Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Charlotte Mason Habit Training and Waldorf Rhythm

There are some similarities between Charlotte Mason education and Rudolf Steiner/ Waldorf education which I can capitalize upon when I am interested in pulling a little more Waldorf into our days. 

By "education is a discipline," we mean the discipline of habits, formed definitely and thoughtfully, whether habits of mind or body. Physiologists tell us of the adaptation of brain structures to habitual lines of thought, i.e., to our habits. CM Vol.6

Today I am thinking about habit. Say- as an example- I need to stop somewhere on my way home. However, instead of paying strict attention to what I am about, I begin thinking on other things that I need to do. Before I know it, I am pulling into my driveway. Oops! I forgot to make that stop. The way to my home is so ingrained in my mind that I have no need to make the choices of which direction to turn. This is habit.

Charlotte Mason puts it this way:
Almost every child is brought up by his parents in certain habits of decency and order without which he would be a social outcast. Think from another point of view how the labour of life would be increased if every act of the bath, toilet, table, every lifting of the fork and use of spoon were a matter of consideration and required an effort of decision! No; habit is like fire, a bad master but an indispensable servant; and probably one reason for the nervous scrupulosity, hesitation, indecision of our day, is that life was not duly eased for us in the first place by those whose business it was to lay down lines of habit upon which our behaviour might run easily. CM Vol.1

She also says:
The formation of habits is education, and Education is the formation of habits. CM Vol.1

Steiner’s rhythms/ Waldorf rhythms of the day, week, season, and year are analogous to Charlotte Mason’s habit training.

This blog post talks about taking baby steps toward rhythm. It talks about establishing four basic activities and building from there. This is an article about Waldorf daily rhythm, but these four things are in line with Charlotte Mason. Think of these things as the first four habits that you will work on.
  1. Eating
  2. Sleeping
  3. Free Play
  4. Fresh Air
Set meal times. This is a post that says that meal time and sleeping schedules are our anchors. It really just talks about meal time. It is a practical post.

Similarly, CM says:
Concerning Meals.––What is the obvious conclusion? That the child must be well fed. Half the people of low vitality we come across are the victims of low-feeding during their childhood; and that more often because their parents were not alive to their duty in this respect, then because they were not in a position to afford their children the diet necessary to their full physical and mental development. Regular meals at, usually, unbroken intervals––dinner, never more than five hours after breakfast; luncheon, unnecessary; animal food, once certainly, in some lighter form, twice a day––are the suggestions of common sense followed out in most well-regulated households. CM Vol.1

I left the whole old-fashion quote, but I think it is safe to say that on the point of mealtime there is no discrepancy between the Charlotte Mason habit and the Waldorf rhythm. I would even say that that blog post gives a practical way to help achieve the CM condition of regular meals.

Similarly, CM discusses the need for rest. She talks about sleeping arrangements and ventilation and even says:
It follows that the hours for lessons should be carefully chosen, after periods of mental rest––sleep or play, for instance––and when there is no excessive activity in any other part of the system. CM Vol.1

Another plea for abundant rest is that one thing at a time, and that done well, appears to be Nature's rule; and his hours of rest and play are the hours of the child's physical growth… CM Vol.2

Moving to Free Play:
CM talks about the passive watchfulness of the parent allowing the child to engage in free play. She talks about how if the parent plans or organizes the details of the activity that it is not free play for the child.
The resourcefulness which will enable a family of children to invent their own games and occupations through the length of a summer's day is worth more in after life than a good deal of knowledge about cubes and hexagons, and this comes, not of continual intervention on the mother's part, but of much masterly inactivity. CM Vol. 1

Finally regarding number 4 CM says:
People who live in the country know the value of fresh air very well, and their children live out of doors, with intervals within for sleeping and eating. CM Vol.1
As we all know, CM speaks extensively about the importance of being outside.

The four things suggested in “Rhythm- Waldorf Style” could be used in a practical way in a CM home.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Our Day

Duncan, AKA Doodle, is my ten-year-old fifth grader.

I have tried scheduling our school day several ways, and we accomplish more (less falls through the cracks) when our days pretty much follow the same pattern.

Currently, we are sort of doing two sessions. First we are reading together, Doodle is doing oral narration & recitation, and we are covering our poet and artist. This is our time that is the most Charlotte Mason. We do this either on the couch or in my bed. This week this includes:
Macbeth (Today he read Act2 Scene1 to me.)
The Story of Science (Today I read a couple of pages of chapter 9 to him.)
Fallacy Detective (I read chapter 10 to him.)
Parallel Worlds (He read a couple of pages to me.)
Norman Rockwell: Story Teller with a Brush (He read silently and looked at pictures.)
Robert Frost (We have Poetry for Young People: Robert Frost and A Swinger of Birches. Today I read two poems to Doodle.)

Doodle narrates and recites as we go. He is working on memorizing for recitation Macbeth’s soliloquy from Act2 Scene1, so narration for Macbeth was short today as he already knew a chunk of the scene. He is also working on memorizing The Road Not Taken.

I am not particular about the order of completing his morning work. I pretty much just let him choose what he wants to do next. Even without dawdling, this takes about an hour and a half or more.

Then, we go to the game room where Doodle goes from things on the computer to worksheets in his not-CM, green folder to his CM style study of ancient Egypt. Real Science 4 Kids Chemistry 2 in PDF format, Easy Peasy Chemistry and Physics Level M, Classics for Kids (currently Aaron Copland), Derek Owens Alg2, and Write at Home Composition all have at least a portion on the computer. I had the bindings cut off of his workbooks and put a week of hole-punched sheets in each green folder. This includes Evan-Moor Daily Paragraph Editing, Evan-Moor Read and Understand Poetry, Evan-Moor Daily Math, Holt Elements of Language Practice Book, MCP Spelling Workout, MCP Plaid Phonics & Word Study, EMC Write-In Reader, and World Geography and You- Eastern Hemisphere. He is also doing a modified Tanglewood Yr5 Ancient Egypt, so he typically reads a few pages in The Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt and writes a short one or two sentence narration, and/ or does some map work/ geography, and/ or works on a leader page.
Alg2 Homework

EMC Write-In Reader
Last week's written narration for Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt

During this time, I pretty much stay in the game room with him. Again, I don’t care about the order of completion. This all takes about three hours or so.

So, our seat work is completed in five hours or less, because my son can only spend about five hours on seat work and retain the information.

We are late starters, so sometimes we eat lunch after our first session. On other days, we break for lunch some time during our game room session. Even if we don’t stop for lunch after the first session, we take a break between the two and take the dog out. While I make lunch, Doodle usually touches an instrument. (That is what I call it when he just spends enough time to play scales or chords and noodle a bit.)
Cute Dog :)

In the afternoon, he reads and practices violin and mandolin. During the week, he has an orchestra practice, a private violin lesson, a private mandolin lesson, a math tutoring session, and a volleyball practice. Although we have totally given up on nature study for this fall, we do go to the park one afternoon each week if it is between 55 and 85 degrees. When we get in the car to go to these places, Doodle has begun listening to German on CD. At this point, it is nothing major and nothing we do outside of the car.
Doodle is in the front row to the right and under the conductor's arm.
Violin lesson
Duncan hitting the blur of a ball. Love the hair!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Weeks 6, 7, 8 in Review

Duncan is my fifth grader. Since my last blog post, Duncan has completed weeks 6, 7, and 8 of school. Duncan is continuing with the big hit of the year- his green folder. So, he is still working through Evan-Moor Read and Understand Poetry, Holt’s Elements of Language workbook, Evan-Moor Daily Paragraph Editing, MCP Spelling Workout, MCP Plaid Phonics and Word Study, EMC’s Write-In Reader, Evan-Moor Daily Math, and World Geography and You Volume 2. Also during this time, online courses began, we changed up some things, and we added in some things.  

The week of Labor Day Duncan started both his composition and his Algebra 2 courses. He has completed his first three assignments in Write at Home’s Middle School Course 1. The first four weeks review the varied sentence structure, strong verbs, and precise subjects. So, I can’t really give a review of the course, because thus far all he has only written sentences. All I can say is that everything is through their website. You don’t use your e-mail. The assignments are in a grid and you do not have access to all of the assignments immediately. Each week a new assignment is released. You can actually see the titles of the assignments, but you can’t access them and work ahead of the schedule.  

Anyway, here is a window into the mind of a ten-year-old boy. He had to write a sentence with the subject unicorns. He wrote: 
Unicorns gallop through the meadow of colorful flowers with rainbows streaming from their behinds as fart sparkles fill the air.

I told him that it was a little crass and that he probably didn’t need to share with his instructor that the rainbows issued from the unicorns' bums and that the word fart is currently banned in work submitted to Write at Home. The finished sentence read: 
Unicorns gallop through the meadow of colorful flowers with rainbows streaming behind them as sparkles fill the air.

I hope the teacher is not too impressed with how in touch Duncan is with his feminine side, because I am certain that the image in his head is vastly different than hers based on the finished sentence.

He has almost completed the first three weeks of Derek Owens Algebra 2. This I really, really like. It is everything I could want for this level of math. The instruction is very clear. There is a workbook that contains the lectures with blanks for the student to fill in, so I know that Duncan is paying attention and engaged in the online lecture. The practice problems are all worked out in the video lectures. Once completed, the homework and tests are scanned and e-mailed to a homework e-mail address. Once graded, the homework is e-mailed back. Progress is kept online in a grid that includes all grades for homework and tests. Woot! Woot!
Test 1 page 2- I love that I am not grading it!

We changed up history and science. We were using textbooks, A Message of Ancient Days and Conceptual Physical Science, and we ditched them both. After finishing the section on Mesopotamia, I just wasn’t seeing any retention. Duncan is now using a modified version of Tanglewood’s Grade 5 Egyptian History Trimester that I am shortening from 12 to 9 weeks. He has finished week 2.

While he loved the Astronomy section of Conceptual Physical Science this summer, the beginning of the book was just tedious for him. I enjoy Paul Hewitt and this text. I feel like Paul Hewitt’s enthusiasm for his topic really comes through the text, so my goal with this text was to share that enthusiasm with Duncan. However, Duncan wasn’t enthused. He loathed it, so we dropped it.

So, the goal was to find chemistry and physics that the little man would enjoy. He is strong in math so it didn’t need to be so basic that it excluded math, but it did need to be little boy friendly in a way that I have a difficult time defining. Anyway, he started Easy Peasy Middle School Level Chemistry and Physics and read some of the first chapter of CK-12’s Physical Science Concepts for Middle School. He liked Easy Peasy, but Physical Science Concepts for Middle School was wordy in a little boy unfriendly way. This week we tried an electronic copy of Real Science 4 Kids Level 2 Chemistry that I purchased in 2010 for my middle ds who ended up not using it. (It looks like the author is redoing her levels, and this text has been repackaged as Focus on High School Chemistry.) We completed the first chapter and Duncan really enjoyed it. Since it looks like it will work for him, I have e-mailed Real Science 4 Kids asking for a list of errata. Whew! So, it looks like Duncan will be continue reading The Story Science alongside Easy Peasy Middle School Level Chemistry and Physics and Real Science 4 Kids Chemistry Level 2.

We have added our final touches to our schedule and are now ramped up to full load. Some of these final touches I had planned, one was a surprise request from dh, and a couple just sort of fell in our laps.
I had planned to add in artist-composer-poet studies. We added in our artist study on Norman Rockwell whose work will be displayed at our local art museum beginning in November. We added in our composer study on Aaron Copland who was chosen because the Nashville Symphony will be playing Billy the Kid in October. We added poet study on Robert Frost. I actually didn’t picked a poet until the very last minute. When I began considering ditching Duncan’s history, I was looking at Ambleside Year 6 history and happened to see that Frost was the poet suggested for the first trimester. Woohoo, another American to round out our artist-composer-poet studies.
My dh has requested that Duncan study German. Surprise! Yeah, I have no idea where that came from, but he almost never says anything about school, so I am going to put some effort into this. To start, I checked out some Living Language CDs from the library just to get our feet wet. Duncan has listened to lessons 1 and 2. He has written the word lists and read in the book. Anyway, if this is something dh really wants ds to do, then I see a tutor in our future.

Logic and Shakespeare have fallen into our laps. The Fallacy Detective was sitting on my shelf and I just grabbed it as a read-aloud. Duncan is really enjoying our interactive read-aloud time and certainly doesn’t think that we have added another subject. We are reading Macbeth- not a retelling. It is pretty straightforward and with Halloween approaching it seems appropriate. Three years ago we read Macbeth in Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare and Duncan and my friend’s daughter, Mei,memorized the witches chant. This time we are eyeing Macbeth’s soliloquy that begins with “Is this a dagger which I see before me.”

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Week in Review, 8/26-8/31

Duncan is my 10yo son and this is an overview of our week.

This week Duncan completed green folder week 5. Last week Duncan declared Mr. Green Folder his favorite thing this school year. The material in the green folder is organized by subject, and, when the folder is finished, he has finished five days of work. I think he likes having this control over his schoolwork more than anything specific in his folder. Anyway, here are some folder highlights:
In the past, I have really enjoyed Tea Time Poetry, but I have to say I am not disliking E-V Read and Understand Poetry.
EMC Level 6 Write-in Reader- People have asked me where and when POV, conflict, and things are taught. Well, Here it is. :)

A am still not thrilled with Holt's Language Arts, but this week we looked at verbs and adverbs. Here is a page from the workbook.

This year Duncan is using A Message of Ancient Days and Readings in SocialStudies: Ancient Times. Both are used by Calvert- A Message of Ancient Days is their history text and Reading in Social Studies is part of their supplemental literature, Discoveries in Reading. His weekly schedule for these and a page to answer questions is in the green folder. This is purely a git-er-done situation. He doesn't like history, and, while I like the texts just fine, they are just texts. So, after this spiel I probably won't mention them again.

However, Doodle's required book list is tied to his history. So far this year he has read- Motel of the Mysteries by Macaulay (fun fictional story about an archeologist that got it all wrong), Maroo of the Winter Caves (easy read set in the ice age and Doodle enjoyed it), In the Beginning: Creation Stories from around the World (had to remind him the read, so definitely not a favorite), and the Gilgamesh trilogy by Zeman (at least I didn't have to remind him to read). This week he read the first 7 of the 28 chapters in Hittite Warrior. My oldest son and I loved this book, but Duncan hasn't gotten into it. :/

Of his own choosing, he has read children's biographies on Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and George Washington. I think working backwards through the first 3 presidents was a rabbit trail thing. He sort of did the same thing with scientists. He read a biography of Einstein which led to a biography of Isaac Newton and now he has one on Galileo that he hasn't started. Funny how that works! He has read a number of other biographies and several books on badgers and wolverines which he moved to after capybaras. Except for the book on Isaac Newton (and now the one on Galileo), these have all been easy reader type books. He is an odd one.

He finished reading about momentum and energy in Conceptual Physical Science and chapters 6 and 7 in The Story of Science: Aristotle Leads the Way. We are not as excited about these as I had hoped. I think I need to tweak my approach to Conceptual Physical Science. Not sure what to say about that.

This week Duncan wrapped up swimming lessons and started volleyball practice, and he is super excited. My middle son played volleyball, Doodle is so glad that he is finally old enough to play. This is a co-ed rec league, so it is noncompetitive and social- just lots of fun.
They were warming up in a circle outside. It is so crazy that my camera focused on the ball. That is Duncan hitting the ball from his knees.
Good serve
Another good serve
The boy can serve
Jumping High
and squatting low
We went the art museum in Nashville, The Frist, this week. They currently have a car exhibit, Sensuous Steel: Art Deco Automobiles, and a small exhibit by Vik Muniz of garbage art replicas of famous paintings. Doodle preferred the cars. Imagine that.
Mei and Duncan behind a vehicle that looked like a pill bug.
"Hey, Mom, it looks like Tron."
Thumbs up!
Can we take it home?
Driving along.
Vik Muniz
Last night we went to watch our city’s July 4th fireworks. Yes, you read that correctly. It rained on firework night in July, so the fireworks were postponed until Labor Day weekend.

Oh, and this coming Tuesday Duncan starts math and composition. Eek!