Some More Straight Talk About Waldorf Homeschooling of First Grade

(You can read the comments below, but I thought I would re-print one of my replies to the comments here for clarity with some questions that came up:

Foreign languages typically are introduced in Waldorf Kindy solely through puppetry, songs, verses. In my area at the local school they introduce German and Spanish, and I could find resources for that in my area. First Grade is kind of a continuation of that, I will try to find the post on this blog about foreign languages for you…..As far as math, we moved pretty aggressively which you don’t really need to do unless your child is moving along, but yes, all four math processes are introduced. Keep in mind this is with counters, objects, bodily movements such as oneTWO(stomp)threeFOUR(stomp)fiveSIX(stomp) for example to start learning the two’s table through skip counting and then moving into whole to parts 2=1 X2, 4=2 X 2. At some point I will do a review of the math books out there, but Ron Jarman’s, while it moves too fast for some folks, at least does have a list of goals for each grade in it, which I found to be helpful.
Also, we did do sight words because my daughter had already taught herself to read, but I think Donna Simmons says that normally comes in in second grade.
The joy of homeschooling though, is that you can go at your child’s pace and also to see how satisfied they are with the curriculum even if they are ahead or behind here or there.
Waldorf homeschooling is a wonderful adventure!)

 

On to the post:

I make up our own curriculum, so this is based off of what we did this year, but it may give you some idea of our particular scope and sequence and you could modify it for your own children and use:

Language Arts

First Block – Letters A-J with phonetic sounds, alliterative oral phrases, thinking of all words that begin with one letter and writing those down, rhyming words,  and writing of phrases through fairy tales.  Start reading what your child writes, help them follow left to right with their finger for visual tracking if they need it, read the sentence and cover a word up and have them fill in the blank.  Practice!  Use sentences and look at not only the phonetic sounds, but sight words (usually this comes more into consciousness in the second grade than first, but my child was already reading).  You can write the sight words on the board in a separate list if you need to!  Waldorf is a whole language approach to reading so look at both phonetic sounds and sight words and the whole sentence!

Second Block – Letters K-S as above through fairy tales

Third Block – Letters S-Z, vowels, starting with writing of familiar phrases, songs, verses moving into writing longer sentences for different fairy tales involving capitalization, punctuation, contractions.

What I would do differently: I probably would introduce just the letters Steiner indicated in his writings and go into more writing quicker.  Steiner did not say to introduce each letter with a separate story!  My child was a  fluent reader before we started first grade and not surprisingly hated writing (well, copying but she did a lot of writing of poems and stories on her own time), so we went easy on the “required”  writing for much of the year.  I recently went back through a bunch of our schoolroom papers though and found a large number of poems and stories my child had created “outside of” school, so if you have a child like that you may not have to be so worried about the writing.  If your child is reluctant to write, it is important to look at the age of your child (hopefully they are seven for this grade), their gross and fine motor skills and then look at how much you should require.

Essential Resources: A copy of the Grimm Fairy Tales or other fairy tales from around the world that you would like to use.  I also found Donna Simmons’ First Grade Syllabus and her Living Language book to be of help for gauging where we were.  The other thing to  remember is that the letters are being taught through art, so you will need to know how to use block crayons, how to model, all those things.   Sigi’s block drawing book is a must, and Melisa Nielsen now has a DVD of Sigi drawing through her book available for sale.   Drama is another fun way to bring the fairy tales to life.

Math

First Block (6 weeks) – Quality of Numbers 1-12 (I think most Waldorf teachers do numbers 1-10 only) through fairy tales, Roman Numerals 1-12, introduction of all four math processes through our friends the math gnomes.

Second Block – Used work with concrete objects and whole body movement to explore addition and subtraction facts up to 20, division, multiplication tables of 2s, 5s, 10s, skip counting, counting to 100 forward and backward.

Third Block – Worked on same as second block, moving into  working with addition and subtraction up to 100, introducing columnar math problems by end of year.

What I would do differently:  I introduced the numbers pretty fast but from what I read in Steiner’s work it seems as if the numbers would be introduced from things that are part of the children (fingers, toes) or around the children even faster than what I did.

Ron Jarmon’s math book moves fast but has clearly outlined objectives for each grade.  You may have to tone it down, but it should be on your bookshelf as a reference for math.  The other book you may want to check out is Melisa Nielsen’s new math book; I have heard spectacular things about it.  You can see a review of Melisa’s book over at Lovey’s blog here:  http://lovey-land.blogspot.com/2008/12/journey-through-waldorf-math.html

The other thing to keep in mind is much of math is bodily movement, rhythm, music, so to have ideas for that floating around your head.  Math, to me, is also one of the areas where kids kind of seem to get it (or not), so I wouldn’t  feel badly if your child doesn’t move as fast as above and needs a summer to sleep on it before it all clicks in second grade!

Science – my own personal theme was “Looking at Things Around Us” (through all 12 senses of course!!)

First Block – we did River Life in with form drawing and explored stories (with characteristics of those animals)  about Ms. Turtle, Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, the Otter Family, Old Mister Frog. You could pick whatever kind of habitat is predominant in the area in which you live and make up stories about the animals.

Second Block – introduction of calendar, making a calendar, spending time with stories about each season and how one season gives way to the other.  From that point on we also made calendars in German and Spanish each month.    A really fun block!!

Third Block – Backyard Nature – bees, ants, dragonflies, butterflies, ladybugs.

Essential Reference:  The Handbook of Nature Study.  I also like Donna Simmons’ From Nature Stories to Natural Science as a reference.

Form Drawing

First Block – line and curve and variations

Second Block – moving from line and curve into spirals, lemniscates

Third Block -  moving into closed forms, how lines and curves can change a form from one shape and feeling to a completely different shape and feeling

Fourth Block – closed forms with and without shading, running forms

Essential Reference:  Embery-Stine and Schuberth’s Form Drawing Grades One through Four.

Knitting

We had a tough time with knitting; my child hated it and was extremely frustrated.   She did careful, cautious work but you could tell it just required so much concentration for her.   She knit a rectangular scarf for her bear and started a square to make a chick for Easter.  I don’t know if we will get to a third project or not!  There are lots of wonderful knitting resources out there though to help you get started.

Wet-on-Wet Painting

We started with our three color friends of red, yellow, blue and those qualities, moved into painting with two colors where the colors exchanged places on paper, then into all three colors where they changed color on the paper, some color blending to make orange, purple, green, and then at the very end of the school year plan to move into painting some simple shapes with gesture.  I wrote a post a while back about the wet-on-wet painting books on the market here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/02/02/resources-for-wet-on-wet-watercolor-painting/

Modeling

Arthur Auer’s book is a must!

 

Pennywhistle

We learned many songs this year, played with rhythm and learned five songs together on the pennywhistle.  Looking forward to even more next year!

Foreign Language

We did Spanish and German; celebrated many German holidays and made a lot of typical German crafts for the holidays.

(Lucky enough to have tutors  and Saturday German school for these areas!)

Religious Studies

We learned about the 9 Fruit of the Holy Spirit through stories and did one fruit for each month of school, which worked out well.  Next year I plan to focus on what I call “The Be-Happy Attitudes” (the Beatitudes).

 

First Grade is the BRIDGE between Kindergarten and Second Grade; so although this sounds like a lot I would say our school hours were short, we did a lot of gardening, baking, cooking, crafts and being outside.  We also continued work on a lot of gross motor skills involving balance, hand-eye coordination, working with jumping rope and jump rope rhymes.

Definitely do not drive yourself insane with first grade, but do look at where your child is and where they need to get to by the end of the year!

The sequence I used may be too fast or too slow for your child, but hopefully it will give you some idea of ways to progress forward in first  grade!

 Hope this post will give you some ideas,

Carrie

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6 thoughts on “Some More Straight Talk About Waldorf Homeschooling of First Grade

  1. This is a GREAT outline, Carrie. Thanks for sharing it! We start first grade next year and I am definitely going to hold onto this until then. I think I’m just as excited as Jack is to get started.

  2. I would agree that Ron Jarman’s book is fabulous. I have to admit it made me feel really enthused about maths and I would love to delve deeper into elements of mathesis (hope I’ve used the right word there).

    The pointers towards the symbolic use of numbers and maths in, for example, the Bible, fascinated me (I would not class myself as Christian, but do find the Old and New Testaments interesting reading and I recognise there is so much more to Christianity than what is automatically ‘obvious’).

    It’s always very useful to see what other families are doing. I’ve not covered First Grade with my children as of yet (my older boys were past First Grade when I started home-educating), but I am now working up to dd being ‘of age’ (she’s only 5 atm, but I’m a natural orgo-planner by nature and have been busy learning the further skills I will need – although I’m hoping to start the Foundation Degree in Steiner Early Years Ed. in September, which will probably really help on some elements I’m not confident in, e.g. painting – I’ve never been a confident painter, although I enjoy other arts and crafts).

  3. Wow, Carrie! This is an AWESOME post for resources! I am bookmarking it, it will come fast for us!

    I am curious about the foreign language. I didn’t know it was already time to introduce them, especially two of them…

    And multiplication already? Wow! I sure do not know much about first grade… and I devoured your post!

    Thanks so much for taking the time to write that down!

    • Foreign languages typically are introduced in Waldorf Kindy solely through puppetry, songs, verses. In my area at the local school they introduce German and Spanish, and I could find resources for that in my area. First Grade is kind of a continuation of that, I will try to find the post on this blog about foreign languages for you…..As far as math, we moved pretty aggressively which you don’t really need to do unless your child is moving along, but yes, all four math processes are introduced. Keep in mind this is with counters, objects, bodily movements such as oneTWO(stomp)threeFOUR(stomp)fiveSIX(stomp) for example to start learning the two’s table through skip counting and then moving into whole to parts 2=1 X2, 4=2 X 2. At some point I will do a review of the math books out there, but Ron Jarman’s, while it moves too fast for some folks, at least does have a list of goals for each grade in it, which I found to be helpful.
      Also, we did do sight words because my daughter had already taught herself to read, but I think Donna says that normally comes in in second grade.
      The joy of homeschooling though, is that you can go at your child’s pace and also to see how satisfied they are with the curriculum even if they are ahead or behind here or there.
      Waldorf homeschooling is a wonderful adventure!

  4. Pingback: Planning 101: Planning for Fall « The Parenting Passageway

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