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 Cheyenne Patterson!
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF!
I'm a homeschooling mom to Renzo 11, Tre 9, and Penney 6, and wife to Joel. I have always felt like a bit of an anomaly as a super crunchy, health food store owning, Waldorf loving, ballet dancing, artsy, creative, Christian.
HOW DOES YOUR FAMILY START THE DAY?
Our mornings are slow and quiet, the most the peaceful time of day for sure! We are a late family, between the late night dance classes and performances and my husband working late at our store, we tend to do late dinners and late bedtimes. Thankfully the kids are really great at playing quietly or reading until everyone is up and ready for activity. Some mornings we make a big breakfast, but I’ve also gotten the kids in the habit of making their own breakfast on the mornings that I juice. Then we gather to make our plans for the day.
My kids really appreciate a written list of expectations for the day, including both school work and chores. This is also the time of day that we go over any outside-the-home-plans or activities. For years, we would then move on to circle, but as my crew is getting older I’m struggling a bit to settle into what works. We seem to be transitioning to a singing and devotional time for everyone, then first grade movement or song, which my boys surprise me just often enough by jumping in and wanting to join in!
GIVE US A SNAPSHOT OF ANY MANAGEMENT/ORGANIZATIONAL STRATEGIES THAT ARE HELPING YOU FLOW THROUGH YOUR HOMESCHOOLING DAYS.
This year I’ve got three kids in the grades, and although it is different than the year of juggling babies and toddlers with school, it is still a juggle all the same! I find the more we can combine lessons and find overlap the smoother our days go. My fourth grader is equally passionate about ancient history and sciences as my sixth grader, so I only need to alter the length of their writing assignments.
My daughter, on the other hand, really needs her time with fairy tales and the foundations of academics, so I have to be careful to fill her bucket. As far as organization, I have tried quite a few methods. Last year, I printed out everything we would need for the year from various curriculums and online resources, and had my own open-and-go curriculum. It was, in many ways, lovely, but I still tweaked it and rearranged it so much that I'm back to my tried and true classic of just making lists.
The lists for first grade are simple, lists of letters with stories and ideas, lists of math games, lists of read alouds and handwork and art projects. For the boys there are lists of books and projects for each block. Then I have always kept a very informal mental check list for full school days to includes the three R's (reading writing and arithmetic) and something beautiful. If the three R's aren't covered in main lesson, then we will cover them in short independent review for my older ones, and in games or songs in the younger grades.
Using lists works well so that school can happen around living life. We can enjoy good weather days and say yes to field trips and spontaneous play dates without feeling behind or like we need to rush through lessons to catch up. If the next lesson is a three day project but it’s a Friday, we can just pick a different shorter lesson, we don't lose momentum just because we aren't ready for the next thing.
The last thing I utilize that helps keep us going, is planning for the times that I can't be the awesome hands-on teacher that I like to be. They do review days with independent work like math, spelling or cursive copy work books, piano apps, art lessons and math games.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE RESOURCES? (HOMESCHOOL OR OTHERWISE)
Oh I have so many favorites! As someone who doesn't tend to stick to curriculum but loves reading it for ideas, it’s probably no surprise that I love buying individual blocks from places like Hearth Magic or Ancient Path on Etsy, or blocks from a Waldorf Journey or Magic of Waldorf.
I’m a big fan of the mathbyhand.com Times Tables and Fables Kit, the Living Music from the Heart for recorder, and Out Door Secrets from Simply Charlotte Mason. I always enjoy pursuing book lists from Waldorf and Charlotte Mason curriculums to find the best books. And of course, I love the inspiration from other moms on social media, but I’m not sure I’d be able to do this at all without my real life, in person, homeschool mom friends! I’m also very grateful for the Earthschooling curriculum for such a broad selection of stories for each grade which really brought a sense of freedom to our home school.
what are you currently reading?
I’ve always got a more challenging classic going that I'm half listening to on Libervox - right now it’s Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, which will take me a full year. I’m also reading The Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier, and I found a 50 cent copy of Beyond the Rainbow Bridge by Barbara J. Patterson and Pamela Bradley that I am enjoying, even though my kids are past this stage. I was wanting something Waldorfy after reading The Brave Learner by Julie Bogart and Mere Motherhood by Cindy Rollins this summer. As a family we are reading Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Odyssey and Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome, I highly recommend both! I just started A Mathematician’s Lament by Paul Lockhart and it’s so great! A must read for any educator!
WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU ARE OVERWHELMED OR STRESSED?
When the overwhelm comes I know it is time to slow way down with school and outside-the-home commitments. It’s a balance because sometimes the overwhelm comes from needing to catch up on house work and adult work, and so it makes sense to put everything on pause to get those caught up. But other times the overwhelm comes from business, and I find creative pursuits and time in nature and daily time in prayer and meditation are such a good antidote to business. I also feel very blessed to be able to take about 5 hours a week of ballet and modern dance classes and it’s so nice to have that built in time to be totally in my body.
PLEASE SHARE SOME WORDS OF WISDOM YOU'VE GLEANED OVER THE YEARS.
There are always those new stages where it is really tempting to think, "Wow my kid is so big, it’s time to really hit the books," or "This school year has got to be really rigorous". But I keep coming back to the idea that school needs to be fun or we are doing it wrong, and it is just as true in sixth grade as it was in kindergarten. Leaving breathing room is paramount both for creative teaching, to stay aware of the climate in our home that is set by our attitudes. It is far more important to prioritize relationships and character.
TELL US A BIT ABOUT HOW WALDORFISH COURSES ARE ADDING TO YOUR SCHOOL YEAR. READY....GO
So far we have enjoyed the Waldorfish courses that are a part of the Earthschooling membership. Waldorf art was such a game changer for us, especially for my oldest who was so afraid of making a mistake that he wouldn't write or draw or paint at all.
My sons are finally really happy with their art, so we are now working our way through the courses again as a family but this time with little sister joining us!
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