It’s so exciting to be writing about homeschooling kindergarten through fifth grade for home/school/life. My 6-year-old son Malcolm and I have just started our homeschool journey together. I am drawn to Waldorf-style homeschooling, so we are doing lots of art and hands-on activities — and we have established a morning routine that has become our favorite part of the day.
Morning time is a Waldorf idea. I don’t use the Oak Meadow curriculum because I am not sure we are curriculum people, but a friend lent me The Heart of Learning, and I felt really drawn to the idea of the morning routine. We follow our own rhythms for waking up and making our morning meal and preparing for the day. Since we don’t need to be anywhere most days, we don’t bother with an alarm clock but follow the natural rhythm of our bodies instead. When we’re ready to move from waking-up time to learning time, we light a candle together to mark the transition and recite our morning verse together:
Good morning dear earth Good morning dear sun
Good morning dear flowers and fairies, every one
Good morning dear beasties and birds in the tree
Good morning to you
Good morning to me
We stretch down to the ground as we say good morning to the earth and up to the sky as we greet the sun so that we move our bodies to match the words of the rhyme.
We then collect a scoop of birdseed and walk outside to scatter it in our backyard. We check the thermometer and rain gauge on our back porch and observe the sky together. When Malcolm is older, he will write these observations down in our Weather Book, but for now, I am the record keeper. Back inside, Malcolm crayons a picture of the morning sky in the Weather Book, and we enjoy trying to find just the right shade of blue or gray together. Someday, I would like to collect a year’s worth of drawings into a Sky Book. I am learning, though, that I can’t think too much about the future during morning time because morning time is about being in the moment. Malcolm is good at this already, but I am still learning.
We choose a book from our reading basket together every Monday, and we read the same book together every morning that week. At first, the idea of reading a book over and over again seemed like it would be boring. I was afraid my active little boy would not have the patience to keep listening to the same story. We’ve discovered, though, that his attention span actually stretches the more times we read a story. By the end of the week, he is more transfixed and focused than he was the first time we read it.
After our story, we sing together while we do handwork. Malcolm is finger-knitting, and helping him takes all my patience and concentration. If I try to do something else — sneak in some reading of my own or start lunch preparations or even just daydream about our afternoon plans — this part of the morning never goes well. I must be fully present. This routine is teaching me that I have not always been as present with my son as I believed myself to be. I am learning to be with him where he is, and I am humbled by how challenging it has been for me to do this. The songs we sing are simple songs about the seasons or the outdoor world—most of them are from Channa A. Seidenberg’s I Love to Be: Songs in the Mood of Fifth. I did not grow up with many little songs, and so I find this book a useful resource.
When we are ready to move on with the day, we return to our candle, which is still flickering merrily. We watch the little flame dance for a few minutes, and then, when he is ready, Malcolm leads us in our closing verse:
Round and round the earth is turning,
Turning always into morning,
And from morning into night.
He blows out the candle with a big burst of air and laughs as the orange flame turns into white smoke. Morning time is over, and we are ready for what- ever adventures the day holds for us in our homeschool life.
Aminata is the author of HSL’s It’s Elementary column, focused on homeschooling the early years. This column was originally published in the fall 2018 issue of HSL.