People who are curious about homeschooling always want to know how it rolls with multiple children and how it works teaching multiple grades using Waldorf Education at home. It is undoubtedly different than a Waldorf school, and yet I feel indebted to the schools and the resources the Waldorf school teachers use as I gleam so much from the teachers and their resources.
We celebrated our first day of seventh grade, fourth grade and kindy (our four year old will be five in October, so this is his five year old year) yesterday. What follows are two days in the life of our homeschooling adventure.
On most of the “first day of school” in years past our older girls would dress alike in something new or wear something pretty from what they already had. This year they dressed up in something they already had, took the dog and their little brother for a quick walk (all barefooted) and came back and we took first day of school pictures (still barefooted). They quickly checked on their hamsters, fish and frog and then came to the school room. We opened our school day around 8:15 with prayers and confession, and then a reading from “Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends” (Christian book). We are alternating this book in the morning with some of the writings of St. Theophan the Recluse. Next we moved into singing and fingerplays for our four year old and ended with a story from Juniper Tree Puppets’ Old Gnome Through The Year book. I had wet on wet watercolor painted a very large background with a pond and frog puppets on sticks that move within the painting and had needle felted a gnome for the telling of this story. The older girls then grabbed their folders of independent work (fourth grader reviewing coinage in math and seventh grader reviewing United States geography) and the little guy and I went downstairs. He worked on tying his apron in the front, measuring ingredients, and stirring with one and then both hands to make a big batch of yellow, lemon essential oil scented salt dough. After we cleaned up, I took him outside (still in his heavy apron) to hunt for beautiful sticks and presented him with a very small pocketknife. (If you would like to know more about this, please see the writings on the Forest Kindergartens in Germany and Europe, and also the woodworking book for 3-5 year olds by Master Waldorf teacher Marsha Johnson.) I demonstrated and modeled the use and care of the knife and how to whittle and he very carefully whittled the bark off the end of a small stick to be a fishing pole for the Old Gnome puppet in our story under supervision. Once the whittling was complete for the day, I put the knife away in a very safe place. Our seventh grader then took over the supervision of her brother whilst I worked with our fourth grader.
Our fourth grader began with Brain Gym exercises and drinking water. We recited a poem and speech exercises and reviewed math. We took a look at last year’s main lesson books and then reviewed some areas with props and activity and writing. After that we took another little Brain Gym break and then we worked on form drawing from a Cherokee Native American Tale by first actively walking and working with the form and then drawing it on the board , on practice paper and finally in our main lesson books. At the end of the lesson, I read the book “Mandy” by Julie Andrews Edwards aloud to her. In the meantime, our seventh grader and four year old had prepared snack for us downstairs in honor of the grain rice –coconut rice today- so we went downstairs and ate.
Our fourth grader then went outside to play with her brother, and our seventh grader and I dived into poetry and the review of the work she had done on North American geography independently. We are doing a physics block this week, but also some review and work in geometry, so we looked at her geometric drawings from sixth grade and then did three exercises from Blackwood’s book. For physics, we experienced the totality of darkness , the wonderment of the match and candle in darkness, and wondered together about sunrises, sunsets, why they are red, why is the sky blue, and other various things. We ended the session with coloring some of our geometric drawings and I read aloud from Jules Vernes’ “Around the World in 80 Days”.
Then we ate lunch around 12:40 and had some resting quiet time. We came back for a little latch hooking and work with Spanish about frogs and ponds for our four year old who made a little picture and practiced his Spanish.
Today was our second day. We were shorter on time because I had a breastfeeding support group to lead. Our day started the same as yesterday, including circle and story for our four year old. Then he very carefully whittled another fishing pole under supervision and he and our seventh grader made butterflies to hang in our school room from pipe cleaners and carded wool. Our fourth grader at this time was working with Brain Gym exercises, poetry, more math review, and then an introduction to colored pencils and together we drew some of the animals from yesterday’s Cherokee Native American tale. She heard a new tale today about groundhog which we will work with tomorrow in form drawing. We ended there with reading our book, “Mandy”. She took her brother to play in water with teaspoons, tablespoons, cup measures, etc and they made a rather exotic soup of spices, clover and other plant friends whilst our seventh grader and I played with light in a very dark closet and how we can see a beam of light, and then we worked on more geometric drawings from Blackwood’s book. Our time was quickly up, and we had to leave for our community meeting, which was extremely busy. The older girls helped entertain the toddlers at the meeting and were very helpful. We came home to an afternoon of play.
Hope that provides a glimpse into a few days for your own inspiration, and I hope those of you that have already started school are having wonderful days of learning!