Waldorf 1st Grade (Year In Review)


Our first year of academics has come to a close. 

When we began the journey last September, I wondered what it would feel like to be in this moment (June), looking backwards.  And it turned out to be a wonderful year despite the upheaval of moving to a new state, resettling, etc. 

I stopped writing weekly school updates on here as our move approached, and I never picked back up afterwards.   However, we carried on with our school work, coming to completion in June.  We primarily used the Christopherus’s 1st Grade curriculum package, although I incorporated many sources and resources as well.  Christopherus did not provide enough material to complete the school year, so I did end up having to improvise after about March.  Christopherus was a great curriculum, and very flexible.  As far as my concluding feelings on it, here in June: for those just wanting a little guidance into a Waldorf first grade, it provided a flexible framework. And for folks looking for more structure, that was potentially in there too.  It was a very adjustable curriculm.

Sophia began the year lacking essentially any formal academics and I continue to be so thankful she had seven years to be fully in child prescence before we brought in the adult world/awareness which academics bring.  She quickly ate up and absorbed the alphabet stories, drawings, the main lesson books, the math stories, form drawing, music, etc.  It was a joy to see her sink into the work.  She is leaving this First Grade experience with a thorough introduction to the four mathematical processes, a firm grasp of the sounds of the alphabet letters, knowing many word families, and a love of painting with water colors, the flute, and having completed all the forms in Mrs. M’s form drawing book. 

An aside on the flute: at the beginning of the school year, we had made the decision to forgoe using the pentatonic flute in favor of the penny whistle because of the rather exorbitant cost of purchasing two pentantonic flutes.  We used Jodie Mesler’s program. 

Well, this is my one regret. We should have accepted the cost and gone with the pentantonic flutes and David Darcy’s program.  (Nothing against Jodie Mesler, but her program is intended for the penny whistle, and while it is possible to convert the fingering for use with the pentantonic flute, it would be simpler just to use a program specifically designed for the pentantonic flute.) The penny whistle is scratchy and unpleasant sounding, and not just when Sophia plays it, but even when I do – with bigger fingers and more deliberate finger placement. It never holds notes pleasantly.  I had others play it also, and I never felt it was smooth to listen to.  And of course a large part of the reason that the pentantonic flute is the instrument of choice in many Waldorf schools is because it never makes a bad sounding note.  It is pleasing and soothing to the spirit.  It is an extenuation of the child’s inner being expressed in sound vibrations. 

So this is the one caveat I have with our school year.  We should never have wasted time/money/effort with the penny whistle.  There is a solid reason (in my experience) to invest in the pentantonic flute. 

We do not intend to do formal schooling during the summer, but rather, let the spirit of Summer’s freedom and levity be in charge.  However, Mrs. M (via her yahoo Waldorf group) recently posted ideas for creating a math board game in partnership with the school-aged child, and it sounded so fun and detailed that we might try putting a board game together as well.  I have been reading lots of old books to the girls (Betsy and Billy and Molly in the Middle and A Bear Called Paddington and Indian Mound Farm ).  These are old books, with simple pleasant stories about children playing outside, being with family, etc. which mimics our own life. 

This fall we will begin Second Grade, and I will use an assortment of resources, this time including that dreaded foe of Waldorf, Oak Meadow.  I will not be writing weekly reviews, as its going to be too much commitment what with the farmers markets and farming and what not, but I am very excited for our second year to begin.  Sophia is in a very good place…we all are…and I expect this next year to be as exciting as the one before. 

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