I have to admit, I am WAY behind on homeschool planning. But I have made a good start- I know what my year will look like, when our blocks will be, what our themes are. Many of the details remain to be filled in. I have a lot of work to do this week in that regard, after finishing a very busy week of packing and shipping orders for Cedar Ring Circle. But, I will share some of our exciting plans and I’d love your links in the comment section if you have posted about your plans!
Our Daily Schedule – Schoolyear
5:45 Mama Wake- Inner Work, Review Stories/lesson Plans, Answer Emails
7:00 Children Wake / Dress
8:00 Breakfast Clean Up / Chores / Feed Animals / Mama make any calls/appointments necessary for the day
8:45 Circle Time
9:10 Life Skills Work (Health, Safety such as Fire Drills, Etiquette)
9:30 Music with Little Ones (Glockenspiel) and Kindergarten Story
10:00 Snack Tray Out
10:15 Main Lesson (Grade One- yes, we are doing it again- felt that we started too early last year, and this year is more appropriate for his late birthday)
11:45 Lunch Prep & Lunch & Clean-up- little ones help. Mama check email real quick.
12:45 Read Aloud Time (start with little ones story, when they get bored move onto Boxcar Children for oldest)
1:15 Quiet Time for little ones, Handwork / Flute for oldest
1:45 Painting, Modeling, Drawing, or Craft
2:45 Nature Walk
4:00 Mama check email / make any phone calls necessary, begin dinner prep, finish chores, kids freeplay & one helps with dinner
6:00 Dinner & Clean Up
7:45 Story, Lullaby, Prayers
8:30 Finish Any Chores, Work on Cedar Ring Circle
9:45 Time with Husband
Invitation- “Come To the Circle” from Seven Times the Sun
Opening Verse- “May our eyes shine with Light like Thine, May our hearts know They warming Glow, May our hands give such Strength to live, that we may be a Sun like Thee”. Eileen Hutchins
Movement- Various Guided Story Movement Exercises from The Well-Balanced Child
Foreign Language – “Teach Me German” (I am using this resource to learn foreign songs and their English translation- great resource! My library has it).
Nursery Rhyme & Motions with little ones
Closing “Birds in the air, Stones on the land, Fishes in the water, I’m in God’s hands.”
My children truly love circle time, and their favorite part is games so I make this a focal point, but also towards the end to encourage attention throughout. For those whose children are not an interested in circle time, I think it could be a lot shorter and you can use a different forum, like main lesson, for counting games in a math block. And if I only had one child, I don’t think I would really call it circle time, I think I would incorporate a song and verse into the opening of our main lesson and the other components that addressed Grades content woven in or as part of our blocks. I see so many posts on moms having difficulty with circle time, and I think it may have a lot to do with a child’s temperament. Cholerics need a challenge (“Can you do this?”…) and lots of movement, phlegmatics are hard to motivate and get to do what you are asking sometimes, but humor often appeals to them; melancholics really want to know the words and motions well before they do them, since they are less likely to “wing it”, and sanguines- I think they are pretty easy to get involved. This is where I am lucky; my oldest is sanguine and his enthusiam really carries his brother and sister.
This is the time when little ones work on tying their shoes, fire safety, manners, and learning how to do age appropriate things that maybe get lost in the shuffle of our busy days. It can be really hard to be patient and slow everything down with all that needs to be done in a day, so I am trying to schedule that in to be sure it happens. As much as possible I want this to be taught through stories, rhymes, and imitation so it does not feel “lecturey”.
Music With Little Ones
We are using glockenspiels and Dr. Aurore Henze’s AMHC program which utilizes color therapy and pentatonic instruments. We will also pull from “I Love To Be Me- Songs in the Mood of the 5th”.
This is the fun part! We will be using an Elsa Beskow Book each month and “living into it”. For September, we will be going through “Christopher’s Harvest Time”, a story about a boy who meets the Spirit of September as portrayed by another young boy, and the adventures they have meeting the garden folk at harvest time. We will wet felt a ball like Christopher’s, make a reed flute like September plays, a leaf crown life September wears, and identify all the trees that Christopher comes across (maple, apple, plum, etc) and make leaf rubbings and tree bark rubbings for each, as part of a larger Tree Book we will make.
For October we will use “Woody, Hazel & Little Pip”- we will wash bits of wool for “gnome beards”, deliver the beards to the tree crannies in the woods were we think gnomes may live, have a party with “acorn coffee” and acorn bread, and much more as we follow along with the adventures of Woody, Hazel, & Little Pip. I am thrilled Melisa Nielsen of A Little Garden Flower curriculum includes this book in her October Early Years program. I hadn’t read it before but it is perfect for October!
I am thinking we will use “The Land of Long Ago” for November, “Peter & Lotta’s Christmas” for December, “All Through The Year” for January, “Ollie’s Ski Trip” for February, “The Story of the Root Children” for March, “Pelle’s New Suit” for April, and “The Children of Hat Cottage” for May.
We are also using “The Wonder of Trees” for inspiration during our nature walks, and to help make the Tree Book I spoke of earlier. This book is WONDERFUL. If you get one Waldorfy book this year, make it this one! It covers 12 trees, and includes activities surrounding each tree appropriate for each season (winter too!). You will make home remedies, foods, play games, make crafts, and learn all about 12 special trees. There were a couple that aren’t indigenous to me but using their suggestions and content as a framework I know I can pull together something similar for maples and shagbark hickories, which grow all around our home and woods.
Each of us will make a “Tree Scrapbook” with a main lesson book, with a picture we draw of the tree, dried leaves from the tree, leaf and bark rubbings, pictures if its nut or seed pods and flower buds, and a copied recipe or photo of something we made or did surrounding the tree as we follow along in this book. It will provide inspiration for our nature walks and serve as a science block for my Grade One child.
I have figured out our blocks, and I am going to approach our letters a bit differently than the traditional Waldorf way. Everyday in our Main Lesson we will do a bit of letter work, with one letter for each week of the school year. On day 1, I’ll tell the story, do the blackboard drawing, and we’ll practice walking, tracing, and making the letter with our bodies. Day 2, we will copy the letter/story picture in the main lesson book. Day 3, copy a sentence about the story on the opposite page of the picture, and Day 4, “scavenger hunt” around the house for items starting or containing the letter and practice it in our handwriting practice book. (Day 5 is co-op day). I will spend the first 30 minutes of Main Lesson time on this, and when I finish the letters the last month of the year will be word families. The rest of main lesson will focus on another “block”, such as math, geography, history (required in NYS although not necessarily taught in a Waldorf Grade One class), and science. You can see my other posts on Grade One here (introducing Form Drawing), here (developing a container story for all your lessons to flow together), and here (choosing Grimm’s Tales for the letters). Melisa Nielsen wrote about Grade One readiness, and she said that a good guideleine is if a child’s 7th birthday falls before March, they can begin Grade One the autumn they are 6; if in March, it can go either way and you will have to really observe and make the determination; and if April or later, wait til they are 7 to begin Grade One. My son’s birthday is April 1st and I found beginning Grade One at 6 was too early. It took until close to his birthday for him to really give me the focus and attention that made lessons flow smoothly. We are trying it again this year, and I may begin to introduce some Grade 2 material towards the end of the year if he is ready.
Handwork, Flute, & Art
We will alternate handwork and flute after reading time, and paint on Mondays, Model on Tuesdays, Draw on Wednesdays, and “craft” on Thursdays. (We bake on Sundays).
I have Marsha Johnson’s pentatonic flute guide to work through, and plenty of handwork inspiration in my Earthschooling curriculum and Melisa Nielson’s Thinking, Feeling, Willing program. Lots to choose from! Last year I didn’t do much handwork or flute even though I love art and music, as I was overwhelmed with how to do it all. I am hoping to just start with a very few easy things, and plan them out really well.
This is such an important part of our day. It is a real “release” time where after being in the house all day, we take a huge breath out. Our natural environment is incredibly beautiful and my insides and outsides feel cleansed after this time. It gives me that “pick-me-up” I need to face the challenge of managing dinner, chores, and sometimes rowdy freeplaying kids in the evening (my husband generally works til 7 pm or later, so I am a one-woman show!). We like to go to the same two places, either walking down our road or driving 5 minutes to my husband and father-in-law’s hunting grounds and walking in the woods. Sometimes we will have planned activities, but mostly it is time for the children to do as they are inspired and called to do. Sometimes we wrap up our time outside (the last 15-20 minutes) with caring for our land and landscaping tasks.