Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The Waldorf Curriculum


If you're familiar with Waldorf education, you know that it has distinct characteristics. One of them is the curriculum, one that is taught at Waldorf schools around the world.

The Waldorf curriculum unfolds through the grades with a particular series of subjects that are taught in Main Lesson Blocks. These subjects that are studied in Main Lesson Blocks are not studied for information and facts, the way more mainstream education does, with a sort of filling up the child with information on a topic, or an era in history.  The subjects taught in Waldorf education are chosen and used because they reflect a changing aspect of human development, of the history of humankind, that is reflected in the child, at that particular age/stage/grade. These topics are taught artistically with stories that create inner pictures of how people lived, with stories, myths, legends they lived by. The stories that are told are rich in pictures of what it means to be human and meet us at a deep level, a soul level.

These topics reflect the change that humanity, that human consciousness was experiencing during that epoch. These changes are reflected in how people lived, and the stories we have from their times. 

The only way for Waldorf homeschoolers to be exposed to this without doing teacher training,  is to look at how Waldorf school teachers teach particular subjects. 

Charles Kovacs, twenty year teacher at the Edinburgh Steiner School left a legacy with his lectures in book form on topics that span Grade 5 though 8, and may also be applicable in 9th and 10th grade.

Eugene Schwartz in his lectures speaks to this. He is at Millennial Child

Others leave little bits, sort of like a trail of crumbs that become familiar once you begin to recognize them. 

Monday, February 11, 2019

Hello February!

During the month of February there is plenty to rouse us from our hibernation to celebrate:

February 1st ~ Groundhog Day
February 1st ~ Imbolc
February 1st ~ St. Brigid's Day
February 2nd ~ Candlemas
February 5th - February 19th ~ Chinese New Year
February 12th ~ Lincoln's Birthday in 1809
February 14th ~ Valentine's Day
February 22nd ~ Washington's Birthday in 1732

February is a very special month, distinct from all the others in that it has just 28 days for three years in a row, and then has 29 days making it a Leap Year. Next year 202 is a leap year. Hence the verse:

Thirty days hath September
April, June and November
All the rest have thirty one
Excepting February alone,
And that has twenty-eight days clear
And twenty-nine in each leap year.

On February 1st, we find ourselves smack in the middle, between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. We're six weeks away from each. It can feel like a tipping point in the year, when we know that despite the cold and snow and ice, the days are indeed growing longer, the buds on the trees are swelling, the hens will lay eggs again, and the blue skies are still there. It feels like an intense energy point in the year. 

I do feel a little overwhelmed with these different days to celebrate coming all at once, so I simplify, here's how:

Groundhog Day is so simple and child friendly that I include it each year. We go outside and stomp on the earth and remind Mother Earth to wake up. She's usually wrapped up in her thick comforter of snow, but we like to let her know that we're waiting.

Saint Brigid's Day or Brigid's Day is one that intrigues me, so I learn a little something about her life each year. When my children are in second grade I share a story with them about her life. Some reflections here.

Imbolc inspires me to reflect on the mood of the season, on what is happening in my inner mood, and what is happening in nature.

Candlemas is another one of those days that intrigues me. It is, as a religious holiday, the day of the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord Jesus and the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is a Christian Holy Day commemorating the presentation of Jesus at the Temple. It is based upon the account of the presentation of Jesus in Luke 2:22–40. (That's from Wikipedia here, I couldn't make that up.) What intrigues me is that return of Mary to the Church 40 days after giving birth. And the notion of purification after giving birth makes me a little uneasy. As if the process of carrying a baby and giving birth makes one impure. The candle light is to honor Jesus as "Light of the World."

Another face of Candlemas that I've watch grow and transform is one of candle dipping and celebrating the bees that, if I have it right, seems to have originated from Marsha Johnson of the Yahoo Waldorf Home Educators Group, Shining Star School and the Magic of Waldorf. It's become a community celebration. I don't know anyone else who has had such enthusiasm for this celebration. More here.

Some years ago, I made a very conscious decision to no longer dip beeswax candles indoors after we set the stove top on fire in the process of dipping tapers. It was quite an adventure and I am now quite happy to do it out of doors when the weather is warmer with a dedicated hot plate and pot and pan. One pot dedicated for holding the beeswax and the pan for water.

Chinese New Year is one of my favorite celebrations in February because it is so uplifting and fun! The good food, dragon parades, the color red, prayers to the ancestors and gods for a good planting and harvest season, lucky money in red envelopes, revisiting the Chinese zodiac, it's a lovely awakening from hibernation.

Then there's Valentine's Day which I love. Maybe it's the chocolate, or the flowers or the frilly hearts, or the even the cupcakes. I've shared a bit from our celebrations here.

For the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, I like to read or tell a little story about the lives and the times of the presidents Lincoln and Washington. Who can pass up Cherry Pie or Cherry preserves? As my children grow older it becomes a good opportunity to talk about what the times were like then, what is still with us and what have we (humanity) learned.

If you'd like more support and resources for celebrating February, come on over and join Celebrate the Rhythm of Life in February! For this one month only, you can join the monthly guide living curriculum program and the Celebrate Community focus topic on Love:: the Heart of Discipline for just $30. That's a 30% discount off the regular enrollment fee of $49. Use code LOVE2019 for the discount.

What's your February like? Leave a note in the comments below.






Deep Discounts in February

If you've been on the fence about checking out the Celebrate the Rhythm of Life ~ living curriculum program, or thinking about signing up one of my courses, this is YOUR moment. 

For the month of February only, as I reformat the program, I am offering a deep discount in registration fee for both the Monthly ~ living curriculum program (stories, circles, songs, recipes, activities, crafts, festival celebrations) that includes the online class Love the Heart of Discipline, and the online class by itself. 

The discount is 30% off the normal registration fee. 

To enroll in the living curriculum program for February with monthly guide  materials, support + the online course Love the Heart of Discipline, use code: LOVEBOTH for a discounted registration fee of $34.30. It's normally $49 or $59, depending on the month. 

For Love the Heart of Discipline as a stand alone use coupon code: LOVE2019 for a $17.50 registration fee. 

I hope you'll come on over and give it a whirl! There's a warm and wise community, plenty of good information, support and opportunities to ask questions and connect with others. 

I hope to see you over there! 

Friday, February 8, 2019

Toot Toot!


I'll confess to you that I am challenged with tooting my own horn. I am striving to learn how to do it better and promote my work. It does not come naturally to me. I am however, quite good at supporting others on their journey. Sound familiar?

For twenty years I have been freely and generously giving support to the Waldorf homemaking, homeschooling and parenting community. It comes easy for me to share in person, face to face, in workshops, in Yahoo Groups, Facebook Groups, private conversations and gatherings. Yet when it comes time for me to toot my own horn, wave my own banner, and say hey! come on over and sign up for this course, and pay me for it, I have a hard time.

I know my work is reaching and inspiring moms, teachers and caregivers because you tell me. I see bits of my work trickle out here and trickle out there, in some cases inspiring moms to start businesses of their own.  I imagine how many children are being touched in the sharing of this work as it ripples out and changes lives. I feel grateful to be a part of that movement in the world.

Gratitude alone, as important as it is, does not keep the lights on. It doesn't buy a new pair of winter boots for my child, or buy groceries. So I am learning to become better at promoting my work. Because I love it, and I give so much of myself to it.

For today I've decided to take a deep breath, wave my flag, and share with you the work I do, because it has been my guiding star, fills me with passion and joy, and has been my life for over twenty years. I love working with parents and children and watching parents find their voice, and uncover their power and step confidently into their role as parents.

My business is called Celebrate the Rhythm of Life, just like this blog.

Okay, I said it, my "business."

I'm working on making the shift from passion and joy, to passion and joy that's a business. With business smarts.

What Do I Offer?  Each month I offer an online gathering/class with a focus topic on an aspect of Waldorf homemaking, homeschooling or parenting. Each month the Celebrate Community delves deeply into that one specific topic on a private site where we chat freely. We have a community of wise and wonderful women, and a very rare - but occasional dad. You are all welcome dads! Some months we have a guest speaker. We've had many excellent guest speakers over the years including Howard Schrager, Lynn Jericho, Connie Manson and Cynthia Aldinger. 

The Celebrate Community focus topics include planning the year, and sinking into your family rhythms with Get Organized :: Sketch it Out!, work on daily rhythm with Rhythm in the Home, exploring warm, loving guidance with Love :: the Heart of Discipline, Storytelling, fostering imaginative Play, Starting a Playgroup, The Speech We Bring, Cultivating Your Family Values, Storytelling with Table Puppets, Simple Celebrations, The Sense of Warmth, Warmth in the Kitchen and more.

This month's Celebrate Community focus topic is Love :: the Heart of Discipline. We'll focus on warm, firm, loving guidance, with information, exercises, tips and strategies to help you better understand yourself, and your child, and feel more clear and confident in your parenting. It's included as part of the living curriculum program or you can join just the class with the focus topic for $25 . I keep the registration fee low to make it accessible for all. I hope you'll join us each month in the Celebrate Community focus topics where you'll find wisdom, warmth and community.

Each month of the year I offer season based online Monthly Guides in the form of a living curriculum program. This living curriculum program focuses on the inner and outer mood of the month as well as seasonal changes and celebrations. I include all the materials you need for both the nursery and the kindergarten years, including materials and suggestions for festival celebrations. Each month I include a Tip from the Morning Garden for childcare providers, from my own home based program. The living curriculum includes movement and circle games and for different ages, stories for different ages, songs, verses, fingerplays, crafts, nature activities and support for the weekly rhythm activities of painting, wet on wet water color painting, soup making and bread baking. Members of the living curriculum program also join the Celebrate Community topic.

When I began offering the monthly guides based on the season, and they do have a northern hemisphere perspective, I felt that it was not right to throw materials out there without providing more support and a foundation for home life and parenting. To include everything about every single possible topic each month felt like way too much information. For that reason I offer the focus topic each month. 

After a few years of only offering the living curriculum with the ecourse focus topic, I began allowing folks to join just the focus topic/ecourse each month. I've kept the monthly guides, called the living curriculum program coupled to the monthly focus topic because it complements them so well. They complement each other.

Each month, as part of the living curriculum program,  I include materials for festival celebrations as well, as I cannot find a way to hinge them from the living curriculum program.  September includes Michaelmas, October includes Martinmas and Lantern Walk ideas as well as Halloween celebration ideas. It flows this way through the way, with festivals and celebrations integrated into the stories, songs, activities, verses and songs. 

I know this is a challenge for my friends in the southern hemisphere, and I just don't know how to create this community based on the seasons, and hold the space for everyone to feel that their experience is fully reflected, when in February I am offering stories about snow and in March about sugaring. One possibility is year round membership to have access to year round materials, receive the daily notes from me, and be included in the Celebrate Community topic each month, which is not so directly related to the season. 

So there's a little bit about me - I mean my business. I hope you'll become part of this wonderful and wise community. Some of the moms who began with babies are now homeschooling in the grades. Which leads me to, oh yes, toot toot! I have created a support place for each of the grades, for Celebrate the Rhythm of Life Year Round Members, which is a lifetime membership, by the way. See what I mean!?

Toot Toot!


Friday, January 25, 2019

Rose and Thorns

As I work on re-formatting the Celebrate the Rhythm of Life Living Curriculum Program, I'll be sharing with you some of the material from the program. That way, when you hear about the new format and special offer, I am hoping you'll say, "Yes please!" and join the Celebrate the Rhythm of Life community. 


My children were young when their dad and I separated sixteen years ago. One was seven years old and the other was a newborn. It's hard to go through separation and divorce with young children. With divorce come new relationships, some are long lasting and some are not. The sense of who is family and who is not can be fleeting.  For several years after the divorce, my children were fortunate to have a "bonus mom" who served as a consistent, warm and loving person to guide them and care for them when they spent time with their dad. Among the many ways she warmed their hearts and inspired them was one that migrated over to my house and has stayed with us, to be shared with guests at our table. That is the gift of rose and thorns.

Rose and Thorns: We can't have one without the other.

At dinner, after the food is served, the candle is lit and the blessing has been said, we settle in a bit, taste the food, and then I announce that it is time for Rose and Thorns. If we have guests at our table I explain to them what it is, that we take turns sharing a little something from our day that was beautiful, sweet or beloved like a rose, and we also share something that was prickly, hard or challenging. Each person shares both a rose and thorn.

If there is a singular event that we're all wanting to claim as our Rose, we might place that aside, and dig a little deeper into the less obvious. Same with the Thorn.

Some days a person may not have a Thorn to share, that's just fine. Sometimes a person doesn't want to share, there's no pressure to join in.

What I do notice as my children have grown older is that Rose and Thorns can spark conversation into topics that might not have come up. They help us see each other a little better, and they help us to feel compassionate towards each other, as we are reminded with the Thorns that each of us has challenging moments in our days.

We began sharing our Rose and Thorns when my oldest was seven, school age, and that felt right age wise developmentally.

We recently had a friend over for dinner, who upon coming over the next time for dinner asked if we were going to play that game again, about the Rose and Thorns. And so we did.

My warmest thanks to the "bonus mom," for opening her heart and home to us, and for all the sweet rose goodness she has shared, as well as for providing a model of grace in meeting the prickly bits of life. The dinnertime Rose and Thorn tradition has nourished us and gone on to inspire many others.


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