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“Rhythm of the Day” in a Waldorf Kindergarten

Waldorf-kindergarten

As part of SimpleHomeschool’s ”A Day in the Life” series, I have contributed another guest post which appears today: “A Day in the Life of a Waldorf Kindergarten.”  I describe the “Rhythm of the Day” in a Waldorf kindergarten classroom. Or more specifically, a day in my Waldorf classroom. The picture I give is of a typical “Soup Day,” as the children would fondly refer to Tuesday.

Cooking in a Waldorf Kindergarten

© Sarah Baldwin

Names of the days of the week are a meaningless abstraction for young children, but the children in my class knew that Rice Day was always followed by Soup Day, and then in turn comes Bread Day, Millet Day and Oatmeal Day.

The children also knew that on Rice Day we painted, on Soup Day we chopped vegetables, on Bread Day we kneaded dough, on Millet Day we colored with beeswax crayons, and on Fridays we polished and cleaned our classroom. It was all part of the “Rhythm of the Week.”

Seasonally, the children would experience the “Rhythm of the Year” by preparing for and celebrating the festivals of the year—Michaelmas in September, All Hallow’s Eve, Martinmas, Advent, St. Nicholas Day, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, and May Day. Festivals are a much more meaningful way for a child to mark the passage of a year than dates on a calendar.

Waldorf May Day Festival

© Sarah Baldwin

As human beings, we are creatures of rhythm—from the moment we are born, our hearts beat, our blood pulses, and our lungs beat to a steady rhythm. We give children a gift and nourish their healthy development by being mindful of a young child’s need for rhythm, and offering them consistency, and the comfort of knowing what comes next, as we move through our days, weeks, and years together with them.

How do you find ways to honor the rhythm of the days, weeks and years with your children? Do you find it challenging to be consistent? Please share your suggestions and struggles!

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Music, Parenting, Waldorf Education

Singing Through the Day: How Jingles Help Mommy Juggle

Today, I’d like to introduce you to a friend of mine, Amy Robbins-Wilson. Amy is a talented singer, author, and practitioner of mindful parenting.

Be sure to read through to the end for a special giveaway that Amy is offering!

Amy Robbins Wilson, Mommy Jingles

I’ve gotten to know Amy through our mutual association with Spindlewood Waldorf Kindergarten and LifeWays Center in Lincolnville, Maine, and Amy and I were both teachers this past summer at the northeast LifeWays training for childcare providers inspired by Waldorf education.

Oh, and Amy’s son Clayton happens to be one of the children who appears in the slideshow on the new Bella Luna Toys‘ homepage!

I invited Amy to share with us the interesting work she’s been up — finding a way to help mothers transform their days with children through song.

As a Waldorf early childhood teacher, I learned how effective singing can be in easing transitions, eliminating conflict, and how much joy and lightness it can bring to the days we share with the children. Amy has come up with a unique video course for parents who may not be accustomed to singing through the day, or those who think that they can’t sing (never true!), or don’t know any songs.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your family, Amy?

I am a singer, a storyteller, an author and artist.  I am the lucky wife of an amazing man who builds me up as we dream our way forward.  I am the blessed mother of a son who teaches me each day what it means to be fully present and full of joy.

What about your musical background? Can you tell us more?

I’ve always loved to sing and performed my first solo in preschool when I was three.  It was a song about mothers that I no longer remember but now seems like such an indicator of the future!  My life has been a journey of losing and finding my voice.  I actually stopped singing for about ten years to pursue “more serious matters” until I realized that music was an inescapable force in my life.  I studied music in high school and have performed professionally most of my life.

I received an M.A. in Ritual Song and Chant from the Irish World Music Center (now the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance) in Limerick, Ireland.  Once I became a mother, music became both a tool and a refuge for me.

You know that I’m a big fan of your book Transformational Mothering and your lullaby CDs, which I think offer a lovely calming and grounding experience to mothers of young children. What led you to create your latest project, “Mommy Jingles?”

I developed Mommy Jingles because I was looking for ways to connect to my newborn son, to teach him, to communicate with him and to keep my spirits up as I went through some serious baby blues.

Transformational Mothering

Clayton was born prematurely and his ears were so sensitive that he could not listen to a full lullaby for the first ten months.  He would burst out in tears when I sang which was a real ego deflater.  So I started out with humming and then made little jingles for our day that he could use as cues and markers and Mommy Jingles was born.

It was a revelation to me when he began to respond.  He knew that the getting in the car jingle meant we were getting in the car, he knew that the napping jingle was for napping.  It brought us even closer and I felt like such a great mother,  which was a rare feeling for me those first few months when I was feeling overwhelmed and a bit lost.  Mommy Jingles made our day fun and I realized just how brilliant even the smallest babies are.

Other moms started to ask me what I was doing and I shared songs with them. When I started to hear back from them about how Mommy Jingles helped, I was thrilled and decided to create our online course.  My passion is supporting mothers and this seemed a great way to do it.

Can you give us some ideas on how parents can use singing during challenging times of the day with young children. How can singing ease difficult transitions to, say, bedtime, or separating at daycare?

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Waldorf Toys: Bringing New Consciousness to Choosing Children’s Toys

My second guest post as a contributor appears over at Simple Homeschool today.

In my piece, Waldorf Toys: Choosing the Best Educational Toys for Your Children, I describe games that, as a Waldorf teacher, I shared with the parents of children in my classes. These hands-on experiences would shed new light on how young children experience toys, and allowed parents to experience the very different ways that children play with typical Toys ‘R’ Us type toys versus the kinds of natural playthings typically found in a Waldorf classroom.

Waldorf Toys

I wish I could give every one of you the same direct experience, because there is nothing that beats experiential learning, but my hope is that you’ll head over to Simple Homeschool, read my description of the exercises and try them yourself. (Better yet, try them with a friend!)

This was one of my very favorite “parent evenings” to offer, and the insights gained were often profound. I owe credit to my dear friend Louise de Forest who first introduced me to similar exercises many years ago when she was my son Harper’s kindergarten teacher. Thank you, Louise!

Try picking up and handling different kinds of toys and objects from your child’s toy box with your eyes closed. No peeking! Experience them with all your senses. What did you discover? Share your thoughts here.

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