Thank goodness for a few good friends and the Internet who opened the door into Waldorf education for me. Waldorf's gentile style that encompasses the whole child - mind body and spirit was just what I was looking for. Waldorf kindergarten is a time for imagination and play, a time to learn the work of the home, a time to develop a personal rhythm while discovering the rhythm of the earth. All the while developing a strong foundation upon which later academic learning will flourish. Beautiful!
So I started reading and researching. Bekah and I visited the local Waldorf school for a peek at a day in kindergarten. I stumbled onto some wonderful Waldorf support groups on yahoo Waldorf inspired blogs and free webinars as well as some curriculum suppliers. I'll be honest, I didn't purchase much but gleaned so much from samples and descriptions and have tucked away tidbits for the future.
So as the start of school grew near I felt sure that I had a plan for Bekah. Now to implement it. And the big question - how would Bekah react to school with no books, no letters, no school like her sisters? Well, I have to tell you it was a HUGE success, not initially mind you! At first she was still looking for the lined paper and big books. But after just a week she was hooked. Every morning after family breakfast the big girls head off to start their independent work and Bekah and I head to the living room for her circle time.
Circle time is 20 minutes of songs, verses, finger plays and movement. We start by lighting our circle time candle. Bekah really loves this part. It makes it special. We then open with a morning song that the two of us made up. We then have a verse to welcome the day. Next a counting song about ladybugs. From there we move on to a rhyme with hand clapping and knee slapping. Lot of great work on patterns and coordination. Then we had a finger play about animals. Some bean bag exercises got us moving. Finally we ended with a verse that had us stretching. Bekah would blow out the candle to end circle time.
By this time Bekah felt like she had had her school time with mom. She would move to the kitchen table where she would work on the task for the day. Monday - coloring in her main lesson book with beeswax crayons. Tuesday - modeling with homemade playdough. Wednesday - wet on wet watercolor painting. Thursday and Friday - Dad is home and Bekah is his shadow and helper. Some days we do these tasks together other days I get her set up and she is content to work independently while I then teach Hannah's lesson.
I have to tell you again how thrilled I am with Bekah's response to circle time. At first she told me it wasn't school. But working on my will as well as hers we stuck with it. Now she asks for circle time. She knows the rhythm. She has everything - candle, verse book, and bean bags - out and waiting for me. the Waldorf approach is meeting her just where she is. She is thriving. She is learning. No worksheets. No watered down over explained lessons. Just organic learning!
We will work on the same circle time verses for the entire month. Each month I will pick verses that I hope will speak to Bekah, that will open her eyes to the world around her. Verses that will introduce rhythm and rhyme. That will develop a love a language and song. Ones that will lay math foundations. And actions that will build inner strength, coordination and balance.
So I have spent the last week reading and selecting verses for September. I put them together in a book, the cover of which in a water color painting that Bekah made. I am trying to have all of the verses and songs memorized as that really is the best way to bring them to a child. However, many of them are new to me. So the book is my little cheat sheet as well as a keep sake. By the end of the month both of us should have the verses and songs memorized!