A Year in the Life: Ambient Math Wins the Race to the Top!
For one year, 365 days, this blog will address the Common Core Standards from the perspective of creating an alternate, ambient learning environment for math. Ambient is defined as “existing or present on all sides, an all-encompassing atmosphere.” And ambient music is defined as: “Quiet and relaxing with melodies that repeat many times.”
Why ambient? A math teaching style that’s whole and all encompassing, with themes that repeat many times through the years, is most likely to be effective and successful. Today’s blog will focus on the Circle Time segment of the Kindergarten Day. Starting tomorrow, the suggestions for integrating the Common Core Math Standards and their ambient counterparts with Circle Time activities will be listed.
First a note on the Circle Time and its function, both in the Waldorf classroom and in the homeschool setting. Circle Time begins in the Kindergarten and continues up through Grade 4. Below is an excerpt from the Daily Lesson Plans book, a supplement to the Math By Hand materials. (I am now finishing the Grade 2 book, having finished Grade 1, and am planning to create Daily Lesson Plans books for Grades 3 and 4 as well.)
“Morning circle is a staple in Waldorf classrooms. Though how it looks in your homeschool setting can be quite different, especially if it’s just you and your child. You could create the circle by walking or running it. A nice open space where you can freely move about is all you need. Ideally, the circle should remain the same for two weeks or more, until the content is learned.”
The Morning Circle happens in the Kindergarten after an hour or so of free play, and it happens first thing in the morning from Grade 1 on. It is a lively, wonderful mix of singing, dancing, hopping, skipping, galloping, jumping, clapping, and more! Seasonal and classic verses and songs are learned by heart, accompanied by joyful movement. In the grades, there’s a seamless segue into academics within the Circle, and this daily review of sorts of the current main lesson is beneficial on many levels.
In the Kindergarten however, emphasis is put on the activities for their own sake, and the boundless joy that comes from singing, reciting, moving, and making happy, rhythmic music. The ambient math activities that take place at first in the free play segment (reviewed in the Days 24-28 posts) can be integrated into the Circle Time where they can be moved, recited, marched, sung, accompanied by music, etc. The Circle provides a structured venue for playful, informal, and foundational learning.
Sound beginnings foster later academic success. Bringing the playful aspects of what will later come in a more formal way helps build an unshakable foundation for healthy, effective, successful learning. If academic subjects take on a friendly, playful guise in the Kindergarten, they will be all the less daunting or fearful and all the more welcoming later.
Each of the 17 blog posts, from Days 3-19, focused on one or two Common Core Math Standards and their ambient counterparts. In reviewing these posts, I found that 15 fit into the Free Play segment, 7 into the Circle Time segment, 5 into the Outside segment, and 3 into the Snack / Story segment. Obviously there’s some overlap. Tomorrow’s blog will focus on the standards and ambient math from Days 3, 5, 7, and 13. Days 16, 17, and 18 will be covered in the next post. All will be seamlessly integrated into the Circle Time segment.
Knowledge ensues in an environment dedicated to imaginative, creative knowing, where student and teacher alike surrender to the ensuing of that knowledge as a worthy goal. More Kindergarten tomorrow!