Birthdays are always cause for celebration, especially in Waldorf education. Traditions and rituals help children to experience the rhythm of the year, and celebrating a birthday honours the child’s place in the family and in the world. Below are some suggestions for bringing meaningful traditions to your child's birthday at home.
You can begin the night before. Before bed, you could light a candle and share this verse with your child.
When I have climbed into my bed,
And dreams begin swirling in my head,
And Mother/Father turns off the light,
I’ll still be  years old tonight.
But from the very break of day,
Before the children rise and play,
Before the darkness turns to gold,
Tomorrow, I’ll be  years old!
 kisses when I wake,
 candles on my cake.
Give the number of kisses for their age for the past year and tell them that when they awake, you’ll give one more kiss in the morning.
After your child is asleep, you can 'set the stage' so to speak, for their special day. Some families create a path from the child's bedroom to the area of celebration. This could be done with leaves from outside or cut out paper hearts, seashells, balloons or whatever you feel is appropriate for your family.
In the area you wish to celebrate, you can create a 'birthday table.' This could be as simple as a small table draped with material or silks upon which you can place a wooden birthday ring. The ring usually has 12 - 16 holes around the circle. Each year, you light the numbers of candles your child is turning.
Birthday Crown & Cape:
To make their birthday a royal affair, in the morning, once they have followed the path to the birthday table, you could ceremoniously place a birthday crown on your child’s head, and a birthday cape on their shoulders. Then you could tell them their birthday story.
After lighting the candles, you can tell a 'Birthday Story' that is unique to the child you are telling it too. The story might include a child looking down on the earth from above, seeing their parents and choosing to cross the 'Rainbow Bridge' to join their family on the earth. Below is an example of a possible story you could tell to your child on their birthday and story details can be changed to fit your unique family.
Another option is to save the lighting of the candles until after this first part of the story in the following way...
They looked in awe at this new life and said “We shall call him/her/them ____________ “
(Light the first candle) When (name of child) was 1 (tell a bit about what your child was like at 1 years old and continue each year till the year they are turning) ______
(Light the second candle) When (name of child) was 2 they, ____
(Light the third candle) When (name of child) was 3 ____
(Light the fourth candle) When (name of child) was 4 ____
(Light the fifth candle) When (name of child) was 5 ____
(Light the sixth candle) And now (name of child) is 6 ____
(Light the seventh candle) And now (name of child) is 7!!
Then you can sing your traditional birthday song followed by cake and gifts and other birthday traditions your family already has or is now creating.
The Birthday Book by Ann Druitt has wonderful ideas for bringing meaning in the Waldorf tradition to your child’s special day including ideas for games and activities, recipes, decorations and much more.
There is no right or wrong way to create meaningful birthday celebration so make it your own and have fun!
Daily Wonder recommends that you take time to conduct a baseline assessment when you begin teaching your child each school year. Then, by observing them in everyday activities, you can track their development and become aware of areas that may need extra attention. Below, you will find specific areas to assess, ways to observe your child, and suggested activities to help strengthen particular areas of need.
Children typically favour a dominant side of the body around age seven. You can check if your child has done so by observing them with the following activities.
Crossing the midline is a necessary skill that is related to bilateral coordination. This is the ability to use both sides of the body in a coordinated and organized manner, where one hand is the stabilizer, and the other hand is the performer.
Crossing the midline is the spontaneous movement of one hand, foot, eye into the space of the other hand, foot, eye.
You can see how handwriting requires this skill, as the arm, hand, and eye travel from the left to right, crossing the body's centre. Letter formation also requires this crossing.
Many everyday activities require us to do this; however, some children may need more specific focus to cross the midline fully. Activities that address the hand and foot are easier to practice and can help support the eye and ear to align as well.
Activities to Support Hand Dominance and Crossing the Midline:
Activities to Support Foot Dominance:
Healthy Posture & Pencil Grip
It is essential to have healthy habits when it comes to posture and pencil grip. This will serve your child over the years as the demands for sitting at a desk and writing increase.
Ways to Support Healthy Posture:
Ways to Support Healthy Pencil Grip:
Eye-tracking is an important foundation skill for reading. It’s important to notice whether your child can move their eyes horizontally while their head stays stationary. It is common to observe a tremor at the centre midline, which may indicate difficulty crossing the midline.
We use our memory for imaginative thinking. For example, when we remember something we’ve been told or see, we build imaginative pictures in our brains, leading to high-level thinking. The ability to build pictures takes practice, and we can strengthen this skill through memory games.
Links for More Info & Activities
Establishing Dominance and Crossing the Midline:
“Celebrating festivals illuminates our life on earth with heavenly meaning and shows us the significance of our human existence in the universe. We human beings stand between the two worlds uniting them in ourselves. We are the crossing point where the upper circle representing the heavens flows into the lower one belonging to the earth.”
– Evelyn Frances Derry, Festivals and Seasons
Throughout the year, we can celebrate festivals to connect us with the cycle of nature, establish a yearly rhythm for our children, and strengthen our community.
Autumn is a time to reflect on our inner selves, to find the inner light that will carry us through this time of darkness. It can be an opportunity to know ourselves more profoundly. We can mark this season of inner searching with fall festivals to help guide us on this path of introspection. Our ancestors must have spent many transitions from summer to fall worrying and doubting whether the sun would ever return to its full brightness. This time of year triggers feelings of doubt, fear, and anxiety, possibly stemming from our ancestors' times around fires in the darkness of the year. Seeking comfort, our ancestors would have shared stories and songs as nourishing soul food. The flickering light of the fire would have been a beacon of hope. It's helpful to honour the shared human experience of the seasons when heading into Fall. It is very healing to acknowledge feelings of darkness by bringing them into the light. As nature begins to go to sleep around us, we also feel this downward pull to sleep. It's fair to say that this is also when seasonal depression is common. Instead of unconsciously emanating what's happening outside of us, this is a call to create a strong inner light. Everything that we joyfully soaked up during the summertime, from the beauty of the flowers and trees to the long hours of sunlight, can be harvested now as inner light. When we celebrate this call to kindle our inner light, it is most beneficial to participate in rituals with others. Celebrating together brings depth and meaning to the experience.
There are as many ritual and celebrations to choose from as there are communities in the world. It is a beautiful process to choose the ritual that works best for your family based on laocation, values and beliefs, and community. Here are some things you may want to include in your seasonal celebrations;
We'd love to hear about how your family honours the light. Be sure to share with us in the comments below.
Teaching cursive is fun, easy, and has great pay-off. Cursive can be especially supportive to those that struggle with forming print, reversing letters, eye-tracking, or reading. Not convinced it’s worth it? Check out these articles that explain some of the benefits of teaching cursive.
Literacy Benefits: Scholastic.com
Biological and Psychological Benefits: PsychologyToday.com
Daily Wonder recommends teaching cursive as soon as grade two, when your child knows all the letters, knows their sounds, and is beginning to understand the rules for encoding (spelling). We recommend that the archetypal forms are brought in order of difficulty rather than letter by letter. Below is a step-by-step guide to bringing the forms that are the basis for the letters. Remember, any new skill needs daily practice to become a capacity. We recommend that once you have brought all the forms/letters that cursive then becomes your expectation for all written work. It can take a whole year to become a natural at cursive but just think of all the brain pathways you will create and strengthen in your child, what a gift!
Lesson 1: loops
You’ll teach your child all the letters/forms in lower case first, they can print the capital letters until they have mastered all the forms, then you’ll bring the upper case. The looping letters are the first lesson in cursive. Have your child practice creating the loops, big for l, small for e, across several lines of a lined book. You don’t need to tell your child that these are the letters, just have them practice the form of the loops. Remember to show the areas for placing letters on the page as in the example. You can have your child join the tall and short loops all together to practice the size of them on the lines for today. They can try eeeelllllll or elelelelelelele across the page in cursive.
Lesson 2: points
Make sure you have practiced the looping forms for a couple of days before you move on to this second form. The second form is the pointing form as in the letters i and t without the dot or cross. They’ll be practicing the motion and size of coming to a point, unlike the loop. They can try iiiiiiiiittttttttt or itititititititit across a couple of lines. Be sure to indicate the height of each line or loop using the imaginative image of the sky, earth, and sea.
Lesson 3: bringing letters
Take this day to practice cursive that you’ve brought so far. Show your child how the e loop is an /e/ the l loop is an /l/ the i point only needs a dot to be an /i/ and the t point only needs a cross to be a /t/. Support them to cursive write all the words they can think of with these letters: let, lit, tell, till, little, lilt. Give feedback about the size of the letters in comparison to each other and their form and starting place.
Lesson 4: wave
Today you’ll bring a new form, the wave. Guide your child to practice the wave letter form like for ‘c’. This curving line makes up the base for ‘a’, ‘c’, ‘d’, ‘g’, ‘o’, and ‘q’. Have them try just cccccccc, then switch to cececlclcl and cicicictctctct.
Lesson 5: wave, point, loop
Today guide your child to practice the wave and point together that form the a in cursive. They can do a line of ‘a’ and ‘d’ and then combine other practice letters such as ‘cat’, ‘tall’, etc. Take your time. If the ‘a’ isn’t making sense, don’t go ahead to adding other letters.
Lesson 6: down and loop
Before beginning, make sure that your child has had plenty of practice with previous forms. The next lesson is to guide your child to practice the down and loop line, as in j. Remind your child the difference between: sky, where letters reach way up; earth, where letters always begin; and sea, where some letters reach way down. Show them the ‘j’ without the dot and notice how your child crosses the line to loop, this can be tricky. Practice as much as is needed, combining other practiced letters as is appropriate.
Lesson 7: point and hump
For this lesson, you will guide your child to practice the point and hump as in the h, m, and n. They can combine skills now to try words such as ‘line’, ‘men’, ‘hen’, etc. The point of the ‘h’ can transform to a loop if that is the style you choose, either a point or loop is acceptable.
Lesson 8: wave, point, and down loop
Remember to ensure you give lots of time for practice before moving on to the next form. This lesson will have you guide your child to practice the ‘d’, ‘g’ and the ‘y’. They can create words once they master these two that are a combination of the ‘a t j’ lines.
Lesson 9: point
Time for practice, then guide your child to try the ‘u’, ‘v’ and ‘w’ lines that are point lines. Again, they can take some time to practice any words they can spell with letters they know
Lesson 10: loop and backwards wave
Today you will guide your child to practice the ‘b’. This is a tricky one that is a loop followed by a backwards wave. Provide some time to practice any words they can spell with letters they know.
Lesson 11: point and curve
Today you will guide your child to practice the ‘o’ and ‘p’ which include point and curve lines. As always, once they have practiced and feel confident, they can take some time to practice any words they can spell with letters they know.
Lesson 12: double loop
Today’s form is another tricky one, the double loop. The letter ‘f’ can be formed with a double right side loop or with a reverse at the center. In our experience the double right is a bit easier for some children. You choose what is right for your child. Once they have the hang of it they can take some time to practice any words they can spell with letters they know.
Lesson 13: wave, point, loop
This one is my favourite! The full wave followed by a point on the earth, followed by a waving loop! The letter ‘z’. When they feel confident, take some time to practice any words they can spell with letters they know.
Lesson 14: point table, point curve
Your next forms make the letters ‘r’ and ‘s’. Again, they can take some time to practice any words they can spell with letters they know.
Lesson 15: final forms
There is no easy combo for the remaining letters x, q, and k so we’ll practice them as the final and most challenging letters. The x requires a lift of the pencil, the k requires a switch in direction, and the q also requires a switch in direction. Take it slow, follow your child’s lead. If you need to do one each day to avoid confusion, take that time. After these final letters, they should be able to form all the lower case letters and will need lots of support to keep practicing. You can bring the upper case letters as needed when your child is writing. If you embrace cursive as the way to write, they will too:)
Image credit: Andy Everson
Content warning. This post, which addresses the painful history of residential schools, may be distressing to some readers.
Canada has declared that September 30th will be a National Day for Truth & Reconciliation fulfilling the Truth & Reconciliation Commission's call to action #80. This call to action means that the federal government in collaboration with aboriginal peoples, established this statutory holiday to honour Survivors, their families and communities and ensure that the history and legacy of residential schools is never forgotten.
This has created another opportunity to find meaningful ways to connect to this important part of Canada's history. Below we share some ideas for how you can honour this day.
Appropriate for Grades 1 and up:
Phyllis (Jack) Webstad, a residential school survivor, shares her personal story which inspired Orange Shirt Day.
After you share this story, here are three simple craft ideas for the young child, to build meaning and connection with the story:
Appropriate for Grades 3 and up:
This video is a gentle reminder of what residential schools were and why it's important to learn about them.
After watching the video you could have your child do the following activity:
At Daily Wonder, our goal is to connect parents with heart-felt, age appropriate activities to bring meaning to being human in our world. We hope to inspire you to build community and take a moment to reflect and connect on this new national holiday in Canada. We'd love to see your ideas. Be sure to share with us how you built connection on this day.
Rosh Hashanah translates to mean 'head of the year' and is the Jewish New Year. This year Rosh Hashanah begins at sunset on September 6th and is celebrated with sweet symbolic food like apples and honey. This 2 day festival marks the anniversary of human creation and the special relationship between humans and the Creator. The Jewish calendar differs from today's Gregorian calendar. The Jewish calendar is based on the cycles of the moon and this Rosh Hashanah is celebrating the year 5782.
Here is a traditional Rosh Hashanah verse or song to share with your children as you enjoy a sweet snack of apples and honey.
A good year
A year of peace
And joy increase.
Rosh Hashanah is the first night of the 'High Holidays' or the 'Days of Awe,' which last 10 days. Rosh Hashanah begins with the sounding of the shofar, an instrument made of the ram's horn. The sound of the shofar is a call to wake up and reexamine your commitment to God and to correct ways of living.
Daily Wonder Home Learning honours religious and cultural diversity. We love to share about traditions from around the world and we wish our Jewish community a sweet New Year. Chag Samaech!!
Whether you welcome routine, or resist it, we're here to tell you why you should embrace it.
At Daily Wonder we talk a lot about rhythm and routine. That’s because we know that young children feel a sense of good health when they are held by boundaries, including the lay-out of the day, week, month…. Children are meant to learn through play and doing until they reach high school. This means we need to provide them with lots of activities that spark their creativity and provide space for wonder. When they know what is expected of them children are freed up to be in the moment. It is up to the adults to create the boundaries to free the children.
A friend recently told us that she was not expecting the freedom that came with building a fence around her property. It sounds kind of backwards, that a fence creates freedom, but think about it…she has a dog that had to be tied up or managed all the time. Once the fence went up, the dog knew how far it could go and the people trusted that the dog would just do dog things. We aren’t comparing children and dogs, but we are comparing the freedom fence to boundaries.
Rhythm – this is your wide level organization such as your year, when you start school, what holidays or celebrations you participate in, what time you get up each day, what time you start and end your morning lesson…
Routine – these are the details within your rhythm such as singing a song to begin the morning lesson, lighting a candle before story, and how you end the day. Routines are kind of like the rules for ‘how we do things’.
Any solid new rhythm and routine will take about six weeks to take hold. This means that once you've decided on the appropriate, realistic routine for your family, you need to harness all your forces to hold your new routine in place while you're settling in.
The temptation will be to let it go and give in because it's exhausting and feels like it's not working. But, what's actually happening during this time, is that you are genuinely exhausted because you are using your energy and life forces to hold a routine for your family. The good news is that around the 6-week mark, the routine will hold the family, and you can take a step back.
You will notice that our daily lesson plans have repeating daily steps. This is to support you in holding that routine for your family. We can't stress enough how important it is to open and close your homeschool day at the same time and in the same way.
Also, because you will feel exhausted during this return to routine, make sure to schedule your self-care into this routine. This might look like making yourself a cup of tea at 11:30 every morning and zenning out on the couch while your child plays lego on the floor. Your body will welcome this set time to relax each day within this structured routine.
Remember to hold an abundance of love and compassion for yourself while on this rewarding journey.
Do you have a routine that works well for you and your family? We'd love to hear about it in the comments below.
Thank you to those that were able to attend our Zoom information session. For those that couldn't make it, please watch this hand dandy recording. We think we covered it all, but if you have a question about something we didn't cover, please let us know.
*Content Warning: This post mentions abuse suffered at residential schools.
The recent discovery of the mass graves at the Kamloops Indian Residential School site has spurred us to want to engage in conversation about how we can support truth & reconciliation. To that end, we share some thoughts on how to talk to your children about Residential schools. The below excerpt is from our Grade 4 Wonder of Local Geography unit.
Geography demonstrates the interconnectedness of our world: the people, animals, plants, climate and geographical locality and how each aspect supports and influences the others. It is a time of experiencing the wholeness of life and how we all belong together on the earth. It isn't easy to separate Geography from the history of an area, so it makes sense for us to combine them. Your child will have opportunities to take their developing critical eye and apply it to form opinions and judgements around the historically unfair treatment of Indigenous populations in the province/state where you live. As your child is still young and immersed in the feeling realm, we must bring this history in delicate and age-appropriate ways. Stories with perspectives of Indigenous youth are helpful when wanting to relay more adult facts. It is also necessary to remember that there are many years for your child to learn some of the more difficult and disturbing facts around Residential Schools and Reservation life. From our experience as teachers of elementary school-aged children, when choosing what topics to address about the mistreatment of Indigenous people, it is very impactful for your child to hear that many children were separated from their parents, or had their hair cut, and were forced to stop speaking their language and had cultural traditions stripped away. Depending on your child's age and family history, you can decide when it is the right time to address sexual abuse and violence.
HOW WE HEAL FROM THE PAST
Whether one individual has been hurt by another or an entire culture was hurt by another culture, the process of healing is the same. First, the painful action has to be acknowledged. That means that the person/group that made the mistake must acknowledge or admit that a mistake was made. They must admit that they did something that hurt another. This is the first step. It helps the person who was wronged feel better. After the acknowledgment, there is the truth about the situation, the truth of what the action was that was hurtful, and the truth of how it made the person/group feel. From this point, there can be a heartfelt apology. This can make the person who was wronged feel heard. This is an important step. After the apology, the hurt person must find a place to forgive the other. If we hang on to the hurt for too long, it is not healthy. We need resilience to heal. Do you know what resilience means? It's a quality that helps you bounce back from bad experiences. We all face bad experiences from time to time, and we all need the ability to return to our peaceful and happy place. This takes resilience. With all these parts in place, healing can begin.
Share with your child about the steps that your province is taking in the process of healing from this cultural trauma. Explain what stage the province is at regarding fair treatment now and apologizing for the past decisions. What are the challenges, hopes and dreams for the future of your province?
Explore schedules, rhythms & routines, songs, music, festivals, free play, meals, projects & more to support your homeschooling program.
The Wonder Squad