Can you be my sounding board? (Re: Kindy) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 24 Old 09-15-2010, 09:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So next Fall we will be starting kindy. We're Waldorf-inspired so I kind of go back and forth over what we should do. According to Waldorf theory, we really shouldn't be doing anything other than what we're already doing--nature crafts, stories, painting, lots of creative and outdoor play, housechores, etc. Grade 1 is for the introduction of letters, numbers, and the four processes. My gut feeling, though, is that things like letter introduction and quality of numbers would be best for next year. Actually, my child has known her letters since she was 1 and can already read oodles of sightwords. When I was in kindy we played and learned to write letters and numbers. At the end of the year, we started on simple readers (like "See Jane Run. Run, Jane, run."). I had JUST turned 5 when I started kindy and I never had an issue learning any of this. Dd will be 5.5 when we start kindy, so I keep thinking that surely she would be okay with that.

I was thinking of keeping things pretty light, like just learning to write her letters and numbers and make a main lesson book for both, but have it be a simple main lesson book and not elaborated with lots of copied drawings and such. She's already learning to write a lot of letters now at 4 but she doesn't always form them correctly, so I thought by introducing writing next year we could work on that before it becomes too habit-forming (I have toyed with the idea of starting now, but dd is very head-strong and still does NOT like to be corrected). I thought about starting with Form Drawing and then progressing to writing letters and then on to writing numbers and exploring the quality of numbers (like, how many different combinations can make a 9, etc.), and that would be it. I was also thinking of incorporating Enki's kindy Nature Stories and Fairy Tales, as well as the "Among the ... People" books from Yesterday's Classics for our read alouds. We already follow Ambleside online Year 0, and we'll continue with that, as well as do lots of seasonal reading and stories. If we do it this way, then in Grade 1 I thought we'd review writing her letters quickly along with their corresponding fairy tales and then go right into the four processes (I'm hoping to have Noble Knights of Knowledge by then to use) along with RightStart Math. We'd also continue Form Drawing, start knitting, and add in either recorder or piano and beeswax modeling.

I guess what I'm asking is, does this plan for kindy sound okay? (I need to shake that Waldorf guilt!) My gut says this would be right for us, but I keep reading all the Waldorf hype about no letters and numbers until Grade 1. I want our kindy year to be fun and not stressful--but really, dd is already writing and making letters out of blocks anyway and has been for years through her own inclination. It just doesn't feel right to wait. Dd has no problem with abstractions and she's lightyears ahead in gross motor skills (this is a big deal in Waldorf). I don't plan on having long lesson times--like maybe 30 minutes or something per day.

What did your children do for kindy (or, if they aren't there yet, what are your plans)? What kind of academics did you cover, if any, and how long were your lessons and such?

Sorry this was so long. Thanks so much if you made it this far!

Looking forward to your thoughts--

Allison:  a little bit Waldorf, a little bit Medievalish, and always"MOMMMMYYYY!" to sweet Cecily since 12.22.05
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#2 of 24 Old 09-15-2010, 10:17 PM
 
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I am having the same problems with you. I have a DD who is only 4 (turning 5 soon) but shows great interest in letters and quality of numbers. I am trying to balance her desire to learn with my Waldorfy (and unWaldorfy) wanting to delay academics. Currently I am loaded with Waldorf guilt which I am trying to shed like no one's business. It's almost making me loose sight of Waldorf because it seems to have morphed into something I'm sure it wasn't meant to be.

You may or may not know that Oak Meadow introduces letters and numbers in K, not first grade. They do this with a strong Waldorfy influence. I know this is poo-pooed on but just wanted to mention that it's not entirely unheard of.

I hope I'm not being too honest here but something Waldorf has done to me is rob my natural instincts of what is best for my children. It was replaced with a whole list of shoulds and should nots that if I don't adhere to I will forever harm my child.

Trust your gut and trust your child. If you teach letters and numbers and "balance" it out with other Waldorf aspects you should be fine.

Edit because I never answered your question.

For Kindy next year I'm not sure. It depends on DD. I'm sure it will involve letters, numbers, possibly reading, copy work, stories, hand work, and no curriculum. Catch me in the middle of next school year and I'll tell you. MAYBE I'll have figured it out by then.

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#3 of 24 Old 09-15-2010, 11:10 PM
 
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FWIW, I've always started letter and number recognition in kindy but with no writing or phonics. It's worked out well for us, and it's balanced out my "let them play and be free" side with my "but oh my gosh, it's kindergarten-- we should probably be doing something!" side. I also really focus on small motor skills during the kindergarten year.

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#4 of 24 Old 09-15-2010, 11:45 PM
 
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Well, I think you have to look inside yourself and see what it is that you like about Waldorf, and why you consider yourself Waldorfy. Waldorfian?

Many people are first drawn to Waldorf because of the pretty trappings. The lovely honey wood, the natural fibers, the colors, the cute toys. This level of interest is about where I'm at, and it's pretty easy to reconcile this with other educational philosophies.

Many people like the delayed academics of Waldorf. I don't think that any other philosophy is so strict about delayed academics, so for people who think that delayed academics are a priority are drawn to Waldorf for this reason. It sounds like this may be where you are? I hate to presume... this is just based on what you write. Back to this in a moment.

Many people are drawn to anthroposophy, and so Waldorf is the obvious choice because it is, at heart, based on Steiner's philosophies. Different schools take things to different extremes, but all Waldorf teachers are trained in anthroposophy and it influences all Walforf schools at some level. This may also be you.

Back to level two, the delayed academics. There are about a zillion reasons to delay academics, and I think that you have to think about why this appeals to you. For example:
  • You want time for your child to be a child and play.
  • Schools demand more and more from younger and younger children
  • You (or a close friend/family member who has really influenced the way that you look at this) was a "late bloomer" academically and suffered for it in mainstream schools. You don't want your child to feel labeled just because it takes her a bit longer to grasp a certain concept.
  • Stories from other countries that delay academics and have higher literacy rates than the US
  • Anthroposophical reasons about the child not being ready for academics (not tall enough, haven't lost baby teeth, can't reach shoulder with elbow or whatever that one is).

These are just some common reasons I've heard talked about... your reasons might be altogether different. And they're all fine reasons. But I think it's important to take the next step and really think about how each of these reasons have a flip side. For example, in order:
  • I don't know about you, but I certainly continued to play after I learned how to read. I remember Little House on the Prairie being one of my favorite games after I read those books, even! My friend was Mary, and I was Laura, and my little sister was Carrie and we'd prepare for the coming hurricane by gathering leaves and weeds and whatever else was growing in our yard.
  • Very true, and very unfortunate. But extremes don't necessarily merit extreme backlashes. Not that waiting until 6 to introduce letters could possibly be considered "extreme," but a happy medium is often something worth looking for.
  • Your child is not you, and you are not your child. This can be hard to remember... trust me. I was a very late academic bloomer, and I did indeed have an unfortunate time being labeled as slow and stupid. Obviously I want to protect my children from these things... but at the same time I have no way to know if they will be reading at 3 or not until 7... so why worry about it now?
  • Although these stories about Scandinavians who don't learn to read until they're 7 and have the highest literacy rates in the world are legion, it's not really the whole story and it's not actually a comparable situation to the US.
  • Honestly, I don't really want to get into the anthroposophical stuff. It's not what I believe in. We'll leave it at that.

I'm a planner, so sometimes I get so wrapped up in plans that when the reality finally arrives I panic. I remember the first time I printed off a letter worksheet for my daughter from some free website. She wanted a picture of an apple and it was what I found. I went running to the nearest homeschooling forum (not this one) about how I'd totally ruined my child by giving her worksheets instead of child-led learning and how could I have done such an awful thing? Responses were civil, but basically boiled down to "uh, you're crazy." And, y'know, they were pretty much right. I've been planning on homeschooling my kids since before they were even born, so sometimes it's hard for me to move beyond the little image I had of the "right" way to do things, when reality gets in the way. But I think that a lot of parenting is like that! There's a book out there which I haven't read but the title is something like "I was a great mom before I had kids," and I think that goes for a lot of us We all have an idea of the totally perfect parent we'll be before we actually realize that this screaming little bundle of joy has a mind of her own.

I'm so sorry this was such a long response! I was totally rambling. But, basically, I think that if you're at a crossroads in terms of what you think is right for your family then you really need to wade through the why, in addition to the how. There's nothing wrong with changing direction, in melding different ideas, in forging your own path. I hear over and over and over again from experienced homeschoolers that it's all just trial and error: that they've all tried things that didn't work, that the first year of homeschooling they went through 3 different math programs and 2 different science curricula before they found one that they liked, that the most important thing about successfully homeschooling is to be flexible and to take your child's needs and personality into account.

Good luck!

Trying to live a simple life in a messy house in a complicated world with : DH, DD (b. 07/07), DS (b. 02/09), and DD (b. 10/10)
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#5 of 24 Old 09-15-2010, 11:51 PM
 
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I also was a firm believer in delaying academics for young children, in theory. But my child will always, always trump every theory, model, or approach. Remember, all of those wonderful educational movements are meant to describe a pattern that should ideally meet the needs of most kids. No theory will perfectly fit every kid. It's far more important to be present and responsive to your kid. Far better to tweak Waldorf to fit the child rather than tweaking the child to fit some Waldorf mold.

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#6 of 24 Old 09-16-2010, 01:02 AM
 
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Some great responses so far.

One thing to consider is the reason why Waldorf says "no letters and numbers yet", and see if you agree with it. If you do, then you should stick to it. But if you don't, then feel free to modify your Waldorfy views accordingly.

From my understanding, the reason why Waldorf delays academics is not just about the time for play. At its heart, it's the anthrophosophical beliefs about how the child's soul is gradually entering the body. The 7-year stages that people go through as they grow. The first 7 years are a time of dreaminess, when they're still halfway in the 'ether', not yet fully incarnated. Only around age 7 do they start to "wake up" and become ready for more concrete, 'real' ways of thinking. They leave the dreamworld of early childhood.

Even if a child is precocious and seems to want to learn to read and do math, it's discouraged because it risks 'waking up' the soul too early, before the body is ready for it, and that can cause serious imbalances and problems throughout life. Instead, you're supposed to encourage imaginative and creative play even MORE.

Okay, that's my understanding of it, and I'm no real expert so please forgive if I'm inaccurate anywhere.

My personal take on it... Steiner's observations on stages of development are quite insightful. I think that in general, it's true that before about age 7 kids are in a dreamy state and start to become able to think more concretely, and that's a good age to start academics -- in general. Brain science would appear to support this - in fact, a Waldorf seminar I went to last year went into great detail about the science of brain development and how it agrees with Steiner's philosophies.

But I also think it's just IN GENERAL. There are such wide variations in development from child to child which is observable right from infancy. Some kids walk at 10mo, most around 12-13 mo, some not until 18mo. They're all fine. Some kids talk at 8mo, most around 10-14mo, some not until nearly 2yo. They're all fine. Some kids are ready to read at 3-4yo, most at 6-7yo, a few not until 9-10yo. It's all normal variation. An observation of the most common age should not, IMO, be taken as an absolute.

What I do think is valuable about the Waldorf take on precocious kids, is that it can help 'tame the monster' of over-excited parents doing TOO much too soon. I did this with my older son (long before I'd ever heard of Waldorf). Disastrous, and we're still recovering and he's 12 now!

By taking the Waldorf message to heart, in spirit if not to the letter, we remember to value the creative and imaginative more than we value the academics. So we can include some academics IF the child is begging for it, but we are also careful not to overwhelm them, and to ensure that they still have more than sufficient time for imaginative and natural play.

My daughter is not quite 4 and is definitely precocious. After the experience with my son, I was fully planning on delaying formal academics until at least age 6. Then she turned out to be a workbook-loving kid, knew all her letters, shapes, colours etc by age 2. She's now starting to read. We're doing RightStart Math A. She loves it.

We're only doing formal stuff very occasionally, only when she's in the mood for it. She still spends the majority of her days off in her own dreamland, talking to herself and her imaginary friends, holding tea parties, loading up her playsilks with blocks and toting them around the house, playing with her ponies, nursing her baby dolls... etc etc. My Waldorf learning means that I'm not concerning myself with trying to do academics every day, that I'm happy to put it away as soon as she says she's done. But I'm also not WITHHOLDING it from her when obviously she wants it.

In that respect, I'm also very informed by Montessori's philosophies. Dr Montessori stated that children will be instinctively drawn towards activities that they are developmentally ideally suited for at the present moment. Trust the child, in other words. Sounds good to me!

As for your actual plans for kindy, a couple comments. I don't see anything in there about art/watercolour painting/etc. DD could paint all day if I let her. It's a wonderful thing to do with kids and is very Waldorfy. You could also start knitting sooner if you'd like. Finger knitting is definitely doable with kids this age -- even my 3.5yo dd is able to finger knit, and she keeps saying "I want to stick knit!" And she can almost do it too -- she can do all the steps correctly, she just has a hard time holding the needles and the yarn and not dropping everything while making stitches.

And if you're planning on doing RightStart, you could even start that earlier if she's keen. We're currently on lesson... uh, 21 or 22. And the most recent lesson was the notion of 'breaking up' a group of 5 into all possibilities (1+4, 2+3, 3+2, etc), which she REALLY got a kick out of. Sounds like the same sort of thing as you were saying, about looking for all the ways of making 9. That would actually be even further along than what we're doing now. Level A is intended as a kindy level and it is VERY gentle. If you'd rather wait of course that's fine too, but you could consider it.

Heather, mom to Caileigh 12/06 and aspie ADHD prodigy David 05/98 :intact lact
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#7 of 24 Old 09-16-2010, 03:34 AM
 
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I am just following my son's lead when it comes to learning. He wants to learn about something, then we learn about it. Not so much a formalized sit down instructional time (that would NOT go over well here!) but get books, movies, games, or just talk and play about it. I do have a very independent, self directed learner on my hands. Which is so rewarding and so challenging all at the same time.

I think that kids show a true interest in something cuz they are ready for it. Perhaps not ready to master it, but ready to explore it and play it. I think that rather than try to stifle that desire to learn and explore, we need to feed it gently and lovingly.
I do NOT believe in flash cards, workbooks, or rigorous programs to teach anything. I believe that kids learn best thru play and exploration. So just let them play and let them learn along the way!

My son learned his letters thru books and fridge magnets - we started with just his name on the fridge and slowly expanded as he wanted more. He played his way to mastery and then decided he wanted to write his name. That was trickier cuz he is a stubborn little critter. LOL He wanted me to write it for him and then he'd attempt it. And get so frustrated. I finally foudn teh Kumon dry erase cards - they have letters and numbers. Large so that even toddlers can do it. each card has a big bubble letter on it, phonics pics on the flip side. He could trace inside the big bubble letter and basically taught himself to write his letters and numbers. Now I have a Melissa and Doug placemat that he uses to practice his letters at a more appropriate size - he loves his "letter board" and loves being able to write people notes. So even though it isn't a set curriculum or lesson based teaching method - he is mastering his letters at his own pace and in his own way. ANd doing so because he wants to and becuase he is having fun doing it!!

Another example - Puzzles are fun and a big hit with most kiddos - but they are super educational at the same time. Teaching logic, spatial skills, problem solving skills, etc. Learning doesn't have to be structured into sit down lessons. It can be based in awesome play time and creative time. Games are amazing learning opportunities.

I personally think that the Enki Nature studies would flow beautifully with what you are already doing. And that fun activity based letter learning opportunities would only stimulate, not hurt, a child who is already showing interest. Something like play time with the dry erase cards. Or just walking around picking out things aorund the house or on your nature walk that start with the letter "A" - it all is gentle and child centered learning opportunities.

Just follow your child's lead - I think they are pretty good at telling us what they need
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#8 of 24 Old 09-16-2010, 03:46 AM
 
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Just wanted to add - for Kindy

We are doing his letter board and numbers. He already is reading really well (again he taught himself at a young age). So we are just doing our normal devouring of books. Nothing new there.

I got MUS Alpha but am making up games to go with the blocks and letting him have lots of play time with the blocks. We have done a place value game and a few unit value games. Stopping here though cuz I don't want to push him right now and see now need to "teach" addition.

I got SOTW Ancients cuz DS is obsessed with Ancients and was requesting to learn about it. Loving the audio book and the Usborne encyclopedias. We are mainly reading and talking about prehistory (dinos, mammoths, caveman, etc) and doing fun projects. Like carnivore dino chases and eats herbivore dinos. Or baby dinos hatching out of eggs. He made Pangea out of clay one day during his free play time. Lots of books and discovery channel movies. Last week we made a leather hunter/gatherer pouch and bought some plastic lizards and spent days gathering up lizards and making them into stew. LOL This week we are making cave paintings on old paper bags. We will probably try to build a tent at some point too. Science right now, I am just incorporating it into our history. Like dinos and mammoths, or the seasons and growing things for the rise of farming.

And then he has his classes - swim, dance, and gymnastics. All of which he loves and has chosen to do.
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#9 of 24 Old 09-16-2010, 11:28 AM
 
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First things first....NO GUILT.

Don't let a curriculum, or a method, or ANYTHING guilt you.

I'd say teach her the letters...because it is REALLY ANNOYING to try to undo it once the child has learned to write them the wrong way.

My main issue I'm having with A LOT of programs (including a Waldorf one I have here) is that they assume your child has not been exposed to anything.

For example...my daughter is six. She's in first grade. The program we're doing right now really seems to think she wouldn't know her letters. But...she went to preschool. She lives in our house. She lives life. She's inquisitive. YES SHE KNOWS HER LETTERS.

Do what feels right. My son is 4 (he'd start K next year) and he's doing handwriting workbooks and he sits in on reading and math.

Just don't let anything into guilting you into what you should or should not be doing.

Welcome to the Real World she said to me, condescendingly, take a seat. Take your life; plot it out in black and white.
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#10 of 24 Old 09-16-2010, 09:16 PM
 
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Have you asked your daughter what she would like to learn? Maybe that will help you decide what to do. I'm not worrying about K right now because I have 1-2 years before I have to start reporting (depending on where the military moves us). I'm waiting to see where DD1 is at when we get there and what her interests lay and then design what we do around them.

~Heather~ Mama to Miss E (1/07), Miss A (11/08), Mr.T (2/11) and Miss A (10/12) Expecting our newest blessing sometime late Sept/early Oct.. Wife to my Marine since 11/2005
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#11 of 24 Old 09-16-2010, 10:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks so much, everyone, for your thoughtful replies. I'm still meditating on them all--you really gave me some much needed reassurance and points to hash out. I think I AM going to do writing letters and numbers and the quality of numbers next year. I really like the idea of doing *something* formal for kindy, to make it seem, well, more "big kid" or some such. One of the hard things about my dd is that she doesn't have decided interests--she loves everything--so what I'd like to do is present a foundation from which she can then leap in whatever direction she chooses. I don' t like a very academic route for kindy--no more than what I did (and as I said earlier, dd will actually be more than half a year older than I was when I started kindy). Dd is quite precocious as it is so that's another reason I want to take it slowly. I want her fully engaged in her childhood because she only gets one of them. Anyway, enough rambling from me ... Again, thank you for listening and sharing your thoughts!

Allison:  a little bit Waldorf, a little bit Medievalish, and always"MOMMMMYYYY!" to sweet Cecily since 12.22.05
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#12 of 24 Old 09-24-2010, 02:03 PM
 
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No Waldorf guilt around here! For kinder we do 30 - 60 min a day of poetry memorization (mostly Robert Louis Stevenson), phonics (All About Spelling or Explode the Code), handwriting (Writing Can Help), religion (Old Testament stories), art (Child-Sized Masterpieces), math (Saxon 1), literature (read-alouds), and music (learning hymns). It's very low-pressure and fun, despite being content-rich. That's the core, and then it is supplemented with notebooking, Draw Right Now, coloring, lapbooks, whatever we want to add.

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#13 of 24 Old 09-25-2010, 01:23 PM
 
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Staying with a strict scope and sequence is great for classrooms where plans must be made ahead of time and there are lots of children at lots of different levels. But at home, one on one, things should be more individualized. I think the main point of Waldorf in the home is not pushing the extra stuff and letting things be more hands on and such.

Also, remember, when Waldorf was established, kindergarten was for 4 yr olds and young 5's. There were never 6 yr olds in kindergarten, not even when I went to school. It is "new age" that 6 and 7 yr olds are in kinder so if your child is 6 or about to be 6, and then she would have been a 1st grader back when Waldorf was established.
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#14 of 24 Old 09-25-2010, 06:28 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lisa1970 View Post
Also, remember, when Waldorf was established, kindergarten was for 4 yr olds and young 5's. There were never 6 yr olds in kindergarten, not even when I went to school. It is "new age" that 6 and 7 yr olds are in kinder so if your child is 6 or about to be 6, and then she would have been a 1st grader back when Waldorf was established.
Are you sure about that? In Waldorf schools, grade 1 is the year that a child turns 7. That's not just because of any particular tradition, it's because of the anthropological belief that age 7 is an important change time, when they enter a new cycle of development. Younger than 7 is too young for academics.

Unless you mean that a kid NOT in a Waldorf school would have been 6 for first grade. That's true, and still is. And it was one of the things that made Waldorf different. But I wouldn't call 6yo's in kindergarten "New Age" -- to my understanding, that's always been the norm for Waldorf.

Well, even then, not quite... Waldorf doesn't really do kindergarten. School starts at age 7, period. Everything before that is pre-school, in the most literal sense of the term, and children are generally just supposed to play. There are now Waldorf kindergartens, probably because parents demanded something, but they would not do academics, they would just do Waldorf-style stories and creative play and outdoor time.

And even in my youth, kindergarten was never for '4yo and young 5yo'. Kindergarten was age 5, and was optional and separate from the regular school system (I went to a kindergarten at the local Y). Grade 1 was age 6. 4 and under was preschool, and only a small percentage of kids did that.

Now, in our province, 4 and under is still preschool but you're looked at oddly if you don't do it. And kindergarten is now fully integrated into the regular school system, and the first day of kindy is considered the 'first day of school' instead of grade 1.

But in Ontario, and likely elsewhere, there is "Junior Kindergarten" for the 4yos and "Senior Kindergarten" for the 5s. Once again, you're looked at strangely if you opt out of JK. But this is a relatively recent phenomenon, as public education has been pushed younger and younger... that's what's got me questioning your statement that "4s and young 5s" were always the standard for Kindergarten at the time Waldorf was established. My understanding has always been that school entrance ages used to be older (even in other countries) and have been pushed younger and younger only more recently.

Heather, mom to Caileigh 12/06 and aspie ADHD prodigy David 05/98 :intact lact
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#15 of 24 Old 10-02-2010, 04:42 AM
 
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I see that you've gotten a lot of advice. I think it's really important to listen to your intuition, but it can be hard to hear it sometimes (amidst all of the other shoulds).

We work within the Enki model which is rooted in the Waldorf pedagogy, but not its philosophy of anthroposophy. What I've found in my experience is that it can be really empowering to a child to let them have a long period of messing about with a subject before you bring it to formal study. So, for my 5yo, his writing the letters/numbers (largely backwards, mind you) is part of his own personal experience with them. When he asks me how to write them, I show him, but I don't bring it to him in a programmed way. I will then let him chew on it for awhile before bringing it back to him probably next year or whenever we start 1st grade.

For me, this kindergarten year is a time to really develop my child's ability to sink into his play, be open and flexible, and to shine with just enough contraction (with whatever activities seem right to you, we use beeswax and lots of household labor) to keep that sinking in grooving.

Good luck finding your way.

Angie
hsing mama to a 9yo and a 5yo

Angie, Mama to Finn (6/01) and Theo (4/05)
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#16 of 24 Old 10-02-2010, 06:17 AM
 
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But this is a relatively recent phenomenon, as public education has been pushed younger and younger... that's what's got me questioning your statement that "4s and young 5s" were always the standard for Kindergarten at the time Waldorf was established. My understanding has always been that school entrance ages used to be older (even in other countries) and have been pushed younger and younger only more recently.
Not sure about that. My mom was born in 1950 and started Kindergarten at age 4 (1st grade at 5). She was within the "birthday cutoff" -- anyone who wasn't 5 by December had to wait until the next year.

But in general, to the best of my knowledge (in the United States) K has been for 5s (or thereabouts) and 1st grade for 6s (or thereabouts) for a really long time.

Now we have Pre-K as part of the public school system (for 4s) but that seems to be a relatively new development, at least in my area.

I think it's been pretty typical for a long time that kids are 5 when they start K but may turn 6 during the year, a few (depending on the birthday cutoff) may be 4 but turn 5 during the year.

Interestingly, while researching homeschooling laws in some US States, I've found that the mandatory attendance age in MD appears to be whatever school year your child will turn 5 in! I was kind of shocked because I thought mandatory attendance is usually 6 or 7 (8 in WA), and I thought that was typically "age X at the start of the school year".

I'm sure it varies a lot by region. I know that both my mother and I went to K as part of the public school system, but my husband, who is younger than both of us, went to K as part of "preschool" and started public school in first grade. I'm not sure K even existed when my dad started school (late 1920s or early 1930s). Certainly it wasn't commonplace at that time.

--K

P.S. OP -- in my opinion, your child's readiness, abilities, and interests are far more important than any particular methodology. Welcome to the wonderful world of eclectic homeschooling
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#17 of 24 Old 10-29-2010, 02:37 AM
 
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Mama to 9 so far:Mother of Joey (20), Dominick (13), Abigail (11), Angelo (8), Mylee (6), Delainey (3), Colton (2) and Baby 8 and Baby 9 coming sometime in July 2013.   If evolution were true, mothers would have three arms!

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#18 of 24 Old 10-29-2010, 08:54 AM
 
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What I've found in my experience is that it can be really empowering to a child to let them have a long period of messing about with a subject before you bring it to formal study. So, for my 5yo, his writing the letters/numbers (largely backwards, mind you) is part of his own personal experience with them. When he asks me how to write them, I show him, but I don't bring it to him in a programmed way. I will then let him chew on it for awhile before bringing it back to him probably next year or whenever we start 1st grade.

5yo
Unschooler here but this what I've taken away from my Waldorf reading too.

Grateful mama striving to respect the two precious beings entrusted to me DD '06 and DS '09
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#19 of 24 Old 10-30-2010, 01:24 AM
 
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I also was a firm believer in delaying academics for young children, in theory. But my child will always, always trump every theory, model, or approach. Remember, all of those wonderful educational movements are meant to describe a pattern that should ideally meet the needs of most kids. No theory will perfectly fit every kid. It's far more important to be present and responsive to your kid. Far better to tweak Waldorf to fit the child rather than tweaking the child to fit some Waldorf mold.
Amen.

If a methodology has you questioning what you know in your heart about your child, your heart is not the problem.

(Contrariwise (which Firefox agrees is a word ), if a methodology says "children are xyz" and you realize "oh! my kid IS xyz" apply away.)
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#20 of 24 Old 10-30-2010, 01:28 AM
 
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Unschooler here but this what I've taken away from my Waldorf reading too.
On the other hand, I've seen arguments against having books with words in them so that the child doesn't see writing too soon.

I'm not sure which version of things is more authentically Waldorf.
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#21 of 24 Old 10-30-2010, 01:30 AM
 
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I've found that the mandatory attendance age in MD appears to be whatever school year your child will turn 5 in!
And yet, if you tried to actually enroll your 4 year old with an April birthday in their system they'd refuse. Certainly hope someone in that state is working to get the wording of the law changed to be sane.
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#22 of 24 Old 10-30-2010, 02:08 PM
 
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I haven't had time yet to read through all the responses, but since you're asking from close to a Waldorf perspective, I'll go ahead and offer my own ideas that fall kind of within that territory.

My own child went to Waldorf kindergarten for two years, because he was not quite 5 when he began, and they like to do two years in those cases. It was wonderful to have that time for imaginative free play along with all the other things they did. I felt their avoidance of exposing them to sight of the written word was obsessive, though. I personally think keeping them from the written word is as obsessive as it can be to go out of one's way to introduce and teach the written word at those early ages. But exposing them to the written word in a perfectly natural way is different from starting to teach them to use it.

I'm all for exposing them to lots of interesting things to learn about, though! My child, for instance, used to peek into the high school area's science room and was dying to have test tubes and experiments in his kindergarten (and he did have some in 1st grade, at age 7, in a different little private school based on unit studies). He loved learning about anything having to do with science, and he also loved stretching his imagination and body to the max in imaginative play - but I see all that as interconnected. And Einstein said, "When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than any talent for abstract, positive thinking.”

The thing is, though, that I personally don't see teaching letters and arithmetic in those early years as particularly useful - all that can so easily be learned in no time when a child is a little older and has some real use for it. I think those are things that draw a child into a little different way of thinking, and there's obviously nothing wrong with that way of thinking at some point, but I just think they're not particularly appropriate skills for that age. I would never ever dream of withholding them from a child who was particularly interested in them, but I just hate to see so much value and attention placed on them by so many parents - as if they're the core and measurement of learning. Reading and writing are wonderful and necessary, but I just don't think there's anything at all special about them at early ages as compared to all the other wonderful things a child can be learning about and thriving from. A lot of children struggle needlessly with them so young, while your child seems to find them easy - but I don't see that as an indicator that it's time to start formally or even informally teaching them so much as just an indicator that they'll be coming in pretty naturally and easily as the time comes when there's more need for them.

I came to ask myself as we went along what my purpose was in wanting to introduce certain things at certain times, and came to realize that a lot of it really had to do with the influence of school traditions and my own needs. I think the best guide is your own child and what she's drawn to - in the brief skimming I had time for just now, I saw a few people comment on the advisability of letting a child gradually take in something on her own, and I found that to be very effective. Not only is it effective, but it's empowering - it lets her be her own teacher, which is something that will give her the realization that she can learn anything on her own in her own way as she grows up and goes on into adult life. The more of that she has, the deeper her learning and her experience of what learning is.

Time to cut the ramble and run off to an appointment. Lillian
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#23 of 24 Old 10-30-2010, 02:30 PM
 
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Waldorf is written with the idea of the classroom in mind. This means, as a group, the children would only be expected to be learning those things at an older age. However, you are homeschooling. Therefore, you should do what the individual child is ready for. If she is already doing these things and wanting and ready to move on to what is next, then move on.
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#24 of 24 Old 10-30-2010, 04:31 PM
 
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Waldorf is written with the idea of the classroom in mind. This means, as a group, the children would only be expected to be learning those things at an older age. However, you are homeschooling. Therefore, you should do what the individual child is ready for. If she is already doing these things and wanting and ready to move on to what is next, then move on.
Actually, having been in the system for a while, and doing my own reading on it, I found that their ideas of when things should be presented specifically have to do with their spiritual view of human development - they're trying to provide an appropriate setting and nurturing for a certain alignment of body and spirit, and they see the coming in of the teeth as a visible sign of readiness to move into a different realm of learning and activities. I'm not arguing against the idea of moving on - just saying that the Waldorf view has a very different concern than those most of us here have in mind. But there's no reason why one can't take from that system things that feel right for them - I loved some of the math and writing methods, for instance, and used some of those when we began homeschooling, but gradually felt there simply wasn't a need for so much teaching and orchestration, because my son learned so readily without all that. Lillian
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