Lately I've been reading up about some Waldorf teaching/family philosophies and I've been thinking about ways that I can apply some of those ideas to our family life.
This summer, Noah will be turning 3 and he is at such a huge part of his childhood/development years. Because I stay at home with Noah (and Katia too), I really want to make the most of our time together and to make sure that Noah's mind, body and soul are being nurtured in the best ways possible. Really, I just want to be sure that I am doing everything I can to help him along in those ways.
One teaching that Waldorf encourages families to do is to find a daily, weekly, yearly rhythm for your family. The idea behind finding and following a family rhythm is that it is believed that a child flourishes and benefits from having their days, weeks and even the whole year flow with a similar rhythm. Rhythm is about how your family's day flows and knowing what works best for you and your children (eg. snack midmorning or nap early afternoon or nature/outside time before dinner ect). The best way to find your family's rhythm is to look at how your day usually goes and to try and see if there is a similar pattern day in day out. Then, when you find these patterns, you take note and realize that this is your daily rhythm. Trying to keep things consistent and predictable is what works well for children.
The next part to finding your family rhythm is to figure out special weekly events that take place. This could be for example, Mondays are the baking day, Tuesdays are the playgroup day, Wednesdays are the crafting day, Thursdays are the swimming day ect. Then when you start to follow this rhythm, children will know what to expect out of their days and weeks.
And finally a yearly rhythm is based around the idea of the four seasons and year holidays and traditons (Christmas, birthdays, Solstices ect).
So lately I've been reading up on finding our family rhythm and I am really excited about finally "getting it"... it took me a while, I'll be honest, but I feel like I can now identify what our daily rhythm is and I'm feeling confident that this is going to help Noah feel more sure of his surroundings. I just love figuring out what has been working for us and identifying what hasn't been working so well for us too. I also love learning about ways that I can better myself as a parent. Its an ongoing learning process this parenting thing, isn't it?
Recently I've been working on some small but important ideas behind Waldorf teachings and I've been approaching these ideas slowly, carefully and intentionally. I've been looking at ways that we can turn down/off the TV (we don't watch much of it anyways) and instead do more enriching activities.
I've always known that TV isn't all that great for young children and I would say that we never really have watched a ton of it, but I have had a love/hate relationship with TV watching over the years. On one hand, I hate plunking a young child down in front of the TV and letting them spend time just staring at a bright box. TV is not an engaging form of media, it asks the person watching it to be sedentary and it does the work for you. I admit, it can be a good way to relax and unwind when I need to turn off my brain, but really, it doesn't sit well with me when Noah watches too much of it. So I have decided that although we will not do away with TV (and movies) all together, that we will try our very best to limit it and that Winslow and I will try to be selective about what he watches. *I should note that yes, Noah does and will watch a mainstream movie from time to time, it's just we want to be comfortable with what he is watching and make sure it is age appropriate.
The next step that I want for us to do with our daily lives is to simplify and slowdown. Yes, even though we live in the slow, laid-back and sleepy North, I still find that our weeks can get really busy with commitments. I have a tendency to over schedule our weeks and I know that this is not what works best for Noah (and he shows it to me by getting overwhelmed when we have yet another place/activity to do). I know that I need to be better about just staying home and having time to just be (play, relax, rest, craft, bake) in our home. Waldorf teachings say that a young child best flourishes in a home life setting....so why do I feel this need to always be out of the house? I need to work on this and I am.
So these are just a few of the ideas that I am setting forth with. September to me always symbolized a new beginning (the start of school), and even though it is still a few months off, I want to start thinking about how we will move forward with us being home together and with Noah continuing to learn and grow. As a former public school teacher, it's just in me to want to teach my little guy (and girl someday too). I have been so interested in learning about alternative ways to learn and teach and grow. It's pretty exciting for me I must say.
And so I will leave you with some photos that I took today when we went on a little adventure on some trails behind our neighbourhood. We have the most beautiful creek nearby our place and I think we are so lucky to be able to go there and play and explore. Today I showed Noah a little stream with a miniature waterfall, an ant hill with lots of busy little ants , and we threw rocks into the water. It was one of those moments where I took a second to be grateful that my kids have such beautiful surroundings around them. ps. Aren't Noah's leggings just hilarious? He lives in them and never wants to take them off.
Hope you are having a wonderful summer.
For those interested, here is a wonderful book that I have been reading about finding rhythm:
Seven Times Around the Sun: Guiding your child through the rhythms of the day
And here are a few Waldorf blogs that I follow: