Monday, 20 January 2014

January 2014: Finding our daily, weekly and yearly rhythm

Little bees work very hard,
making golden honey. 
Taking nectar from the flowers,
when the days are sunny.
Much has been written about the importance of rhythm in the young child’s life, particularly in Waldorf literature. Rhythm isn’t a routine or schedule as such; it is the flow of our day. The in, and the out. You can read more about the importance of rhythm in Waldorf philosophy here and here.

I must admit to falling out of rhythm in the last year or so, probably since Mousey Brown started Kindergarten and our days were more unpredictable and unsettled in many ways. When I feel I’ve lost our rhythm, I feel adrift and I’m sure this is picked up on by my boys. My eldest, like myself, thrives on a regular rhythm. My smallest, Little Deer, well the jury is still out. He is an independent little one, to be sure!

It’s been very refreshing to consider rhythm in our family life again, particularly now that our schooling plans have taken a different course. We are still finding our daily rhythm. It isn’t written down anywhere just yet; it is still floating around in my head, but on most home-days, it looks something like this: 

Our Summer nature table

Our Daily Rhythm

Household Chores/Animal Care/Play
Morning Walk/Bike Ride

10am (ish)
Circle Time and Seasonal Story, then Play

Morning Tea
Main Activity is offered, then Play

1pm (ish)
Afternoon Rest/Quiet Time/Reading

Afternoon Tea
Play/Gardening/Walk/Continuation of Main Activity

5pm (ish)
Play with Daddy, and then bedtime routine.

It’s pretty much a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ kind of rhythm.

The boys may choose to help with the household chores in the morning, or with the cooking and meal preparation, or not. I encourage them to be active in helping care for our veggie garden and animals, but it is not enforced. 

I usually find that, unless they are engaged deeply in free imaginative play together, they tag along with me, helping me as I go. We have no fear of sharp knives and chopping fruit and vegetables around here!

 Our Weekly Rhythm
      Monday ::  Handwork
      Tuesday ::  Baking/Cooking
      Wednesay ::  Drawing/Painting
      Thursday ::  Natural Learners Co-op/Social Outing
      Friday ::  School/Playgroup (local Steiner school)
      Saturday ::  Woodwork with Daddy/Craft
      Sunday ::  Family Day

I used this free printable resource to write out our Weekly Rhythm; and flipped the seasons to suit the Southern Hemisphere for this, our Yearly Rhythm to mark the seasonal festivals and family celebrations that guide us through the year.

In writing this, I must stress that our Weekly Rhythm is flexible and liable to change at short notice! I see it as a way of guiding us through our week, not dominating us. Deciding on a curriculum was much like the way I cook: I *need* to start with a recipe at first so I feel like I know what I’m doing, and then I generally disregard most of it entirely, picking and choosing the bits I’ll keep! :)

So what ‘recipe’ are we using this year?

As I mentioned in my previous post, I am drawing on some of the Christopherus and Waldorf Essentials curriculum for the early years, and as I research and read more about home schooling, and as the THEAC home school registration papers sit right in front of me waiting to be finished, I am discovering that I am leaning much toward natural learning in these early years. 

This is very much in line with Waldorf Steiner Early Childhood philosophy. 

Our ‘pet' Christmas Beetle is visiting for a few days.

We already discover learning opportunities everywhere, from the veggie garden, to our walks in nature, to the kitchen. Learning already occurs all around us, all the time. So in many respects, little will change in our home.

One thing I am always reminding myself of, is that our learning is child directed at this age. It is about the discovery and the joy of learning, not the product. I still resist the urge to need to “complete” something or have something to “show” for our learning. It’s not about that at all.

Learning happens continually, whether it is in imaginative play, solo play, social play, or rowdy physical play. Even in the quiet times, learning to still our minds and bodies and quietly observe and listen to what is happening around us, and within us.

Echidnas are frequent visitors to our garden in Summer.
The more I read, the more I am convinced that learning need not only occur in a classroom or in a formalised lesson. Learning often sounds like this around here: “You know what? That’s a great question and I don’t know the answer to it! Let’s find out together.” Learning is cooperative, and it’s fun. 

I’m sure a number of you have already read this wonderful article written by Dr Peter Gray, a research bio-psychologist: Give childhood back to children: if we want our offspring to have happy, productive and moral lives, we must allow more time for play, not less. 
If not, I highly recommend reading it. 

The message is so obvious, and so important.

{ Summer Circle-Time }

Opening Verse
Good morning dear earth
Good morning dear sun
Good morning dear trees
and flowers, every one.
Good morning dear animals
and birds in the tree
Good morning to you
Good morning to me

* * * * * * * *

Summer (Verse)
Come out, come out this sunny day
The fields are sweet with new mown hay
The birds are singing loud and clear
For summer time once more is here

So bring your rakes and come and play
And toss and tumble in the hay
The sweet wild roses softly blow
All pink and white the roses grow

The nodding daisies in the grass
Lift up their heads to hear you pass
Upon this happy, sunny day
When you come out to make the hay.

* * * * * * * *

If I were a Farmer (Action Song)
If I were a farmer, a farmer, a farmer.
If I were a farmer, what would I do?
I would feed the hungry chickens/milk the cows each morning… etc.
That’s what I’d do!

* * * * * * * *

Long green snakes in the grass are we,
Our tail is far away,
We wriggle and wriggle and twist and turn
As in and out we sway.

* * * * * * * *

This is a house for a robin
(make a nest with hands)

This is a hive for a bee
(two fists together to make a hive)

This is a hole for a bunny
(thumbs and pointers on both hands to make hole)

And this is a house for me!
(Arms and hands form roof overhead)

* * * * * * * *

O Dandelion, yellow as gold, what do you do all day?
“I just wait here in the tall, green grass, ’till the children come to play.”

O Dandelion, yellow as gold, what do you do all night?
“I wait and wait, while the cool dew falls, and my hair grows long and white.”

And what do you do when your hair grows white, and the children come to play?
“They take me in their dimpled hands, and blow my hair away!”

* * * * * * * *

Butterfly Song
Flutter, flutter butterfly
Floating high up in the sky
Floating by for all to see
Floating by so merrily
Bye, Bye, butterfly!

* * * * * * * *

Butterfly Game
Dancing among the flowers with dainty painted wings
Flits the golden butterfly, joy to my heart she brings
Stopping only for a rest to sip the morning dew
Then flits and flutters off again
Butterfly, I can't catch you!

(Children sit in a circle with hands held up and cupped on top of head acting as flowers. Butterfly dances inside the circle, flitting in and out of the space between seated children. Butterfly stops behind one child in circle for a rest, bends, and sips dew by tickling a flower in the child's palms. Flower child jumps up and chases butterfly back to his place, then becomes the next butterfly. Repeat game with new butterfly.)

* * * * * * * *

Here is a beehive (action rhyme)
Here is a beehive
But where are the bees?
Hiding away where nobody sees!
See them come crawling out of their hive:

* * * * * * * *

What do you suppose? (action rhyme)
What do you suppose? 
A bee sat on my nose!
Then what do you think? 
He gave a little wink and said:
“I beg your pardon, 
I thought you were the garden!”

* * * * * * * *

Little Bees
Little bees work very hard,
making golden honey. 
Taking nectar from the flowers,
when the days are sunny.

* * * * * * * *

Two Little Chicks
Two little beaks went tap, tap, tap!
Two little shells went crack, crack, crack!
Two fluffy chicks peeped out, and oh,
they like the looks of the big world so.
They left their houses without a fret,
and two little shells are now to let!


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