This is my third and last time that our family will be doing a six-year old kindergarten year. At this point, if you count “nursery” years being when a child is ages three and four, and “kindergarten” years being ages 5 and 6, I have done 12 years of kindergarten planning!
So, with that many years under our belts, it may seem as if there would be nothing new to plan or do but there always is! Every year is new! Every year our children are different, each child’s temperament is different, each child’s interests are different. The rhythm of the year and the seasons remains constant, but each year is new and builds upon that foundation.
If you have a good idea of your seasonal changes and how you and your family feel during the months of the year, your festivals throughout the year and such, then you are down to picking out stories and song, making up circle times, using fingerplay and foot play and figuring out simple work for each day.
Our daily rhythm for kindergarten this year will look essentially like this:
- Opening Verse/ Seasonal Songs
- Nursery Rhymes with gesture or gross motor movements with rhyme
- Fingerplays and footplays
- Our Story
- Work of the Day. (We have drawing/cutting/pasting materials out during the Main Lesson time of the older children, so I don’t have a day specifically devoted to drawing. On Mondays we usually paint or model, Tuesdays we bake, Wednesdays we have handwork/crafting or preparation for some seasonal festival or Feast Day, Thursdays we have a Nature Walk and Fridays are either painting, free play or a field trip day for the older children that my little one gets to tag along upon…Fridays are flexible).
- If there is a special Feast Day related to our religion, then there may be a book for our older children to read to our kindergartener on that day as well.
Right now I have everything about the months August through March planned out, except for the stories… I am still in the midst of picking out stories for those months and then I need to go back and finish up April and May.
How is kindergarten planning coming along for you? Don’t make it too difficult – keep it simple. In the home environment, simple is best. The rhythm of life is the kindergarten.
I have no kindergarten children left anymore. Kind of sad, but that it how it goes. I will be doing first grade for the fifth and last time.
Aww, Eva, hard to believe!! I have loved your blog over the years, and wish you all the best…Amazing that they are all so grown up!
Meant to write, “That is how it goes.” 🙂
Good luck with your little one and enjoy this last time.
The timing of this post is perfect as I’m finally trying to start planning my oldest daughter’s six-year-old kindie year. I am still working on building a weekly rhythm that works for all of us (toddler included). I would love to know more about the resources you pull from for your circle time and the finger/foot plays and such. Last year was my first year doing circle time and I felt like a lot of what I did was too complex so this year I’m trying to think about keeping the verses and rhymes simpler and more active. Do you do one song, one nursery rhyme, one finger play and then a story? Or is it longer than that? And do you keep a circle for a month or less time? I think my daughter got tired of a month-long circle/story so I’m thinking about changing it every two weeks, or maybe keeping the circle for the whole month but changing the story every two weeks.
My general resources include things from the Children’s Ministry of my religion, A Child’s Seasonal Treasury, all the song and circle game books out there in Waldorf land, The Singing Year, All Year Round and I think I have two or three other festival books, the Wynstone books, A Lifetime of Joy/Play for Puppets..I have collected a lot over the years.
Our opening verse is always the same, then it is what the child in front of me presents and what strikes my fancy for the season. Usually several songs, but more songs when we cook or craft or walk…Fingerplays usually two to three, sometimes up to four or five, one or two footplays, the nursery rhymes at this point sometimes go more with gross motor skills such as skipping or hopping. I do the same circle for two weeks to a month and usually the story I change every two to three weeks in the six year old year. Not every family does circle, so if it doesn’t work for you, you can keep things simple. Less is more. 🙂
Thanks, Carrie! I think my 6-year-old enjoys circle time, but I think I was picking verses that looked great on paper but were hard for her to remember because they were too complex and in looking back I see that the stuff with a physical element was always the most engaging for her. Thanks for sharing these details. 🙂
My son is 4.5 years and is very spirited. He is still having a difficult time with aggression and learning how to keep his hands off his younger sister( and sometimes his parents). I find that being at the playground or a museum really helps tire him out. He isn’t interested in many art projects but loves books. We keep very flexible days but I try to be consistent with being out of the house around the same times. He’s also just at the cusp of giving up his nap. Which makes him more challenging but in bed by 7:30 vs if he naps in bed around 9 or later. Wondering any of your kids posed a challenge and how you managed to cater to all kids without making anyone feeling neglected. My little is as sweet as pie. She is very easy and goes with the flow, which makes life manageable. Thank you!
All of my children are intense and challenging in their own ways..Physical activity is super important for a four and a half year old – riding a bike, swimming, playing in creeks and lakes with mud…Do you live in a city? Parks may be your only option then, but if you live somewhere other than a super urban area, I think your priority is to get him out and physically moving. Four and a half can also be a time when little people would like a friend or two to play with, which also can be tiring as they learn to navigate “the other”. So I think your rhythm should really be meals, rest, outdoor play….and yes, many four and a half year olds need quiet, restful times after lunch but not so much sleeping anymore or a short nap that doesn’t infringe on their bedtimes. I doubt he is any more aggressive than other little spirited four and a half year olds; that is just a more demanding age. I get more mail about ages 4, 6 and 9 than all other ages combined.
How old is his little sister? I think second, thirds, fourth children do learn to go with the flow. And for that, they get to do things they never would have done had they been first – my third child, for example, has been kayaking, camping and tubing since he was very small (five and a half now). That is something I didn’t really think to do with our first when she was so small.
I think this is where the dynamics of siblings starts to come into play. It won’t be “the same” because their ages, temperament, birth order, your age in parenting at the time, etc will play into it all, but remember, fair doesn’t mean “equal” always.
Physical activity is always the godsend – little docile people need to move, and the spirited ones need to move. Everyone needs to move! 🙂
Hope that helps – lots of back posts on here about four year olds, siblings, rhythm with multiple ages.
Not sure if I should be writing here as my daughter will only be three in October but I really appreciated reading this post and replies as it gave me the encouragement I need right now. Here most children her age will be starting public kinder (kinder is from 3-5 and then grade one at 5years) this October so I am feeling the pressure to “plan” although I know I have to go easy on my little one. Working really hard on rhythm (especially bedtime! ) and trying to fit in “work of the day” and circle time as gently and naturally as possible but having an allotted day certainly helps me to focus. I have been trying to do the circle in one session but it is not working so well (only child and perhaps a bit too long) so I have been doing bits of it throughout the day. I’m sticking to the same circle time and story (story read daily at bedtime) for a month sometimes more – she’s still young and I feel she needs the time for it to sink in before I feel I can move on. Is that ok? It’s such a fantastic feeling when I hear her sing or say something from our circle whilst we are walking or she’s playing from our circle though. I find the story part of Waldorf quite confusing although I think I am starting to grasp it and I think it is also something you have to see what works for you and your child. All the very best to all 🙂
One thing I was meditating on with your comment is for a three year old, and an only child – perhaps even just a short round of seasonal fingerplays and footplays and then work singing or verses in with your other activities may work as well too. I think you are doing a great job!
Really been enjoying your blog and learning a lot! I’ve read Waldorf resources and love the ideas (and, yes, the toys, and the natural lifestyle!)…because the Waldorf school here is $40k a year we are considering homeschooling (also because I love having more time with them etc)…it’s intimidating though! Even for kindergarten! I don’t know any finger plays – just itsy bitsy spider! – or how to paint or tell stories…or read music (I have books & 2 CDs…though to me they sound more like opera than a simple children’s song…)…and am I really supposed to play the lyre? I’m game to try all those things, it’s just like I said, intimidating. How did you get up to speed on so many things?! Oh…and knitting? Do we choose one handicraft? I just learned to sew felt quiet book pages…I’d like to learn to weave…but anyway, then I read your post on 8th grade…physics etc, how would I know how to teach all those subjects when others are experts?
Scared but willling – just need guidance…
Thanks for the tremendous resources here!
Hi Shira! So glad you are here!
I have a lot of back posts on the Early Years under Homeschooling that might be helpful..I think there are several points to keep in mind though:
1. You are not running a Waldorf School. You don’t have thirty years of puppets lying about made by other kindy teachers over the years, you don’t have coworkers with all different manner of talents in music or foreign languages. I suggest you look at yourself first – what are YOU good at? Can you sing? Cook and bake? Are you great at cleaning and keeping house? Hiking? Start there!
2. You will be learning with your child or be just one step ahead of your child. That is okay. This is home, this is life, this is striving.
3. Start with the basics – rhythm, circle or a few fingerplays or footplays you learn for one month at a time, tell a story that you also keep for one month with props. Try to work on one new skill. Small children in kindergarten are not knitting with needles yet, for example, so decide if you want skills you will need right for kindergarten and what that would look like. The most important things in the home environment is work, being outside and developing gross motor skills and perhaps crafts or baking around seasonal festivals. Add some little songs and verses and there you go! Kindergarten!
4. Who YOU are is more important than what you know at this point. The upper grades will come. None of us starting in kindergarten even imagined how we would be teaching physics, but yet, here we are…
You will grow with the curriculum! And most importantly, your family will grow as part of being in this process!
Pick some small things, do them with love. 🙂
Shira – can I just put my humble, humble 2c in (new to waldorf here too) and say “Go for it” – I am really excited for you! Carrie’s reply is just as usual so spot on and as you said you’ve got such a wealth of amazing info on this blog. All the very best.
Thank you Carrie and Fran!
Your words & guidance are very helpful/ encouraging. I neglected to mention our boys are still only 2.5 and 8 months so I’ve got time to learn/prepare! So far so good as my husband and I are natural homebodies and have a great rhythm with daily outdoor time, cooking, baking, housekeeping, bedtime routines etc…I’ll just try to figure out the songs etc bit by bit and you’re right take it a step at a time! Thank you again, and for reaffirming the path I feel drawn to!
Hi Carrie, Thank you for this timely post. I’m planning for the 5 yo Kindergarten. I could use the same template, right? Couple of questions. Could you give us some information on how you bring it all together? Especially the Story and the Work of the Day part. Do you tell the story everyday after circle and have the painting, modeling, and baking during the week based on the story? How do you extend that for more than a week if you’re doing a story per month? Do you add props or other enhancements to the story as the week progresses? On another note, sometimes with painting, I feel having it as Work of the Week ie. spending 2-3 days, seems to give us more breathing time ( with a 3 and 5 yo). And finally, how and where do you fit in “your” Work of the day? Monday – Laundry, Tuesday – Bills, Wednesday – Ironing etc. Oh and one more thing 🙂 – an example of a footplay, please? Thanks so much, I’ve learned so much from you blog. — Gayathri
Yes, I do tell the story after the circle…I tell the same story for two weeks to a month and usually, but not always use props. Sometimes we will dramatize it but I think really for kindergarten it is about soaking in, over and over. Repetition builds the will. You can start and build with props, you could tell the story with no props the first week, add props as you go, etc. There are different feels to table top puppets versus silk marionettes, for example. I do keep to an artistic focus a day, but I do notice painting may come up for us on both Mondays and Fridays…Work of the day I do with my kindergartener is different than my work. Many times that is in the afternoon or evenings at this point – I have a teenager who has places to be in the afternoons, our ten year old also has friends to see or we just all need to go outside..so it is very different than when I had very littles only. When I had little ones only, I usually put my work after nap time and then we went outside for several hours before dinner. Hope that helps..The special role of the foot I will have to write a post about.
Hi Carrie –
I am back with another question. Here I am sitting down (child-free!) to look at the nitty gritty of a weekly rhythm this year (with my oldest being 6 and youngest being 2) and I just can’t figure out our mornings. I’ve actually been struggling with this for months. My plan is: breakfast, dishes, circle & story and then the question is morning walk? or practical work? Last year we did morning walk and it was wonderful but I just found I couldn’t fit both the walk and my housework into the morning. So I have switched to cutting the walk and focusing on housework (Mondays I do all the laundry, Tuesdays I do bulk cooking for the week, etc.) and I am definitely seeing the 6-year-old needing that outside time back. But if I move the work to the afternoon it always seems to get pushed aside as the needs of the day present themselves. And I definitely don’t have the energy to do laundry or bulk cooking in the evenings. I just can’t figure out how to fit it all in. And I’m not even teaching a main lesson yet! Wondering if you’ve run into this? Unfortunately our backyard space is very small so I can’t just turn the kids out into the yard (not to mention that’s miserable most of the year in the PNW) so I need to take the kids to the park to get the ya-yas out.
Thanks so much!
That is challenging — can you walk without going to the park? I guess I would think breakfast, clean up, walk (but you will have to limit the time to not all morning!), snack, circle/story, practical work they can help with and then the afternoons be for YOUR work that they can’t help as much with up until some time before dinner..and then you take them to the park or wherever, especially if you can put dinner in a crock pot or have it ready so you can eat when you walk back in the door. Of course I wouldn’t go to the park every day, but they do need to be outside daily, like you said. And you may have to cut down on your work that takes hours, the work they can’t help as much with, and plan something like that for the weekend or condense to certain days of the week so that not every day you are tied into the house until 4 if you have to be outside with them. Their gross motor skills and being outside is really important at this age.
I wanted to write something about this, because this year was really challenging for me with homeschool planning just because I have older children and no one really wants to hang at home day after day at this point – they want to be at the lake or pool…
So, not trying to sound discouraging, because although it seems like the early years are hard, as they get older and if you have to be there with them outside, or taking them where they can get their energy out, (no matter their age!) then you have to prioritize. Same thing when you homeschool multiple grades because three grades or more may not see you end until 3 in the afternoon…
Laundry I would definitely suggest the Flylady method of doing a load a day instead of bulk unless you can bulk it all on Saturday. I do have homeschooling mama friends that do that and like it. I am a load a day during the work week person.
I don’t know if any of that helps, just my experiences, and you will find what works best for your family!
Thanks so much for your thoughts, Carrie. The park is at the end of our block so thankfully it’s easy to do a walk there and we don’t need to drive to it! I think the challenge is to limit the time of the morning walk. My 6-year-old can spend all morning there. She is really a slow adapter (I think both my kids are and maybe that’s just a kid thing) so I find that we spend so much time getting ready to do things and so little time really doing them, so when they’re engrossed in play I have a hard time cutting that off.
I feel like this is a silly question, but can you give me some examples of practical work for kindergarten that doesn’t take forever? I have a 6-year-old who is just not keen on participating in things with me that relate to “work” at all (laundry, cooking, etc.) so I have pretty much given up on her joining in and I just focus on getting done what needs doing to keep things running smoothly.
I have tried the Flylady one load of laundry a day and do fine with getting things washed and dried but never seem to find time to get everything put away. Sometimes Mondays are just about getting all the laundry folded and put away. Where do you fit in that step? Often my kids are asleep (and in the room the laundry needs to go in) before I have a moment to put laundry away.
I think you’re suggested schedule is on-point in that it has me focusing on the kids in the morning and on my own work in the afternoon. I really think that illuminates where things are not working for us right now. Thank you!
The morning walk was really challenging for me when my children were smaller….I stopped doing it for awhile. Now that I have older ones that help hold the space with me, it seems as if our third (age 5) will come along and in when we do or he may stay out in the garage and hammer when we get back from a walk or bike ride. But I remember it being challenging.
I don’t know as a six year old is super helpful with laundry. By nine and ten they can do their own laundry, but really I think for their work you are looking more at sweeping, dusting, running a vacuum, cleaning toilets, baking and cooking help in chopping, setting tables, cleaning glass/mirrors/doors, filling birdfeeders and watering plants, getting the mail, polishing shoes, assisting with care of pets,…trying to think of more. Bulk cooking, to me is something that really would have to be done more on a weekend. Laundry, do in morning, use line or dryer before lunch, fold and put away right before or after dinner.
Hope that helps, just food for thought — you will find what works! And it will change over time as they grow and get bigger and develop more capacities as well.
Thank you so much – your response was super helpful 🙂
What are footplays? =)
Mel – There will be a post on that….Essentially it is bringing awareness to the feet through nursery rhymes and games.
Important for the Early years, but very much so in the grades as well.
Hi Carrie and Annie, Thanks so much for the morning walk and practical work conversation. That was something that was so challenging and I always wondered how everybody else managed it. We ended up doing the Walk once a week – as our Monday activity – a short walk, no park – we come back and it’s lunch time and that’s our morning – it’s still not the easiest, it takes a lot of energy. Regarding, my Work of the day – I do it when the 3 and 5 year old are doing their free play right after breakfast. But then it’s lunch time – and there goes our morning without circle or artistic activity.
Carrie, I wanted to confirm – for storytelling – you are telling the story and not reading, right? I remember you were doing Suzanne Down’s Old Gnome for the 5 year old Kindergarten – were you telling those stories? (We love that book). Also, Could you remind me of favorite resource books for stories for the 5 year old? Thanks so much.
Yes, telling stories and adding in little things that make it seasonal to our area — local plants and animals, local seasonal details with climate and weather…as far as five year tales, here are a few favorites: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/09/03/favorite-fall-tales-for-waldorf-kindergarten/
and this one about puppets and fall stories: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2012/08/28/fall-stories-for-puppets/
I have a question. Our daily rhythm includes almost an hour and a half of outdoor play first time in the morning after breakfast, morning verse and daily walk. Around 10am we have a ring time and snack and then indoor play/meaningful work accordingly to our weekly rhythm. Lunch comes next and story time closes our morning before getting ready for nap/rest time.
We have been doing this since my son was in arms (of course adjusting it accordingly to his age, development and needs). He just turned five years old so we will gently start the kindy years this fall. I have been always wondering if I should change his outdoor time later in the morning after circle time, story and indoor work/play and most of all now before we start to home school for 1st grade since Ct and story will become Main lesson. What are your thoughts. Thank you so very much, your words bring so much enlightenment and energy into our daily life!
I am thinking about the Waldorf school and the rhythm would be the same for the 3-6 year olds. So that part of it makes me think just leave it and start afresh and anew in first. That would be my inclination.
Another one starting homeschool kindergarten here. I’m looking forward to your post about footplay. 🙂