An Exploration of Sacred Parenting and Education

Sharing My love of Waldorf Education

In Education on January 28, 2012 at 10:17 pm

Sharing my Love of Waldorf Education

I had never really paid attention to education until I had kids myself. I had gone through school myself, and did fairly well, so I didn’t think much about it. When I became pregnant with my first child, the kind of school we wanted her to attend suddenly became an interesting topic of conversation.  Mothering Magazine  published an article on Spirituality and Waldorf Education . I received a religious education, but not necessarily a spiritual one. I wrote tothe Anthroposophic Society asking if there was a Waldorf School in Mexico. There wasn’t one at the time, but to make a long story short, a friend who owned and was the director of a Montessori Preschool became interested in Waldorf, did the training and turned her school into a Waldorf School. By the time my daughter started school, it had already become a Waldorf School and had been up and running for a few years. If there had been no Waldorf School, my kids would have attended a Montessori School.

I’m a Mexican, I grew up in Mexico. Even though there is a public school system in Mexico, the norm is sending your children to private schools. Private schools are not as expensive in Mexico as they are, say in Canada or the US. I know nothing about British Education. My then husband is a Zen Buddhist, I was a Naqshbandi (but had not embraced Islam yet), we were vegetarians; this is to say we were very odd.

Any educational system is only as good as teachers in it. I fell in love with Waldorf, but it may not be the best schooling for someone else. God is Beautiful and loves Beauty. Beauty is very much part of Waldorf Education. Even the colours on the classroom walls and the way teachers paint them is  important. Art is an important part of the curriculum, and I love that: Children create their own school books, they learn how to play musical instruments, learn a second and sometimes a third language; they watercolour, knit, weave, bake, do carpentry as part of their classes and it is all tied in to their main class.

There is much emphasis on rhythm: a rhythm to the day, the week, the season and the year. Rituals and celebrations are important; festivals mark the transitions of seasons and birthdays are very happy occasions. Plays, poetry, singing, planting and cooking were also very much a part of school. Crayons were wax crayons with natural colours; watercolours made use of only red, blue and yellow, the young artists would then go on to develop all other shades and combinations. Children used pencils and colour pencils to write their class books, and later on –5th grade I believe—they write with fountain pens. I’m sorry I have no example of their books or watercolours with me, but you can see many examples online.

At first I wondered about the child having the same teacher for all of grade school. In practice, it worked well. My kids were young in the “BG” years, “Before Google.” We did not have a computer in the house, we did not watch television, there were no cell phones, let alone smart phones, cameras were not digital. In that sense, Waldorf and my family were a good fit. I love reading, and read to my kids up until their teen years. Yes, they do know how to read and can read on their own. I also love movies, and carefully screened the movies I allowed my children to watch. Waldorf does not encourage media usage (computers, TV, cells, etc) before High School.  I do wonder how Waldorf parents manage today.

Basically, we were all happy with the school. Our Waldorf School only went up to 6th grade. My kids then transferred to a traditional school where they did very well. They have also done well at University. They talk fondly about their Waldorf school years; they would like their children to attend a Waldorf school. They really appreciate not having had homework and having had to develop inner resources when “there was nothing to do.”

I’m happy to keep on sharing about more specific topics of Waldorf education in future posts.

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  1. Many thanks Patzia,
    I’m quite keen to visit a Waldorf school myself. Some see the university a person attends as the most important time in a persons education. I feel it may just be those initial formative years.
    S

  2. I’m always happy to learn from those further down the road. How fortunate that you have a Waldorf School nearby. As Waldorf kindergarten is modeled after a functional family life at home, I am keeping my children with me for as long as I can and it is developing inner resources in me I thought I never had–especially challenging when there is a no tv to rely on as a babysitter!

    I am glad to hear that the education your children received taught them to become self-reliant instead of passive consumers of the entertainment world. Is not empowering our children the goal of every parent?

    Thank you for sharing your love of Waldorf with us. I would gladly hear more of your experience with the school and how you adopt the principles at home.

    Blessings

  3. By the way, do children learn a music instrument through Waldorf?

  4. Saqib: All children in Waldorf learn to play the recorder. Then the ones that are called to it, start learning other instruments. Many Waldorf schools create their own orchestra. They also sing, memorize poems, write poetry themselves and put on plays.

    Asma, my children are now 28 and 25. My eldest didn’t start Kindergarden till she was almost 6. She was born in October, we did not push to have her admitted early. She was one of the oldest in her class, and it worked very well. My son, being a May baby, started school when he was 5. In Mexico most kids do start preschool at 2 or 3, so it was a challenge to keep them at home. I was fortunate to work from home and to have help.

    We did a lot of crafts, a lot of storytelling, singing, watercoloring; we baked bread, had a garden and met once a week with other future Waldorf families so they could have a play group.

    I made several dolls for my daughter, and tried to keep the toys as close to Waldorf as possible. I also had to make allowances for my parents who were decidedly un-Waldorfy! My mother-in-law was our neighbour and she grew up in a farm. She did not like to baby sit much, but did keep the kids every Thursday while I went to zhikr.

    They did not watch TV, true, but they did have a cassette player and a lot of story tapes. Many times their father and I recorded ourselves as we told them stories, and then t hey woould listen to them. They would also record themselves telling stories, so I could listen to them.

    In our Tradition there is a Hadith about the Faithful being mirrirs to the Faithful; Waldorf talks about how the child imitates everything around them. They are our best mirrors, and it’s painful when you see in them the exact replay of what you dislike most in yourself! That was always an incentive to keep on with the inner work.

  5. Patzia, I think you have a very beautiful family culture. It takes a persistent, strong, creative and resourceful parent to be able to create a home that value activities such as what you have done with your children ;)

    Crafting, storytelling, singing, painting, baking, gardening…those are the things I am learning to incorporate into our home, albeit slowly. If time and distance were not an issue, I would love to be one of the mothers who attended your weekly play group!

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