For those of you doing “summer planning” and are feeling stressed out by planning for the Waldorf Homeschooling Kindergarten for the 4, 5 and 6 year old year, I have a few words for you all. (And PS, I am not sure you have to do too much “special planning” for the four year old except for a daily time of lighting a candle and telling the same story for a month in addition to your rhythm – most mothers of four-year-olds are still working hard on their rhythms and that is the most vital piece!)
Foremost in your mind as you plan, even for the “big” six-year-old, keep in mind the hallmarks of Waldorf Education for these ages:
1. Imitation, not words. Show, help gently but don’t so much direct with your words. Use your words for singing, for verses for transitions, for
2. A steady Rhythm of work at home, outside time, play and SLEEP and REST. Sleep and rest come up time and time again in Waldorf Education throughout all the grades, this is a very important piece to work with in the 4,5, and 6 year old who is no longer napping!
3. Warmth – yes, bodily warmth and soul warmth.
4. Protection of all 12 Senses – the small child has no FILTER. This is why the small child does not need “field trips” to stimulating places, and needs repetition and warmth and being at home.
5. Movement – a child under the age of 7 communicates in a PHYSICAL way, in the PHYSICAL realm!
6. Enlivening the imagination through singing, verses, fingerplays, stories
7. Setting boundaries – where are you struggling in creating your peaceful home life and what boundaries do you need to set in a LOVING, WARM, and gentle way? Somehow people seem to think these two things are exclusive and separate from each other, but they are not! You can do this because you are the parent, and you have this tiny 4,5, or 6 year old!
8. Your meditative work: The World is Good Place. And if you cannot really think this in your thoughts, than that is your own personal work. Goodness, truth and beauty go through all the years of Waldorf Education.
It is not that Waldorf educators do not believe that a child COULD learn whatever they want to learn or ask to learn, but that it is HARMFUL for the future stages of their growth to do so. Steiner had a very high opinion of children and thought they were extremely smart, that they were the teachers of us in many regards! However, if your child asks to stay up all night, or eat chocolate cake for every single meal for a week, chances are you will say no. In this regard, Waldorf education takes the health of the child as paramount importance.
The 4,5, and 6 year old child is NOT a miniature adult that needs “filling up” and just lacks experience! The 4,5, and 6 year old child requires an entirely different way of being dealt with by adults. This is where Waldorf is so successful and so many of the “talk your child with logical reasoning when they are not logical” and “fill up their heads with factoids” leads to children who are completely burned out by age 8 or 9 with academics, and children who are old before their time. I have seen it time and time again!
Required summer reading for you if you have children in this age range:
Steiner’s “Kingdom of Childhood” and “Education of the Child” and
Rahima Baldwin Dancy’s “You Are Your Child’s First Teacher”
If you get really ambitious try “Waldorf Education: A Family Guide” and reassure yourself that the pink bubble of Waldorf Kindergarten does not last forever, but does indeed serve an essential place.
More about summer planning for the five and six year old soon,