“Thinking –Feeling-Willing: Bringing The Rhythm Home” is a fairly new program put forth by A Little Garden Flower. I know rhythm is of interest to many of the mothers who read my blog, and one of my readers wanted to share her experience with this program. Thank you to Sheila, homeschooling mother of two, for writing about her experiences. I know some of you are concerned about smaller children being lost in the shuffle whilst homeschooling grades-aged children, and Sheila writes about this in this review. I think you will find it interesting. This is from my reader Sheila:
When I first came to Waldorf, I was overwhelmed by all the information out there: books, blogs, websites, suppliers, curricula. I honestly didn’t know which end was up. I was even confused by the vocabulary: rhythm, circle time, fingerknitting, never mind the 7 year cycles, the 3 fold nature of the human being and the 12 senses. It’s a lot to learn and there are a lot of people to learn it from. One person who has helped me to craft my mothering and my homeschooling is Melisa Nielsen. Her new program “Thinking, Feeling, Willing” is that elusive primer that I searched, googled, posted and prayed for, but at that time did not exist.
I think the real genius behind “Thinking, Feeling, Willing” is that the program is split into separate sections: one for the child and one for you, the mom. This is a cornerstone of Waldorf that I am realizing only in retrospect. You can’t focus on the “things” of Waldorf (and here, I am not even talking about the material “things” like wooden toys, play silks and Stockmar crayons; but even things like circle time, baking day and festivals). What I have found is that these things cannot come into your home in any real way until you have prepared yourself first. Melisa knows this and stresses this to everyone in her yahoo group, her consulting practice and those who use her curriculum. “Thinking, Feeling, Willing” can thoroughly prepare you to homeschool your children with Waldorf-inspired methods.
The first lesson for Mom is all about rhythm. Rhythm, rhythm, rhythm . . . when I first came to Waldorf I kept hearing this word. I knew I wanted to have this gentle order to my day, but how to get there? (I have to mention Carrie here, because she is the one who helped me to solidify my rhythm, back before Melisa’s program existed. Check out this back post: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2011/01/05/rhythm-for-the-irregular/Her advice dovetails nicely with Melisa’s.) And even though I feel our rhythm is pretty solid now, it is not something static or finished. Through TFW, I have looked at our daily rhythm through a bigger lens and I am now working on bringing in a seasonal sense of rhythm to our year.
The monthly lessons for the child are seasonal and simple. I have a 6 year old kindergartener who seemed to be just floating along in the wake of our 4thgrade lessons. Our days were fine, but I wasn’t being intentional with my little guy. I knew it was important to stress the seasons, sing songs, recite verses and do things just for him, but that made me think I had to totally shift my homeschooling focus and recreate a Waldorf kindergarten in my home (ironic, because a Waldorf kindergarten is modeled on the home!) Melisa’s book suggestions, her continuing gnome story, her outrageous (!!!) recipes, and easy handcrafts have allowed me to simply augment what I was already doing. I can honestly say my fourth grader enjoys these aspects of our day just as much as his younger brother does.
TFW also provides handwork lessons that teach you how make many of those items so indicative of Waldorf: dyed silks, little gnome figures, paper lanterns, not to mention knitting! I learned how to knit pretty easily a couple of summers ago, but for some reason fingerknitting seemed beyond me. I have watched youtube videos and tried to figure it out through books with no success. Melisa’s video tutorial had me fingerknitting within about 2 minutes. In turn, I taught my boys and we now have chains and chains of fingerknitting waiting to decorate our Christmas tree come December.
Like everything Melisa Nielsen does, “Thinking, Feeling, Willing” is comprehensive and budget-friendly. With a couple of books (some of which can probably be found at your local library), a few craft supplies, and some yummy additions to your shopping list, you can honestly get started with Waldorf in a real way. You will not waste time searching endless blogs, buying books and supplies you really don’t need or feel like you are out there reinventing the wheel by yourself. The program also includes a year of email and personal phone consultation with Melisa – she is literally there every step of the way with you. I think TFW is a great place to begin for those who are just coming to homeschooling with little ones, those who are coming to Waldorf with older children and even those who want to bring about a more rhythmic, seasonal focus to their time at home – homeschooling or not.
Thank you Sheila for this review.
Many blessings to you all,