Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Grade 4, Lesson 2, Day 2 ~ It's Beginning to Look a Little Like Waldorf

Ah ... a cup of tea with milk and sugar. I am so glad that my body is once again tolerating tea in small amounts.

We definitely are moving into our new rhythm with ease and excitement. There is no guff about doing lessons ~ the boys are really into it. Usually J-Baby has abandoned us mentally by now, complaining and crying and generally making lessons intolerable. I don't know what is different this time ~ I suspect it is partly my resolve and attitude, but I also think that the boys are maturing and that academics may be far easier after the 9 year change. J-Baby is 5 months past his 9th birthday now and while I am sure we are still in for many changes this year the tough part seems to be behind us. And just as T-Guy became quite a bookworm during his 9 year change, so has J-Baby also discovered reading for pleasure.

I'm still struggling with the lack of block-format main lessons in OM, but the boys don't share my struggle; in fact, I think they like changing subjects daily. It creates a different weekly rhythm than we have had in the past, but it is a solid rhythm. It reminds me of the the old wash on Mondays, iron on Tuesday, mend on Wednesday, etc. rhythms of days gone by.

Tuesday is our language arts day. We actually do language arts work everyday (spelling, reading, journaling, etc.) but Tuesday is when we focus on it a little more deeply. Right now we are reviewing grammar. (Reviewing is somewhat boring for mom, but this isn't about me, right?) Anyway, we got to color code today! Hurray, something that actually feels like Waldorf! Blue nouns, red verbs. Simple sentences. The point is for the colors to help cue the boys to get a sense for what nouns and verbs sound/look like. Non-Waldorf families may scoff, but I have seen firsthand how much of the Waldorf method really works. After using Enki for grade 1 math my boys will never forget the visual and story clues behind greater/less than and odd/even. Heck, neither will I.

Now, we aren't Waldorf purists. You knew that, right? After all, we are using Oak Meadow, which at best can be described as Waldorf-lite. So we aren't learning recorder this year. We've never successfully learned recorder; that's right, my children will go into the world not knowing how to play Star Wars on a "song flute" (what they called recorder when I was in school). When we tried in grades 1 and 2 I found my boys to be incredibly immature, and their mother to be completely unable to listen to screeching recorder. Now I understand why my mother didn't let me begin my instrumental lessons with the flute (not that the clarinet sounds much better in the hands of a beginner).

No, we are learning guitar. All of us. I am reaching way back and relearning beginner guitar; I never got much past that anyway. We are using the Kids' Guitar Course Complete by Alfred Publishing Staff. I had to buy the DVD separately as it wasn't sold as a complete set when I got it. I also bought an extra set of the Notespeller worksheets as I have two children.

I know DVD learning is frowned upon in Waldorf circles and I don't care. Using a DVD is a lot less expensive than paying for lessons, and for the beginning course I really think we can do it ourselves. Of course, Papa would make an excellent guitar teacher (he's been playing for more than 30 years now), but right now that would add one more thing to his plate in the evenings. Plus, we find it easier to accomplish our lesson in the mornings when we do the rest of our lesson work.

We still can't do a nature walk or work on the field portion of our local topography project. It is going to be over 100 degrees again today, and the smoke from the fires has pushed our air quality somewhere between unhealthful and hazardous. The official recommendation is to stay indoors, keep the doors and windows closed, and run the A/C to clean the indoor air.

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