(Addendum as of March 28, 2009: This post has had 416 hits as of today which kind of cracks me up because I wrote it completely off the cuff in about 10 minutes! If you are new to my blog, please do have a look around. There are lots of posts about the developmental characteristics of the ages of children 7 and under, lots of posts on gentle discipline, co-sleeping, breastfeeding and more (and of course there are A LOT of posts on Waldorf homeschooling and life with Waldorf). I am glad to have you as a reader today! Thank you!)
I have recently talked to three separate mothers who are feeling hopeless and overwhelmed with Waldorf. I would like to take this opportunity to shatter the Waldorf myths – excuse me while I go put on my silk, hand-dyed cape!
Okay, now I am back, so here goes:
1. Being Waldorf does NOT mean that you will always walk around singing and as happy as a Mary Poppins on Valium. It does mean you will do your best to take some time for YOURSELF and breathe. It does mean you will try to set the tone for your home, because if you don’t do it, no one else will.
2. Being Waldorf does NOT mean you can never have another plastic toy in your house ever again. It does mean you WILL seriously pare down your clutter of toys and get rid of a lot of them. It does mean you may take the time to set up inviting areas in your home for your kids to want to play in – maybe a kitchen area, a dress-up area.
3. Being Waldorf does NOT mean you have to go and stand outside in sub-freezing weather everyday because “we are outside in all kinds of weather, no matter what.” It does mean you will make a very concerted effort to get your kids outside on most days when this is reasonable and that you will try to make it around the same time most days.
4. Being Waldorf does NOT mean you have to get rid of your TV, but it does mean you will not turn it on during the day and that your kids will not watch it if they are little. It does mean you are going to work hard to NOT surf on your PC all day, except to read this blog :)
5. Being Waldorf does NOT mean your house has to be perfectly clean and spotless with you standing there in an apron with your broom (although I personally love my apron). It does mean you will make a reasonable effort to keep your house picked up by having several times during the day where you pick up, that you will allot time at the end of an activity to clean-up with your children, and that you will try to clean your house and cook some homemade meals. Baby steps – start small.
6. Being Waldorf does NOT mean you will never go out during the week anymore, but it does mean you will work to be firmly entrenched in your home, especially if you have small children. It does mean you will think about the number of playdates and classes and such a four-year-old really needs (my vote is for none!)
7. Being Waldorf does NOT mean that you are sunk if you cannot make your own bread, knit, sew, paint, model and play pennywhistle, but it does mean you will try to learn little by little. Maybe you will find other Waldorf homeschooling parents to learn from. Maybe, gasp, you will attend a workshop or class without your children and learn so you can show them and be a better teacher. The joy of being human is that we can learn, do better and we are not stagnate!
8. Being Waldorf does NOT mean you cannot use an open and go curriculum. Melisa Nielsen creates one, and so does Donna Simmons. It may mean that after you do this Waldorf homeschooling for awhile you may be inspired to create your own, and it is okay to take a few minutes each day to work on it before the next school year.
9. Being Waldorf does NOT mean you have to honor every traditional Waldorf festival they would celebrate in a school. Pick the ones that speak to you and your family, start small and add things to it every year. This is a learning practice.
10. Being Waldorf does NOT mean you cannot include your child’s interests in your homeschooling experience, but it DOES mean you understand the reasons of WHY Waldorf teaches WHAT when and you can work with that.
11. Being Waldorf does NOT mean that your children have to go to bed at 6:30 forever, but it does mean that you shoot for the same bedtime every night and the same awake time every day. After awhile, you and your children will love this and it will not be a battle, but you have to persevere for at least 21 days! 21 days to make a new habit! And, as a homeschooling mother, you will appreciate the time to yourself.
12. Being Waldorf does NOT mean you will never get there, it just may take time!
Be easy with yourselves out there, start small and dream big! Seek guidance from other Waldorf mothers and don’t just settle on something less than Waldorf if you feel Waldorf is really right for your family! Make it work for you!
You can do this!!
Love to all,