In Waldorf education, the “Specials” refer to the activities outside of the main lesson blocks. This includes both the before lesson activities – such as songs, verses, movement, and form drawing– as well as late morning or afternoon activities – such as recorder and handwork. Begin slowly with these specials, and you will gradually find ways of incorporating them smoothly and easily into your days and weeks.
Circle Warm‐Up Time: Steiner underscored the importance of verse recitation and movement and music. I like to think in terms of incorporating these into a warm‐up time before main lesson work to create a transition. If circle time is not working for your family, you might consider something as simple as taking a walk outside (even 10 minutes makes a difference!) and then coming in, lighting a candle and reciting an opening verse.
- Circle Time or Warm‐Up Time can last anywhere from 10‐30 minutes; intersperse verses, songs, rhythmic activities, and mental math practice.
- One simple structure: sing a song or play an instrument to signal gathering; sing 2 songs and recite 2 poems (perhaps alternate); recite a rhythmic verse (with clapping); play a bean bag game; recite some math facts; play recorder; close with a familiar verse.
- Some poems can be short, some long and learned over time. Consider including seasonal verses or one related to the current block. You might consider having your child write some verses into his or her main lesson book.
- Balance between sitting/standing, fast/slow, singing/speech, hard/soft, movement/stillness.
- After the last verse, get a drink of water and return for main lesson work. Light a candle and recite your official opening verse and leave the candle lit through the main lesson work. (Some light the candle during warm up and then blow it out.)
- Pick a “Call to Circle” Song, Opening Verse and Closing Verse that remains the same throughout the entire year.
- I like to incorporate recorder lessons into circle time or warm‐up time. Others prefer to have recorder lessons right before or after lunch. I have also found that the inexpensive plastic Yamaha recorders work well for homeschooling; some Waldorf classroom teachers prefer them as well over the wooden recorders because they take less time to tune and to care for.
- If you do not play recorder, consider purchasing Living Music from the Heart (from homemusicmaking.com) or David Darcy’s recorder books.