A bell is ringing under my pillow. Five minutes pass as I realise I need to do something. Another five minutes pass as I realise that it is an alarm, my alarm, that I have set the night before to make me get up. This means I have to get up. To say I am bad at getting up is an understatement.

I stumble into Anna's bedroom to open her curtains. Gradually, I regain enough consciousness to be able to say: "It's time to go to school." Anna has inherited my inability to make a smooth transition from sleep to wakefulness. Or so I thought. But now she has joined Class 1 at Alder Bridge School. Before I know what day it is, she is up, dressed, shod, fed, ready and waiting, lunch box in hand, by the front door. This is astonishing. If we are late, it is because of her brothers. One can never find his homework; the other always runs out of clothes (at precisely 8.24 am.)

Anna has been in Class 1 for two weeks. She says, with indrawn breath and widened eyes, that it is "a-MAZE-ing!" She is almost bursting with the experience. After school, at home, she does more of what she has been doing all day: she fills her chalkboard with beautiful shapes and I see how this has improved her hand dexterity so that, as she begins to learn to write, pen control will come easily. Her enthusiasm for the teacher's stories spills over and I hear about Bluebeard who was "NOT VERY GOOD" (and someone definitely to avoid marrying.) She overflows with songs. Class 1, it seems, has given her music for most occasions. I stagger around looking for my car keys whilst listening to the choral announcement that "morning has come, night is away!" At mealtimes we are treated to a verse helping us to appreciate our food (the older brothers, being teenagers, like to be too cool to join in, although it calms them enough so that they can hold off, for a few seconds, their attack on the pasta.) We have a song about how the earth is constantly turning – the older brothers can't help being drawn into this one as it is (rather appropriately) a round. The musical highlight for me was when I heard Anna singing, at the top of her voice, a song I last sang when I was 8 at primary school, the tune of which has stuck in my head ever since. Every few months, for the last don't-work-out-how-many decades, I have found myself singing: "Land of the silver birch, home of the beaver. Da da da da di da, dum, dum, di dum." All those years (no, I'm not going to tell you how many) without being able to remember the words! And now, at last, by an a-MAZE-ing coincidence, Anna has brought me some sort of peace.

Thank you, Class 1.

So here are the words, as she has taught me – I can't keep them to myself:

Land of the silver birch, home of the beaver,

where still the mighty moose wanders at will,

blue lake and rocky shore, I will return once more....

Sorry, but I had to share this with you. I know I can't do it justice. For that, you need to hear Anna. This song has been taught to her in a way that has filled her with such enthusiasm that she somehow becomes the song. And this is what I love about Steiner education. The children don't just learn facts to store temporarily in the surface of their brains (I read once that we forget 80% of what we cram for exams.) They somehow absorb it at a much deeper level. How can you find maths boring (as I did as a child) when you discover the concept of a "thousand" via that number of conkers, personally collected by you and your class-mates from the local woods and put in an enormous rolling pile on the floor? When you spend a week making a kiln out of clay, put chalk in it, fire it up and then find you have made quicklime, chemistry comes alive - in a way it never did for me. I have to apologise for not knowing my chemical equations here, for not having a clue how chalk turned into something completely different. I didn't go to a Steiner school. My chemistry lessons never extended beyond the paper on which I wrote the (for me) meaningless equations. I can't remember anything about lime. If you want to know, you'll have to ask my son or one of his classmates. They made the kiln, and witnessed the amazing transformation. Having experienced chemistry like this, in a physical sense, my son is now able to engage completely with the subject on a more abstract level and can talk equations like I can talk! He got an A for chemistry GCSE a year early and is now doing A level.

I wish I could have gone to Class 1!  

Dorothy, a Class 1 Mother.

                                                                 Photo: Welcome back to all our wonderful children and parents! It was an exciting day for little ones joining Kindergarten for the first time, and for the new Class 1 children making their journey over to school at last. Class 1 are already very much at ease in their new home...