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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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Block Crayon Drawing
Art, LifeWays, Photographs, Waldorf Education

Teaching Block Crayon Drawing and Watercolor Painting

Last week, I had the pleasure of teaching several sessions to LifeWays students who had come to Maine for the east coast training. The experience allowed me to take a welcome break from the endless data entry I’ve been doing to ready the new Bella Luna Toys website. The LifeWays Child Care Training is a comprehensive training to give students the understanding and skills they need to transform themselves and their work with young children, and is inspired by Waldorf education and the insights of Rudolf Steiner. These students teach in Waldorf schools, childhood centers, pre-schools or home programs.

Among the classes I taught were crayon drawing with beeswax block crayons, and wet-on-wet watercolor painting, as practiced in Waldorf education. I had a marvelous week preparing for the class, immersing myself in form and color! With thanks to Madrona Wienges and her camera, I am able to share images of our classes with you.

Sarah Baldwin Teaches Coloring

Beeswax Block Crayon Drawings

Coloring with Beeswax Block Crayons

Coloring with Beeswax Crayons

Birthday Pictures

Beeswax Block Crayon Drawings

Scott

Painting with Stockmar Watercolor Paint

Waldorf Watercolor Painting

In addition to the Stockmar Beeswax Crayons, Stockmar Watercolor Paint, Waldorf art supplies and the book Painting With Children which are currently available from Bella Luna Toys, I am excited to be introducing new resources for coloring and drawing when the new site goes live. Stay tuned!

Have questions about drawing or painting? Leave them here, and I’ll do my best to answer them.

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Festivals, Photographs, Waldorf Education

Festivals and Celebrations!

My past two weeks have been filled with so many end-of-year events and celebrations that it’s been hard to keep up with the blog! On June 5, my older son Harper graduated from high school. He was one of only two graduates at his tiny but wonderful high school, the Watershed School in Rockland, Maine. Harper and Josie were poised and eloquent, filling the assembled group of family, friends, teachers and classmates with much pride. It is heartening to think of these two thoughtful and talented young adults going out and sharing their many gifts with the world. (Incidentally, Harper is a Waldorf school graduate, and Josie attended a Waldorf kindergarten prior to home schooling through her elementary years.)

DSC_0041One week later, Harper’s younger brother William graduated from the eighth grade at Ashwood Waldorf School. William has been at Ashwood since he was four years old, and has been with the same amazing teacher, Jacob Eichenlaub, since first grade. William and his classmates are truly like brothers and sisters, having been together for so long and having shared so many adventures (including their recent eighth-grade trip to Costa Rica!). I don’t think there was a dry eye in the crowded Rockport Opera House as we witnessed the students saying goodbye to their teacher and to each other, before heading off to enter various high schools in the fall.

DSC_0203If those two major events weren’t enough celebrations for one week, sandwiched in between were several more festivities. There was the early childhood “Bridge Crossing” at Ashwood, at which the first-grade-ready children cross over a wooden bridge festooned with fresh flowers, wearing gold capes and crowns. As they cross, they each receive a special gift from their kindergarten teacher (in this case, a necklace). They are then followed by the younger children, who wear different colored capes and cross the bridge into “Summerland,” receiving a flower from their teacher on the other side.

DSC_0091

This festival is usually celebrated outdoors, but a rainy day moved the festivities inside. Beautiful, nonetheless!

After the Bridge Crossing, we barely had time to catch our breath before running down the hill to the grade school to witness The Rose Ceremony, which is celebrated in many Waldorf Schools. Back in the fall, on the first day of the school year, each eighth grader welcomed the new first graders to the school by presenting each with a single long-stemmed red rose. Now, on the last day of the school year, each first grader gave each of the graduating eighth graders a rose, sending them off with good wishes as they move on to the next leg of their life journeys.

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But wait, there’s yet more! Ashwood also had its final assembly of the year, at which the middle school students performed an impressive play, all in French.

Ashwood Waldorf School Assembly

Every moment of each of these celebrations was magical, and I can tell you that my supply of hankies was thoroughly exhausted by the end of the week.

Now things are quieting down. The boys went sailing with their dad yesterday for the first time this season, and are looking forward to long, lazy summer days in Maine before heading off for their new horizons of high school and college in the fall.

After a whirlwind couple of weeks, I turn my attention back to my work with Bella Luna Toys, content and filled with gratitude that we have made it this far, and amazed at how quickly we have gotten here.

Here are some more images from my busy week.

First Graders Perform at Assembly

Bridge Crossing 1

Bridge Crossing 3

How is your June going? What causes for celebration have you had?

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