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 Geometry :: Math in the middle grades

Ge•om•e•try | noun

Origin:

Middle English- via Old French from Latin “geometria”, from Greek, gē ‘earth’+ metria ‘measurement’.


Earth Measurement. This sounds like something entirely different from most of our own experiences with Geometry in school, yes?

Over thousands of years, geometry has become a standard part of math class and yet it sits in the modern math curriculum isolated from its true origin.


Ancient scholars, the first geometers, understood geometry to be the act of measuring the complete human experience of living on Earth. They set out on this study in order to understand the design behind everything they were experiencing in the physical world. In ancient Greece, the latin word “Mathematikos” meant “desire to learn” and the latin word “mathema” meant “knowledge/study.” In other words, the measurement and study of the physical world in order to understand the human experience on earth and how everything around us is created.

Inspiration is needed in Geometry, just as much as in poetry.
— Alexander Pushkin


Rudolf Steiner and Waldorf education place the utmost importance on the Geometry curriculum and have created a different path for students than the typical math curriculum offers. In truth, in Waldorf schools children begin their study of “earth measurement” with their first lesson on the first day of first grade - by drawing straight lines and curved lines. Straight lines and curved lines are nature’s design tools and they will become the essential building blocks of writing and drawing.

Printing, cursive, numbers, and music notation are constructed with lines and arcs. As the students progress through the early grades, patterns of lines and arcs are part of almost every lesson. Where there are patterns, there is geometry. Clapping games establish rhythm and order. Eurythmy and dance involve expression by way of patterns in movement. Students sit in rows, circle up, and line up.

Music and geometry go hand in hand as well. Rhythm, intervals, and patterns are the geometric design of music and poetry. As the students learn more about music, they can observe how different geometric patterns in music have unique qualities that induce a particular mood or feeling. Major chords sound “happy” and minor chords sound “sad.” The interval between a root note and the 5th sounds and feels much different than the interval between the root note and the seventh. Music is a great example of geometry as the tool behind the expression through sound. The idea of math as a universal language actually goes much deeper than numbers and calculations on paper being the same everywhere in the world. Ideally, a child’s education in the early grades is full of geometry.



Early experiences with Geometry


In grades one through four, there is no formal geometry class. Geometry comes by way of everyday school life (music, writing, movement, etc) and Form Drawing class. Forms are patterns of straight and curved lines that become more complex as the children advance through the grades. Simple repeating forms in grades one and two help with the development of coordination for printing and cursive writing. More complex forms in grades three and four help to develop a sense of spatial awareness and symmetry. In the fourth grade, students practice forms that are also symbols from different cultures (i.e. Nordic symbols) and learn how to tie knots - a three dimensional version of the form drawings.



Moving into the middle grades

Grade Five - Freehand Geometry

Grade five is a special, transitional year, symbolic of the peek of childhood. The students study great civilizations of the past, including the “Golden Age” of Greece. The students themselves are in the golden age of childhood. They are at the peak of their development in their child bodies and have gained as much mastery of their physical bodies as they are going to before heading into puberty. Fifth grade also marks the transition from form drawing to geometry. The goal of grade five “freehand geometry” is to lock the archetypal geometric forms into the body by drawing them without the use of tools. Classes also set out to find geometric forms in the world outside of their classrooms.

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Grade Six - Geometric drawing tools

With the arrival of adolescence, grade six becomes a year of re-birth both physically and in the curriculum. In geometry, we need to go all the way back to the beginning with straight lines and curved lines. This time, however, the children learn to construct lines and arcs with geometric drawing tools. A straightedge (ruler) constructs a line and a compass constructs an arc. The students will now begin a second journey through geometry that mirrors grades 1-5. The three-fold approach to learning (doing, feeling, thinking) is beautifully displayed in the geometry curriculum. In grade 6, the focus is on the physical doing aspect of learning. Learning to use tools to construct and measure is a physical task and it challenges the students as they begin to develop new physical bodies. The focus on “doing” in grade six mirrors the 1st and 2nd grade curriculum where an understanding of lines, arcs, and patterns comes from drawing forms with both the hands and feet, walking patterns, and rhythmic clapping games, etc.

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Grade Seven - Inward and outward exploration

Grade Seven in Waldorf schools is generally thought of as “the year of exploration.” A seventh grader, now fully immersed in adolescence, is ready to outwardly explore the physical world and inwardly begin an exploration of the question “who am I?” The feeling life of the seventh grader takes center stage in the curriculum as we use geometry to understand the human body and the natural world we live in. Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man and the work of Fibonacci give us clues about the mathematical formula behind all that is living on our planet. It’s an incredible moment when students discover that the same ratios and patterns found in pentagrams, roses, apples, insects, hurricanes, and the milky way galaxy, are also found in the structure of our own bodies. The observational studies of nature performed by the likes of Plato, Pythagoras, Eratosthenes, Fibonacci, and Leonardo Da Vinci are mirrored by the observational powers of the seventh grader (they see everything, yes?).

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Grade Eight - Digging deeper

In grade eight, the geometry curriculum enters the thinking realm. Armed with knowledge about how to use the tools of the geometer and the experience of searching for one’s self both in nature and the human body, the students are ready to become mathematicians, in the ancient Greek spirit of the mathematician being one who studies all things. We can now venture into the world of abstract thought and theory. The students will grapple with how to measure and study the three dimensional world on the two dimensional surface of the paper. By the 8th grade, it is the hope that students can see that there is always more than meets the eye, and they now have the physical and intellectual tools to dig deeper through observation, making precise measurements and calculations, and articulately describing what they see. They are mathematicians, scientists, and philosophers training to see things on multiple levels. On one level, numbers define quantities and help us with measurements and calculations. On another level, each number has its own unique set of qualities. Like the circle, the number one represents wholeness and the beginning. Plato called the circle “the mother of all shapes.” When the whole is cut into two, polarities are created (up, down, left, right, life, death, hot cold, positive, negative, male, female, etc.). The number three has a very balanced quality (tripods, tricycles, triangles). This way of understanding the quality of numbers is similar to the phenomenological way of teaching science. When a botany student imagines a plant, the goal of the teacher is to get the child to have a fluid mental picture that includes the entire life cycle of the plant, as opposed to just a fixed image of the plant in a particular moment in time.

With geometry, the goal for the 8th grader is to help them think of numbers not just as quantities but as parts of patterns in nature with their own qualities that shape the world around us and our experience of the world.

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“Let no one ignorant of geometry come under this roof.”
— Latin inscription above the door of Plato’s Academy

•We created a 3 page Qualities of Numbers reference guide for you! Tell us where to send yours in the form below.

It’s free!


•We offer a comprehensive Geometry curriculum, covering the grades 5-8.

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!