How Waldorf education will assist you in making parenting simple and meaningful.
No words can express the joy of new parents when they see their child for the first time.
They want to give the best to the child – but for this, parents must neither ask too much or
too little of the children as they grow up.
Many parents are raising children on their own today, often quite unprepared, with none of
the tradition or established knowledge behind them that used to be shared among earlier
generations. Most of these young parents are small families. A major change concerns the
child himself who is no longer seen as a young child but as a young adult, a ‘miniature
version’of an adult. The child is therefore generally addressed as and treated like an adult.
On the other hand people complain more and more that children no longer know how to play
properly today,cannot keep themselves occupied and always need an adult or some media or
other to entertain them. Is it surprising then if children are shaken increasingly more awake
in their ‘upper storey’ and never really learn to use their little hands to do things. ‘What is
the matter? Would you like this, or rather that? What do you prefer? Shall we do it now or
later?’ Questions like these are put to children all the time, asking them to make decisions
that are far too much for them and a drain on their vital energies. Quite often people do not
even wait for an answer but offer many detailed explanations as to why a hat should be put
on, for instance, or a coat – rather than simply to act, and lovingly but firmly put on the
child’s coat and hat. This is a phenomenon of our time, and we clearly need to look for the
Freedom and acting from insight, out of one’s own will intent, have become very important
to young people today. And it is perfectly justifiable to bring this impulse also into the
raising of one’s children. But how might this be done? To begin with, there are questions:
- How can we get to know and understand the child’s nature more fully?
- What kind of free space made available to the child serve a good purpose?
- How do I guide the child to have greater freedom as the years go on but also personal
Once young parents become aware of these issues, we have the basis for a renewal of
education. To question traditions, take a critical look at oneself and consider a situation
objectively – this is something the young mothers and fathers do not find difficult. Just as
one has to know things for one’s work, so they find it quite natural to want information on
educational issues. It is not always quite so easy in practice, for things written in a book or
discussed in a lecture do not always seem to apply to one’s own situation. It needs work in
progressive stages and also practice. Waldorf schools assist young parents to give their
children a healthy childhood which is not an easy task given the pace of the modern world
and its distractions. Childhood has been endangered by technology, sophisticated advertisements and a faulty education system.
We cannot bring back the simple living of old times and I am sure none of us would want to
give up our modern conveniences like kitchen and home appliances which have taken away
the drudgery from our lives. But certainly we can protect childhood and support their
healthy development through warmth and creative play.
Today’s children are pushed into early sophistication due to the influence of our culture –
Barbie dolls , TV, car rides that race quickly past all the ads and store signs, impressions
that children takes deeply into their beings. But we cannot bring them up in a vacuum so we
as parents have to pick and choose carefully what we expose them to in society. What is
normal today is not always healthy. We must protect their early childhood from the so
called normal experiences such as viewing violent TV programs. The passivity of watching
TV is at odds with the natural inclination of a child to be active.Children take in their
environment without discrimination, all impressions go deeply within and he is unable to
filter them, during this time we must be the protective barriers for them.
The two main tools of early childhood learning, are Imitation and Play. The child explores
and discovers the world through Movement, he grows and learns without being taught.
Children also pass through a No stage – normally if your son would do what you asked him
to do he may now say “no”. how we adults react to that “no” is important. If we become
flustered or reactive our 3 year old will imitate that. We must look a bit past the No – and
both parent and child will be happier. This does not mean we back off - but instead of being
confrontational a well placed bit of humour works wonders during the No stage.
A child loves to listen to Stories – this develops Vocabulary and understanding Language.
They may ask why again and again but may not be interested in the answers. They are just
exploring the fact that they can ask. Adults are tempted to give long scientific answers – but
a simple poetic answer is all that they need like when asked – “why is it dark outside?” we
can answer Father sun is asleep now and will come back to wake us up in the morning.
A child cannot generate his own Warmth, as adults can. They rely on parents to provide
body contact, proper clothing, and to keep them warm. A child who has to use his energy
for keeping himself warm has less energy for growing a healthy body .
Waldorf schools give a lot of importance to Bonding with Nature and connecting to our
Culture. Play is the life blood of a “Healthy Childhood” it is important that children are
given a Space to Play in the day, without interruption. This develops Concentration. They
get more strength from your devotion to work rather than your playing with them.
Today TV is the biggest hindrance to creative play. The child’s imagination gets atrophied
like an unused muscle. All children want to do is Learn which they try to do through their
Greatest Tool which is play. As parents and teachers we must allow them to develop,
unhindered, at their own pace. We must provide appropriate toys and play spaces. Today’s
children have more and more toys but they do less and less with these toys. Children find
magic in play and learn many life lessons, play makes them grow into healthy, happy and
capable adults. Parents should not interfere in their child’s play, they bring in adult thinking
not the child’s creative imagination.
There is so much more to tell, but I end here with Rudolph Steiner’s words “Receive the
children in reverence,Educate them in love and send them forth into Freedom.”