Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Q & A with Lisa :: Mom Wants Child to Play on Her Own

Dear Lisa,

I so hope you can help me figure this out because it's making me crazy.  Seems like every time I try to get some work done around the house, my daughter starts to act up and demands my attention by whining or being clingy. She is four years old. I've been a stay at home mom with her since she was born. I am always here for her. I am feeling so frustrated because I want her to play on her own. Any advice?    ~ Frustrated Mama

Dear Frustrated Mama,

My heart goes out to you because I know first hand how exhausting it can be to listen to a child whine. It wears me down when my children whine. 

However, try adjusting the lens of perspective just a bit to see what might be behind this behavior.

I know that the whine is hard to hear and as adults, our impulse is usually to fix it with a list of suggestions or take on the role of entertainment director.

Yet the underlying cause of the behavior may have more to do with something that ostensibility has nothing to do with the moment.

Let's put on our observation glasses and begin with the big picture, what's going on with this child?

These are the questions I ask myself to figure out what the need might be when my children start to come undone and can't seem to play when I am trying to do something else.

In my head, to myself I quickly go over my checklist:

8 Questions to Ask Yourself When Your Child Whines 

1. Have s/he eaten lately?
Yes, check, it's not hunger.

2. How was his or her sleep?
Good. Check.

3. Are we getting out of doors for enough movement and sunshine in the fresh air every single day: running, jumping, swinging, climbing, digging, balancing kind of play each day, especially in the morning?
Fresh air, sunshine and movement are essential for the health of children and adults too. It is the morning sun that makes for good Vitamin D absorption and sets our melatonin timers to release at the end of day.

4. How is our rhythm? Is there a consistent rhythm and routine to our days? 
Children need plenty of time for self initiated free play. When children have a routine they can count on, they know what comes next and tend to settle into the flow of the day, they relax and feel secure and out of this feeling of security and calm can play more easily. Same routine every day, simple, simple, wake up, dress, eat breakfast, do chores, go outside and play, eat lunch, take a nap, play, have dinner, bath, story, bed… the needs of children are so simple.

5. How's our connection to each other?
Attachment with our children is an ongoing and lifelong process. A child of this age is still developing her attachment capacities and needs regular check ins with mom in the form of eye contact, nods and smiles. Rocking and snuggling help too. When a child feels out of step with her parent, she may whine to let us know. Often some time spent genuinely engaging with a child for a short while, maybe washing dishes together, having a walk, telling a story will "carry" the child through the morning emotionally with connection.

6. How is the play area? 
Is there room to play, free of clutter, without too many toys, and close to you? Children like to be close to us as we work. Think about little spots in your home where you're child can play close to you. Are the toys open ended? Again simple and think imitation, whatever you are doing, she'll want to do too, a pot and spoon to stir a few objects from nature for the pot, a little laundry basket, a small table with a few cups and plates.

7. Do she have an example worthy of of imitation to follow? 
Am I feeling joyful in my work, singing or humming and happily engaged? Is there a basket her size to carry the clothes in from the line or dryer, with cloths for her to fold? Does she participate in the work and help hang clothes on the line or toss them into the dryer? (While she may not get it done, or may not do it as you would, let her contribution to the household work be.) If I am feeling grumbly, my children know it, often before I do. They absorb our moods.

8. Is regular media exposure part of my child's life?  
While it may seem odd, children tend to have a harder time engaging in self initiated imaginative play when media exposure is part of daily life. The images on the screen overwhelm the brain and make for too much sensory information for the child to fully process. All of the simple and lovely pictures we bring through story, song and the wonder for all of life that children are born with, both get annihilated by screen characters and images.

Help bring him or her into play
Healthy play is vital to healthy childhood and your child may need some guidance and support to find her way into play.

She may need some help stepping into play. The power of example and imitation is great. Set up a little scenario for play, a tea party with Dollie or Teddie, a cloth with a few animals and bits of nature on the floor to make a farm or begin to narrate a little walk in the meadow with figures set up.

If all seems in place above, then it may be that s/he needs more form to his or her day with clear time and directions for working together, "Here you scrub that side of the table, I'll do this side," a clear time for rest after lunch, perhaps after a story, clear time of day to go out and play. This brings us back around to the breathing in and breathing out quality to the day, something we'll take up in the eCourse in October.


If you like this article and find it helpful  and you'd like more, consider signing up for my eCourse When Less is More :: 31 Days to a Calm and More Meaningful Homelife, it begins tomorrow October 1st

Celebrate the Rhythm of Life 
Harmonious Rhythms ::  Parenting with Soul :: Waldorf Homeschooling

Monday, September 29, 2014

Secular Waldorf :: Is that Possible?

The first time I heard the phrase "secular Waldorf," I thought to myself, "Gee, that sounds a bit odd." Then I thought about it a bit more and laid the question to rest.

When it came around again, I wondered some more, how could that be? I decided to investigate and looked up the definition of the word secular and upon googling it, this is what I found:
  1. 1.
    denoting attitudes, activities, or other things that have no religious or spiritual basis.
    "secular buildings"
    synonyms:nonreligious, areligiouslaytemporalworldlyearthlyprofane;
    "secular music"

"No religious or spiritual basis."


Waldorf education is not religious at all, there is no religious doctrine whatsoever.

Does it have a spiritual basis?

Oh my yes!

Let's look more closely...

Waldorf education is built upon and around the picture of the human being as one with a spiritual dimension. It's very foundation is the human being as a spiritual being.

Does a person have to be spiritual and embrace the spiritual inclinations of Waldorf education to send their child to a Waldorf school?

I'd say no, not at all.

Yet as a homeschool parent teacher, I'd say it is essential to recognize the  spiritual basis of Waldorf education and have an understanding of how it is woven throughout the curriculum, how it shapes every aspect of the curriculum.

Families of all sorts of religious and cultural backgrounds are attracted to Waldorf education. 

Some folks love the ways the arts are integrated into the curriculum, some love the connection to nature, natural materials and outdoor play. Some parents love the importance and focus placed on imagination and wonder. Some love the beauty of the classrooms.

Yet every single aspect of Waldorf education is based on the image of the human being as a spiritual being. From what is taught and when, to the stories that are told, to the role of song and movement, to the blessings sung at the table, to the introduction of the alphabet and the numbers. It all relates back to the picture of the human being as a spiritual being.

It's not just about the Festivals.

Waldorf teachers, and by this I mean to include Waldorf homeschool parent teachers as well, who have experienced some immersion in the teaching of Waldorf education, are awakened to the spiritual aspects of teaching, of working with the spiritual world, of doing our own inner work, as a catalyst for our teaching, of working with body, soul and spirit.

This is why it is so difficult to nail down specifics of teaching Waldorf education, because we begin with an understanding, a common picture of the child, and humanity and the world and each other and ourselves. This is an ongoing process of striving, growth and understanding, not something that can be defined and left alone as a static thing.

Then, through observation of the particular child in our care, study, meditation, faculty meetings (this is a challenge for us to create as homeschoolers and a good topic for another conversation) and our own work with the spiritual world, we find inspiration and creativity to bring forth what it is the child needs.

Waldorf education is a dynamic form of education in this way. 

There is nothing rigid or fixed about Waldorf education with this approach for it is based in an ongoing process of growth and understanding. When what stands behind the curriculum is penetrated, it all begins to make sense and offer possibility, not a fixed way of doing things.

One of the particular challenges of the homeschool parent is in being isolated at home and in using material that someone else has written without understanding why. When we understand the whys, the deeper underpinning of the curriculum, it is so empowering because with that understanding, we are free to chose to use it as presented, adapt it, or do something entirely different, yet with an understanding of why we are doing it.

Here's an example… when third grade came around, I balked at using the Old Testament stories. I did not really understand how they speak to the child at that age beyond the superficial explanation that it has something to do with the child's relationship to authority. So I researched it and did reading and spoke with other Waldorf homeschooling parents, bought the Live ed curriculum, and did the online course with Eugene Schwartz and then it was as if the light bulb went on! I saw how it had nothing to do with religion and everything to do with history and the development of the human being.

Over the year, with this new insight, I was able to decide which stories to tell and watch my child grow and become aware of himself in relationship to the world in a new way.

I might have given up and opted out of the Old Testament stories because I was uncomfortable with them. Something nudged me to look deeper and in doing so, my eyes were opened to the depth and breadth of the curriculum and its way of speaking to the child in just the right way at the right time.

I was able to look back upon my own life at the age and glean new understanding of what I went through developmentally at that age.

A comment from Rudolf Steiner on the importance of growth and dynamic Waldorf education:

" I would give anthroposophy a new name every day to prevent people from hanging on to its literal meaning.... We must never be tempted to implement sectarian ideas.. . . We must not chain children's minds to finished concepts, but give them concepts capable of further growth and expansion. "

When we attempt to separate the spiritual foundation from Waldorf education, separate it from the alchemical process of spirituality, from the process that imbues it with its quality of wonder and transformation, we are throwing the baby out with the bath water in more ways than one.

To define Waldorf education as secular denies its spiritual dimensions, "chains" us as parent teachers  and "chains the children's minds, to finished concepts," and denies a fundamental aspect of the human being.

Waldorf education as a process of growth and transformation is kindled with spirit.

When we separate Waldorf education from spirit, we don't have Waldorf education anymore.

Celebrate the Rhythm of Life 
Harmonious Rhythms ::  Parenting with Soul :: Waldorf Homeschooling

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Rhythm Boot Camp Give Away

Would you like to "get your rhythm on" before the holidays this year?

I am giving away one spot in my Rhythm Boot Camp that begins on Wednesday October 1st
{to read more about Rhythm Boot Camp click here}

Win a spot in this fun, engaging, warm and extremely helpful online eCourse!

To enter, leave your name in the comments below and share an aspect of rhythm that you'd like to work on.

For another entry, like and share the give away announcement on the Celebrating the Rhythm of Life  FaceBook page and mention it in a comment below.

For an additional chance to win, mention it on your blog and share the link in the comments below.

If you've already signed up for the eCourse and you are the winner, you'll receive a credit of $25 towards another eCourse or the Monthly Program.

Be sure to check back here by Tuesday evening to see if you are the lucky winner.

Winner will be chosen by random drawing and  announced here in this space on Tuesday by 8 pm EST

and the winner is...

Laura said...
Mornings seem to be the most difficult. My 3 yr old is in a morning program a few days a week so I can work from home, and that adds an extra level of personal stress just in getting a 3 yr old and 1 yr old ready and out the door. But even when we stay home I have a hard time finding the wholesome discipline between hanging out in pajamas all day and attacking the morning like a drill sergeant.

Congratulations Laura! 

Send me your email address at lisaboisvert(at)yahoo(dot)com and I'll invite you into the group

Celebrate the Rhythm of Life 
Harmonious Rhythms ::  Parenting with Soul :: Waldorf Homeschooling

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Rhythm Boot Camp is Back!

When Less is More :: 31 Days to Rhythm Boot Camp

October 1st to October 31st
31 Days


You've been asking for another session of Rhythm Boot Camp and here it is… just in time to work with the rhythm of the year as autumn brings a drawing the earth's forces inward and we too experience a feeling of drawing inward. It's a good time of year to bring your focus inward to find ways to bring order and harmony to your days with children.

When Less is More :: 31 Days to Rhythm...
is a 31 day eCourse that provides a place where we can gather with a cup of tea during these cozy days of autumn, at this time in the year when we are naturally seeking order, turning inward in our thinking, and reflect on the rhythm, routine and reverence in our lives and homes.

We'll look at family values, the needs of children and adults, mealtimes, bedtimes, play, fresh air and the spaces of time in-between. We'll reflect on what can help each of us bring more rhythm and spaciousness to daily life. With simple and practical ideas and suggestions.

With this online course, I will take you by the hand for the 31 days of October and help you become more clear on your family values, more present in the moment, and able to implement daily rhythm into your life. After that you can go back into the eCourse over and over again for it will be up indefinitely.

The material in this session is fresh and new, it is not a copy of the last session.

The Schedule
Now :: Gathering and Greeting
Week 1 :: October 1 ~ What Matters Most
Week 2 :: October 8 - Step by Step
Week 3 :: October 15 - Deepen
Week 4 :: October 22  -Weave it together

We'll work out of the 3 R's of Waldorf education: Rhythm, Repetition and Reverence. We'll find beauty in the simple and the ordinary, as well as incorporate simple and practical creative and artistic endeavors that make daily life more meaningful and pleasant. And easier too!

We'll look at different approaches to rhythm. Some of us are night birds and some of us are up with the birds and some of us are both! We'll explore how to find renewal and renewed energy to meet our children where they are at each day.

We'll consider what may be getting in the way of your rhythm and how to move through that.

I am very excited about this eCourse because it is set up on a brand new private site that is lovely and easy to access and keep track of. Everything for the eCourse is there at the site.

Are you?
  • Curious about rhythm, wondering how it compares to a schedule or routine?
  • Wanting to bring more beauty and harmony into your life?
  • Wishing you had more peaceful mealtimes?
  • Seeking more meaningful bedtimes?
  • Wanting to ease transitions?
  • Wondering how breathing and rhythm are connected?
  • Longing to feel more connected?
  • Feeling drawn to a deeper awareness of nature's rhythms?
  • Imagining a home that is more peaceful and harmonious?
  • Tired of not knowing what comes next?
If so, then join our group of rhythm making mamas! (and papas too! )


31 Days to Rhythm Includes:
* 31 days of rhythm reminders
* 4 weeks of focused practical activities
*a wild, wise and wonderful community
*lots of enthusiastic support


Ready to Get Rhythm?
click here to sign up
all new easy to access format

Celebrate the Rhythm of Life 
Harmonious Rhythms ::  Soulful Parenting :: Waldorf Homeschooling

Friday, September 26, 2014

How Glinda the Good Witch Became My Mothering Model

My first child was born during the height of the William Sears attachment parenting craze, umm... I mean movement. This was in the 90's, a movement based on gentle birth, physical proximity, being with our babies, holding our babies close to us, whim breastfeeding and the family bed. It also involved saying yes to our children, to support their exploration and play. It felt right and intuitive, to respond to my baby's needs in this way. 

But there was one problem with this type of parenting, at least for me. Yet I had no idea at the time that  it was the parenting style, my parenting style based on this model of attachment, that was leaving me adrift.

What I have come to learn over many years, is that this type of attachment, of proximity parenting, is just the first of several steps towards healthy attachment. But I didn't know that then.

As my children grew more and more active, the attachment parenting model did not address the need to say no, to create boundaries and to be the grown up, to be the magical Glinda good witch type of mother who brings wisdom, warmth and security to the child through boundaries.
It left me hanging with my out of bounds child wondering what to do. I had to wake up to the need that my children desperately needed an authority figure and then slowly learn, step by step, to consciously step into the Glinda the good witch big shoes.

It came so easily to me with other peoples' children, they seemed so easy to be with and care for. They responded to simple nods and smiles. They came when called. They sat at the table and ate peacefully with only slight encouragement. They occasionally quarreled and threw things but most of the time it was fairly easy to bring the environment back to peace.

My own children did not come along so easily. They climbed over the gates in the doorways. They threw things at each other when I was trying to make dinner. They yelled at each other and fought.  They got into each others' belongings and taunted and teased each other. Their behavior triggered all sorts of big emotions in me. I felt anger and rage and frustration. Why did they act that way? What was wrong with me? What did I need to do to "get" it? Sometimes I just felt flat out exasperated and exhausted.

My children are the ones who forced me to pull up the big girl panties, stand back and create some space between myself and each of them. I needed to step back so I could see them more clearly and make room for my feelings to have their space. I had to learn slowly, step by step, and incident by incident, to remember to step into the big shoes of Glinda the good witch and be the grown up.

This process of change and painful transformation brought me to a place where I realized I had to learn to say  no and create boundaries before I could approach, with fresh eye's the notion of saying yes.

That was and is my mothering challenge. To step into the big shoes and be the Glinda Good Witch Mother. And I am still learning.

More to come in another blogpost on what I have learned about what it means to say yes to a child.


Celebrate the Rhythm of Life 
Harmonious Rhythms ::  Parenting with Soul :: Waldorf Homeschooling

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Why the Silence Over Here?

Yes, I have been very quiet here. I have turned in, to that place where I go, to that inner cave, deep within, when I need a break.
If you are in one of my eCourses or you are in my ~living curriculum program or you have sent me a note and not yet heard back, please forgive me and give me a little holler via email.

You see when I began my ~living curriculum program for Waldorf Homemakers and Homeschoolers  four years ago, I focused on rhythm: daily rhythms, weekly rhythms, and seasonal rhythms. We have been around the year, some of us coming together this month to begin a new schooling year for the fourth year in a row. And that is something very dear to me.

I began this program as a simple monthly subscription that included Stories, Circle, Nature Crafts, Recipes and Festival information for each month, along with a focus topic to study and discuss each month.

I started it as a way to share my experience of Waldorf  homeschooling and soulful parenting practices with others, parents, early childhood teachers and caregivers on the same path.

What I failed to include was down time for me.
The time for my own breathing out…
I expected myself to send daily notes, without a break. To organize a new focus topic for each month, full of inspiration and reflection, without a break, through the year and to stay on top of it on a daily basis. To freshen the materials when needed, deepen areas where members wanted to go deeper and address topics of parenting and child development that are woven through our lives.

What I came to realize, you see it took a while, as I am a slow and steady type, is that I needed to work in breaks for me. Down time. Time when I could step away freely, without any of my own induced guilt. Time to turn away and find renewal without any obligation to be present or respond, or write or think.

You see for me, those moments, when I feel so free of obligation, tend to be the times when the new ideas and enthusiasm are born.

And so in stepping back and taking some breathing space, that really began with a writing paralysis and loss of my voice online, then became a gasp for fresh air, I have decided to make some changes in the formatting of my Waldorf Homeschooling and Homemaking ~ Living Curriculum Program and eCourse offerings, in response to your requests. 

I am busily and excitedly reformatting the program by separating it out into a simpler and easier to use bits of material, with step by step guidance for each week through the seasons. Plenty of room will remain for your tweaking, while a firmer structure will be in place to help guide you along, if that is what you need. The content will remain rich, soulful and inspiring, very much grounded in and rising out of the seasons yet will be more accessible and well laid out for you.

I'll post more about these changes soon.


Celebrate the Rhythm of Life 
Harmonious Rhythms ::  Parenting with Soul :: Waldorf Homeschooling

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

That Place of Trust

I've been following the buzz around Outside Magazine's recent online article about homeschooling that is grounded in children playing and exploring freely in nature.

You may have seen the article, it has a lovely photo of the author's son setting off across a frozen body of water, handwoven pack strapped on his back, knife in pocket, sticks in hand, you just know he is going to build a fire on the ice, or someplace nearby, and with it experience an elemental gathering of earth, air, fire and water, creating a mood of adventure and interest in the world, harkening back to the primeval, to what it means to be human. 

The article is written by fellow Vermonter and homeschooler, umm... I mean un-schooler... Ben Hewitt. I'm not saying we're fellow un-schoolers, although I will confess that  I do have an inclination towards a self directed, free play in nature, sort of childhood.

One might say that Waldorf education, in the early years, is a sort of un-schooling or natural living, that arises out of a specific picture of the child, but that, my friends, is a topic for anther conversation.

Although to be honest, I don't quite understand the term un-schooling. I find it perplexing as I tend to think of it as an undoing of what school has done to a child. Yet a child who has not been "schooled" does not need to be un-schooled, right? That seems logical to me.

When I was young, it was called childhood and everybody seemed to share the picture of the child as one who romps in the woods and meadows and comes home when its time to eat. It seems to me that this type of learning at home is an extension of healthy childhood.

I do understand Waldorf homeschooling to be an approach to learning that embraces self directed exploration, meaningful adult activity, play and the natural world.  I can assure you that it does not involve any captivity, but that, too, is a topic for another conversation.

This article seems to have tapped into many strong feelings about this rapidly growing movement in handmade, outdoor, trust the child, trust the world, know your neighbors and lend a hand type of home education that is exploding among homeschoolers, that perhaps reflects a change in human consciousness, a shift in human consciousness that brings a new fashioned approach to old ways of doing things, this time around with conscious awareness of why we do what we do.

In any case, it was the article itself that, inspired me to check out the author's blog where he shares daily reflections on his days and life as a family, a farmer and a parent.
Our families have something in common. We live in Vermont and spend a good deal of time out of doors. We keep chickens and grow food, each year striving to grow more and more of our food. We know our neighbors and feel blessed to be surrounded by farmers who farm with care and conscious awareness for the food they produce. My children spend heaps of time out of doors, carry pocket knives, have their own axes, love to whittle and use their hands all day long.

My oldest spent two semesters immersed in the rhythms of daily living in the outdoors with Kroka Expeditions.  More to come on Kroka and this movement of handmade, outdoor, trust the child, trust the world, know your neighbors and lend a hand type of community education in another post. Gosh, I am setting myself up for quite a few blog posts.
One of my boys has eaten road kill and killed animals to eat, the other is vegetarian. One of my boys still likes to make his own bows and spent weeks and weeks exploring what type of branch is best suited for a bow. He loves to practice shooting  at non living things. Both of them know how to chop wood, kindle fires, grow and harvest vegetables, milk a cow or goat, cook meals from scratch, understand the the beauty and process of compost, love being in and on the water and have no qualms with weather.
We too have made sacrifices for this lifestyle. I stepped out of my work as a midwife to be with my children. I have chosen to live simply, garden, cook from scratch and work from home because it is meaningful for me to be at home mothering my children and tending the hearth. I suspect every mother who has made the choice to stay home with her children can understand this kind of devotion and sacrifice based on love.

The author brings a new voice to the conversation when he speaks as a father, who has made conscious family choices to stay home that involve sacrifice and daily hard work.

Yet what resonates most strongly within me from this article and today's blog post from Ben Hewitt, is trust. The ability or capacity to trust ourselves as parents. From that flows the ability to trust our children. From that trust comes development of capacities as human beings. It can happen in the wild, it can happen in the kitchen, it can happen in a barn. Wherever there is trust in the child, freedom to play and explore, adults engaged in meaningful work, children will grow and develop capacities as human beings. The capacity for imagination, for creativity, for problem solving, to love the world and all its living inhabitants, it arises out of trust and a sense that the world is good.

For it seems to me that the first step, after developing a sense of trust for our parents and the meeting of our needs as infants, is the impression that the world is good.

So I ask myself, how do we get to that place of trust, how can we get there if we were not trusted to take risks and explore and do things out of our own initiative as children?

How do we return to that place of trust if once we have known it?

How do we return to trust when our sense of the world as good gets shaken?

How can I support the parents I work with to step back and wait and trust?

Is it something we are born with, an innate trust in the world and in ourselves and children?

Does it result from a childhood that makes room for self initiated movement, play and exploration?

I don't pretend to have the answers, I am sharing my observations, experiences and contemplations here. My guess is that it is a combination of what we are born with, who we are born to and the experiences we have in life, particularly in the first decade of life.

I'd love to hear your thoughts and reflections on this.


Celebrate the Rhythm of Life 
Harmonious Rhythms ::  Parenting with Soul :: Waldorf Homeschooling

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