One thing that many Waldorf teachers do at night is to meditate on the children in their
class. I think this practice is absolutely vital as a parent, and certainly as a homeschooling parent!
In the discussion /write-up following Dr. Helmut von Kugelgen’s article “How Can We Find A Connection to The World of the Angels?” in the blue paperback book, “A Deeper Understanding of the Waldorf Kindergarten,” the question arises:
Q: What about thinking about children before we go to sleep?
A: “Freya Jaffke spoke to this question and said each person must find their own way with this. The picturing of children should not take too long, though one can then spend more time on a difficult child. For example, one can review a problematic moment with the child, make it “present” within one, picturing the “gesture” of the moment. How did the moment arise? What led up to it? What happened during the moment and what came afterwards? Also find a good moment that happened with the child. Make this picture “big” before your mind’s eye. Thus two objective pictures stand before you without any wishes. Then you can feel a real connection to the child. You may do this picturing several nights in a row. Maybe one picture will increase or decrease; or both may merge into equal strength. Then daily work will grow easier, for you are not fighting the one aspect. But be careful not to neglect the “good” children. Look at all of the children, and occasionally dwell on one or two who do not have difficulties.” (page 59-60).
How much easier this is for us as homeschooling parents – we have less numbers to meditate on than a classroom teacher! And in some ways, how much more difficult this is, as we are more emotionally involved and connected and attached and feel more deeply about our children’s behavior during the day than a teacher most likely would. It can also be difficult to see our children objectively, from all sides, because of this connection. It takes consistent practice.
I personally have a practice of praying for my children every night before bed and review the day and where that child is in all aspects of life in this moment. I also think about those more difficult situations that occurred during the day with the children. I think about what I need to work on, and also what my children need to practice for growing toward adulthood, or what foundation they need right now for whatever large developmental change looms ahead – whether that be the six/seven year change, the nine year change, the twelve year change, adolescence.
I try to frame this in as positive terms as possible. For example, if my child is having a difficult time in something, I might think about what needs to INCREASE in my child in order for the situation to be better. What can I help them cultivate? If I have a grades-aged child, I think about what I need to step in and help with, and what part needs to be their responsibility. It can be difficult as a parent and for the child if we always want to be the buffer between the child and the world; sometimes the grades aged child in particular has his or her own work to do.
Sometimes I look for virtues off this list: http://www.virtuesproject.com/virtues.html and think how I can bring a particular virtue to my child in a sideways manner. Is there a pedagogical story I can tell? Can I work through rhythm, through other experiences to indirectly help what is going on at hand?
The key is to do this work every night without fail; to become consistent. One of the keys of Waldorf Education is that we can take our questions, our challenges, into our sleep and receive answers from the spiritual beings. And, because this is December, Rudolf Steiner felt that the Twelve Days of Christmas was a very sacred time and that not only could we meet during the night with our own angels, but the Archangels themselves. Whether that resonates with you or not, I find it an interesting observation about a very sacred time of the year.