Homemaking In Lent: Inspirations From St. David

Do ye the little things in life.”

I love this day in the year!  It is the Feast Day of  St. David,  patron Saint of Wales.  Wonderful, wonderful stories abound about St. David.  He was known for his austere monastic lifestyle where he and his monks would hook themselves up to plows instead of using oxen and plough the fields themselves.  They ate no meat, nor ale, but appeared to have endless energy for hard labor and for prayer.

However, the main thing St. David was noted for was for his loving kindness, for his gentle words, for his respect for others, the way he observed others and did small things to help build up life in Christ for others.

I often think of St. David. Homemaking, after all, is a labor of small things.  Sometimes it is a labor of small things done time and time again.  Continue reading

Pondering Portals: Part One

There is much made in books and blogs and articles on the Internet about what I call the “pink bubble” of the Waldorf Kindergarten for the early years of 0-7.  I have always maintained that this time should be actually less about the wooden toys and silks, and more about movement, getting children into their bodies, bodily care, being outside and connected to nature – and in the home environment, living the spiritual year and the spiritual culture of that family – and not talking small children to death with explanations and verbal banter.   In other words, a rhythmic, mindful (for the parents) and activity-oriented time.  For more about what I envision for these early years, you can find back posts regarding Waldorf at home by age.

However, the pink bubble doesn’t last forever, and as the six year old hones in on developmental change and growth, there are the inevitable questions…If the world begins to “open up”, how and when?  And how can we do this with a joyous heart, with balance and with fun?  We are, after all, living together at home as a family, which is inevitably different than creating a school environment.

First of all, I think we have to get over the idea that we are somehow “closing off” the world in the early years by offering less choices and more stability.  It is a little like saying we are “closing off” the world because we don’t allow our ten year old to drink alcohol or drive a car…that comes later in development, and we all accept that.  Yet, we too often look at what is healthy for human development as this “weird choice” (or a series of weird choices) that we are making and that we really somehow depriving our children.  I think we have to carry this healthy attitude, a vibrant attitude, a respectful attitude for the dignity of the child and of development into the grades ages and beyond.  I see many parents treating their ten or eleven year old like a fifteen year old, and I think it actually is harder at these ages of 7-10 and then 10 – 14 to really reach that balance the need of the child of reaching out into the community and later the world and the inroads that must be made into family life and into themselves as a human being for health. Continue reading

Sunday Books: Completing The Circle

We are continuing our look at “Completing the Circle” by Thomas Poplawski, and available for free at the Waldorf On Line library.

(If this link does not work, then please go to Waldorf Library On-Line, hit books from the left-hand menu, hit “ebooks” and go the the “C”s to find “Completing The Circle”.  I have tried to fix the link twice; it worked for me but apparently some are still having trouble with the link,)

We are looking at the chapter entitled “Losing Our Senses.”

This chapter should be required reading for all parents.  It is scary, it is frightening and essentially posits that the human brain of the younger generation is changing in response to the fast-paced and busy technological world we live in.  Research done over decades in Munich, Germany by the Rational Psychology Association (GRP) has shown that not only are the senses of  smell and taste declining, but by the mid-1980’s, the receptivity of nearly all senses was declining.  Poplawski writes: Continue reading

Linky Love….and A Little About Writing

A very sweet reader wrote in and asked me about how I center myself for writing.  Well, since I have three small children and a large furry dog running about, I would say my writing at this point is only a meditative process in my head.  I go through almost any drafts that need to be done in my head, and then spill it out on a blog post FAST before someone needs something.  Smile   At one point, I wanted to take many of my back posts and turn them into e-books about development, but I do think book writing is and should be different than writing for a blog, and I don’t think I have the time it would take right now to turn a series of back posts into a book.  Maybe someday when everyone is a little bit older.

There are many, many beautiful writers on the Internet, and I have rounded up a few good links for you that I have enjoyed: Continue reading

Homemaking During Lent: Inspiration from St. Ninian

The Anglican Communion recognizes all the great and Holy Early Church fathers, just as our Orthodox and Roman Catholic brothers and sisters do.  But we do hold a special place in our hearts for St. Ninian, a pioneer in the Christian faith  during the fourth century who established a monastery in a remote isle location in Scotland.

I found a little thumbnail on the Internet that I couldn’t seem to enlarge.  It was what is left of the Chapel of Ninian at  the Isle of Whitby  (Whithorn in his native language).  Bishop Ninian is considered Scotland’s first Saint (see my Homemaking in Lent post about the very brief history of Christianity in Great Britain to understand how Christianity was pushed into Wales, Scotland and Cornwall).

There is not much known about St. Ninian. It is almost certain that was a Briton and that he traveled to Rome for training – so therefore, he was more tied into the Roman Church of the time than the Celtic Church. His monastery was a center of learning and it was called the Candida Casa, the “white house”. From there, he went out to the Picts and other neighboring tribes and took the news of Christianity with him.    Part of the legend around him stipulates that he sowed seeds that grew so fast they became mature plants in a day and that is how the monastery received its food and survived.  He planted his ideas and faith in those studying with him, and St. Kentigern, or Mungo as some of you may know him, became one of the most famous. Continue reading

Simplicity Monday

I was thinking today about how activities are like circles in our lives: that circle that is a place of worship and all its corresponding activities, this circle that is a beautiful homeschooling group, here is a circle for the activities of this child and here is a circle for the activity of that child…

The circles can be beautiful, like overlapping flower petals..But they can also be so numerous that the center of the circles, the family, is dissected into little bits. Continue reading

Why Do I Yell At My Children So Much?

I think whenever there is a lot of yelling going on in a household, it signifies the possibility of several things:

1.  The household, or you, are under complete stress.  What  can you do to simplify your schedule, your rhythm, your life?

2.  Lack of nourishment for you at a physical level, an emotional level, or a soul level.  What can you do to fill your own bucket so you can be steady?  Do you need a break? If you are feeling stressed, how can you change the mood?  Being in nature is a huge help.

3.  I find sometimes the most gentle people are gentle up to a point, and then they explode.  I think this goes back to boundaries.  Sometimes gentle people can be too lax in boundaries, and all the small irritations build up until it all explodes.  I think what one finds with folks who have older children, who have multiple children, is that they are much quicker to set a boundary in a kind but firm way before it all escalates.  Always think about boundaries. Continue reading

Top Ten Ways to Make Waldorf Homeschooling Work For Your Family

I see many families who start along the path of Waldorf homeschooling.  Some embrace it fully, some families weave in and out of it for quite some time.  Some families choose to go a different path, some go a different path and then steer back towards Waldorf homeschooling around the time their children go through the development shifts of ages nine and ten.  And yes, some become absolute haters of Waldorf education, which I frankly feel many times is not due to Waldorf education in and of itself, but how that family approached it all.  Are there ways to avoid pitfalls in Waldorf homeschooling?

I don’t know for sure, but I do have a few ideas.  So here are my Top Ten Ways to make Waldorf homeschooling work for you!

1.  Do not get so hung up on the “right and perfect way” to do Waldorf education or the “right and perfect curriculum” that will be the “magic” for your home.  YOU are the magic.    In the home environment, there are few guideposts and roadmaps.  The main thing is to know development, observe your child and strive yourself, have joy and keep things vibrant.  If you are trying for “perfect” it is all drudgery and you will soon abandon Waldorf Education.

2.  In the Early Years, be  wary and careful of doing way too much way too soon.  Far better to live within the rhythms of the year, the seasons, the liturgical year, your own home and develop those things fully than to spend hours creating perfect handwork projects and charming things for your children (unless creating perfect handwork projects is part of what nourishing YOU).  Do not stress over every little thing trying to make it “Waldorf perfect.”

3.  Remember the  wisdom of the forest kindergarten movement.  I really feel this is where a child birth through aged five or so should be centered more than anything, in nature and in that movement, in the musicality of creation. Around that shift of five and a quarter, five and a half I think is where you can really observe your child and see what skills they still need to develop in order to be successful in the early grades.  You can search “Nokken” in the search engine on this blog and learn more.

4.  Look ahead.  Yes, there are differences between a Continue reading