"The sun shines not on us but in us." ~ John Muir
From the ages of Birth to 7, we work to create for our children a lifelong foundation rooted in the practical arts (meaningful and purposeful work in our environment); rhythm (the in and out breaths of our days); and repetition (the warmth and security of stories, blessings, festivals and traditions). But as children grow beyond the protective sheath of the first 7 years, how do we as parents and educators hold intact that early foundation amid the challenges we face today?
As children grow and leave early childhood behind, there are less and less opportunities for them to experience quiet purposeful work, the reverence of blessing our food, or the wonder of winged things. One of the effects of our technological society is that our children are leaving these worlds behind much too early. As the mother of a rapidly growing boy, I find myself often wondering how to help him navigate the challenges of cell phones and media while still nurturing his freedom and independence.
More than ever, today's children need our energies placed on upholding the strong foundations laid in early childhood. As they grow and enter the grades and beyond, the wisdom of those early years never changes. No matter the age of our children, they feel loved most when we are really present with them. And presence is what is at the heart of everything we strive towards in Waldorf early childhood education. From lighting a candle with our meal, to preparing the same familiar meals week after week, to telling folktales and singing together, to working and playing together indoors and out.
One important way we can keep those early foundations intact as our children grow is by upholding as many of those simple routines as we can throughout the grades and high school. Meaning, at its simplest, to continue to practice moments of presence such as lighting a candle at meal time, reading a good book out loud, singing together as a family, and continuing to find new ways to work and play together as a family. We can't control what challenges may come to our children as they grow and enter the world, but we can continue to maintain strong rhythms at home that will help them weather the storms.
This spring and summer, we are offering classes to help families find and keep rhythm at home as children grow. The series of four classes for parents, grandparents and educators will cover fire making, bread making, gardening with children and singing together. We hope to see you there.