"repeating" first grade

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    I just joined and we have spent this past late fall/winter sort of re-starting our Waldorf homeschooling process. My daughter will be 7 in June. We live on an island and the only school is just a regular, if not very sincere and quality public school. The only other option for us has been a part-time Waldorf Kindergarten (that starts at age 3) that is farm based and perfect, but only two days each week. The fall she was five I did not enroll her kindergarten in the big school and kept her at the Waldorf group (though almost all other families of her aged kids felt their kids “aged out” which is too bad) and decided to “Waldorf homeschool”. Well so I did the Oak Meadow Kindergarten which really is what is meant for first grade, though not really using fairy tales, lots of nature stories and beatrix potter, which my daughter does not like, she is extremely sensitive to conflict and tension in stories. It felt so relaxed compared to public school kindergarten but also it strained our time together and didn’t seem right. So I had the insight to slow down to one letter per week, one drawing and that was in for expectations. Then I slowly got a better understanding of the first seven years and how much slower and gentler I could be taking it, but I didn’t really get it all the way. Because I enrolled her part-time in public school first grade when she was six.
    It was awful, she cried so much and has such anxiety with the social aspects. She liked the work actually, the math work sheets and reading and such because they were easier to deal with than lunch, moving to enrichment programs, and recess. Anyway, some of it worked but the more I looked into what was happening and read The Practical Guide to Curative Education, I decided to take her completely out and stop all academic stuff and “re-start” and more traditional Waldorf kindergarten where we had lots of rhythm, singing, art, and home life but no school work and not too many demands, decisions, discussions etc.

    So that’s where we are now. At kind of the end of that year. She does do a Waldorf home-school first grade group because her friends are all in first grade or older and the group leader was ready to present some of the first grade material and they do some fairy tales, and drawings and form drawings and have learned knitting and do a lot of painting and handwork. So, now I am in a bit of a muddle. Has she done first grade? Should I move onto second. Is she just familiar enough with letters and numbers that the Christopherus/traditional Waldorf first grade just would be too repetitive? She is only just able to handle fairy tales. I feel that this curriculum would have suited her perfectly developmentally if she had been allowed to wait properly. But I want to make sure it’s something she is excited about and will give her what she needs.

    I know this is long, but I hoped this would be a good place to dig into the whole scenario.
    I also don’t have a huge amount of time and energy to give to homeschooling in terms of memorizing stories and having lots of planning done ahead. I have a three year old as well and run a bakery with my husband.
    I know a lot of what Waldorf first grade is compared to Kinder, but not a lot of what second grade adds on. I would love thoughts on whether the 2nd might work. Especially if we did more of the first grade work at the end of the Spring here as she nears her 7th birthday.


    Donna Simmons

    Hi Sage Ann,

    So sorry I only just saw this post–I am supposed to be notified and was not–my apologies! I definitely think that you could gently transition between first and second grade over the next few months–maybe work into early June–have a complete break for July and August (play, being in nature, crafts and so on) and then start second gr in the Fall. If you have both first and second gr you can work between the tow to help transition your girl. Emphasize form drawing, handwork, modeling and all the good things from Joyful Movement–this will help her feel supported in her development.
    Don’t hesitate to come back for more advice!



    Hi Sage Ann,
    Thank you for posting. I agree with Donna. I would like to add, Time out in nature, something both your children would enjoy.

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