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Archive for the ‘Handwork’ Category

Moving to a new state has our school cycle Shifting. For 7 years we started a new school year in the spring, but this past year it all shifted to fall. Little Eagle began 7th grade, Little Fox began 5th and Little Bear began Kindy for the 4/5 year old.

Our older boys began Waldorfish Geometry for their respective grades. Fall 2017, and all of 2018 was the first year we began using online teaching resources. First, with Waldorfish Weekly Art. Next, I purchased Waldorfish Geometry, Festival Art and First Grade Watercolors. It has been a blessing with (almost) two middle schoolers. Having that time, while they are in class to work with my littlest guy has really helped me as a teacher to give balanced time to each of them. I will have these resources for life, so Little Bear will benefit when the time comes. When you combine Art, Handwork and main teaching subjects like Math it creates a multi-dimensional learning opportunity. Little Fox is embroidering a geometric bear to build his will with handwork, and bring more dimension to his Freehand Geometry. I’ll post more on handwork later.

Both older boys do daily math, journaling prompts and we have developed their Planners to accommodate us as a whole. I spend several hours each weekend writing in their school work for the week, some prayer ideas, meditations and encouragement. This process has helped us flow through the week, and it is helping the boys become self-starters. Check out my Stories on IG weekly to see glimpses into this new routine. I may do a blog post on this topic. Several moms have asked about my process.

Little Eagle began his apprenticeship in the wood shop this year! He goes Monday and Friday mornings. He helps with Coydog Studio projects and also helped build his own bed. It’s almost done! I’ll do a post on it when it’s finished.

Homeschool Gym and Strength Training began in September. The older boys love it. We have a family membership at the Y. Little Bear and I get in the pool, where I aquacise and he plays with friends. I hit up the hot tub and a few minutes in the dry heat sauna, which brings me weekly peace. I began this routine last fall/winter to keep up my mental health in our new northern climate. It has been a blessing.

Little Bear has been listening to weekly stories of Sam the gnome, which is a two year container story by Waldorf Essentials. We have Circle Time beforehand, which includes singing, call and response, movement opportunity like jump rope, Simon Says and similar ideas, which I glean from Joyful Movement by Christopherus. I also have a Pinterest board called Movement, Games and Sensory, which is very helpful as well. Occasionally we join a local nature group connected to Little River Wetlands Project once a month.

I am very excited to attend a local event in February, with my little guy. Anna from Kid Lit Crafts develops modestly priced activities for little ones, themed around books. Her tag line is “Where Beautiful Children’s Books Inspire Family Creativity.” February will be our first event. I’ll report back on IG about our time, and perhaps here.

For those interested in our move from Kentucky to Indiana, we are finally moving on with renovating the house. The shop is not fully done, but that will take time. We will get new windows in the entire house sometime this winter, and eventually all new siding. My husband has pulled out the entire mechanical closet and cleaned it, and traced all the plumbing. He will be replacing parts here and there, and we will add a few new plumbing lines as we demo and shift the laundry room to the other side of the house, creating a mud room combo. This past summer we planted lilac bushes, peonies, pink naked ladies, irises and such from my mothers home in Kentucky.

Thanks for reading along.

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Here’s a peak at what we got into the first couple weeks of February. Making candles came first right at Candlemas. Candlemas is the time of year where we make as many candles as possible and bless them for the year. There is something special about this ritual that is like no other. We have alway Loved to use beeswax candles, lighting them for school and during meals. It never gets old. This year we made little votive candles with xoxo’s, hearts, cupid hearts with arrows, and even one with a bunny. Red, pink and white. It really was the first time that I have cut out shapes and letters from pressed beeswax to decorate the outside of the candles. So, even after years of homeschooling and living within the realm of Waldorf — I still found something new to do.

Next up I began embroidering the little heart pouch pictured above. I have found one of my favorite types of handwork is indeed embroidery. My grandmother taught me around the ages of 7-9 years old. I would sit and embroider little birds and flowers on hankerchiefs and pillow cases, while we watched Little House on the Prairie. I will always hold those memories dear.

Lastly, we made our little gnome couple. It was the first time I had made a peg person with hair, so again each year and each season I am spiraling forward and creating dimension in the handwork I do. There’s something comforting about that. Knowing each day, and each season that what I do not accomplish or get done, I can always work towards the next year.

Well, my time as Happy Hedgehog Brand Rep has come to an end. The three months went by pretty quickly, and it I am so blessed to have had the opportunity. Thank you for following along on my posts here and on IG.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you and yours. I love celebrating love and gratitude. It doesn’t matter if society dedicates one day, as the commercial holiday. Love is definitely meant to be celebrated.

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August paid off with planning, and our rest, travel and play enriched us enough to focus daily on our tasks for the past month and a half. We began our new school year, as year rounders back in April. So when September hit, we were beginning the final stretch after a break. I make sure we are learning with in and out breaths, developing the best process for our heads, hearts and hands. That is how we came naturally to schooling this way. Intuition, meditation, prayer, focus, intent, manifestation.

Deepening our painting skills, we have learned a bit about Botany, with the Charles Kovac book. Geography skills have been expanded through music lessons, stories, and real life experience. I have learned more about the Old Testament stories by taking them in to my Soul and teaching, which has in turn helped me to become a more multi-dimensional teacher. It helps that I used one set of resources the first time I taught 3rd, and another set of resources this second time around. Waldorf Essentials has always been my lamp post though! 5th grade has taken us to Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece and into the lap of Buddha. Teaching 3rd and 5th at the same time has its teacher incentives, when subjects become intermingled. In other words, I have begun to deepen my own personal web of life. Everything is interrelated.

Our handwork rhythm has deepened and that makes me proud. Needle Point (with yarn) and Embroider (with thread/floss) has enriched our Souls using our Hands. Freehand Geometry is taking shape through a few Waldorf resources and I am having fun presenting the sacredness of the universe through Math, to my little learner. I intend to join the embroidering world and math in the next cycle of my teaching. I have a great recommendation for a book assisting with this, on my IG account. Also, please take a look at my personal embroider work project, which is stitch by stitch prayers for the Standing Rock Reservation against the Dakota Access Pipeline #nodapl  –  It is a pattern by @cozyblue, called Full Circle. This can be found #WIP style on IG.

Another one of my little learners will play in his 5th Suzuki violin recital in a couple weeks, And he is blossoming in our Cooking Class. So many good things. My littlest learner is unfolding beautifully in our Waldorfy prek circle, at my home church. The Circle Time was taken on by our Children’s Minister, in which we are so grateful. Once a week for an hour and a half we get together with 5/6 other families to sing, sign, hear stories, do crafts, move, shake and laugh. We come as we are, 2 to 4 years of age, at the moment. So many good things are evolving for the Wolf Pack, and Eagle Tree Homeschool. Teaching 3 age levels at the same time is a challenge, but with self care, time management, organization and Love as the centerpiece, it can be done.

If you are interested in speaking with me about my experience with Waldorf Essentials, I am now a (TFW) Thinking, Feeling, Willing Leader. Please comment below or contact me healingoneself@gmail.com. TFW is a blessing and gives you access to organized, essential mama lessons. Not only will Melisa hold your hand, if you are willing to do the inner work, but I will be nearby local, in Kentucky. It helps to have community.

Follow me over on IG @nurturing_spirit  for daily Waldorfy goodness.

If I have already referred you to Melisa and WE and you would like to be added to my secret Facebook group, just message me. I will add you. I plan to post videos, links to songs I sing for Circle Time or the Seasons and personal wisdom on homeschooling, mothering, marriage, and being self-employed (see www.coydogstudios.com and on IG @coydog~studios).

I also have a secret Facebook group for Handwork, if you wish to message me, I will add you there as well.

I have also organized homeschooling resources and other lifestyle pursuits over on Pinterest.

We have been using Waldorf Essentials curriculum for a number of years. I have taught both Kindy through Third twice, as well as Fourth and Fifth once through. I have had the honor to hold space for the preschool years three times, with my three sons, ages 11, 9 and now 3. Join me, if you wish and I will do my best to guide you as I can. Life is a journey, and we can take it day by day together.

 

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I solemnly swear to create, teach and heal.

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Meet King Arthur!  He is our newest member of the family.  Arthur is a four month old buck.  For pickup, it took us about 2 hours to get to our destination in Southern Indiana, from where we live in Central Kentucky.  I didn’t remember it took that long, but it is a very beautiful drive.  When we arranged the meeting we had planned on taking home a FAB torte, but the farmer brought this guy along. He was two months older than the torte, and noticeably larger.  We could definitely tell he was a boy too.  Being new at raising rabbits (as an adult) has been very educating.  I helped my grandfather when I was little with standard rex rabbits, but as an adult it’s all new to me again.  A year and a half ago we purchased a FAB, but it turned out to be a doe!  Just this week we got the pedigree changed. King Arthur is a calm and sweet guy.  I was a little worried about getting a boy, but the farmer convinced me this guys mother was his smartest and well behaved.  I do love his white fiber.  It is kind of matted up, but we will shear it soon.  We will try to capture more of our journey as we go along.  Until then, here’s a little verse.

 

Rabbit twitched his twitchety ears on a twinkling autumn day,
He could hear the North Wind whistle and he scampered off to say:
Hurry, hurry, hurry, hurry, we must all get fat and furry,
Not a moment to be lost, I can hear bold Jackie Frost.

Groundhog sniffed her sniffety nose on a snappy autumn day
She could smell the winter coming, and she waddled off to say:
Hurry, hurry, hurry, hurry, we must all get fat and furry,
Not a moment to be lost, I can smell bold Jackie Frost.

Squirrel shivered a shivery shiver on a shiv’ry autumn day
He could feel the North Wind’s fingers, and he scurried off to say:
Hurry, hurry, hurry, hurry, we must all get fat and furry,
Not a moment to be lost, I can feel bold Jackie Frost.

Black Bear blinked her blinkety eyes on a blust’ry autumn day
She could see the snow clouds gather, and she lumbered off to say:
Hurry, hurry, hurry, hurry, we must all get fat and furry,
Not a moment to be lost, I can see bold Jackie Frost.

 

 

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Good day!

It’s Thursday, aka Thors Day.  Thursday always feels warrior-like to me, as if we must fight our way to Friday.  All my boys slept in, so for that I am happy.  It gave me some time being awake, in silence.  Since the sun has been waking up later, I can see how our sons are following nature. Imitating.  And because of our schedule, they are going to sleep earlier as well.

Fall has been an exciting harvest.  We are harvesting with our small family-owned business. Tomorrow night is the reception for our Functional Design show in Louisville.  Here’s a link for more details. http://www.la-fs.com

Today I must stay Present.  I must honor my way through what is Now.  The animals are all fed. Our new puppy is fitting in Quite nicely.  She’s a joy really.  Ayla the Elder seems roused a bit more from her boring and sad life, since Kiva passed.  Our French Angora (FA) doe is in her hutch, that is more like a condo.  She has the life.  One side is all straw bedding.  There are two water bottles. One has a heating element for winter.  We feed her hay, pellets, sunflower seeds, banana peels, lettuce, some other varieties of fruit.  Her color is gray with black ears.  Below is a picture of her the day after we got her, from a reputable FA farmer.

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She’s much longer now and the boys call her Guinevere “Gracie.”  As often as possible we take her up to the round pen to run and hop and get some fresh air.  This past year we have learned a lot about his particular breed of rabbit, known for its fiber.  We collect it as it falls out, but also we gently clip her at the beginning of summer.  It seems about every 90 days her fiber cycles out.  Even though she has plenty of straw bedding, and the hutch is closed in, I leave her fiber alone during the coldest months.  Here are a couple external links about the history of the French Angora Rabbit.

FA history 

Angora Wikipedia 

Today we are going to meet the same farmer and look over two bucks.  We do not have any bucks or males on the property, except in the human form.  It will be an interesting discovery having a FA buck here.  I only want to come away with one today, and I really prefer a doe.  The first time we bought a FA it was supposed to be a buck, but turns out it was a doe.  She is very gentle.  I hear if they don’t breed or aren’t fixed, they can be grouchy.  So far things have been fine.

I’ll post a picture of our new FA soon.

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Hi friends!

Life is busy!  Busier than we have ever experienced.  With our own small business and three boys time can fly if we don’t watch it.  I love living out in the country, with less distraction, because it gives me the opportunity to slow it all down and live life as quality as possible.  Slow living has gotten a little harder this year as we now have two older boys with one interest each.  Our oldest has resumed drama class, which will come with extra practices around the time of the play. Our middle guy plays violin going on 8 months.  To be a student of Ms. Amy, one has to attend group violin lessons and private individual lessons.  We are okay with this, because the group lessons are a lot of fun.  Group is only every other Monday, so that works for us.  Private lessons are weekly.  Drama is weekly. Thankfully, both of those lessons fall on the same day, so we visit my mother, nephew and niece in between drama and violin.  However, we do have to drive to two different cities to make this all happen.  It is what it is.  The people and teachers we need to see are where we have to drive.  It’s not always convenient.

As a new mother over 10 years ago we were living in Boone, NC.  I was very isolated, but kept another little boy similar to my son’s age.  Close to his first birthday we moved back to KY and found out we had our second son on the way. We were definitely isolated after the birth of Little Fox.  Country living was our choice.  I didn’t know tons of people, even though Central KY was my hometown area.  Everybody had moved, changed, had their own kids and such.  Eventually, I found out about homeschooling.  I had NEVER heard of homeschooling before then.  I am convinced my Little Fox brought with him the spiritual energy I NEEDED to figure that path was going to be ours. I did tons of research.  TOO MUCH.  I fell down a few rabbit holes with my eagerness to learn. Eventually, I got out of my head and came into my body.  I became Present.  Then, I found Waldorf. My path was aligning with my higher purpose.  I did spend time growing and learning through becoming a doula, then a death midwife for a bit and into a spiritual midwife.  As time went on though I kept purification at the forefront of living.  Purifying our space, our home, purifying my thoughts and intentions. Everything Always came back to me being a mama.  A teacher.  Our children’s first teacher.

I had a lot of doubts.  Especially when the boys became school aged, around 5. Somehow I held us. I held the space.  It felt more right and more like our path of peace to stay home with them, than it did to send them off.  I didn’t know how hard it was going to be.  I don’t think Creator intends for us to Know these things ahead of time for good reason, but to put each foot one in front of the other. This path is all about inner work.  I surrender daily!  I have days where I yell more than I should, because I didn’t get enough sleep.  Mostly I go to sleep and wake when the kid do.

I have days where I used to doubt the fact that I needed to be home teaching our boys, but not anymore. Without a doubt, and beyond the judgement of others, I know this is where I belong.  No one can teach our children better than me.  I have dedicated the last 10 years of my life to becoming the teacher I am.  Bit by bit.

We are 22 weeks into our school year.  Math has started and Norse Myths for 4th are complete!!  We have a couple more entries in the MLB (Main Lesson Book – Portfolio for each subject) to discuss, but otherwise we have heard the stories. Handwork has been woodworking and toolmaking.  Little Wolf has made knives, with wood and metal blades, axes and swords.  Every other Friday he goes with Papa Bear to the wood shop and learns so much.  Papa still works, but Little Wolf goes out with him on calls with clients and hangs around the shop.  It has been the best thing for us all.

Now, we are getting into fractions.  I have enjoyed putting the lessons on the board and Little Wolf is building his confidence up around our beginning work. We are using Key To Fractions, based on a recommendation by some other Waldorf mama’s. I know it will get harder soon, and that will challenge him, but that is a part of it.  We have finally reached a place in our schooling where we can look back and reflect.  Little Wolf can look back at his MLB’s and see how learning is a process. Bit by bit. We must build the foundation for his future, but it is done Now. Each day. Things were difficult in the beginning, because my guy is a choleric and he’s precocious.  He’s mature and immature at the same time.  He is awakened in so many ways compared to his peers, but he is still 10.  It became imperative that I must protect him.  He’s so smart, and acts like he can handle so much, but he needs me to be his sacred container.  His home.  When you parent a child that is choleric (fire-y) you must be like the earth.  I act as his container. I am earth and stone that exists around his fire-y spirit.  I get burned.  It’s hard parenting. But I hold steady and firm.  He knows it too.  No matter what we come up against he knows I love him unconditionally.  Also, the element of water is very helpful to us.  So, baths or swimming time help balance us out.

Little Wolf is coming along with reading.  I had him read his latest book to me yesterday, Robin’s Country by Monica Furlong.  It’s the biggest book he has read. He’s a little slow, but I think the words are big.  And, we have had some learning difficulties early-on that slowed us down.  BUT, that is okay.  Progress is being made, day by day.  Patience happens when opportunity is provided (usually by Creator!!)

Little Fox!  I can’t say how much he has grown.  He is a playful and kind kit.  He loves violin.  He loves going to the shop with Papa.  He’s doing well in school. Great penmanship, patience and a sharp mind.  In fact, he is more in his mind than not.  But, I have worked hard to get him movement and into his body to balance that out.  He reminds me of me in many ways.  Every morning he walks the baby out to feed the French Angora rabbit.  He is SO good with the baby. Both big boys are good with Little Bear.  They feed Ayla Bear, who is now 14 years old, and our Elder dog in case you didn’t know.  Dyna the cat gets fed, then we do this all over again in the evening.  I have been doing this with the boys ever since they were 5 and 3.  Before that Papa bear or I did it on our own for the most part.  We had chickens till last year, but they were consumed by predators.  I hope to get more as soon as my husband can repair the coop.  We need to rebuild the coop yard area and work to make it safer for the chickies.  We had some design flaws to begin with, but it all worked for 5 years.  Nature happens.

Anyway, Little Fox has completed his Language Arts – Saints and Fables.  We are still talking about some of the Saints though, like Michaelmas, which is today!  We had celebration around it, learned verses, wrote in our MLB’s, made recipes, and heard the St. George and the Dragon story. Even though I had told this story before it is amazing how they hear it with new ears each year. Little Fox loved fables, and so did I as a child.  We are now focusing on math, and the four processes.  Both boys did math review during their circle time each day when we were heavily focused on Language Arts, but now Math is our Main Lesson.

Today we did several story problems. I love that we are tackling reading and math at the same time for this.  When Little Fox reviews I have him toss a bean bag with Little Wolf and they say the multiplication table.  Then, Little Fox calls out division flashcards with Little Wolf for review.  They actually love it.  I do intend to check a book out of the library, so that we can find some more math games though.  Games should be a fun way to keep the practice going.  We are not worksheet people around here.  I write and draw a lot on the board and the boys take the notes down in their practice books.  Then, the last day of the week they translate that into their MLB’s.  The lesson there is to take the notes down correctly, so I must check to see they do.  Little Fox is reading pretty well.  I am pleased.  He read all the Bob books, and a pack of Clifford books.  Now we are reading My First Little House books.  Deer in the Woods now, and The County Fair next.  All in right-timing with the season.  We have some Little Bear books and those will come next.  Little Fox is still knitting, and has to finish up a wash cloth for Grandma’s birthday soon.

Modeling beeswax has not been something we have followed through with as much.  At first it was harder to manipulate, but when our body warms the wax cool things can be made.  Both boys created St. George knights and other characters from our stories.  I am tempted to make a batch myself, but we shall see if time allows, or if it is more conducive to buy.  It is definitely expensive.  I have plenty of beeswax if I can make the time though.

We are not doing much painting at the moment.  Earlier in the year we did a block, about 8 weeks, based around medicinal plants.  We enjoyed Herb Fairy stories and then finding the plants out in our environment.  I try to point out the plants in all stages year round if possible.  We have done this with the trees as well.  Dover has great coloring books for trees, medicinal plants, mushrooms, birds, etc.  We have several of them.  In the front or back of the book there are colored examples for each plant/tree/mushroom.  I also belong to plant identification, insect identification, mushroom ID, and Arachnid Facebook groups. I learn so much daily!

Geography teachings are ongoing.  History teachings happen through stories in our Language Arts, but also through our books we read outside of “school,” as well as Geography.  Writing lessons happen within Language Arts, not separately from our stories.  When the boys hear a story they draw, then summarize it in their own words.  This is where we identify nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, punctuation, contractions, compound words and so on.

Form drawing continues and has gotten harder and more complex.  4th grade knot drawings are very cool.  Our most recent forms have been the serpent and crow. 2nd grade forms are running forms at the moment, and Little Fox is improving his skills.  I have proved that Form Drawing has strengthened their brain and eye muscles.  This year at the eye doctor we were informed my oldest is completely recovered from a convergence issue.  The doctor could not tell he had any issues at all. Knitting is another remedy, but Little Wolf has had less patience for knitting.  He loves drawing and other crossing midline activities though! And when given the opportunity he is not ashamed to tell others he can knit.

Waldorf is great because of the depth through which each subject is taught.  This education is very dimensional.  I look online at other curriculums and it all seems so boring.  So flat.  Without spirit.  Without feeling at all really.  Our education is so infused with art that feeds the soul.  I know my boys do not know any other way of learning, but I sure hope they appreciate it.  I know I do.

Lastly, the time came to receive a new puppy.  This is something Papa Bear and I had to meditate on.  For a long while after Kiva died I was going through a process where I just didn’t want any new animals.  I didn’t want the responsibility, or the heartbreak.  Then, one day in August I just felt it was time. Occasionally I would do an internet search.  Finally, I found our potential pup. We knew it would be “right” if she was available, but not for two weeks after we found her. We were going to travel out-of-town and needed the two weeks to prepare. Thankfully, she was held for us.  We had to provide pictures of our home area and living conditions, which I had never had to do before. And, it was an unusual circumstance when we picked her up, but we have slowly found over the last couple weeks that she is indeed a perfect fit for us.  Eva Two Socks.  That’s her name.  She’s black like Ayla, but thinner like Kiva had been.  She just went to the vet today and all is well.  The boys have been very active with her training. We outlined our expectations beforehand.  She is potty trained! She is sweet!  And when we aren’t looking, her and Ayla play.  Ayla is getting her chance as an Alpha after all these years.

Gratitude and Blessings to you and yours this Harvest season!

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The irony is we haven’t officially begun Fourth Grade, until Easter.  We school year round and begin anew with the Spring.  But leave it to my oldest child to speed ahead and be inspired.  As we wrapped up the Third Grade year with review and making sure our Main Lessons Books were looking good, I would talk with Little Eagle about Norse Myths and the Vikings.  He knew I was studying and preparing to teach him.  I did tell him that upon meditation I would like for him to spend some time in the wood shop with dad creating tools.  I knew he was interested in tool-making, so it makes sense to gear it toward the Vikings and Norse Mythology, right!

Little did I know my husband also thought it was time that one boy came with him, on a weekday.  Each week the older two boys will take turns in the shop on a business day.  This means they will get to spend time one-on-one making things. They may also run errands with Papa to one of our many clients, or interior designers. Otherwise, it is a chance to spend time with dad in the shop creating.

The first project Little Eagle did was an upcycled knife, with a wooden handle. He did the research and wood burned a Viking style W on the handle.  The wood is purple heart, with a grapeseed oil finish, and a wood plug holding the metal and wood together.  He also put together a killer Viking axe, all wood.  I had to wait until the next day to see it, because he left it at the shop overnight, so the glue could dry.  Here it is.  I think Fourth Grade might be A LITTLE fun.  I’ll keep you informed.

Viking Axe

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Wow, the boys are really growing up and have shown on the outside all the inner growth of the last 7 years!  Little Fox, now 8, really has gauged this for me, since we now have two older boys walking their path.  He has truly set forth on his earth path, and come into his body.  I mentioned the 12 senses on the last post and how important all of them are in raising children.  He has taught me most about how highly sensitive I truly am.  The term Highly Sensitive Person is a post in itself for another time.  Either way as a parent I came to learn more about myself through watching my children grow and mirroring, as well as reflection upon my childhood.

Before we review the year I want to mention First Grade Readiness.  This is something you can measure by a few standards.  For one, has the child lost their first milk tooth?  How are gross and fine motor skills, as well as core body strength? As a rule of thumb has the child experienced seven Easters yet? Below are a couple of links expressing this thought deeper and why we waited 7 years to start academics.  Most people outside of our family sphere did/do not quite understand why our children did not match up with mainstream, but I took this very big notion to prayer and specifically felt waiting for each child to be ripe was necessary.

Each child is so different and Waldorf allowed me to bring a balance to each child and their differences.  At first it does not appear as though our children are learning or at pace with their peers, and truly they are not.  We want a whole child.  A child who is developing evenly.  We want their body, mind and spirit to be in sync.  To mamas out there who are questioning yourselves because others are questioning you and this practice, hold steady, like an anchor on a ship in the high seas.  You know what is best, somehow this seed was planted in your heart!

http://www.waldorfhomeschoolers.com/first-grade-readiness

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2011/07/12/guest-post-on-first-grade-readiness-a-comprehensive-look-through-high-school/

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/04/26/readiness-for-waldorf-homeschool-first-grade/

Namely our Little Fox is a cautious fellow.  He likes to watch and observe before making his move.  But once he moves he is graceful and confident.  We waited a little past his 7th birthday to begin formal academics, and my oh my, he paced through with smiles.  I love this because school should be fun, and we had some work to do the first seven years to get him ready.  Auditory, visual and vestibular centers had to be assisted and balanced.  Movement, sensory and games had to be encouraged.  Here is my Pinterest board to give you a sense of what I look at, regardless if a child has sensory issues, in fact all children are special needs in these times when recess and art are not valued. They sure are valued here at home though!

Temperament plays a role in educating and I believe Little Fox to be much like me, melancholic and phlegmatic, but when balanced, quite all four temperaments, much like the Medicine Wheel, and Carl Jung’s Wheel, when finding our Center.  It is important though to observe your child the first seven years and meditate on their temperament and your temperament and right-relationship.  Meditating on how to bring the teachings and how to relate can make a huge difference in how your days go.

We began the year with Form Drawing.  Not only did Form Drawing give us structure with using Main Lesson Books, it gave Little Fox time to practice using crayons and pencils for writing.  Not only do I believe in the soul development aspect of Form Drawing, but also the quality it has to draw us into focus on Monday mornings!  Monday’s are difficult for all to refocus, so doing an exercise first thing really helps us all realign where we are and what we are doing.

Language Arts had us visiting Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and let me tell you they work on the soul differently as a child than they do when we are adults.  As adults we bring our baggage to the stories, unless we let the stories take their time to work on our soul too.  Some people even believe they are gruesome, and perhaps they are a bit, but the things on television for children that have no soul are far more violent.  I can understand how a highly senstive mama might think twice while reading the stories beforehand, but if you approach the stories archetypally, then they are very insightful and assist growth subconsciously in the first year grade, also known as the 7 year change.  In the first grade letters are introduced to the children through a re-creation of the evolutionary pattern of language development.  The letters are drawn out in practice books and Main Lesson Books to make a picture in itself.  Like the letter M in the story Simeli Mountain is actually a part of the Mountain, and there is room left for a short summary of the story, which is beginning writing.

Math.  Arabic Numbers one through 10 are introduced along with Roman Numerals and a story.  The Four Processes are then introduced using a storyline and manipulatives. With our first son we actually used a Star Wars theme, but with Little Fox we used gnomes in a kingdom.  It was just easier to use the traditional approach with our curriculum, the story was already set up. Our curriculum teaches Whole to Parts.  For example, 10 equals 5+5, 9+1, 1+9, 10+0, 0+10, 7+3, 3+7, 5×2, 2×5, 10×1, 1×10, 11-1, 20-10, 15-5, 20/2, 40/4 and so on. During the winter we do daily math practice to keep up with what we have learned and to make it easier for entering into the next year.  Winter and reviewing is where we are right now, as well as planning and dreaming for a new start.

Daily math practice is suggested in Circle Time, which takes place when we say our opening and seasonal verses and play our games.  This is when I might encourage my older child to jump on the trampoline and say his multiplication table.  Or if we are taking a walk we may try to find straight lines and curves in nature to compliment beginning form drawing.  We still do Circle Time our with First and Third Graders together filling the time with Brain Gym activities, movement like stretching and yoga, reading, and music practice.

Waldorf Education has a curriculum for its students that reflects a pattern of evolution that is apparent in both the evolution of humanity and in the development of the human being. For the sake of the developmentally appropriate introduction of information to the young child many traditional forms of academic instruction are held back for an older age. The three stages of development in childhood are birth to seven years of age, seven to fourteen years of age, and finally fourteen to twenty-one years of age. Waldorf Education for the birth to seven stage concentrates on learning through activity (Hands), seven to fourteen through the feelings (Heart), and fourteen to twenty-one through thinking (Head).

The Head aspect we are covering with Language Arts and Math, however we introduce the Heart aspect through painting and music or song.  We have a three day rhythm where I introduce a story and the student draws the story in a practice book.  The second day the student paints the story and retells it. The third day we model the story and enter it into our Main Lesson book.  With this rhythm Little Fox came to digest the story and the teachings and make it a part of himself.  I could not believe how well he came to know the information and in a way that was filled with art and music.  Music and song entered in mostly through the festival life, like Candlemas.  We did not paint or model every single story, but occasionally we reenacted the story with peg people or action figures or even ourselves.

Handwork is introduced this year with beginning knitting.  The student is taught to cast onto needles they make themselves by sharpening then sanding the ends of a dow rod, then adorning one end if they so choose.  For Little Foxes first project we slowly and surely knitted an organic cotton wash cloth.  I paired his cloth with a bar of my soap and we gifted it to the Church Bazaar, which is a fundraiser.

Music has always been a part of our lives in some way or another but this year Little Fox stepped up his involvment by attending Children’s Choir at church. Before he had attended Music Together classes when he was little and then again with Little Bear.  Last week Little Fox began his journey with violin.  For three bars of my homemade soap we rent a violin, bow and case. We have a teacher for private and group violin lessons and it turns out she was home educated.

Another activity that was very much enjoyed this past year and begins again in March is Archery with our local 4H club.  Little Fox was in the Clover Bud section of the Archery team, which means he cannot compete till he is 9, but we are all okay with that.

I was happy to see my middle guy really blossom this year.  He is sweet and giving. The year really culminated last night when he finally lost his two front upper teeth.  He had been hanging onto those teeth for an extra amount of time which in my meditation meant he was unwilling to let go.  Birth to seven years old was comfortable and special, and he didn’t care to leave the wonder days behind.  It is all bitter sweet.  We want them to grow straight and strong into the future, but letting go is more than hard.

Thanks for reading Nurturing Spirit.  I hope you enjoyed this post and perhaps gleaned some wisdom from our year end review.  I know reflection is just as important as having lived.

 

 

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It is very hard to believe that we are coming to a close with Waldorf Third Grade curriculum, The Old Testament, Form Drawing, Math and reviewing the four processes, especially making sure we know multiplication and then divide really well.  Jewish Festivals.  Farmer Boy, by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Building and woodworking.  Choir and a chance to perform for church. Movement, always movement.  Crafting, some sewing and knitting. And acquiring fluency with reading, as well as cursive.

Waldorf is an interesting and inspiring curriculum to follow.  I have learned before Waldorf that Spirit is in the mundane, but Waldorf and the rhythm required helped my will to solidify this aspect.  I do read some Rudolph Steiner and respect his writings, but I also utilize my G-d given intuition to guide our children, when it comes to what I am to teach them.  As a teacher I must guard my words and the mediations of my heart, as it says in Psalms 19:14, for it is our children that will inherit the earth.

As a parent I must guard our children’s senses.  There are actually 12 senses. Touch, life, self-movement, balance, smell, taste, vision, temperature, hearing, language, the conceptual and the ego senses.  Some of these senses are inner and some are outer.

Touch, is the internal response to contact with the outside world. Life, this sense is the internal feeling of well-being and being alive. Movement is being inwardly aware of the way the body parts move in relationship to each other. Balance, this sense orients us to the world with respect to up, down, right and left. Smell is the sense that allows one to come with the outside world via odors carried by the air.  Taste is a deeper connection with the outside world in which flavors are directly sampled.  Sight is the sense that takes in the exterior images of the outside world.  Warmth, with this sense we are directly aware of the warmth of another body.  Hearing, this sense can tell us more about the inner structure of an object than sight. When an object resonates, we learn about its deep structure from the sound we hear.  Speech.  The sense of speech, word or tone, which is the hearing that involves meaningful words.  Thought refers to the deeper sense of entering the being speaking through their words.  Ego, this is the sense of ego or I, which enables us to turn our thinking towards the being of another and behold their I, their unique individuality directly.

Here are two links to provide you with deeper learning.  I used the chart in the first link to bring you the 12 senses in an organized manner.

http://www.waldorfhomeschoolers.com/twelve-senses

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/06/22/the-twelve-senses/

To remain aware of all these senses within oneself, as well as meditating on these senses for our children takes a lot of work.  It takes my inner work and time management.  This past week was a long and hard week.  At the beginning of the week our beloved pet friend, Kiva, who was almost 17 years old, dropped her robe. She ran across the rainbow bridge and I could see her smiling, looking back and running hard and fast to the pasture in the sky.  We have dealt with that grief of burying a friend this week and honoring her the best way we know how.

One of our children also began violin this week.  We had choir, Cub Scouts and the children went with Papa Bear to the wood shop.  I am always preaching balance at home, so much so it probably gets on everyone’s nerves when I have to say “no” often, so that we do not overdo.

Well, this week we overdid.  My middle guy woke up this morning with the responsibility of going to an early church service and having to speak a short passage, the Cub Scout Promise.  He had the passage down, but to culminate the week his front two middle teeth fell out last night.  What changes this child has seen recently! And this child needed more sleep to process all that he has seen, heard, felt and sensed this week.  I was not able to bring this balance to him and this morning he was showing it.  I felt so bad for him as he was so tired, but had to keep his responsibility to his Pack and Den.  It was my responsibility, and his dads to protect him.  I promise to do better next time that we have such a hard and long week.  Children are half our size, four or five times younger and cannot endure what we adults endure.  We all must remember this as parents.  It is okay to learn, stretch ourselves and grow, but we have limits and boundaries for a reason.

Farmer Boy, by Laura Ingalls Wilder has been one perfect book to help us in the 9 year change process.  Almanzo provided some insight to the changes one sees in our child throughout the year, and the growth, will and responsibility that ensues.  My oldest has really come a long, long way this solar cycle.  We vision these changes for our child, we assist, but the work is truly up to them.  I could not be more proud of Eagle Boy.  He has grown with his building skills, skills I have always seen within him, and spends some time with dad at the wood shop, one to one and a half days a week on average.  I can’t say how Good this is for him to be with a masculine authority figure enough.

At the start of the year we had chickens and a tom turkey, as well as a female turkey on a clutch.  By the end of fall all was lost, so we will be starting over this spring.  We do still have and love our French Angora bunny.  She has a lovely bunny condo near our basement, packed with straw for warmth.  We feed her timothy hay, pellet food, applewood sticks and pine cones, sunflower seeds, banana peels and plenty of water.  We have also collected some of her hair, and plan to do something with it, but no ideas as of yet.  It seems as though bun bun will be on a cycle of 90 days with shearing.  We welcome her up in our kitchen most days to hop around and visit.  And we purchased a nice round pen for outside days and plenty of hop time.  Occasionally, I allow Eagle Boy to walk her around on a bunny leash, which is a sight.

Jewish Festivals and Judaism was a large portion of the teachings this year as well. The Old Testament is the Christian Model and perspective of the Hebrew people. However, the Jewish people themselves follow The 5 Books of Moses, also known as the Torah.  Nevi’im, which is the book of the Prophets, and the remaining writings are known as the Ketuvim.  When asked to sum up the essence of Torah, Rabbi Hillel famously responds, “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. This is the whole Torah; all the rest is commentary. Now go and study (Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 31a).”  The Golden Rule is at heart a Universal Ethic.  Here is a link to take you into a further study of the many faiths and their way of speaking the Golden Rule, Living Reciprocity.  We did not delve into the Hebrew Bible, but we know there is a difference between the Christian model of the Old Testament though.  And that is a start.

Looking deeper into the Jewish festivals we used many books suggested by our local Jewish Community Center.  Also the book Jewish Festivals, by Drucker and Patz.  I also found my private online Waldorf community of Jewish people and non-Jewish people extremely helpful in schooling me on the facts and the emotions these festivals bring to family life.  I am grateful to have the opportunity to learn and study deeper many faiths and to bring these faiths to our children, so that we may have tolerance, understanding and compassion for our fellow brothers and sisters.

Form drawing has been a very pleasant element in our schooling for several years and I continue to use Christopherus Form Drawing and Waldorf Essentials to aid us in crossing the midline and bringing focus to our week.  Especially on Monday’s!! After speaking with our eye doctor two years ago and recently again this year, Form Drawing has really helped to strengthen the eyes and help with convergence. We are proof!

Reading!  I knew that we had some work to do this past year with reading, but we buckled down and got to it.  Daily reading is so important.  Taking the time to snuggle up and practice is really a pursuit of the will, especially if your child does not come to it easily.  I loved reading A LOT, so I had to have patience with my older guy who loves reading too, but only in his own time and only what he wants to read.  I did really want to nurture and respect his coming to reading in his own time, but I could also tell as a part of his will development, he needed me to help him stay focused.  Sanguine and choleric in nature, we needed that impressed into our rhythm.  I did allow him to read what he wanted, but occasionally we ran out of books that he liked and had to just read what we had on the shelf.  Although in Fourth Grade I intend to go to the library a little more with him and learn some Library Science, researching skills and the checking out of books that will enable him to continue strengthening his fluency, as well as comprehension and book reports.

Cursive has finally taken a front seat with Eagle Boy’s summaries and slows him down a bit, which is needed for his soul development.  Verses, and summaries for the Old Testament stories and Jewish Festival teachings have held priority the last half of Third Grade with cursive.  He proudly enters these into his Main Lesson Book.

Movement never leaves our sphere for learning.  The boys take hikes regularly, jumping on the trampoline, and having a lot of fun building in our backyard. We have a lot of wood that Papa Bear could not use or store at his new wood shop, so the boys have had a daily access to Some tools and this wood. Papa Bear made a small structure on a large fallen limb from Grandfather Tree, as a fort.  The boys also have access to fire building with permission. Over time Eagle Boy has collected knives as tools, not toys, and this has been a huge teaching in itself.  One aspect to this past cycle that really turned us upside down was getting sick several times in late fall and early winter.  For about 2 months we were pretty down and out, and have had to make up some schooling recently, so that everyone can be prepared for this next cycle.  But we enjoy learning, so it is okay.  Although, this down time really got us out of our rhythm of Movement, in comparison to our normal routines.  We are slowly bouncing back and are very grateful for our health.

Lastly, almost one year ago our family began attending my childhood church. I felt the call home and it was perfect timing with our Old Testament studies. Our boys have flourished in many ways.  They have made good friends and have come to love going to Wednesday night fellowship, eating with friends and doing crafts relating to the liturgical calendar (which is circular, not linear!)  I am pleased with this and Eagle Boy will be attending, by his own accord, a Baptism class beginning next Sunday.  Baptism will be at Easter service which will bring us full circle, as that is the first service we attended last year, where he saw his friends doused with holy water.  I love that our church sends a small bottle of this water home with the child as well. Eagle Boy initiated this process on his own, so I feel it is good timing and an excellent ceremony to end one season of his life and begin anew.

Winter is my time for planning and dreaming and we look forward to learning more in Fourth Grade about Norse Myths, Viking life, Geography and Mapmaking, Math, Reading, more Form Drawing, Grammar, Cursive, Archery, Land Management, Tool-making, and whatever Great Mystery brings us.

Hopefully, in my next post I will explore First Grade coming to a close for Little Fox and all the exciting changes and growth happening for him.  Thanks for reading this post and keeping up with us.  Now, we must take the rest of the day to rest and prepare ourselves for another week.

Here’s my Pinterest board for Third Grade if you need any extra links or visual inspiration!

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