(Note: There are also mention of several Waldorf resources for spiritual education at home in this post, so if you are searching for those read towards the bottom).
My faith is very important to me, and I believe that God put His hand on my heart to teach my children about having a very personal faith and beliefs of our denomination. Someone asked me how I fit our religious studies in with Waldorf homeschooling, so I thought I would outline it here:
1. One of the number one things we do is to model – I read the Bible, we pray for people in need, we pray in thanksgiving for God’s blessings, we pray before meals. We try very hard to be thankful in all circumstances, to see the positive, to love everyone and to help people when we can. Our faith is just part of everyday life.
2. As a family, we show gratitude, wonder and respect for God’s creation – all the different people and cultures in the world, the Earth and all the wonderful things in nature.
3. It is a priority to take children to church and to be involved in church. Making our Sundays a day of true Sabbath is an important priority in our family right now. I found this great little booklet called, “A Day of Delight: Making Sunday the Best Day of the Week” and its 26 pages has really helped me plan and organize to make Sunday a true day of rest, worship and family time. It is published by Doorposts Publishing in Oregon, and I have not done any Google searches to see if it is available over the Internet, but for the small cost it is a worthy read!
4. We have family devotions in the morning at breakfast. Last year we used “Leading Little Ones to God”, which had some parts that I had to modify for my own denominational beliefs, but it was a great introduction for a young crowd. Right now we are using “Our 24 Family Ways: Family Devotional Guide”, which is a bit over my almost five-year-old’s head, (and every devotional starts with questions to think about, which is not my favorite for the under 7 crowd) but about right for my almost eight-year-old and you can certainly modify it any way you see fit. That is the beautiful thing about homeschooling and living together!
We also model trying to grow in our own faith, and I usually have some sort of a Beth Moore Bible Study going on – it is harder for me to get out at night, so I just go to Lifeways Christian Bookstore and buy a participant copy of whatever study interests me and the audio CD’s and do it myself! Right now I am studying the Book of Daniel.
5. Every Friday in lieu of school, we held a Peace Circle and had a time to spend in learning about God. This past year I picked a Fruit of the Spirit for every month of school (worked out well because we spent nine months in school and there are nine fruits, so we had one fruit for each month) and each Friday we had an example from the Bible and an activity focused on that Fruit. I also did an adult study of Beth Moore’s on this subject at the same time.
This coming year we will be using “Young Children and Worship” Bible stories with some of the accompanying wooden figures to wind our way through the Bible for both children. I also have materials specific to the missions of our church and denomination.
On Fridays this year, I will also be telling stories out of Rudolf Copple’s “To Grow and Become” which are stories told in the Waldorf tradition. You can find this book through the Rudolf Steiner College Bookstore –which, by the way, you will be able to order off of on-line starting in July!- or Bob and Nancy’s Bookshop. The Rudolf Steiner College Bookstore’s catalog has this to say about this little book: “These stories were told-not read- in a Waldorf school by the class teacher, in place of religious instruction, on Fridays during the last period of the day. No retelling or other work with them was done. The intention was to bring a spiritual content to the children for the weekend.”
(You may know that during Rudolf Steiner’s time there were religious lessons taught by a local priest to the Catholic students at the school and also a Protestant leader for the Protestant students, and then there was also a period of spiritual studies for those with no religious background. At least that is my understanding from reading the lectures in “Soul Economy”, but I have never asked anyone about this directly!)
6. We routinely review, pray for and save our money for the missions our church and denomination are working with and sponsoring. You could do this with any charity you choose. One of my favorite other charities is this one: http://www.heifer.org/site/c.edJRKQNiFiG/b.204586/ Heifer International.
7. We celebrate the festivals and holidays of our denomination and faith throughout the year in celebration of liturgical year. This year, besides the materials of our denomination and the Bible, we will be using the book, “Celebrating the Festivals of the Year” by Irene Johansen, which is a book that has stories for many of the festivals and holidays we celebrate and can be found at www.waldorfbooks.org or Rudolf Steiner College Bookstore.
I celebrate all of you who are walking in faith with your children. I believe faith and a personal relationship with the Creator is an extremely important part of a child’s life. I hope all of you work to bring your children up in the belief that there is something bigger than themselves at work in this wondrous world, because it really does affect children in a positive way. If you have no particular faith or religious path, I encourage you to explore this. It is not only the essence of Waldorf education, but the foundation of life.
Be the positive light you wish to see,