a new day + some questions

We woke this morning with warm sun on our windowsill.  It is nearly 15 degrees with a fresh wind.  After an overwhelming day yesterday I buckled down and cleaned each area of our house so we woke to a tidy start.  The chickens are out, the laundry is folded and the kids are doing yoga.  I have connected with a local Waldorf homeschooler and two local homeschooling groups which is awe-mazing.  We are organizing a wee get together/playdate with the Lindsay Homeschoolers next week.

The sun and warmth have renewed us all, but some questions and concerns are still swimming in my head from yesterday.  You see, yesterday took me to my edge.  I bundled up the kids to play in the snow and sun and visit the chickens.  Poppy was great; feeding, petting, and talking away to the chickens, climbing snowbanks, eating snow.  I followed them and tried to be mindful, but Silas went up and down the scale of whiny and clingy to insane and screaming.  Poppy was/is never like this.  She is the most easygoing child who flits like a butterfly from one activity to the next almost seamlessly.

They are nearly perfect opposites.  He eats the quiche filling, she eats the crust.  She eats the meat, he eats the veggies.  He likes routine and a set schedule, she fights it tooth and nail.  He is particular about more too.  He can’t stand a sock that is beginning to come off and prefers to go pantless.  If we stay up a little later than usual he will sometimes look at us and say “bed” in a very determined voice and then head up the stairs to the bedroom.  He also shows signs of being organized.  He hides his cup on the windowsill and goes over to get a drink and then puts it right back.  He always seems to know where things are when one of us asks and takes us to it or will just show up with it as we frantically search.  Poppy does none of these things as her strengths lie in other areas.

Yesterday was jsut one of those days in which I felt pulled in two directions and I may have broke open a little.

I finally brought them back inside and sat snuggling on the couch because it seems to be the only thing that settles this boy of mine.  Then suddenly it hit me.  I know I feel insane when everything is discombobulated and I wonder if his tantrums and clingy tendencies are due to the lack of flow and organization to our days and home.  Is he suffering like I am without the vocabulary or ability to articulate it?  I think he is; my gut tells me it is so.

So I revisit Waldorf.  I am drawn to the warmth and simplicity of Waldorf education.  I think he (and she) would benefit from knowing what to expect.

a day of play looks like this

Components of a Good Day

Waking to a tidy house – This is huge.  If I wake up to a mess I can only see and think about the mess.  It starts us off on the wrong foot.  I need to make it a priority to take an hour to clean the house each night.  If I can dedicate myself to doing this, the rest of our day falls into place.  It really is that simple.

Shower – I notice my mood coincides with how scummy I feel.

Exercise/Yoga – This rarely happens, but I need to make it a priority for so many reasons.

Getting a few main goals accomplished – I love crossing stuff off my list.

All of these things help me be a better wife and mama.  I just have to remind myself of that when I don’t feel like doing any of it.

What I Would Like to Incorporate Into Our Days

Morning + Night Bags – Bags or baskets filled with outfits, socks, diapers/underwear.  One for morning and one for after their nightly bath with jammies, and a favourite book or two for bedtime.  It would need to be hung somewhere so that the kids couldn’t rip them apart

A schedule – Not so much led by time, but having the main activities in the same order.

A nature table – I have no idea how this is done with such young children as my kids will always tear it apart and spread it from one end of the house to the other.  If I have it out of reach, but show them they beg for bits of it to carry around and lose.

More signing, dancing and instruments – shakers, rattles, tambourines and more kids songs

A weekly meal plan – a plan for all meals and snacks for the week along with many raw ingredients for baking and inspiration

A lesson plan of sorts – a loose pool of plans and activities to draw from when I don’t know what to do (I have a number of brilliant ideas pinned on Pinterest)

A binder – containing all of our plans, ideas, recipes, crafts, songs, meals, etc.

My Ideal Daily Rhythm

Wake, dress, makes beds

Go downstairs to a clean kitchen and make breakfast

Wash hands, change diapers, brush hair, brush teeth

Freeplay while I tidy kitchen: wipe tables + counters, sweep, do dishes

Prepare a snack tray for the day with the kids helping (a muffin tin filled with fruit, cheese, dried fruit, hummus, crackers, veggies, sprouts etc)

30 minutes kids yoga or mama yoga with the kids

Snack (muffin tray)

Begin making lunch (our current favourite is hummus, tzatiziki, homemade pitas, sprouts, veggies)

Eat lunch

Wash hands

Tidy kitchen and do dishes

Outdoor time (garden, sand + water, check chickens, walk, free play)

Snack (muffin tray)

Quiet time – read, sesame street, nap.

Silas naps (he tends to take late naps) – messy or more involved craft or activity with Poppy

Freeplay or simple drawing, paper cutting while I start getting supper ready

Mike home – sets table with the kids’ help

Meal blessing + Eat (it is only really do-able to do a meal blessing at the evening meals right now)

Clear table – kids bring their dishes to sink and wash their dishes if interested.

Bath and jammies

Daddy quality time and stories while I tidy the house with the kids helping at times

Snack – fruit + yogurt

Brush teeth

Bed – Story and lights out

Free time for Mike and I – workout, blog, movie, read, play a game, etc.

Random Bits

I can’t seem to some up with a weekly rhythm since we don’t get the car on a regular basis.  I would like to have one day per week to go Lindsay or locally for a meet up with other children (Early Years and meeting with  friends and or Homeschoolers).

I have come up with the weekly cleaning schedule which is helpful, but I have yet to follow it.  It will be brilliant when I do finally do it.

I think I need to plan out 5 to 10 activities or crafts to fit into those slots of our days and have the supplies on hand so we can do whatever fits the day and moods.

I love the idea of seeking out one colour per week and gathering them in one space (like a nature table)

I have read many (if not all) of the Waldorf books, but find they are lacking in the practical stuff especially for children 3 and under.

My Questions to You

What are your favourite Waldorf inspired rituals?  Be specific.

What does your daily rhythm looks like?

What are your favourite activities/crafts/lessons?

Any tips for keeping your own self discipline in check?

How do you incorporate the nature table into your life?

What is your go-to book or resource for “curriculum” and/or practical tips?

What are your favourite, simple, healthy meals?

What Waldorf toys do you find get the most use?

I would love to simplify even further, how many books and toys do you have available at one time?

 

Now we’re off to enjoy the sun and warmth.  I hope it is just as lovely in your part of the world.

With Gratitude

e.

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24 Comments

  1. Posted March 7, 2012 at 1:53 pm by Julie | Permalink

    Not sure I can speak to the waldorf method or routines as I know nothing about them.

    I do know that our days are a lot better if we spend most of our time outside… which is harder to do in the cooler weather. I’m also finding that the closer L gets to 3 the more stubborn he is about doing things HIS way. he fights structure and organization and seems to thrive in chaos. It is opposite of me. I need to do lists and organization, and the house being messy sends me mental. He seems ok with it, and works with me to tidy when I’ve had absolutely enough.

    So all that rambling to say that we try to be dressed and outside for the majority of the morning if possible. And if the kid is cooperative.

  2. Posted March 7, 2012 at 2:35 pm by Chandelle | Permalink

    My partner is a Waldorf teacher and I run the development department at a Waldorf school, so our kids have received Waldorf structure/inspiration/education, etc. since birth. They both attend the school now (kindergarten and 1st grade). I can’t tell you how much I love the method, and I love to see others discovering it as well.

    My favorite rituals are the blessings for meals. For most meal we say this one:

    “Earth who gives to us this food,
    sun who makes it ripe and good,
    dearest earth and dearest sun,
    we’ll not forget what you have done.”
    Blessings on our meal, our family and our friends.”

    This is the blessing both of them say in class.

    Our house is a 300-square-foot, one-room cabin, so for now we can’t readily manage a nature table. Both kids collect many items to place in their shared window, though. Any time they find something special — a leaf, a feather, a pretty stone — they collect it for this space.

    Because we live in such a small space we keep the toy/book ratio very limited. They both have a shelf for books, never more than a dozen at a time. The less they have, the more they read. This is the same for toys. My son is on a knitting frenzy so I feel trapped in wool yarn all the time, but I try to confine him to a single basket. We keep a big box in our storage space and rotate toys every few months. Generally our rule is that their toys must fit onto three shelves, with perhaps some scatter on the sides. When the toys overflow this space the kids get cranky and rarely play with anything, so we do a purge and donate some things to friends or Goodwill.

    One of the most “practical” Waldorf books I’ve found is Heaven on Earth by Sherifa Oppenheimer. Generally, though, I think these books are lacking in practical tips because the way the philosophy is carried out will depend on the family. When my kids were smaller and home all the time, I just tried to involve them in all household activities — cooking, washing dishes, laundry, feeding the chickens — and otherwise allowed them free play, lots of artistic activities, time outside, and a gentle structure. This is the way Waldorf preschool and kindergartens function, too. I couldn’t have too strict of a structure because I’d make myself nuts trying to follow it. I just tried to have a general idea of what they could be doing. Sounds to me like you’re doing just fine. :)

    • Posted March 7, 2012 at 3:42 pm by erin | Permalink

      First, I would like to thank you for such a detailed response!
      Heaven on Earth has been my favourite as well. I think it is time to re-read some parts now that Poppy is a wee bit older. I just find that they talk a lot about the theory, but I am not sure how that translates into the real life days…I have very limited knowledge and experience with the practical things. I would find a video of a day in the life of a school to see the nuts and bolts of it. But maybe my problem is the lack of order and if I correct that the behaviour will improve…
      I think my challenge is that I have never seen an actual Waldorf school in action. I would like to see how they deal with conflict and tantrums specifically. Like when I tell them they can’t cart off the nature table and they tweak.
      I try to get them to respect their animal toys and dolls, but they always end up dumped on the floor…in fact all their toys get taken off the shelves and dumped from their baskets and then they go and dig through cupboards and drawers and counter tops and play with a ladle or cheese grater for the afternoon. I feel like getting rid of all their toys some days because all I end up doing is picking them up.
      Sorry, I really appreciate all the tips and info you’ve given me and am grateful you took the time to help me.
      warmly,
      e.

  3. Posted March 7, 2012 at 2:41 pm by sarah | Permalink

    It’s been many years since I had a little one but I offer you what I remember after looking back on her Waldorf-inspired childhood.

    Rhythm: I am not a schedule type of person. I found having a “breathing in, breathing out” rhythm for the day helped best and allowed us to stay flexible.

    Toys: the fewer the better. My daughter had too many, but they were things like building blocks, fairies and farm animals, so she could make farms and villages. Practical toys like that and also children’s housekeeping tools (broom etc) were wonderful. I also would keep a core group of toys for her but the rest went into baskets which were revolved on a monthly basis. She still has some of her favourite toys. Fewer toys mean they are treasured more. If I had my time again I’d limit her to one doll or teddy, a small family of wooden or fleece fairies, and natural building materials. With a few extra things in a basket which is only brought out sometimes, and the contents of which are revolved monthly.

    Books. Again, if I could do my time again I would keep a dozen favourite books and get the rest in from the library. That way, the favourites would become treasured friends. As a homeschooler, I had too many books; they overwhelmed us.

    Activities. The best were always those in which she helped with the real life housekeeping. I believe purposeful work is good for little ones (as well as imaginative play.)

    Lessons. For little ones, stories are best. If you can illustrate the stories with chalkboard drawings, paintings, or puppets, then wonderful! They don’t really need anything else. Tell stories, read stories, investigate nature and tell stories about what you find there, paint and play with clay.

    Look up the wonderful weblog Bending Birches for some beautiful ideas.

    • Posted March 7, 2012 at 3:27 pm by erin | Permalink

      Nice to hear the perspective of been there done that and what you would have done differently.
      I am a reader of Bending Birches and we are friends on Facebook. She has been a great inspiration and the best one I have read with details of their days. Wonderful!
      You’ve been a great help in clarity :)
      e.

  4. Posted March 7, 2012 at 2:46 pm by Shannon | Permalink

    Well, don’t know much about the “Waldorf” method of teaching, and S isn’t school age yet but we did start home teaching early; we found it helpful to just incorporate counting, spelling, different vocabulary etc. in our everyday. We are both book nuts, so S has literally unlimited access to how ever many books she wants – we tend to pick a group of books for bedtime (or day reading), and then switch them out every week or so.

    We have a routine that we stick to, and we have to stick to it b/c we don’t have a choice since we are both still working (which is a good way to get us to stick to it , since we can kind of be slackers lol) – we wake up, I get ready for work while S reads books & plays, then we eat breakfast (I eat, she mostly picks at fruit), we both brush our teeth together, brush our hair and change her diaper & get dressed. Then I tidy the bedroom & make the bed – that’s all we have time for most mornings when I am working. We all really like routine, so I find when we don’t do what we normally do she gets a bit crazed and acts really whiny and sad, which is not her normal personality; her dad and I also get a bit crusty :)

    Don’t know if that helps – our situation is not the same, as we only have one child right now and I am not at home all day for the time being. You seem like you are doing really well with the kids, and with being a SAHM; as I have said before, I admire your ideals, and I think that it is so wonderful that you get to spend that time with your children.

    I had a hard time myself fitting into any cirriculum at school, and I think sometimes it may be best for homeschoolers to just take what you like about one program or another, depending on what fits your lifestyle, personalities, etc., essentially making up your own curriculum inside a loose set of guidelines.

    Maybe I’m totally wrong lol

  5. Posted March 7, 2012 at 2:47 pm by Chandelle | Permalink

    Sorry, I know my comment was already crazy-long but after reading your post again I have a few more things to say.

    The best way I’ve found to to handle my kids totaling their play area is to teach them to clean up as a transition between one activity and the next. This doesn’t always happen, of course, but it’s an extremely important skill (one I still need to work on myself!). Whenever I see them pulling out something new, I ask them to clean up the first thing, and help if necessary until they pick up the rhythm. There are some sweet little songs that can help with transitions like this. My little girl (age 5) sings this song when she’s cleaning up.

    “I am a tidy gnome,
    I like a nice clean home,
    dee da dee da dee,
    my house so clean!”

    It sort of initiates a Pavlovian response: when she hears the song she starts to clean up right away! :)

    Of course it helps to have not too many toys. When my kids get to the point of being totally overwhelmed by their messes I know we need to put some things in storage.

    As for the nature table… when we had one in the past (in bigger houses), our kids were generally respectful of it because we approached it so reverently, always using soft voices and denoting items with special significance. Of course they would take things down to play, but we’d immediately let them know that those were very special items and must be returned to the table. We always decorated our table with play silks, tied down so they couldn’t be pulled off, and we never put anything on there that couldn’t be replaced. If they did take it apart we expected them to help us put it back together. After a while they came to think of it as a special quiet area, not a play area.

    Hope this helps!

  6. Posted March 7, 2012 at 3:38 pm by KC | Permalink

    I do mix of waldorf and montessori for Sofia. Viola is still to young yet. Sofia can tear apart the cleaning faster then anyone I’ve ever met. So I decided she would learn to help keep the house clean.

    I’ve made the house accessable to her by putting her dishes/cups/silverware in a low cabinet. She is then responsible for getting her own things before meals or when she needs a snack. She also knows to put them in the sink.

    Our rhythm changes a little bit everyday but more or less it looks like this:
    Wake up Sofia and I get up and have breakfast, then the Viola wakes up, change her, feed her. Then my huband gets up. We spend time with him until he leaves for work. When he leaves I put Viola down for her morning nap. Then Sofia and I clean together. While I clean the kitchen she will wash her dishes real or play in a dish tub on the floor. After the kitchen is clean we do some learning activities or art. Then I prep lunch and my hubby comes home at 11 for lunch. IF we need the car I will drive him back to work. Then we come home, I put Viola down for her second nap and Sofia reads quietly next to me. Then we do another activity. Then it’s time for her nap and I blog or craft or whatever. After naps we take a walk or go to the park. At 5 hubby is home and we have dinner then spend time together as family before I put the baby to bed and he put Sofia to bed. Then we have free time.

    You asked a lot of questions. I feel like I should answer them in multiple installments.

    Try reading Simplicity Parenting. When I was feeling really stressed out last fall I read this and took action and it helped a lot.

    • Posted March 7, 2012 at 3:48 pm by erin | Permalink

      Thanks so much for sharing! I am not a Waldorf purist and I do like Montessori as well. I will take bits and pieces from whatever feels right and make it our own. I just really like the idea of Waldorf rhythm.
      I got Simplicity parenting just before Christmas, but now I can’t find it…ugh. I have been digging for it but am going to turn the house upside down to find it as I think it will be great.
      Sorry for all the questions…I may as well tap into the great wealth of knowledge and experience my readers have to offer though:)
      Warmly,
      e.

  7. Posted March 7, 2012 at 7:12 pm by Carey | Permalink

    Disclaimer: Super long and detail-laden comment ahead.

    We have four kids, ages 2, 4, 5, and 7. We homeschool, and live in the country, so we spend a majority of our time at home–and generally aim to keep life as simple as possible.

    At this point, day-long outings are not simple! We go to our small-town library on Saturdays and generally spend Sunday afternoons with family. Other than that, we stay close to the home front.)

    For years, we’ve called the state of things in our house “blissful chaos.” And just when one child is moving out a season–of whining instead of talking or getting out of their bed after we’ve just tucked them in–another seems to be ready to take on the roll.

    In the midst of all this, predictable rhythms help us to make us happier and keep our sanity intact. We can tell, in fact, when our rhythm gets jostled, because we’re all out of sorts, including this mama. Knowing what to expect makes things easier on me–and on the kids.

    I try to wake before the kids, because one of the absolute worst ways to start my day is staring down a kid who is standing at the side of my bed already whining about breakfast.

    Then, everyone gets dressed and makes his or her own bed, according to his or her abilities. (We keep baskets of clothes under the bed so that the kids can reach everything they need without help. It’s been huge not having to mess with hangers and drawers and arguments about what to wear.)

    Then, we eat breakfast together, the one meal of the day where the kids get to choose what they want. They each have a set of enamelware of dishes.

    After breakfast, they’re all responsible for getting the dishes to the sink and washing them by hand.

    We then brush teeth and get ready for “outside time.” We almost always go out, regardless of the weather. Sometimes, I play a structured game with them, and sometimes. I do an outside chore while they have free play. (We’re outside for 15 minutes some days, while other days, we’re out for an hour or more. It doesn’t matter how long, but the kids always look for it. It seems to prepare us well for the day.)

    Once inside, we pull out a calendar and one of the children draws a picture of the day’s weather and records the temperature. This marks the beginning of our “school” day and gives them an important way of learning time concepts in a fun and approachable way. We also eat a small snack.

    While we do lessons, the “littles” float in and out, listening to books and playing with dried beans on a tray, with playdough, dress-up clothes, or anything else that keeps them occupied. It’s not perfect, as we endure lots of interruptions, but we work around everyone learning and playing together.

    We do a mid-day clean up, always to music. We sometimes make it a game to see if we can get a specific area picked up before the end of a song. The kids like the challenge!

    Next up, is lunch, followed by clean-up. Someone is always on “sweep up” after lunch. (We bought a child-size broom and dustpan, which is truly a godsend–even the two-year-old can help. We ask them to do their best work, but live with the results.)

    We read books and everyone gets geared up for quiet time. They get to take whatever they want, (as long as it’s quiet) but must pick up everything before they leave their space. No one but the youngest naps, but I count on this time to do something I enjoy–in quiet. Keeping a quiet time, long after our kids were done napping, has been one of the best decisions we’ve made.

    Once everyone is up, we have a snack together and then have free play. Sometimes, we do a structured art project, and sometimes we watch a video (we have no television reception where we live).

    I make dinner while they play. We eat, clean up, and have some time again to free play. (This is the most stressful part of our our day, so sometimes things break apart, particularly during the hours of 4-6. The more structure I provide, the better this time goes for us.)

    After dinner, they have some time to play, then we get ready for bed. Sometimes it’s baths, but always a book that each child has chosen. Piggy back rides to bed and goodnight snuggles. And lights out!

    We loosen up on weekends, eating breakfast in our jammies and lounging. It makes it easier to keep pace during the week when we have a break during the weekend.

    We try to stick some well-loved rituals, too. “Cinnamon roll Saturday” and “Popcorn Sunday” are favorites. In the latter, we make popcorn and cut up apples and cheese, sit on the floor in the living room and read books out loud while the kids shovel food into their mouths. They love it, and I love getting the night off from cooking and dishes!

    I know this is a crazy-long comment, but I hope that you find encouragement in it. We’re very far from perfect, but we have found a tremendous amount of peace in the rhythm of our days.

    • Posted March 8, 2012 at 9:08 am by erin | Permalink

      Thank you so much for the details and tips!
      It is amazing to hear how others are making it work outside of the pretty pictures.
      I will definitely be taking bits and pieces from what everyone is saying here.
      Thank you for taking the time to write and help.
      Warmly,
      e.

  8. Posted March 7, 2012 at 10:24 pm by Emmy | Permalink

    My two littles (4 and 2 1/2) are quite often opposites too! Although it’s the older one that’s always melting down. I love Waldorf and a little bit of Montessori. I have created rhythm and when it breaks down try again. Currently we wake, do a few stretches, make and eat breakfast, they play/read while I clean up, dress and make beds, they play or watch a show while I get showered/dressed, snack time, then we’ll do an activity (library, art project, walk outside) or run an errand, lunch, read books & nap/rest time, snack, outside play, dinner, read/play with papa, bed time (brush teeth, read/sing, they lay down).

    My favorite ritual is lighting candles and saying our blessing at meal time.
    We use:
    “For trees so tall,
    for skies so blue,
    for food and friends,
    we thank you.”
    It’s short and easy enough for our four year old say on her own.

    We keep a nature table, kind of. We started it when my oldest was quite young, 18 months maybe. For now it’s basically a collection of things that we find outside on our walks. Winter in WI means that we’re at 80% pine cones right now. We have a few other things I put out too like a winter gnome, felted acorns – but mostly it’s just nature bits. We clear it off with the changing of the seasons and start fresh save for a few pretty rocks that are always there. The items do get played with a bit. But both are used to it being within reach and are overall pretty respectful of the things there. Things do get ‘ruined’ by the kids handling them, like the Robin’s egg shells we found last spring. I’m fine with that. It might evolve into something as they grow, it might not. I like that they can explore these things and that it’s not a hands off, just look thing.

    When our son was born we bought our daughter a really nice Waldorf doll. She doesn’t play with her as much as I’d like. Prefers this blue and green monkey. Sometimes I just want to make it disappear, but it would break her heart. Our toys are minimal. We have one basket of random things that gets purged often. A wooden farm set and play kitchen. Oh and a set of dress up clothes. Lots and lots of books. It’s a battle I can’t resolve with myself. I love that they have all this access to books. Even after reading Simplicity Parenting I can’t bring myself to purge them. I have been toying with a rotation. We do have a seasonal book basket that we rotate in and out. That goes over well, so maybe I’ll have to kick myself into gear with the rest of them.

    • Posted March 8, 2012 at 9:05 am by erin | Permalink

      Thank you so much.
      It is so helpful to see and hear what others are doing beyond the pretty pictures :)
      I can’t part with the books either, but I am thinking an experimental toy purge (into storage first) is on order. I am curious as to what they will do with less choice.
      I bought Poppy and beautiful Waldorf doll too and she will barely touch it. I am sure as she gets older she will like it more…I hope.
      I like the idea of a seasonal book basket and then some bedtime favourites in a basket by the bed (something we already have done)
      Warmly,
      e.

  9. Posted March 8, 2012 at 1:57 am by sarah | Permalink

    Do you mind if I respond again? Regarding the nature table: have it somewhere they can’t reach it. That way, you set them up for success.

    Regarding the toys: perhaps you could do something I did, which was send in the magic gnomes to enchant their bedroom. I got rid of all my dd’s accumulation of plastic junk, and replaced it with natural things in pretty (inexpensive!) baskets. I did this a couple of times. She was out at the time, and I put a crepe paper ribbon across the door and a notice saying the gnomes had been. That way, alot of the excess disappeared in an enchanting way and there were new (but much fewer) toys to play with. (I kept the junk in a box incase she freaked out about it & I had to bring it back! She never did though.)

    When the child dumps toys to the floor, especially dolls, you pick the toys up yourself reverentially and care for them. You may ask if there is a bed dolly can sleep in, or a nice space the toy car can sit in. The children will (eventually) imitate your attitude.

    It also helps to say very simply, its clean-up time now, and sing together as you go about the work.

    Have you read Beyond The Rainbow Bridge? It is my favourite Waldorf resource and has much practical advice from two Waldorf kindy teachers about how they go about their day.

    Here’s a good link on dealing with tantrums the Waldorf way – http://joyfultoddlers.blogspot.co.nz/2011/04/meltdowns-and-tantrums.html

    My aunt was a Waldorf kindy teacher so I got to know her school quite well. You would be very welcome to visit a Waldorf school and spend some time observing. Most have open days. They also have parent craft mornings you may be able to attend so you can talk with people.

    Sorry for such a long second comment!

    • Posted March 8, 2012 at 8:57 am by erin | Permalink

      Thank you so much for the practical tips and for the link to that article!
      What a wonderful help.
      The closest Waldorf school is over an hour away and I did contact them asking if I could observe for a morning or something, but they never responded.
      I would really enjoy that.
      Warmly,
      e.

  10. Posted March 8, 2012 at 7:17 am by Heather | Permalink

    I have to second Simplicity Parenting, it is a great book! I read it a few weeks ago. As for your questions! I love the questions! Many are the same that I would want to ask!

    I don’t know a lot about Waldorf, but I do like the idea of being out in nature, having a nature table (although my kids would destroy it), having a daily rhythm. My kids seem to thrive in that type of an environment.

    A daily rhythm, well last year I failed miserably at that. I was barely hanging on, and over the past 6 months I have made some huge changes to our daily life. My daughter is going to be 4 in May and my son is 19 months. This is what we do most days

    wake up/breakfast/Bible time
    breakfast cleanup/lunch prep for me while the kids have music time. I put on pandora on my iphone and let them go to town.
    then we have circle time which is our thank you prayer/stretching/singing a couple of songs/checking what the weather is for the day
    “school time” where I read to the kids. They each get to pick as many books as they want, and then I have a chapter book that I read to them as well. While I am reading the chapter book they usually sit and play quietly (or they run around like crazy people, but I still read aloud)
    snack
    free play while I prepare lunch
    eat lunch/cleanup from lunch – they get to watch one show on tv
    after this I usually put a timer on for 30 minutes while they play
    rest time for everyone
    more free play or crafts in our craft room or time outside depending on the weather
    i make dinner/we eat dinner/i clean up from dinner while hubs plays with the kids.

    This works for the most part. Although, my family are all early risers, and sometimes we are done with reading by 9am in which case we usually have more craft time/outside time.

    I have a craft room that I am ok with getting dirty, so I let them go to town. They prefer not to have a set activity to do. They like to have access to the paints/markers/crayons and lots of paper, then I let them do their own thing. Often times I get to sit and knit while they are doing this, as long as they have the supplies, they will usually sit and do “crafts” for at least an hour quietly.

    For curriculum we use Sonlight, which is Christian based, but the book lists are all online, and the books aren’t religious, they are classics. I like a literature approach to homeshooling, that is why I like Sonlight. I have also heard great things about Oak Meadow, which I believe is a Waldorf program.

    As for meals, we are on a very limited food budget (unfortunately) so we don’t eat any meat usually. We have eggs delivered from our farm every week though, which the kids love. I make a lot of soup in the winter, and usually have bread/muffins with it. The kids love to help me in the kitchen, and will both pull chairs over to “help” I usually give them some bread dough to play with, and let them stir the bowl or soup. In the summer we usually have fresh chopped veggies available during the day with different dips, white bean and garlic/hummus/homemade creamy dressings. Lots of fruit and green smoothies are also some big hits with my kids.

    Toys and books…well books I can’t limit. I love books and have built in shelves that are full, plus an armoire filled with my “green living” and crafting books. And then the kids have another armoire that holds all of the “school” books. Toys, well toys are a bit different, and I did a post today on toys, which you can see here http://www.townsend-house.com/2012/03/project-simplify-kids-stuff.html

    Sorry, super long comment. I am definitely not an expert at anything though, and have realized that I need some “me” time each day, so I get up super early to have that quiet time. I also take time each week to be alone and try to plan our week. Life seems to move much more smoothly if I do this.

    • Posted March 8, 2012 at 8:37 am by erin | Permalink

      Thanks for the details! So helpful.
      I love what you did with the amount of toys. I started reading simplicity parenting, but lost it in the house…must find.
      I think we should try, if only in an experiment to rid their play room of all excess and see what happens.
      Warmly,
      erin

  11. Posted March 8, 2012 at 9:02 am by Willow | Permalink

    “simplicity parenting” was a pretty good book…i found the messages were very relevant but the author was a little long winded. “you are your child’s first teacher” is probably the best parenting book i have read. i have a 2 year old daughter and it is difficult to maintain a consistent daily rhythm in the exact way that i’d like. i try to incorporate her into as many of our daily tasks as i can. i think if you introduce rhythm to one area of the day at a time, build up slowly, you will have an easier time getting yourself to where you want to be. “seven times the sun” is another book that might have some good ideas for introducing rhythm.
    we don’t have a lot of toys or books compared to the average family. less is definitely more. less overwhelming for the kidlets and less to deal with on the cleanup side. (and mama, you gotta get those babes cleaning up after themselves…make it into a game, sing songs, take toys away for a while if they aren’t treated kindly). one idea for simplifying the toy/book situation without getting rid of everything is to set things up like a lending library…put the majority of toys away in bins and every week, switch up their available toys for play. keeps things fresh.
    the nature table is a nice idea, but maybe for you guys it would be better to do something outside, like a little garden altar where the kids can bring their treasures. when they are older, you could bring it inside. i think the main idea with the nature table though is just to foster an appreciation for the natural world and to share things you and your kids find in nature.
    i think you are doing a good job mama! you obviously have clear intentions for your family and you care about them deeply. that’s a beautiful thing!

    • Posted March 8, 2012 at 9:13 am by erin | Permalink

      Thank you so much!
      There seems to be a common thread in many of these wonderful comments!
      I appreciate you taking the time to write and help!
      Warmly,
      e.

  12. Posted March 8, 2012 at 4:12 pm by Beth | Permalink

    I’m a bit late to this and you’ve already had some brilliant tips and experiences from other commenters but I wanted to mention a few things from my own experiences. Firstly-home will never be quite like a Waldorf kindergarten, and whilst there are definitely plenty of things to take away from their practice, life at home as the mother of littles will always be a whole different ball game. I know this because I worked in a Waldorf (we call it Steiner here-UK) kindergarten until my daughter was 3. I did get a lot out of it, and it probably did help my parenting a lot, but it just was not at all possible for me to create ‘kindergarten at home’. I found it really really hard to keep rythymns in the way that I wanted to-quite possibly because I’m not a massively self disciplined person, but also because life with under 3s is blummin difficult! And creating the ‘sacred space’ that is possible in kindergarten is very difficult in our own homes because, well, they are our homes, and our lives happen there, so it can’t just be about the children in the way that kindy is. (But it can still be incredibly nurturing and wonderful for our children, it just won’t quite look and feel the same, if that makes sense?)
    I hope this doesn’t come across as overly pessimistic-I think your ideas for rhythms and changes sound like a wonderful starting point. Just, if you’re anything like me, sticking to them is easier said than done-and that’s OK! Having the intention to create rhythm and simplicity can only be a good thing, but using it as another mama beating stick is never good! (not saying that’s what you’re doing at all, just that it’s a path I’ve been down many a time…)

    And also-your babes are so, so young. What an incredibly intense period in your life! I found it so very difficult with just one child under 3 (single working mamahood didn’t help much, mind), but it is incredible how much my daughter has changed over the last 2 years (she’s coming up to 5 now). Things that were just a logistical nightmare before 3 are barely worth a second thought now-and it’s crazy how fast it all seems to happen. So hang on in there!
    Sorry, that was very long and not particularly helpful, you just touched a chord with my experiences! Good luck to you. x

    • Posted March 8, 2012 at 8:05 pm by erin | Permalink

      Wonderful insight and reality check! Thank you so much for your thoughts and perspective!
      Warmly,
      e

  13. Posted March 9, 2012 at 6:48 pm by Dee | Permalink

    My favorite Waldorf Inspired ritual is singing through transitions. I didn’t do it much w/ my older kiddos, but my two year old is very musical and responds enthusiastically. I sing most everything to the tune of The Mulberry Bush. Easy to remember. Two days a week we have morning activities, but on the other mornings, things usually look like this: http://treesalldance.com/2011/09/14/morning/. Our afternoons are quite set w/ nap, older kiddos coming home, snack, homework, dinner, tidying, bath/storytime and then bed. I really try to keep our weekday evenings clear. I want to be the “fun” mom and say, go to the beach after school if we feel like it, but the truth is, things are better when we stick to our routine. We have a large dresser in our entryway that we use as a console and it has become the default nature table. The kids drop bits and bobs there and I leave seasonal books for them to pick up and read if they want to. I think if I tried to organize a more staged nature table, everything on it would disappear or get eaten by our dog (who loves yummy wooden toys). My lack of discipline is the biggest obstacle I face in most things I do, and honestly, right now I’m not doing anything about it. Maybe some day…
    As mentioned by someone else, I really like Heaven on Earth, I find it the most practical of anything Waldorfish that I have read and not at all overwhelming. I have a few Little Acorn Learning guides, but my babe at home at the moment is only two, so it’s a little much for the two of us, and besides, requires too much prepwork for me. The Wee Folk Art seasonal curriculum seems promising for preschoolers, I think. Playsilks are by far the most used “Waldorf” toy here, because they are the most versatile, I think. I recently reduced my toddler’s available books to about 6 or 7, and her available toys down to one small basket. That said, the older kiddos are, ahem, not on the same path, so there are still things everywhere. Maddening, but real. Oh, and as mentioned, small children love to help. My little has her own broom and enjoys gardening, helping to make breakfast, and “washing dishes”,

    • Posted March 9, 2012 at 6:58 pm by Dee | Permalink

      And one more thing, the Seasons of Joy curriculum is supposed to be geared towards younger kiddos, including some activities for under 2s.

  14. Posted March 12, 2012 at 2:11 pm by heather | Permalink

    i don’t use a nature table, but i do have our nature collections. we are big rock collectors, so the kids have a special basket that all of our beloved rocks go into. it goes along with a rug, and when the boys want to play with the rocks (so many imaginative play scenes emerge from this basket of rocks!), we’ve established a “routine” of spreading out the rug, playing with the rocks on the rug, and then putting it all back when we’re done. i also use mason jars for some of our other nature collections, and use the same routine with those. i find that having separate containers for each collection makes it easier for stuff to get put back when it’s done being used, and also that they get used more often because they are easily found.

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