MY CAVEAT TO THIS POST: I write these posts from the perspective that the one-year-old, the two-year-old, etc is your OLDEST child in your homeschool, without older siblings to carry things… that may help explain my perspective on wet-on-wet painting and other such animals. You can see the comments below as well…
We talked a bit about planning for fall in a recent post, and I wanted to make sure my mothers with under-7 children didn’t feel left out. We are up to the five-year-old now! I still hold some maverick views compared to much of the Waldorf community, so please take what resonates with you and leave the rest from this post. If you are searching for the other posts in this series, here is the one- and two-year old in the home: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/01/06/waldorf-in-the-home-with-the-one-and-two-year-old/ and here is the three- and four-year-old in the home: http://www.theparentingpassageway.com/2010/01/13/waldorf-in-the-home-with-the-three-and-four-year-old/ . If you review those back posts, you can see life is focused on rhythm, bodily care, singing, work around the house, being outside – no curriculums needed, although you may like some sources for verses, Mother Goose rhymes and songs. I did do a review of one Kindergarten source here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/02/13/a-review-kindergarten-with-your-three-to-six-year-old-by-donna-simmons/
So here comes five!
Five can be such an odd age. It is the age that is considered a “golden” age by traditional perspectives, but many mothers of five-year-olds tell me they are pulling their hair out over their child’s behavior. I think this is mainly because some five-year-olds are still in the four-year-old “out of bounds” stage, and some five-year-olds are beginning that six and seven-year transformation. Here are some back posts about the five-year-old in general if you need some developmental help: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/02/10/the-fabulous-five-year-old/
Here is what I think a five-year-old should be working on with Waldorf In The Home:
RHYTHM! Here is a lovely article detailing a rhythm in a Waldorf Kindergarten by Ruth Ker: http://www.waldorflibrary.org/Journal_Articles/blessingker.pdf
Meal times. Think unhurried, unrushed, singing, having your child help with preparation and clean-up. Use your meal time now to work on things to develop their movement – kneading bread, using a rolling pin, sweeping the kitchen floor, scrubbing a countertop, etc.
Rest Times. I honestly don’t know many five year olds who still nap, and that is a shame. If your child is not a “napper” at this age, you can still have a quiet time each day. Your child may not be able to do this well on his or her own (although some will happily play with a play scenario you have set up), but this may be a time to read a story, a time to tell a story, a time to sing soft songs whilst massaging their hands or feet, and just dim the lights and be together and rock in the rocking chair for a bit. You may also catch some down time for yourself at this time or during outside time if your child gets engaged.
Bath times. Singing, finger plays and toe plays, gentle rub downs with the towel (those textures again).
Outside time. Being outside is of extreme importance and to provide opportunities for physical movement outside. If your child is a reluctant woodsperson, try the following posts:
http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/09/25/nature-day-number-8-of-20-days-toward-being-a-more-mindful-mother/ and this one: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/11/24/connecting-your-children-to-nature/
I think really three hours a day outside is not too much, and you could do more. It is important. Some homeschooling mothers arrange to hold almost their entire school day
Participation in household life. Your very gesture is so important, it should not be you rushing around trying to get the whole house clean in one day! It really is about taking each article of laundry and smoothing it out, folding it tenderly, putting it in the pile to be put away with love for your family. What is important is not only that the child sees the work being done, but imitates that gesture of love and care. That extends into caring for plants and animals, this is the very first “environmental education” that a child gets with you, right at home.
To this we add the thought that physical work is very important, not only outside, but inside as well. Can your wee one help you wash lettuce? Peel carrots? Peel an apple? Grind wheat? Knead bread? These experiences are the first form of handwork for the young child.
Music – as mentioned many times, music and rhymes and verses should take precedence at this point over any written word.
Inner Work/Personal Parenting Development: The most spiritually mature people should be the ones coming into contact with the youngest children. This is a very important time for your own work and development. If you are anxious, practice being calm. If you are impatient, practice being patient. If you talk in a stream of conscious way, practice being silent. This is a time to develop your spiritual and religious beliefs. It is a time to become more aware of the things unseen.
We continue to work on building up the first four of the twelve senses:
The Sense of Touch: Holding, cuddling, taking baths together, swimming, piggy back rides, games that involve holding hands and singing, wrestling and roughhousing, tickling games if your child likes that, rolling around on the floor together, being outside in nature, natural materials to touch and play with and wear
The Sense of Life: RHYTHM, humor and joy!
The Sense of Movement: crawling, any sustained movement over time such as learning to ride a bike or swim,
The Sense of Balance: RHYTHM again, swinging, rolling, and now working toward more complex gross motor skills – riding a bike, trying the monkey bars and climbing structures, skipping
If you need to know realistic expectations for a five-year-old, please see here:
PLAY. In the imitative phase of the first seven year cycle, your child may very well need some help from you in play without a group around to carry it. You can see the back posts on fostering creative play and the progression of play by age and suggested toys.
People ask about play dates for this age. I think play dates need to be structured with the adults doing something that requires taking turns and modeling the behavior you would like to see, and then moving into free play with the adults really in tune as to what is going on with the children (not off chatting in a corner ignoring the children). I think play dates should be kept short. If you would like to see more about social experiences, here is a post about the four-year-old I like: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/09/09/more-about-social-experiences-for-the-four-year-old/ I think much in this post holds true for the five-year-old. Five-year-old boys also may really not be ready for group situations until they around are seven years old.
Preparation for Festivals. This is a great time to help children participate by DOING, not explaining in words. There are lots of posts on this blog about individual festivals.
- Painting - Some five year olds may do well doing wet on wet watercolor painting and some may have much difficulty in this area. I personally like the idea of starting wet on wet painting during the six-year old kindergarten year, as something special and new for that final year of kindergarten. Wet on wet painting, to me, should have a very quiet, contemplative and meditative quality.
- Coloring with crayons — you can see this book about Drawing with your child here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/04/04/drawing-with-your-four-to-eleven-year-old/ And here is an article about block or stick crayons in the Kindergarten from the “Gateways” Journal: http://www.waldorflibrary.org/Journal_Articles/GW3606.pdf
- Carding wool – can be a hit as it is repetitive sensory movement. You can buy fleece to wash and dry and card it with little dog brushes. This is great. You could also consider dyeing with plants…here is an article from the “Gateways” journal here: http://www.waldorflibrary.org/Journal_Articles/GW57grant.pdf
- Sanding wood might be good as well. Any thoughts?
- Modeling – I like the idea of modeling with sand, salt dough, snow, kneading bread. I would save beeswax modeling for the six-year-old children myself. Again, this differs from Waldorf school.
- Sewing – I disagree strongly with the kindergarten aged child using a needle to penetrate cloth. I know that is not especially popular opinion right now, but oh well. :)
- Wet felting is a fun activity for five year olds.
- Finger knitting – can try with the OLDER five and six year old.
- Other Arts and Crafts – some can be successful, especially in preparation for a festival, but I think for the most part recommendations in books such as “Earthways” the age range is always put lower than what I would put it. Why be in such a rush to do all this? Six, seven and eight are still good ages for crafts.
Storytelling and Puppetry – If you have not had a time where you light a candle and tell a story, now is the time to begin. Pick a story, memorize it, and tell it at least three days a week for two weeks to a month.
Here is where you can start bringing in some traditional fairy tales. See here for a list of recommended fairy tales by age, but pick one that that resonates with you: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/03/20/fairy-tales-books-and-storytelling-with-the-little-ones/ and here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/11/20/the-importance-of-fairy-tales/
You could also make your five year old year your Nature Tales year (there are many on http://www.mainlesson.com ) and then bring in more fairy tales in your true Kindergarten year (your six year old year). And don’t be afraid to repeat stories from year to year – your children will ask for them! That repetition is wonderful!
My other thought is to create those stories to address challenging behavior. There are several examples here in this article from the “Gateways” Journal: http://www.waldorflibrary.org/Journal_Articles/GW55brooks.pdf
Circle Time is the heart of the Waldorf Kindergarten, but can be a complete flop at home. I love the book “Movement Journeys and Circle Adventures” (see this post for the review: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/12/29/favorite-waldorf-resource-5-three-resources-to-help-you-get-more-movement-into-your-homeschool/ ), but at home it can really flop. Still, I think it is worth a try if you can convince your five-year-old to “teach” your younger child, LOL. Still stick to the verses and songs you have in daily life, and add seasonal finger plays and seasonal songs.
Hope this helps you as you plan. Please do take what resonates with you.
What concerns or challenges are you facing with your five-year-old? Please do feel free to leave a comment below.