Incorporating Waldorf home environment for a Montessori schooled child - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 11-14-2010, 10:42 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi - I hope I'm venturing into friendly waters.  I have a 2 1/2 yo daughter who I will be enrolling in Montessori (wait, don't kick me out yet), and I see many similarities in some activities, if not the approach - like working with simple materials, household chores, etc., but the two are not harmonious from a teaching perspective.  I recognize the styles are different and that is fine.


I've incorporated some Waldorf-inspired activities from early on just because of my personal bias.  Simple toys - plastic toys from well-intentioned family make their way to donation bins.  Now that we are a single-parent home, the TV is off 90% of the time, rather than ON 90% of the time.  Simple, homemade organic food.


I started to read the Waldorf inspired thread and my head started spinning with some of the things that I think would make a very good "home complement" to a Montessori education.


Special routines


Meal candle

Nature table

Connection to the seasons

Family traditions

More time outdoors


None of these things conflict with Montessori (nor do I think Montessori conflicts with any of these home activities) - and I think I can incorporate them into a fuller and richer life for both of us.


I would like some friendly suggestions on things to create a special, sacred space at home and bringing a peaceful rhythm in a chaotic world.


To describe our environment:  only child, she has a bedroom and a playroom (used to be the guest room, but I'm creating her a sacred place, similar to how I have my home office.)  We are starting simple.  Material on low wood shelves, a few toys in bins, lots of wood puzzles, LOTS of books.  But, maybe as my little one gets older, we can deviate from the end of the book and create our own endings (that appeals to me).  We've started to create some rhythm to the week with a calendar that we check off each morning, in part so she knows which day she stays with her father and which day is trash day (she's fascinated with big trucks) so she will start to understand the rhythm of the week.  Not sure about fairies or gnomes, but if we create a seasonal nature table, maybe a gnome or fairly could be sitting under a tree and she could tell ME stories.  That being said, now that I think of it, we do  have several garden gnomes....maybe she could help move them around the garden!  :)

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#2 of 9 Old 11-14-2010, 12:30 PM
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Oh! this is almost exactly what we were doing in our home! Except we were homeschooling... 


I think the important thing is to clearly identify what it is about each approach that you like, and what you don't like. I read a lot about conflicts between the two, and some of my feelings were: I like the importance of fantasy in Waldorf a lot more than the emphasis on literal in montessori;  however I like real work being done by kids in Montessori better than the pretend cooking, ironing, etc in Waldorf (not that real work doesn't get done too... but I felt like the emphasis was less on the real work)...the handwork in Waldorf to me is very compatible with similar Montessori ideas; I really like the emphasis on art and beauty and order in both... I like the longer early childhood time before academics in Waldorf: it feels more balanced to me, whereas the Montessori early academic thing feels too intellectual for little kids...

I love all the storytelling in Waldorf: it feels a lot more spiritually "true" to me, versus the scientific emphasis in Montessori, which, I don't know, feels like it strips away some of the innocent magic that we are born with... and can continue with through life. For instance, telling my son about rain fairies and sun fairies feels so much more right than explaining the water cycle to him when he's 3 1/2. His love and appreciation of nature is so deep, and I credit Waldorf-styler learning for a lot of that.


I would recommend reading some of Maria Montessori's books, and " You are Your Child's First  Teacher " for a Waldorf


And don't be discouraged: I think only rigid thinking makes us think it has to be all one way, or all the other way. I personally feel like we achieved a pretty good synthesis in our home.

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#3 of 9 Old 11-14-2010, 06:49 PM
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I dont see the two in conflict.  Just as a child can understand that there are two sets of rules in two different households, a child can take a montessori approach to school, and a waldorf approach at home.  We are in a similar position.  There is no waldorf equivalent in our area, but the montessori school is fabulous!


So, we dont stress academics at home.  We have a birthday ring, we favor wooden toys and fantasy play at home.  tv is rarely on, but its on whenever they ask for something specific (which is extremely rare).  we do crafts.  we play outside.  we have a rhythm.  we are heavy on traditions and holidays.  at home, its simply different than at school.

DD5, DS3...Montessori since 8/2010
Bradenton, Florida
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#4 of 9 Old 11-15-2010, 11:18 AM
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I think you can blend these two practices nicely. There is a blog out there from a trained Montessori teacher who has a Montessori and Waldorf home. And of course I can't think of the name.

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#5 of 9 Old 11-15-2010, 06:47 PM
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I am glad you posted this because my lo's currently attend a montessori school and we try and have a waldorf inspired home:) 

Jennifer, SAHM to my little man 5 1/2 and my VBAC sweetie pie girls 4 1/2, 2 1/2 and 6mos. 

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#6 of 9 Old 11-15-2010, 06:53 PM
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This sounds like us!  I really like a lot of what Waldorf has to offer, but I VERY much disagree with Steiner's theories of child development.  Montessori's, on the other hand, really speak to me and resonate with my personal experiences working with young children.


I definitely recommend the book Seven Times the Sun.  It offers a lot of ides for rhythms and little traditions around the house.


I do think that there's a lot between the two philosophies that are compatible.  And I don't think that there's anything wrong with cherry picking what you like and leaving the rest.  I feel like that's a pretty constant thing that I do in all aspects of parenting :)  If there wasn't something to both methods, they wouldn't be so popular and kids wouldn't succeed at either... so really you probably can't go wrong picking what you like from either even if you don't buy the whole package.  I don't know if that makes sense!

Trying to live a simple life in a messy house in a complicated world with : DH, DD (b. 07/07), DS (b. 02/09), and DD (b. 10/10)
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#7 of 9 Old 11-16-2010, 07:14 AM
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We should start a tribe!  I totally agree with Lach.  I'm not comfortable with Steiner's teachings (especially those regarding race and spiritual development), but I love Waldorf's materials and its emphasis on simplicity and rhythms. 


We strictly limit tv, have mostly open ended toys, love creating things, pay lots of attention to nature and seasons, and strive for simplicity and lots of play.  For us, a play focused home is the natural response to the structure of Montessori. 

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#8 of 9 Old 11-16-2010, 04:51 PM
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I need to agree with Freestyle....Waldorf just encourages kids to be simple kids, without the noise that life typically throws at them. 


Unfortunately, emphasis on the seasons is very difficult here in Florida...we only have two :)  But, we just encourage the kids to be kids at home.  We do get them involved in a lot of other activities outside of home.  Both have swimming lessons (necessary here, I feel).  My daughter is both in teeball and ballet.  I wish she would forego ballet, but she did ask for it, so we will continue through December's recital.  Teeball is more of a family thing, since Dad is the coach, and I'm on the field a lot (when my son isnt playing with the other siblings).  It sounds overscheduled, and sometimes I agree, but they do enjoy it, and we still keep our routine for the most part.  Dinner unfortunately suffers, but I still think we can get it all to work with our dinners least I'm hopeful!  But, hopefully after dropping ballet and another 6 months-9 months of swimming when they are both confident swimmers, life will seem less hectic once again.


We do not avoid the television. We simply require them to tell us exactly what they want to watch, and we rarely say no.  That being said, tv is wall-mounted, and we use netflix or appletv only.  No cable subscriptions here.  DD asked to watch a movie last weekend.  And they both watched one 22 minute show the week before.  So, our plan works.  We dont say no or limit it, but try to keep them active so when they are home they simply just enjoy playing.  It simply works for us.


We do have our share of plastic toys.  DS is almost out of the sensitive tactile period, so we dont encourage their use, but we dont deny them.  The plastic toys they prefer are swords for slaying dragons, buckets for the tub, etc.  They really dont care to play with the typical plastic toys.  And, lately we've only been buying more organic toys, eg DD is getting a french knitting ring for christmas, perler beads and pattern play, and TONS of legos.  DS is getting an amazing wooden pirate ship and a TON of legos as well.  I discourage throwing age-appropriate toys away, even plastic ones, just because i think variety is good....i just dont buy them now :)  Their toy play focuses on puzzles, art, pretend play, etc.


At school, the rhythm is heavy.  The focus in in developing an analytical thought process and problem solving.  Both simply have their place, and one without the other creates an unbalance in their lives, i think.

DD5, DS3...Montessori since 8/2010
Bradenton, Florida
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#9 of 9 Old 11-16-2010, 08:37 PM
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DD will probably be sent to a Montessori school.  There is a local Waldorf school but I have some major reservations about the religious underpinnings of Waldorf.  I like a lot of Waldorf things but we're Christian and I'm not sure I could put my child in a Waldorf school.  Since we're doing Waldorf at home I feel like we can pick and choose what works for us and disregard the rest. 

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