We have all the information you need in one place to begin on your Waldorf homeschooling path. We … Read More
Beware, lol… I talk about God in this post. This is all Melisa 😉 and my recent experiences with the Spirit.
I just plugged in my computer at my desk in my new house. Yeah, I know, we move a lot. There is just enough sanguine in me that I get excited about moving when we need to. When we came to San Diego about three years ago, we lived in a hotel for over a week. 2 adults. 4 children. a cat. in an Extended Stay hotel. Yeah… painting a picture for you? After a week we were flustered and asking God for some direction. As luck would have it, we ran into some sister missionaries at the Mormon Battalion at Old Town here in San Diego. They listened to our story, how we felt God’s hand in telling us to come here and they prayed with us. The next day we found the house we have lived in for the last three years. It was an amazing blessing in our lives. Our church congregation was full of amazing older families and we loved them, but not many younger children – go figure…we joked that it was a group of newly wed and nearly dead families – families we loved. Last year Ellie and Sam started karate in a tiny little beach community of San Diego called Ocean Beach. We have been in love with the area but felt so tied to those we loved in our congregation. If you aren’t familiar, LDS families are assigned to areas, our newly wed, nearly dead area was very small, the congregation was once booming butt in the last 5 years had seen severe decline as the area of the city became more depressed and families moved away. the families left were amazing but not enough to sustain the congregation. All of this is happening while our hearts were more and more called to live in Ocean Beach. Sariah started karate and we were at our dojo 5 days a week. Our butts were kicked. You know what a HUGE stickler I am for rhythm – well it was shot…. 3 hours a day was tied up in karate – something we LOVED but something had to give. We began really praying about it all…. leave the congregation we were in love with where the kids had at least 5 sets of amazing foster grandparents or get a house closer to karate. As God would have it, our decision became very easy to make. About two months ago we went to church and all of our area leadership was there. In my 11 years as a Mormon, that only happens when BIG announcements are being made. Our local leaders decided to dissolve our congregation and split the families between two other local ones. As the words came from the mouth of stake president (a man I love and respect) it was like God was shouting in my ear “now is the time, you have asked for a nudge, here it is, get moving!” We all left church that day with a mix of emotions but relief was the biggest of them. Even the kids felt the door begin to open for the next chapter of our lives.
Finding our perfect space was the oddest yet most amazing spiritual experience I have had in a long time…. well in at least 3 years LOL. Ocean Beach can be a bit of a party town so I wanted a safe space within walking distance of our dojo. We set our focus and intention on about a 3 block square area. We knew that it was right. Every morning and night we prayed about it. We began attending the congregation for the area and the other families there began praying with us. Then one Wednesday a few weeks ago, the master of our dojo sent me a text with a for rent picture in it. I went to check it out, it was just inside our area but TINY. We filled out the rental application and returned it the next day. I was worried with the size the owner would think we were bonkers with three kids at home trying to fit us in there but then the Spirit stepped in again. The owner only called 1 reference out of the many that I gave him. He didn’t even talk to her, they played phone tag and she returned his message with a message! He said he wasn’t sure and I felt prompted to ask him if he would like to meet the children. He agreed. Friday evening he met the children and said he wasn’t sure how it was going to work but he felt really good about it so we gave him the deposit. I was super crazy. He had this look on his face… maybe you know it… the look that happens when you know that the Spirit is at work but you aren’t sure why… that was it. So that was three weeks ago and today I am happy to say we are mostly settled and I will be back to my full work schedule shortly. We have a few loose ends to tie up at the old place but nothing big. We have spent the last week WALKING to the dojo! What an amazing feeling. Our litle condo is 3 blocks from the beach. The ocean breeze is incredible.
God is good. A new chapter is beginning.
I have a giant testimony of the laws of attraction. They go hand in hand with our prayers and daily inner work. You can move any mountain you want to – BELIEVE it.
This time of the year there are a lot of posts on Facebook groups of moms either trying to plan or trying to figure out why what they planned isn’t working just as they envisioned it. In their head it is often like a scene from the Sound of Music but the reality might be a little more like Rocky Horror Picture Show. How do we bridge the gap? Let’s see if I can help.
One thing that I find to be very important is to pick a curriculum provider that has actually homeschooled more than one child for more than a short time. Look at the fruits of their labors. While being well versed in Steiner should be at the top of your list, Curriculum written by someone who has walked in your shoes should be too. Next, listen to their podcasts or read their blog – is it Waldorf platitude or is it real information that you can use each day in your home. It is easy to feel like Waldorf is this ethereal concept that is not achievable – like something that the elves of Rivendell do but certainly not something you can follow through with. In reality, Waldorf is full of practical instruction that will enliven the soul and bring peace to your home. I am hoping this blog post will help you hear my voice and also help you to adjust your expectations at home and create something that is not like the school – something that is far deeper – something that is very hard to quantify for those that really don’t live in this homeschooling world.
How it begins.
I am known for my emphasis on planning. Having a good plan is a very important part of this homeschooling recipe. Many moms fight the plan. They go by the seat of their pants, being shot out of a cannon every morning and just winging it. They are often overwhelmed and burn out faster than moms that take the time to make a plan. The plan is not a cage, it is a guideline, a boundary, a fence in a green Idaho pasture – one where you can easily see the other side so if you want to hop over the fence you can, but you can also stay within the confines of it and enjoy the view.
We have talked about planning in many places so this will be the highlights of what I often see people forgetting or just not understanding when translating the work of the school to the home.
- Lay out your year so you know where your blocks are, what is going on in your life, etc. You don’t have blocks in kindy but you might have themes, stories or the like that you will want to keep track of. Even in grade 1 you’ll not have too much flux since it is best to get in all those consonants first, then bring in the vowels and you have the magical foundation for reading.
- Take the time to plan your monthly, weekly and daily plans down to the letter. What songs you will sing, what page numbers your lessons are on, what your child will be reading, what handwork you will do, what extra curricular activities you will attend, all of it. Write it down.
It is important to understand that at home in the lower grades, there is zero need for more than one main lesson a day. Math is done in blocks and they are all rotated. English, grammar and literature are taught within the context of the history and science blocks and don’t need a separate lesson. When I see moms stressed out about bringing these things separately or the way they would be brought in the school, I want to shout from the roof tops “YOU ARE NOT A SCHOOL! YOU CHOSE TO BE HOME! EMBRACE IT.”
The rhythm of a school day.
I have laid out our current day below. I have five children but only three at home right now. This school year I have an almost 16-year-old doing grade 10, a 10-year-old doing grade 4 and a five-year-old in first year kindergarten.
I rise at 5:30
DD#1 rises at 5:30 and heads to a 6am seminary class.
DD#1 arrives home by 7:10 and gets herself showered and dressed for the day.
DD#2 & DS#3 rise and come to hang out in my bed while I finish up work around 7:30.
I get dressed, DD#2 & DS#3 dress and do chores.
We head downstairs to gather, eat and do our morning scriptures study. 8am.
We tidy up and head out the door for a walk by 9am. This walk is not leisurely, it is work. No bikes, no scooters, no parks. I have mapped out where we go so it works them and gets them moving and won’t over stimulate them. While on the walk we sing circle songs, practice times tables and spelling.
9:30 we arrive and get busy on school. We start with music and handwork, 20 minutes each.
10:30 the older two are dismissed to read and work on things they can do without me while I do circle and story with the youngest.
11am I do main lesson with the 10yo – takes about 45 to 55 min, unless we are painting and then it sometimes take about 70 min. The 10yo is dismissed. He has done reading on his main lesson topic, his music is done, his handwork is done, he has been introduced or worked with the main lesson content, had an art or English lesson. He has practiced math on our walk, he is done.
12:15 DD#1 comes to me and we discuss her main lesson topic, study it and work with it.
1pm DD#1 starts math.
2pm we are done with school and break for lunch.
I employ a snack tray so that we don’t have to stop. I do handwork and music first. Handwork before the main lesson helps them to be in the right spot to think and retain concepts. Their school time reading is ALWAYS coordinating with our main lessons in some way. It makes our main lesson go smoother, especially for my oldest.
Understanding the art instruction at home.
In a school setting sometimes they have a painting teacher or the handwork teacher will paint with the children. At home we are both of those. Art is part of the main lesson and looks a bit like this:
You have a lesson prop made either on the chalk board or you have drawn, painted or modeled it (or some other art medium.) This prop is VERY important. This prop is where your art lesson will come from. If you are using the chalk board and you plan to paint from your lessons, take the time to do the paintings in advance. ALL lesson props should be made in advance. This is what you are doing when you are getting up before your kids, unless you are working in the wee hours of the morning like I am and if that is the case then make your props another time. You bring the art part of the lesson on day one of the lesson – that is generally 8 art lessons a month. At the beginning of the school year I like to work with each medium for a month so that we can get our feet wet again after the summer break. At this time I also try to advance in concepts a bit, then we have the whole school year to practice. I try to sit down and do a month’s work of art all at once so that it is planned out and I don’t have to stress about it. This IS the art portion of the lessons, don’t over think it but stay ahead of them in your own skills so you are the teacher. When it is time to work on the art piece, you are doing it alongside them. With this, you will have done each piece at least twice, once when you planned it and once with your child. When you are working with art from your stories, THIS is it. This is that art. It is all one big main lesson that encompasses art and literature/science/history.
Understanding the English (or Mother Tongue) curriculum at home.
People are often surprised that the only extra work that I do in this area is when we are preparing for a test. There is no reason to do more work. The second day of the lessons is generally the day we work with the material in a more thinking way (verses feeling and willing with art.) The child has retold the story or recounted the work to you and then they compose a summary. That summary is important stuff! It lays the foundation for all their writing in the future. Nurture it. The summary begins as something you compose together in grades 1-3. At the end of grade 3, maybe the last two months of lessons, ask them to try on their own. See where they are, this will give you a good idea for goals for the next year. In grade 1 summaries are one sentence, in grade 2 they are two or three. By grade 3 you should be working up to a paragraph. In grade 4, I like them to start keeping a journal. This is a space that I just allow them to write, sometimes I use prompts if they are struggling to come up with something. I don’t correct this work but I do look at it for habitual misspellings so I know where we need to work on things. Their summaries might need coaching in grade 4 so I might start the first sentence with them and then step back. This will be a refining year as they learn to work with that material on their own. This will also be where your grammar lessons come from. You can discuss the use of punctuation, proper grammar, tenses, sentence structure – all of that comes right from their written work most of the time, occasionally we will work with a piece of poetry or a paragraph from one of their stories, but it is all part of the same lesson. We keep it together. As the child grows in confidence, you will be assigning them longer pieces of work and helping them refine. I am often asked about drafts and I generally don’t do a second draft until gr5+, it very much depends on the child. If I am working with a phlegmatic child that has sloppier work then I might require it in grade 4 until the quality of their work improves (this would be a goal that I have set for them that we are working on together.) The same would be true for any temperament that might need refining in taking care in their work.
Bringing it all together.
I am hoping that this was helpful. This is very abbreviated and work with more of these concepts with my clients one on one, but hopefully this will get you started! I am always happy to answer questions.
Holy cow I am behind! I have about 10 weeks of handwork posts to catch up on! A very busy late spring and summer in the Nielsen house, thankfully handwork helps anchor me so I will get those posts caught up!
This one is near to me. My oldest son is on a mission for our church and we are nearing the 1 year mark. He started this scarf the day he entered his training and worked on it daily until last week. A couple months before he left, I asked him if he’d like a project to work on – because you know he wouldn’t be busy enough! He asked to make this scarf from a project we saw a few years back. It was a weather scarf where you knitted a row for the weather every day for a year. Since the first one we saw, I have seen many others like this one and this one and this one. Harry’s was pretty simple: yellow for the sunny days, blue for the color bright Colorado skies, gray for the days that are dreary and green for the days he forgot and couldn’t remember what the weather was.
Being near the end of his first year, he sent it home to have me weave in the ends. Of course he is ready for another project! He told me to pick something and send it along.
Many happy handwork blessings!