A gentlemen posted something on a Waldorf teacher facebook page last week that really spoke to me. He was calling out the women who are always crowdsourcing for ideas on how to interact with, discipline, entertain, or educate their children. You know the, "
May is the month of Mother's Day; a time of new birth in the natural world and a time to honor the divine goddesses that gave life to us and the divine lives that made us mamas.
Matrix is latin for "mother", historically "wom" or "uterus". Our children are both spiritual and physical beings. Our womb was the first matrix they entered when they moved from the spiritual world as a soul or "star child" into the physical world beginning with the womb. The first few years of life can be a smooth, loving transition into the earthly matrix, or one of chaos and discord. It's our job, as parents, to ease the transition from the womb to the world by recreating a womb environment the first few months and then allowing ample time in nature the following years. We recreated the womb when we guard their young eyes from bright lights, swaddle them in a Woombie or soft blanket (or even cradle them in our arms) and protect them from cold. We keep noises to a minimum and speak to them in gentle tones. We touch them, smell them, kiss them, speak their name and they watch us and begin to imitate earthly behaviors.
In the early years, they delight at leaves falling, clouds moving, the squish of mud between their toes. Remember the movie with Nicholas Cage when he gives up being an angel and falls to earth to feel what humans feel. Every sight, sound, touch, emotion was felt so big because it was the first time. It was appreciated with such intensity! This is how our babies and toddlers are- sense organs that feel and retain everything! We must protect them by allowing experiences that mirror what we want them to understand about the world- truth, beauty, and goodness.
Emily and Daisy, by Elsa Beskow
Thumbelina, Elsa Beskow
On the Morn of Mayfest by Erica Silverman
Spring by Gerda Muller
How Does My Garden Grow, Gerda Muller
The Flowers Festival by Elsa Besko
Waldorf Toys to Add:
Dry felt a pet like a hedgehog or a bunny
Paint peg dollos with all the colors of the rainbow
Dye a silk or bye Sarah's Silks- rainbow
Mud Kitchen (online tutorial or amazon)
Palumba watercolor set of 3 jars with lids and watercolor tones
This is a month to celebrate YOU, mama. Honor the goddess inside you, embrace your femininity, celebrate womanhood and sisterhood and thank nature for it's design!
Be well, Chelsea
Anthroposophy shows us that we are both physical and spiritual beings. Our ethereal souls leave the spiritual world, cross the rainbow bridge into the physical world and life as a human being begins. We are spiritual beings having a human experience. EVERY experience is an opportunity to further develop the soul towards enlightenment, peace, and self-actualization.
In raising our children, we are provided ample opportunities to further the soul. Every tantrum is helping the parent develop patience. Every screaming, stubborn action your young child takes is an opportunity for you to practice empathy and try to take their perspective to assist them with love and compassion. Even when they're total assholes, it's their soul asking you, "Can you love me regardless how my earthly self copes with discomfort?" This is a challenge, but if you can view it as an assignment from the universe, you may find yourself coping with parental challenges easier.
The first few years of the chlid's life they're still connected to the mother on an ethereal level. Your energy is their energy. They feel your lows and your highs. They feel your angst, your compassion, and drain you more than they fulfill you at times. This is why the new mother must rest and conserve her energy. Because her energy is shared with the young child.
Then, the first EPOCH is the hands realm where everything must be felt kinestetically. The child wants to move, climb, jump, run, touch, taste, smell, and experience the world through DOING. The focus of this epoch is on goodness. Preserve, and support, this realm by showcasing goodness with gentle songs, finger play, massage, laughing, essential oils that dont offend the senses, soft lighting, warm rugs, natural materials, and fair tales without violence or aggression. Keep the child believing in magic by allowing them to share their views of the world rather than intelellectualizing everything at the adult level.
The second EPOCH is the heart realm between the ages of 7-14 or so. Everything is felt with strong heart connection including the good, the bad, and the ugly. They begin to seek social connections, romantic relationships through crushes, obsessive friendships, and see the injustices of the world in a dramatic fashion. They want to save the planet and everyone in it! Use this wisely and focus on beauty (and still goodness). Beautiful drawings, artistic expression, musical opportunities, dance, poetry, folk tales, and legends. Encourage group play and foster friendships with like-minded kids their age. They're slowly moving away from their intense connection with caregivers and seeking a connection with a world outside the home. Help them see the beauty of the world through rich sensory experiences, nature walks, and travel!
The third EPOCH is the head realm. The soul is firmly in the child's body and they've lost their baby teeth entirely. They're beginning to look, and act, more like an adult human. They may have let go of childish ways or are transitioning a bit more into the adult world. They're seeing truth, logic, and using ration. They're making sense of all their experiences thus far and thinking forward into the future. They desire independence, but need a caregiver to support and guide without interfering. They're stepping into their own and challenging their parents (and all other adults) in an effort to find out what's real, what can be trusted, what's conditional, what's consistent? Help them find truth by allowing them to explore all aspects of self. Trust that with loving guidance and a form foundation, they'll find truth, even through hardships and they'll return to their roots!
If you'd like to explore more about anthroposophy, let me know! I'll share wonderful resources!
I spoke with our fabulous teacher candidate last night for the umpteenth time! I just can't get enough of his insight and knowledge on children and their place in the world. I can hardly wait until he joins us to lead the children in their learning this Fall! He said something that stood out to me, "There's nothing in our culture, outside of Waldorf, that truly honors spring."
He's right! I started thinking about it and realized that, outside of structured religions and the focus on the Easter holidays, there's nothing that honors the transition from the harsh winter months into spring. In Waldorf education; however, there's a strong emphasis on the seasons of the year as it provides internal rhythm for the young child! Here's what I'm loving, and doing, this spring with my boys.
"The Rainbow" puppet show by The Hidden Bloom on youtube (learn it and perform it)
Toddlers/Preschoolers can reinact it with their own silks and figurines.
Ages 5-7y can illustrate the story using beeswax crayons, pastels or watercolors.
Older children can retell the story in their own words by making a book or writing a screnplay!
Create a nature table for SPRING using play silks by Sarah's Silks and items from each life kingdom such as flowers, trees, rocks, crystals, animal figurines, and perhaps a chalkboard drawing on a mini board. Don't be afraid to use ALL the colors of the rainbow!
The Story of the Root Children by Sybill Von Olfers
Pelle's New Suit by Elsa Beskow
Spring, by Gerda Muller
A Rainbow of My Own by Don Freeman
Planting a Rainbow
Pippa & Pelle and the Spring Garden
Thumbelina by Elsa Beskow
Up in the Garden, Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner
Chrysanthemum by Kevin Kenkes
Have you discovered Toy Making Magic yet? This is an $8 a month toy making subscription service by a fellow Waldorf mama! Definitely look into it.
Unfinished, wooden eggs are in the craft section at Hobby Lobby and Amazon.com. Let kids paint eggs and then create a nest using items from nature.
Use large basin, planting pots, cinder blocks, or whatever materials you have to create a play garden for your child. A pair of gloves, shovel, watering can and seedlings are all that's needed for hours of fun and months of enjoyment! We pulled weeds the other day and rescued worms that were at risk in the sun after we accidentally disturbed theuir home.
The most important thing to do this season is get outside! Don't worry about having the right "toys"! Simply get out in nature and feel the sun on your skin and enjoy the sounds of the new animals, birds, and bees buzzin' in the spring air.
Let me know how I can support your journey whether it's homeschooling, enrichment, daily rhythm, or parenting- I'm here for YOU! Thank you for joining the tribe!
Chelsea Vail, Whole Heart
March is about rebirth! Maybe you're new to Waldorf and want to rid yourself of plastic junk toys or decrease screen time. Perhaps you're a new mom and you're struggling with this new identity that happens almost instantly. Maybe you've found this tribe because you're seeking some guidance as you parent older kids and are wondering daily what the hell happened to that sweet, toothless blob of love that didn't have an attitude or an opinion yet. Regardless why you're here- we're glad you're here.
Nature is one of our greatest teachers. We can learn a lot from observing plants, animals, even fungi (or fun-guy). Snakes molt their skin, birds molt their feathers, leaves fall every autumn...throughout nature we can observe a shedding process, but somehow as humans we pretend shedding or molting doesn't exist for our kind. It does and it should. We are in a constant state of evolution as humans, both physically and emotionally. Life provides a series of pivotal moments where we have choices to make and action to take. How we respond says something about who we are and how evolved we are. Talking in a movie theater? That person is in a rookie year and not far along, LOL. Having enough self-awareness to recognize there are parts of you to let go of and leave behind the way a snake escapes old skin is the first step to a deeper, more evolved YOU.
1). Make a note of things you say about yourself to others. Is it positive or begative? Even if you're joking, speaking negatively about yourself puts a negative vibe out there to the other person- about you! See if you can rewrite how you answer questions about yourself, tell your story, and describe yourself to others. Focus on your strengths!
2) What's your struggle as a parent? Ask yourself if the problem is the child or is it something YOU could do better as a parent. Its important we adjust to the child's needs and allow a natural unfolding and development rather than project our hopes and expectations on them.
Read "The Magical Child" and join us in April for book club if you're local or tune in to the podcast for discussion highlights.
"Simplicity Parenting" is what I'm reading now and loving it!
Dye eggs using natural dyes from foods. Boil cabbage for purple, carrots for orange, blueberries for blue!
Take a nature walk and make note of the changes you see occuring as winter melts into spring.
Read Cozy by Jan Brett or Ollie's Ski Trip by Elsa Beskow and draw pictures of arctic places. Then, read Flower Garden or Hedgies Surprise and draw pictures of spring. Discuss the differences.
Build a nature table mid-month and collect things from outside to decorate it.
Carve and sand a wooden spoon
Waldorf Toys to add to your collection this spring:
Grimms wooden flower
Butterfly or Dragon wings from Hearthsong
Stockmar modeling beeswax
Grimm's stackable rainbow
When you're attempting to make positive changes in your life its inevitable that someone, or many someones, in your inner circle will try to sabotage your progress. Cut down on time spent with these people or cut them out entirely. If that's not an option, prepare yourself for their negative energy, comebacks, and snarky responses so you'll be armed when the time comes.
Remake yourself! Declutter your home! Read something new! Try a new craft! Take on that DIY you've have pinned for years! Spring into spring with some mutha fuckin' bounce, yo!!
Haha! Be well, Chelsea
Thank you so much for joining the Whole Heart Crunchy Parents tribe and embarking on this journey of intentional parenting with me! You wont regret it. Every month I'll be adding exclusive content here for tribe members only; those who are truly invested in better themselves FOR their children.
This month, I'd like everyone to join me in reading "You Are Your Child's First Teacher" by Rahima Baldwin Dancy. If you've already read this, check out "heaven on Earth" instead. Both books are great resources for parents beginning an exploration of Waldorf in the home, Waldorf education, or simply parents of babies and toddlers who are interested in learning more about how children and babies learn and develop.
Child's Book List:
Cozy, Jan Brett
Ollie's Ski Trip, Elsa Beskow
The Trouble with Trolls, Jan Brett
Winter, Gerda Muller (young children)
The Mitten, Jan Brett
The Snowy Day, Ezra Jack Keats
The Story of the Snow Children, Sibylle Von Olfers
Activities to enjoy this month with your young child:
Make snowflakes from coffee filters
Try "wet on wet" watercolor painting with the blue
Create a winter scene by making a collage from magazines or white pastels on black paper
Walk in a "winter wonderland" or build a scene using play silks and items from nature
Create a "nature table" with your child: for WINTER:
Perhaps a blue, black or white play silk as the base
Add candles, pinecones, acorns, other items one may find in the winter
Purge the home of things unused, unopened, unloved! Clutter crowds the mind and heart and takes up space the child needs to grow into. I recommend selling things online or donating to a local shelter or Goodwill. You'll instantly feel ready for a new year, new you, new changes!
Waldorf Toys/Items to add:
Budget friendly: Sign up for "Play Silks in the mail" on SarahsSilks.com and receive a new play silk each month for your child's collection
Mid-level: Add one of the Grimm's elements such as rainbow, flower, water, or fire
Larger budget: A Waldorf Playstand with arch can be anything your child wants it to be. Arches often become stores, schools, museums, banks, or simply a nook for reading and playing uninterrupted
Parenting Skill to Master: Returning Responsibility
The rule of thumb is: "If a child CAN do it, a child SHOULD do it"
Try to return responsibility to your young child by saying things like, "That's a problem you can solve" or "That is a task I know you can do" and give the child the opportunity to solve problems, find answers to questions, complete tasks independently, and even be in charge of their play. Often, while playing, a child will turn to a parent and ask, "What should I do next?" and a wise parent will not make a suggestion, but rather respond with, "That's for you to decide" and allow the child to not only be in charge of their own play, but learn they are capable of big things. They are capable of making their own decisions and do not need adult intervention. This very simple shift in your relationship with your child will hopefully transfer to other areas of your child's life. You may find them one day brushing their teeth without being reminded, playing an elaborate game solo, or picking up after themselves (gasp!)
Practice the following phrases to master this skill:
Imagine a world where a child no longer feels inferior and incapable, but feels confident in their own abilities and even better- is comfortable with failure because they're loved through it! Remember, Waldorf way includes "benign neglect" which is purposely NOT doing things for your child when they can do it themselves.
Thank you for following, listening, and supporting. Be well!
Does it scream "former kinder teacher" when I tell you I love categorizing books by seasons, themes, concepts? Just like September makes me what a new box of crayons and a bouquet of sharpened pencils, I also love reading Chrysanthemum or The Kissing Hand the week before school starts. As a mama, I keep classic books and favorite stories on their shelves, but I also have those special few that make an appearance only once a year, when the time is right.
Bring in stories about penguins, bears, the moon, snow, hibernation, nighttime creatures, and baking. Be sure to make snowflakes from coffee filters and make a nature table with icy blue or white silk scarves and chestnuts or cranberries from outside!
Books about rain, rainbows, flowers, spring, leprechauns and gnomes
Jan Brett books for Christmas: Gingerbread Baby, Home For Christmas, The Trouble with Trolls, Annie and the Wild Animals, The Hat
If you get lost...look for anything by Elsa Beskow, Elisa Klevins, Jan Brett, Sybille von Olfers, or Paul Galdone! These children's book authors have yet to fail me.
Classics like Caps for Sale, The Giving Tree, Harold and the Purple Crayon, Ferdinand, and of course all the fairy tales are read year round in my home.
I also love to read stories that expose my children to different races, religions and cultures without fitting stereotypical norms or biases. We love:
Look for fairy tales, American folk tales, Aesop's fables, African folktales, and classic tales! I am a frequenty flyer at my local library, but I also rummage garage sales, estate sales, and discount book stores, especially the "vintage" children's area. Reading Pete the Cat or Clifford makes me feel like I've eaten a bag of Cheeto puffs with my mind and I crave nourishment and depth son after.
I'll add to this list often as I discover new gems! Happy reading.