Homeschooling, Waldorf Education and Teens.

Into High School is a nine page online booklet on homeschooling teens with a Waldorf influence.

I really appreciated some of the author’s thoughts – especially :

I have come to believe that it is
more than okay for siblings
to be best friends.

I have come to believe that it is
more than okay for parents
to enjoy their teen-aged children.

My kids really are friends. Yes, they fight and get annoyed with each other. But because they also spend a lot of time together, they share an intimacy – familiar jokes, shared memories and experiences.

An example. Last week, I printed off a discrete maths activity for Thomas and Anny to try. A spider web mapping game, from Mathwire. When I was upstairs getting changed out of workout gear, I heard them laughing and having fun with the game – really getting into it. I smiled.Friends and brothers.

And this smile leads me into my enjoyment of my kids – the boys (and my dh) are some of my coolest friends. We like the same movies. We share books. We laugh and talk – and even when I am in lecture mode , we get along.

Like tonight, when, at our parish Advent programme, I told Jonathon to sit up straight. His posture need remediation. 🙂 He gave me a wry smile and I passed him a note with a funny comment. We both smiled. We understand each other ( well, most of the time).

The online booklet, “Into High School”, shares many other gems.

* It was as important to be spontaneous as it was to be prepared.
* It was essential to remain flexible.
* It was imperative to keep talking.
* It was even more imperative to keep our sense of humor intact.

Why mention only these points? What about curriculum and academics?

Yes these are important, too. I am not one to downgrade academic skills – a passion for learning is one of the things that drove me into homeschooling and unschooling.

Successful learning, however, always starts with relating to the student as a person. I have found this to be of even more importance when learning and living with teens.

Once our relationship is established, and worked on as an ongoing commitment, then comes academics. “Into High School” has suggestions here.

Our own suggestions?

Currently ~ living books; real, whole books by authors passionate about a topic. Some judicious use of textbooks. Religious books. Biographies of saints. Hands on Science and Art. Projects. Community work. Involvement in groups, homeschool or other. Lots of writing. Maths activities. Using the internet and the library. Movies. Open University. Life. Faith.

Living books? For Thomas this week, it is ” Ivanhoe” by Sir Walter Scott.
Thomas was reading this book yesterday, while we were at the surgery of his orthopedic surgeon.

The surgeon looked at the book and said “Oh, they are making you read Ivanhoe, are they? I could never get into it at school”.

Presumably “they” was a reference to teachers – or, in this case, to Thomas’ homeschooling parents.

Thomas looked surprised. No-one is making him read “Ivanhoe.”

He said “No, I just like Sir Walter Scott and the whole knights scene.”

This is how living books presently work in the education of a thirteen year old boy.


A mother’s role.

Each day, I aim to have a small segment of time for prayer and for some spiritual or theology related reading.

When the kids were little, this segment of time was usually just before bed. Now, I sneak in this time first thing in the morning, before working out.

The last few weeks, I have been reading the encyclical Laborem exercens. Pope John Paul II. On work and the dignity of work.

Part of yesterday’s reading focused on the role of a mother.

” Experience confirms that there must be a social re-evaluation of the mother’s role, of the toil connected with it, and of the need that children have for care, love and affection in order that they may develop into responsible, morally and religiously mature and psychologically stable persons. It will redound to the credit of society to make it possible for a mother-without inhibiting her freedom, without psychological or practical discrimination, and without penalizing her as compared with other women-to devote herself to taking care of her children and educating them in accordance with their needs, which vary with age. Having to abandon these tasks in order to take up paid work outside the home is wrong from the point of view of the good of society and of the family when it contradicts or hinders these primary goals of the mission of a mother.

In this context it should be emphasized that, on a more general level, the whole labour process must be organized and adapted in such a way as to respect the requirements of the person and his or her forms of life, above all life in the home, taking into account the individual’s age and sex. It is a fact that in many societies women work in nearly every sector of life. But it is fitting that they should be able to fulfil their tasks in accordance with their own nature, without being discriminated against and without being excluded from jobs for which they are capable, but also without lack of respect for their family aspirations and for their specific role in contributing, together with men, to the good of society. The true advancement of women requires that labour should be structured in such a way that women do not have to pay for their advancement by abandoning what is specific to them and at the expense of the family, in which women as mothers have an irreplaceable role. “

I have placed the last sentence in bold as I think it is something that is often forgotten – even by we women .


The Loveliness of Advent

Jenn will be hosting the next Loveliness Fair ~ The Loveliness of Advent. The Fair will be ready for visitors on November 29 .

This week, we finalized some of our Advent preparations.

You may recall, that at the start of this “school” term, in October, we planned some ideas for the term. These plans included an internet search for more Advent ideas.

I pulled some of the ideas together during the week.

On Thursday, we made an Advent wreath, stealing the ideas from the blog O Night Divine.

Our other Advent wreath was made ten years ago – and the current four children homeschooling were nearly 1, 3, 5, and 7 then. So, it was a craft mostly compiled by the then older three homeschoolers ( now homeschool graduates).

I thought a new Advent wreath was overdue.

We adapted the idea from the blog above and spray painted our wreath, adding greenery and fake poinsettia and small pine cone shaped tea candles.

Here is a simple Advent Wreath paper craft to try.

Our Advent preparations this week also included our Advent calendar. We have two.

Each year, we purchase a Cadbury Co. chocolate Advent calender – very commercial of us, I know, but it is something we’ve done since our oldest son was a preschooler. He is now in his 20s! We all look forward to the calendar and the chocolate. You can see the Cadbury calendar above.

Then, we also usually make some sort of Advent calendar. Or calendar of Advent ideas.

This year, we are using a cloth calendar that I bought on sale from a Christmas shop at the close of the last Christmas season . Similar to the one in the picture.

Thomas typed and printed a list of activities, which we cut and folded and placed in the appropriate pockets. I added a few sweets to the pockets, here and there.

This is Thomas’ list ~

6th Feast of Saint Nicholas make Christmas cookies

13th Feast of Saint Lucy make Saint Lucy’s crown

4th feast of Saint Barbara check the weather

16th Begin Xmas Novena

Make and mail Christmas cards

Do something nice for another family member today

Sing Christmas carols

Sing Christmas carols

Sing Christmas carols

2,3,9,10 cat Christmas photos

Christmas photo

Put up Christmas tree

8th Immaculate conception

Walk or drive to see the Christmas lights

Visit Christmas In the city

Christmas Advent crafts

Christmas Advent crafts

Christmas Advent crafts

Christmas Advent crafts

Read Christmas books

Listen to Christmas music

Read Christmas story from the bible

Make Christmas cake

Do Christmas shopping

Make Christmas food

3rd first Sunday of advent

10th second Sunday in advent

17th third Sunday in advent

24th fourth Sunday in advent

Other years, we have made Advent coloured paper chains and simple home made Advent calendars.

So, what do we plan to do during Advent?

~ Everyone is choosing a spiritual/theological book to read during Advent. The kids typically choose a biography of a saint. I used to read aloud these books to the little ones.
~We will choose our “Advent penances.”
~ Each week, we will click on one of the dates of that week on this online Advent activity calendar. We will follow the suggestions for reading, Bible readings, activities and even Christmas movies! It would be awesome to do this daily, but impractical given our schedules. A weekly Advent morning suits us fine.
~We will re-assemble our basket and box of Christmas and Advent books and movies. We have been judiciously collecting these over the years.
~I have already strewed an old Abeka literature text, one with a section of Christmas stories – including Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol.”
~We were thinking of making cards this year (didn’t last year, either) – but got a good deal on religious cards at the piety stall at church. Who can resist?
~ We are planning our Christmas shopping lists – thinking ahead of how to share the joy via gifts and food.
~ We might try our hand at these Christmas tree ornaments from recycled Christmas cards. We might give the holiday biscotti recipe a whirl. It all depends on the time factor.
~ And we are making a gingerbread house – with a kit! Sorry, but this seems so much more positive and likely to succeed than making everything from scratch. Last year, we made mock gingerbread houses, with milk coffee biscuits – see these directions. The directions call for graham crackers. I have no idea what graham crackers are – as I said, we used Aussie/English milk coffee biscuits.
~ I have invited a few other Catholic homeschoolers over during Advent. We will pray the Rosary and Father will give us an Advent Blessing. We plan to follow this with morning tea/lunch.
~ During Advent, we will be finishing off our term activity – homemade books – Alexander is completing his mini book of three essays, Thomas is almost done with writing his cookbook and Anthony has a chapter to go on his world history of an imaginary land. Jonathon will start and complete a small book of some of his artwork or writing from this year.
~ Oh, and some of us will be attending the Advent programme at our parish – starts this Wednesday.

Here’s wishing all a Happy and Busy Advent!

“It might be easy to run away to a monastery, away from the commercialization, the hectic hustle, the demanding family responsibilities of Christmas-time. Then we would have a holy Christmas. But we would forget the lesson of the Incarnation, of the enfleshing of God—the lesson that we who are followers of Jesus do not run from the secular; rather we try to transform it. It is our mission to make holy the secular aspects of Christmas just as the early Christians baptized the Christmas tree. And we do this by being holy people—kind, patient, generous, loving, laughing people—no matter how maddening is the Christmas rush…” Fr. Andrew Greeley



Today at Homeschool Group Learning, the theme was knitting and crochet.

I am not adept at these things ( surprise, surprise!) . I do, however, know a few Waldorf education inspired wool crafts for children.

So, I taught a few young children how to
finger knit. This site also shares a simple story and verses related to finger knitting. And some easy projects.

We graduated to basic knitting with coloured pencils, in lieu of knitting needles. Felt very rustic.

And if you are very adventurous you and the children can even make your own knitting needles.

Thomas and Anthony made poms poms. Wouldn’t they look good as Christmas tree ornaments, in the Christmas colours above?

Alexander undertook a project in French knitting. Yes, knitting. I know what you are thinking. 🙂

What did we learn while knitting?

Apart from hand eye co-ordination and creativity, we learned to be at peace.

There is something very restful about the rhythmic flow of finger knitting, for example – and about the conversations that flow when adults and children sit together to undertake a simple, quiet craft.

A teacher reflects on knitting with her sixth grade class.

Lessons learned. Personal reflections. Poignant.

A taste – “Last night three of our students and their mother were murdered. Five weeks ago, another sixth grade student was killed by gunfire. We are all in a state of shock. So in art today, I gave the kids the choice between knitting
and doing free drawing as a way to express feelings. Although a few said
they wanted to draw in their sketchbooks, none of them did. They all
knitted. Interesting. I knit when I’m upset or stressed, as a therapeutic
activity. It seems they are making the same choice. We talked about how
knitting could be healing and soothing (once you know what you’re doing
). “


JP2 and education

From the encyclical Laborem exercens.

“The organization of human life in accordance with the many possibilities of labour should be matched by a suitable system of instruction and education, aimed first of all at developing mature human beings but also aimed at preparing people specifically for assuming to good advantage an appropriate place in the vast and socially differentiated world of work. “

My emphasis above.

But I like the idea.


Crown cake

We have a busy weekend planned – but I hope to find time to make a Crown Cake, in order to celebrate Sunday’s Feast of Christ the King.

Christ is King . You can check out the readings for Sunday here.

Maybe we can make the cake on Saturday evening? I know Thomas will want to bake.

One recipe for a Crown Cake.

And this is a Cinnamon Crown cake.

For a more complicated but delicious sounding recipe try here.

We’ll probably keep it simple ( you know me). But I think baking and eating are fun ways to remember the Feast of Christ the King.

I’ll have to watch my calories, though!

And what if the kids don’t want to participate?

Well, tough! ( Oh, dear, I sound mean. But its said with a smile – does that count?)

As I wrote on an email list, recently, there are things in our family life which are non-negotiables. We consider the child, we change and adapt things and change and adapt ourselves but, ultimately, some areas are family concerns. Must dos.

I admit that sometimes my kids don’t want to do something – not discuss the movie or do the maths activity or the project. Sometimes this is okay – we’ll leave the project.

But, sometimes, no is not an option here – we can tweak things to suit the child but something needs to be done or participated in.

Why? Well, this doesn’t sound unschooly but
a) we need some sort of proof of learning for our portfolios for the state

b) I know that often my kids ( one kid in particular) are reluctant about something but, with a gentle push and time, will end up getting into the project/book/whatever. Will like it.

c) Dh and I just think the activity is important .We can see the bigger picture. We try to communciate the bigger picture. Our vision.

Certainly, I have to remember that its not all about me or about my desire to have a super looking home and homeschool with darling looking home school children. 🙂

My children are darlings – but each in their own way!

Similarly, as it is not all about me, it is not always all about the kids.

We are a family so we have to consider each other – come for a walk simply because mum asked you to and mum really wants to, watch a movie with younger brothers, participate in a family tradition even if you think its corny – simply For the Family’s Sake.


Grab Bags or Lucky Dips.

Meredith has shared her Grab Bag day in homeschooling – a super alternative to checklists in the homeschool.

Cay has shared her simple version of Grab Bag Day, for Advent.

I have been inspired.

Grab Bags remind me of Lucky Dips – you never know what you may receive.

This evening, after Mass and Youth Group supper, I have made a Lucky Dip bag for the week – a busy week for me work wise and so a good week for a Lucky Dip/Grab Bag for Anthony and Thomas.

Some of our Lucky Dip activities –

Do Maths and Kumon

Work on books project

French or Latin


Type a bio of one of the November saints and include a pic.

Music practice

Don’t forget your chores!

Make Advent wreath

What are your goals? Pick one to work towards this week.

Your reading – what are you reading this week?


Cooking – try a new recipe or make an old favourite

Sort through the toy cupboard and toy boxes until you find an old toy or game that seems new. Have a game!

Your Lucky Dip choice…..

I’ll let you know how it goes….



The Tucker Bunch are hosting a sharing of meatless recipes. I think they are calling this Meatless Fridays.

Its not Friday today. And we may eat meat on Friday – or not.

We do, however, often eat vegetarian and I was vegetarian as a younger mum in my 20s.

So, here a couple of our fave meatless recipes.

Impossible Vegetable Quiche

Thomas and Anthony enjoy making this on their cooking nights. Yummy with jacket potatoes or bread rolls and salad.It is called “impossible” since it ( supposedly) makes it own crust.

6 eggs
2 cups low fat milk
1 1/2 cups low fat cheese, grated
1 onion, chopped
1 cup chopped vegetables ( your choice – corn, zucchini, peas, broccoli, mushrooms, tomato, capsicum or a mixture thereof)
1 cup wholemeal self raising flour

Beat everything together. Pour into a quiche dish that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray. Bake in a moderately hot oven ( 200 degrees Celsius) for 35 – 40 minutes.

You can substitute tinned tuna for some or all of the vegetables – but most of my kids hate tuna!

Cashew Kapow

Potato – 500g or 1 lb, sliced or diced
Peas and/or Beans – 1 cup
Dessicated Coconut – 3 teaspoons
Cashew nuts – 1/2 – 1 cup
Chilli powder – 1/2 teaspoon
Salt to Taste
Pinch turmeric
Chopped garlic and onion to taste
Curry powder – 1/2 – 1 tablespoon

Cut the potatoes, mix them with a pinch of turmeric and salt. Lightly coat a pan with oil or cooking spray, when it is hot put in the potatoes, fry them till golden brown. Then add onion, chilli powder, curry powder, fry them till they turn golden brown, add garlic , salt to taste, peas, beans and mix them well. Saute them for 1 minute then add the cashews and coconut. Add 1/2 cup hot water. Close the lid and cook them till the vegetables are done. Serve with hot brown or basmati rice. Gorgeous!