Welcome to Wood Nymph Way! I have created this blog with two intentions: (A) keeping our family and friends, many of whom live in lands Far Far Away, up to date with what we've been doing, and (B) as a tool to document and learn from our journey as a Waldorf homeschooling family. Enjoy! And don't forget to check out my resource pages on the right!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Development, Readiness, and the Tooth Fairy

Recently, my daughter's second teeth have begun coming in and there is a great deal of excitement about this developmental milestone.

In Waldorf education, this is a significant step towards academic readiness.  Children typically enter first grade at the age of seven, when most children are beginning to lose their teeth.  Obviously, the growth of new permanent teeth alone does not mean a child is ready for first grade.  There are other things as well.  These include the ability to tie one's own shoes, care for oneself by buttoning and zipping clothes, getting washed, etc.  Being able to walk a low balance beam, throw and catch a ball, skip, and hop on one foot. A child should be able to sit for a longer period of time and be able to focus on the given activity.  She should also be able to track a line of text from left to right, even though she is not expected to be able to read the text.

I feel like I need to say a few things about these skills and what we expect of children.  As I said, these are some of the things a Waldorf teacher looks for in a child who will be entering first grade.  At the age of seven.  I used to be a public school Kindergarten teacher, and most of these were things we looked for in children who were entering Kindergarten.  At the age of  five.  We are expecting more and more of our young children and when they don't deliver, they are often diagnosed, labeled, or otherwise considered challenged.  But I digress, that will have to be a post for another day.

So what do you do when you're in a situation, like myself, when the child is young, but showing all the signs of readiness and more?  My dear girl is still a young five, but looks about seven.  She reads, writes, is wonderfully athletic and artistic, and loves to learn.  But she is five.  She has the emotional and spiritual needs of a five year old.  If she were to attend a school of any sort this might cause some issues. 

However, I am in the fortunate position of being able to homeschool.  I can be as flexible as I want.  So yes, we do some first grade work, modified to her needs and abilities, and we spend most of the day doing other kindergarten things.  Playing, singing, cooking, making art.  Remember when kindergarten used to include those things?  In most places, it doesn't anymore.  The public school children where I live don't have art or music in kindergarten, and only have Physical Education once every couple of weeks.  Not to mention a long school day with little or no recess.

I guess what I'm saying is that we need to honor the developmental stage our children are in, whether they are behind, ahead of, or right on the typical schedule.  Celebrate the changes when they come, but don't push them to get there.  They do grow up too fast after all.

So, for now, we're getting ready for a visit from the tooth fairy.  I'm sure she'll be visiting in a couple of weeks.  I wonder what she'll leave?  There are so many wonderful ideas I have found for little tooth fairy gifts.  All simple, but sweet.  A little more meaningful than just slipping some money under the pillow.  (Besides, you wouldn't believe the exchange rate for teeth these days!  Yikes!)

Here are some of the things I have found.  First, a little poem/story about what the tooth fairy does with the teeth she finds.  I found this poem on several sites, and I can't find who the original author is, so my apologies and not giving him/her credit.
 This night it is a special night
As fairies dance upon the roof.
All the fairies must alight,
For _______ just lost a tooth!

The Fairy Queen gives her commands-
Twelve bright fairies must join hands
Then together in a circle stands
To guard _____ while s/he sleeps.

The Tooth Fairy into the circle leaps
The hidden tooth she takes
Ah, but has far to go
Before ______ awakes.

Three times around the world she flies
Over valleys deep and mountains high;
Skirts the storm clouds thick with thunder,
Wings over waves all wild with wonder.

Deep within their earthly homes
Finally she finds the gnomes,
Who upon the tooth must work
Never once their duty shirk.

Some are hammering, hammering, hammering,
Some the bellows blow
Others sweat at the sweltering forge
And then cry out, "Heigh Ho!"

The tooth's been turned to a shining stone,
A glimmering, glowing gem
The tooth Fairy takes the gnomes' good gift,
And bows (curtsies) to all of them.
Before the sun's first rays are shown,
She returns to _____’s bed,
And then - - - away she's flown!

This of course, would make it only natural to leave some sort of gem or crystal as a ittle gift.  I have also heard of people leaving one gemstone bead for each tooth lost.  Eventually, when they have all been exchanged, all the beads are left for the tooth fairy to collect and they are returned the next day, all strung together into a little bracelet. 

If you don't like to break with the tradition of leaving coins, there are a few neat options.  I have heard of someone leaving  coins from around the world, showing where the tooth fairy has been.  My husband came across these beautiful Tooth Fairy coins, which you'd have to purchase, but are really pretty cool.  Here is a different site with beautiful Tooth Fairy coins.

Here is a site with all sorts of special tooth fairy gifts.  I prefer to make my own, even if my children don't know they're from me, it makes them a little more special.  But you can get some really good ideas from looking around.  Have fun!

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