Freedom Versus Form

This has been a season where the theme of freedom versus form has been coming up repeatedly in my life, and as usual, I took this as a sign that I should write about this subject for my readers.

During one of the first few weeks on her Yahoo Group for homeschool planning called “Sketching It Out” that in homeschooling, Lisa Boisvert Mackenzie wrote something to the effect that we have a freedom so different than what is found in the Waldorf schools in bringing the impulses of Waldorf Education to the home, but then we have to create the form.  I have been mulling this thought around for several weeks now, where it has been germinating in my heart.  I  know from my own experiences in talking to  so many mothers and families that creating the form seems to be the most challenging part for families not just in homeschooling, but in parenting.

A small example in  parenting, for example,  that I often hear from mothers of six- to- nine year olds is that they really love the creative play and artistic abilities of their children, but often find themselves confounded and not enjoying the huge room –to- room mess in their homes that this creates.  This is such a very common question for that age of childhood!  Parents  often ask something along the lines of:   “Isn’t it okay to put some boundaries on this?  But I hate to do this because I am afraid I will dampen their creativity…”

Of course boundaries are okay.  They are more than okay.  There are part of the balance of freedom.  They provide the form in which freedom can take place!  We cannot have one without the other; we cannot give our children true freedom without these forms.  And because we are the adults, it is up to us to create the forms in a kind and gentle way, but to actually follow-through with consistency and to help our children in this endeavor.

We create form when we create “anchor points” in our day.  If we play and play and never clean up, there is no anchor to that activity.  If we homeschool without a vision or a plan or a direction, there is no anchor. These things require WILL, not just thought with no follow- through or  not just  by seeing how one “feels” about it.  It requires the doing of life, yes, sometimes some planning, and most importantly, the follow-through. 

In parenting and homeschooling, from a Waldorf perspective, it is about embracing the child where they are , but also about lifting the child up : .  It is also about being okay with anticipation and the abiding that comes with waiting on things.   A small example of this is found in bringing stories and books to a child. A story with a strong central protagonist that a child can really identify with as an individual is best suited to the child who has gone through the nine-year-change.  To have to really wait to bring in that kind of literature is often an exercise in anticipation, especially on the part of the parent!  We want to give our children the world, but  I think to really parent and homeschool in a Waldorf way, one has to be okay with the fact that things do eventually come in,  we wait because that the “pink bubble” of the world of the small child doesn’t last forever.  

There are stages in childhood development, and the best way to help a child grow up to be a healthy, balanced adult is to provide forms for the freedom we find being at home in our parenting and in our homeschooling.   It is a mistaken approach to think that chaos (freedom without form) is a way of protecting childhood innocence. We need both for true health, the ultimate goal of Waldorf parenting and education.

We help provide the form, the banks of the river, in which a child sails his canoe of life.  Hopefully we help in our own modeling and  in our own way of being to help them get to where they need to go!

Many blessings and much love,

3 thoughts on “Freedom Versus Form

  1. A wonderful, wonderful post, Carrie! Thank you. Can you elaborate a little on books suitable for early childhood? I know story-telling is the best way to go, but my four and a half year old loves books and wants them read to him. What kind of stories are appropriate? He loves the tale of Peter and the Wolf, but perhaps identifies too strongly with the protagonist? He likes characters, and is growin tired of descriptive books like Big Red Barn. Trying to not pop his pink bubble!

  2. Pingback: “Getting Children To Do What We Want” | The Parenting Passageway

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