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.

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,
Carrie

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7 thoughts on “Pondering Portals: Part One

  1. I’m really excited that you’ll be doing this series. We are starting to run itno a lot of these issues with our oldest, who is 9. We don’t know any other Waldorf homeschoolers so it will be so interesting to hear the Waldorf perspective on these things.

  2. Our daughter is almost five. yesterday she whispered “mommy when can i see a movie?”, for her 5th birthday she wants a manicure kit (on the fence about this, i don’t want her to do that but we say no to so many things this may be a place to do a yes…) while we don’t do media at home, it is all around us. we live in a big city. when we have friend from out of town visit they skype, she wants to see it. we say no. the “forbidden fruit” is everywhere. In our city, even taxis, have videos in them. We know she (and her younger brother) will be exposed to all these things, staving them off we hope allows her imagination to develop, her concentration to develop…but it’s really hard. and i feel like we say no, but there must be another way to answer these question other than every family does things differently, and we will do these things as a family later….i look forward to reading more about this. thank you for tackeling this.

  3. Yes, please share your homeschooling group’s “Family Guidelines”. I think it would be very beneficial, insightful, and helpful for us all. Thank you for such a great post!

    • Hi Bonnie,
      We have a membership process, Membership Guidelines and Family Life Guidelines but they are all property of my homeschooling group so I cannot really share word for word, but I am willing to share general ideas that I feel are inherent in many schools and homeschooling groups. I have been corresponding with a few folks about their groups and guidelines. Requesting a family handbook from any Waldorf School would probably entail many of the same things that Waldorf homeschooling groups also entail.

      Hope that helps,
      Carrie

  4. I’m really glad you’re going to discuss this. My older one just turned 5, and will be starting at the public kindergarten in the fall. We’re thinking of ways to balance out the academics, etc., she’ll get at school with the environment at home. (We can walk home from school through the woods at least; looking forward to that!). I’m also interested in what you say about Skype; we live far from the rest of our family (grandparents 500 miles away; an aunt across the Atlantic) so we lean heavily on Skype to keep the kids in touch with them. I don’t want to say “no” all the time, but I want to protect them too.

  5. Carrie, I am really looking forward to this too… As you know, we are a traveling family, so our social network is a bit different from most families (no sleepovers or playdates on a regular basis) and I am wondering how this is going to play off in the next couple of years…

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