I wanted to thank all of you who participated and left comments in regards to the post Donna Simmons of Christopherus Homeschool Resources on Catherine’s blog. You can see the original post here (and do be sure to read the comments, because that is where the discussion really is, including an interesting side thread on forming the space between two siblings who are very close in age): Continue reading
…. ( A reader alerted me on 11/7/2012 that this link didn’t work and she couldn’t find the original post. On quick search I couldn’t either, but this post is similar: http://www.elizabethfoss.com/reallearning/2012/08/lets-talk-about-learning-with-little-ones.html Enjoy!)
,,,,of all the things Elizabeth Foss has written. Go and check it out!
How is that for lovely heading into the weekend?
I would love to hear your favorite stories that you tell to six year olds during the six year old Kindergarten year; leave your picks in the comment boxes.
I love those repetitive stories such as The Gingerbread Man, Chicken Licken, etc, but not to reach the heart and soul of the six year old. I truly think that for most six year olds, these tales are enjoyable (just as they are for we the adults!) but I am not certain these will meet the child’s needs if for he or she really is in the throes of real and distinct developmental change. If he or she is changing, really what is needed are stories with a little more “meat”, a little more good versus evil where good wins.
I hear about children who cannot handle fairy tales well; this does happen. I wrote about that here in 2009: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/08/16/what-do-i-do-my-child-cant-handle-fairy-tales/ You really CANNOT bring a tale to your child that does not resonate with you or that makes you uncomfortable, so do NOT pick that one. However, you can read a tale for two or three days, and really sleep on it and see what comes to you before you just dismiss it as well. I personally love nearly all the Grimms Tales, and am very comfortable with them, and I think that completely comes out in my storytelling.
So, without further ado, here are some stories we have enjoyed in my family in the past, or I have known families whose children enjoyed these tales; this list has my detailed notes as to each story: Continue reading
(7/16/2011 – Comments on this post are now closed! Thank you for all your comments and questions!)
Our guest post today comes from Donna Simmons of Christopherus Homeschool Resources (http://www.christopherushomeschool.org/home.html). This is a very comprehensive look at the topic of first grade readiness. This article includes her perspective as a Waldorf educator, but also as a parent and homeschooler, and includes a deep understanding of the foundation of Waldorf Education, but also includes more mainstream resources for those of you seeking those.
This article is long, but I encourage you to read all of it. Donna will be answering your questions left in the comment box in regards to this post, and we both look forward to hearing your thoughts.
Here is Donna….. Continue reading
Have you ever heard of a deconstructed salad? It is a salad that has all the components separately instead of mixed all together. For those “When Harry Met Sally” fans, it is kind of all “on the side.”
I think the six-year-old kindergarten year is a bit like that; sometimes we have to really analyze the separate components and tailor those components.
This last year of kindergarten need not be intense, but I think six- year -olds do need something “more”. And we are fortunate that in the home environment we able to meet our child where they are. Continue reading
Experienced Waldorf Early Childhood Teacher Lisa Boisvert Mackenzie has created a warm, safe and welcoming space for those parents with questions pertaining to the Early Years over at
This group is currently being revitalized; you are welcome to participate!
I think it is a sign of our times that I see mothers getting so very anxious, so very worked up about what to do, what curriculum to use for their three, four and five year olds, even in a Waldorf-inspired environment.
Your main job with small children under the age of first grade (six and a half or seven) is to have a healthy home life and to do your own inner work and personal development in order to help set the tone for that healthy, joy-filled home life.
You might be wondering how to get started on inner work and personal development. I have encouraged mothers over and over to really look carefully at discerning a spiritual path and to get involved in the DOING of an active spiritual life at a place of worship with a community. This is so important for your children as they grow, especially heading into the grades.
Some parents have told me they have no idea what spiritual path to even try. I suggest talking to your partner or spouse about your spiritual leanings or desires and comparing notes. Possibly then you could make a shorter list of possible spiritual matches and go visiting alone or together as a couple if it is hard to visit different places each week with small children in tow. Sometimes the visiting process is confusing to small children, and discerning where you need to be as a family is important to do alone or as a couple and then involve the small children. Of course, with older children, visiting as a family can be a lovely experience.
A spiritual path can help direct your prayer life, your meditative life, your hours of the day and the festivals of the year. Many religions have a Daily Office where certain things are prayed at certain hours, and a year of feasts and festivals to deepen one’ walk of faith throughout the cycle of the year.
I have a large number of Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Anglican readers on this blog, along with quite a few Jewish and Islamic readers (and other spiritual paths!). Perhaps they could comment as to what has been most meaningful to them on their spiritual path over the years in the comment box. Not as a religious debate, of course, but as an example of personal journey!
Another way to work with personal development, I think, is to work with the concept of biography. Where have you been, where are you now, where are you going? Look at your seven year cycles and where you have been; I have many back posts on the book “Tapestries” on this blog that details each seven-year cycle through adulthood and also the stages of marriage. You can find them by putting “Tapestries” into this blog’s search engine. (And with close to 750 detail-packed posts, this blog needs a search engine! Ha!)
Love to all,
There are many, many back posts about homeschooling Waldorf Kindergarten on this blog.
First of all, many families are just trying to decide about whether or not homeschooling is right for them period. If that is the case, try this back post: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/04/01/how-to-make-a-decision-about-homeschooling/. Are you concerned about homeschooling an only child? http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/11/13/parenting-and-homeschooling-the-only-child/
Perhaps these back posts would also assist you: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/09/09/more-about-social-experiences-for-the-four-year-old/ and here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/09/07/social-experiences-for-a-four-year-old/
I think it is very important to get clear about what Waldorf Kindergarten really means. Waldorf Kindergarten in the school setting used to start around age four and a half, and now the age has dropped to age 3 or even younger, with “Morning Garden” classes for toddlers to age 3 in many schools. For more thoughts on this, try this post: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/03/30/waldorf-homeschooling-versus-waldorf-school/ Both Donna Simmons of Christopherus Homeschooling Resources and I have a strong dislike of where the Waldorf schools are headed in terms of taking younger and younger children out of the home. Waldorf Kindergartens work to emulate a loving home, and this is something that we obviously can work on at home for far less cost and for far more personal development than perhaps would occur if our child was at Waldorf school. Having your children with you 24/7 forces your own spiritual growth! Ask any homeschooling mother!
I think in the home environment really we need to do “Waldorf Kindergarten” around the five-year-old year and the six-year-old year. These are the ages for increased attention, increased ability to do artistic and creative work in a focused fashion. It is just a thought; I know some will disagree.
Many families are attracted to the idea of homeschooling Waldorf Kindergarten because they like to spend time outside or they like all the natural toys. There is a bit more to it than just those things. Please read this article by Marsha Johnson, Waldorf Teacher, from this blog: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/01/15/the-waldorf-kindergarten/
What you may gather from the article by Marsha Johnson is that there is a progression in Waldorf Education, there is a sequence, and every single thing builds on each other. There is nothing random in the curriculum at all. It is all in there in due time when it is developmentally appropriate. So, I think part of getting educated about Waldorf Kindergarten entails at least having an idea as to what first grade would be like. There are posts about first grade on this blog for you to look at. Here are some other places to learn more about Waldorf Education: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/11/28/i-am-new-to-waldorf-how-can-i-find-out-more/
Academic skills are introduced when the child is six and a half or seven in first grade. I think one has to really get on the same page as one’s partner or spouse and discuss if together you are both really okay with a child not starting to read formally or do math formally. The oral basis of language is being laid in the kindergarten in an extremely rich way, the body is being prepared in a rich way to promote academic success, foundations of math and science are being laid, but the formal sit down and write part comes later. Are you okay with that?
Here are a few things to work on in the years before starting Waldorf Kindergarten in your home:
- Work on your own ability to nurture and enfold your child into life.
- Establish a rhythm for your child, your family, your life. If you are still struggling with rhythm when you hit homeschooling for the grades, it will be difficult to focus on teaching. Remember though, rhythm is not a schedule but a flow.
- Establish health of your child through protection of the 12 senses, use of warmth, establishing rhythm.
- Repetition! It is what little people need!
- Play, singing, interaction
- Including your child in household chores
- Outside and sensory experiences
- Fostering the imagination through oral storytelling
- And this famous post:
More nuts and bolts:
Here are some other blog posts that may interest you as you consider this decision:
More Early Years books: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/02/09/which-early-years-book-should-i-buy/
My wonderful handwork teacher Judy Forster noted to me the other day that the control and sharpness of the needle for dry needle felting are challenges that are just right for the physical and emotional changes that occur in middle school (typically 7th and 8th grade).
From my observations of the development of the child at different ages, I agree with her. I also think there are many, many projects one can be busy with, so why be in such a rush to get to that rather hardening gesture? This is an important point for Waldorf homeschooling parents who may be guiding their children’s handwork program without having a Waldorf-trained handwork teacher to assist them!
Wet felting is a wonderful alternative, and children in the grades can knit, crochet, macrame, cross stitch (fourth grade, age 10), sew (typically grades six and seven for projects) and do many other types of work with their hands.
If you have small children under the age of 7, I like to think about color and freedom. The small child should be able to choose colors and materials and turn them into whatever suits the child’s fancy of the moment, whether that be a ghost or an elephant. They may imitate you, but often they are just a wellspring of creativity. I remember I had one good friend whose little boy made a whole bunch of creatures and critters from sheets of felt when he was around four or five. The colors and shapes and what they were called were all his and he loved them.
Even in older children, seeing what colors the children pick and what they want to make is fascinating. My Third Grader is currently drawn to blues and greens and I feel this is meeting her temperamental traits and where she is. Color and form is fascinating!
If you need help determining what project comes when within the Waldorf curriculum,, please look at this back post that Ms. Judy Forster was so kind to write for this blog: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/03/28/handwork/
Many blessings to you all,
The funny thing about doing reviews is that I can tell you what I like or don’t like about something, but those may not be the things YOU like or dislike. So, like everything else on this blog, please filter it through the fact that you are the expert on your own family and you will find in your heart what works best or does not work best. Find what resonates with you!
Onto the review! This is a paperback, spiral-bound little book of about 38 pages or so entitled “Autumn Tales: A seasonal collection of poems and stories to be a helpful resource for teachers and parents.”
This book begins with 11 pages of verses that cover all the things one would see or associate with fall: leaves, wind, farm animals and worker archetypal characters, geese, Harvest moons, pumpkins, spiders, witches for Halloween, apples, acorn fairies, ponies, Michaelmas swords and taming dragons, lanterns, Jack Frost, scarecrows and more! The verses would be especially wonderful for ages 3-6, and perhaps you could even stretch them into using them for the grades or using the suggestion of movement from a verse for Form Drawing or poetry or handwriting practice for the grades after the children learn the verses orally. (yes, there is that oral work to handwriting to reading practice again!) . I also like the idea of taking these verses and using them as a basis for your Nature Table or even taking the verses and crafting a fine story out of them. For example, there is a sweet verse about a spider and a mouse living in a warm, snug little pumpkin house all winter that would be easy to make into a longer story.
The stories themselves are: Harvest Moon Magic, Piper’s Wild Plum Pie, How Witchamaroo Became the Pocket Witch (this story is a Halloween tradition in our house! Who does not like Witchamaroo?), The Star House (great for visits to the apple orchard to pick apples), The Apple Elves, Star Kisses, Mother Earth’s Children, Little Boy Knight (a Michaelmas tale for young children), Why Trees Turn Color in Autumn, How Corn Came to the World, The Wise Ant and Autumn Bear.
The stories themselves would most likely appeal to the four to six year old crowd, although a three-year-old could follow “Autumn Bear”. I find many of the stories delightful myself as an adult, so again, I think it would all depend how you decide to work with them and bring them into gardening or seasonal traditions.
There is one page at the back of the book with some simple patterns for a maple leaf, a pumpkin, a red apple and a mouse in order to make some finger puppets.
If you are interested in learning more about this book, please see this link over at Juniper Tree School of Story and Puppetry Arts: http://junipertreepuppets.com/books/
I had the great fortune of once attending a workshop with Suzanne Down; my secret dream is to one day go through her puppetry arts training. Ah, the big dreams of life!