What I Want My Children To Learn During Lent

For whatever reason, I just love church during Lent. I love the tolling bells, the Decalogue (the repeating of the Ten Commandments), the Confession and Absolution, and the Trisagion.  And that is just at the beginning of the Divine Liturgy!   Lent, to me, is the time where I wander with my Lord in the desert. It is the time when I remember that my Lord was sent here to die for all of humanity and in order to truly be successful in life one must die to self and reach out into humanity in an intimate way.  For some reason, this comforts me in the midst of my wanderings and temptations and frailities of being human.

This really is so abstract for children, and since part of healthy parenting and Waldorf homeschooling really is in the way we help children unfold the deep truths  of life over time,  I am always considering in Lent what I want my children  of varying ages to absorb.

For those under  age 9, I like to go over our Baptism Vows and talk about baptism and belonging.  Part of the Baptism Liturgy for us as Episcopalians includes such beautiful language as “Will you strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being?” and the prayer to give those baptized “an inquiring and discerning heart, the courage to will and to persevere, a spirit to know and love you, and the gift of joy and wonder in all your works” .  When we are baptized, we belong. Belonging and goodness is a wonderful part of baptism and how we concretely go out into the world to witness to love.  This is so easy and wonderful to do with small children!  Bake for neighbors, help others, help small creatures, wonder together!    We also take a good  look at what things are different in church – there are no flowers, for example, only branches.  There is less and less music and singing.    These very physical things in the Liturgy signify this is a different season.

For those  ages 9-14, I like to talk about how Lent corresponds to the forty days Jesus was in the desert being tempted by Satan.  God didn’t make Jesus do anything, but Jesus chose the hard things anyway.  We can choose good choices, even when the good choices are hard.  We talk about what we gain when we let things go, and how the spirit of Lent can open us to doing something positive – and then we take those concrete steps to do something positive for those around us and for ourselves.  So many wonderful conversations around this!

For older teens ages  15 and up, I still like to talk about Lent and choices, but also about the choices we have inside of us and our attitudes, our attitude toward people and the least among us.  We talk about how often the devil is not only in the world, but inside us in that we all have the ability choose good or evil, how we react to things, how we rise up.  We have a choice to be selfish and think only of ourselves or do something more.   The world is can be grey,  the choices are not always easy or pat or rote, and older teenagers totally know  and get this.  However, just as the  good choices of Jesus were for us, for humanity, we  as human beings can also make choices that help others for the greater good of humanity. Love can become the meaning in the world if we choose that and let that flow.  Rudolf Steiner wrote in his lecture “Love and Its Meaning In The World”:  “We have to leave our acts of love behind in the world, but they are then a spiritual factor in the flow of the world events…..Love is the creative force in the world.”  So, how do we bring love to the world?  That is the question for the older teenager to find in themselves and in the gifts that they have to share with the world.

May we all send out love,



Celebrating Valentine’s Day In The Waldorf Home

February is consistently labeled as the month where all homeschoolers want to quit.  The dreary weather often makes those of us in the Northern Hemisphere want to head for warmer locations and sunshine, and get rid of school altogether!

But really, Valentine’s Day can be our little spot of sunshine!  There are all kinds of things to make and do, and it can be a lovely pink and red time of showing love for one another.  I love Lisa’s Valentine’s Day post over at Celebrate the Rhythm of Life and would like to add some resources so you can have an amazing  handmade Valentine’s Day celebration!

Verses –

Good morrow to you, Valentine.
Curl your locks as I do mine,

Two before and three behind,

Good morrow to you, Valentine

-From “Festivals, Family, and Food: Guide to Seasonal Celebration” by Diana Carey and Judy Large, page 9

Games:  The book mentioned above has a suggestion for a Valentine Ring Game ( so you would need a group large enough to form a ring).  It is sort of a version of “Duck Duck Goose” involving a handkerchief and song.

Stories: The book “Tell Me A Story” from WECAN  has the story “A Million Valentines” by Suzanne Down; Suzanne Down’s Juniper Tree Puppetry website also has an entire book of Valentine Day stories here.

Activities:  Making Valentines out of red, white, and pink paper, lacey doileys or leftover lace is a fun activity.  Also,  making little felt hearts with a string, sort of like a pendant necklace is fun, or to sew two little felt hearts into a brooch.  One year we found heart shaped buttons and made little bracelets with buttons.

You could also consider the Swedish-type hearts made out of paper that sometimes one sees around Christmastime.  They are really sweet and may appeal to older children.

“All Year Round” has a suggestion of making bird biscuits and hanging them from a branch.  You can try my Pinterest Board for more suggestions, including biscuits to feed the birds, felt heart garlands, little lanterns, and more.

One thing we like to do is to have a pretty breakfast table with flowers and fun decorations.  Little garlands of red felt hearts are easy to make last minute and are very sweet hanging up.  Many of the crafts on my Pinterest board would make a pretty table.

When we think of activities, we also include acts of service.  If there is anyone in your neighborhood that is alone, elderly to visit, or a food bank that needs donation, those are all great ways to spread Valentine’s Day love and cheer.

Food:  Having a tea party seems to fit in well with this day.  On The Parenting Passageway Facebook page, I posted a picture of the flowering tea we had at Candlemas.  These would be fun at Valentine’s Day too, and everyone enjoys watching the flower unfurl in the hot water of a clear tea pot.

If you have wonderful pictures of your Valentine’s Day fun, please do post it over on The Parenting Passageway Facebook page or share a link below.





Throughout the ages, spring has been a time of renewal and coming alive after a fallow and inward winter.   The significance of “forty” for the forty days of Lent coincide to this awakening and renewal and is not to be underestimated.  Forty days are in many scenes from Biblical History.  One only has to think of Noah and the Ark, Moses and the forty days after he killed the Egyptian, Moses in the desert, Joshua and his forty days to the Promised Land, Elijah walking for forty days and forty nights, and the time of Jesus Christ and His temptation in the desert.

And, after each of these fallow, anguishing, waiting periods, renewal occurs afterwards.  So I have been asking myself:  “What is my forty?  What regrowth, renewal, or positive change is going to come out of this time?”  Just like the way disequilibrium gives way to equilibrium in development, the way the rain turns into the sun shining,  fallow periods or even times of hardship often lead to  amazing new beginnings; a  blooming and blossoming, just like the branches of the flowering trees here in the south.



Sometimes we get stuck and can’t see our way out of the fallowness. If you live long enough, then you will have plenty of fallow periods or periods where things just aren’t going well.   How we get unstuck depends upon us.  Some of us need to start in the physical plane, with exericse or changing our nutrition or seeing a healthcare professional. Some of us need to start in the emotional plane with counseling, checking our values, putting in boundaries. Some of us need to start on the spiritual plane and as our spirituality and connection to everything around us deepens, we feel a new burst of energy and direction.

Even if you don’t celebrate Lent for religious reasons, I invite you to take some time during Lent for renewal and spiritual deepening.  I would love to hear your plans!



Cold Weather Fun

Much of the eastern United States and Canada has been in a cold snap this month – um, it snowed in Savannah, Charleston,  and Florida this past week.  That is not unheard of, but it is pretty unusual!  Are you dealing with cold weather?  (And to my Down Under Readers, Happy Summer!)

With prolonged cold weather, there often come a few things that happen.  First of all,  wonderful cozy time at home, hopefully complete with hot drinks and a warm fireplace going.  It can be a great time to catch up on projects and declutter.

If you need a way for your children to get out energy inside, try the suggestions in this post

It can also be a great time to play fun games!  I will try to post some pictures on the Facebook page of our favorite games by age, but a general list includes for those under 9 cooperative games ( we like the ones by Family Pastimes;  Snowstorm! could be appropriate) and games like Wildcraft.  For those 9-12, we love the Monopoly games, Labyrinth, Sushi Go, chess (and many more).  For younger teens, we love games like Monopoly  (or Monopoly-type games like Horseopoly), Boggle, Scrabble, Tellestrations, Catan, Risk.  Older teens (16  or 17 and up) like party card games, games like Secret Hitler, Resistance, One Night Ultimate Werewolf, and even old school games like the Game of Life  and Rummikub can still be loved.

For adults, sometimes thinking about a new rhythm is rejuvenating.  It is a great time to get rhythm together or to think about  warming meals for January.  Warmth is the name of the game this time of year, both on the body and in the heart:  Emotional and Physical Warmth (lots of comments on this one!)

Maybe you would like to  use some of this time to plan ahead for Martin Luther King Jr. Day (are you planning volunteering as a family?)(here is a back post on The Impulse of Martin Luther King Jr. and one on the Celebrating the Light of Martin Luther King Jr.)    or  Candlemas?

How is the weather in your part of the world? I would love to hear what you are up to in dealing with the cold or the hot!




Light + Joy: 2018

May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
with joy that long endures.
May all life’s passing seasons
bring the best to you and yours.

From an Old Irish Blessing, author unknown

May this be your year of light + joy.

May this be a year you are renewed and replenished.

May this be a year you make great memories.

May you be proud of how far you have come and undaunted by whatever is ahead.

Go boldly and be your beautiful self.

Happy New Year, dear readers!




Refreshing The Rhythm

This is a great time to think about how to ease back into life after the holidays!  Here in the Northern Hemisphere many have taken the week off between Christmas and New Year’s, and some children are going back to school the day after New Year’s and some are starting on January 8th.  Parents everywhere are wondering how to get back into the groove of things, and homeschooling parents especially (you mean we can’t just end school here?)

Some of the things I love to do to help get back into things:

Review where we were in the fall semester and where we need to go in the spring semester. Some Waldorf homeschooling families write progress reports at this time.  I only write one at the end of the school year, but I think each family is different.

Get some inspiration from favorite Pinterest boards and You Tube Channels

Get the house under control!  Need help with rhythms and routines for house cleaning?  Try this back post from 2009 called Housecleaning and Homeschooling

Breakfast plans. It is hard to get the day going if we are caught up in making breakfast and then distraction sets in and everything starts really late. If you are home all day with younger children, this may not matter, but older teenagers often have places to be in the afternoon, and we need to get going in the morning. I find a warming breakfast often helps.

Planning rhythm around your rest and your  own physical and emotional needs. This can be hard for some of us to do whether e we often put everyone else’s needs before us or we feel as if the education of every child in the house is relying on us. For a refresher, try this back post on Building Your Homeschooling Around Rest

Ease into the rest of the school year by having a nature week, a handwork week, a week focused on one great book (“The Living Language Book” by Christopherus has suggestions for this sort of unit), plan extra time for crafting or playing wonderful board games (post to come on our favorites) or being outside… in other words, take half days to just be together with structure before you start trying to throw a full schedule onto everyone!

If you must tackle a full schedule due to time constraints, then plan to start on a Wednesday or Thursday so you have a few days to be “on” and another mini-break. 🙂

Just a few ideas!  Tell me your favorite way to ease back into school!



Building For Justice and Peace: The Fourth Day of Christmastide

This morning, the day of the Christian Holy Feast of the Innocents,  I was meditating on this piece about the humility of children from a Roman Catholic source.  It pointed out  how children are the builders for justice, peace, and truth. Children have a way of getting to the heart of things.

I really want my children to be bearers for this generation of these values and ideals.  I want them to not only be able to take care of themselves, but also to be able to take care of those around them who are suffering, who are poor, who are needy, and to be able to have a moral compass that will help them stand up for social justice and truth in a context greater than themselves.

In doing this, I have been thinking about:

Modeling Compassion and a Moral Compass-  Children are watching, and I better walk what my talk is saying.  It is sort of like saying, “You cannot watch TV (but I will watch 15 hours a day on my computer or phone”).  We cannot say we want our children to demonstrate a value for justice and peace if we do nothing to show compassion in our own family and in our community, and if we live a life completely separate and without regard for what we espouse.

Respect – If we cannot respect our children when they speak up, how on earth do we expect them to be able to speak up on important issues or when they have the differing opinion from a room full of people?

Humilty – It is not up to us to save the world by ourselves.  But it is up to us to do our part and to shine our light where we can. We need others to show us, help us, heal us, and strive together.  Change can be slow, slower than we often would like.   We must be humble and acknowledge that it takes long, hard work to make effective change whether in ourselves or on a societal level and it takes more than just ourselves.  There are many stars shining in the darkness.  Respecting the boundaries between what I can do myself and what I can’t without sacrificing my own family or my own health is part of that humility.

Community – Living in a community of people dedicated to justice and peace will not only push us as adults toward greater education, knowledge, and activism, it will help us model for our children and control our own egotism.  It helps us share comfort, forgiveness, and reconciliation as we work together.

Diversity – I have a quote up on my personal Facebook page that “love illuminates.”  Demonstrating love for all and putting those ideals into action is even more important than the words.   Think of others, think of others as individuals, and think about things, even large issues, from that point of view.

Still pondering on this winter day.