Do you know Annette over at Seasons of Joy? For the past several months she has been hosting a link-up called “Waldorf Wednesday.” I love Waldorf Wednesdays, and try never to miss. I like being able to share what we are doing and also see what other people are doing. Last week, Annette posted these words and I have been thinking about them ever since.
So, wow! 30 weeks of Waldorf Wednesday! I will say I’m starting to question the Waldorf part of Waldorf Wednesday. Not that I’m questioning the efficacy of Waldorf education—not at all! Rather, I’ve seen the term Waldorf used all too many times as a club to beat other mothers about the head – That’s not Waldorf! You’re doing it wrong!—rather than a goal or a standard that we’re all striving towards. At the risk of sounding heretical, my deepest wish in that we’d live in a post-Waldorf world. One that was beyond labels and instead trusted every mother is trying to give her child the gentlest, most loving, most magical childhood possible. And then, when we did see others making choices we might not agree with, to extend to them the same grace, mercy, and love we would extend our own children. But, as I tell my own little ones, if wishes were piggies, bacon would always be on sale…
I could not agree more – especially about bacon always being on sale! Personally, I have not been subjected to anyone’s criticism about not doing Waldorf correctly. Well, that is not really true. There has been one person who has continually pointed out my failure to meet a certain Waldorf ideal. Unfortunately, that person was me. I have worked very hard this year to do for myself what Annette has proposed we do for each other, which I think boils down this: broadening our ideas about what Waldorf is and can be and also being a little kinder than necessary. I believe we are able to explore and expand the idea of Waldorf by continuing to tell our story of how we currently incorporate Waldorf in our homes and in our homeschooling. There is no right way to do this, and don’t believe anyone who tells you otherwise – especially if that person is yourself! If you are influenced by the principles of Waldorf and you blog, please consider posting a link over at Seasons of Joy on Wednesdays. You can find the page to this week’s link up here – where Annette has just announced she plans to hold an online Spring Faire. This is going to be fun!!
In an effort to stand with Annette and hold the vision of Waldorf homeschooling as something fluid and transformative rather than something rigid and confining, I am reblogging an old post of mine entitled, “What Waldorf Looks Like in My Home”. Not much has changed as far as the “look” of Waldorf in my house, but I can tell you a lot has changed in regard to the “feel.” Expect some posts on that topic in the coming weeks.
I accuse my friend Alisha of living in a felted house. I have this idyllic picture in my head of her charming setting: winding paths that connect the (felted) houses, vibrant Waldorf-inspired homeschooling co-ops, seasonal festivals complete with happy families and cherubic children. There are probably even gnomes perched under beeswax lamp posts scattered throughout the neighborhood. I know this is not true – well, the paths, co-op and festivals are – I’m not sure about the gnomes. It is so easy to compare, contrast and find ourselves lacking when we think about what Waldorf homeschooling looks like elsewhere.
My house is not felted. My walls are not even lazured. There is no natural wood anywhere, and my boys have never had a Waldorf doll, play stands or knitted gnome hats. Pretty early on, I learned the outward symbols of Waldorf did not impart any of the intentionality, spirituality and simplicity I wanted in our home. Because, trust me, I tried to just “buy” Waldorf in the beginning. I spent a lot of money – this is not hard! – on art supplies, child-sized German brooms and dust pans, anthroposophical books that were (and still are) beyond my comprehension and a myriad of other wooden, silken and beeswax-covered items. I scattered these things around our home and hoped, like fairy dust, they would work their magic. Surprisingly, this did not happen.
The other unfortunate misconception I had in the beginning was thinking Waldorf was more about the boys than it was about me. Three years into this gig and I can say with confidence: it has so very precious little to do with my boys, and so, so very much to do with me. If I can quiet my mind, open my heart and hold the space, things happen. Big things happen. Unfortunately there is not a formula, a catalog, a website or a blog that can tell you exactly how to do this. It’s setting the intention. It’s knowing your children. It’s connecting with the angels. It’s doing all of this over and over and over. Day after day. Some days, hour after hour.
Having said all of that, there are some over-arching tenets that translate and define what Waldorf looks like at our house. My particular way of manifesting Waldorf comes with a healthy dose of Simplicity Parenting. When Waldorf gets too complicated (which is not hard, especially in the beginning) I fall back on Kim John Payne’s advice: less words, less stuff, less choices. From there, it is easier to return to center and continue down the path. Anyway, here is some idea of what Waldorf looks like in my home.
- Seeing the whole child and educating the whole child: mentally, physically, spiritually.
- Taking into account the ages of my children and the corresponding anthroposophical stage of human development.
- Honoring story and art as much as math and science.
- Knowing time outside to be paramount – second only to sleep.
- Limiting screen time to about once a week.
- Using handwork, form drawing, and full body movement to address a variety of physical, emotional and spiritual challenges.
- Utilizing the temperaments as a guide in parenting.
- Encouraging wonder, awe and reverence in myself and in my children.
- Holding a daily, weekly and seasonal rhythm.