I really could have given this post about five different titles! The sanguine in me was going a little nuts and to be honest it played a big part indelaying putting this post together! Now that I have worked through that bit of silly, let’s tackle this! A late spring birthday can feel very complicated in Waldorfland. My other kids are nearly on point with their placings, with the exception of my second son (early March birthday) who I have talked about on other occasions and mentioned that I just tended to shift a bit of the content each year for him. My youngest child though is a whole other story. She has a late April birthday and she was a preemie. She was between 6 and 8 weeks early, but honestly today you would not know it. She has a bit of a speech delay, but she has largely worked through that and I would say is 99% discernable in her interactions with no struggles communicating. All that aside… where do we place her?
Sariah, or Baby Bird, being the little sister to Super Sam, really needed stories for HER. I realize this is not the same for everyone, but it was very much our reality so I wrote new stories just for her, those will be published some time this year (2018). As I was writing the stories, I had in mind that I was likely going to do a mid year soft start to grade one, so I intentionally had her stories finish in December so we could start new lessons in January. As of January 2018, she was 6 years and 8 full months. I spent a LOT of time evaluating and really observing her in all areas. I was prepared (even up until November) to scrap my thoughts of starting in January and holding off until fall. I wanted to be really REALLY sure that she was ready.
In mid December, we made knitting needles and I taught her to knit. This was going to be a little test of sorts…. more of ME and my patience than her really. I wanted to see how she would react to being nudged a little and I wanted to see how I handled her potential meltdown. Did I mention she has SPD? LOL! When you have kids on the spectrum, or kids with any kind of trauma, you really have to know where the tipping point is and come right up to the edge of that tipping point without stepping too far over. If you step over then both mom and child has tears and sadness. I wanted to avoid that at all costs. I wanted this soft start to be a very pleasant experience for us both. Her knitting is beautiful, she took to it more quickly than any of my other children. That said, she’s also sat at my feet while I have knitted for the last six years, she wants so much to be like Mommy, she had a clear vision for herself. This child is pure will. Leave it to me to birth someone as strong willed as I am!
I decided that with this soft start we would NOT be starting the flute. I had toyed with it a while in November and even let her sit in on a lesson with Sam and it was no bueno. Nicht sehr gut! We will be beginning flute with the Music Unfolds curriculum in September and following it completely. Until then, we will be learning all the songs from Music Unfolds so they live in her. She will be listening to Sam as he is playing the songs on the recorder.
I also decided NOT to use our curriculum for now. WHAT?! Yeah, that’s what I said. Because we are doing a soft start, I don’t know where we will go. I am saving the meat of the Grimms until the fall while sprinkling a few in here and there because she loves them. We will be doing some form drawing, but I am going slow with a plan to review them all in the fall. At this point… TODAY… I am planning that we will begin a new school year each January. That may change. I am sharing this with you because I want you to know that I totally GET IT. These decisions are hard. I don’t take them lightly. I am in Waldorf for the long haul. We are lifers. I believe in it hook, line and sinker. I am a pretty big Steiner purist and very much believe in continual observation.
So what in the heck ARE we doing?
I thought it might be easiest to give you a sample of my planning (you might be able to see all the white out on the page! I have changed my mind just a few times!)
Our days are looking a bit like this…
Clean up, get dressed
Go for a walk
Sam does his reading, Ellie does her independent work while I work with Sariah
Circle with counting in German, Japanese & Spanish
Rod work (thank you Tiffany!)
Form drawing once a week
Story (we are using The Alphabet by Reg Down, with some modifications*)
Practice (sounds from previous lessons)
Daily conversational German. As I am learning and speaking it with Sam (who is also learning) we are speaking it to Sariah.
Sariah gets a TON of movement and very little media. By a TON, I mean about 3 miles or so a day in walking as well as karate 3 hours a week. By a little, I mean a bit of Coyote Peterson on YouTube, a cooking show, and the very occasional cartoon. In total, the TV time is less than an hour a day, many days it is zero. We also listen to audio stories. We love Sparkle Stories and Herb Fairies.
As I close, I want to encourage you to slow down. Don’t be in a hurry. Take time to really OBSERVE. Have fun! Blessings!
*My modifications will be a light emphasis on the vowels until all the other letters are introduced.