Wet-on-wet painting from Waldorf Today
I have decided I am going to document our homeschool journey on the weekends…a Waldorf Weekends review. We are going to begin our first day of First Grade on September 3rd.
To review exactly where we are starting from, before we embark on academics in a few weeks: Sophia has been as sheltered from reading acquisition as I could realistically manage. That is to say, she will begin this school year being able to write her name and a couple words like ‘mom’ and ‘cat’ which were taught to her by family members before I could intervene! Emotionally and spiritually, she is what main-streamers would classify as “young” or “sheltered” because she lives very much in fantasy still…I am so grateful I have been able to preserve this aspect of herself so completely! Sheltering her from media to such a huge extent and censoring all “adult” type discourse are the reasons for this.
Wet-on-wet painting from Waldorf Today
On the list of First-Grade readiness signs, Sophia has all of them. She has lost many teeth and has her 6-year old molars. She can reach over her head and touch her opposite ear. She definitely went through the six year change (last year). She is emotionally ready to begin academics.
As concerns what I hope to achieve with her this year: By years end I hope to have her reading confidently. I hope to have her quite comfortable with the four mathematical processes. I hope to have completed many fun craft projects. I hope she has a firm rudimentary knowledge of knitting, and I hope she is quite confident with the flute (we will actually be using the penny whistle – more on this later). I also hope she has a confidence in and love for the wet-on-wet watercolor paintings we will do, as well as molding clay and beeswax into little creations.
And as concerns what I hope to achieve for our Waldorf, homeschooling family this year: I hope to shelter Grace from the academics that Sophia is now going to begin. This will be a huge challenge – probably (realistically) a much bigger challenge then teaching Sophia to read and write! Grace is not a very dreamy child to begin with, so it is even more important that I give her the gift of a truly unfettered childhood, without the awareness that too-early academics would bring to her. So, I am creating a special box of activities for Grace to use only when I am working with Sophia. My hope is that I will be able, through organization and good planning, to keep Gracie and Lily playing happily in the playroom or living room while I work on Sophia’s Main Lesson. I will utilize my husband’s schedule when possible, also my sister if she is around, and possibly even our babysitter, if all else fails.
The layout of what we are doing academically this year: This year I will bring a few additional Language Art and Math blocks to Sophia then are in the Waldorf curricula I have seen/own. We will be beginning with one week of form drawing Main Lesson, rather then the typical 2-3 weeks of it. In my planner, I have us scheduled in a 4-day teaching/learning rhythm, but I may change that to a 3-day rhythm. We’ll see what feels more natural.
Example of form drawing, taken from Waldorf Today
As concerns music, we will be using the penny whistle, largely because I cannot justify the $200 I would need to spend on the Choroi pentatonic flute’s. Much as it pains me to say so, with consideration to the fact that the wind instrument is only used until the 3rd grade, I can better use that money elsewhere. Also, Steiner did not specify use of the pentatonic flute, but rather that the young child should use a wind instrument. Believe me, I cringe inside about this issue, but at the end of the day, I had to let the pentatonic flute go.
Also, concerning music, this is the one area that I disagree with Steiner and Waldorf education in general. I believe music education is immensely and disproportionately vital and weighty in the life of the child. I have read enough research on early childhood music education and its affect on math skills, reading, intelligence levels, etc. to be a true believer in the power of music. I have delayed a formalized musical education as long as I can bare, and therefore – Sophia will also be learning the piano this year, despite being far younger then Steiner recommended. However, she will learn it as she will learn to read – from whole to parts. There will be no learning to “read” music, she will learn by ear this year.
Well, I think that’s about it! This completes the preamble to our Waldorf First Grade!
Painting from Waldorf Today