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!

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Summer of "I Can!"

This has been one eventful summer.  When School was winding down in June, I had (mostly at my husband's request) made plans to extend our schooling by having little "summer practice" lessons every day.  Yes, I know this is not Waldorf, by the two of us are educators, and are aware of that daunting statistic that over the summer, students lose about 30% of what they learned during the school year.  Supposedly.  Personally, I don't put too much stock in that one, especially for Waldorf students who learn things in such an organic and complete way.

As fate would have it, I dropped my plans completely.  Not intentionally at first, but after realizing how important S's physical development was, during this summer before she turns six, I just let the whole thing go and decided to see what she could accomplish otherwise.  I knew we would spend lots of time outside, as we always do, gardening and playing, and taking day trips here and there.  (Nothing elaborate or costly.  And avoiding the usual summer vacation things like amusement parks.  The very words "amusement park" make me cringe on so many levels.)  I thought we'd take a step back, for the kids' sanity, and my own, and just enjoy the summer without any big goals or expectations.

Well, was I in for a surprise!  S spent a week at an amazing Farm Camp at a Waldorf school.  This was her first time away from both parents, and her first time in a group setting with other kids.  I was a nervous wreck the first day; wondering if she would speak up for herself if she needed something, engage with the other kids, or end up in a puddle of tears at the end of the day.  I am happy to report that she had a great time! 

The girls in her small group were several years older, but were friendly.  So while she didn't come out of the experience with a new best buddy, she did participate appropriately and happily, and fully enjoyed all the activities.  By the end of the week, she walked around like she owned the place!  Over five days, she had matured measurably in the areas of self-confidence, independence, and social skills.  And I am so grateful for that.  I'm sure many of us worry about our kid being "that weird home-schooled kid with no social skills" that mainstream society seems to fear so much.  Not the case. 

I think that new found independence also contributed to her determination to master things that she had been working on. This summer, she was finally able to ditch those training wheels on her bike!

No training wheels!
This was such a thrill for her, and she couldn't wipe that smile of her face for days.  I was so proud of her, and she even said how proud of herself she was.  It was amazing to watch her determination to practice...and practice...and practice until she accomplished her goal.  Just the mindset she needs entering into her year of six year old Kindergarten/sort-of-first-Grade mix.

Swimming has been a challenge too, as we have limited access to swimming spots, but given a few opportunities to swim this summer, S made the most of it.  She opted to forego her "floaty suit" and just use those good old water wings.  Again, shear determination, some practice, and voila!  she's a swimmer!  Next year she vowed, she will ditch the water wings as well.  :)

A little ride on a boogey-board is a nice break from
swimming practice.

During our time indoors we have practiced string games together, such as Cat's Cradle, started some embroidery projects, and even made some potholders with those loops on one of those metal looms (remember those?).  In other areas of our home life, S has exhibited her maturity by learning to take on some small responsibilities, such as doing her own hair in a pony tail, and helping to let our new chickens out in the morning, feeding them, and helping to get them back in their coop at night.

All the physical changes, such as loss of teeth (five so far!  It put quite a damper on corn on the cob season), changes in movement, posture, and curve of the spine, among others, are  right in line with the Six Year Old Change.  There's a good article about that change here.

Everything I've learned about child development, and especially from a Waldorf perspective, is right on target.  I'm learning to let go of how I had taught (previously in public schools) and really embrace this philosophy.  All of the Steiner I have read (and it's been a lot this year) is reflected in what I have observed, in both of my children, since the beginning of our Waldorf journey a year ago.  I always suspected this was the right path for us.  Now I know.

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