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Winter review, 4th and 2nd grade math.

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Big brother brought in a piece of bark, with bird tracks in the snow.  Little Bear is blessed with big brothers and nature knowledge all around.

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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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