Textured Paper

homeschool_texturedpaper

 

Getting back to a year of lightness and freedom includes adding daily creativity projects of some sort to our day.

With no rigidity.

Because Isaiah. Boy+sensory processing disorder+boy+wacko= minute amounts of tolerance for structured art activities that take longer than 10 minutes.

So. Textured paper. I decided that I’d like to do some art projects this year that involve using paper as a decorative component and the best way to do that is to create our own textured paper.

Also, delayed gratification is a complete unknown in this house. So learning that can only be good.

And, cutting up a creation? Talk about trauma. This is a lesson in letting go.

So.

Watercolor paper and tempera paints worked great for us.

We tried 4 styles of textured paper. Spirals, sponging, stripes and wax resist.

After spiral and a little sponging Isaiah asked if he could “just paint.” Unlike the olden days I said sure!

homeschool_textpapeizze

First he painted me as a big fat purple monster. That was awesome.

Then he painted a beautiful landscape with bushes and clouds.

I finished the rest of the textured paper and set it to dry.

I have some ideas of what we will do with it, maybe some weaving or making a pretty garland. You’ll have to come back to see.

Here’s how we did what we did:

Spirals dip a dry brush with a flat head in your paint. Starting from the inside create a spiral until the paint has run out on the brush. Any size will work.

homeschool_textspiral

Sponging I have lots of cut up sponges from other projects, so we used a small piece and dipped it in the paint sponging until it began to fade and then dipping again. We covered the whole piece of paper and let it dry and then did another color on top.

homeschool_textsponge

Stripes choose 2 colors that blend well I used yellow and red, but blue and yellow or blue and green might be nice. I started with yellow stripes going one direction trying to have just enough paint on a wide flat brush to make it all the way across. Then while the paint is still wet add a little bit of the second color to the first color so the next set of stripes is a blend without being mixed. After that set make diagonal lines with the two colors mixed.

Wax Resist take a crayon and rub it on its side very hard all over the piece of paper. Then water down some paint and do a very thin wash over the whole page. Where the wax is the paint won’t stick. (This did not work so well for us. It might be because we didn’t rub hard enough, or maybe because we used such a heavy watercolor paper. Either way, if I get it right I will share that here)

homeschool_textured paper table

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How Your Daily Rhythm Affects Your Child’s Behavior

I don’t know how many of you know about Waldorf education, there’s plenty to read about on my site if you don’t.

Until six years ago, I had no idea.  It seemed oddly more like being a Jehovah’s Witness, than a homeschooling method, in my mind.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Making the choice to home school my son was not an easy one in light of the stellar school system we live in and my academically focused family.  Yet it was a decision that was not optional for me. Once I understood Waldorf, knowing that it would be the method to my madness so to speak, I knew I could do no harm.

Don’t worry, I am not suggesting that if you have a child with Sensory Processing Disorder you should home school.  (Although if you are curious, please ask)  What this post is about is how bringing some Waldorf methods and ideas in to your home could make all the difference in the world to you and your child.

It’s about Rhythm. Rhythm affects your child’s behavior more than you realize.

Read any Waldorf blog, website, book or text and you cannot escape that word.  However, it took me about 2 years to grasp the meaning of rhythm and what that meant to me and my family.  I am hoping to pass this on to you, as a lay person, in just one post. Tell me how I do.

How many of you have noticed how much better your child does during a structured day, then a free-for-all day?

When I say free-for-all, I include running errands, visiting family, things that disrupt a normal flow.  You may actually notice it in the reverse so to speak.  You may say, wow, today went really well, and when you look back you can see a pattern to your day.

Any basic parenting book will tell you that a child, from a young age, needs a schedule.  They need to know what to expect, and when to expect it.  From meals, to bedtime, to play, to sleep; the more they know, the more well-adjusted they are.

I believe this is even more true for special needs kids, like mine, who has Sensory Processing Disorder.  These kids are thrown more than any others when they are forced into a life of unpredictability; and to them, almost anything different is unpredictable.  Miss a meal, or a snack, change a nap time or miss a loved class and you better watch it.

This idea of having a set schedule is basically Waldorf’s idea of Rhythm.  However when Waldorf speaks of Rhythm, they include not only the idea of a schedule, but the needs of the whole child.  The child’s need for movement, for up times and down times.  Times to use their minds, times to use their bodies and times to use their hands.  In Waldorf terms this is described is “in breaths” and “out breaths”.  So do that for me.  Take a deep breath in, and a deep breath out.  Now think of that.  When you take that deep breath in, imagine quietly taking in a story, or sitting quietly and drawing.  When you release that deep breath think of running in the yard, playing hopscotch or singing songs that involve finger play or hand movements.  Your in breath is introspective time, time to be quiet, to think, to create.  Your out breath is releasing time, time to be free, to play games, to laugh and sing.

In order for a child to feel balanced, the child must have both of these things, and they must have them as an in and out pattern throughout the day.

rhythm affects behavior in breath

If your child is in school, you have very little control over that, unless you have an IEP you can manipulate.  But for the most part, I think they experience it in the form of class time vs.  recess, lunch and PE.  Maybe also music and art if those things are offered at your school.  Still, there are so many things you can do at home to facilitate that experience.  And once again, here’s where I call on you mom’s to put your kids first and make some changes about what you do when they are around.

Try to save the errands for when there are no kids home or when you can leave them with dad, another family member or a friend.  If that’s not a choice, pick a specific day that is errand day.  Keep all errands to that time and day so that it is an expected part of your rhythm.  Try to never take them out hungry, and also to give them plenty of free play time before you leave for your errands.

Please, do not over schedule your child.  You are not helping anyone by having your child in multiple activities throughout the week.  All you are doing is stressing yourself, and your child.  The best place for a child to learn and be nurtured is at home.  Think about what your motivation is.  Are all the other kids in his school doing it?  Does this other mom you respect think its a good idea?  Are you just looking for some more time alone?  If you add rhythm to the picture, I think that last point will be moot.

rhythm helps behavior

This is my suggestion for a healthy home rhythm.  Depending on how your child comes home from school: is it a bus ride?  Or is it walking with plenty of romping and fun on the way home?

If it is a bus ride, go for some free play right when they get home.  Set a timer, this is to remind you when to rein them in, not as an alarm signalling the end of fun.
At that point guide them to their homework, make it fun, think of ways to encourage them to come to their work space.
Try these things:
Sing their name instead of screaming it.
Ask them to be a certain animal on their way to a special place.
Or be as elaborate as using a little verse to get their attention.  This is one I love:

Dip Dip Dip
My blue ship
Sails along the water
Like a cup and saucer
Dip dip steady:
I am ready!!!

If your child has a fun romp on the way home, I suggest straight to homework, with a snack of course 🙂  And then they can have free play when done, until dinner.

If there is an inordinate amount of homework, please make sure they have some time to play or run before dinner, or dinner may not be as enjoyable as you like.  This goes for both scenarios.  If we need to get back to homework after dinner make the transition gentle so you can preserve that feeling of taking an in breath.

After dinner, keep things quiet and low-key.  The time leading up to bed time should be peaceful and calm.  You may know how I feel about media right now, I say very little, if no screen time before bed, and definitely no video games!  Also, I cannot stress enough the need for a bedtime routine.  This is when we go to bed every night, and this is how we do it.  Whether it’s a bath and a story, some milk and a story, whatever is your ritual.  It should remain the same night after night.  And it should be quiet, not animated. This will help your child sleep, this will comfort your child, this will be the backbone of their childhood.  Of course there are always special situations, just stick to this as closely as you can.

Weekends can be hard, they are hard. So trying to create a weekend rhythm would probably be a great idea.  Look at how your typical day runs now, and see if you can’t make it more predictable.  We always wake up at 7, we have breakfast, we do some chores around the house (please include your child in the chores!  more later on that), we have some play time.  Maybe now we have a snack?  If you need to run short errands on the weekend this might be the time to do it, right after snack and before lunch.  Then consider some sort of structured project for your child, a craft, reading a story (alone or with you), coloring.  Then lunch.  If you need more time to do errands, do them now, after lunch.  No one is hungry, they’ve had a fulfilling and centering morning and will probably behave so much better!  If you can get away with no errands, or certainly not on both Saturday and Sunday, continue some sort of pattern into the afternoon.  I strongly recommend a rest time after lunch, even if it’s just quiet time in their rooms.  I know we haven’t napped in 3 years, but now I read to my son, lying in bed, and gauge how he feels.  Does he seem sleepy?  Do I?  I go from there.  Be the example, we all need a rest sometime during the day.  After rest time, their can be more free play.  Try not to be the “entertainer”.  If your child has trouble playing on his/her own.  Consider taking some favorite toys and setting up a scene.  Then lead your child to that scene, maybe tell a little story about it, and let them run with it.  It may take a couple of tries, but believe me, it works!  Then let’s go for an afternoon snack.  Maybe some more structured activity, or coloring, or here’s an idea!  Helping mom cook!  Prep work, table setting, straightening, working together as a family!  My son loves to make menus.  So we discuss the meal and he draws pictures of the items with check boxes next to them, to distribute at the meal.  And then we come full circle, it’s bed time again!

On weekends we have a family movie night.  I try to stay with something low-key, probably older (60’s-70’s) so it doesn’t have all the flashy animation strobe like effect.  Your choice shouldn’t affect their ability to have a restful night.  Some of my favorites are Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, The Incredible Mr Limpet, The Cat From Outer Space, and Herbie the Love Bug (the original).  At Christmas we often indulge in the old animation/claymation Christmas specials of the 60’s and 70’s as well.  If you have any favorites that fall into these categories I would love to hear about them!

I realize now, that I really only touched the surface.  I would still love to discuss rhythm with a child who is not in school.  And certainly so much more about Waldorf.

Please, do not think that I have a perfect Rhythm in place. In my life, I am constantly growing, changing, improving, and having set backs too.  Parenting is a struggle no matter who you are, I don’t care how perfect you look on the outside.  However, if you try to implement even a little of what I’ve mentioned here, I think you will find things will get a little easier!

Here are some of my favorite Waldorf Sites, I am sure I have forgotten some, but they’ll come up again.  I’d love to hear from you!

  1. The Parenting Passageway
  2. Our Seasons of Joy
  3. Waldorf Essentials
  4. Waldorf Reviews
  5. A Waldorf Journey
  6. Why Waldorf Works
  7. Rhythm of the Home
  8. Christopherus Homeschool Resources
  9. Little Acorn
  10. Simplicity Parenting
  11. The Magic Onions

rhythm affects behavior

How I Refused To Learn My Lesson and We Came Full-Circle

My husband and I always planned to home school.

Even before Isaiah was born it was the plan. So I had plenty of time to decide how we would go about it. I read lots of books, did a ton of research, checked out everything from Unschooling to Classical Schooling to Charlotte Mason. I researched it all.

I liked the idea of unschooling the best. It resonated with me. The freedom to learn about what you loved made sense. If you were passionate about it, it would become a part of you.

Sometime around 3 or 4, I started to be afraid of the idea of unschooling. What would that really look like I wondered. How would I have anytime to myself if Isaiah had no structure? How would I know what to do? Already thinking too much, I decided there was a happy medium and that would be Waldorf. Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Luckily Waldorf kindergarten is basically unschooling, and Waldorf first graders should be 7 or turning 7 the first few months. So we had lots of time to prepare. I became an expert in Waldorf Homeschooling (as much as one can be without schooling). I knew what we should do and was ready to do it. What I wasn’t prepared for was Isaiah not wanting to do it.

Well, I thought, what kid wants to do school? I became part of multiple forums, I queried “What if he doesn’t want to do form drawing?” the response was “You are not asking him, you are telling him. ‘Now we are doing form drawing’.”
“Yes, but what if he won’t do it even when I say that.”
“Then you say, ‘this is what we’re doing now, we can’t do the next thing until we finish this'”

Well, that seemed fine and dandy, but these “experts” did not know my son. I tried that tact and we spent hours in struggle. 2 months into first grade I gave up. I couldn’t spend the whole day sitting on the sofa needle felting while saying “Just let me know when you are ready to start Form Drawing (or whatever) then we can move on.”

A child shouldn’t be so averse to doing something, that he willingly gives up everything that brings him joy to avoid it. 

And so, a third of the way into first grade we began informally unschooling. There was some structure; in the form of me reading to him everyday, him developing an on and off interest in needle-felting, science projects that involved fire, and nature walks. We went to the library often and checked out books on topics that interested him like Thomas Jefferson and The Titanic.

Then the family started asking questions. Why can’t he read, he’s 7 already! Why can’t he do math? I started to become self-conscious and bought the Bob Books and tried to teach him to read. He did not like that.

So we took a break and decided for second grade we would try Waldorf again.

We are one month into second grade. Apparently I have a thick skull and do not learn from past mistakes.

This year was even harder. He is 8 and his beautifully rich mind has also learned more effective ways to show-off his temper.

In my current state of denial I refused to see that what was setting him off was school. Everyday I would say, it’s time to start our day. He would say “NO! I don’t want to do school! I hate school!”

Second grade Waldorf involves learning to read and learning math. It is a little more aggressive, although it allows for the slow learners, but I didn’t believe he was a slow learner. What I believed was he didn’t want to do it.

So we stuck with Form Drawing because I was making it fun. Let’s make this castle turret, do you want it to be a haunted castle? Let’s read this story about the King of Ireland, and draw a wavy line like when he is stuck in the cave.

But eventually, I thought, we needed to get back to the reading. Boy was I in for a surprise. The tantrums got so bad I had to lock myself in my room. I was lost and had no idea where to turn. I didn’t believe him when he said it was the reading. I didn’t want to think that my son didn’t want to read.

And then I remembered where I started. Why was I pushing him? How many times had I read about unschooling? How many times had I seen the success of these kids allowed to work at their own pace on topics they were interested in? What good was forcing him to do anything?!

I reached out to the most brilliant homeschooler I know. Jane from Undogmatic Unschoolers, if you aren’t following her you should be.

She put me at ease, she reminded me that he would read when he was ready,

but if I pushed him, he would never love to read

She said, find some learning apps on the iPad but most of all read read read to him!
Well, that was easy. We were already doing that.

And so. We have come full-circle. We are unschooling again.

In his tantrumus rage, we decided we would call school “playtime” to stop his anger before it started.
The last two evenings he said “Mom! We forgot to do ‘playtime’ today!”
“No sweetie, we didn’t. We read Carry On, Mr Bowditch didn’t we? And The Willoughby’s? You built a ship in the living room with 3 masts and working flags. You colored a ton of sailing ships and we went for a walk everyday. I would say we did plenty of ‘playtime’ ”
And he said, “Mommy, I love you so much. These are the best days ever, I love ‘playtime'”

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It’s Math His Way

IMG_0725I love my boy so much. I love him, but sometimes teaching him is H-A-R-D impossible. The funny thing is, he’s pretty good at math, he just wants to do it his way. So, on the day that we were going to work on Roman Numerals he decided to do it his way.

Sometimes I even let my brains listen through the frustration. This time it was a good thing. We had the mancala beads out to learn odds and evens (we’ll get to that soon) the little dude said “I don’t want to draw Roman Numerals, I’m going to do them like this.”
IMG_0726 IMG_0727 And then when it was time to do the drawings to go with our fable – instead he said, “No I want to draw the story of King Equal.” Well, what was I going to say? No? No sweetie, you can’t draw math stories, it’s fable time now.

Dude you go for it, draw away. “Oh, and mom, can I have the gnomes while I do it?”

“Sure honey, you can have whatever you want.”IMG_0728

Today – Sunshine and Gnomes

I realize I’ve been gone a while, and if you are coming back to say hi I certainly thank you. Our journey has had its share of ups and downs. Our struggles with rhythm, my writing schedule and the boy’s willful nature and sometimes flat-out refusal to do anything that even appears to be learning. I am often met with the sentence “I get your schemes mama, I know what you’re trying to do.”

I have decided to take a step back. To travel at the boy’s pace and at one that I can live with as well as live up to. This is not a race, I will not compare him with other children. We will learn everyday because living is learning.

Today was a good day. I woke up with a headache and dreaded the day. But when I came out to the living room the boy was already teaching himself his odds and evens using the mancala marbles. The gnomes and Sequence were standing guard and The Book Eating Boy was waiting patiently to be read. It was going to be a good day after all.

sunshine and gnomes

This Game Was Made for Waldorf, and You Too!

If ever a game was made for Waldorf it was Enchanted Forest.  I don’t think you could find a game that is more completely Waldorf than this.  The whole Game is based on Grimm’s Fairy Tales.

enchanted forest

This was wonderful, because as a homeschooling mostly Waldorf mom we had read almost all of the Grimm Fairy Tales associated with this game, and the few we hadn’t read we caught up on, to make the game more fun. This is the story of the Enchanted Forest :

“Once upon a time there lived a king, and he dwelt in a splendid castle high above the enchanted forest. His subjects could not have wished for a better king, so wise and benevolent was his rule.

Many years passed and the king, feeling that he was growing old, began to worry about who should rule after him, for he had no children. However, word had often come to him of strange and wonderful treasures which were said to be hidden in the enchanted forest, and these had aroused his curiosity and now filled his heart with longing. He resolved that a search should be made for these remarkable treasures, so that they might be collected at his castle, where everyone might see them and marvel at them. No sooner had he decided on his plan than he sent heralds throughout the land to announce that whoever should find and lead him to the hiding place of three of these marvelous treasures would succeed to his throne.”

As if that wasn’t enough to make you love the game. The treasures are trees, underneath the trees lie an image of a specific fairy tale.  The image under the tree matches a card.  The object is to travel around the board to get a peek under the trees, and then to match the face-up card to the correct tree.  There are many more nuances and rules to the game, knocking people out, moving to special spots with doubles, etc. but that is the gist.  My son and I can play this game for hours.  It is really fun, and really taxes the memory of this old mama!

I would say this game is best played by boys 7 1/2 and up and girls 6 and up.  Isaiah has finally gotten over that stage where if it’s too complicated he doesn’t want to bother.  If your child doesn’t mind complicated, yet simple rules, go ahead and try it!

I get no compensation whatsoever for this by the way! I just loved this game so much and thought it was so Waldorfy, I had to share!  And if you haven’t read the Grimm Fairy Tales this is the perfect way to introduce them.  All of the tales in this game are completely age appropriate and not at all scary!

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Holding the Space

So I never really got it. Melisa Nielsen always said let your kids do … and you be there “holding the space”.  I thought I got what she meant. I thought I got it, but I couldn’t do it.  Be there in the same area as them?  Be somewhere where they know you are?  Maybe I didn’t get it, maybe that’s why I couldn’t do it.

Finally, I believe I have figured it out.  It’s really quite simple.  And truthfully this may be something you need to experience to believe, so if you don’t want to experience it right now, no hard feelings.

This is the deal. I’m a writer/blogger, I also am involved in a family business, help a friend with a budding business, homeschool and completely run my household.  So hearing things like “hold the space” don’t translate to me.  I am figuring, if he’s occupied, I can write, catch up on some blog-love (for those of you non-bloggers that’s reaching out to bloggers you like, commenting on their posts, sharing them, etc), do some tax work, help my friend place some orders.  You know, stuff.  But I noticed that when I did those things while my son was occupied, whatever he was doing became louder, more rambunctious, dare I say more irritating?  I noticed the more I worked on my blog during the day, the worse it got, so I decided to try what I thought a Waldorf homeschooling mama might consider “holding the space”.  Since I do not knit, the two things I did were sit on the sofa and read through our curriculum, planning the weeks ahead and needle felt.  See my post on needle felting here.  Let me say, I don’t really believe in magical thinking, but well, this kind-of worked like magic.

My son doesn’t need my un-divided attention.  That’s not it, because he didn’t have it.  What he did need was something that was not sucking all of the energy out of my body.  Something that was beautiful, calm and peaceful.  I was not in front of a computer.  I didn’t even keep my cell phone by me.  I had a cup of tea, a notebook, some colored pencils (I am obsessed with colored pencils, pens and sharpies) or my felting stuff.  And you know what?  He played calmly.  He stayed focused, and when he was done he started to put things away.  Because what I didn’t mention before is if I did any of those aforementioned activities he would play indefinitely and make a complete mess.  This was different.  I was facing him, although not watching him, he knew when he was ready I would be there.

The boy busily doing his own thing.

The boy busily doing his own thing.

Folks it took me 2 years to figure this piece out.  Maybe I am a really slow learner.  Maybe it wasn’t explained just right.  But you gotta try it.  It’s worth it, and you know what? It strengthens your relationship with your child too.  You are seen as available.  Who wouldn’t want that?

So here’s the short list: Your child is involved in a constructive activity, whether it is self directed school-work, legos, painting, etc.  You, instead of busily occupying yourself to get something done in those few minutes your child is occupied, sit calmly, somewhere nearby. In that place you do something that does not engross you. Some knit, some read, I felt or read up on our curriculum.  DO NOT USE A COMPUTER OR IPAD. I know it’s hard to believe but it makes a difference.  Try it, I think you might be amazed at the results, and if you are already doing it, I would love to hear all about it!

Thank Goodness for Wool and Uggs!

Something I had been missing from our Waldorf days was our morning walks, partly because the weather got cold, and also because we had lost our way… Today was going to be my attempt to bring one more aspect of what I love back to our homeschool day.  (There are more, and I will post about that later.)  Today I decided it was about time we got outside again on a regular basis.  Well, we live not far from Chicago, so you know, it’s not warm here.  Not by a stretch.  Truth be told, I immensely dislike being cold.  Really.  I joke that I get a babysitter just so Isaiah will have someone to go outside with him.

I don’t know exactly what happened.  Maybe something inside of me was whispering, “you need to get outside too” but this morning as I was standing in the backyard with the dogs, I noticed that the air had that really refreshing quality to it.  The wind was blowing in pretty strong gusts, but it was about 30 degrees, so it wasn’t so bad.   It felt a lot like the wind was coming from the lake, which frankly just makes me want to take a deep breath and stay outside.  The sky was pretty gloomy towards the west, but I took only passing notice of it.

I came inside with the dogs, and Isaiah was his regular screaming banshee self.  I had a bit of a headache, so it was hard for me to be tolerant of his rambunctiousness this morning.  I had gently tried to explain that Mommy had a headache, that would last about 5 minutes before he started screaming again.  Now don’t get me wrong, he wasn’t just sitting there screaming, he was a pirate (I think, like I said I had a headache).  He had two swords. a rifle and a pocket-watch and was playing an elaborate imagination game.  Usually I am much more tolerant of this, I mean he was using his imagination, but given the state of my head I needed something to change.  So I said “hey, let’s go for a walk”.  He looked at me like I was crazy, he knows how much I dislike the cold.  “No, I don’t want to.”  Well I know how he operates, so I said OK, and proceeded to make some tea.  Minutes later I had to ask him to settle down again, he said “you know what? let’s go for  a walk.” Bingo!  “Can I bring my sword and my rifle?”  I agreed, anything to get him outside.  We began to really bundle up, no use being uncomfortable, this way we could take a long walk.  He decided he didn’t want to have to carry his sword and rifle, because he was going to take his bike instead.  Well, as long as he bundled up, right?

So, we were prepared to leave, we opened the door.  The minute we stepped outside the flurries started.  “It’s snowing!” Isaiah shouted excitedly.  Yes it was, well what could be nicer than a walk in the snow.  Only, by the time we got a block from our house it looked like this.

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I don’t think I’ve ever been outside, just for fun, when a full-blown blizzard has descended upon our town.  It was pretty cool.  I could have said let’s turn back, but I thought, hey, what’s the worst that can happen?   We’ll get cold?  So we kept on truckin’ Isaiah riding his bike in the deepening snow, and me walking behind him really letting myself enjoy this wonderful example of God’s beauty in nature.  By the time we were about a 1/4 mile from home, I would say visibility was down to about 50ft.  We were at the park, where there is a huge field and running track around the track.  Isaiah was riding ahead of me, and he would get far enough ahead I could barely see him, but knowing there was nowhere for him to go, I just enjoyed.  For me this was a milestone, I didn’t even rush.  In the end, we were gone for about an hour.  By the time we got home, we looked like snowmen ourselves!  We un-bundled, lit a fire in the fireplace, made some hot chocolate and relaxed to some books and a game.  It was such a wonderful way to start our day, to get som of those ants out of his pants, and to help me get re-connected.  I will continue to try and get him outside every morning, and to remind myself how much being outside is good for our souls.

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Next day, after about a foot of snow (and it’s still snowing), Isaiah riding the weighed down Arbor Vitae, like the dragon in “The Land of Long Ago” by Elsa Beskow!

 

Shared this post with Our Seasons of Joy’s Waldorf Wednesday

Learning Math Visually

As a homeschooling mama, one originally rooted in Waldorf, teaching math to a rambunctious visual learner can be daunting.  I began in Waldorf, teaching him the Quality of numbers.

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This was a beautiful idea to me, I enjoyed trying to create a way to touch him with this idea.  Perhaps I should have persisted. Or, perhaps I was correct in knowing that this was not the right way for my boy.

So, we moved on to something more tangible.  I mentioned earlier, that Isaiah is a visual learner.  A very visual learner, and so, I decided to give a program called MathUSee a try.  This turned out to be fairly more successful.  Up until this point,  Isaiah had a great deal of difficulty understanding numbers past 10.  The shear nonsensity of their names made it almost impossible for him to decipher.  Eleven? Twelve?  What do these things mean, he wondered? Even further down the line was the elusive twenty and thirty.  If you let him count un-interrupted he could count to 20 by rote.  However, if you asked him what came after 10? Well that was another story.  Often when rattling off his numbers eleventytwo came after 19.  Because what was 20 anyway?

MathUSee really helped him to understand the “quality” of numbers in a way that was completely comfortable to him.

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Using blocks of different colors, he began to understand the significance of the placement of numbers.  That where a number falls on “decimal street” determines how you say a number.

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The blue bars represent the “10’s” the green blocks represent the “units” or “ones”.  Here he is building the 74.  He is learning that the placement of the 7 is the same as 7 “tens”, the placement of the 4 is the same as 4″units”.

For every number we learn, he is learning the “quality” of that number.  Isaiah started to like math, he began to enjoy “building numbers”.  Of course, every once in a while those blocks became make-shift legos, and math turned into an airfield and landing planes, but that’s OK.  To me that was a sign that he was on over-load and we should come back to it.

Admittedly, MathUSee is not as beautiful as the Waldorf way.  However, I believe now that I have a grasp of MathUSee, I can find a way to blend the two.  Yes it is un-orthodox.  Yet, I still continue to see the beauty in Waldorf every day, and my desire to keep it’s learning style as part of our lives is very strong.  Once I find the best way to reach him, it seems I can back into where we should be with Waldorf.

I read a very inspiring post today by Sheila at Sure as The World.  It was an example of learning the Grade 1: Four Processes.  She has definitely inspired me to go back over my Waldorf curriculum and see how I might link back in the beauty of the story telling to explain the four processes.  Thank you Sheila!  I will let you all know how it goes!