian Breme (sold through Waldorf Publications).   This book comes with a DVD, and will be a part of our Embryology block in tenth grade, along with the next product:
  4. “Embryo In Motion: Understanding Ourselves As Embryo”  by Jaap van der Wal. This is a complete DVD lecture set to help me understand the anthroposophic viewpoint of embryology.
  5. “The Poetry Handbook”” by Mary Oliver.  A block of epic poetry is a traditional mainstay of tenth grade, and usually one hears about Gilgamesh, The Odyessey and the like, but I want to extend the art of looking at poetry and writing poetry into the twice a week writing I am doing with combining our seventh and tenth grader.
  6. “The Dyscalculia Toolkit” by Ronit Bird, for ages 6-14 with 200 activities and 50 games to help solidify. Some of the games I will be using with our second grader just as fun things to do, and some of the things I will be using with our seventh grader to review basics in a new and different way.
  7. “Math In The Garden”  – I love this book. I originally couldn’t find this book for under  50 to 100 dollars and requested it through inter-library loan. I really enjoyed it and thought it had some wonderful ideas, and  now have found where to order it for 30 dollars.  I am very excited to work through the projects in this book!
  8. “A Waldorf Journey Podcast” – I have enjoyed many of these episodes and it is always nice for me, as a homeschooler, to hear how things are done in a particular classroom, and to stimulate my own thought of how this relates to our homeschooling journey. (Hello to Meredith!).
  9. “Spelling By Hand” by Jeremy Hermann (sold through Waldorf Publications).  I am looking forward to receiving this resource and promise a full review on this when it arrives here!  It is booklet-sized at only 36 pages, but I have heard good reviews on this product.
  10. Jamie York’s Middle School Math Conference.  The middle school grades are online, and very accessible. I will be taking the seventh grade math conference and am looking forward to it.

I hope some of these resources are inspiring to you as you homeschool plan! Please share with me any resources that you are finding wonderful right now.

Blessings,
Carrie

Struggling with Homeschooling Burnout?

I think this is the time of year where I get a spate of emails either from excited parents who are ready to embark upon their homeschool journeys or I get just the opposite – emails about burnout, dashed expectations, and exhaustion.  Parents with homeschooling burnout wonder what to do if they don’t want their children to go to a brick and mortar school, but yet they cannot see any resolution to the challenges before them.

I experienced true burnout this year, and I am not afraid to share what worked for me in hopes it will help other homeschooling parents.

Part of the challenge:  Part of  burnout, for me,  had to do with homeschooling for ten years with most summers taken up at least partially or fully with homeschool planning (vacation, anyone?). I notice in some Waldorf Schools the teachers seem to take sabbatical after taking a class through eight years.  We do not have that option at home, as we often have younger children to continue homeschooling or we are homeschooling into high school.

Part of the solution:  Stack some vacations in the worst part of the year to get me through; plan less weeks and less days per week in order to work in planning time during the school year.

Part of the challenge:  Homeschooling for many years children of wildly different ages who have wildly different developmental needs.

Part of the solution:    No child is going to get their day 100 percent tailored to them in a homeschooling situation where the family has children of massively different ages.   As a homeschooler, it is easy to look at what a Waldorf School might offer and think that this would be better for the child.  However, comparing a Waldorf School and Waldorf homeschooling is often like comparing oranges and grapefruit – same family, but perhaps distant cousins.  Home is not school and school is not home.  Reaching a balance not just over the course of a week or a month or a year is important, and to take a really long-term view that the child will get what they need by the time they graduate.  Remembering why we homeschool for each developmental period is important and helpful.

The other part of this solution is to impart more responsibility to the older children where one can, and to know sometimes it isn’t in the academic arena or the artistic arena, but it may be the older student can be helpful with smaller children or responsibility around the house.

The third idea is to look carefully at outside activities.  It is harder to say no to worthy outside activities that  a high schooler wants to do if they only have a few years left full time at home, but it is simple to tell younger children they simply must wait – or to choose activities the whole family can enjoy together!

Part of the challenge:  High school was not only a curveball for our oldest, but it was a curveball for ME.  Most of the parents in my area homeschool high schoolers using traditional textbooks, online classes, or the use of a hybrid school where their child is in classes two to three days a week with homework to do on the other “off” days.  What I kept hearing over and over was how homeschooling high school was so wonderful, how all it was was facilitating work and the student did everything on their own.

This could be the case for many Waldorf homeschoolers, but I don’t think this is always the case.  Many of us are still directly teaching high school subjects and very involved. We also may be trying to figure out that whole balance of blocks versus year long courses , workload,  and how to grade things.

Part of the solution:  Let it go.  Courses can extend throughout the high school years in homeschooling.  Preserve the relationship.  See if you can find in-person support from someone who has homeschooled similarily to how you have homeschooled, but also understand that every teenager has a different rate of neurologic development, and therefore that person’s experience may not be your experience at all!   In the middle teen years, I see  very pronounced differences in the development of the brain and the profound effect this has upon high school.  No one talks about that at all on homeschooling blogs, so I am saying it!

Part of the challenge:  The parent is still developing and going through seven year cycles; older parents can have challenges and we all seem to age a little differently.The decade of the 40s can also  be where many mothers are squished between taking care of elderly parents or parents with health problems, homeschooling, running a household, and getting children to activities.  It can be overwhelming.

Part of the solution:  Rest, exercise,  and healthy eating is a key.  Making time for your own health does nothing but stabilize the school situation.  If you have shorter days due to your own health needs and you decide to homeschool with shorter breaks throughout the year in order to accommodate this, well, we  have that flexibility!  The other piece of this is to go back to your spiritual practices – what strengthens your inner resolve and strength?

These are just a few of the things I did this year to help myself.  I would love to hear from you if you have suggestions to help mothers suffering from burnout! What would you say to be encouraging and helpful?

Blessings,
Carrie

How To Get Your Early Planning Going!

Hello Friends!

It has been a busy time of year here with finishing school, enjoying friends and squishing in pool time.  One thing I have been serious about since I came home revitalized and encouraged from the Waldorf Homeschool Conference in Orlando, FL is to jump on planning.  There is a lot to coordinate this year.  My seasonal/festival ideas for each month are written down from over the years, and our start/end/probably vacation dates are also written out. I had an idea of possible block rotations  (subject to change), and I have recently sat down and gathered resources.  Most of them are Waldorf resources; there are some Oak Meadow resources for my tenth grader; but many resources are just library books sorted into subjects or things off of Teachers Pay Teachers for high school  to fill in my own gaps or to work with specific works of literature for high school.  Then I made a list of what needs to be planned:

  1. High School Spanish 3 – I will be facilitating this through a traditional text book and additional readings and games I found on Teachers Pay Teachers.
  2. A combination health (for our tenth grader) and seventh grade physiology (traditionally done in a block in seventh grade but I am combining with my high schooler’s health) twice a week.
  3. A twice a week writing track where I am combining my tenth and seventh graders, focused on the wish, wonder, surprise theme traditionally found in Waldorf  seventh grade where we can focus on skill progression in writing and different types of writing for our tenth grader.
  4. Second Grade Blocks and Weekly Nature Study.  This will be my third time through second grade, so I am familiar with much of the material but hope to really bring fun and new ideas to it all and make it very active for our very active little choleric guy.
  5. Seventh Grade Blocks – to include physics, Renaissance and Reformation history, Exploration, astronomy, several math blocks and hopefully a little block on Colonial America at the very end of seventh grade.  I am going to save the whole of chemistry for eighth grade.
  6.  Tenth Grade Blocks – still debating on blocks; we never got to our ninth grade Art History block as we ran out of time and we have a few topics in Biology to finish. Other than that, I am planning blocks in US Government, Embryology, Ancient Civilizations and Ancient Literature, a block of poetry, and a block of Contemporary African-American Literature, and several math blocks.
  7. Fantastic Fun – these will be hands-on things on a single topic once a week all together.   I fully expect our second grader to be in the room for many of these topics that really mesh more with seventh and tenth grade such as African geography, Latin American geography, project-based math, navigation,  and more (essentially places where I felt seventh and tenth grade overlap) so I am thinking of the best way to approach some of this. Our second grader probably will just weave in and out, and much like the way I feel about younger children hearing stories that they will encounter later, it just is what it is.  Homeschooling is first and foremost about family and I don’t wish to banish him from our activities.
  8. My other big plan is to begin this school year and have a week or week and a half of the life of Buddha and Buddhism – this ties into the Silk Road for our seventh grader, and into the Ancient World for our tenth grader and it could tie into stories for our second grader.  I envision this primarily as an artistic time, and hope to work with creating clay sculpting (tenth grader) and black and white drawing (seventh grader) and some other projects.  I also plan to read Herman Hesse’s “Siddhartha” to the older children and work on some projects coordinated with that.
  9. Summer Reading lists – I am having our rising tenth grader read Barbara Kingsolver’s “The Bean Trees” and the book “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson. I also included a tenth grade reading list to pick several books of choice off of during the summer and school year for book reports.   I am having our rising seventh grader read, “Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World” and probably something that bridges the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

How are you coming along planning?  I wish for peaceful planning for you!

I think the best ways to get your early planning going is to see where you can combine children in blocks or topics, gather your resources, and just begin.  Where is the wonder and activity, and where is the skill progression for the upper grades? I would to hear from you how you are doing!

Many blessings,

Carrie