There has not been a lot of ability to write or convey my thoughts on Pandemic 2020 parenting. Boy, there is certainly a lot to talk about, just not a lot of enthusiasm to fulfill, I imagine most people understand this feeling by now.
With restrictions easing and states opening and the slightest possibility of positivity, here I am saying something.
Luke and Lily are doing great. They both have there own way of dealing with this time:
Luke: “I really appreciate your home schooling, but to be honest, you guys are not very good teachers (duh!) I cant wait to get back to school!”
Lily: “When will I have a play date again!”
But when I sit back and watch them have their day, doing the things they want to do, I breath relief, I see healthy, inquisitive, hopeful minds, I am able to relax a bit on it all.
Lily just continues the love of exploration when given an opportunity.
Luke is constantly creating and partaking in interesting, mechanically provocative adventures.
I am sure I have gone on and on about my love of the Waldorf School concepts and practices, perhaps not, but it makes no difference because what I know is that my kids are thriving in all areas of life as far as I can tell and their school supports a diversity I don’t see happening in other areas of education.
There was a handout at a recent parent night about researchers who have studied child development in hunter gatherer tribes. That children in these cultures are allowed (and encouraged) to play, play, play until they are fully ready to take on the challenges of adult life, Like until the are seventeen or eighteen. PLAY is the key!
Homework bad, play good!
What recently became apparent to me with Luke was his unbridled enthusiasm about this last “handwork” creation. This is a boy who loves baseball more just than about anything, plays football by himself (as well as any other sport you might care to mention) but when he brought home his “needle book” and showed it to us, the light in his eyes, the profound confidence he displayed describing every stitch, this made me see a whole person, a whole being. A lovely boy in every way imaginable.
For Lily it is her inner ability to create worlds. She has got so many little secret worlds floating about it is impossible to keep track. Yet if you ask her to describe what that pile of scarves, papers, stones, sticks and blankets are, she will give a detailed and well thought out description of that world.
For me this took on more “real world” experience when after a huge storm, one that knocked out power for thousands of residents and downed many trees in our neighborhood, I went outside to purvey the damage in our yard and what I saw was this:
A Fairy House she had made before the storm and was completely un-harmed.
I don’t want to finish the post title as it might sound contrite, but I trust after reading this you will agree it is the only appropriate description.
When Luke started school, one thing happened immediately, he came home talking about playing baseball at recess. Now, for many schools, this would not seem at all out of place, but you must remember that Luke’s (and Lily’s) school is not one made from heavy team action, no Friday night lights here. There regular team sports are Frisbee golf and cross country running.
So, when Luke came home so excited about playing baseball, I was truly curious. Then I found out that he was playing with just one other boy, a stick and a rock. I was impressed and aside from the rock, it all sounded like a great plan.
A few days later it was:
A stick, a wood chip and four players.
A stick, a wood chip and a full infield.
Full teams, including the teachers, REAL bases and a REAL bat.
About a month goes by and all I know is that the entire class plays baseball pretty much every day, even the teachers. They have umpires and some sort of a “review” system in the event of a close call.
Luke just loves it all, its the first thing I hear about when I pick him up after school (hit a grand slam today Dad!)
I was invited into Luke’s class today to help the kids with blowing eggs for easter. A few things emerged.
The fact that they blow eggs at all is remarkable.
The teacher calmly reminded me that it is OK if the kids struggle a bit to finish blowing there egg. Some kids were done in a minute and some in twenty minutes, no judgement, no difference, just support and calm encouragement.
I don’t know a lot about Waldorf Education, but the more I learn the more I appreciate it. It fits well with our past play friendly, confidence developing classes and books that speak to us.
Like many alternative: schooling techniques it is met with a certain amount of head scratching, the comment that sticks out in my head is “Oh, there is no structure in those types of schooling”
Perhaps nothing could be further from the truth.
In Luke’s Kindergarten class it is quiet and calm all day long . Twenty seven 5-7 year olds and they play focused and are at ease. The teacher is not commanding any of this, it just seems to be a natural by product of the Waldorf belief system.
I so enjoyed this quote from Rudolf Steiner, (an Austrian philosopher, author, social reformer, architect and esotericist) and man responsible for Waldorf schooling, I put a copy on our refrigerator.
May there reign here spirit-strength in love; May there work here spirit-light in goodness; Born from certainty of heart, And from steadfastness of soul, So that we may bring to young human beings Bodily strength for work, inwardness of soul, and clarity of spirit.