- Rhythm Three years in, and rhythm has finally become something I don’t need to think about. Three years! I don’t mean this to discourage anyone, but rather to say that rhythm is something that takes time to get a handle on. I think we had a pretty good rhythm after our first year, but it was still something I was always thinking about and making Herculean shifts to change. Now, it is really something unconscious and ingrained in me and in my boys. This doesn’t mean we didn’t get off track at times, but returning to rhythm is accomplished with tiny adjustments.
- Curriculum I am convinced there is no perfect curriculum out there, and that this is a good thing. I had an inkling this was the case last year, but now I can say with confidence – for me – this is true. I cobbled together our year with a variety of resources. Mostly I used the individual block guides from Christopherus. I also like Melisa Nielsen’s grade and block podcasts. Alison Manzer has a bunch of great block outlines that she gives out at Taproot (Are you registered yet?!x) And Jean Miller’s planner has an excellent (and not overwhelming!) list of resources/spines for every block, grades 1-8. Because I have a better grounding in the underlying pedagogy and overall structure of Waldorf education, I have felt more confident in going to the library and finding those resources that may not be stamped “Waldorf” but are nonetheless appropriate, interesting and best of all free!
- Art There was much improvement in all artistic media this year: drawing, painting and modeling. I pushed myself to do four chalkboard drawings this year, which felt like a big breakthrough and a good investment of my time because I kept them up for an entire month each. (I have a small chalkboard that I use especially for these drawings.) Toward the end of the year, I felt more freedom in letting both boys draw from their imagination thanks to Rainbow Rosenbloom. When I heard him speak in Atlanta in March, he advocated letting the children close their eyes and describe what they see when they imagine the story. By letting them draw what arises, you are truly letting them develop an inner picture consciousness. This radically changed my thinking, because the prevailing theory seems to be the children MUST copy what you have drawn exactly.
- Music At the end of last year, I had decided not to continue penny whistle lessons for a variety of idiotic reasons. (Admitting them would border on TMI about my very small mind and my huge amount of personal baggage (see yesterday’s post) . . . ahem.) Let’s just say Tom encouraged me to give it another try, and I am so glad we did. Beth changed the format from a group lesson to private lessons and that made a huge difference. I also let myself off the hook in feeling like I needed to learn and play right along with them. By the end of the year, both boys were practicing formally for about 10 minutes a day. They would also casually pick up their whistles at other times as well. The amount of music they have memorized this year is unbelievable. Jude has really developed a love for Irish music, and Vincent is transitioning from playing by a number system to slowly beginning to read music. Without a doubt, this has been the area of biggest strides this year: in perseverance, in artistry, in general enjoyment and in deepening relationship. Honestly, none of this would be possible without the magical Miss Beth. We are blessed.
- Handwork We continue to plug along at handwork, but it was hit or miss this year (again). I think maybe handwork is seasonal in nature: hot and heavy in the fall and winter, not so much in the spring and summer. Jude learned to knit and made a bunch of green squares that I still need to find something to do with. Vincent’s stitches are beautifully even and I hope to further his skills this coming year. In a last-ditch effort to inspire my boys to pick up their needles this past month, I made two simple penny whistle cases. It didn’t work, but there is always next year. I have made the decision to stick with knitting as our handwork focus for next year for a variety of reasons. One is simplicity (I don’t know how to crochet and I am again letting myself off the hook of learning one more thing.) The other is to keep the boys using both hands for mid-line issues. Vincent needs all the help he can get in this area, and knitting is an easy way to sneak it in.
- Extras We made main lesson books for the first time ever. We celebrated Michaelmas. We rolled candles for Candlemas. We attended a wide array of performances: puppet shows, plays, ballets, a piano concert, professional storytelling, sing alongs. Honestly I was shocked by how much both boys enjoyed these cultural events. Our repertoire of songs, verses, poems and stories continues to expand and I am amazed by how much we can sing, recite, quote and remember. This journey with Waldorf brings me to my knees when I think of all it has brought into our home and into our hearts.
Want to see what we read during storytime this year? Click the image below.