A very interesting article available through www.waldorflibrary.org at this link:
A very interesting article available through www.waldorflibrary.org at this link:
In our society today, we tend to think that offering choices to children is what prepares them best for later decision-making.
In Waldorf parenting, we tend to think that children under 7 can handle small choices, such as do you want your water in the red cup or the blue one but we don’t always offer an alternative to water if water is what we feel the child should be drinking. We don’t always offer a whole heap of explanation either; it may just be built into the rhythm of the day that we have juice with breakfast and with all the other meals we have water. The choice may be to wear a green sweater or a blue one, but not whether to wear the sweater at all as we work with the concept of warmth in the family. The same thing goes toward such things as setting awake times and bed times, rest times after lunch and times of in-breath or out-breath. The Waldorf parent feels the healthiest way to teach a child is not through an adversarial relationship regarding these things, not by having a battle of wills, but by having the rhythm of our day do the talking so to speak. One does not argue with the seasons changing, the sun going down and the moon coming up, and one becomes a rhythmical being by practicing rhythm as set. Negotiation regarding things sets in more somewhere after age 10, and certainly as the child heads into the third seven year cycle, more and more choice heads into it all. There seem to be many Waldorf homeschoolers of age 14-16 and older who are very independent, well-adjusted individuals capable of mature decision-making. I believe this is due to the foundation laid in these early years.
The physiology behind the small choices offered to a small child have to do with Steiner’s view of the seven year cycles. A small child functions in the will, in the body, in the limbs and not in the head. Decision-making comes in during third seven year cycle around the age of 14. If you need further assistance with this notion as seen through the lens of the three-and four fold human being, please do see this post regarding some of Eugene Schwartz’s wise words: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/06/24/waldorf-education-adhd-and-what-the-parent-of-the-normal-child-can-learn/
These words that Eugene Schwartz wrote might in particular speak to you if you have familiarity of the three-and four-fold human being:
“On what basis will a seven year-old make a choice? Invariably, on the basis of sympathy and antipathy. And whence does he get this sympathy and antipathy? From his astral body, that is, from a member of his being that should not be “activated” until adolescence. An analogy might prove helpful here:
We can think of the child’s astral body as “soul principal” which is being held in a “cosmic trust fund” until such time as the youngster’s lower members are developed enough to receive it, i.e., ages 13-15. As is the case with a monetary trust fund in an earthly bank, it is the trustee’s responsibility to see that the principal is not disturbed for the apportioned period, knowing that the interest that it generates provides sufficient funds for the beneficiary’s needs. If, however, the trustee proves to be irresponsible, and the youngster for whom the principal is intended gets hold of it long before he is mature enough to make wise financial decisions, the principal will be drawn upon prematurely. In the worst case, the entire trust will be depleted, leaving neither interest nor principal at a time in the young person’s life that they are most needed.
In the course of healthy development, the young child has just enough astrality apportioned to her to sustain those organic processes requiring movement and catabolism, and to support such soul phenomena as the unfolding of interest in the world. And where do ADHD children have their greatest difficulties? In developing and sustaining any interest in anything for very long! The environments that we create for our youngest children, the way we speak to our grade schoolers, and our inability to differentiate between what is appropriate for an adult and not appropriate for a child – all of these phenomena eat away at astral “interest” early in life and devour astral “principal” long before it has ripened. By the time many “normal” young people are twelve or thirteen they seem to have lost interest in learning, or even in life; they have “been there, done that,” and take on a jaded, middle-aged attitude toward their own future. The ADHD child is only an extreme reflection of soul attitudes that will be endemic to many American children at the century’s end.”
Powerful and sobering words for us to think about as parents.
A way to help your child’s will be strengthened is to model having a will of your own – not a dictatorship, but not being completely wishy-washy about how things are done in your home. Being compassionate, being a good listener, but also being able to hold the space in a loving way.
I would love to hear your thoughts,
I am going to try and synthesize a few things for you all that I recently learned from Donna Simmons at the Waldorf At Home conference held in Atlanta, a presentation by Daena Ross for Waldorf In the Home (available through Rahima Baldwin Dancy’s on-line store in CD and DVD versions) and Barbara Dewey’s section on the twelve senses in her book “Beyond the Rainbow Bridge”.
I am by no means an expert on the twelve senses, although I will say the twelve senses make a whole lot of sense to me due to my background as a neonatal/pediatric physical therapist.
Steiner postulated in his lectures that there were not only the five most obvious senses that we think of, but actually twelve senses that required development. This has been proved in the medical community, although sometimes in medical literature and therapy literature you see reference to “systems” rather than “senses” although they are truly talking about the same thing!
The twelve senses are what unites the inner and outer world of the individual and what allows us healthy interaction with other people at the highest developed levels. It takes a long time for these senses to be developed, but the foundational senses needed to develop some of the upper senses are most developed in the first seven years. There we are, back to my soapbox about the first seven years!
The Lower Senses are seen in our will forces, they are unconscious, and they manifest in the metabolic-limbic system. These include:
The Sense of Touch – through the organ of the skin. This includes what is inside of me and what is outside of me. Important ways to boost this foundational sense include vaginal birth, swaddling, holding, positive tactile experiences (NOT PASSIVE experiences, like through media or Baby Einstein! Active experiences!) The lack of completion of this sense is strongly related to ADHD according to Daena Ross.
The Sense of Life or sometimes called The Sense of Well-Being – this encompasses such things as if you can tell if you are tired, thirsty, hungry. The best way to boost this sense is to provide your children with a rhythm to help support this while it is developing. Some children have great difficulty recognizing their own hunger or thirst cues, their own need for rest or sleep. A rhythm can be a great therapeutic help in this regard.
The Sense of Self-Movement – this is probably more familiar to therapists in some ways as the “proprioceptive system” in some ways. This sense encompasses the ability to move and hold back movement, and can also encompass such sensory experiences as containment (which can be a form of massage for premature babies) and also swaddling. Childhood games that involve starting, stopping can also affect this sense.
The Sense of Balance – This is balance in two separate realms, from what I gather from the Daena Ross presentation. It is not only the ability to balance by use of the semicircular canals of the ears for midline balance so one can cross midline but also refers to the balance of life and being able to be centered, which again goes back to rhythm and the idea of in-breath and out-breath. Donna Simmons calls this one a gateway to The Middle Senses.
The Middle Senses are seen in our feeling lives, involve us reaching out into the world a bit, they are seen as “dreamy” senses and manifesting in the rhythmic system. THE CHILD HAS NO FILTER TO FILTER THESE SENSORY EXPERIENCES OUT IN THE EARLY YEARS. In the later years, the arts build these senses, which is why the Waldorf curriculum includes teaching through art in the grades. These senses include:
The Sense of Smell - strongly correlated with memory. This can be an ally in education of the grades age child, but beware of scented everything when your children are in the foundational first seven years.
The Sense of Taste – Not only on a physical plane, but an emotional plane in naming experiences (a “putrid” experience, a “sweet” experience)
The Sense of Sight – with two different ways to visualize something: one is the ability to distinguish color, and the other is the ability to distinguish form (which Daena Ross says is more related to The Sense of Self-Movement). The best way to help this sense is to protect the eye from media while developing. A way to bolster this sense in the grades, but not the Early under 7 Years, is through form drawing.
The Sense of Warmth - Donna Simmons calls this one a gateway to The Higher Senses. This sense does not fully develop until age 9 and can literally cause a hardening of creativity and new thought as the child matures, but also can refer to a literal inability of the child to be able to tell if they are hot or cold. Warmth implies not only physical warmth, but warmth on a soul level. Joy, humor, love, connection are all important developers of this sense along with PROTECTION from extreme and garish sensory experiences that would cause hardening. This is a very important sense, and children need help with protecting this sense until the age of 9 or 10, so much longer than many parents think!
The Upper or Higher Senses develop during adolescence and require a strong foundation of The Lower Senses and The Middle Senses to come to maturity. These senses are associated with awakening of the individual, with being concerned with other people and are seen as being centered in The Head. These senses include:
The Sense of Hearing (which Daena Ross calls “a bridge between The Middle and Higher Senses” in her presentation) This requires completion of The Sense of Balance – both of these senses involve the organ of the ear.
The Sense of Speech or The Sense of the Word (this is the speech of another person, not yourself) – Requires completion of The Sense of Self-Movement as you must be able to quiet your own speech in order to really hear another person.
The Sense of Thought or The Sense of Concept (again, of the other person, not your own thoughts!) - Requires completion of The Sense of Well-Being. Rhythm builds this ability to quiet oneself in order to hear someone else’s thoughts.
The Sense of the Individuality of the Other (Donna Simmons also calls this the “I-Thou” relationship of boundaries) – This requires integration and completion of all senses, but particularly involves The Sense of Touch according to Daena Ross.
The most important take-away point for my parents of children under the age of 7 is that children need rhythm, a balance of in-breath and out-breath and protection of the senses from too much stimulation, from media and boundaries set by the parents to wear clothes (VERY difficult with some little nudists!). The development of these senses is also profoundly related to sleeping and what occurs during sleep to build all of this up.
Waldorf Education is first and foremost about health and the twelve senses provide a glimpse into some of why things are done in Waldorf the way they are! I encourage you to investigate the twelve senses on your own. In this age and day of skyrocketing ADHD/ADD, autism spectrum disorders, sensory processing disorders, this should be mandatory learning for all parents.
Common Toddler Challenges:
Your Own Ideas:
Nurses all the time:
Your Own Ideas:
Your Own Ideas:
Bites other child:
Your Own Ideas:
Your Own Ideas:
“Demanding, exacting, easily frustrated”
Your Own Ideas:
Will not get dressed or put on shoes:
Your Own Ideas:
Running Away in Public Places :
Your Own Ideas:
Your Own Ideas:
Refuses Car Seat
Your Own Ideas:
Roughness with Pets:
Your Own Ideas:
Your Own Ideas:
Your Own Ideas:
Your Own Ideas:
As always, take what works for you and your family. Thanks for reading,
(This post is written more from an attachment parenting perspective).
Toddlerhood IS a time where children have a lot of energy and curiosity, and a time when many parents feel there is a shift in parenting going on – the wants and needs of the toddler are becoming two separate things!
Before you can decide how you want to channel the energy of toddlerhood, it is helpful to know two things: 1. What type of family are you? (this is a determinant in how you perceive and handle typical toddler challenges) and 2. Normal developmental milestones of a toddler ages 12 months to about age 3 and 3. How do you view guiding your child? What are your foundational principles?
What Kind of Family Are You??
In the book Kids Are Worth It! Barbara Coloroso defines three types of families:
In both types of Jellyfish families, the following characteristics prevail: Anarchy and chaos in the physical and emotional environment, no recognizable rules or guidelines for the children, arbitrary and inconsistent punishments and rewards are made, mini-lectures and put-downs are the main parenting tools, second chances are arbitrarily given, threats and bribes are frequently used, everything takes place in an environment of chaos, emotions rule the behavior of parents and children, children are taught that love is highly conditional, children are easily led by their peers.
Linda Budd, Ph.D., looks at three traits central to all families in her book “Living With The Active Alert Child”: who’s in charge, what the family values, and how the family handles emotion. She breaks families down into the following categories:
Food for thought: What kind of family is your family according to either Barbara Coloroso’s or Linda Budd’s structure?
Are you and your significant other different according to Barbara Coloroso or Linda Budd’s structure? What was the family you grew up in like?
NORMAL DEVELOPMENTAL MILESTONES FOR THE ONE AND TWO-YEAR OLD
Age 12 months – Typically…
Nurses very frequently, almost like a newborn at times
Many mothers pick a code word for nursing at this time
Cannot accept delays or explanations regarding nursing
Heads into period of disorganization (waking up at night, separation anxiety) prior to new developmental milestones.
The drive to stand and walk takes precedence over all other activities
Loves an audience, sociable
Control over feeding is (SHOULD BE) the child’s
Molars coming in; chewing on everything
Very few distinguishable words, points and gestures
Separation and stranger anxiety
Age 15 months – Typically…
Still nursing very frequently, almost like a newborn at times
The dash and dart and fling stage
Demanding, tends to grab, cry, scream
May be rather asocial, undemonstrative
Temper tantrums emerge (if they have not already)
Cup and spoon mastery may be happening
Attention span is short but will examine objects with real interest (but for less than 5 minutes)
Age 18 months-Typically…
Negativism prevails – wants what he wants, when he wants it
Turns to mother when tired, unhappy
Likes to mimic household activities
Not interested in other children – to large extent ignores them or tries to explore them by poking their eyes, pulling hair
Can play alone
Nighttime waking appears with new stresses
Walking may still be a bit uncertain, loves to go up and down stairs, squat, climb into chairs or sofas
Will lug, tug, push, pull, pound things
May run away from parents in public places
Protests violently at separation from parents
Parallel play with peers
May see biting, hair pulling, scratching, hitting toward other people
Play is child’s most powerful way to learn
Age 21 months…Typically…
Can be one of the hardest ages – wants are more definite
May be height of wakefulness at night
Height of taking clothes off and running around naked
Still easily frustrated with lots of temper tantrums
Understand which objects belong to individual family members
Cares about “mine”
Knows where household items belong
Can solve some of their own problems themselves when playing
Age 2 years – Typically…
Many still need to nurse often in order to calm themselves, but some children may nurse only around bedtimes and naptimes
Some children can begin to adjust their requests for nursing to places and times that are most comfortable for the whole family
May have difficulty going to bed/falling asleep
Can run little errands within the house
Touches and tastes everything
Uses sentences with verbs and is beginning to use adjectives and adverbs
Parallel play with other children
Age 2 and a half – Typically…
Much improved coordination – can walk on tiptoes, jump with both feet, climb, slide, speed up, slow down, turn corners, make sudden stops
Tense, rigid, explosive, bossy, demanding – (but unsure of himself/environment)
Demands sameness, routine
May stutter, have increased tensional outlets
May have frequent night waking, talking in sleep, night terrors, difficulty going to sleep
Self-feeding with lots of messiness prevails, smearing of food, may throw dishes on floor
May be interested in potty training
Masturbation and genital exploration common
Violent mood shifts – will suddenly become angry and out of control
Can most certainly help around the house
Closer to 3 years old, may get tired easily, easily fatigued, wants to be carried
Interacts with other children but may be in aggressive manner, possessive of his things
Hitting, slapping, pushing, screaming
Accept need for sameness
Bypass head on confrontations
Divert with conversation
Distract, change the scene
Talk in advance about what will happen
Use music – sing, use verses
Age 3 years – Quick look ahead: Typically..
Can usually go along with your nursing preferences most of the time
Is tranquil, cooperative
Can help set table, prepare simple foods, clean up afterward
Usually potty trained by this point, at least for the daytime
Can be fearful and have phobias
Imagination begins to take fire, may develop imaginary friends
Has a newfound sense of humor and is able to show empathy
Friendships become more important
Will focus completely on one parent and ignore the other and then switch
Help Channel the Energy:
15 to 18 months
Gross motor activity
Loves to swing and bounce up and down (no walkers or such, please!)
Pounding toys, xylophones
Lots of time outside
Remove all breakable objects from reach
Loves to fall on purpose, slide down or bounce down a small slide
Loves to rock on a rocking boat
Loves to push furniture or toys
Two Year Olds-
Likes routine, imitating grown-up tasks
Play with homemade playdough
Enjoys music, rhythmical activity
Acts out their own eating or sleeping
Daily walks with opportunity to touch everything
FOUNDATION OF LOVING GUIDANCE
Use the least intrusive strategy for a situation – you will never err by being gentle
Remaining calm and being patient is VERY important
Model what you want and set the example
Attribute the best possible motive to your child’s behavior
See the positive intent behind your toddler’s behavior,
This post is NOT by me, but by Master Waldorf Teacher Marsha Johnson, who lives in the Portland area. She wrote this wonderful post this morning, I so encourage you to read it carefully, consider it, weigh it in your heart. Please do go and join her Yahoo!group waldorfhomeeducators. This is an excellent post, just excellent. Please read Marsha Johnson’s wise words and enjoy!
“One recurring thread that emerges again and again in the various home schooling groups is the embracing of Info-Mation as Edu-Cation. This is an approach that relies on the passing along of facts and figures to the children, rather like filling up a blank sheet of paper with a long list of data. This kind of education is one that many parents themselves were exposed to as children in lower schools and is yet embraced by many institutions of higher learning.
I have jokingly referred to it as Information Vomitus. Particularly in graduate school, one absorbs mounds of information and must regurgitate it accurately within a time period, and those who can do this are considered ‘smart’.
As a species, some of us just love this habit. We have game shows where we love to quiz people on obscure and odd facts and see who can answer the most questions correctly. There are board games that focus on this aimless ‘art’, like Trivial Pursuit. That name does make me laugh at least the use of the word trivial. Small and meaningless.
As parents, we tend to veer unconsciously towards teaching our children in the way we ‘were taught’. This tendency is really one of the most dangerous and damaging stage in the life of the homeschooling family.
Why do I say this? Because the children of today, the millennial children, the Shining Ones, are very different than the previous generation of children, those born from the 1950s to the 1990s, when the Information Age really began to dominate. The idea was strewn about that one could improve a child’s IQ with exposure to this Factoid Education and that children were really blank slates whose minds could be sharpened and very soon after this time period began we started seeing massive testing of children as large population groups and lo and behold, a lot of stereotyping also began to show up in the statistics. All sorts of rather wicked and demeaning conclusions have been drawn from this kind of erroneous practice.
When we begin to ‘school’ children, and some are so anxious they start right away as soon as Baby can focus her eyes, we reach back into our own educational experiences and most often pull forward this kind of teaching that involves a lot of child sitting-parent speaking.
With a sense of humor here, often the children quickly teach the parent that this kind of education isn’t going to persist for too long. As children are naturally good and sweet and want to make us big people happy, they often accommodate us with love and grace, and put up with quite a bit of this kind of dreary boring presentation.
But some don’t. They rise up and run about and wiggle away, dancing, singing, going outside, done-with-that!, let’s have snack happy attitude that is probably the most logically kind response possible.
The type of education that really fits the developmental stage of the child most closely, from my own point of view, is Waldorf education. Within the very ‘bones’ of Rudolf Steiner’s philosophies we find the most wonderful comprehension of how children are, what children need, and why we must approach the education of the child with an imaginative, artistic technique. A warm and inclusive attitude. A whole-child, integrated program that moves smoothly from moment to moment to create a kind of living-dream, wherein the child floats, soars, rests, and grows.
And this is probably the very opposite of the Info-Mation protocol, which calls mostly on the forces of the nerve-sense pole, the head, the hearing and memory and goes down dry as a desert rock in late summer.
Will you provide an education that inspires your child and yourself? Can you take a subject and find the Alice-In-Wonderland Rabbit Hole that will allow you to enter in a playful and unexpected fashion? How much of the school time is spent sitting and listening, or writing or copying? How much is spent moving, doing, trying, inventing, creating, cooperating, considering, digesting?
I am struck again and again by how passionate and devoted parents can be to a style of learning that would, well, invoke passion and interest in someone 35 years old or older? (smiles here) But a six year old is in his first decade, not the fourth, and taking the dry factual program to this tender age should really be some kind of crime.
Destroying a child’s imagination and tramping through their fairy land of fantasy with the bulldozers of ‘real life’ is actually a crime against childhood. We are surrounded by immense pressure from commercial marketers, manufacturers, media moguls, and those who want to benefit from premature aging. It is unbelievable, a very sophisticated and invisible force to destroy childhood and create an endless period of ‘tween’ and ‘teen’. Did you know the average age of video game players is actually 29 years old? This means there many older and younger right around 30 years of age who devote most of their free time to staring at screens.
One of the easiest ways to judge how a lesson is being received is to keep a close eye on the recipient. Rather than lose your adult self into the lovely land of facts and transmitting these facts, say a few words and watch the child. Allow for pauses and wait a bit. Does the child keep her attention focused on you, do the cheeks pink up, do the eyes sparkle, doe he sit forwards towards you, hanging on your words? Or does she fidget, grow pale, look down or elsewhere, try to rise and leave? Observe the child closely during the day, during play, during rest, during active vigorous exercise. Learn the color patterns of the child’s skin, the facial and body gestures. Configure your lessons in such a way that the child’s response is one of delight, close attention, desire to participate, and shows a healthy age appropriate expression.
Young children naturally move and use their bodies to learn. Incorporate this into each lesson and every day in your home teaching. Sitting is only one of many types of positions that the young child assumes in the natural exploration of the physical world. Adults tend to sit for the vast majority of each day in both work and play. There is much to be gained from moving often and finding physical ways to enhance the learning experiences.
The old saying `give a man a fish, feed him for a day, teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime’, is a perfect mantra for teaching the young human born in the early 2000s. Consider subject matter from the child’s point of view, figure out what you can do in your lessons that allow the child to use the three elements of self: head, heart, and hands. One of the greatest errors in current educational practice is the sole focus on the head learning, forcing young children to sit at tables for long days, wearying their spirits and graying their outlook. Early academic fatigue syndrome is rampant in our country and fortunately, almost 100 years ago, Rudolf Steiner illuminated a brilliant pathway of education that is more relevant today than ever before. Living artistic age-appropriate lessons, every day, naturally engaging and guaranteed to engender a life long love of learning.
Marsha Johnson, Spring 2009”
Thank you Marsha, for these words that I am holding in my heart, thank you for being here and sharing with us,
Steiner looked at the stages of childhood development through seven year cycles. He further divided the first seven year cycle into three parts consisting of the ages birth through age two and a half, two and half through age five, and age five to age seven.
Steiner writes about this importance in this passage from “Soul Economy” -(my note: for those of you not familiar with “Steiner – speak”, the ether body refers to the body that maintains your life functions. It is not visible and is not composed of matter but more encompasses life processes within the body. When the ether body dies, the result is that the physical body dies as well):
“What children learn during this first two-and-a-half-year period is extremely important for their whole life. They do so through an incoming activity and from what they have brought with them from prenatal existence. Just consider how children learn to speak and walk during this first short period. These are two human faculties that are closely connected with maintaining self-confidence, both from a personal and a social point of view. These two important faculties are being developed while the ether body is still engaged in shaping the brain and radiating into the rest of the organism.”
One of the principal thoughts for the Early Years from a Waldorf Perspective is that small children under the age of 7 should be in their bodies. We want to do this not through head oriented commands in the home environment or the head-oriented verbal commands of organized sports, but through movement couched in fantasy or shown and demonstrated through imitation.
So, without further ado, here are some suggestions. Please take what resonates with you and your family. The suggestions in this post are certainly not meant as medical advice or meant to substitute for individualized plans formed by you in conjunction with your baby’s doctor or therapist if your baby has developmental challenges. This post applies to those families with infants who are developing normally, whom do not have medical problems and who were not born prematurely. For further information regarding a Waldorf approach to children with special needs, please investigate Camphill through this link: http://www.camphill.org/
For Newborn Babies: This is not so much about getting your baby into its body, but protecting the baby’s body and the baby’s senses. Lois Cusick, in her lovely book “The Waldorf Parenting Handbook” ( a great read) says this of the child within the first three years: “Parents need to defend their helpless child from an over-stimulating environment, from too many sense perceptions. Their role is to supply a protecting, nourishing nest to replace the safe peace and quiet of the womb. Quiet, warmth and nourishing mother’s milk are what babies need most when they first enter earth life.”
For Babies Who Are Not Yet Crawling (About Six Weeks to Six or Seven Months):
For Babies Who Are Crawling, Pulling to Stand and Learning to Walk (About Six or Seven Months to One Year of Age):
For Toddlers (About a Year or a Year and A Half to Two and A Half Years of Age):
For Children of All Ages-
Most of all, protect your small child from overstimulation.
Look at the visual things of beauty in the home, and how your own face is the most beautiful toy to a baby.
Think about the sense of touch and to bring different safe tactile experiences to your small child.
Think about how to bring lovely speech, songs and verses into your home.
Think about pets, gardening experiences and how to get outside in nature.
Give your child lots of chances to practice wiggling their limbs, moving to sit, manipulating objects with their hands, crawling, balancing while walking on an even surface first and then uneven surfaces.
Let your child work with pouring water, playing with sand and dirt (supervise carefully that they don’t eat all the sand and dirt, of course).
These are just a few thoughts from a Waldorf perspective regarding childhood development and what you should be doing with your child to develop these things.
Many Waldorf mothers lament that while they know they should not use head-oriented commands with small children under the age of seven, they just are not sure how to get through the day without doing this. One way to think about this is how you could use songs and verses throughout your day for transition points. For example, instead of announcing all day long, “Now, little Jimmy, we are going to do XYZ”, you have a wonderful song or melody to do this that accompanies YOU starting to DO the physical activity. (Having small children is not to be directed from the sofa!!) Once you use the same song or verse for the same activity over and over, the child recognizes what goes with what melody.
I kept track the other day, and here are some of the ones I use with my family that we enjoy, and maybe this will give you some ideas for your own family! You will find the songs and verses that work for you!
For waking up in the morning, while I go around and open all the window shades: The song “Good morning, good morning and how do you do?” and also the song “Buenos Dias, Buenos Dias, como estas, como estas?” (sung to the tune of “Where is Thumpkin?”)
For making beds: The song “This is the way we make the beds, make the beds, make the beds, this is way we make the beds on a “XXXXXX” morning.”
For calling to breakfast and lunch – We sing the prayer “Thou Art Great and Thou Art Good” from Shea Darien’s book Seven Times the Sun.
For washing dishes: The song “This the way we wash the dishes, wash the dishes, wash the dishes” as above
For getting dressed: The nursery rhyme Diddle Diddle Dumpling, My Son John
(I also make up songs sometimes for going potty, brushing teeth or brushing hair).
For being called to start homeschool: I always call children with a made- up tune on the pennywhistle and then play whatever song is the song of the month. For example, in November I played “The Pumpkin Pie” song and my kids learned it and sung it for everyone after Thanksgiving dinner while I played. For this month we are learning the song from the play “The Snowmaiden” from “Little Plays for Puppets” book and also a song about dwarves. After singing we have a candle-lighting verse and we also use the well-known Waldorf verse that begins, “Good Morning Dear Earth, Good Morning Dear Sun.”
For quiet time: We sing one of the quiet songs out of Shea Darien’s book Seven Times the Sun
For ending quiet time: We use that wonderful folk song that begins, “Bluebird, bluebird (or whatever bird you want!) fly through my window, bluebird, bluebird, fly through my window.” It is on Pete Seeger’s CD of folk songs
Favorite verse for going outside: The nursery rhyme that begins, “The grand old Duke of York, he had ten thousand men, he marched them up a hill and then he marched him down again.”
For practical work, I do have verses for wet on wet watercolor painting, baking, handwork, gardening and housekeeping that can be found in A Child’s Seasonal Treasury,
For dinner we rotate between these two prayers:
Father, we thank thee for this food before us
Give us strength to do Thy Will
Guide and Protect Us in Your Heavenly Path
For Christ’s Sake, Amen.
or this one:
Bless this food to our use
And us to thy (continued) service
And make us ever mindful of thy blessings
For Bathtime- Rub a Dub Dub, Three Men in a Tub
For Bedtime- Prayers (we say four prayers at night)
First we say “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep”
Then we say this one:
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John,
Bless this bed that we lie on,
Two at our head, two at our feet,
Protect us (bless us) while we are fast asleep.
Then we say a quick prayer to the archangels of St. Raphael, St. Gabriel, St. Michael and St. Uriel, (and we list what we are thankful for from the day)
And then at last we say “Our Father Who Art in Heaven”.
This is just a small sampling, and you can come up with traditional verses, songs and prayers that speak to your own spiritual/religious life. I also make up many songs on the spot and sing. My oldest thinks my voice is beautiful, which I assure you it is not, but the point is you do not have to be a great singer to do this!! It is great fun, the kids learn all of this by heart easily, and it is so much better than walking around like a play-by-play football announcer each day.
Just a few thoughts from my little corner of the world.
This is an excellent article regarding one of Steiner’s 12 senses that is important developmentally for young children: warmth.
Please check out this link to read a great article on Warmth, Strength and Freedom: http://tidewaterschool.blogspot.com/2008/12/warmth-strength-and-freedom-by-m.html
Happy, happy reading!!
Just a few thoughts from my little corner of the world.
For those of you with children under the age of 7, have you ever thought how many times a day you are giving a directive to your child? Even if it is a positively phrased directive, it is still a directive that causes a child to go up into his head and awakens the child into self-awareness. Parents and teachers who understand child development from a Waldorf perspective believe that every time we bring a child into self-awareness and into the consciousness of before the seventh year, we are taking away energy that the child should be using for formation of the physical organs. The belief is that this may not show up as harmful in the child’s life until they are adults. Even if you do not believe this, I think we can all agree that in this fast-paced world, the stress and strain and viewing the small child as a miniature adult with just less experience is leading to incredible challenges of increased suicide rates and pyschological disorders in the teenaged years and beyond. Think about how we parent and why we parent is really important!
Parenting is all about looking at the doing the right thing at the right time within child development. If you are providing lots of verbal directives to your small child, you are putting the cart before the horse by using a tool that is not really needed until later developmental stages.
“But what do I use then?” you cry. “Children need direct instruction!”
Rudolf Steiner did not think so. He wrote in his lecture, “Children Before the Seventh Year,” found in the book Soul Economy, the following passage about the first two and a half years:
“During the first two and a half years, children have a similar rapport with the mother or with others they are closely connected with as long as their attitude and conduct make this possible. Then children become perfect mimics and imitators. This imposes a moral duty on adults to be worthy of such imitation, which is far less comfortable then exerting one’s will on children.”
He then goes on to describe the period of the ages from two and a half through age five as one that “can be recognized externally by the emergence of an exceptionally vivid memory and wonderful imagination. However, you must take great care when children develop these two faculties, since they are instrumental in building the soul. Children continue to live by imitation, and therefore we should not attempt to make them remember things we choose.”
He ends with a few thoughts about the period from age five to age seven:
“Previously, unable to understand what they should or should not do, they could only imitate, but now, little by little, they begin to listen to and believe what adults say. Only toward the fifth year is it possible to awaken a sense of right and wrong in children. We can educate children correctly only by realizing that, during this first seven year period until the change of teeth, children live by imitation, and only gradually do they develop imagination and memory and a first belief in what adults say.”
So, if any of that resonates with you, come along with me and take my three day challenge. For three days, try to bring a consciousness to the words you choose with your children. How much chit chat do you do all day with your children? Can you replace that with peaceful humming or singing?
How many directives do you give that could be either carried by your rhythm, done with no words at all (for example, instead of saying, “Now let’s brush our teeth!” could you just hand Little Johnny his toothbrush?) or could your words be phrased in a way that involves fantasy or movement? For example, if you need your child to sit down at the table to eat, you could ask your baby bird to fly over to the table and sit in its nest. “Mama Bird has food for you!” Could you redirect your child into some sort of movement that involves their imagination that would satisfy the need for peace in your home?
Music through singing and the poetry of verses are wonderful ways to provide transitions throughout the day along with the strength of your rhythm. Many of the old Mother Goose rhymes are fabulous for all parts of the daily routine. Songs provide a peaceful energy and a needed source of warmth for the young child’s soul.
A mother asked, “What do I do if my child is doing something harmful to me or to another child? Don’t I need to use direct words then?”
I believe this depends on the age and temperament of the child. As mentioned in other posts, many times the most effective method is to be able to physically move the child away from the situation or to physically follow through in a calm way. You would never expect your words to be enough in a highly charged emotional situation for a child under 7. A Complete and Unabridged Lecture on the Harms of Hurting Others is often not what is needed in the moment.
Perhaps in this case, helping the child to make amends after the emotions of the situation have decreased would be a most powerful means to redemption. When we make a mistake, even an accidental mistake, we strive to make it right. An excellent lesson for us all, no matter what our age. We do not let this behavior slide, but we do work toward setting it all right again.
“What about giving my child a warning that an activity will change? Don’t I need words then?”
If you are at home, your rhythm should carry many of the words you would otherwise use. There may be older children of five or six that appreciate a warning, again dependent upon their temperament, and there may be some children that think they need to know everything that happens in advance but in reality it only makes them anxious and they talk of nothing else.
These are all important questions, and perhaps this three day challenge will assist you in sorting out the answers for you and your family as you strive toward a more peaceful home.
Just a few thoughts from my little corner of the world.