Throughout this year I have been officially homeschooling my 4-year-old daughter. But what does that amount to, really? The preschool-aged child needs to be in a safe, nurturing environment. She needs to eat healthful foods, play outside everyday, make-up her own games and contribute to the home. She desires outlets for socializing, creating art, singing and making music! This, we have been providing at home… and it has been my pleasure!
The year began with my focus on creating a rhythm for our weekly life together. Once that was established, I was freed up to relax, enjoy our days more and enrich them as new ideas come.
In the late fall, I learned to request seasonal children’s books from the library. Focusing on the time of year means our read-alouds reflect the weather, moods and holidays of the season. The books stay around for a couple months, which is just long enough for them to become familiar, without getting a bit old. I put effort into selecting my seasonal library book list, so that the books reflect good values and positive personalities to my children.
Next I settled into comfortable art sessions. At first I couldn’t enjoy wet watercoloring with my 4-year-old, because I didn’t know how to manage my 2-year-old at the same time. And, at the beginning, coloring time was rather haphazard as well. As I found what works for my family and, perhaps as my children learned what to expect too, I discovered ways to make these art times peaceful and productive. Sometimes my 2-year-old doesn’t paint, but just watches. This is very good for his always-on-the-go personality. Othertimes I set him up in just such a way that he is able to paint (with tempera paint) without causing a ruckus. For coloring, I found that my daughter thrives when given a concept to work with. For example, one winter day we colored pine trees on black and then added white crayon snow. When spring arrived, we colored a rainbow (her first) using the soft sides of thick block crayons. Usually I color alongside of her, trying to be an example without getting in her way.
Late winter I finally hung our first, small blackboard, which my husband made for me. I enjoy writing seasonal poems, verses from our circle time and Bible verses on the board. My daughter loves to memorize the poems. It is amazingly easy for her and works to sharpen her memory, while enriching her vocabulary.
This spring I am focusing on developing our circle times. On Fridays our Waldorf friends come over for a regular playdate. We begin with circle time, Waldorf style. For us that means a unifying theme, such as tea time, worked out through songs, poems, and miming activities. We begin with large movements, standing up and work our way down to the floor, where we finish with fingerplays. All of this purposeful bodily activity works to develop the brain in preparation for academics. It appeals to the children imaginatively, never failing to completely delight them. I have found that our playgroup needs a bit more structure than originally expected. It is still a work in progress, but a very exciting one!
Combined with household chores, cooking, free-play and plenty of time out-of-doors, this is our preschool at home. I am so thankful for the many Waldorf-inspired mamas who have gone before me, paving the way with ideas and wonderful resources that keep me inspired to enjoy my family. I particularly recommend the Seasons of Joy curriculum, which is a set of 4 seasonal idea books, designed for children from baby to kindergarten. It is not a rigid curriculum at all. Instead, it’s a rich resource book, filled with circle times, stories, art, poems, cooking and projects that are all season-appropriate. There’s more than enough material for many years, in my opinion! I turn to Seasons of Joy to formulate circle time, come up with coloring “concepts”, source poems for our blackboard, and etc. I’m sure it’ll get even more use as we explore kindergarten next year!