I wrote a variation on this post for my homeschooling group list, but thought the topic was important enough to share, so here are some of my thoughts on this topic for my readers here at The Parenting Passageway…
Many of us are attracted to Waldorf Education because we ourselves are in need of healing, and also because we want our children to have childhoods that they do not have to recover from. (Sometimes, in my darkest moments, I fear for our nation because I worry the next generation will be too busy healing from their own childhoods and their own troubles and will not be strong enough to tackle the problems of the “other” within their communities—if we can only take care of ourselves, how can we hope to help with issues of peace, justice, education and more? Just an aside note and digression…)
Sometimes we come to Waldorf Education with things that have helped buffer us against the world in the past: sharp words, quick and sarcastic wit, a “I will get them before they get me” kind of attitude, our misguided attempts at communicating whilst still protecting our own woundedness from the possibility from any further assault….
And then we enter the world of Waldorf Education; this beautiful lazured land of natural toys, gorgeous handwork, learning how to live a practical life, how to bring things in at the right time for our children. We work and strive toward rhythm: toward having calm and steady days.
But there is more, and that piece is ourselves. Rudolf Steiner wrote that children respond not just to our teaching, but to WHO we are. Who we are is precious, and in order to see that, sometimes we have to strip away some of the rough exterior buffers we have built up over the years, because the very way we carry ourselves, dress ourselves, speak to our children and to others matters distinctly. We then can notice things in the world of Waldorf Education and wonder…
We look around and see aprons…. Why aprons and long skirts and often scarves? In the past our homeschooling group has held entire classes about protecting the life forces of the body, and part of that protection includes dress. Here is an article about the role of the apron in the Kindergarten, but I would venture to say that those of us home continually with children can look at this article with new eyes: http://www.waldorflibrary.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=126:fallwinter-2007-issue-53-the-kindergarten-apron&catid=15:gateways&Itemid=10. Our own homeschooled children, even if they are older than kindergarten age, pull more deeply from us than they would if they were in a classroom with a teacher.
Sometimes we have to change our language and how we interact with people, to soften our words so we can be open to the good things in this world. Small children under the age of seven need pictorial imagery that is in the moment and stimulates movement and imagination; older children need a loving authority who can help them meet boundaries and limits within a loving framework. Sometimes loving authority for an older grades-aged child who is home and not in a classroom is not as indirect as a teacher would be, but we often have to deal with issues at home that do not come up in a classroom (and vice versa, I am certain!). But love is how we gather our children, how we life them up to grow up to be healthy and responsible adults. Do not hold your older children back to the place of your four year olds…help them move in developmentally appropriate ways, in ways that are supportive, but not through sarcasm, put-downs, and disconnect.
Sometimes we have to let go of how we view the world. The world is a good place for a small child and we as adults must believe this as well. Goodness is something we must bring and carry for the children in the first seven year cycle, beauty for the second seven, and truth in the third seven year cycle because carrying development this way for our children leads to the healthiest adults. We can consider how these cycles meet the needs of a child entering puberty here: http://www.waldorflibrary.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=684:how-does-the-middle-school-meet-puberty&catid=127:articles&Itemid=5
Rhythm at home is also of utmost importance. Lack of rhythm places great demands upon the heart and over –stimulates the nerve sense pole of the physical body. You can read more about that here: http://www.waldorflibrary.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=112:springsummer-2008-issue-54-in-the-light-of-the-heart&catid=15:gateways&Itemid=10
When you come to your children, please come with your gentleness, your kindness, your goodness. Soften your hearts, your dress, your speech, how fast you are moving, and try your best to leave your adult views at the door if they are not healthy for your children. If you must carry things that are more adult, if you are still working through your woundedness, please do it with other adults and please don’t pass that baggage onto your children.
Work on yourself as the precious being that you are. I find my personal striving and path for inner development is, for me, done through my religion and my religious community. You may find a similar path at a place of worship. If you are curious about how a Waldorf teacher uses inner development in teacher preparation, here is a good article about how one teacher has worked on that: http://www.waldorflibrary.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=137:springsummer-2007-issue-52-the-inner-life-and-work-of-the-teacher&catid=15:gateways&Itemid=10
Many blessings for a gentle week,