Song is an integral part of the Waldorf Kindergarten day. There is a song for greeting the morning, songs for ring time, a song for tidying up, a song for making bread, a song for grace, a song of goodbye and all the beautiful seasonal songs. I think you get the picture! Songs carry the child through their Kindergarten morning in a gentle, harmonious way. A child hears a song and knows exactly what is expected of him/her in that moment. Songs underpin the daily Kindergarten rhythm and also reflect the seasons and the festivals.
Over the years, since my days in the Parent and Child group ( children and parents can join when the child is 2 -3 years old), I have tried to include a set rhythm in our life and plenty of song to move the day along peacefully. It doesn’t always go to plan and life is a bit more complicated than a Kindergarten day, but having a rhythm and using songs has really been an anchor for us.
Singing songs for jobs to be done certainly beats nagging a child to do something and singing by its nature is uplifting and you can’t sing with a scowl on your face!! You don’t have to be an amazing singer, just let go and enjoy it and its effect on your children. A lot of the songs that i will mention are very simple and most can be found in the The Singing Day (Festivals and Seasons) by Candy Verney. The book is a great resource and comes with a CD. Further seasonal songs can be found in the four part series A Collection of Poems, Songs and Stories for Young Children by Jennifer Aulie and Margaret Meyerkort.
The most challenging parts of the day are the morning and evening routines in my experience and of course tidy up time! Young children are so dreamy, that if asked directly to go upstairs, tidy up etc, they don’t often respond, as they are so engrossed in what they are doing, but if you sing a familiar song, they seem to follow without effort.
My eldest daughter is nine and no longer in her early years, but she still responds well to a good strong rhythm and our familiar songs. Sometimes she is critical or negative about it, as is typical of her age, but I sense it makes her feel safe and held and it leads us gently through our day, so I sing on!!
At the moment I sleep in the same room as the girls, but in the past i have woken them with the song:
” Morning has come, night is away, rise with the sun and welcome the day”
which is also the first song they sing in the Kindergarten and the first years of school.
Our day begins at 6.30am so we don’t have to rush through the morning. I do some journalling, while they colour in their colouring in books for twenty minutes and we drink water to bring us back to earth. Then we sing our song for brushing teeth:
“brush teeth brush, the men have gone to plough, if you want to brush your teeth, brush your teeth now”,
followed by my husband inviting them down to breakfast with a made up song of:
“munch munch, crunch crunch, time to have our breakfast, munch munch, crunch crunch, breakfast time”.
The girls immediately know breakfast is ready and go downstairs ( As long as they have finished their teeth!). Once in a while he forgets to sing the song and just calls up, but it never has the same effect.
After breakfast and clearing the dishes, I sing:
” this is the way we go up the stairs, go up the stairs, go up the stairs, this is the way we go up the stairs, it’s time to get ourselves dressed“ (to the tune of ‘Here we go round the mulberry bush’). The girls are usually distracted after breakfast, but when they hear the song, they generally realise it is time to go upstairs to get ready. It honestly is easier than asking, cajoling or pleading with them to go and get dressed and make beds!
And when it is time to leave the house I sing:
” Come here and let us go, put on your walking shoes, it’s time to move along, put on your walking shoes”
I sometimes forget to sing the songs, especially when we moved to our new house. almost two years ago and we got out of our rhythms for a while, but I have to say it does make for a smoother morning when i remember and i would highly recommend accompanying your day with young children with song.
We always sing a blessing song before every meal. We learnt it at our Steiner Parent and Child group seven years ago and have sung it ever since:
“A blessing on the Flower, A blessing on the Fruit, A blessing on the Leaf and Stem, A blessing on the Root. A blessing on our meal.. and our family… ( something we added ). Peace on Earth. “
The Kindergartens and Main school sing:
“For the golden corn and the apples on the tree, for the yellow butter and the honey from the bees. For fruits and nuts and berries we gather along the way, we praise our loving Mother Earth and thank God every day. A Blessing on the meal and Peace upon the Earth.”
I don’t think you can go wrong with the wonderful sentiments of both songs and I feel it is important in these busy times to take a moment to settle before our meal and to acknowledge that Mother Earth has provided us with this food and to give thanks.
Other times of the day when songs help are :
Tidy up time:
” this is the way we tidy away, tidy away, tidy away, this is the way we tidy away when.. we’ve finished playing” ( we swapped that for all the other variations. Sometimes i swap in ‘early in the morning’ to accompany tidying away the dishes after breakfast). This is also sung to the tune of ‘Here we go round the Mulberry Bush’
Or the following song can be used for almost any job around the house to jolly things along:
” we gnomes are working happily, in the kitchen (bedroom/bathroom..), in the kitchen, we gnomes are working happily, in the kitchen (bedroom/bathroom..) we like to be. We sweep the floor (tidy away/make the beds, make the soup..), we sweep the floor, we sweep the floor, oh hey, we sweep the floor, we sweep the floor, so it’s nice and clean again”
“Now’s the time to tidy up, let’s be busy pixies, busy pixies hard at work, tidying everything away”
For washing up, I found the following song by Elizabeth Gould in Well I wonder by Sally Schweizer: She recommends singing it like a sea shanty. I sing it to the tune of ‘Sing a song of Sixpence’:
“Sing a song of washing up, water hot as hot, cups and saucers, plates and spoons, dishes such a lot. Work the dishcloth round and round, rinse them clean as clean, polish with a clean dry cloth, how busy we have been”
For washing and hanging up clothes, I sing:
“Twas on a ( Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Sunday ) morning
When I beheld my darling
She looked so neat and charming
In every high degree
She looked so neat and nimble, Oh
( A-washing | A-hanging | A-starching | A-ironing | A-folding | A-airing | A-wearing ) of her linen, Oh!
Dashing away with the smoothing iron
Dashing away with the smoothing iron
She stole my heart away.”
There is a song for pretty much any occasion to be found in the books I have recommended. I don’t know how many more years I will be singing these songs as my youngest daughter turns seven in a couple of weeks and starts in the main school in September, but I wanted to write them down as a record of the sweetness of these years and to pass on what has worked for me.
Now for bedtime and it will soon be my bedtime too!!
To go up the stairs to bed, I sing:
” Upstairs to fairy land, mind how you go, hold tight to mama’s hand, walk on tip toe. Get your tickets ready to pass through the nursery gates, quiet as a mouse, upstairs to fairyland at the top of the house”
After a short angel prayer, I will sing:
“Sleep my little one sleep, under the starry ( moonlit/dark blue) sky, angels ( mother moon), will watch over you, harm shall ne’er come by”
I changed this from a song i sang to the girls at nap time when they were little. I think I found it in The Singing Day. I also sing lullabies depending on the mood of the moment and my daughters often sing along.
The girls have had a lifetime of song. When my eldest daughter was a baby, she cried often for many months with her reflux/colic/intolerances and song was the only thing that comforted her, so we sang a lot. “Twinkle Twinkle“ was her favourite, but I needed to expand my repertoire as we are talking hours of singing here! so I got to know a wide range of songs and lullabies to help soothe her and my own nerves too! Song is a great healer and brings you close too.
May your days too be filled with song!