Waldorf-inspired and boys - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 15 Old 03-24-2010, 09:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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*We are waldorf-inspired*

My two youngest children, ages 4 and 2, are both male. I'm getting ready to re-paint their room and had decided to do a lazure-style thingy when I kind of went...hmm...is this what my 4-year-old will want when he's 7? Even if I do it in shades of yellow/green/blue it seems that much sooner rather than later it will seem a bit "young" and "soft" for a typical boy going to public school (yep, public for us!) and not living in the waldorf land of fairies and elves, kwim?

We have all wooden toys except for Legos, as well as a nature tray, etc. We place emphasis on seasonal events and have a nice rhythm that we follow day to day. But my little lazure quandry got me thinking - is Waldorf more difficult to live with boys? I can totally see girls being interested in fairies and root children for a long time (heck, my 12 y/o dd still likes fairies!) but it just seems that everything in Waldorf is kind of geared toward the soft and feminine, if that makes any sense. For instance, my dd still enjoys the birthday ring, but I (having already raised an older son who is almost 15) cannot imagine that my younger boys are going to want a birthday ring and crown once they get very old!

I'm certainly not meaning to simplify Waldorf, or "accuse" it of being sexist in any way - my boys both enjoy their woodwork handwork! I'm just wondering if the Waldorf experience is one that lasts longer for girls than for boys if that makes any sense. Anyone have any thoughts on this? Thanks!

A happy woman
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#2 of 15 Old 03-25-2010, 03:12 AM
 
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Hello,
My girls 2 and 6 have been in a Waldorf PreK-8 school since the oldest was 2. It's an ongoing education, but if you learn a little more about founder Rudolph Steiner's basis for lazure and the typically "soft" surroundings of children aged 0-7 in Waldorf settings, you will understand that in anthroposophy, those 0-7 are still in their etheric state and do best without the overstimulation of bright, solid, non-translucent colors and forms, favoring a cozy, dreamy surrounding in which fantasy and imagination are built up by the children. Lazure painting transforms in older grades to more mature colorations (greens and blues actually). While Waldorf inspired is nice, your family can benefit greatly at home and school by understanding why certain things are done the way they are done in Steiner's vision by reading up on his educational movement (Waldorf) and his philosophical movement (Anthroposophy). Both are very interesting and inspiring! Best to your family!
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#3 of 15 Old 03-25-2010, 11:16 AM - Thread Starter
 
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splashnw, thank you for your thoughts. I must admit that I was looking for a bit less of a didactic response. We are happy being waldorf "inspired" and have no desire to change that. I'm aware of Steiner's teachings...I just don't always agree with them.

Perhaps I wasn't clear enough in my original post. I'm just looking for people's thoughts on how the waldorf experience is different for boys and how they deal with that within their families. I wanted to be clear at the beginning that we are waldorf inspired so that it was understood that I was looking at things through that perspective. As I was trying to explain, a lot of the waldorf traditions that we use now (such as a birthday ring, etc) I just don't see as being long-lasting for my boys, unfortunately, as they have been for my daughter. I hope that helps explain my musings better. Perhaps I should have posted this on the waldorf-inspired thread instead of on the open forum.

A happy woman
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#4 of 15 Old 03-25-2010, 11:42 AM
 
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Originally Posted by operamommy View Post
splashnw, thank you for your thoughts. I must admit that I was looking for a bit less of a didactic response. We are happy being waldorf "inspired" and have no desire to change that. I'm aware of Steiner's teachings...I just don't always agree with them.

Perhaps I wasn't clear enough in my original post. I'm just looking for people's thoughts on how the waldorf experience is different for boys and how they deal with that within their families. I wanted to be clear at the beginning that we are waldorf inspired so that it was understood that I was looking at things through that perspective. As I was trying to explain, a lot of the waldorf traditions that we use now (such as a birthday ring, etc) I just don't see as being long-lasting for my boys, unfortunately, as they have been for my daughter. I hope that helps explain my musings better. Perhaps I should have posted this on the waldorf-inspired thread instead of on the open forum.
my husband and i are working towards being more waldorf inspired. So here is my very limited opinion on it.


Masculine doesn't have to be dark colours, guns and sports. I think for those of us that live more on the "inspired" side deal more with fighting off those feelings. I find waldorf to be kind of gender neutral. I mean everyone goes on about the faeries. But there are boy faeries that are quite masculine, there are gnomes, toadstools, knights and kings and princes. how are those feminine? I think what is persevered as feminine is that waldorf removes the sexuality from the child's play things and just focuses on the play. So with removing the sexuality within the play, it almost seems like it is all feminine. Pink hasn't always been a girl colour, it used to be a boy colour. And purple isn't just for girls either.

But to answer your question, to me, waldorf isn't all about the faeries. But 7 years old is still little! I think waldorf is more about the child being a child. a lot of mainstream things make the child grow up faster than what it seems like a waldorf education does. So at 7, he will be probably climbing trees, making forts, fantasizing about being in the woods hunting lions and tigers and bears and all of that. The nature walks, the observing the seasons. That is all still Waldorf, but I think it just grows up as the kid gets older.


Also, I think that from just reading what you wrote, you have to rearrange your idea of a "typical boy going to public school". My daughter will be attending public school next year (which I am not so happy about but we can't homeschool yet and we can't afford waldorf or any other private school) and I plan on continuing our lifestyle, and infact getting more into it. Just because the birthday ring looks babyish, doesn't mean it is. Make it something that you treasure with your kids, it's a tradition. It can grow with them as they age, putting different things in the holes. But honestly, he might not even notice, and if you stop using it he could get upset. Just go with your gut.

ANd for painting the walls. You don't HAVE to do the wall treatment on the walls. And it's just paint, you can always repaint over it as they age. We aren't able to do the treatment on the walls because we rent, so we are just going to choose a very soft colour for on the walls and paint it plain. So as she ages we just change her room around as needed.

lady Mummy to Smoosh, 8-2005. Waldorf inspired homeschooler and crazy knitter!
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#5 of 15 Old 03-25-2010, 01:05 PM
 
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Yesterday we were driving in the car and I noticed that how I throw bits of fantasy into our everyday lives is different with a boy. For instance, with my dd, it was all soft and fairyish. With my son who is 4, I wanted him to eat his lunch yesterday so I told him it was unicorn meat and made up a song : "Please don't eat the unicorn meat.....I love unicorns they're really neat." He dove right in with a gleeful look on his face and ate his lunch.
My dd would have been horrified.
I felt some shame, but .....it worked.
Sometimes we accidentally run over gnomes with the car too. If we hit a bump and he's being fussy I might yell "Omg....was that a gnome?!
Yep. There goes his hat."
We're waldorf inspired.
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#6 of 15 Old 03-25-2010, 01:48 PM
 
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My older son was part of a Waldorf inspired homeschool co-op for two years. We loved the teacher and the other kids and parents, and he enjoyed some aspects of it, especially the nature focus, woodworking, and even some of the other handwork, like knitting (although he bored of it quickly).

He did have a hard time with the other aspects of it. He didn't want to sing songs. He loves music, and makes up his own songs all day long, but he makes up "rock and roll" songs, not the flowery Waldorf ones. He likes to draw, but he wants to draw spaceships and aliens and airplanes, not the landscapes and such that the teacher was encouraging at his co-op. He came home more than once frustrated about the fairy thing, insisting that he didn't believe in fairies, and why can't he just build a fort instead of a fairy habitat?

And when he got a little older, he got into Star Wars. He had never seen the movie, but just from friends and the general environment he picked up on it, and would talk about it constantly. He found it very frustrating, and insulting, that he wasn't allowed to discuss Star Wars with his friends at his Waldfor co-op because it was media related.

So anyhow, our experience was that Waldorf is not a good fit for him. I went to a traditional private Waldorf school for 7 and 8 grade, and I do think it has a more feminine focus. The Waldorf school here (the one I went to) has the most fantastic campus of any school in this area, and I would love to send my kids there, but I know they would not do well in a Waldorf environment.
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#7 of 15 Old 03-25-2010, 04:58 PM
 
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We are Waldorf-inspired here too. Inspired is a far stretching term. We love everything Waldorf, and apply the philosophy where it is possible. My son's (age 4) bedroom is painted in two beautiful shades of earthy green, his favorite color. wooden furniture, blinds, toys, and things from outdoors are the main anchors. It is a beautiful, masculine-gender-neutral space. It is also a space people of all ages feel comfortable in, its like a cozy den. In terms of "boy" stuff, dh is a very masculine, but not overtly "manly" kinda guy, kwim? ds follows everything dh does, studies him, emulates him almost obsessively right now. that is his superhero. dh always tries to project what what special and beautiful about his own childhood to ds, and as a family all of nature is regarded with immense love. that is why Waldorf resonates with us. hope this helps some!
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#8 of 15 Old 03-25-2010, 06:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clementine* View Post
Yesterday we were driving in the car and I noticed that how I throw bits of fantasy into our everyday lives is different with a boy. For instance, with my dd, it was all soft and fairyish. With my son who is 4, I wanted him to eat his lunch yesterday so I told him it was unicorn meat and made up a song : "Please don't eat the unicorn meat.....I love unicorns they're really neat." He dove right in with a gleeful look on his face and ate his lunch.
My dd would have been horrified.
I felt some shame, but .....it worked.
Sometimes we accidentally run over gnomes with the car too. If we hit a bump and he's being fussy I might yell "Omg....was that a gnome?!
Yep. There goes his hat."
We're waldorf inspired.
Simply hilarious!! THAT sounds exactly like what I'm getting at. My 4 y/o loves anything having to do with ogres, giants, wolves, foxes, etc. There is a tree up the road that we say has a troll house in it (he would NOT be interested in a fairy house...we've tried!).

Such interesting responses here - can't wait to respond to them tomorrow! I'm on my way out right now. Thanks everyone!

A happy woman
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#9 of 15 Old 03-25-2010, 07:45 PM
 
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Originally Posted by clementine* View Post
Sometimes we accidentally run over gnomes with the car too. If we hit a bump and he's being fussy I might yell "Omg....was that a gnome?!
Yep. There goes his hat."
We're waldorf inspired.
OMG that is hilarious!

Consciously mothering 3 girls and 2 boys
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#10 of 15 Old 03-25-2010, 08:39 PM
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well, i think that while it was didactic, splash's response has some validity.

being "waldorf inspired" or "steiner inspired" means being inspired by the ideas, not the stuff.

Steiner believed in rhythms a great deal. he talked about the developmental stages over 7 year intervals. he talked about annual celebrations and the rhythms of the year. he talked about seasonal celebrations. he talked about weekly and daily rhythms. he talked about infusing one's life with an everyday mindfulness of the sacred mundane.

None of this requires play silks, wooden toys, aprons, hats, certain religious holidays, birthday rings, wool felting crafts coming out your ears, and so on.

To me, to be waldorf inspired means that you look at these ideas--in this case life rhythms--and you find ways to incorporate those into your life and your family in ways that work for you.

If the birthday ring doesn't work for you (or in this case your son), then create another annual tradition for his birthday that *does* resonate with him. The ring is inherently meaningless. celebrating with a tradition is what steiner asserts.

the "stuff" of waldorf only has meaning so far as it functions to support the underlying philosophy that inspires you. if that stuff doesn't support the meaning for you or your child, pitch it and find what does.

in my household, we have very little stuff that would make us obviously steiner/waldorf inspired. but, i feel that my days are sacred, that such is shared with my son, and we are working on creating traditions around these daily, weekly, seasonal, annual, and life-stage rhythms.

the ring doesn't resonate with me, and the way others do and use nature tables doesn't either. so, no ring. and nature table? we have one, but it's different than photos of others. i use what works for us, as i feel inspired by steiner's ideas.
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#11 of 15 Old 03-25-2010, 08:41 PM
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i also LOLed about running over gnomes.
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#12 of 15 Old 03-27-2010, 11:10 PM
 
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I don't have a lot of time to write (with a newborn crying and all!), but I just wanted to say that we are a Waldorf-inspired family as well, and I just had my second boy. I do think it is a bit more difficult in some ways. I would love to someday have a girl to share some of the more fairy-ish ideas and fantasies with. But I also wanted to share how we decorated my DS's room with an enchanted forest theme.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/29048239@N02/3341111271/

knit.gifMarried to my best friend, mama to two boys (12/5/07, 2/12/10) and a sweet little girl (5/2/13).

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#13 of 15 Old 03-27-2010, 11:30 PM
 
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berrymama, that room is gorgeous! and beautiful, and charming! i love it, and think it is magical. what a lucky little boy!
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#14 of 15 Old 03-28-2010, 05:28 PM
 
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Originally Posted by zoebird View Post

he talked about weekly and daily rhythms. he talked about infusing one's life with an everyday mindfulness of the sacred mundane.

None of this requires play silks, wooden toys, aprons, hats, certain religious holidays, birthday rings, wool felting crafts coming out your ears, and so on.

.
Thank you zoebird. Just lovely. This is something I've been working on myself so thank you.

Co-creator, Joyful Wife, and Grateful Mama to angel3.gifenergy.gifand sleepytime.gif
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#15 of 15 Old 03-28-2010, 07:52 PM
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welcome.

it was something that i had to come to. i would look at waldorf blogs and such, and realize that it both "wasn't me" and wasn't my son either. but i am still inspired by waldorf/steiner. i just use the material differently, in a way that suits our lifestyle and interests.

maybe as he grows and i grow, wool felting will rock our socks, but for right now, it's just blocks, you know?
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