Many parents have asked me over the years, to write something about language, literacy and story telling with children: why story telling, why not reading, why does reading come later, what stories to use, when to use them, why tell them rather than read them and what props to use. The philosophy major in me wants to explain everything in great detail which becomes quite lengthy (and dull), so here it is, with an effort to make it concise, and to make some sense of it for you. Tell me what you think.
For this moment, let's think in terms of recapitulating history. Humans in ancient time went from movement to speech to writing to reading. That's it! in a nutshell. That is how Waldorf education approaches reading which is often the big question for those new to Waldorf or outside of Waldorf education. Why wait so long to teach reading? Ah, but literacy is being taught from the beginning and as it is so with all of Waldorf education, the child lives into it, with her very being, at the very start, beginning prenatally.
The very first story for the young child is the mother, and it begins in utero, with the mother's movement, movement that occurs before the child's ears are even formed. This is the first experience of story.
With the formation of ears and beginning of hearing comes the rhythm of her body and sound of her voice.
Next come lullabies, sung by the mother or father, grandparents, siblings or caregivers. Lullabies can be traditional or made up by you. I was astonished in pregnancy and early motherhood how songs and lulling sounds emerged from my lips spontaneously and flowed with ease in me which is something I had not experienced before motherhood.
For inspiration to sing with your children, Mary Thienes Schunemann created a Lullaby book in her series of songbooks with CDs for parents called, Naturally You Can Sing!, which are recordings of her remarkably beautiful voice and lovely illustrations with lyrics that make wonderful inspiration for anyone who wishes to expand their repertoire with lullabies.
Parent-Child Classes at Waldorf/Steiner schools are another place to experience the beauty of lullabies, learn new songs and meet others with young children. Our parents and grandparents can be a source of lullabies when asked to recall what they sung to their children and if they remember lullabies sung to their siblings, especially if they were born into a family with many children and years between them.
Or just relax and remember your early days and let flow whatever comes from you, for your child or for yourself.
To be continued...... with Nursery Rhymes.