How this forum works:

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.

Please remember, this forum is about supporting one another, our children, our teachers and our schools. By participating in this forum, you agree to keep your thoughts and ideas positive, even, and especially, when the topics are delicate. Try to avoid naming specific people or schools except when congratulating them on achievements. I reserve the right to remove any postings or comments that are not in the spirit of compassionate mutual support.

- Ms. Ilian

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Preparing Your Child For the New School Year

For some of you, school has already started - for others it is about to start. Either way, there are always parents wondering: How can we get our children prepared for a new school year?

I know quite a few parents who spend the last few weeks of vacation reestablishing sleep rhythms and bed times that are more in keeping with a school schedule. That is an excellent start! Adequate sleep is one of the most necessary components of school readiness. Reestablishing regular meal times and habits, if these have migrated onto a vacation schedule, would be the second most helpful thing you can do for your child. And I would maintain, that establishing, or reestablishing, household chores and responsibilities would be the third most important factor. And finally, maintaining a space in each day for down time and free play would be the 4th component.

Giving your child a sense of responsibility balanced with free time, healthy food in a structured, warm family setting, and sufficient sleep introduced by a calming and beautiful ritual and followed, upon waking, with a bright, welcoming of the coming day, all these support your child in his or her day at school. Getting all these things started before the school year actually begins will help your child enter a healthy rhythm that can then be maintained once classes have started.

Sometimes the hardest part of this equation is deciding on appropriate chores for your child. A young child can take on smaller chores. I would, of course, expect all children that walk and talk to participate in cleaning up from their play. Having said this, sometimes the youngest children's efforts are ineffective or even counter productive; parents need to help and encourage at this age, as it is the forming of good habits that are the main goal here. One can also have quite young children help set or clear the table, and somewhat older children help "wash" the dishes. The extra work for the parent in redoing young children's chores is really worth the effort in establishing routines of participation.

Once children are 4 or 5, they can be given a task beyond (and in addition to) the immediately obvious ones of picking up after themselves and those associated with meals. The youngest can have the task of putting all the shoes to rest next to each other like good friends. Somewhat older children can begin making their beds in the morning (you may have to redo the job at first), or folding laundry (again, you may have to redo this at first). An older child can fold laundry while a younger one delivers it to the room of the person to whom each stack belongs. If you have a pet, the child can provide food and water. If you have house plants, your child may very well enjoy the responsibility of watering them.

Grade school children can continue the afore mentioned tasks, as well as others you may come up with, at a more sophisticated level. As they learn more skills, they can pick up responsibilities that utilize what has been learned. A child that has learned to write can be expected to write a letter to Grandma, or another relative each week. Older children can help keep grocery lists, can assist in food preparation, and help create seasonal decorations for the home. They can be given a time to work on crafts project, perhaps while you read to them, that will become holiday and birthday presents for relatives. They can be given a garden patch of their own, or put in charge of tasks within the family garden, if you have one.

Practicing responsibility in the home ultimately prepares the child for taking up responsibilities at school. And so my advice for the new school year: Set routines and expectations, and maintain them at an appropriate level for your child's age and stage of development. If you do this, everybody benefits.


  1. Amen! I wish I'd read this back when I was struggling to implement chores. I failed pretty badly in that area, I'm afraid. Somehow, the healthy meals and the going to bed and waking up routines and rituals were what I was most successful at. And play time too.

  2. Next time: Chores as determined by temperament. :-)