Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Starting Oak Meadow Kindergarten with Tom Thumb

Back when I was in my Waldorf phase, I bought on eBay a vintage 1993 set of Oak Meadow Kindergarten curricula (here's a link to their current kindergarten offerings).  I used it in its entirety with Red the year she was four and we really enjoyed it so I dusted it off this week for Tom Thumb.  Although Oak Meadow is not considered "real Waldorf" by Waldorf purists (if you want "real Waldorf", look here or here), it has all the things I liked about the educational philosophy while still leaning mainstream.  The beauty of this curriculum is its simplicity and gentle pace.  For example, here's what they want you to do for language arts for week 1:

-Tell the story of The Magic Spindle to your child from the Fairy Tale book.
-Ask your child to use crayons to draw a picture of a haystack and the letter A in his main lesson book.
-Ask your child to make the letter A in beeswax.
-Help your child gather sticks and tie them in bundles to form an A.
-Ask your child to draw the letter A with a stick in the dirt.
-Help your child find tree branches that fork.  Tie a piece of yarn between the forks to form the letter A.  Find many branches and make many As.
-Teach your child the tongue twister "My Dame."

There are also short fun activities for mathematics, science, art and music.  I'm sure most kids could get all the activities done in one day and all in one shot if you let them.  The idea is to stretch it out and really let it sink in, not to mention have fun!

Tom Thumb has never been an artsy kid.  Red was always using crayons as a preschooler and got in trouble more than once for "decorating" her bedroom furniture.  Tom Thumb, on the other hand, has never shown any interest in drawing.  Even when I've offered to do it with him, he declines.  I was really proud of him yesterday when he gave it a try.  We've read The Magic Spindle three times already this week (he likes it that much!) so I asked him if he wanted to try to draw a picture of the spindle in the haystack with me.  That picture is supposed to resemble a letter A.  Here's the sample I drew back a couple of years ago when I was doing the curriculum with Red:
Tom Thumb picked up his crayons and with a little coaxing he produced his own drawing:
It was nice to see him give something he's not particularly fond of a try.
Then, of course, he was back to doing what he does love:
We're still plugging away at The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading.  When I started this book with Red, she was three months shy of being 5 years old.  Tom Thumb just turned 4 in September.  We started sooner so we're going at a much slower pace and my expectations are set right this time.  Doing this book at times was frustrating with Red because my expectations were all wrong.  I thought we could get a lesson completed every day.  That was completely unrealistic.  My goal this time around is 1/3 of lesson per day or finishing one or two lessons each week.  For the 4 year old with a short attention span, this seems to be the sweet spot.  Here's an example of the amount we might get done at one time.  This picture shows the second page of lesson #46.  This is equal to about 1/3 of a daily lesson:
Slow and steady wins the race, right?  
I'm hopeful that we'll be on target to complete the book in June 2013, right before Tom Thumb enters 1st grade.  My mom-in-law arrives tomorrow for a week long holiday visit.  I'm off to do battle with some dirt! :-)


Jenny said...

Have you tried making homemade books? You could tie that it to the Oak Meadow stuff, pretty easily. "The A Book" etc. Then you could start making a little pile of books that your son was very proud of "reading" himself. That might kick-start his interest in paying more attention to the actual reading lessons.

Harvest Moon by Hand said...

I used the Oak Meadow curriculum for K and 1st grade with both my daughters. They both enjoyed it, especially the fairy tales and drawing the images that went with the stories. It's a wonderful way to introduce the alphabet - and memorable for both parent and child. Enjoy!