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July 21, 2010

This is late  in the day getting out and I know you think I chickened out. Actually  today’s craziness helped me to determine what I want to do for tomorrow’s  One Thing A Day, tune in tomorrow to see. My girls and our life come before the blog obviously , however this blog is important to me. I had started to blog and was sidetracked by voices calling “Momma”  So here you are, not the blog I had planned for today but one I had in queue

Last week Beauty got a hankering for a summer study workbooks.  ( You would be shocked to discover that there are entire sections of book stores dedicated to these. Then again maybe you wouldn’t. All I could think of was wow, there is either something wrong with our education system for this much to be necessary  or there is a lot of fear generated about “my kid not measuring up”.  I can remember when these summer workbook were a supplement, much like a vitamin,  not  another meal course on the menu) Anyway,  Beauty wanted a workbook, because her friends who attend the local public school all were using them. So we stood there and I went through the various books.  Can I tell you how boring it must be for a child to actually be expected to learn like this. Work page after work page, some with cartoon characters and dull, oh my.

Thus what follows is a first in a series of  posts offering suggestions from a Waldorf perspective of ways to summer supplement on up through grade 5.  By the way, you are not introducing new concepts, meaning you’re not teaching a skill not already brought forth by the teacher. You are basically sharing a “review” from the year before.  Ideally you are re-framing everyday experiences.

The caveat, every moment is not a learning moment, the idea is to let the child experience the  subject at hand not hear you drone about how this is a fraction and la la la la. You might note  to the early years child that  gosh look at that, we were able to make 4 slices of pizza from one pizza would be enough information.  A child familiar with the processes of math might be challenged  to divide the pizza into equal slices for the family, or distribute pepperoni per slice and older ones may be asked to estimate how much pizza would be need to feed the family, how much it would cost and if out to dinner what the tip percentage is.  And then , well you stop. That was it, that was the “workbook” page so to speak. We often think that we need to explain, drill the info in and make a point to be sure that they “got it”. They shouldn’t have sense of oh mom is teaching me, rather a this is interesting, a fun hey can you do this.

These are a few ideas to play with through you summer.

Math :

Cook together, at any age, any grade level.  If you begin to look at cooking in another way you’ll see that it is a lovely math tutor.  It is much easier for a child to learn information through actual doing, especially if it’s an abstract concept such as math. Measurements are fractions, instructions are a linear process and require focus and attention for a baked good especially, to turn out. Harmony at 6  not having any “formal” math yet, found limes on the kitchen counter and wanted to make juice, but I explained we didn’t have enough. So she suggested we cut them to have more, and began to count by two’s. On her own she juts taught herself a times table. Plus we were able to discuss that more juice would not be available just because we had what seemed like more limes. I see this as a future to the ‘but I  still have checks in the checkbook issue’. lol

For younger and early years there is  cutting chopping, kneading, sorting, counting, gathering, taking away, volume and capacity. A one cup measuring cup will not hold 2 cups.

One big blob of dough becomes 12 rolls, or 2 loaves, which is sliced into multiple slices, which may again be sliced into halves, or cubes. Your dough can be any of the geometric shapes or if cookie dough you might be estimating how many cookies, will need how may pans, will take how long to cook and feed how many. And best of all, you eat your math.

At the beach the walk was so long we encouraged the girls to “just walk 100  steps”. For the littles counting was enough, but the middles skip counted steps. We estimated  how long it would take to walk 100 steps, how many sets of  100’s it would take, and then how much time for all the sets, before we reached the beach. All our gear used the concept of balancing and weight in a very, very subtle way. Trust me  after a mile walk with heavy items you begin to recognize that balancing  and distributing the weight makes its easier to carry things. Think fulcrum points or leverage.

On a road trip have an older child figure mileage and averages, gas and cost. Let them read the map.

Language arts:

Read. Read out loud, listen to books on tape. Have your child read out loud to you.

Memorize a summer poem or write one together. See if you can talk only in a rhyme or rhyme your instructions to do a chore and see if its easier to get it done.

Play the never-ending story each time you get into the car. Parent begins a story and children add sentences. An older child could this scribe it into a family story book.

Teach your child to diary/journal, yes even boys.

Write letters to traveling friends, or family members.

Draw the letters in the sand at the beach or the park.

Trace letters on each others backs after bath with lotion. Write words on your child’s back and have them guess what it is. ( this is a good waiting in long line game)

Pick a word a day from the dictionary. See who can use it the most correctly throughout the day. Discuss if it is a doing, or  people, place , thing, or a describing word for younger readers, and older ones can give its proper parts of speech definition.


Grow a garden or just a plant. Put the plant in the window and watch how it begins to always lean towards the light. Wonder aloud one day and your child will begin to note this on their own. This is  tropism, kind of a fun fact to learn and note when out on a nature walk.

Count the leaves on plants. Did you know all plants that are relatives of  the rose family like apples, or strawberries  typically have 5 equal petals arranged around a central cup? Nature is amazing in its symmetry, like shells and swirls and leaves.

Cook with baking soda and without. Watch how the acid from a lemon can keep an apple from turning brown.

Mix up a salad dressing and note the vinegar and oil’s behavior.

Make paper airplanes, or as we did boats. It was fascinating how even Harmony at 6 could begin to figure out the principles of buoyancy and water displacement, except she called it making it float. Imagine when she begins to earn about Archimedes Principle, in a few years what  subconscious reference she may have. This kept a 13-year-old busy for nearly 3 hours. What did the current do, what if you added a rock in the way? How strong does a dam have to be?

What is nature doing outside your window? Wonder out loud, and verbally note changes in a conversational way. Look it up in the library, visit preserves and ecology centers, walk the dog and notice how  plants in the neighborhood are changing. Wonder aloud why and then hush up. Let them give you theories.

Watch the moon or the sun as it shifts from summer to autumn.

Relax, enjoy, and revel in what summer is about, being together.


One Thing A Day

Day Two-Harmony

For years I have read books on self-improvement and spirituality, they all had a common thread running through them, meditation. Now I don’t know about you, but I am about as close to sitting in a Zen position as I am to belly dancing, it’d be interesting but it ain’t happening. That said I have tried to meditate, I”ve sat as they call it and when I woke up I was rested but not peaceful. Unintentional napping does not good meditation make. Rudolf Steiner, founder of the  Waldorf  schools, was a pretty mystical man. In his Exercises for Spiritual development he suggests 6 exercises one of which called the Daily Review of the day. Each evening, going backwards through the day recalling its events, its sequential unfolding (experienced here reversed in time), the people one has met, etc.  In addition to that Steiner suggests that teachers meditate on their students  and speak with their angels for guidance. Tonight I’ll head to bed a half hour earlier and  before I sleep I will light a candle, and peacefully  review my day. I will forgive myself my  foibles as well as those I felt wronged by, I will note where I did well and honor those moments. Bringing  to mind my daughters and husband I will  ask for guidance and understanding from each  and then I will mentally prepare my day for tomorrow. May you also find peace this evening.

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