We began our lessons for the school year this past week. Usually we do not begin until it is officially autumn but for various reasons I knew it would be best for us to get an earlier start this year. Preparing for 4th grade has been very exciting, so many great main lessons coming up.
And Chessa is in her final kindergarten year! Special for her we had a late summer circle, singing of sunflowers and bumblebees and little seed babies seeking the warmth of Mother Earth's cloak.
This picture above is actually the very first one I took on our first day of school. Lesson time over, right back to playing.
It is starting to feel like it's been quite a while that we have been doing this homeschooling thing. Since kindergarten has always been no academics at all, just simple home life, (and this through their sixth year, 1st grade starting when they are 7 years old), this is now beginning our fourth year of Waldorf homeschooling.
(Now remember, and for those of you who don't know, I have also been working from home all of these years. (Sigh Sigh Sigh...) The sighs will perhaps make it obvious that this is not something that is by choice, but because I really must. This is usually not something I want to give my energy or thoughts to in this space, but it is kind of a part of the story, so...)
For many months now I have been working very early in the morning, starting about 6am, not all that pleasant to start the day on the computer, but oh so great to be finished by 10am and still have the whole day ahead of us!
The girls usually wake up around 7, sometimes just a bit later if Chloe stayed up late reading. (Which is so good for Chessa to get the extra sleep. We still do bedtime at around 7 o'clock, now that they are older Chloe reads in bed for quite a while, out loud until Chessa falls asleep.)
When they come upstairs in the morning they are sometimes in a sleepy mood, but usually they are ready for food and play. (Along with reading at night they are often making plans for their next day.) This is when I take a break from work, (first for some cuddling), they have breakfast at the table while I do my morning kitchen chores... wipe counters, (they actually have to wait for breakfast while I do this), dishes away, bread dough made or into the oven, beans cooking, stuff like that.
Then back to work for me, the girls get dressed, make bed, make sure their room is tidy. Sometimes another chore for them like sort or put away their laundry, wash morning dishes.
This leaves them an hour or two of early morning play time. Besides the fact that it allows me to finish my work, I think it is important for them to have this. This is what they have done just about every single day of their lives!
Then of course they get hungry again, and they know that after morning snack is when we will have our lesson time. We try to start our lesson by 10 o'clock.
I left our plans for the first week fairly vague, which is odd considering that until nearly the last minute I was obsessing over planning , rhythm, etc... I have the basics of our main lesson blocks all laid out though.
Our first block is local geography. We started with a map/floor plan of the room we were in, our main living space. The next day she drew the floor plan of our house sitting on our lot.
We decided to start with these drawings on a chalkboard.
The last map we did for the week was the route from our rural neighborhood into town. Two lane winding county road, about 20 miles/30 minutes to town, we have been driving down this road for more than a decade. It was fun to imagine it and try to draw it. The corner with the donkeys, the apple tree next to the old stone chimney, crossing the river, and then crossing the next river. Feeling so grateful for all of our rivers!
Sometimes Chessa watches.
Most often she sits at the other end of the table working on her own drawings.
(The girls have had the Lyra colored pencils since they were very little, they were our vegan crayon alternative, since there wasn't a vegan crayon alternative. We got our first beeswax crayons when Chloe began 1st grade.)
I seem to think we should have a more defined rhythm... baking day, painting day, modeling day... I wonder if I should be scheduling specific handwork time into our days. And I seem to want it all to be written out on a pretty colored chart I can hang on the wall.
I know our children benefit from rhythm. What I am learning though is that I need to be more trusting of our own home rhythm. We have been living this life together for a pretty long time now. We live a very home centered life. We bake, we create, we read, we sing, we celebrate the season and the beautiful world around us. We do this every single day.
So, back to that first day. We finished our lesson and the girls played outside until lunch time. They brought in some snap peas from the garden to have with their hummus.
We often read together after lunch, it allows for some quiet time. (We sometimes read aloud together several times a day, always at least once.) In our story they were baking a special bread. Ah ha, I had been considering making Monday be our baking day. (You know, on that imaginary chart.) The thing is, we bake almost every day. Still though, perhaps a baking day where we make something a little extra special.
So we baked crackers. This has been on our list of things to make for a very long time. Glad we finally did! I know we will now be baking them often.
(Actually I baked crackers a couple times about 10 years ago. I remember people laughed at me. It's a different world today. Kind of...)
Later in the day Chloe decided to start a new knitting project. Handwork in the afternoon. Perfect. There is rarely a day here that needle, thread, and fabric are not picked up.
Chessa was making a spinning wheel. Oh the things that these girls create out of wool, beeswax, and tree blocks!
And acorn caps. And sticks. And stones and pine cones...
The next morning found the girls busy with wool again, twisting the fiber into yarn and then running outside to find some plants to dye it with.
Other nice moments from the week were a walk around our small neighborhood lake and a Thurday afternoon in the kitchen with Chloe. She made dinner all by herself, I was just the kitchen helper/dish washer.
And this is much of how our week went. And this is much of how our life goes.
I do think I need to make an extra effort for the painting day though...