We have been talking about summer planning on this blog for a few posts now and today I wanted to talk specifically about the five and six year old years and how planning might look.
One thing to immediately consider is if your state has reporting requirements for a certain age (in my state you have to start reporting for age 6). How many days of attendance a year is required? Take out a calendar and think about when you would like to generally start and end your school year (because in Waldorf we do REST over the summer!), when your vacations will be, and how many days you can plot out to meet those state requirements. Get involved with your homeschooling organization in your state so you know what laws affect you, what is coming up – you are now part of a community of ALL homeschoolers, whether the other homeschoolers use Waldorf or not!
Think about the goals you have for your child. What do they need to work on in the realms of gross motor, fine motor, in language, in social settings, from a spiritual/religious perspective, in creative play, in ordering of thoughts (the basis of pre-mathematical thinking)?
Secondly, look at what festivals you would like to celebrate and start making monthly headings with the festivals you will be celebrating each month. For example, perhaps you will celebrate Michaelmas, Martinmas, Advent, St. Nicholas Day, Candlemas, etc. Mark those down under each month and make sure you give yourself a couple of weeks to plan baking, cooking, arts and crafts and other things around these festivals.
Now turn to your daily rhythm and think about how you will call and start school each day. Will you have a song you sing, a chime, a drum? Will you light a candle? Will you always sing the same song or use songs that change monthly in accordance with the season, month or festival? Will you do circle or finger plays or some sort of movement to warm up the body and will these always be the same or will they change monthly?
Will you do your practical work next or will you do a story first? Your story can be the same for a whole month, although depending on what festival is during the month you may want to do a fairy tale for two weeks and then a festival story in the weeks leading up to the festival. Verses are a great way to bring in counting, mathematical ordering, the rhythm of language and rich vocabulary.
Your practical work will follow the same rhythm each week, but the activities will change in accordance with the seasons or festival coming up. So you may have baking, gardening, arts and crafts, handwork, painting – but each week will be something different. It takes time to plan these things and make supply lists to make sure you have the things you need on hand.
Lastly, make sure you have a way to end your school day, whether that is again with singing or a verse or a chime.
Look at each day of your week and plan outside time, and what afternoon you may be out of the house. Remember, the five and six year old needs rhythm, repetition, warmth!
The six-year-old can probably start to handle some field trips to orchards for apple picking, or the nature center, but always keep in mind what you are trying to accomplish! It is still not the time for explanation, but for doing. Make a fishtank or pond. Feed the birds and make bird treats. Take care of animals, hike and be in nature, look at the stars and planets with the naked eye, have your child do chores, grow a garden. Look for those longer and more involved fairy tales to tell and longer and more complex projects for the six-year-old.