So, I thought I'd share how our days came to have their current rhythm, pattern, flow. Call it a totally basic and not entirely orthodox guide to Waldorf-type home ed for littlies. Note, I am writing as an utter beginner, and an unschooler, and a Waldorf sceptic. :) I don't know yet if this is just a season that we need, or a more lasting change, but for now I am loving it so much I want to share the joy!
The first thing that came was seeing and setting a theme for each day of the week. (On a repeating cycle).
Mondays were always our library days, so now we have Story Day (where I make time to tell a story in keeping with the season and our current interests, that will take us through the week in play and activities). Last week our story was Peter and the Wolf (tying with the bigger recent themes of both classical music and listening games, sometimes together). This week it is John Barleycorn (with activities to do with corn and the harvest, and some more apple activities for good measure).Tuesday here is handwork day. Wednesday is wash day (and Montessori activities). Thursday is baking day (and food planning, and making meals ahead). Friday morning is for art, and friday afternoon for erand running and preparing for holy time. :)
When I plan an activity, I don't insist that they join in, just get on with things myself. But I've rarely had them turn something down and then always simply because I am cutting short something they are enjoying. So I don't cut short their time, just work alongside them unless and until they want to join me. :) This is the unschooler in me insisting that they don't *need* this stuff unless they want it for themselves. The need is in me, and I am meeting it. (I do think they need more opportunity to experience NEW activities, and this does also meet that need!)
The next thing to come was enhancing and invigorating our gateway times. Getting up used to be more chaotic. Now we have woven another little rhythm around washing our faces and cleaning our teeth before we go downstairs (usually this involves singing, but I swear this has nothing to do with me and my various Waldorf-related books, the children started it)! Then there are the little bits of ritual around bedtime (book, candle, story in the dark), meal times (blessing and candle before meal, prayer and extinguishing candle after), all these daily signposts.
I won't be prescriptive here, the important thing to me is that I followed their lead, I listened to what worked, I tried what appealed to me and fitted my working assesment of their unique characters. When I first started reading Waldorf books I got carried away with extremes, either trying to force something to fit that just wasn't US or rejecting the whole thing out of hand.
Even now, when I read these plans and my own writing about them I have this unschooler's gut reaction against being rigid and inflexible. ;) But it hasn't been like that in reality. Having something written down has given us more freedom and more time, because I have been doing more of the fun stuff and less of the sitting around wondering what to do next (or even asking myself if it's OK to direct them to something fun, because I might be interrupting something not visible to me as an adult). Then I decided that I was being silly, and if I feel that they would enjoy a period of having more things put in front of them I should go ahead and try it out!
To start with I was setting a walk time in the mornings, but I've since realised that it's easier to be flexible and listen to them - and easier to enjoy our walk - if I just remind myself to get out of the house either in the morning or afternoon "work" time. Some days that has been the garden, but most it has also been the park or somewhere else nice for walking in nature. :)
The only other thing that has changed is that the rest time in the afternoon - that we used to have when Rowan was smaller - is back. This is purely because as the days get darker and colder we spend more time inside and have that terrible slump in the afternoons AND now it's confined to the living room where we all get on each others' nerves until someone shouts! SO rest time is back, after lunch and a short outside play, we eat our snack and all settle down either for a sleep or to watch a DVD or sit for stories on the sofa. Sleeping is not compulsary, but calm time is! Otherwise I become controlling through all the *rest* of the day. So, baby steps, autonomy yes sort of, but within the limits of my own abilities. If you see what I mean.
Perhaps this has all led to me getting a bit overexcited with the ringbinder-and-charts side of things. ;) Anyhow, I have my list of activities for the near future, and I've taken a week at a time and planned one for each day (though I suspect they'll be moved around a bit and perhaps lots get done one day and nothing the next some weeks). Obviously the main themes this month are the High Holy Days and Autumn/Harvest. Beyond that, Jenna has also announced that we have a theme for the year. She must have been reading Steiner (lol) because I've found online that this is something most Waldorf schools do. So the golden thread through this year is "Our Beautiful World"!And here we are. Looking very much like a Waldorf kindergarten home setting. But still feeling like unschoolers. Rhythm and ritual, but freedom and autonomy. Somehow a happy union of different styles! Who knows where this will take us? :) We live, right here, in what is. So far it's wonderful. :)