Summer Solstice

We are developing a seasonal yearly rhythm. orangefairy
Midsummer Fairy in the apricot tree

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A Waldorf daily and yearly rhythm are based around cycles of breathing in and breathing out. In Sufism we call this contraction/qabd and expansion/bast.

The whole of reality breathes in and out. 

In ancient times human beings were innately connected to the cycles of the Earth and the expanding universe. In the contemporary world however we are totally out of touch. We cannot even see the stars anymore because of pollution. Electricity has extended the day well into the night, we no longer follow the cycles of the moon or sun. Disconnected from the natural/created world we are also disconnected from our Source.

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When we bring our attention back to the natural world we increase in reverence for the Divine Reality that we Muslims call Allah/God. 

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Islam has always been a faith that pays attention to the cycles of the natural world. The Muslim calendar is a lunar calendar, our festivals are heralded by the sighting of the moon, we pray according to the position of the sun. So it seems like a natural extension of this to pay attention to the cycles of the seasons, to the longest and shortest day, to the tides. Giving attention to something is not the same thing as worshipping it as an individual entity. On the contrary paying attention to rhythm and cycles is a way of honouring the interconnectivity of everything. What Islam does is simply bring this multiplicity and interconnectivity and living-ness back to a Single Source.

I hadn’t organised anything for the Solstice so what we ended up doing was a kind of on the spot happening.
We gathered together some things orange and yellow, we made chalk drawings, we took Midsummer Fairy to a lovely spot in the apricot tree, we ate some oranges while basking in the sun and we felt ourselves radiating with the Summer energy. We recited a surah/verse that begins

‘Allah there is no God but He, the Living, the Self-Subsisting, Eternal’

We also recited the following poem.

‘The radiant beauty of the world
Compels my inmost soul to free
God-given powers of my nature
That they may soar into the cosmos,
To take wing from myself
In cosmic light and cosmic warmth.’

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October 2015 – weekly update – example

 

I have two boys who don’t want to write. At all.

Two boys who have no interest in presenting their work beautifully.

I realise this is fairly standard for young boys but it’s something I find frustrating since my personality is the complete opposite and as a child I loved making projects look beautiful, presentation was really important to me.

Encouraging my boys to write is a real challenge but at least with this method the writing is also part of an overall creative package. Every day involves colour and drawings.
Whenever we do some writing I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot!

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H1  – wrote a story, the real story was far more realised and imaginative than the story that made it to script. He does not want to elaborate or use descriptive language if it means needing to transcribe it into letters. But the simple fact of something making it to paper is encouraging. I don’t correct their work in their books but make a note of spelling mistakes and we go over those words later. I have purchased some basic cursive workbooks so we can work on handwriting.

We are still working through the unit on Ancient Indian civilisation. Today we talked about some key concepts in Hinduism comparing them to our Islamic perspectives on the same thing. With our study of comparative religion I really want to emphasise the similarities between faiths but sometimes the differences are also food for conversation. H1 was really interested in the caste system and we watched a short Youtube documentary about the Untouchables/Dalits.

M – We made flat bread yesterday, we have just finished a unit on the Ancient Hebrews and now we have moved on to the Phoenicians. Because the children are half Lebanese I explained that the Phoenician civilisation was actually in what is now Lebanon.

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We are still reading aloud from Little House in the Big Woods. I’m going to approach colonialist attitudes as they come up and use them as reasons to discuss racism and indigenous issues comparing the North American situation to our own reality in Australia.

H  – loved it when we made bread, it struck me just how perfect these activities are for her age group. Initially we were working from the Gr 1 curriculum because I wasn’t sure how things matched to an Australian Prep but we have moved back to the Kindergarten book and it’s a much better fit. She doesn’t enjoy the stories in the Oak Meadow fairy tales book though so I am trying to find other stories to read to her. Today we read about a Fairy called Faith who couldn’t sleep for the letter F and we did some watercolour painting. Hana knows most of her letters already but I think the slow, rhythmical pace of the syllabus is really important. When she wants to she brings me the ‘Teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons’ book and we do a lesson but I am not pushing it so we aren’t Waldorf purists – Waldorf Semi-Unschoolers – Flexible – Eclectic – I don’t know.

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She also spent time playing in the garden and we skipped to the end of her book and found the Spring science lessons since season wise we are in the Southern Hemisphere. We read a story about a germinating seed and next week hopefully we will plant some things ourselves.

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H and I today made a small painting for our Spring Nature Table which hopefully I will have finished before Summer 😉

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Orange peel and kangaroo skeletons

photo 1-7Instead of despairing over orange peel and mounds of clean laundry all over the floor and the half jar of honey that I found tipped over my tea selection this morning, I decided to head off in the sun to a lovely nearby park.

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Just over a month ago during a visit here the children found a kangaroo skeleton and they were keen to look for it again. We walked for a while and found the remnants.
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And then we came across a little echidna off for a morning stroll. When we got close it curled up into a tiny ball and pretended to be a bush. We took a photograph and then we left it to continue on its merry way.
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After a play in the playground we drove down to the marvellous old bluestone farmhouse and cottage gardens. This is my favourite place to visit in our surrounding area. The sky was full of birdsong, we saw red parrots, white cockatoo’s and carefully avoided the nesting magpies. The air was thick with the fragrance of the garden flowers.
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We watched the ducks swimming on the dam and we ate oranges and then it was time to come home.

It doesn’t take much to revive a sense of spirit , as someone who had a country childhood in one of the most beautiful places in the world, I do struggle sometimes with our suburban existence. My body craves the natural environment, my soul needs beauty. And fortunately it is there to be found without much effort.

World War One Diorama

H1 said he wanted to learn about the First World War. I have to admit I really struggle with his interest in wars and weapons but I’ve realised his fascination with competition is simply innate. Superficially reading the Waldorf curriculum I have noticed that it comes up with developmentally appropriate means of stimulating this fascination with conflict and I hope we can pursue some of the themes relevant to his age group later on. For the time being I went with his suggestion and we started to investigate the causes of the war.

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I find that whilst he is really happy to discuss things for quite some time, there is a real resistance to doing anything like compiling points or lists or any of the methods we usually use to retain information yet I think pushing such forced academics would be really counter-productive. It makes me realise just how regimented we have been taught to be with our learning.

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The main point I think H1 took away about the war was how it escalated from a series of events impacting only a couple of countries into something impacting a good proportion of the world.

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