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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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2014!  With plenty of preparation work for two years, life has been like a spool of neat thread unwinding itself and revealing what is being made. Cedar blessed us with his arrival last October 2013, and we settled deeply into dreaming and planning, as we do in winter.  Slow.  Winter.  Good.  We had enough inner light to burn our way through the darkness of the cold season until Spring.  For most homeschooling families February is a transition month.  Cabin fever.  Spring wants so badly to arrive, but Jack Frost sometimes lingers and the roots are reluctant to send the energy upward.  The Light is yearning to unite fires within us again encouraging springs in our step, curls at our mouth and early spring morns on the porch with breakfast.

Preparing for Third and First Grade has been a lot of fun.  I have enjoyed deeper spiritual learning with our main lesson of the Old Testament and Grimm’s Fairy Tales, with the archetypes.  I keep in mind specific goals set for each child.  Movement is always at the top of the list, rhythm and anchor times equally important.  I feel blessed to observe, pray and listen for each child.  Listening to Creator brought me insight to adding more music this year assisting the nine year change and seven year change as well as transitioning our little nursling with us through the day.

For our Native American block the boys have deep roots and some live education with Elders from the Hopi and Choctaw people.  As their parents we have spent time doing our inner work with the encouragement of these Elders, their ceremonies and wisdom.  All of that has carried over into our daily work. We have some unique teachings to bring to them.  We also provide Buddhist, Sufi and Christian teachings.  I think it is important to recognize the Ascended and Holy Peoples and to make available a universal language.  It’s all about communication and connection, whether you prefer psychic or prose.

Music.  Our circle time music has been our own songs that inspire us, and the Summer Songs from Music Together, which is Cedar’s baby music class playlist.  My big boys are helpers in the music class and I see them getting so much out of the experience.  For one week we spent time at the lovely First Christian Church Music Camp, in my hometown.  I adored the music teacher and the kids.  They worked hard with a tight schedule to really learn alot.  I am impressed at the growth and stretching they had to endure.  I felt I could See the transformation of their hearts and throat chakras.  Flowing.  Singing is magical for many reasons.  The breath of Creator is at work.

Movement.  I have been spending time with the boys this year learning about stretching the body and becoming more aware of their spiritual vehicles.  Everything is sensory.  Stress can be useful but also dangerous, so we have spoke some about how important drinking water, taking salt baths, regular bedtimes, clean foods, and movement can help assist our sensory experiences. Creator wants to come through us and touch all the materially dense richness.  The earth.  The wind.  The warmth of a hug.  The cool water that flows down our throats.  Thankfully we have added new elements to our movement apparatus, like a slackline and trampoline.  Existing equipment includes a zip line, 4 acres to run and bike.  Trees to climb.  Porches to swing upon, especially when it rains.  Wood to chop.  Fires to jump.  Critters to feed. Free play.  My boys do not lack for play time and joint compression.  They are very creative and I have always nurtured and assisted that play with props, dolls, action figures, furniture, lighting, wall paint color, board games and card games.  Natural materials are preferred but we possess some vintage classic toys.  I do see the difference in feeling the materials personally.  Plastic is cold.

Handwork.  Handwork is many things.  A nine month old baby is handwork as a nursling.  My handwork.  Handwork to the boys is taking care of their room, arranging a shelf or an altar.  Brushing their teeth.  Learning to knit a row. Taking blocks out and putting blocks away.  Chopping wood.  Whittling a stick. Modeling with mud, clay or dough.  Sanding or polishing.  Sewing.  Picking up baby brother and helping him explore.

Watercolors and Wet-on-wet.  I’m trying.  A couple years ago I presented the color wheel teachings to the boys.  I am revisiting watercolors again, the brushes, the feel.  I have Painting With Children by Brunhild Muller, and the Waldorf Painting Education binder.  IT’S HUGE, and I haven’t made it all the way through.  I struggle with building scenes and I always add too much water!  I am a work in progress.

Drawing.  Chalk drawings and practice drawing have become staples in our process.  We ingest the stories of each grade that are developmentally appropriate, draw and retell the stories.  Some we love and some we take in and think maybe work is being done on us in the night by the angels who know better than we do.

Angels.  Archangels.  Archai.  This is truly a personal relationship.  We each have one for ourselves, as a group, the community, the earth and so on.  Many times I go to the angels when I am struggling.  But I do see them in the everyday, like when Cedar discovers his own voice.  Or when River smiles at me shyly, and how he always nurtures me.  Wolfsion, he champions as a helper to me and the land.  He’s a steward.  A trailblazer.

Waldorf Essentails curriculum, Melisa Neilsen homeschool teacher trainer and consultant, the Thinking, Feeling, Willing group of women on Facebook and my own spiritual path have been critical.  Aside from doing a lot of listening to my Maker I try to keep my influence minimal or I can easily get distracted.  I find that continual purification of the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual intelligences are absolute for the path. Each of us have a process.  Recently, I disconnected from the grid for a couple of months and the time away really energized me, renewed me and helped me ground into my present life.  We discover this as our intuition, the angels, our children and our own paths merge.  It is also when we decide to manifest and come in tune with our soul that our Path becomes clear.

Rhythm.  I need structure, but love the permission to unfold freely within that structure.  Like the earth and the water flowing through and around.  I allow space for the kids to unschool themselves with my guidance also.  There are some days where that is absolutely called for.  At some point I may share a photo of our schedule, it comforts me and transforms through the year, as we school (a)round the wheel.  In and out breaths as the masters speak of in early childhood with anchor times, sleep, play, handwork and meaningful work are so very important.  They are important to me as the teacher and as a human in grounding to this earthly experience.  Life is intensive, but it all depends on how committed one is to the process and the path chosen.  I am working on my Calling and Mission and that changes as the faces and places change, but the sanctuary and the familiarity of home remains.

Farm and home.  For us this block blends nicely with our geographic location of Kentucky.  Bodies of water with as much shoreline as Alaska.  Rolling hills and knobs.  Bluegrass.  Large and small scale agriculture.  Farmer Boy, by Laura Ingalls Wilder is a good Wednesday read, coupled with our nature-farm jounral.  The boys draw pictures, write summaries and include math measurements or calculations to describe their work.  We raise a few chickens, a turkey and a rabbit with a cat and two dogs, along with a children’s garden.  That proves to be plenty of work for us.

Cursive has been pleasant and enjoyable.  I liken it to form drawing, so we do it two times a week.  After bringing forth the letters, we are now practicing cursive words and seasonal verses.

Early childhood is surfacing again with Cedar on the scene.  I am having things click for me that we did not have time for before.  The stories are becoming a part of me.  I have more of my planning together and props available.  I am slower, more mature.  Patient.  I imagine this comes with any teacher or parent.  The settling in.  It is comfortable and exciting.  The journey.  The Great Mystery ahead.  As time goes on I really note that honoring myself and honoring my family and friends is also loving myself.  And there is nothing wrong with that.  Most importantly my lessons have come from making mistakes or as the Elder’s say “learning.”  I realize when I am having a hard time it is due to the level of love I have for myself.  [HUGE!]

Admist the birth of our baby and a new school year we have also birthed our own family business that has grown over the last 12 years of hard work, and we will be celebrating our one year anniversary as Cedar turns one in October.  I am so proud of my husband for his work ethic, his talent and his ability to (at least) appear like he has left his work stress at the door.  When he enters the house, he gives us himself, which is a gift.  Check out http://www.coydogstudios.com or visit us on Facebook at Coydog Studios.  We are also on Instagram Coydog_Studios and Twitter.

Thank you for reading.  There will be more to come, as I find time.  Development, the grades and the spiritual nature of our process is important and it is yearning to find it’s way out of me and into words.  In the meantime visit me over at Pinterest as Nurturing Spirit and on Instagram as Healingoneself

 

xoxo

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Let’s play a game like the Ancestors.  Obwisana is a children’s game out of Ghana, which encourages cooperation, movement, oral dexterity and even accuracy.  Cooperators use stones and move them from hand to hand, getting faster and faster.

Let’s take [it] a little farther.  We can be farmer’s of the heart as Rumi says, and remove the stones from our hearts field.  I will help you.  Go with me to the field, it’s a short walk.  I have water.  Close your eyes, and  sing with me.  See your heart.  See the field.  Walk the rows you have tilled over time.  Feel the dirt on your feet.  Sense it.  Look for the stones.  Pick up the stone and speak to it,

“I am going to move you, like the wind moves me.”

“I am going to mine you from my heart, and I will make an altar of you.”

Let’s transform this field into a lush garden, and it will bear seeds for a new generation.

 

altar of your heart

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