I'm slowly -- SLOWLY -- making my way through all of the Enki materials that came with our kindergarten package. I love the philosophical underpinnings -- they so closely mirror what we are doing with RDI. I hope to post more on that in the future but I'm not anywhere near knowledgeable enough yet to do so now. But one element of the Enki approach that really appeals to me is the idea of using song and rhythm as a guide to movement throughout the day. We've been kind of, sort of, doing this for a few months now and I find that the use of song, chanting, and rhythm has really made a big difference as we move from activity to activity. No more nagging, no more pushing and prodding, no more wrestling kids into clothes or teeth brushing.
As I start thinking that it is time to go and get dressed for the day I just start singing the Start of Day Song. It's just a simple song that we made up with very unimpressive lyrics all rhyming with Day -- but the idea is that when I first start humming the song and then singing, the kids are mentally and emotionally preparing themselves for that transition. Then I move into the kids room and sit in front of the closet, they join me, gradually pick out their clothes and get dressed. Depending on what side of the bed they got out of, I may need to help one of them a bit more than usual, but in general I've been surprised with how really well it is working and how little prompting I end up doing. I also have a teeth-brushing song, an eating song and a rest time song. Sometimes I give both of the kids a drum and they play and march along as I sing.
I'm not sure why it works, but for us, for right now, it really does. Somehow it gives us a unity of action. It isn't mom saying: OK, time to brush your teeth! It isn't directive at all. It is just a rhythm, a movement that is necessary but also reassuring and enjoyable. I also really like it because the transition from one activity to another then becomes an activity: we're singing, we're dancing, we're clapping, we're drumming. I feel less like I'm herding and more like I'm creating moments of warmth and growth.
Now that we've been working for a few months to get our daily rhythm going, I'm anxious to see how I'll be able to work in the other elements of the curriculum. One very reassuring thing is that for kindergarten the emphasis is very much focused on experiential learning through play and not on academics. I feel like we've got a couple of years of grace before I start to focus on anything more than what I would already be teaching him through RDI. It is also so nice that both Enki and RDI remind me to be mindful of what is developmentally appropriate for Oliver and not to try and rush him into some age-based model of learning that would surely make both of us hate the whole process.