Our little first grader came dressed for the first day of first grade as a gnome, complete with hat, beard and pointy shoe covers and announced that I would be teaching “Pebbles the Gnome” every day this year. Those of you that have read “A Donsy of Gnomes” probably can understand this little gnome character! (Pebbles is his favorite!) At any rate, we had a fun first week of school.
We always start with movement, so our first day was jumping rope and other movement from Brain Gym and Extra Lesson work, our first grade verses, our seasonal circle, our math games (oh yes! I start right away!), and then a few words about school in general. So, in addition to the “normal” things that I think are often ingrained in us from Steiner’s lectures to do on the first day of school (talking about what we do with our hands, painting with blue and yellow and yellow and green – see Steiner’s lecture four in “Practical Advice to Teachers” if you are looking for more information), I also made several other points to suit the dynamics of our family. This included a good, new look around the school room in which our little guy has hung out since he was born – what is on the Nature Table? Where are all the supplies kept? Where is the rhythm of the day? How do we know if it is a Feast or Fast Day? Let’s look at this space with new eyes since now you are in first grade!
We also talked quite a bit about coming to school and how school is for those eager to learn, and how we learn how to do things that make us like our mommies and daddies and our older siblings and how eventually we can use those things to help other people. Even at this early age, our first grader completely understands that his father’s work is to help other people and the work outside the home and inside the home was to help other people. So that made sense to him.
We talked about the rules of our school time. Normally I wouldn’t be so direct with a first grader, because perhaps we think of first grade in the home being modeled and held by rhythm and a presence of loving authority, but I decided with much older siblings in the mix (middle school and high school), our first grader has a different perspective and really wanted and needed to hear the expectations of school in direct but kind and firm words.
After that, we went into the great secret that all inventors, artists, scientists know – that everything in the world is made of the line and the curve. We had a delightful Irish tale about Lusmore of Knockgrafton on the first day and then the next few days we worked with a story I created that held archetypal images with more lines and curves in various configurations. We did an intense amount of movement and math in rhythmic verses, counting, and games along with three beautiful paintings and keeping up with the rhythm of our home in cooking, cleaning, baking, and handwork. Next week will include more modeling and painting and form drawing.
Overall, it was a very fun week for both of us that I know he carried inside of him. One night as he was falling asleep, he said to me, “You know, roads are straight lines and cul-de-sacs are curves. Some roads are curvy too.” A fitting image to drift off to sleep, wondering about all the beautiful secrets in the world outside his door.