I think one of the main things that we can give our small children is a sense of life as a celebration. I don’t mean an all-out wild party, the way we often think of celebrating today, but a mood of joy, a mood of anticipation and wonder and a happy feeling that we are at one with nature and the world. A mood of celebration in the small child fosters a sense of unity and commonality with nature and others.
Ideally, once you have gone through cycles of celebration with the small child, with its wonder, anticipation and joy, these cycles will continue throughout the life of the people in the family and become an embedded part of that family;s particular culture.
In a family interested in Waldorf Education, one often hears things about Michaelmas, Christmas, Easter and St. John’s Tide. Many families pick the festivals and holidays that speak to them, from within their own country and also from their own religious or spiritual practices.
As a Christian, I often look to our liturgical year, the feasts of the Saints, and also nature within the course of a year. Celtic Saints provide a commonality for Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Anglican families and what Celtic Christianity in particular calls us to look at is celebration and thanksgiving in autumn, stillness and reflectiveness in winter, preparation in the spring, and a calling of expansiveness and growth in the summer.
The celebration mood extends to how we live: do we live life as a celebration in front of our children or drudgery? Do we complain, dislike, and show restlessness within our life or our own hearty love for where we are right now?
The other day I started trying to plan a few things out for our third child, who will be four years old in the fall. The plan for him is a solid Waldorf kindergarten experience, and in accordance with our family culture, a solid Christian experience.
It also provides the experiences around festivals, feasts, the liturgical year and nature that sets the tone for the whole family. This could be easy to lose in planning if one has only older children, but is actually the most important part of homeschooling, for it teaches gratitude, service, love, anticipation, wonder and joy.
I took a piece of paper and divided it into sections with each section labeled by month and just started making lists. My lists included feasts and festivals for each month, songs, things in nature that I want to remember to look for or craft with, ideas for cooking, ideas for family life. This then becomes the blueprint for each month and the basis for what is TRULY important within the heart of the family.
I hope to share more with you as we go along each month!