I think one of the main things that we can give our small children is a sense of life as a celebration. I don’t mean an all-out wild party, the way we often think of celebrating today, but a mood of joy, a mood of anticipation and wonder and a happy feeling that we are at one with nature and the world. A mood of celebration in the small child fosters a sense of unity and commonality with nature and others.
Ideally, once you have gone through cycles of celebration with the small child, with its wonder, anticipation and joy, these cycles will continue throughout the life of the people in the family and become an embedded part of that family;s particular culture.
In a family interested in Waldorf Education, one often hears things about Michaelmas, Christmas, Easter and St. John’s Tide. Many families pick the festivals and holidays that speak to them, from within their own country and also from their own religious or spiritual practices.
As a Christian, I often look to our liturgical year, the feasts of the Saints, and also nature within the course of a year. Celtic Saints provide a commonality for Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Anglican families and what Celtic Christianity in particular calls us to look at is celebration and thanksgiving in autumn, stillness and reflectiveness in winter, preparation in the spring, and a calling of expansiveness and growth in the summer.
The celebration mood extends to how we live: do we live life as a celebration in front of our children or drudgery? Do we complain, dislike, and show restlessness within our life or our own hearty love for where we are right now?
The other day I started trying to plan a few things out for our third child, who will be four years old in the fall. The plan for him is a solid Waldorf kindergarten experience, and in accordance with our family culture, a solid Christian experience.
It also provides the experiences around festivals, feasts, the liturgical year and nature that sets the tone for the whole family. This could be easy to lose in planning if one has only older children, but is actually the most important part of homeschooling, for it teaches gratitude, service, love, anticipation, wonder and joy.
I took a piece of paper and divided it into sections with each section labeled by month and just started making lists. My lists included feasts and festivals for each month, songs, things in nature that I want to remember to look for or craft with, ideas for cooking, ideas for family life. This then becomes the blueprint for each month and the basis for what is TRULY important within the heart of the family.
I hope to share more with you as we go along each month!
Would you share with us what you added into your summer months? Also, why kindergarten for 4? I thought Waldorf grades were delayed a year from typical school? I have a 4 (in march) and was going to wait another year..
I just love your blog and look forward to it!
Waldorf “kindergarten” in a school is the same program essentially for those 3 to ages 6 or 6 and a half based upon the seasons of the year, festivals, work, play…there are no formal academics until grade 1 when a child is close to age 7. It is really based upon the rhythm of the home, so for homeschoolers I think this is about developing our family culture. You can see more what I mean by age during the Early Years in this post: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/01/13/waldorf-in-the-home-with-the-three-and-four-year-old/. I would also encourage you to not compare Waldorf to conventional schooling, ie Waldorf is delayed by a year, because it has its own scope and sequence and whys that correspond with child development, so I think it really is just right 🙂
Summer has its own rhythm of slowing down, but sometimes I still make a little list of feast days of Saints I don’t want to miss, fasting that will happen for me, American holidays etc. It may not be a strict circle time and such that we might do during the year, but just some things that when my children are grown they will look back and say, “Oh, we did that every summer.” I think that is so very healthy.
I always leave your posts richer than I was. I am puzzled, though, by the statement about Celtic Christianity being foundational to Orthodoxy. Would you say a bit more?
Lucy — I just meant those Celtic Saints are a commonality we all share in our Christian heritage for several denominations whether in East or West. I will go back and re-word so that is clear …
Thanks for your comment,
Thank you for all you do and all you write and all you SHARE! So wonderful to read here, it is like a breath of fresh air. I am hoping you will post the list! Pictures are so much easier to understand…
At one point this year I had a “Celebrate” banner as my blog header. It was a word/concept my spiritual director gave me to cultivate in my heart. I honestly cannot say the word without turning up my nose (lol). So we worked with that and came up with the phrase “cultivate wonder and delight”. This was a game changer and what I believe you are talking about here. I just made a little paper banner this weekend that hangs over my desk that says “delight in it all” just to remind myself while I am sitting there (like you!) planning away for next year.
I feel like this year has been such a watershed for me. I have let go of so many Waldorf ideals and really claimed the celebratory spirit of waldorf. Thank you for reminding us all to keep true to the heart of what Waldorf can be at home.
Love to you!!
Oh. I am looking forward to seeing what you come up with. My oldest will be 4 this time next year, so I can watch you play out the full year before we need to start!
I love this:
“The celebration mood extends to how we live: do we live life as a celebration in front of our children or drudgery? Do we complain, dislike, and show restlessness within our life or our own hearty love for where we are right now?”
These are really important questions to ask ourselves. Our moods, words and actions will shape how our children view the world. Thank you for the sharing your journey!
An offering dear Carrie and friends!
Thanks for your ideas about planning. I find tho, that I go through and list the things to celebrate or notice, and then promptly become overwhelmed. The months flip by so quickly and it seems like there we always have something we’re supposed to be celebrating. Do you ever get that feeling?
Great point! I think it really needs to be kept very simple..and to start with a small number of things to celebrate in one season. One big festival per season is really a lot. Some of the smaller ones could be just what you put on the table that day for beauty, a special craft, a special picture hanging up for the day…think small and simple. 🙂
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Carrie, I have done this myself since watching Melissa’s video.
Thank you for sharing how you do it.
Hi Lynn! Wave, wave!
waving back from Sunny England 🙂