So here we are, at the end of our first full week of kindergarten. WOW. I am still having a hard time processing this. It seems as if just last week, Little Guy was sitting in a high chair. Now we have somebody else sitting in the high chair, and Little Guy’s a kindergartener.
Our first week was beautiful. I hardly know what else to say. After my long, arduous search for a curriculum I believed would suit Little Guy perfectly, I chose Oak Meadow…and the more I work with it and get to know it, the more I fall in love with it. Oak Meadow is Waldorf-inspired, but not pure Waldorf; which, for me, means that it incorporates many of the best aspects of Rudolf Steiner’s philosophy, and leaves out the parts which make me a bit uncomfortable. It is structured, yet loose; activity-based with plenty of work to keep us busy (if we incorporate everything suggested in all books); child-centric and heavily child-directed; and very, very gentle.
We have been moving more and more in a Waldorf direction anyway in the past year or so (I own many books on Waldorf parenting), so schooling in this way is a pretty natural transition for us. Waldorf educational philosophy focuses extensively on creating a nurturing daily rhythm for the child; and Oak Meadow incorporates this focus, with many practical suggestions on how to make homeschooling a natural part of daily life, while still bringing reverence and attention to the learning process.
We began each day with our circle time. Now, before this week, I was a bit dubious about the idea of circle time with just one child and one adult. Wouldn’t it seem a bit forced? silly? Not at all. Vincent and I both LOVED it. We began every morning by lighting a candle; and it was amazing how the candle served to focus his attention and energy on the words and music which followed. After lighting the candle, we recited our daily poem (which he was saying along with me by today! yay!), and then moved on to sing two songs. The two songs I chose this week were “Down by the Station,” and “Michael, Row the Boat Ashore.” By today, the last day of the week, he knew most of the words to both songs, and was actually requesting a second circle time at the end of each day!
After circle time, we would move on to our morning study hour (which coincided conveniently most days with Baby V.’s first nap), and then to a time of free play. Lunch would follow, with more study time afterwards, more music, outside time, and free play.
This week’s lesson centered around Beatrix Potter’s “Peter Rabbit,” and the introduction of the letter “A”. It may seem a bit crazy to be just introducing the letters of the alphabet to a child who knows them backward and forward, with their sounds, capitals, and lowercases; but, the truth is, I LOVE this approach. Because of his SPD, Little Guy’s fine motor skills are quite delayed, and while he’s known all his letters for a long time, he can’t write any of them. So, we spent the week focusing on the form of the letter A. We drew a big chalk A, and walked it. We made an A from a forked stick, and painted it. We made A’s from blocks, and ran toys along them like tracks. We drew giant crayon A’s. And so on. It was wonderful, and as the week went on, I definitely saw him begin to process what it physically felt like to write the letter. And that was a wonderful thing.
We read “Peter Rabbit” every day this week, working on remembering sequence of events and being able to narrate it back. And lo and behold, yesterday, I got a very sweet (succinct) narration out of him after reading. This is a brand new skill for him, so it will take time; but with his language delays, the fact that he is narrating at all is a BIG deal. Charlotte Mason would be proud.
Speaking of language, we also began a home speech therapy program designed specifically for incorporation into the homeschool. It is called Straight Talk. I am using Straight Talk II with Little Guy; the first volume is geared more towards pronunciation issues (not our problem). Straight Talk II focuses more on usage and language patterns, and is specifically geared towards delays. I am very pleased with it so far. It includes excellent diagnostics and checklists for teacher use.
What else did we do? Well, I can hardly begin to say. We went to the library twice (Tuesday and Friday.) We met with our new homeschool group on Tuesday (and Little Guy sat through a forty-five minute parent meeting very calmly…good work for him!) We met our playgroup friends at the park for some outside time today.
Little Guy baked bread with me. Now, since we are on GAPS, it couldn’t be “real” bread….but we tried the coconut/almond flour bread recipe found here, and it turned out quite good. Little Guy stirred the ingredients (excellent for work on his hand strength), counted the eggs that went in (five), and scooped the dough into the loaf pan for me. And then, of course, he ate it.
We talked about cleanliness and hygiene, and made a hand-washing sign for the bathroom. (He is very proud of it.) We did puzzles (and made good progress on some more advanced ones than he is used to.) We studied the seasons, and used our beeswax crayons to draw a picture of summer. And oh yes…I think his favorite part of the whole week was his new beeswax block crayons. He is THRILLED with them. I think they’re pretty cool myself.
My favorite part, I think, was being able to lead my wonderful boy so happily and naturally into learning. The look of focus and contentment on his face as he stared into our lighted candle warmed my heart. The attention he brought to the activities following was something new for us. He may have been a little wild and crazy after his focused hour of work, but hey…that fits in both with his need of a balanced sensory diet, and with the Waldorf concept of contraction/expansion. So that is okay! I am just incredibly grateful for all of our many successes this week, and hope they continue.