Saturday, May 30, 2009

Stages in Waldorf Education

This article can now be found at

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Building Shelters in Surprising Places

Building shelters is a task that children work on in grade three of the Waldorf curriculum. However, it is something that they want to do for many years after that. Ever since we started building shelters both my children seem to find some reason to build yet one more shelter and sometimes in the most unusual places. This little shelter was built by Sofi in the front of our yard within an old pine tree. I have been wanting to trim this tree for months - I think it needs to be shorter and much less bushy - so when Sofi asked, "can I cut the tree mama?" I said, "sure!"
I love what she did with it. I'm sharing some pictures. It took her two hours to trim the tree to her standard, carve out the inside shelter, and rake and prepare the ground to be a proper "floor". Then she decorated the inside and outside and added some props.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Compassion and Queen for a Day

Macee helped us by eating some weeds...
It took me awhile to post this. I know Mother's Day was a couple weeks ago...but sometimes it takes me a while to post :)

Every Mother's Day and Birthday the children ask me, "What do you want?" and my answer is always the same. "All I want is a day when I can do whatever I want and nobody tells me I can't or that I should be doing something else. And on top of that I want a day where if I ask someone to help me or play with me they say yes, and they do not complain." Simply put - a day where I am the queen and it is "all about me" :)

Over the years this has become a tradition in our family. Every time someone has a birthday or special day those are the rules - you can't say no to them, you have to be nice to them, and they can do whatever they want. They are queen or king for the day.

However, it is amazing how respectful everyone can be of this position. It is in the back of everyone's minds that whatever they do on this day may come back to them later and nobody wants to hurt anyone or make them feel bad so all is done with consideration. And usually we all end up having fun. It is a different experience to live in someone else's world for a day. Usually we spend the day in our own world or in cooperating with others. To actually let go of all that and spend a day in someone else's world is fun for them (of course) but also teaches the other members of the family compasion, patience, the art of giving, insight into another's life and much more.

This Mother's Day I didn't even have to make any requests for most of the morning. I was served the traditional "special breakfast" (the kids also get this on their birthdays) and Sofi even decorated the chalk board for me. Once breakfast and hanging out was done I only had one request for the day - that we all work on the garden. It was a true joy to have everyone say "yes mama!" without arguing they had something better to do. I could see a hint of it in the back of their minds but...

As with all "tasks" we often end up loving them a lot more than we thought we would. This is part of the lesson in allowing someone else to lead you during the day. About ten minutes into our gardening Sofi said, "This is so much fun" and Sunii was happily digging. They were joyful at finding worms, they laughed at the dog "helping us" , they were exicted to plant the stawberries. Of course gardening is always fun but it is easy to forget how fun something is when it becomes a task by someone else asking us to do it :) So Mother's Day was the perfect day to ask.

Here are some photos of what we got done that morning. It was so much! It always amazes me how much can get done once a person puts their mind to it.

Sofi decided we should all garden in our bare feet!


My Mother's Day breakfast

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Shearing, Carding and Knitting Day

This can now be found at

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Turning the Morning Around

Sometimes a morning just looks impossible. Of course I have an ideal vision of what I want it to be - filled with smiles, gently stretching, perhaps a song and a prayer, good food and a sunny clean home. However, this morning started out to be anything but that! I had not been able to do the dishes because I was at a conference yesterday and our dishwasher was broken, we all slept in unti 11am for some reason and woke up very hungry, the kitchen table was filled with crafting supplies and I had not yet unloaded my conference props. The dog needed to go for a walk or go outside, the cats were hungry, I was aware that I was behind on a few consults and other work related items and it just all looked so impossible. Sofi wanted crepes and Sunii wanted pancakes and I didn't want either. We were all a bit grumpy. How was I going to get through the day?

When things get like this I have learned it is time to stop and focus on the present moment. So that is what I started out doing. I focused on what the immediate need was. We all needed to eat. So I went into the kitchen to clean the dishes so I could cook.

The second thing I do in such circumstances is that I look for creative solutions. The kids feel nurtured when I cook for them and they are quite independant in some ways so I love to cook breakfast for them when I can. I am reluctant to give that up but I realize I need some help so I call out to the kids "Hey - you guys want to help?" Surprisingly they are overjoyed with the idea of helping and they want to do it all themselves. Cooking WITH me in the kitchen while I am also working and cooking together as a family is aparently much more fun than making one's own sandwich for lunch all alone.

So they both enthusiastically took over cooking. Sunii made pancakes and Sofi made crepes. She was very proud that she could actually do it. Crepes are hard to make and this is the first time she did it from beginning to end. The entire time we were chatting and I was doing dishes. The time passed before I knew it and the dishes were done and breakfast was ready.

After everyone was fed they were all in a good mood, including me. So, suggesting some more tasks was not hard. Sunii happily took care of his dog and Sofi happily swept the kitchen floor.

It is amazing how little it takes to get the house in order again. It seemed so impossible and only two hours later it looks like a home again.

We play a bit and talk a bit, Sofi decided she wanted to needle-felt a doll and Sunii decided to teach the dog some new tricks and then both children got invited to visit friends. That left me with two hours to finish my consulting and other work tasks. Not everything got done but at least I don't feel so completely behind anymore. I was full, the house was clean and everyone around me was happy. This meant that I was able to be very efficient in my work time.

Now, I look at the day and think about how ideal it was and is now. I am glad I didn't spend a lot of time worrying about it and just let it take its own course!

Friday, May 15, 2009

My Trip to South Africa by Mosi

Relocated to New BLOG at:

Friday, May 8, 2009

Toddlers and Homeschooling

I tried to find some old photos of my kids as toddlers working with the family but they are not digital yet. Although I did find this one of Sofi working with us building a "stage". We were all hammering so we gave her a plastic hammer (later I found a small wooden one at the store that really worked and of course she liked that better) and let her work with us.

A few people have posted to the today about what to do with toddlers when we are homeschooling. I have have three children and was very happy with the method I learned from our first Waldorf parent-child teacher years ago. She taught me that toddlers want to do what we are doing. Since then I have experienced that in so many different ways.

It was an adjustment for me at first. I have always been an independent person and even traveled to Europe by myself when I was 15. So to invite another person to participate in what I was doing on a regular daily basis - many times a day - was a new concept for me. However, as is the case, our children are our teachers in life. My children taught me much about being "together". The following paragraph is taken from the Waldorf Initiative Handbook that I created for the parents at my Waldorf school years ago:

A toddler longs for rhythm, repetition and activities which feel safe. As a parent, you should continue on your daily rhythm or schedule and then slowly add a child, or two, or three within your daily activity. Contact other mothers while your toddler is napping and arrange a play date at the park, or some other place where there is freedom to move about and nature or animals to explore. They key is that this is a natural event. Being a part of regular activities which the child is used to is calming to the child. The mother doesn't need to feel stressed that she needs to make a certain appearance and that she is "locked in" to a set period of time. This makes everyone a lot more comfortable, and when you are more comfortable and stress free, you enjoy the time more. Up until about 20 years ago, most children this age spent all of their time at home with mother and siblings. Play dates and groups are a relatively new concept. The age appropriate behavior for a child this age is to observe and learn by modeling YOUR behavior. Toddlers don't want too many friends and pre-planned activities, they want to do what you do! They enjoy hanging on your hip or standing along side of you doing the dishes, the laundry, going to the market, etc. These daily activities are learning experiences and a joy for children of this age to participate in. Reassure yourself that there is plenty of time for friends and organized learning later. They will have the rest of their lives to socially interact with other children, and in a few short years, they will rather run off to play with children than to spend time at your side. Don't worry about your child getting socialized. The same way they learned to talk and walk, they will learn to play and be social.

This was so true with all three of my children. I learned to integrate them into whatever we were doing. If I was cooking I would give them some tools or a task (if old enough or if they asked). If we were doing crafting I would give them some yarn, if we were painting I would give them a brush with water (although now they have those "Buddha Board" things I think my kids would have LOVED those!), anything I was doing I would let them be part of it in some way. So it is hard to answer the question "what should I do with my toddler?" in specifics. It depends on what you are doing already. And it is hard at first, if you are not accustomed to this method of interacting (although I suspect some people who grew up in larger families have this skill naturally) but it gets easier and easier. And as you become more creative, so does your toddler. You will soon find yourself integrating them into your daily routine without even thinking about it!

One thing that did not work for me was to give them toys and expect them to play while I worked with the other child or doing the housework. They would play with the wooden cows or dolls for a minute or two and then leave them and come to see what I was doing. However, if I set up a nice play area for them and then invited them to come "work" with me, they would often tire of what I was doing and go to their own area and play for much longer. This is because the toddler needs to feel they are always welcome. When they feel you are trying to get them to do something else they will feel fearful. They are not sure why, all they know is they feel a separation and that causes anxiety. So if you let them know that the channels are always open - that they are not shut out in any way - they will make the decision to be on their own in their own time. The minute you welcome them, they will stop feeling anxiety and life will be much easier for both of you.

Of course there are so many lovely times when all you want to do is sit down with them and play with puppets or dolls or eat their "pretend food" they made for you on that wooden stove! However, they need to know that sometimes you play with them and sometimes they need to play with you. That is a concept that many adults still need to learn - LOL - so we would do well to teach our children when they are young.

I also talk a bit about this concept in the lecture "What is Waldorf: Rhythms and Stages" at:
Click on "Webinars"
There is a ten-minute sample there that talks about this age of child.

Blessings & Health,