Sunday, September 5, 2010

Simple Waldorf (family/homeschool) Rhythm

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...



suzanne said...

My dear friend~

What a wonderful rhythm you have going here. What I see here is a very happy home with happy little learners. Everything looks very balanced. I know the feeling of hoping all is right but everything is right for you and them. I made a chart and got livy to paint a whole lot of water colored balloons floating in the air. We marked each balloon with a day and time and wrote in the activity and block work. It does help just to see it visually. Renee, this is a wonderful mission you are accomplishing..teaching your children, being a mother, wife and working . I too think you have such a lovely home and environment to do all this in. I think as Mothers (and I am talking to myself here) all we need to do is TRUST that this is what we are meant to be doing and we are all doing it very well indeed~

Have a peaceful happy day Renee
Lots of love

Anonymous said...

gorgeous post! sounds very similar to our daily rythm too and I often muse over that beautifully set up coloured wall chart too!

Sarah said...

L ovally. I am working toward finding a new rhythm for us with our new schedule.

Tonya Gunn said...

Such a wonderful daily rhythm, Renee. Thank you for sharing the bit about your home business work because this is where I have had to let go of some of my expectations to make the home business work fit into the natural routines of our day. I awaken at 5:00 am and do much of the computer work by 8:00 am and then begin helping with breakfast as each child wakes up and then start with lessons by 9:00 am.

Your daughters' play is beautiful and magical.

Thank you for sharing.
Warm wishes, Tonya

renee ~ heirloom seasons said...

I think I will eventually be able to make that chart, our own version at least, but I don't think I could write it out quite yet.

This would perhaps be more important if my girls were still much younger. It is Chessa most on my mind as I think of these simple home rhythms. Some days it seems fine to just let them go play play play. Other times it seems like there needs to be more. I guess I just need to stay aware of those times. But then I wonder if I should be meeting those times before they occur...

For those of you who have/make or want those charts, I sure am not saying anything against it. I think it's great. Makes me happy just to think of you and your sweet rhythmical days :)

Mama Ash Grove said...

Oh Renee, what a wonderful post! <3
I love hearing about how your days go, and the natural rhythm your lives fall into. Your days are so similar to ours, if only we really did live across the woods from each other. . .:)
Your girls are so cute with their busy-ness and their wonderful play! Plant dying yarn!
I know we talked about this already- natural family rhythm vs. creating a rhythm. . .I agree with you on creating a "painting day" and I think we'll do that. And we do bake every day too, but having a special baking day where something different is created- that's a great idea too.

Sara said...

I find charts a blessing now that I have to prepare lessons for two, but I don't know that you can chart a home rhythm... or that you'd need to. Your day sounds just lovely to me as it is. :) --And crackers... it is a different world today, isn't it? Homemade crackers are the best!

saraelise said...

This is such a fantastic post. Just the inspiration I needed. We are starting our home-learning tomorrow and I'm so excited. Your girls are so adorable, by the way.:) I love all the photos. So fun to see other families doing similar activities.

I, too keep meaning to make a chart for my Virgo boy. Oscar really digs charts and rainbows!:) Someday.

momma rae said...

i know you don't love that you must work and be on the computer so much, but my dear friend, you balance it all so nicely! you may not have a beautiful chart on your wall, but you have more rhythm to your days than anyone else that i know. ;)

wishing we could join your homeschool....

miss you! xoxoxo

Tara said...

You have a lovely blog.
I also run a freelance business from home and homeschool (high school freshman). It seems as if our schedules are quite similar. Sometimes I work three "shifts" a day: 5 am to 8 am, 12 noon to 3 pm and 7 pm to 10 pm, or something similar.
I think you are right in trusting the rhythm that emerges from your natural routine. Good luck with the new year.

Anonymous said...

thank you for this post. It fed my soul.

Ginny said...

Your day sounds so lovely!

June said...

Oh, the beauty of learning at home. Like you, I must fit my own work into each day. How I love seeing us all grow into a rhythm that is new and different each year--as they grow and change and as I do too.

I love the map drawing. We did a version recently, and we ended up howling with laughter. My two little geese are such homebodies that their ventures into the world go by in a blur of familiar sights that are untethered by the reality of left, then right, then two miles down... It was so funny.

Crooked Moon Mama said...

Lovely, thank you so much for sharing.
Looking forward to reading more about how your schooling is going.

Unknown said...

Renee, it was so lovely to read your post. Amazing! it sounds similar to our home life and my thoughts; as to whether we need to set out those specific days for baking, etc. but I have never gotten round to it. We do follow the boys activities, as they are always doing something creative. I think it's our surroundings that allow for this and provide this wonderful creative life for our children and we know that they are already learning so much. My work is always with the horses or the gardens, thankfully my husband is able to be with the boys during that time or they help me - I am always close by should they need me.

Jen from SewnNatural said...

So glad to discover your blog. I enjoyed learning about your rhythms and home schooling, something I'm very interested in learning more about.

I love the idea of removing obstacles to learning and fostering a creative environment for children, and following their lead.

Tahara said...

A wonderful rhythmn Renee!...I loved this post and will read it a few times over :-)

Heather said...

This is such a beautiful post Renee, and it warms my heart to read such beauty in your days.

melody said...

You're wonderful. That's all I wanted to say.

Linda said...

This was such a wonderful blog post to read dear Renee. Thanks for sharing:)

Jacqui said...

It seems you are all living in complete rhythm with each other. I am inspired. x

Unknown said...

I love your dilema over baking day! We bae bread every day too. And wash everyday. I think maybe baking day could mean something for the cookie jar? And washing day, the sheets/curtains/ playcloths?? I actually did a colorful chart. It's fun to do and then I don't have to think about balance... Because it's already been thought about. A friend laughed at my chart. Thought I was controlling! Huh! We don't talk anymore. Love that you are making crackers... That's on my to do list.

Amanda said...

What a beautiful day. Thank you for sharing. (I've always wanted to try making crackers!)


sarah in the woods said...

So much loveliness. I enjoyed reading this.

kyndale said...

It sounds pretty darn perfect. I myself would like to make certain days be for baking or clay or something. We aren't really Waldorf homeschoolers but I love that about it.

Marina said...

what a beautiful sweet rhythm in your home! it makes me so wistful to homeschool. thank you so much for sharing this. I wish we could come and spend a day with you :)

Kelly said...

Hello dear Renee,
You all seem to be living and loving your days in such a wonderful way. You keep loving your days with those beautiful girls. I have endeavoured to come up with a chart of this sort several times before but end up resisting my own chart! I don't know what it is about this and why I feel boxed in by it. Now I settle for going with our natural flow around here.

camille creates said...

Oh Gee Renee, there are so many great things in this post.
I especially like the crocheted bags hanging on the bookcase!
Super good work all around!

Wild Maple Wool said...

What a wonderful rhythm!!


~*~ saskia ~*~ said...

.... Perfectly pretty! I have the same trees in my home .^_^.

Have a happy day, Renee xxxx

gardenmama said...

Thank you for sharing the beautiful work and play that creates your days together with your family! I enjoyed reading what you shared. xoxo

Nicole Vangen said...

Thank you for sharing - love the chalk drawing of your house (map)!