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Suggestions for making home life as "Waldorf-y" as possible for toddler

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

Hello, I love the idea of Waldorf, and would like to eventually have my 16 month old enrolled, or at least home-schooled in a "waldorfian" manner.  :)  I admittedly am not well-read on its philosophies, save for the basics:  kids being hands on, community spirit, natural/basic materials for toys, high emphasis on imagination/nature/"magic" etc.  I have not yet found the time to sit and read long philosophical books on Steiner, anthroposophy, etc. 

 

My question is.....I'm wondering what sorts of things we could be adding to our every day lives to integrate Waldorf into our world before school starts.  We already use wooden toys, no TV, etc.  We sing a "thank you" song at mealtimes, we immerse ourselves in nature as often as possible, we live compassionately.  Etc.

 

Any other suggestions from those of you who practice it as a way of life?

 

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post #2 of 10

It sounds like you have a good start! 

 

Some of my favorite books on the subject are Heaven on Earth and You Are Your Child's First Teacher (newest version). These are very readable and only lightly touch on Steiner or Anthroposophy, if at all. Much more on how to take that information on child development and apply it to your home life in practical ways. I also have enjoyed the books called Handmade Home and The Creative Family, which are not Waldorf books per se, but are definitely inspired by the same principles.

 

Some of the basics I have practiced is to keep things simple. Even wooden toys can get overwhelming! In fact some of the best toys are not toys at all. Baskets of pine cones and balls of yarn and squares of cloth can be as interesting to a young child as a wooden train set. Often more so.

 

The other big idea in Waldorf is to keep things flowing in a nice rhythm. Having a predicability to your day and your week that your LO can look to to find security and help her make sense of her world. It makes things easier for Mom, too.

 

I would also take a look at this blog, its one of the best I have found at getting at the heart of why we may do the things we do in addition as the how. 

 

http://theparentingpassageway.com/

 

Happy Journey! 

post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thanks, those are great suggestions.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by earthmama4 View Post


 

The other big idea in Waldorf is to keep things flowing in a nice rhythm. Having a predicability to your day and your week that your LO can look to to find security and help her make sense of her world. It makes things easier for Mom, too.

 

 

You've brought up an important question for me.  I did actually know that this is an important aspect.  We have established a nice rhythm/routine of place/people/activities.  My big dilemma now is that we are moving from Canada to Australia for a year.   So all that he knows will be turned up on its head, all his friends, family, pets, home.......will be gone (and replaced).  And a year is such a long time at that age.  I feel very torn about it.  On one hand, it will be a great adventure, but on another, I don't want to create any discord for him.  Any suggestions on that??

post #4 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by VeryLovingMama View Post

Thanks, those are great suggestions.

 

 

You've brought up an important question for me.  I did actually know that this is an important aspect.  We have established a nice rhythm/routine of place/people/activities.  My big dilemma now is that we are moving from Canada to Australia for a year.   So all that he knows will be turned up on its head, all his friends, family, pets, home.......will be gone (and replaced).  And a year is such a long time at that age.  I feel very torn about it.  On one hand, it will be a great adventure, but on another, I don't want to create any discord for him.  Any suggestions on that??

YOU are the center of his universe right now. At 16 months children certainly enjoy other people and places, but its really his own home and hearth that matters to him. And by home, I don't mean the physical structure, but the family structure - familiar routines, sights, smells, sounds, etc. So I would try to make sure that whatever rhythm you find that works for you to try to "transport" that with you. If you do library on Tuesdays or Shopping on Fridays, you can still do that. And though I can imagine with that long of a move you may not be taking much with you (we only moved a couple states a way and I purged 3/4 of our stuff!) I would try to keep a few things the "same" - same sleeping arrangement, same bedding (or at least similar) same soaps and lotions, etc. Familiar books, his favorite foods, a calming picture by his bed. Your child's home is many multi-layers of experiences for him, so think outside the box and see what you can come up with to ease the transition! HTH! I can see how you'd be nervous, but what a fun adventure! I am a little jealous, lol.

 

I was also thinking after my post yesterday that an important Waldof principle you can start to apply at home is the concept of warmth. Think warm clothing and warm food, especially in winter, but even in other seasons. Warm bodies can learn better and grow better. Feel his hands and feet, if they are cold, his body is experiencing cold stress and is diverting energy toward his core away from his extremities. Add some layers, and aim for natural fibers which breath, like cotton, wool, hemp. A good rule is to start with three layers on top and two on bottom. So undershirt, shirt, and sweater plus long underwear and pants. If he starts looking hot or sweaty, take off a layer. Always use a hat when going outdoors. Wool is best for winter hats and if you don't knit you can get a little round loom, its super easy! The hardest thing I have is finding natural fiber long underwear and wool or warm socks! Those things are pretty much mail-older only so sometimes we do without. Warm foods like oatmeal, warmed apple sauce with cinnamon, even warm milk continue this concept. 

post #5 of 10

It does sound like you have a wonderful start!  Beyond the Rainbow Bridge is another great book, especially for very young children as its focus is to age five.  Yes, mama is center of the universe for now.  I think the transition will be a good one, once you survive the travel.  His understanding of time is very minimal for now, just day and night, so days of the week are not so important now as they might be at four or five.  Carry on, you are doing well. smile.gif

post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thanks to both of you!  We do a lot of moving around as it is, so he's already used to "home" being different beds, a camper van, a floor... lol. Thanks for reminding me of that.  :)  I also had never thought of "warmth" as a central idea in and of itself, so that will interesting to keep in my mind now.  (Won't be hard in Australia!)  I look forward to reading these books too.  Hopefully I can find other Waldorf mamas overseas.  This is a community in itself, though, isn't it?   :)

post #7 of 10

Hey there :)

 

I just want to add a few of my own thoughts:

 

- Toys are all about being "open-ended". That means, that whatever you give to your child to play with should not have a preset purpose. Toys are given to children with the purpose to let the child decide what the toy is going to be used for/as. For example: the wooden train set is supposed to be used to build a track and let trains drive on it. Not open-ended. A set of colorful playcloths can be used as dress up clothes, a diaper for a doll, drapes to build forts with, to put under toys as grass-water-etc. and so on and so forth. Open-ended.

 

The toys, that mirror the Waldorf spirit most, would actually be the ones you make yourself ;) It doesn't have to be the $500 set of Ostheimer wooden figurines ;) A towel with a big knot as a head and small knots for two hands makes the PERFECT first Waldorf baby doll!

 

So when thinking about what toys to give your child, ask yourself, if they are open-ended :) That way judging is a bit easier :D

 

- Waldorf education is about 'being real'. That means everything. Natural materials for toys. Natural foods, no preservatives etc. Your behavior. The way you act and speak with your child. As close to nature and reality as possible, in order to encourage the natural, real development of your baby!

 

So when thinking about what to do and how, remind yourself, to 'be real'.

 

- Imitating grown ups will be, what helps your child grow. So give them the right tools to be able to do that! Child sized things are a TREMENDOUS asset. Small table, chairs. Small dinnerware, silverware. Small playkitchen. Small broom. Things that allow your child to do, what mama is doing and be able to succeed with it ;) That's how they learn every day life skills! And patience. Let them do as much as they can by themselves, even if it takes longer. You will be surprised, how much a 2 year old can do, if you let them ;) Like dressing themselves, brushing teeth etc.

 

Waldorf is all about supporting the will of children to learn, what they are ready to learn. These days, everyone's all about how important it is to learn as much as fast as possible. That is NOT Waldorf philosophy. Rather than forcing your child to learn, when they are not ready to learn and promoting hate of learning - let them learn, what they want to learn, when they are ready and therefor promote the love of learning and the natural curiosity of kids to learn more!

 

So when thinking about general development, think "Patience" and think "Trust in the natural development of my child".
 

- A big part of Waldorf is rythm, like the previous posts mentioned. Just putting it here, to finish my list ;) Rythm like getting up the same time every day, eating the same food every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday etc., singing the same songs for the same occasions. Reading the same stories for the same occasions. Following the natural rythm of the seasons is very important (make a nature table!), including seasonal holidays etc. as a way to help your child orient themselves in this huge, wide world.

 

 

One last thing: It is not a crime to use the wooden train set, that grandma gives as a gift, just because it doesn't count as open-ended ;) Don't limit yourself too much!

Being real also means, to have your child get in touch with things, that are not considered 'Waldorf' - because as much as we'd like it to be, the world around us mostly is not very Waldorf at all. And to be happy and stable within that world, your child will have to learn about it as well ;) So no fear of friends with plastic toys. No fear of the visit to the zoo and cotton candy ;) Do what you can, but keep in mind, that your way is not everybody's way and don't let that discourage you :)

 

GOOD LUCK!!!

post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 

Enrooted, wonderful post, thanks so much.  Makes me feel good, too, because that all echoes my own parenting intuition and style.  The routine part of Waldorf was the one thing that surprised me.  I thought more variety would have been more desirable.  But it makes life easier to have a "rhythm", definitely.  And the open-ended toy concept is a great thing to keep in mind, for sure. 

post #9 of 10
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post #10 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by VeryLovingMama View Post

Enrooted, wonderful post, thanks so much.  Makes me feel good, too, because that all echoes my own parenting intuition and style.  The routine part of Waldorf was the one thing that surprised me.  I thought more variety would have been more desirable.  But it makes life easier to have a "rhythm", definitely.  And the open-ended toy concept is a great thing to keep in mind, for sure. 


You're welcome!

 

The strong use of rythm in Waldorf is easily understandable, when thinking of it this way:

 

Your child comes from inside of you. There was a cozy, safe haven there, a tiny bubble, surrounding it, holding it, keeping it warm, nurtured. Then all of a sudden, there is the burst into life. Into the big, cold world. There are thousands of new impressions, that need to be worked through. So what rythm does, especially in the first 7 years, is give structure and kind of imitate that safe bubble, that is otherwise completely gone. It provides something to hold on to...and once the kids are a bit older, they will voluntarily move away from the first needed rythms more and more. It's all about providing them with a safety net - which they will let go of more and more themselves, once they don't need it anymore :)

 

So no worries - you won't have to eat dinner at 7 pm sharp for the rest of your life :P

 

I have not had the luck of growing up 'Waldorf' myself, by the way...which is, why I have different, more common words for most of their ideologies ;) Once you get to reading the books, especially the originals by Rudolph Steiner, you will see, that the language is often very...well hard to get ;) So I rephrased things for myself and also to make it easier to explain my ways to others :D

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