We are up to Chapter Five in this book, entitled, “Reading”. This is a wonderful chapter that I feel answers many parents’ questions about the Waldorf approach to reading. Before the child can read, the child’s view of the world comes from his or her own observations and what people have told him or her. Interactions between the child and others were how the child learned. In reading, the thoughts of another are revealed to the child, but in a way the child is on his or her own because the person who wrote the words is not there standing in front of the child. This explains a bit of why Waldorf education moves slowly in reading from whole to parts.
The author does not go into detail regarding how to derive the letters from pictures since that has been covered so extensively in other sources, but instead what to do once the child knows and can draw 6- 10 consonant sounds plus the vowels.
Her method often involves a passage she has chosen – a poem or a verse. She would invent a story that invokes a mood for that passage and then the child learns the poem by heart. After the child has learned the poem orally, the child sees it on the blackboard. The child copies the poem and then “reads” the poem whilst the teacher slides a stick along to practice the line. Sometimes the teacher stops reciting in the middle of the line and the child sees where they have stopped. A line might be spoken from the poem and the children search for which line it is on the board, and then many little exercises are invented, such as which word is longest, shortest, has two of the same letter in it, etc. Individual words are found and copied.
She reiterates that true reading generally happens within the first two and a third years of this process – so sometime generally before the second half of third grade.
“That will seldom be when the standardized tests think it should be. Mostly somewhat later, but there will then not be any “technical reading”; the child will read with comprehension straight away. This (Waldorf) method taxes faith and patience —— yours as well as the parents, but the rewards are great.”
We must not get impatient and nor must we do the work for the children who are not reading. If children come to class reading already, then the author points out they should get the above and also be reading. The readers should be reading! The classroom should have books available for the readers to read. Real reading is silent reading, it is having challenges to copy down and draw pictures of, or the readers can tell the class about a book they finished reading. If there are readers in the class, then the class has a class of readers and a class of non-readers and the school class should be treated as such.
Love this chapter!