The beginning of the school year is coming. Yes, I know for some of you it seems so far away, but some schools down here in the deep South have already started back this week. However, most of the schools in my state start during the first two weeks of August. We will be starting a bit later than that, but I know it is coming up fast and will be here before I know it.
One thing that I do to get ready for teaching a new schoolyear is to steel up my own spiritual work; both the work focused on me and the spiritual work focused on my children for the school year. When I am quiet and still I can observe- what is it that I really need? What is it that the children really need and how can I help them? How do I balance the needs of everyone in the family, including my own self-care? And most of all, with three children spanning grade 1-high school, how can I teach from a place of rest and a feeling of peace?
For me, the answer to this lies within my own spiritual work. For years, I have seen families come and go from Waldorf homeschooling (and any other type of homeschooling methodology) – always searching for the answer in pedagogy and methodology, always searching for the next latest and greatest thing. And, (ironically), often grasping on to any and all posts containing the words “simple” or “minimalist” as they make their lives as complicated as possible searching the Internet and bouncing around from one thing to another.
The answer is NOT THERE. The answer is within you. And most of all, what is often crying out is a need for a connection to something larger than oneself, and a place of spiritual peace and rest that can only come from that connection. This cannot be found in any book, curriculum, blog or Facebook group or by following someone else’s methods. It can only be found by connecting to the Divine in whatever capacity that means for you. This is something that sustains through all periods of life. Life is often messy, especially if you have multiple children. My life will probably never be simple with three children spanning large age gaps, but it can be restful and peaceful.
In past summers, I have begged parents to make it a summer parenting project to look carefully at their own spirituality so that beauty, wonder, peace and stability can be passed on to our children. We cannot model what we ourselves are not actively doing.
So, to that end, my own spiritual preparation for the new school year begins with being immersed in God’s creation -sometimes in an active way that makes me feel alive and sometimes in a quiet way that makes me feel reflective. It begins with reading the sacred texts of my traditions daily and gathering with others in a place where I feel connected to my Beloved Creator and to others who are on this path. We grow within a spiritual community. It continues throughout the day in prayer and meditation and as I strive to be still, be watchful, and to align my thoughts with something higher than my own base reaction. Rhythm is my ally in this endeavor, and keeping our homeschooling plans as uncomplicated as possible so we have “time affluence” – that time to just be in nature and space is the goal. This is where the work begins. And when I get lost during the school year and in the pulls of three very different children who have extremely different needs, as I inevitably will, that is the work to which I will return. May we all have a guiding compass to help us on our journey. This is my wish for you this school year.
Blessings, love, and joy,