Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A mother's perspective on Waldorf Education

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Today was my oldest sons first day of Kindergarten. I feel like we have finally found the best place for him school wise. As we walked through the gate, the kids were grinding grains as the teachers were welcoming the children to the day. I took in the surroundings: big trees over the children, protecting them from the sun, beautifully carved, rounded furniture for the little ones to sit on. I saw two teachers working gently with the children while welcoming the kids and parents to school. I saw children working together so peacefully. As I walked away, my son yells out to me "Love you Mommy!" I walk away knowing that he will have a day that will be filled with magical enlightenment. 
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On the same note, I am filling out his application for the local grades Waldorf school. We are talking first grade already! One of the questions is about our Relationship To Waldorf Education. I laughed when you can add additional pieces of paper for this answer. My husband and I joked, "do you think they mind 10 pages worth!?!" As I start to gather my thoughts on what Waldorf Education means to our family, I get to thinking about what wonderful opportunities this form of Education has already offered my children (and myself).
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As I have evolved as a parent, it is with Waldorf that I have found the most inner beauty of myself. My friend recently said to me "you parent with such passion, the way you did as a wedding planner." I thought to myself, yes, that is true. When I have passion for something, I fully embrace it. I have always been one to be passionate: be it about saving whales when I was younger, to wedding planning as an adult, or how to parent my children. I believe that the most important thing, above any Education philosophy, is how you parent. That we, as parents, have to evolve, always learn and to always be available to our children. I am just lucky that there is also an Education philosophy that helps further my love of my children.
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It's been about 4 years that I have been "studying" Waldorf and Steiner. It first started with our views on television and media with children. I have always been very anti media for children, and I started to research on things that I could do with my then 18 month old. I started reading more and more about Waldorf and started the discussions with my sister in law during our weekly knitting group. It all sounded so fascinating and I wanted to know more. I started reading the typical books: You are Your Child's First Teacher, Over The Rainbow Bridge, Heaven on Earth, and Last Child in the Woods. I was a sponge and wanted to do whatever I could to make certain that I was providing the best childhood for my child. As time went on, I would say I was following "Waldorf" pretty well at home. We were gardeners, organic food eaters, we didn't have media, we were living lightly on the planet, I was staying home, we were providing a gentle childhood for our son. The first thing we worked on was "rhythm" Establishing a gentle, no hurried life for my son was one of the best gifts I learned from Waldorf Education. We (I) learned how to slow down and really breathe in the beauty of every day. It was a pure joy to be able to share my time and life with my son and it started to no longer feel like "work."
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My true passion for Waldorf started when I moved to Ashland. My son was 2 and I was pregnant with our next. Our life here was shaping up and I started to meet more and more people associated with Waldorf. My love for making things continued and blossomed into a little bit of work. I worked very hard on our family rhythm and preparing my son for the baby that would be entering into our family. My husband and I decided early on that I would remain at home with our children. That I would be their main source of love, security, and up bringing for the crucial years of birth to 7. We let our materialistic selves come to peace with a one income household. We adjusted our lives to make certain that I was always able to stay home.
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It wasn't always roses though. When my son was 3 (the new baby now had entered into our lives) I found myself very frustrated with my son. I had provided a very safe and secure life for him and I was the only person he wanted. When I started preschool with him, we struggled and struggled. One day I was dropping him off for summer camp (now he is 4) and the head of the camp was his babysitter. I swore there was no way this could fail. But it did. He only wanted to be with me and his brother. I was angry that my child was unable to go to camp, go to school, be away from me. I had gotten what I ultimately wanted, but now I just wanted a little more freedom. This anger was unsettling in me and I set forth realizing that my child was not going to change and that I needed to. I had to find a way to communicate with him and be more understanding and loving to his needs. I didn't have the son that ran off waving good-bye to his mama. But I did have a son that was so full of love for me and wanted to be with me at all times. This was a good thing!
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Since my son was 3 (he's now 5 1/2) I have continued and expanded on my love for Waldorf and Rudolf Steiner. I spend my evenings reading and learning more about his philosophies. From Education to Bio-Dynamic farming, to Anthroposophy. No. I am not attending school to study because my children are so young, but I try to consume as much as I can from literature, teachers, elders, and the like. I attend every conference near to here and am setting forth on a slow mission to become a Certified Early Childhood Waldorf educator. The one thing I love is being present with my children. To paint with them, to build with them, to bake with them, to be with them.
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I have seen what this form of Education can provide. My two sons are very gentle beings. They have extreme concentration and a real love for nature. They are full of wonder. They are well mannered, well spoken, and well behaved. They have extensive imaginations. They have self discipline and full hearts. They are empathetic and lovely. They are a direct product of having Waldorf in the home and I couldn't be more proud or happier.
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I have been so lucky to have gotten a very small job at the Siskiyou School. I am doing the after school program and two days in and I am so happy. To walk in through the doors of a school that I am so happy to be a part of, it feels like my life is on the exact path it needs to be. Surrounding myself with individuals that value educating the whole child; hand, heart, and head! To meet them, to talk to them, and get to know them is only furthering my passion for this philosophy. 

Such a small bit about my experiences thus far. A mother's perspective. I only hope they grow to value education, value each other and themselves. 

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11 comments:

  1. Beautifully lived, photographed, and written, Lora.

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  2. Thank you for sharing your story. it gives great motivation to move toward a better way of life with my child. MY little one is 5 now and she loves Waldorf,I believe it is exactly what you needed!:))

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    1. Thank you Adriane! It really feels so good to be on this path! Good luck to you too!

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  3. I'm on the "other end". Our daughter is 22 years old, and is a Waldorf "lifer". We found our local Waldorf school when she was in 2nd grade, and she completed the schooling through 12th grade. It has been a wonderful journey, which she says she intends to repeat with her children, when she eventually has a family.

    Her schooling wasn't inexpensive, nor easy for us to afford. We went without a lot of "stuff" -- vacations, new cars, nice furniture, etc. -- that our contemporaries had/did. But I wouldn't trade any of her education for the chance to have any of that.

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    1. I so agree with you Betsy! The "stuff" isn't necessary! It's the experiences in life! Thank you for sharing!

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  4. Beautiful, it is a wonderful approach to family and schooling :-)

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