Welcome to the World of Waldorf! Through this article and subsequent pieces, I will attempt to explain the Waldorf philosophy and what it stands for.
Waldorf was started by Dr Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925). After the First World War in Germany, Steiner initiated a school for children of people working at Waldorf Astoria cigarette factory, thus the name Waldorf. He gave his first lectures there to the teachers of the first Waldorf school and it was documented into a book called 'Practical Advice to Teachers.'
Waldorf begins at home with simple lifestyle and day-to day-routines.
There are no academic goals to be achieved until your child is 6-7 years old. Yes you heard it, No activities, no worksheets!
According to Dr Rudolf Steiner, human development can be classified into 7 year cycles - 0-7, 7-14, 14-21 and so on. One of the basic concepts of Waldorf Education is the threefold human being - Willing, Feeling and Thinking. For the first 7 years, we focus only on the ‘will’ of the child. Will is in the Body, Feelings in the Soul and Thinking in The Spirit or Mind or Ego (not the negative ego, here it means the higher self).
As we focus only on the Will of the child it means we work only on the development of the child’s body, not touch the feeling and thinking aspects yet, as those are yet to be developed in the later stages of the child’s life. In the early years, Eat-Play-Sleep-Repeat is the only mantra.
So what is needed to foster healthy development of the child’s body? Rhythm, Sleep, Nutrition, Movement, and Warmth-these are the FIVE golden rules of parenting, as suggested by Helle Heckmann who has been running an early child care centre in Denmark for the last 30 years.
Let us look at these 5 things which is all a child requires until the age 7:
What is rhythm? Why do we need rhythm? How can we build a rhythm?
Examples to include in your daily rhythm Wake up- bath time, Meal time- indoor Play time- Washing vessels, cleaning the house-putting things away, peeling fruits, eating them, gardening and so on.
Modern day throws up the challenge of not enough sleep, a worldwide issue.
What is right nutrition??
What are the games you played as a child? Today’s children sit far too much!
Warmth/ Love/ Care
Waldorf parenting or slow parenting for me, is a lifestyle! If you were born in the 80's or before, go back to your childhood and recollect your earliest memories. All you did was eat-play-sleep-repeat, compared to a child today, who is bombarded with an overload of information through books, activities, some 100 toy options, packaged food, screen time, worksheets, tests in the early years. Today's children sit more than move around to play. If you ask a speech therapist, he would also say speech is related to movement and today's children don't move as much as we did!
Homeschooling is overhyped in the recent times, thanks to social media, not sending a 2 year to school is now called homeschooling. I would say be a mother, slow down, be with your child, give time, give warmth, cook fresh food, eat at the right time and play with your child. Your child needs you, not a teacher! Early childhood happens only once, it is precious!
Also read: Alternative Schooling On Your Mind?
Explore the entire collection of articles: Early Learning & Brain Development