Monday, October 20, 2014

First Math Block of Second Grade

We started our first math block of second grade at the beginning of October.  During this block we will cover even and odd numbers, roman numerals (because we skipped them last year) and a general review of the four processes. 

We started the block off with roman numerals.  I introduced them in a circle (day one I-V, day two VI - X) through a simple story about children counting apple trees in orchards. As I told the story, we used toothpicks to create the roman numerals and then added the jewels and number cards to further reinforce the meaning of each roam numeral.

At the table, my son created a list of all the roman numerals with all the equal identifiers.  We included number words in this because my son has a tendancy to not recognize the words at sight, with the exception of a few, so we added them in for practice.  Then, he wanted to do his daily situational problems with roman numerals instead of arabic, so I said go for it!  So fun!

The next week we focused on even and odd numbers.  We had two knights on the table who could only keep bags of treasure if it could be equally shared.  My son would count the total in each pile, divide them between the two knights and depending on the answer would write the total under even or odd in his main lesson book.  Each day we used a different "treasure".

At the end of each lesson, he circled the even numbers on a hundreds chart.  I actually wish I had used a 0-99 chart because the placement of the tens in a hundreds chart isn't in the correct place, but I digress.  I brought this to him in hopes that he would see the pattern of even numbers on his own, which he did by the third day. 

 These last two weeks of the month will be deticated to reviewing roman numerals, even and odd numbers and reviewing the four processes.  We will do this through situational stories that are then transfered to the main lesson book. Today we used our knights again and gave them jewels to share and add together.  My son also expanded roman numerals to show how they are really all just addition and subtraction. He figured this out on his own and used his main lesson book to illustrate while he was explaining his findings to me.

Expanding our situational problems.  We did whole to parts last year, and have switched this year.

We have had a lot of fun with this block, and I'll be honest saying that I was a bit worried about it.  Last year we used mostly JUMP math workbooks, which my son still loves and will do a page or two each day, and this is the first time we have done math with a more waldorf feel to it.  I have been pleasently surprised at how he has really taken to the way things are brought to him and I think he has much better retention this way than with the worksheets. 

Next blog post I will share some of the simple stories we use for our situational problems.



Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Praying to the Angels

I haven't ever been big on prayer.

We weren't a religious family growing up.  We are Catholics, did the whole Sunday school thing because that is what you did as a catholic kid, but rarely went to church on Sundays. Our Sunday school was actually on Saturday mornings, which made Sundays a non-issue.  Maybe that was the beginning of the end.  They did get smart though, and now Sunday school is back on Sundays.

I digress.

My point, we were what I like to call convenient Catholics.  Did it when we needed to, ignored it when we didn't.

Now this doesn't mean my family wasn't/isn't spiritual.  My mom read to me from the bible, we were taught that Christmas and Easter were about Jesus and not a big guy or a bunny.  We were encouraged to believe in god.  We just didn't do the whole church thing.

As I became older and the church became more separated from the spirituality, I became more spiritual.  When in times of struggle, I found myself calling upon spirits to help guide my decisions.  It was a knee jerk reaction, often done in a pleading and aggressive nature, but the underlying truth is that I did believe there was something out there that moving the pieces of the puzzle.

Since I've become a parent, I've relied on my spirituality in a different way.

My oldest has always talked about angles.  I don't know if he saw them when he was a baby, heard someone say something about them, or just learned about their existence through the stories that have been read to him, but he has always described a connection to them.

It was when our family dog died three years ago that angels really became a strong part of his beliefs.  He believed that our beloved Abbey was now his guardian angel.  His exact words were, "Now that Abbey is an angel, my angel can go keep another child safe.  Abbey will protect me."

 A year later, as I was drowning in Waldorf research, about to start my journey in to this wonderful life and education style, I came across many references to angels.  Namely praying to your child's guardian angel for help and guidance.

This is a practice I have started myself.  It is often the side of Steiner that people begin to feel uncomfortable with.  He had some pretty distinct thoughts on spirituality.  And it isn't for everyone.  Like everything I do, I take what I like and leave the rest (in case you missed it, I have issues, check out number three here ), and that probably won't ever change.

Praying to my children's guardian angels isn't so much a practice of looking for answers.  It is more a practice of looking to my heart for the right path to take.  A way to slow down, not jump in to a quick solution because I feel a solution needs to be found.

It is taking a moment of calm.  Taking a breath instead of continuing to talk.  A way for me to reflect and not react.  A time to let it sleep.  

In other words, it helps me to make better decisions instead of decisions in the heat of the moment.  Something that I work on on a daily basis.  And don't we as parents do that often?  We do or say something when we are frustrated or angry and then regret and worry and stress over it, wondering what damage we've done and how to repair it.  Taking a moment to say "I need to stop.  I can't make decisions right now," and then to listen to where your heart takes you once you have calmed down is not only a healthier option for us, it is a better thing for our children to see.

And anything that gets me to stop and breathe is something that is going to benefit everyone in my family.

 Try it out and see where it takes you!


Friday, October 3, 2014

A Wish I Wish for My Children


I think a lot about what type of adults my children will grow to become.  How what I do influences them and shapes them and all the choices they will make as they travel that bumpy, exhilarating, confusing and amazing road to adulthood (the road doesn't get much better after that, but I digress).

I wish every night that I help them navigate that road by being a good example.

Not so they'll be "good" adults.  But so they'll be good people. 

Here are six things I consciously try to model each and every day.  I am by no means successful every day, but I hope they notice these little acts of what I feel should be a minimum of human behaviour when I display them, and hope they grow to understand why I feel they are so important.

1.  Kindness.   Always kindness.  Two wrongs don't make a right.  If someone is being rude or hurtful, ask if they need help, ask if they meant something different, and if these are not options, don't engage.  Step away.  We never know what someone else is going through and to throw more negativity toward what might already be a bad situation isn't ever going to help.

2.  Share joy.  Living in a city, we tend to walk around in our self absorbed bubble, where we go through our day just to get through to the other side.  Many of us don't even realize how negative we've become!  But sometimes, the smallest of things can turn a person's day around and remind them that while we are in a city, we are really all just part of the village.  Smiling at someone you pass on the street, holding a door open, asking someone struggling if they need help, these are all acts that show not everyone lives in the bubble, and maybe, if we are really lucky, they might even pay it forward.

3.  Take stock.  Remember what you have, before you focus on what you want. It doesn't matter what it is you want, before you covet, count your blessings.

4.  You are enough.  That's all I have to say about that.

5.  It is okay to fail.  Get up, dust off, apologize if necessary, and try again.  Always try again.  

6. When offered gum, accept.  Always.  It might be a hint, it might just be a piece of gum.  Either way, better safe than sorry. Okay, so this might not be an act of humanity exactly, but it brings up a good discussion.  Sometimes people go about things through the rear door instead of blasting through the front.  Instead of hitting the nail on the head, they coax it in, maybe they pre-drill, or maybe they worry the force of the hammer will break the nail.  What ever their reason, listen to people. Look for the message between the lines.  Judge lightly.  Know they mean to help.  And accept help graciously.

And take that piece of gum.  Really, just do it.