Many Waldorf mothers lament that while they know they should not use head-oriented commands with small children under the age of seven, they just are not sure how to get through the day without doing this. One way to think about this is how you could use songs and verses throughout your day for transition points. For example, instead of announcing all day long, “Now, little Jimmy, we are going to do XYZ”, you have a wonderful song or melody to do this that accompanies YOU starting to DO the physical activity. (Having small children is not to be directed from the sofa!!) Once you use the same song or verse for the same activity over and over, the child recognizes what goes with what melody.
I kept track the other day, and here are some of the ones I use with my family that we enjoy, and maybe this will give you some ideas for your own family! You will find the songs and verses that work for you!
For waking up in the morning, while I go around and open all the window shades: The song “Good morning, good morning and how do you do?” and also the song “Buenos Dias, Buenos Dias, como estas, como estas?” (sung to the tune of “Where is Thumpkin?”)
For making beds: The song “This is the way we make the beds, make the beds, make the beds, this is way we make the beds on a “XXXXXX” morning.”
For calling to breakfast and lunch – We sing the prayer “Thou Art Great and Thou Art Good” from Shea Darien’s book Seven Times the Sun.
For washing dishes: The song “This the way we wash the dishes, wash the dishes, wash the dishes” as above
For getting dressed: The nursery rhyme Diddle Diddle Dumpling, My Son John
(I also make up songs sometimes for going potty, brushing teeth or brushing hair).
For being called to start homeschool: I always call children with a made- up tune on the pennywhistle and then play whatever song is the song of the month. For example, in November I played “The Pumpkin Pie” song and my kids learned it and sung it for everyone after Thanksgiving dinner while I played. For this month we are learning the song from the play “The Snowmaiden” from “Little Plays for Puppets” book and also a song about dwarves. After singing we have a candle-lighting verse and we also use the well-known Waldorf verse that begins, “Good Morning Dear Earth, Good Morning Dear Sun.”
For quiet time: We sing one of the quiet songs out of Shea Darien’s book Seven Times the Sun
For ending quiet time: We use that wonderful folk song that begins, “Bluebird, bluebird (or whatever bird you want!) fly through my window, bluebird, bluebird, fly through my window.” It is on Pete Seeger’s CD of folk songs
Favorite verse for going outside: The nursery rhyme that begins, “The grand old Duke of York, he had ten thousand men, he marched them up a hill and then he marched him down again.”
For practical work, I do have verses for wet on wet watercolor painting, baking, handwork, gardening and housekeeping that can be found in A Child’s Seasonal Treasury,
For dinner we rotate between these two prayers:
Father, we thank thee for this food before us
Give us strength to do Thy Will
Guide and Protect Us in Your Heavenly Path
For Christ’s Sake, Amen.
or this one:
Bless this food to our use
And us to thy (continued) service
And make us ever mindful of thy blessings
For Bathtime- Rub a Dub Dub, Three Men in a Tub
For Bedtime- Prayers (we say four prayers at night)
First we say “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep”
Then we say this one:
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John,
Bless this bed that we lie on,
Two at our head, two at our feet,
Protect us (bless us) while we are fast asleep.
Then we say a quick prayer to the archangels of St. Raphael, St. Gabriel, St. Michael and St. Uriel, (and we list what we are thankful for from the day)
And then at last we say “Our Father Who Art in Heaven”.
This is just a small sampling, and you can come up with traditional verses, songs and prayers that speak to your own spiritual/religious life. I also make up many songs on the spot and sing. My oldest thinks my voice is beautiful, which I assure you it is not, but the point is you do not have to be a great singer to do this!! It is great fun, the kids learn all of this by heart easily, and it is so much better than walking around like a play-by-play football announcer each day.
Just a few thoughts from my little corner of the world.