Waldorf education is all about health; the health of the child and where that child is today and where that child will be in the future. I urge you to go and listen to this FREE audio download regarding Waldorf as a Therapeutic Education if you have not discovered it already, here is the link: http://www.christopherushomeschool.org/bookstore-for-waldorf-homeschooling/audio-downloads.html This talk has a playtime of about 67 minutes so you can plan accordingly.
As you are planning for fall for the big and the small kids, let’s take a moment to remember some of the essentials for a healthy childhood:
- Happy parents comes to mind first. Your work on your marriage or partnership, your own inner work is of utmost importance. I know I keep saying it over and over, but it is so important. Your child only starts to separate from you beginning at age 9, and views themselves as part of you. If you are unhappy, not joyous in the home, unhappy in parenting, then please take the time to meditate, pray, talk to a counselor or whatever you need to do to get yourself centered and peaceful and joyous. I hear from parents all day long who truly seem to be miserable being home. This is why many families evaluate their decision to homeschool their children year-by-year, child-by-child. No, I do not believe sending a child to school gives one more time “to work on oneself” or fixes the problem typically. I have heard some parents say the worse thing they ever did was send their child to school for a year and then try to come back to homeschooling (and other children and families seem to handle this fine!!). However, the recognition that there are things going within the family and the family dynamic is of utmost importance.
- Within your planning of your rhythm for fall, please do plan in some time just for you. I am not one of those people who believes that one needs to be away from one’s children to be fulfilled or recharged, but some people do need that and I respect that, and I do think many mothers are very guilty of not scheduling appointments for their own teeth, their own physicals, time with their spouse or partner which does lead to problems later on. These are things that also have to happen. Make them happen, and you won’t be sorry!
- RHYTHM. Children who are high-needs, children who have sensory processing disorders and other challenges often actually need a bit of a tighter rhythm than others. A rhythm should not be a stranglehold schedule, but it should provide a flow to the day. Younger children may have a rhythm that includes different practical work or activities each day, while older children may work within a head-heart-hands approach where some of the same activities are repeated over a block of time more than once a week (otherwise it would be hard for them to complete any projects, wouldn’t it, if the child was only working on said project once a week!).
- Sleep and rest. These are biggies. All children who are not napping, and this includes the biggest children of them all, the adults, should have quiet time after lunch. As a homeschooling parent, you will need this break. And, if you cannot figure out why your four, five or six year old who is no longer napping cannot settle down during quiet time, I have to ask you: What are YOU doing? Are you laying down quietly and resting, or are you running around, on the computer, on the phone, doing chores? If you lay down and rest, your children will imitate you!
- Healthy diet. In this day and age, there are so many food allergies, food sensitivities. If your child is having behavioral issues, many parents have shared with me that the child’s diet needed adjusting in some way. Perhaps an allergist, a homeopath or other health care provider can steer you in the right direction.
- Many folks believe that Waldorf for the Early Years involves children being able to totally entertain themselves, but I personally find in this age of the “restless child” that they need a rhythm and a play area set up to assist in this. They may even need you to not be involved in play, but to at least give them a bit of an idea. “I am the elderly woman washing dishes, and you are the traveler coming to my village.” They may need you to set up play scenarios at night after they have gone to bed, or to move the playroom around so the toys seem “brand new”. Fostering creative play is very important, and there are ways that as adults we can help that process along.
- Time in nature, nature games that use all senses, and gardening is very important. Another thing to consider in your planning as this forms such an important basis of childhood.