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.
One most always take into account one’s own children – their temperaments, their personalities, their passions, the resources you have as a family, the area in which you live may also play a part as well, and what your own temperament is as you look at what portals to mindfully open, what ones make sense at a certain time… Lots of things to consider!
Many Waldorf Schools have “family life guidelines” that detail some of the very practical matters of this sort of thing. My own homeschool group does as well, and although we did model ours after many of the Waldorf Schools’ guidelines, we are constantly looking at these guidelines and how are families are feeling about the guidelines in light of the home environment.
Perhaps at home what you really need is to create some ideas and guidelines of your own; what reflects your values and your ideals? The main areas of consideration often include peers (“playdates” versus family time; consider sleepovers too), books; magazines; media – TV and movies, video games; texting/emailing/Skyping friends and outside activities (most especially sports and competitive teams). It is important to really talk to your spouse or partner. The older children become, sometimes we as individuals have different ideas about what should happen when. Some of us are more laid-back (or not!) than our partners, so keeping the lines of communication open and having an open, heartfelt discussion is really important (as opposed to just shutting each other down because you don’t agree!).
It most likely will take me a long series of posts to garner any coherent thoughts about this subject on paper, but I would like to at least start with the ideas of when some Waldorf Schools (and yes, maybe the school in your area is different so please do share) consider these activities to be more developmentally appropriate, and some notes from the home environment and what I have observed in homeschooling families and children I have worked with in general. For my Christian readers, I would also like to talk a little bit about some of these things from a Christian perspective and what I have observed over the years.
Many blessings, and more to come,