Back to School (a Few Weeks Later).

September 28, 2012

"It is aliveness that must be the guiding principle. 
Joy and happiness in living, a love of all existence,
a power and energy for work, and imagination, a sense of truth and a feeling of responsibility...These are the forces which are the very nerve of education."~ Rudolf Steiner

Well hello there.  Where have I been?  Hmmmm.  I suppose we have been busy wrapping up summer activities, starting school and beginning our fall rhythm.  (That and spending too much time on Instagram!  You should join me!)  But I wanted to be sure and check in and reflect a bit on the journey we have been on with C-Man over the past month.

C-Man started first grade this year, which is a big deal at his school.  He was in the so-called Early Childhood part of the school for several years.....which is a lovely, nurturing, homelike environment.  "The Grades," as they are called in Waldorf Schools, mark a big change for the children.  This is the first time they sit in desks, raise their hands, have traditional schoolwork, etc.  They have a main lesson teacher and at least 2 special subject teachers (French, Music, Handwork, Games and Eurythmy) each day.  They play on the "big yard" with all of the older kids.  They are much more independent and there's a lot more work to be done.  

The school does a really lovely job of marking this transition with the children.  During the summer, all the new first grade families joined together for a Bridge Ceremony on the big lawn at the school.  The families sit with their children together facing a wooden bridge covered in flowers.  Each child is called up and the family walks them to the bridge, gives hugs (tears are shed by certain mamas and papas) and the child crosses over to meet their teacher for the very first time.  She greeted each child with a handshake and a few special words for that child, and then she took them to their classroom for the first time.  Parents aren't allowed to join in this really is part of the first bonding that takes place between the child and the teacher and the class as a whole.  (In Waldorf Schools, the main teacher stays with the children all the way through eighth grade, so the bond will become very deep.)

Then, on the first day of school, there is an Assembly for all grades.  The main focus is to introduce or present the incoming first graders to the rest of the school.  A high school senior met each new first grader, gave him or her a rose and walked to the front of the auditorium where the child again met the new teacher.  It was truly beautiful and very moving to see C-Man go through this process with confidence and ease. 

I wish I could say everything since then has been seamless but after a few days, C-Man started having some tears and anxiety before school (a first for him, so that made it a bit harder).  He has worked through it now and runs from the car each morning with a "Bye mom!" (or dad)....which is a relief to hear.  After thinking a lot about what could have been bothering him (he could never identify to us what it was), I believe he was sort of mourning the end of his days in the cozy cocoon of Kindergarten and Nursery.  He was facing work and structure and discipline (all in a very nurturing Waldorf environment, of course!).  This was the end of an era for him and I believe my little man knew it.  

Last night B and I got to go to a class meeting with his teacher and the other parents and we got to sit at his desk and look through his book of classwork and see his paintings and drawings and his little basket where he keeps his things and participate in the morning circle activities and it was so lovely.  He is learning to oil and care for his wooden flute and is sanding his first pair of knitting needles. I am happy for him (and very grateful) that he gets to spend his days in a beautiful and natural and nurturing environment with teachers who love and care for him and give thoughtful instruction.  I meant to get some photos of the room and the beautiful little details but forgot.  Another time. 

I hope all of your transitions back into the school year went well.  xoxo

{first day of first grade}

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