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This forum is open to all Waldorf parents. You are encouraged to discuss the topics posted on this blog using "comments". If you have a question you would like to have addressed, please e-mail me, and I will put it on my schedule of topics. Contact me as well if you would like to post a topic yourself, so I can send you instructions.

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- Ms. Ilian

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Maintaining a Waldorf Home

     It is a sad reality that not everyone who would choose to send his/her child to a Waldorf school is able to do so. Sometimes the reason is financial. Sometimes there is no class for children your child's age (the school is too young). Sometimes there is a Waldorf school, but the class is already over-full and no more children are accepted. Sometimes your child's needs cannot be met by the school. And sometimes there simply is no Waldorf school in the area to send your child to. One way to still give your child some of the benefit of Waldorf education, when enrolling in a Waldorf school is not an option, is to keep a Waldorf home. And for those who do have children in a Waldorf school, keeping a Waldorf home supports your child's teacher, class and overall education.

     Keeping a Waldorf home is not difficult as long as you are committed to it, and it can even make parenting easier. Most important is to establish healthy family rhythms that include moments of reverence and thankfulness. These moments can easily be incorporated into the beginning and end of the day, and  into the beginning and end of meal times. The family rhythm should include appropriate chores for the children, regular meal times, outdoor play time, quiet read-aloud time, and the like. Some families include some creative time, or have special times for baths. Rituals around meals and bedtime can be very helpful to the smooth flowing of the day.

     Another way help keep a Waldorf household is to keep electronics to a minimum. If possible, don't even have a television in the house. Keep the computer in an office where the children are not to be playing. Let them know it is a tool for work. Avoid giving children pocket electronics such as cell phones and ipods. If these things are not easily available, they will not be so tempting.

     What can we replace the electronics with then? Outdoor play in the afternoons is the most healthy activity a child can engage in after school and on the weekends. Indoors, you can teach the children to bake, provide them with handwork projects, sing with them, have them play a musical instrument, have plenty of board and card and dice game for them to play, and, of course, have plenty of good quality children's books at and above the child's reading level. At first some of these activities might take more parental involvement, but as the children learn new skills, they can take up these activities more and more on their own.

     As the children get older, the pressure to introduce electronics into their lives will increase. It is not necessary to cave in to the demand - nor is it necessary to be tyrannical in your refusal. One way to approach this difficult situation is to tell the children they can have an ipod (or whatever) if they buy it themselves with money earned - not with allowance received for chores around the house. It helps to be clear exactly what you will and will not allow. For example, it is better not to let the child have a cell phone because that involves a regular bill that the child cannot pay. Or you may decide that you will accept a computer (with agreed upon rules of use), but not a television. If your children are not ready to make reasonable agreements with you, they are probably not ready for the responsibility that accompanies the privilege being sought. This rule can apply to any other privilege as well, such as overnight visits with friends, adopting a pet, attending a party, etc.

     All these suggestions, given here in a general way, are things that I have seen work. I'm sure there are other effective approaches, as well as further questions which I invite you to share.


  1. As a fellow Waldorf teacher and former homeschooling teacher, I also found that what has worked for my family is to often just leave the children be. In our society "good" parents are portrayed as the ones who are constantly engaged with their children and their activities. I have found it to be very healthy for my children to regularly hear that I would love to read them a story... after I have finished whatever it is that I am doing. It's not that I don't read to them, but not always being available means that the children find ways to discover what they like to do in the absence of the parent's constant attention. It helps them explore who they are. There are days (like last Sunday) where my children are so busy with themselves and each other, playing, that I hardly see them. Then when we do something together, it is a purposeful interaction. The parent is the source of loving authority, not entertainment fo bored children.

  2. You know, I totally agree with K's remarks. I went through my childrens childhood letting them play (I sometimes provided the inspiration or the tools, but mostly I did my own stuff), and wondering if I was a bad mother because I didn't constantly entertain them. Neither, when they got to school age did I ferry them around to 4 different sets of extracurricular activities. I offered music lessons (and took the time to practice with them) and we all participated in orienteering. That was that. I mean when are the children supposed to play and do homework if they are busy all the time?
    Oh, and I have always enjoyed reading to them: we had a defined time for that in the rhythm of the day - before bedtime.