The Kingdom Of Childhood – Introduction

As Amanda Evans and I get ready for our workshop “Protecting Childhood: Waldorf At Home For the First Seven Years” being held in the Greenville SC area February 17 and 18th, we thought it only fitting to re-read the source of so much inspiration: Steiner’s lectures compiled in “The Kingdom of Childhood.”

These lectures were given in August of 1924 in England as part of Steiner’s last trip (he died on March 30, 1925). Christopher Bamford writes in the introduction that Rudolf Steiner always adapted what he had to say to the audience in front of him. These lectures were given to a small group of English educators, and for that reason I find them practical and calling for those of us in English-speaking countries trying to work with Waldorf Education as he tried to adapt his thoughts for that particular audience.

The introduction points out the very unique features of Waldorf Education:

*Subjects are taught in the light of the knowledge of the child (the human being) as having roles to play on both earthly and spiritual planes

*It affirms that a child is an eternal being in the spiritual world before birth and childhood becomes a process of gradually coming down to earth

Teaching methods – In teaching, Steiner felt teachers should observe well, be careful about stressing a child’s intellect before the child would be ready (which he felt would be at adolescence), that the teacher should use the concrete and pictorial as well as wonder and reverence, and that we should teach whole to parts. He also encouraged his audience to form larger schools for England, and for them to be modern and well thought out and able to be “conversant with other contemporary educational ideas. For they were not to be dilettantish.”

Steiner always wanted children educated out of the knowledge of the human being (developmentally appropriate), “in accordance with the demands of life.” He remarked some things were obliged to be placed into the curriculum of the Waldorf Schools because they were demanded to fit into educational models. He felt strongly children should learn the practical arts. Christopher Bamford brings up the example at the end of the introduction that Steiner really wanted a shoemaker in the Waldorf School because it was something so “in accordance with real life.” The idea of being a practical worker was never far from Steiner’s mind.

For homeschoolers working with Steiner’s thoughts, I think we are in a good position as we can connect our children with the daily, practical parts of life and provide the academic levels that best suit our knowledge of human development and how children learn best.

Blessings,

Carrie

Wonderful Waldorf: The Gifts That Waldorf Brings

I have been studying the works of Dr. Steiner, Steiner education, biodynamic agriculture, anthroposophic medicine, and human development for 20 years now. It has been a fruitful adventure, with gifts I never anticipated. I found the idea of “Waldorf homeschooling” in a book from the library when my oldest, who is now 21, was three years old. It was a book that gave a brief description of each type of homeschooling – classical, unschooling, Charlotte Mason, etc. Waldorf homeschooling was in there, and what was said was enough to pique my interest. I gathered copies of Steiner’s lectures on education and stated there. This quickly morphed into beginning to celebrate the festivals of the year and into learning all that I could from Waldorf educators. I found other people in my area who also were excited about Waldorf parenting and education and we formed a homeschool group.

Waldorf Education and parenting has brought as many gifts to me as it has our children. It led us to de-mechanize our home and do things by hand in order to involve our children in work. It led to being outside and celebrating the seasons and festivals. It led to wonder and imagination and beauty in the arts. It led to simplifying the way we parented.

Waldorf education has so much to give in the home environment and so much healing potential for families. It’s been a lovely journey and one that I am still on as a developing adult – always growing and learning. The seasons, the festivals, the spiritual human being, the arts all hold as much joy and promise for me as when we held all of that for our children.

Who doesn’t need more goodness, beauty, and truth in their lives? Stay beautiful, friends!

Many blessings,

Carrie

Happy 2023!

 I love the prospect of a New Year, of new beginnings and bright shiny pages in my planner, the feeling of being able to begin again, fresh and new.  I hope this New Year feels like a welcome new beginning to you and your family.

This is the beautiful blessing I often share on the New Year:

May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
with joy that long endures.
May all life’s passing seasons
bring the best to you and yours.

-From an Old Irish Blessing, author unknown

May this year be the one in which you are ENOUGH just the way you are.

May this year be the one in which you are content.

May this year be the one where you are loved as richly as you deserve.

May this year be one of bountiful and deep friendships, beautiful family memories, and love.

May this year be the year that you help someone else, the year of your generous spirit blossoming.

May this year be the one that is perfect for you and where you are in life and may you enjoy it abundantly.

Many blessings for a peaceful New Year with new beginnings of nourishment and love.

With love to all, thank you for fifteen years of marvelous readership and I hope to have much to offer you in 2023.

Carrie

The First Holy Night

Today is a day of celebration for many Christians in the Western World – Christmas Day culminates weeks of planning, giving gifts, fasting – into a festive day of celebrating light coming into the world. The Council of Tours in 567 AD proclaimed the twelve days from Christmas to Epiphany as a sacred and festive time, contrasted with the preparation of Advent.

This is a time seen as a thin veil perhaps between the spiritual and earthly planes, and a time to divine inner wisdom and listening as we look forward to the year ahead. Within the darkness of winter, a bit of light is emerging if only we care to find it. Energetically, we are wrapping up the year and looking ahead to what will serve us and humanity best. This experience of Christmastide is to examine the depths of our own soul.

Today is about Light in its many forms. My favorite is the beginning of the Book of John, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life,[a] and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (ESV version). I also enjoy the beautiful version of this passage in The Message translation.

Every night during the 12 Holy Nights I am journaling. My questions for tonight to myself are:

How am I (are we) a light to others?

How am I (are we) a light in the darkness?

How will I (will we) hang onto light in a tenacious way through the ups and downs of the year? This, to me, is the intertwining of a more anthroposophical look into the Holy Nights on this day as we look at this Holy Night representing the month of January and with that the planetary influences we see in January.

How do I (will we) become self confident, practical in our goals for the year and sustain meeting these goals in a patient way?

On this note of goals, I chose a word for 2023, “BOLD”. Then I took this word and thought of ways I would like to live my life more boldly than before. This came down to areas of personal health, family and relationships, faith, work and finances, our farm. This made it easier to see a vision in each area and how to break down these ideals into smaller and not overwhelming goals.

You might ask why there isn’t a homeschool goal listed? This is simply because homeschooling is to me an extension of the health of our family and the health of our relationships. So homeschooling is in those categories.

The last thing about this day is that perhaps this is a day of community, family, joy, relaxation, laughter – how will this play out in the year? How can we include more of these qualities in our year to come?

Thinking and pondering with you,

Carrie

Finding Peace In Our Homes

The idea of light and festivals of light during this season is perhaps as old as mankind. Making light in the darkness and the union of light all over the world to carry goodness is a picture I have in my head of this time of year.

It begins in our homes. If our homes are not peaceful, we cannot peacefully connect as a family.

What is stealing your peace?

Is it the physical environment of your home? Are you a visual person who needs a peaceful place for your eye to rest? I think social media is overrrated and has lulled us into thinking people have beautiful, perfect, barely lived in homes but there is something to be said for a clean, comfortable, organized place to rest and rejuvenate.

Is it sniping at each other, side comments, yelling? Some personalities or temperaments love to have the last word, or love to bicker. You can stop it in your tracks by not participating! Set down the rules of how you would like to communicate as a family.

Is there no peace because everyone is running off in different directions? Are you never together? Can you plan for being together for meals or for a family night? Can you include your teen’s friends or your young adult’s significant others?

Is your lack of peace due to finances? That is hard, because the price of everything is high right now in the United States. I have an entire pinterest board devoted to saving money. Let’s prioritize the simplicity of being together over things. And let’s not limit ourselves in terms of beliefs surrounding money or what we can do with our time. Many of work and homeschool, and many of us have teens who are working. The teens in our family always work outside the home, so something to consider is how money and employment fit into your family structure when you have older children.

Is there no peace because you are anxious or depressed? Counseling is for everyone! Taking care of our health is imperative. Hydration, sleep, whole food nutrition, exercise, sunshine, nature. We cannot lead our families if we are drowning. Do what you need to – find a sliding scale counselor, talk to someone, work with a life coach or a health coach. It is worth your peace!

Are you anxious because you have no community? It is a lot of work, but you can form a homeschool group or a book club or a hiking club or whatever it is that would bring you some joy!

This season of light, let’s get “unstuck” so we can face 2023 in a bold way!

Blessings and so much love,

Carrie

PS. I have had a few questions about parenting and homeschooling consults. I am not taking any consults until after January 6th, but do feel free to reach out and get on my schedule. Blessings!

Organizing For Peace Part Two

Part of my inner Advent this year is really looking to see how we can bring more peace into our life. When we moved to the farm 18 months ago, it was whirlwind of necessary projects (water and heat, anyone?) and we had a list of a number of cosmetic/flow type issues that would make living here easier. The necessary projects definitely outweighed the cosmetic things, so the ongoing projects are still there for the future, which causes me as a visual person to often feel unsettled. We also began boarding horses a year ago, which took some time to build a rhythm around, and now that we have had a year of that here, our routines are more set with that and I think I can figure out how to fit my homemaking routines with this.

The first point in figuring out my rhythm has been to look at where my time is going this week. Some things have changed since we moved here – more of my time went to animal care and outside projects, more of my time went to driving since we moved further out and there isn’t as much around us and work is further away, and I felt like every day was semi-different and it has been hard to get a set morning or evening routine.

One thing I noticed this week has been a lack of an evening routine. My evening routine honestly has been trying to squish in a bunch of online CEU courses and then do night check in the barn. Which is fine, but it doesn’t cover a lot of the other areas I need pulled together for the next day.

So I am headed back to Flylady I used Flylady so much when my children were small and up into early high school (modified for our own family), and it was helpful. Somehow I lost a lot of the routines for our home and am ready to get back to it.

I have many more areas pulling for my attention these days, so it is important that I get those areas in, but also important that I literally schedule in time to rest, to relax, to create. And, in order to keep my priorities straight, I am taking the word I am using for 2023 (bold) and using that to divide my life into faith, family, work and finances, farm, health, homeschooling. I created Pinterest boards for each of these areas to help me grasp what massive action steps I want to take this year to help things move a bit forward.

I would love to hear where you are now – are you drowning, are you feeling triumphant and productive, are you looking forward to a new year?

Blessings and love,

Carrie

Hope For When Your Advent Looks Different

I love this first week of Advent, where the theme of this time is the idea of hope. I want to encourage you today that just because your Advent looks different, it doesn’t mean that it is wrong. Traditions can be established and can also change over time to better meet the needs of your family.

Maybe you are setting up new family traditions for Advent. It takes time to build traditions, and it really can’t be done in one year.

Maybe your children have grown up, and you are waiting for them to arrive home for the holidays.

Maybe your children are a mixture of different ages, and things need to change a little bit to meet the needs of all the children and teenagers in the family.

All of these things are okay!

If you are trying to establish new traditions, I think this back post would be very helpful to you: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/12/06/christine-natales-musings-on-saint-nicholas-day-and-starting-new-holiday-traditions/ , You can layer simple ideas in over time. If your children are very small, just a few well -placed activities can be wonderful. It doesn’t have to be all the things you read about on social media.

If you are waiting for your young adult children to come home and you feel your Advent is remarkably different, I advise you to be gentle with yourself with all your feelings. All your feelings are valid. It is okay to be sad or to feel a sense of grieving for when your children were small.

I think it is okay to choose some of your Advent traditions and do them just for yourself or to find ways to translate your traditions for your young adults. Perhaps you will send a St. Nicholas Day package to your young adult, or perhaps you will bake cookies later in the season so you can do it together. Whatever fills you is important and you can determine the course of your new traditions.

If your children are all different ages, I think it is very important to choose the traditions that meet not only your small children, but also your teens. Your teens may secretly enjoy the things your younger children are enjoying, or they may enjoy being the keeper of the magic for younger children. However, they may also crave something geared towards their own age group that includes their friends. Ask them about what would make the holiday meaningful for them.

I would love to hear about your family’s traditions for this season.

Blessings,

Carrie

Organized for Peace Part One

This is the beginning of the holiday season as we turn toward our inward light during the darker nights. I love this time of year, having a cozy home and being home, and am planning to make the most of this time by organizing for peace. I hope you can join me, and if you blog or are on social media please drop a link to your own household and life organizing below.

You might be thinking this is a busy time of year and feels hard to get organized, but I think it can be done and an amazing way to head into a new year. I know a lot of people whose 2022 was one they would rather not repeat, so what better way than to think, dream, and create new spaces and new beginnings?

I have two threads going on in my home right now. One is holiday preparation and one is preparing for some of the big things for the new year that I really want to accomplish.

For holiday planning:

  1. I am planning simply. I am ordering online for the teens and young adults in my life a few things, and everything else will be handmade. If you want some ideas for handmade gifts, please follow my pinterest board here:
  2. We are decorating little by little as is our custom with Advent, but in the past I found we were pretty late often with the business of end of semester and end of year things, so this year we are starting now and having a more set plan for decorating and keeping things simple. I am decorating with real greenery and orange slices and pomegranates – you will be able to follow along on my IG/Facebook if you are interested in those crafts!
  3. We are planning some fun family things. This time is precious when young adults are home from college and we want to do some simple but fun things like go look at the holiday lights, have a sweet hot chocolate/cookie decorating party with friends, game nights.

For new spaces and new beginnings:

  1. The spiritual connection –My word of the year came to me early this year (it’s “BOLD” because I have big things that are going to be happening next year!) and I started brainstorming what areas of my life that I wanted to have boldness, confidence in. I started pinterest boards for these areas, which will help me make a few lists to take MASSIVE action steps to make things happen!

2. Ideas for the coming year –I have a list of farm projects and although we don’t have a large budget to do some of the serious things that really need to be done, we can move forward in several areas. This will include arena renovations, more barn work, planting fruit and nut trees and gardening, and adding more beehives.

3. The Environment –I am getting a small dumpster as there are things here that the former owner of the property left behind when they moved that we have been cleaning up little by little, and things we have been pulling out of the pastures (tons of leftover netting from hay bales) that need to go! And once things are super organized, I want to organize our space so we can have even more food and water stored. My goal is to be able to grocery shop from our stores and grow enough produce so I don’t have to go to the grocery store frequently.

4. The new beginnings — now that we are settling in and have had horses here for a year and through seasons, we have a better idea as to how to balance working on the farm, working outside the home, homeschooling – so new rhythms will be helpful. Our basic weekly rhythm right now will be:

BASIC WEEKLY PLAN for Holidays and Winter

Exercise daily

Sunday – church/youth group or rest, indoor crafting projects (sewing, crochet, handiwork, mending) and cooking/canning projects, look ahead and prep for homeschooling week, sometimes dinner with friends
Monday – work with errands afterwards as needed, homeschooling in afternoon with extra art or handwork, teen’s outside activities as needed
Tuesday – homeschooling, after dinner is time for continuing education courses and studying
Wednesday – work and our teen has an outside program day, teen’s outside activities as needed
Thursday – homeschooling with a break to connect via Zoom to our church’s Women’s Bible Study, I usually have home visits to patients in the afternoon but if not I do outside projects or cooking and canning projects. Sometimes we have a date night on Thursday nights or it is time for continuing education courses or you tube programming regarding homesteading after dinner.
Friday – work and our teen has an outside program day
Saturday – homeschooling as needed, cleaning and outdoor projects and big chores, sometimes during the winter our teen has horseback riding lessons, friends over

And to keep our daily family life solidly centered here: https://celebratetherhythmoflife.blogspot.com/p/waldorf-family_08.html So that means sneaking in times for playing games, laughing together, doing things together

You will notice there is not a lot of prepping for homeschooling in this rhythm. This is because this is my third time through these grades and everything is fairly laid out at this point. I do most of my planning over the summer so things are ready for the school year at this point. Our yearly rhythm still revolves around the festivals and seasons.

Please share your plans and drop your links below!
Many blessings and gratitude for you all,

Carrie

Heading Toward Winter

All outside is dark and cold

But just beneath the earth

Sleep seeds from which new life spring

Bringing Nature’s gifts to birth

  • Betty Jones, from “A Child’s Seasonal Treasury”

The days are shorter, the nights are colder, and the leaves on the deciduous trees have fallen. We are headed toward winter, a time of deep rest, a time of projects, a time of wonder at snow and lights and the beautiful winter sky with the skeletons of trees etched against the horizon.

We can set up a seasonal table with snow white and pink silks, crystals of quartz and amethyst, glass vases, paper snowflakes or an beautiful Advent tableau with a dark blue silk with candles and gold paper stars. The traditional Advent wreath can come out.

We are moving from a time of mourning and remembering our ancestors, the saints, those who have gone before us to a new year and a new path. We are preparing for what is to come. What are the deepest longings of your heart for the coming year? Advent can be a time of fasting and preparing and contemplating for this new beginning. I have already chosen my word of the year for 2023 (for more on that tradition, see here)..I think this is going to be a BIG year, so I chose the word BOLD. I will have one child finishing college in December 2023, another child beginning college in 2023, we will have been on our farm for two years in the spring, and with this I am making some new and different choices in the midst of this seventh seven year cycle of my own life and also returning to my roots in many ways.

I am dreaming of some kind of Waldorf homeschool opportunity for high schoolers and I am back to wanting to teach at homeschool conferences. Waldorf parenting and education is so nurturing to all family members, no matter what the age. It draws me in with its healing impulse over and over again.

What is calling you for winter?

Blessings,

Carrie