parenting

Waldorfish Families - Jessica Richardson

Every few weeks on the blog, we spotlight a Waldorfish community family. You are a diverse and global group - We’re pretty sure you’d be bff’s in real life. Today, please enjoy our conversation with Jessica Richardson!



TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF!

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I'm Jessica Richardson, a wild & free mama, on a Waldorf inspired homeschooling journey with 4 adventure craving kids- ranging from teens to toddlers.



HOW DOES YOUR FAMILY START THE DAY?

We start the day with breakfast all together. After breakfast we set our intentions for the day, discuss the plans for the day, the weather, the moon phase, and recite the weekly verse, poem, or thought.



GIVE US A SNAPSHOT OF ANY MANAGEMENT/ORGANIZATIONAL STRATEGIES THAT ARE HELPING YOU FLOW THROUGH YOUR HOMESCHOOLING DAYS.

I am homeschooling all 4 of my kids. The older two are 12 and 13.5 year old boys and we do the same lesson blocks for them. My almost 4 year old and nearly 2 year old girls are not doing any classical schooling. They join in on all the art and hands on activities we do, such as science experiments and baking. For the older boys, I use my lifetime membership to Earthschooling to plan out my grade blocks. I really like the plethora of info on there. I add to the math and science blocks with the books "Physics is Fun" and "Making Math Meaningful for Middle School", the guides from A Waldorf Journey, and the online courses from Waldorfish Geometry. The boys have been homeschooled for the last 4 full years.



WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE RESOURCES? (HOMESCHOOL OR OTHERWISE) 

I really enjoy the Youtube videos Pepper and Pine makes, as well as the blog called Parenting Passageway. These mamas have older sons and it really helps me to see how they are homeschooling, still using Waldorf, with the Middle School years and beyond.

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WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

Myself, I am currently reading "Rising Strong" by Brene Brown and "Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype" by Clarissa Pinkola Estés. Our family read aloud for September was 'Kenny and the Dragon" by Tony DiTerlizzi. My sons are reading excerpts from "The Broken Spears" by Miguel Leon-Portilla currently, because we are in the Age of Exploration block for 7th grade and this book is an Aztec account of the conquest of Mexico.



What do you do when you are overwhelmed or stressed?

When the kids get overwhelmed, we head for the hills... literally. Heading outside and up our local canyons, immediately helps clear our minds and hearts. If its just me who is stressed out, I make time for a 90 minute Bikram hot yoga class, I feel mentally and physically lighter afterwards.



PLEASE SHARE SOME WORDS OF WISDOM YOU'VE GLEANED OVER THE YEARS.

I've learned to let go of perfect, to not expect myself to be able to teach every subject, and to not go it alone. Allowing others, like using the Waldorfish Geometry, gives me a break from planning so I can place attention somewhere else. My best advice is to create a local Waldorf inspired group to meet with weekly for nature walks, festivals, and seasonal fun. Ours is finally thriving and my children and I are so happy when we meet!



TELL US A BIT ABOUT HOW WALDORFISH COURSES ARE ADDING TO YOUR SCHOOL YEAR. READY....GO!

We have used Waldorfish Weekly Art for 2 years now and just starting in the Festival Art course. Everyone in my family loves the Waldorfish art classes, even the toddler! My 4 year old loves the chalk and watercolor lessons, she asks to do extra art all the time. My oldest son loves art already, but Brian has helped him create fuller pictures, by paying attention to things like mountains in the background, or how to place objects in the foreground verses in the background. We all look forward to Fridays with Waldorfish!


WHERE CAN WE CONNECT WITH YOU?

Instagram: @thehippyrichys

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Waldorfish Families - Brian & Robyn Wolfe

Welcome to the Waldorfish Families series! Every few weeks we will spotlight a family that is part of this community. You are such a diverse and global group - we’re pretty sure you’d be bff’s in real life! To get things started this week, we’ll begin with our own family (Brian & Robyn Wolfe).


TELL US ABOUT YOURSELves!

Brian and I met 7 years ago while teaching at the same Waldorf school. When we were married, he became step-dad to our two children, Iris and Mika. We are currently homeschooling both kids. At the moment this looks like using some of our Waldorfish programs, a few Waldorf-inspired blocks of our own creation, a couple of the classes offered by our school district’s Independent Studies program, and as many adventures as we can fit into our weeks!

HOW DOES YOUR FAMILY START THE DAY?

Slowly ;) We use warm beverages and breakfast (plus a couple of cats) to ease us into the day. We’ve definitely hit the stage where our kids would prefer to rise later vs. earlier. After breakfast, we move into music practice, math, and other school work. Most days we leave the house around noon-ish to head out for various lessons and classes.

GIVE US A SNAPSHOT OF ANY MANAGEMENT/ORGANIZATIONAL STRATEGIES THAT ARE HELPING YOU FLOW THROUGH YOUR HOMESCHOOLING DAYS.

If something isn’t written into our calendar, the odds of it getting accomplished are pretty low. SO keeping a day planner open to the current week where everyone can see it, add to it, etc, is working pretty well for us at the moment. Also, as our children move further into teenhood, the dynamics of each child with Brian & I are changing. Currently we each take responsibility for teaching certain subjects based on those dynamics. This looks different than it did last year, and we’re open to the fact that it will probably look different again next year as our kids continue to evolve.

 Teen bedroom. Keeping it real. Posted with permission ;)

Teen bedroom. Keeping it real. Posted with permission ;)

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE RESOURCES? (HOMESCHOOL OR OTHERWISE) 

We have so many favorites! We’ve listed many of them in our Amazon shop, here.

WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m currently reading Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer. Brian is deep into several podcasts at the moment. His top 2 are Waking up with Sam Harris and Hardcore History with Dan Carlin.

PLEASE SHARE SOME WORDS OF WISDOM YOU'VE GLEANED OVER THE YEARS.

There’s a solution for everything. It may not come in the form we expect, but if we open up our minds to the possibility that the solution does exist somewhere, it WILL show up. Time and time again, both with running Waldorfish as well as just in everyday life, we’ve seen this to be true. What’s also true though, is that if we convince ourselves there can’t possibly be a solution, then it can’t show up. The power of our THINKING is immense!




Tell us a bit about how Waldorfish courses are adding to your school year.

We’re using Waldorfish Geometry grades 6 & 7 this year, along with art lessons from A Festival Year and Weekly Art. Both kids find it hilarious to take art lessons from us via video ;) Go figure.

Where else can we connect with you?

Instagram: @waldorfish

Robyn: @therobynwolfe

Brian: @brianwolfe

Facebook: @waldorfish

 Halloween, 2018

Halloween, 2018

Waldorf Grade One Painting : Out of the Color

Children in Waldorf schools begin painting with liquid watercolors on damp paper in preschool and kindergarten. The use of this medium continues into grade one, however at this point there is a shift in the way the weekly painting lesson is presented.

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The 6-7 year old child learns through experiences. They’ve left kindergarten and are transitioning slowly into more structured learning.

In his Colour Lectures, Rudolf Steiner talks about the importance for each artist (student) to know each of the colors, to understand them individually, and also how they interact with each other. He specifically says that we need to experience the colors in our feeling life in order to understand them. Once we understand them in their trueness, then we can really use them.

Let us try to sink ourselves completely into what we receive through colour from the rich and varied world around us. We must feel what is in colour if we wish to penetrate into its true nature, bringing insight into our feelings. We must question our feelings about what is living in the colour which surrounds us.
— Rudolf Steiner, Colour Lecture 1


Painting lessons create opportunities for students to develop an intimate understanding of the colors through their imaginations, movement, and imitation. When the teacher brings the lessons in partnership with short verses and stories (which help to personify the colors), the children live into each experience fully.

“Painting lessons also provide the teacher with a further opportunity for getting to know the children’s soul constitution in even more detail. Different temperaments and constitutions reveal themselves through what and how the children paint.”
— The Educational Tasks and Content of the Steiner Waldorf Curriculum, Rawson & Richter


In grade one the lessons are simple color experiences guided by the teacher. It is purely artistic work - there is no expectation of the children creating a specific form or picture of something. These experiences are ordered in such a way that allows the children to begin to understand the dynamics of the colors by themselves, and in relation to each other.

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The painting lessons begin very simply, with yellow by itself. Then the children will experience only blue. Eventually the two, yellow and blue, will be brought together on the page and the children will experience them together. Next, red is introduced by itself. Eventually red and yellow will be presented together, and then red and blue. Each of these experiences offers the children something new to live into, all the while expanding their understanding of the nature of each of the colors. (Of course, a natural result of bringing 2 primary colors together in a painting lesson is the birthing of the secondary colors - orange, green and purple. A wonderful moment in any painting lesson!)

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As the year progresses, the teacher guides the children as they experience all 3 colors on the page together, culminating towards the end of the year with the children learning to create a color wheel.  The color wheel becomes the foundation of many future paintings the children will create in each progressing grade.


Link to the Rawson & Richter book mentioned in this post.

Looking for support around painting with your grade one child? We made you something!

Celebrating Michaelmas

The seasons are shifting.

For some of us the relief of fall is on the horizon. For others, the arrival of spring has been long awaited.

Last week I noticed that I was craving soup. Like, CRAVING. Never mind that it's still in the mid 90's where we live. For Brian, this seasonal shifting means a trip to our local foothills and his beloved Apple Hill (insert images of apple cider, apple donuts, etc, etc, here). Of course, we're a few weeks ahead of ourselves still, but....it's coming. Can you smell it?

Michaelmas is approaching as well. This brings to mind the year that Brian almost (almost) had our kids believing that he saw a Michaelmas dragon sale going up in the parking lot of a local chain store near us. Think Christmas tree lot, but with dragons of assorted temperaments, colors and sizes. Thankfully our kids (mostly) appreciate our sense of humor. So far anyway.

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Here are two pieces that we love for this time of year.

"Modern parenting seems to dictate that we should protect our children from the bogey and even from knowledge of its existence. But “it is in the world already.” Children know the terrors that lurk under the bed, in the dark, and in the whispers of grownups. 

With fairy tales and golden capes and wooden swords and songs, we stop lying to them. When we show them the monsters and evil hiding in the stories, and help them shape their weapons, when we give them the words to “conquer fear and wrath,” we validate what they already know – that there are dragons." 

On Dragons and Making Swords... read the full piece here



No matter which hemisphere you call home, this piece also offers many ideas for consideration. 

"As a Waldorf-inspired homeschooler, you have no doubt noticed that a healthy festival life is one of the anchors around which Waldorf Education is organized. These rituals and festivals have traditionally contributed to the stability of communities of the past, and now brick-and-mortar schools of current time. They create an opportunity to relate to the seasons, and to each other.

What then, does this mean for those of us who have chosen to leave a local Waldorf school, or, to never attend one at all? What meaning do these festivals, or feast days as they are traditionally called, have when they are practiced in much smaller group settings without institutional support, or even at home within individual families?" 

In Praise of Balance: A Healthy Festival Life ... read the full piece here

Additionally, take a look at our Michaelmas Pinterest board for plenty of ideas, tutorials and resources.

Course update

All our courses are in full swing! The most common questions we're getting via email these days are "Can we still enroll?" and, "Will we have access to any lessons we missed?

The answers? Yes. And, yes! Enrollment is still open for all our programs. We will likely close registration for Weekly Art in Dec/January. Our plan at this point is to leave everything else open all year. We will update you if that changes. Any lessons that post prior to your enrollment will be waiting for you in the classroom. You get access to everything, no matter when you enroll! 

Click here for the Waldorfish 2018/19 course lineup.



All our best to you,

Robyn & Brian Wolfe




Community Supported Postpartum Plan

 

The following is shared with permission from Kerry Ingram, of Mothering Arts. We are thrilled to share this important resource with the Waldorfish community!

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If you are a parent you already know that all the cute onesies given to you at your baby shower/birth blessing paled in comparison to the home cooked meals delivered to your door postpartum.

The diaper wipe warmer and stuffed elephant were sweet, but the friend who picked up your groceries and washed your dishes felt like a superhero. The transition into motherhood or into mothering more than one child is truly a rite of passage. It is vital to acknowledge this passage into parenthood in a way that represents you, your lineage, your culture and your intentions.

Being seen and supported by your community is an inclusive practice that just about anyone can do. Simply by coming together to help with everyday life, is one way of saying "we see you, we see this transformation and we are here for you".

By supporting a family during the tender postpartum time, the community enhances the health and well-being of the entire family, and the health of the community is also nurtured.

When mothers feel supported, they have a boost in oxytocin which helps the production of breast milk, reduces stress, promotes mama-baby bonding and even helps to balance hormones. There is quite a bit of anthropological evidence supporting levels of oxytocin being greater in women living in close proximity to family or close community as seen in indigenous cultures.

 

Nowadays, many of us need to re-create the village to receive our support and nurturing, that is where Community Supported Postpartum comes into play.

 

You have heard of a  CSA (community supported agriculture). Maybe you have heard of a herd-share where you pitch in and receive weekly milk or meat. We belonged to a wonderful CSH (community supported herbalism) last year and received tinctures, teas and salves each season. Or perhaps you have been part of a school work day or grocery co-op.

All of these organizations have the same foundation of ideals; when we can come together with shared values, it benefits everyone involved as we stand/work in solidarity. When many hands pitch in, the work is lighter and the connection is stronger. The whole is greater to the sum of it's parts.

What if we could use the same great form to support folks who are welcoming a baby? The shared value is that families need extra support in the tender postpartum time, we can all stand behind that notion. I call this Community Supported Postpartum; CSP. My hope is that we can start incorporating intentions of true community support into every baby shower and prenatal gathering so that families can experience how valuable community can be in the postpartum time.

 

Leave the pacifier with the mustache behind, and grab a copy of this instead.

 

We all want to be a helpful friend or family member, and sometimes we need a bit of guidance. After decades of supporting my friends, my community and the many families I have worked with as a teacher and in our mama-baby classes, I have curated a list of helpful ways that we can all pitch in to support a postpartum journey rooted in health and community support.

 

 

4 Questions (we should all be asking on behalf of our children)

 

Crafting the rhythm of our children's days and school year can start to feel daunting when we consider all the various options available to our families.

Several years ago it became urgently important that we find a way to distill our planning process down to focusing on the things we considered MOST important. We want to share with you the 4 guiding questions that were the result of our reflections. Brian and I ask ourselves these questions when making decisions for our children, in regards to schooling and at home.

Whether you are new to Waldorf(ish) education, planning your next homeschool curriculum, or looking to make a course correction when you feel like you may have wandered off track, these gems can serve as guideposts. They come out of our successes as well as our failures.

 

Simple. Useable. Right now.

 

The 4 questions:

(I encourage you to take your time reading these. Really savor Each. Word. Perhaps keep a piece of paper nearby to write down your immediate responses & thoughts.)

 

1. Does this (activity, toy or program, etc.) encourage creative thinking? Thinking that is permeated with imagination, flexibility, and focus?

2. Does this experience help foster my child’s emotional intelligence? Is it helping my child develop empathy, and building their self esteem?

3. Is this (activity, toy or program, etc.) promoting my child’s physical vitality, stamina and perseverance?

4. Is this (activity, toy or program) helping to nurture a spiritual depth within my child? One born out of an appreciation and responsibility for the earth, their work and for their fellow human beings?

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Bonus Gem:

This piece, written by longtime class teacher, Steven Sagarin, is such a perfect compliment to this process of reflection:

“What is Waldorf Education” 

(Pro-Tip)

Read his article in chunks, accompanied by good chocolate. Give yourself time to go about your day and let each section sink in before reading the next.

**Essentially, we believe that a Waldorf education can take a variety of forms and still be PERFECT.**

According to each teachers individuality, outer forms of teaching may vary enormously in the different classes, and yet the fundamental qualities are retained...in a Waldorf school outer forms do not follow set patterns, so that it is quite possible for one teacher to teach his class of 9 year olds well, while another who takes a completely different line, can be an equally good teacher...and as long as the teacher feels in harmony with the underlying principals, and with the methods employed, he must be given freedom in his work instead of being tied to fixed standards.
— Rudolf Steiner
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We'd love to hear your thoughts!

All love,

Robyn