Tuesday, July 15, 2014

LifeWays Principles

When I first invited children into my home for a little morning to come together, many, many years ago, on an island in the Pacific Ocean, my first born was a toddler, and my practices with the children came out of my experience and intuition.

Later on when my second child was born and we were back in the USA, I began a morning program again. This time I had experience and training behind me, yet the training was geared to the children in the kindergarten, the child of five and six years of age.

My group was young, two and three year olds, for this is what was being called for in my community. At the same time my little morning program was growing and expanding its hours, a magical women with a twinkle in her eye was developing a program for people like me, who were caring for the very young child.

When I first saw the literature for this organization, I heaved a great sigh of relief, for the principles and practices outlined in the literature resonated so deeply within me, with the work I was doing, and struggling to name.

I was thrilled to discover and witness the growth of an organization that emphasized the primary importance of the child's relationship to the adult,  that focused on the daily care of the young child as the most important activity, that valued and embraced a warm home environment for the child, that acknowledged the importance of the parent in the relationship and showed enormous respect for the needs and dignity of the caregiver.

This magical woman is Cynthia Aldinger, who recognized the need for an understanding of the needs of the very young child and founded an organization to address those needs and provide training and inspiration for both parents and childcare providers.
photograph by William Britten
The organization is LifeWays North America.

LifeWays North America is growing across North America with training opportunities from Alaska to Maine, California to North Carolina to Hawai'i and many places in between, including Asheville, North Carolina, Portland, Oregon and its flagship center the LifeWays Early Childhood Center of Milwaukee.

I am honored to serve on the board of this wonderful organization and am pleased to to share with you the principles of LifeWays North America.

LifeWays Principles

  1. Young children thrive in the presence of parents and other devoted caregivers who enjoy life and caring for children. They learn primarily through imitation/empathy and therefore need to be cared for by people with integrity and warmth who are worthy of being imitated.  This is the foundation for learning and healthy development. 
  2. Having consistent caregivers, especially from birth to three years old and, preferably, up to primary school age, is essential for establishing a sense of trust and well-being.
  3. Children need relationship with people of all ages. Infants and toddlers thrive in family-style blended-age care, while older children see nurturing modeled by the adults and experience their own place in the continuum of growing up.  Children of all ages can both give and receive special blessing when in the company of elders and youth who enjoy children.  
  4. Each person is uniquely valuable, gifted with purpose and worthy of respect throughout all phases of his or her life’s journey.
  5. Human relationship and activity are the essential tools for teaching the young child all foundational skills for life.   Infants and toddlers develop most healthily when allowed to have freedom of movement in a safe environment.   For three- to six-year-olds, creative play, not technology or early academics, forms the best foundation for school work and for life-long learning.
  6. In infancy and early childhood, daily life experience is the “curriculum.”  The child’s relationships to the caregivers and to the environment are the two most important aspects through which the child can experience healthy life rhythms/routines.  These include the “nurturing arts” of rest and play, regular meal times, exploring nature, practical/domestic activities, social creativity, music and simple artistic activities.
  7. Young children thrive in a home or home-like environment that offers beauty, comfort and security, and connection to the living world of nature.  Healthy sense development is fostered when most of their clothing and playthings are of non-synthetic materials and their toys allow for open-ended, imaginative play.
  8. Childhood is a valid and authentic time unto itself and not just a preparation for schooling.   Skipping or hurrying developmental phases can undermine a child’s healthy and balanced development.  
  9. Parents of young children need and deserve support in their path of parenting—from professionals, family, and one another. They thrive in a setting where they are loved, respected and helped to feel love and understanding for their children.
  10. Caregivers also have an intrinsic purpose and need to be recognized and appropriately compensated for the value of their work. They need an environment where they can create an atmosphere of “home,” build true relationship to the children, and feel autonomous and appreciated.

If you'd like to learn more about LifeWays North America, hop on over for the website and FaceBook page.


I hope you are savoring daily life as the curriculum.


If you have done LifeWays training what aspect of it has helped you the most?


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Expansive Nature of Summer

From this
to this


Sort of like parenting, in how we expand beyond what we thought was possible, no?



Thursday, June 19, 2014

This Week :: This Life :: This Summer

These mornings, moist with dew and fairy rings, just warm enough and with a gentle breeze, they are are so pleasant for quietly working inside. Rather pleasant out of doors too.
My furry boy likes it too.
Break for midmorning tea.

 My Sarah Bernhardt peony is splendid this year with six abundant blossoms. This one was the first to open. I chose this peony named Sarah Bernhardt because I have always loved hearing of Sarah Bernhardt, since my mother called me Sarah Bernhardt as a child. You can see and hear her here.
 Working on the Get Organized :: Sketch it Out eCourse (still open) project and having fun with the chalks. Sometimes I forget that chalk does not blend as crayons do.
 A sample for the Get Organized :: Sketch it Out Make it Yourself Planner
I have so much more to share with you, oodles of snapshots from the garden. The irises, the day lilies, the nettles, comfrey, catnip. And the valerian, oh my it is taller than I am, nearing six feet. The woodchuck has eaten the lettuce, chard, kale, cilantro, epazote and celery. I suspect it's those cute little babies of hers, the same ones we see nibbling on the Black-eyed-Susies. 

I had hoped and still hope to do a weekly sharing of the garden this summer yet find myself drawn into it and away from the computer. Maybe that balance will come one of these days. In the mean time I am loving this weather and working hard to catch up from my computer-less days.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Decline of Play and Mental Health Disorders

We all know deep within our very being.

 Children need to play. Play supports life. Play is crucial to healthy development. Play is the foundation for learning. Play is the wellspring of life.

Those of us who are old enough to have experienced play in childhood, as described by the speaker below, have a living picture, a living experience of what it means to play, to take risks, to resolve problems, to be free and to feel competent.

Yet we, as a culture, have reached a critical point in that the generation of new parents of today most likely did not experience play in childhood, at least not with the freedom and not to the extent described in this talk.

This need for play is universal. All children need play and without it, they suffer.

My reader, I encourage you to give up 16 minutes in your day to watch this TED X talk by researcher and professor Peter Gray who explores what it means when children do not grow up with the freedom to play.


Oh, I thank you Mr. Peter Gray for so eloquently naming the problem and suggesting solutions.

I'll add to his suggestions that we seek out neighbors, parents, grandparents, older people in our communities and ask them about their memories of childhood...
  • How did they play? 
  • Where did they play? 
  • What risks were they able to take? 
  • How did it shape who they are?
  • What can each of us do to support play for all children?
Carrie Dendtler, over at the Parenting Passageway speaks to the need for time out of doors in childhood with the movement towards  Forest, Farm and Field programs here. Can you imagine what it might look like if all the social, political, and financial energy put into pre-k programs in this country were turned towards supporting free, child initiated play as the most important element of a healthy childhood?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

How to Deeply Nourish Your Child's Creative Impulses


Wow, that sounds like such a big and serious title, no?

I am here to say, it is simple to nourish creativity in our children. 
Mostly by getting out of the way. 

A notion exists that creativity is something that exists outside of ourselves, something we experience in art class, at museums, something we cultivate and work at by seeking something outside of ourselves. Projects. Crafts. Something that depends on opportunities, field trips, museums, enrichment programs.

Not for children.

While I agree that art offers us new ways of seeing things, I assert here that children are born with the ability to see things in new ways.

For the young child, the spirit of creativity is alive and present, seeking expression with every breath.

The world is the child's art studio and the four elements provide the tools, toddling on the ground, digging in the dirt (okay a decent shovel is needed.) Feeling sand between the toes. Dipping the toes into the water. Running with arms out to feel the air. Eyes wide open to drink in the flame on a candle. Spinning. Falling. Rolling. Skipping around a campfire. Watching the bees. Climbing trees. Skinning knees from falling. Playing with sticks and stones. 

Play, the free self initiated play of childhood, is exploration in the same juicy creative flow that artists, writers and great thinkers experience.

It begins with birth. A form of creative expression in itself.

Children are born in a state of wonder. A state we reflect with our own awe. This feeling of awe leads to reverence and gratitude. Ah, life! Have you ever noticed how a newborn captivates an entire room of adults?

What the young child needs is the freedom for self initiated play. Freedom from distractions. Freedom from interruption. Freedom from prompts. Freedom from screen exposure and its pre made images. Freedom from stuff. Freedom from the pursuit of proximity. Freedom from the fear of healthy risk taking. 

Just plain ole, left alone, benignly neglected childhood, with the spaciousness of time for play.

Children are born to explore their world, to see it, smell it, hear it, taste it, touch it, move it, climb on it, rattle it, try it on. To give it form and then destroy it. Creativity and destruction go hand in hand. To make way for the new, the old has to give way.

We adults tend to want to hold on to what is. It's hard for us to step back and let go. Yet when we do, the wonder and magic take place.

The only requirement is that the child be in right relationship to the adult who is caring for the child. When the child feels secure in relationship to the adult, the child is free to relax into the flow of play.

I'll say more about the flow and relationship later on.

.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Summer Manifesto

While the official arrival of summer is not until the solstice on June 21st, the feeling of summer, the smell of summer and the mood of summer is in the air. No mistaking it, blossoms everywhere. The sweet scent of lilacs, honeysuckle and apple blossoms have filled the night air. Fireflies flitting and providing sparks of light the night air. Flowers cascade over the edges of pots on the doorstep. The warmth of the sun brings vital heat and leaves behind its golden glistening on the skin and hair. The lake beckons. The soft and moist soil of spring becomes more fixed and firm as the blossoms come and go, the bees visit, the butterflies appear and herald in with great majesty the first fruits of summer, sweet strawberries, as delicious freshly picked from the mother plant, warm from the sun's rays, as they are in shortcake and cream. Sweet summer.

 

::::

With this feeling freshness and new beginnings in the air, 
I write a Manifesto for Summer, as a source of  inspiration and gratitude for the goodness of summer.

A Manifesto for Summer

:: Savor the longer days and shorter nights.

:: Be outdoors as often as possible.

:: Create spaces for being outdoors, a table for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Cosy places to lounge and  
   read. Spots in the garden for tea.

:: Find dappled light for mid day and hot days.

:: Build camp fires. Toast marshmallows and hot dogs. Make s'mores.

:: Go for a walk each night under the stars.

:: Follow the moon's path through the sky.

:: Sleep outside.

:: Cook outside. Over fire.

:: Go barefoot whenever possible.

:: Tend the garden.

:: Snip flowers for the table. And other unexpected places.

:: Run under the sprinkler.

:: Play flashlight tag.

:: Make fruit pops with yoghurt, fresh fruit and juice.

:: Make ice cream with fresh cream and strawberries.

:: Stop at lemonade stands.

:: Go swimming whenever possible.

:: Have sand between the toes.

:: Pack lunch and go for a hike.

:: Gather with friends around the fire. Sing. Tell stories. Eat good food.

:: Get organized for preserves: jams and jellies, pickles, herbs, spices, tomatoes, chutney

So there it is. I've been rejoicing in the lightness of spring, in the dampness and smell of the dirt, in the new beginnings, in the green perennial friends who return each year and rise from the earth to unfurl new leaves, burst buds into blossoms and provide us with leaves to steep for tea and leaves to spice up the cooking pot and pan, in the songs and squawking of the baby birds in the nests outside my windows, in the chives for potatoes and eggs, in blossoms for the table. Spring uplifts us and invites us to relax, slow down and savor summer.

How will you slow down and savor summer this year?









Friday, May 16, 2014

{this moment}

{this moment}
A Friday ritual. a photo capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 


joining Amanda over at SouleMama


Monday, May 5, 2014

Registration is Open for Get Organized :: Sketch it Out!

Back by popular demand, the Get Organized :: Sketch it Out Planning Session returns.
~ this 6 week eCourse takes you by the hand for 42 days and walks you through planning out your upcoming year with children. It helps you identify what matters to you, what you already have, where to find support and most importantly to sketch out your 2014-2015 year with lots of support and inspiration through the rhythm of the year, month, week and day.

We'll identify what matters most and find ways of working it into your daily life.

Let's begin with the improvements to the eCourse:

  • It is now a 6 week course
  • It is on a new site that is easy to use, all material is in one place
  • It will be followed by a series of eCourses that go deeper and offer inspiration for the early years and the grades as well as the home
  • Two for one registration fee is available until end of day Wednesday May 7th, so it's easy to bring a friend!
  • The material will remain available until Halloween, so you can revisit the site and tweak your planning for 60 days after the start of the school year

The Get Organized :: Sketch it Out Planning Session includes:

  • Daily love notes full of enthusiasm from me
  • Ongoing prompts to identify your needs, strengths and desires
  • Examples of how a day, week, month, year might flow
  • A wise, wonderful and supportive group
  • A lens on planning through rhythm of the year, season, month, week and day
  • New Interviews with Imaginative, Inspiring and Intuitive Waldorf folk including Lynn Jericho of Imagine Self, Howard Schrager of Lemon Tree Press, Cynthia Aldinger of LifeWays North America, Pam Johnson Fenner of Michaelmas Press and Nancy Parsons of Waldorf Books.
  • Roundtable Discussions with Homeschooling Moms Carrie Dendtler of The Parenting PassageWay, Renee Gaul of Heirloom Seasons and Denice Scott, wise and longtime homeschooling mama.
  • Ongoing conversation, feedback and dialogue
The eCourse runs through the summer 



Friday, April 18, 2014

What is Waldorf Education?

Oh dear, this question of Waldorf education, these many questions of Waldorf education and homeschooling... "What is Waldorf education?" "What is Waldorf education for homeschoolers?" "Is there a dividing line between what is and what is not Waldorf homeschooling?" "Who defines Waldorf education for homeschoolers?" These questions keep coming up, again and again, in the online communities of homeschoolers. 

For transparency, I was a Philosophy/Women's Studies major in college and love to contemplate the paradigms out of which we live and work as well as look to the roots to find a deeper understanding of the whys and wherefores.

If we dig in a bit, we have a glimpse of how Waldorf is taught artistically in the pillars of Waldorf education here and the importance of rhythm here

Yet beyond these basics, so many questions arise when it comes to plunging in to a deeper, perhaps many deeper understandings of Waldorf education at home … 

Some years back at an East Coast WECAN (Waldorf Early Childhood of North America) conference with the theme "There are No Difficult Children," the keynote speaker Gerald Karnow closed the conference by saying that the Waldorf classroom may not be for every child. He went on to add that Waldorf education can take place in a barn, in caring for the elderly and in a kitchen. These words have stayed with me, close to my heart as we explore what are the possibilities for Waldorf education out of the classroom.

For those new to Waldorf education… how does a homeschooling parent learn about Waldorf education? What does it look like? How do we teach in the Waldorf way? How do we find information? Who are our teachers? Our mentors? Are we mentoring each other? Where are our colleagues? Do we need to read Rudolf Steiner? Are we part of a social movement? Do we need each other?

What is at the heart of the Waldorf curriculum? Does the writer of curriculum materials that are for sale need to be a trained Waldorf teacher in order to have the mastery to write curriculum materials? Is there something in the process of teacher training, an initiation of sorts, something that occurs that gives a person a new relationship to the curriculum? Does it make a difference? Is it something that happens in being part of a social group that sets trained teachers apart? How about the other folk who are immersed in the social culture of a Waldorf school? Have a relationship to anthroposophy? Who is qualified to make decent curriculum material? Who decides?

Could Waldorf homeschooling exist without Waldorf schools? Could it have started without schools and teachers as models? Has it strayed from the school model with the pedagogy among homeschoolers?  Do we as Waldorf homeschoolers need what Rudolf Steiner referred to as the heart of the Waldorf school, that is faculty meetings. How do we create faculty meetings when we homeschool?

Is there such a thing as Waldorf lite? Waldorf inspired? Waldorf centered? Waldorf rooted? Waldorf leaning? 

What about the homeschoolers whose only experience of Waldorf education is through the internet, via a screen online? Is it possible to have an experience of Waldorf education  as it unfolds in its interwoven layers? How is the experience of learning about Waldorf education online different from actually visiting a place,  going to a school and having a hands on, physical experience of Waldorf education?

Some of the questions I find myself asking, in reflecting over the years I have spent as a Waldorf homeschooler… Has something changed with Waldorf homeschooling? Is Waldorf homeschooling a movement? Is Waldorf Homeschooling part of the larger Waldorf movement? Has something new emerged with the online proliferation of Waldorf education at home? How does this compare with the Waldorf  homescholing of ten or twenty years ago? Is the path similar? Has it changed? Has it become a commodity?

So many questions.

I don't have the answers. I am sharing these questions for all of us who are interested in Waldorf homeschooling.

When I first came to Waldorf homeschooling nearly two decades ago, I was told by some in the Waldorf school community that Waldorf homeschooling does not exist and cannot be, because the parent is incapable of being the "authority" figure that the child needs in the grade school years.

Well, that didn't hold water with me.

In those early days of Waldorf education online, we had one chat group, with many voices, and boy, (girl) we were so happy to find each other. 

In the very beginning, there was a discussion group made up of parents, teachers, grandparents, administrators, translators, authors, anthroposophists and curious bystanders who discussed everything from evil, to pants on the kindergarten teachers, to the role of anthroposphy in the schools, run by Bob and Nancy, who had the first Waldorf website, called Bob and Nancy's services here and translated Rudolf Steiner's pedagogical works into american english. Nowadays Nancy Parsons and Bob Lathe are still supporting Waldorf education and homeschoolers with Waldorf Books, found here as a great place for homeschoolers to find curriculum materials and support. Don't be afraid to ask them questions about books and materials for they are very knowledgable and helpful. 

Conversations were often lively and opinions and perspectives were diverse. There were  sometimes strong words along with respect for differences in opinion.

The interest in homeschooling was so strong within that group, that in the spring of 1999 a separate discussion group was born for Waldorf homeschoolers. 

We were so happy to find each other and share our endeavors as Waldorf homeschoolers. We shared resources and supported each other. Yes, we had some squabbling and over the years, especially when a member of the groups grew started to be very clear in her opinions, grew large, and then began to produce materials for sale, the tension increased and eventually, the person who was creating curriculum material would spring out, birth a new group and curriculum and leave the group. 

Yet the core remained. There was a place to go as a homeschooling mom and have a chat, free of worry of stepping on toes.

No longer. The group lasted for about ten years until the moderators were called away to focus on other aspects of life and a decision was made to end the group.

These days, we have so much material to chose from and not so many places for frank conversation.

Do you wrangle with these sorts of questions? How do we create a conversation that does not become polarized? How do we ask the big questions, what is Waldorf education? Is it Waldorf because I call it so or is there something essential that makes it so? How do we open ourselves towards seeing what is Waldorf from the six angles of the blind men who came upon the elephant?

You may know the story… it is shared in many traditions...

Once upon a time, there lived six blind men in a village. One day the villagers told them, "Hey, there is an elephant in the village today."

They had no idea what an elephant is. They decided, "Even though we would not be able to see it, let us go and feel it anyway." All of them went where the elephant was. Every one of them touched the elephant.

"Hey, the elephant is a pillar," said the first man who touched his leg. "Oh, no! it is like a rope," said the second man who touched the tail. "Oh, no! it is like a thick branch of a tree," said the third man who touched the trunk of the elephant. "It is like a big hand fan" said the fourth man who touched the ear of the elephant. "It is like a huge wall," said the fifth man who touched the belly of the elephant. "It is like a solid pipe," Said the sixth man who touched the tusk of the elephant.

They began to argue about the elephant and every one of them insisted that he was right. It looked like they were getting agitated. A wise man was passing by saw this. He stopped and asked them, "What is the matter?" They said, "We cannot agree to what the elephant is like." Each one of them told what he thought the elephant was like. The wise man calmly explained to them, "All of you are right. The reason every one of you is telling it differently because each one of you touched the different part of the elephant. So, actually the elephant has all those features that you all said." "Oh!" everyone said. There was no more fight. They felt happy that they were all right.

PS.  I am doing a test run of an eCourse that I am developing for homeschoolers and homemakers who are interested in looking at Waldorf from different angles. We'll look at some of the core elements of Waldorf education and hear from guests who are working out of Waldorf education and share different angles for those of us trying to get a feel for what it is that makes Waldorf education distinctly Waldorf. If you are new to Waldorf education and would like to explore the basis of Waldorf ed, send me an e-mail at lisaboisvert (at) yahoo (dot) com







Friday, March 21, 2014

Anticipation

"anticipation is making me wait, keeping me waiting...
… for these are the good ole days."

Are you old enough to remember Carly Simon's hit song? You can hear it here.

I do remember being a first time mom and oh, I wanted it all for my child.
I was so excited to explore these Waldorf ways with him. I looked forward to all these delicacies of a Steiner based education: watercolor painting, geometric designs, beeswax modeling, marionette puppetry and woodworking. I wanted to bring it all to him.

I was blessed to have a lovely mentor in my life, who was grandmotherly to me and helped me see that it is a gift for the child to wait for things. Anticipation builds interest, curiosity, gratitude and joy. When we are given things before we are ripe for them, we cannot appreciate them. 

The child three and under is all movement and exploration: working hard in piling things up… and then... dumping, splashing, dropping, undressing the dolls. All process. No finished product. This is to celebrate, this is healthy development. This free self initiated movement is the foundation for creativity. 

Babies don't need to be born with a paintbrush in their hand to become creative human beings. The creativity arises from the whole being, the being who was free to be a baby and move around, free to be a toddler and toddle around. This is what I came to understand about Steiner based education, that we honor the age and stage of development and let children be children by waiting. 

Another realization that came to me with this bundle of joy and infinite wisdom, my first born, when I was so gung ho to bring him painting and crafts and modeling was that it was me who had the hunger. I  wanted to delve into these realms. So little by little, in taking up the painting and crafts and modeling myself, I was able to step back and allow my child to be a toddler.

So I began to paint and made things of the watercolors: invitations, cards, bookmarks, notes for myself. In doing this, indulging myself, I realized I was giving myself permission to nurture me. Just for me.

Around the same time, I began to focus my artistic energies on making practical things for my son, tree branch blocks, hand dyed silks and finger puppets. I made a sleep time marionette for me to use with him.

So, what I am wondering is this... if one has strong daily rhythms and breathing space in your day, and your child feels secure in knowing what comes when, do you need weekly rhythms? If you are getting to the activities that are important to you, does it matter?

With homeschooling the grades, I need weekly rhythms to figure out when we will do things, otherwise the week evaporates and we would not paint or do form drawing or have a rhyme and reason to Main lessons. And I would be totally lost at four o'clock if I did not have a plan for meals.

But if your child is under seven, what do weekly rhythms bring to you?

The notion of Weekly Rhythm in Waldorf came out of the kindergarten in which each day of the week is known by the children for what they do.

There is a baking day, a soup day (they remember to bring a vegetable) a painting day, a coloring day, maybe a woods walk day or a farm day or a eurhythmy day depending on the school. At the end of each day at school, the class holds hands and sings goodbye. The parents may be included in this. At the end the teacher says, and I will see you tomorrow for _______ (fill in) day. On Friday she says, "tomorrow and the next day are home days and I'll see you on Monday for painting day. Have a good weekend!"

The child lives with anticipation of what is to come. With excitement. And predictibility. This is an integral part of early childhood.

Children wait until they are old enough to go to college.
Children wait until they can get their own checking account.
Children wait until they are old enough to drive.
Children wait until they are old enough for the first date.
Children wait until they are old enough to go off to a movie with friends.
Children wait until they are old enough to use a computer.
Children wait until they are allowed to be at home alone.
Children wait until they are taught to write.
Children wait until they are allowed to cross the street on their own.
Children wait until they can get their own library card.
Children wait until the can ride a two wheeler.
Children wait until they are allowed to go out and play on their own.
Children wait until they are allowed to set the table.
Children wait until they are allowed to use a knife.
Children wait until they are allowed to paint.
Children wait until they are allowed to have crayons.

This list is just some elements of life that children anticipate.

As the adults we can frame them in the context of development. We can make it magical. We can celebrate these milestones of life for our children as they happen, simply and joyfully. When you are in first grade, you'll learn to write. When you are in 3rd grade, you'll join us for family movie night. When you are 16, you'll learn to drive. We teach the child through these actions, through anticipation that there is a natural order to life, that everything unfold in its own good time.

When we set it up this way, developmentally, it take us out of the picture as the one who grants or denies their wishes and places it squarely in the context of age an development. It takes this off our shoulders and eliminates the power struggle.

Oh how I wish I had a chart that said, when you are ___ you will _______ but it comes with time and with input from wise like minded parents and the first child, the "first pancake" as the oldest in a movie of that name described herself, is the test pancake.

When we prepare to cook a batch of pancakes, it is with the first one that we are testing the heat of the pan, the amount of butter in the pan, the readiness of the batter, and it gets easier with experience. Now we can talk about the first born.

See how interwoven life is and especially with Waldorf! We all can draw on each other, once we have some clarity to our own values for our child.

Anticipation is a powerful parenting tool, for it creates a picture of what is to come, with time for the child, and takes us out of the power struggle.

::::

Is anticipation something you struggle with? Is it a conscious part of your parenting?


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Pull Them in Closer

Since we are delving into conscious, connected, creative parenting over on the eCourses in February and March, I thought I'd offer some reflection here on a common parenting practice ~ the time out 

::::

Let's imagine a child is cranky for some reason or another and is complaining or disruptive. Mama is tired of his whining and sends him to his room for a time out.

Let's look at what it means to send a child to his or her room for being miserable. Misery is a feeling, an expression of emotion.

A miserable child is having some big strong emotions, like sadness and disappointment. Children do not know what to do with these big strong feelings, so they lash out and have meltdowns and have tantrums.

This is completely normal and to be expected.

Children have big emotions. They squeal with joy, cry in frustration, stamp their feet, interrupt and whine in the most annoying way.

Our initial impulse is probably to push it away, make it go away, or at least put it out of earshot. (this is probably a protective impulse of sorts!)

Yet the more connected we are with the child and the more accepting we are of their feelings in the moment, even if they want to pummel big brother, the more easy it is for them to get it out and move on.

And the more we ignore it, or discount it or poo poo it, the more likely it is to resurface with new found intensity in a completely unrelated moment. For our emotions go somewhere. They go in deeper and get stronger and heavier to carry around. They emerge with more force the next time. Sometimes they come out in adulthood, and take shapes we had not imagined could exist. But they do.

When we name it and acknowledge it, the child will usually moves through it, like this, "you're feeling sad about not going out to play, you want to be with the other children. you are angry at me for saying no."

Right there we help the child be in his body, be fully present and grounded and aware that he is feeling something strong and it is sadness and anger. If we share a story of our own about being young that helps too sometimes. No need to process the feelings or get into to them deeply or talk about them beyond naming them and acknowledging the child in the moment.


If we send them off to be alone because we are feeling uncomfortable with their feelings, then we have some work to do on ourselves. Sending them off when they are in distress is a form of abandonment.

This is a great example of  where inner work helps us grow and understand our children by understanding ourselves. Then we can respond with calm action rather than react all over the place and make a big mess of it, make our children fearful and teach them to stuff their feelings.

When my children's behavior arouses feelings in me, that is a sign that I have something to look at and release from my own experience of childhood in order to really see my children and respond healthily. We all have it. It is part of being human. When we ignore it and get angry and frustrated with our children's behavior it is very difficult to guide them. We need to take care of ourselves first. Then we can be grounded to really see, hear and feel them and guide them through the big emotions and challenges of life.

When we send our children to their rooms because we don't like their behavior, we are missing a chance to look beneath that behavior at what the child is trying to tell us, what does the child need in this moment? Usually it has to do with connection. A separation only drives it all deeper and makes it harder for the child to grow and learn how to get their needs met in healthy ways. And then we feel bad about ourselves.

Rather than have bad feelings, let go of them, remember we are all learning. Our children are our teachers.

Come on over and join the eCourse here if you'd like to plunge into some parenting practices practice, connect with others on this path of conscious, connected and creative parenting, and find ways to ease the struggles, while deepening your understanding of the underpinnings of Waldorf education.

Blessings on your parenting journey,



Friday, February 28, 2014

Announcing eCourse on Discipline Part II

practical strategies for love: the heart of discipline
~ a month of practice
::
Oh dear parents, you know what it is to be a parent. We have moments of sweetness and tenderness that fill and expand our hearts in ways we never imagined possible.

And we have those moments of frustration, when we want to stomp our feet and yell to the universe, "Get me out of here! Take me away, now, please?!"

I have had moments when that little voice inside is saying to me, "This is not what I thought it would be like to be a parent, to be a family. This is so not what I imagined."

Parenting brings out our very best and our worst. Somedays it is hard to find that middle ground, to breath and keep on going, with humor.

In the past few decades, we have seen an explosion of "how to" parenting books. From the "do as I say, not as I do," authoritarian mode, of angry outbursts, to sticks and carrots, to positive affirmation.

But that there is another way. One that rises from within, out of our own experience, out of our own being that is based on the developmental picture of the child and grounded in healthy attachment. One that is sparked by the creative flame in each parent, so it is unique to you. Conscious. Connected. Creative.

For the month of March, for 31 days in a sort of intensive boot camp, I will share practical strategies, based on the developmental picture of the child, that we will practice together through the month.

Come join a wise, warm and engaging community of others on this path.

We'll examine habits that are not working and find new ways to create an inner and outer environment to help bring harmony and breathing to our days. we look at the language we use and find creative responses to situations that are challenging.

I'll do this through the use of tips, examples, pictures of challenging situations and creative approaches.

As a parent of nearly twenty years, teacher and care giver to many children over the years, I bring a good deal of experience in sticky situations. I also have had great teachers throughout my life who have inspired me wit their patience, wisdom, humor and grace. I hope to pass that along to you in this month of practical application.

Registration is Open
this eCourse runs from March 1 to March 31st
you may return indefinitely after the course ends and closes to new members on March 31st
the fee is $25



Registration Options:
:: eCourse only is $25 Sign up here
:: eCourse and all the Living Curriculum Program support materials for March  $45 ~ learn more on what that includes here
:: an eCourse for each month of the year (12), the Living Curriculum program for Twelve months ~ $495





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