It seems to have become Fall weather overnight. The leaves are changing and dropping in our yard, and the mornings are chill. It's amazing. And lovely. And alas, undeniably time for school.
We started up Tuesday morning with a lengthy, fun circle out in the yard around a pile of leaves. Of course this involved jumping into the pile of leaves during our rowdier 'falling down' songs, but truly, it was great fun! During our closing song our three voices blended and rose up so beautifully that I almost cried. Afterwards I hugged them tightly, showered them with kisses, and welcomed them into a new year of school-- into 3rd grade and Kindergarten.*
Sunburst was feeling a bit unsure of what 3rd grade held for her. "Are we still going to do stories?" She asked, longingly.
So it was then I knew we had to jump right in. I started simply, as I drew her (and Moonshine) along into the overarching story for the year. Again, we're back to our school story, The Adventures of Clara, the wise man's daughter. She's off to stay with her Cherokee grandmother and make friends with the neighboring Jewish family. While she's gone, a good friend and her family will take up residence in Clara's home...
I told this part of the story over a picnic lunch at the park, and when we arrived back at our own home, we entered the house with 'new' eyes. If a family was coming to stay in our house, what would they see? What should we clean up?
Barbara Dewey suggested at her conference last month that we get our houses in order before we begin our homeschool year. It's a great idea, but I haven't been able to make much headway with all the things going on. So that's what we did, we cleaned up. Together. And it was fun because it was part of the story.
When we felt satisfied, we went to the table and drafted a letter to the friend who was coming to stay in Clara's house. Sunburst offered up her ideas (play with my toys, feed my cat) and I wrote them up into a proper letter on the chalkboard for her to copy down into her new main lesson book. Moonshine wanted to do something too, so she drew a picture for Clara to leave with her letter.
Then Clara traveled along to her grandmother's house, arriving after sunset on Rosh Hashana. Her first day of the new adventure -- the start of the Jewish New Year.
Seeing that time correlation in the story made me take a deep breath in. I was so worried that I wouldn't be able to make this year work-- to mesh together all the themes and make it exciting and wondrous. Really, it was stressing me out! So I went to sleep and asked for some guidance. I woke up with no answers, but then this story just fell out of my mouth and seemed to click. New beginnings, a perfect theme for the Waldorf 3rd grade year. Creation stories, Old Testament stories (like Noah), farming (planting the seeds), shelters... it's all about beginning anew.
And thus we began. Welcome to our year!
*The grades placement actually means a lot to them. I never figured it would as homeschoolers, but now that they have a street full of public school children to play with, they are paying much more attention to what grade they are in as sort of a rite of passage. It helps them know they are striving along, climbing that ladder to maturity.