Happy First Day of School!
What’s that you say? You’re not celebrating the first day of school yet? Well, technically, I guess we aren’t either. I’ve been counting educational field trips and stealth learning since the beginning of July. But today was our official first day of school. You can tell because we had hot fudge sundaes.
This year I am homeschooling an eighth grader, a sixth grader, a third grader (who was under the delusion that he was in second grade) and a kindergartener. I will be doing this with two toddler twinkies running around and without the assistance of any mood-enhancing drugs. At least that is the plan.
And how did our first day go, you ask?
Seriously, Molly was in a foul mood and spent most of the morning yelling at us. Matthew kept liberating the school supplies from pencil boxes. The two middle kids kept escaping outside every time my back was turned. The kindergartener didn’t understand why he was suddenly expected to take part in this ritual known as “school” and was both shocked and dismayed to discover it would be a daily obligation. And it took one child, who shall remain nameless, the better part of 5 hours to get through an assignment sheet that mostly consisted of “decorate your main lesson book cover” and “make sure you have a folder for your math problems. Also the dining light kept flickering for some unknown reason, leading to a headache.
But most of all, I didn’t have a plan. I had assignment sheets printed out for the older two that mostly walked them through things (although apparently not in enough detail to keep the momentum going) and I generally knew what the middle two were doing. But what I really need to do is come up with a minute-by-minute schedule that includes a plan for keeping the toddlers busy as well as keeping each of my middle boys occupied while I am working with the other child.
One thing did go well- once I caught up with Daniel and chained him… um, I mean gently encouraged him to join us at the table… he really loved kindergarten.
What are we using for kindy? Well, this year I finally sucked it up and bought Oak Meadow for everyone. In the past, I have made up my own main lesson blocks, following traditional Waldorf curriculum guidelines and using a wide variety of resources. Last year I really struggled doing this with three children and I knew there would be no way I could do it with four. So I bought Oak Meadow.
Except I can’t quite bring myself to use it as written, at least not for a five-year-old.
For one thing, they introduce the alphabet in order and I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to begin with his “special letter” first (D) and introduce like-sounding and look-alike letters far apart to avoid confusion.
Also, while I know I am already bucking Waldorf tradition by introducing letters at all in kindergarten, I really don’t expect or encourage my kindergarteners to do any writing. We do lots of activities to strengthen small motor skills, but save actual writing for first grade.
And I save the Quality of Numbers block for first grade as well.
So what are my goals for kindergarten?
1. Beginnings of letter recognition, but I don’t push it.
2. Exploring color and drawing.
3. Learning to sit down and focus attention on a task.
4. Counting in real life.
6. Color and shape recognition.
7. Strengthening small motor skills.
8. Listening and retelling simple stories.
9. Paying attention and celebrating seasonal changes.
10. Caring for self and school materials.
We began kindergarten on Sunday night, actually, with the story of The Magic Door. Today we made a giant mural that will hang in the library hallway, and we’ll be adding to it throughout the year as we travel down Fairy Tale Lane. This week we’re also making a “Magic Door book” together. Here is Daniel’s special story.
Once upon a time, there was a sweet little boy named Daniel. Daniel had just moved to a new home and spent his days busily exploring all the little nooks and crannies, inside and out, looking for adventures and new discoveries.
One day, Daniel found hidden in the corner of his robot bedroom a little wee door. He knelt down and tried the tiny handle. It was locked. He was disappointed, but then he remembered his good manners and rapped on the door three times.
Knock! Knock! Knock!
The little door swung open, and Daniel found that it was just big enough for him to slip through. He did, and was amazed by what he saw!
Before him lie a path that seemed to go on forever. There were rolling hills and a bright blue sky filled with a shining warm sun. In the distance he could see a sparkling pond. But what interested him the most was the signpost right before him with an arrow pointing down the path, and on that sign was written in shining letters “Fairy Tale Lane.”
He started down the path, excited to see what adventures awaited him.
I look forward to sharing our adventures down fairy tale lane with you!