It may be a frenzied time for teachers at the end of the school year, finishing projects with the children and completing thoughtful reports for the parents, but for me, as a retired teacher helping out in the first grade of a Waldorf School, it is heaven. When I came to lend a hand, we had a classroom of children who were still babies at their core. Amazing babies to me, no doubt, since I had come from experience working with 1-6 year olds. All of these kids could actually put on, AND BUTTON, their own coats! But they still needed a lot of TLC and guidance.
Something started to happen in the next months. At first, the lovely teacher would present a lesson and there were many questions, boo-boos, and start-overs from some of the children. In the true teaching tradition, she would come each day with a fresh face and present the lessons with all the intention and joy (as if all of the children were really listening). That faithfulness has paid off big time. Now as she presents a lesson, she says, “Now I know that all of you were listening and know what to do, so I won’t be answering any questions.” Sometimes one of the most sanguine ones will try to chatter away about something, but she just puts a finger to her lips and goes about drawing and writing on the board. And sure enough they go furiously about their business, drawing and writing a story into the beautiful books they are each creating, ‘Mr. and Mrs. Bird Make a Nest’. Now they are doing mental math, playing flutes and lyres, reciting poems, singing Spanish and Russian songs……
I have enjoyed being with this creative and talented class and the loveliest of teachers this Spring. I knew many of the children when I came to the class and that was so fun. I relied on my old friends to fill me in on what I didn’t know about the class – and they did! Now I have deep love for every one of the children and have gotten to know them well, each with unique gifts to bring to the world. Both of the teachers are Waldorf graduates and I don’t even think they know all of their talents and qualities because they live and breathe ways that have taken others of us years to incorporate into our work. I have been focused on the first grade but now want to let you know something I will be doing in the Fall (besides visiting the First Grade).
I will be offering Simplicity Parenting classes. Since this topic doesn’t pertain to all of us, I will spend some time here talking about Parenting in general. If you are interested in finding out about Simplicity Parenting classes with me, see my headline above, and to find out about Simplicity Parenting in general, Google Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne. A good read, for everyone is Kim Payne’s book entitled ‘Simplicity Parenting’ (who would have guessed!) For those of you who go on this exploration together with me, I know we will have a great time. If you don’t take the course, you can still employ Simplicity Parenting from what you have read in the book or on the website. In our fast-paced world, simplifying our children’s lives helps them tremendously.
Most of you are parents to young ones. As you can probably tell, I was devoted to trying to be the best parent I could possibly be when my children were young, but guess what! Now my children are grown and it isn’t easy for me. There is always more to learn! Sure, I have time to myself (a fantasy to you, right?!) but I still struggle with knowing how to be a loving parent to grownups. Guess how much my kids want my very thoughtful and loving advice now? You’re right, not much! But when the times come when they really do need to talk, I try to be available and interested. Sometimes they want to talk in the late evening and accuse their old Mom of not listening well. I try! I keep trying!
What I do know from watching all of my young families over the years is that children really know deeply when they are cared about, and we can make some goofs. Being there to advocate for, and strongly guide, these young ones makes such a profound difference in their lives. So keep on doing your best to be there with them (really be present) on this journey. Some of us, as children, experienced good parenting, and can take that and massage it into a script that works for our families now. Some of us had a parent or two who were lacking in nurturance, and now we have to create a whole new script. Either way, it needs to be done for these precious babies we call our own. Then our children, acting out of abundance, will make a difference in the world. I believe that. A difference doesn’t have to mean one has to be a missionary, or a world leader. It can mean living a moral life for oneself and for others. I expect to see that from the children I have taught over the years, because they were deeply loved by their parents and their teachers as well.
I hope these Summer days shine warmly on your lives as you share some “warm” time with your families. Trips can create deep and wonderful memories, but remember, so can eating a festive breakfast with your family, doing chores, picking lettuce in the garden, and camping out in the backyard. Parenting is the hardest job in the world, but it can be the most rewarding. When the children are young, the kisses and chubby arms around your neck are special. In the grades, the children start to have achievements that they share with you, i.e. “Look what I did!” With grown children, the most rewarding aspect for me is knowing that my children are good people who strive each day to do their best. I gave them all I had and I am confident that that has helped support them in becoming their own unique person. Gradually we learn to let them go out into the world and create their own way.
Many parents have asked me about doing “homework” in the Summer. Your children are exposed to so many experiences, I feel that they will be just fine with flowing out into the Summer energy and playing, swimming, and learning new things. Many children LOVE to play school, however, and if you have one of those children, they will enjoy making little books, practicing their math and their letters, etc. Some children will give THEMSELVES homework. Girls usually LOVE this, but I know of at least one such boy! Just enjoy your time with your children, go to the library, read to them often, and let them read to you when they can. The Fall will be rolling around before we know it, so don’t miss out on the “lazy days” of summer and its slower rhythm. The children benefit in their growth and development with this change of pace. Let them play, play, play!
My passion over the last years has become working with parents. I was deeply moved by seeing all the love and devotion given to the first graders by their parents. When I had them in my class as toddlers, they were all a little squirrely! You know what I mean! One boy held onto my skirt all day, many of them had fits, socked other people and we had a biter or two. My little skirt holder is like a little scientist now, full of wonderful ideas, one of the “fit-havers” is as chipper as can be, and one of the little ones who really struggled being at preschool, feels like a peer to me at times as she is so mature. Every single child has developed so much over the year, and now as almost second graders, I hate to tell you, Mom and Dad, they are taking one (baby) step away from you to become their most authentic person. They are becoming more capable, wanting more challenges, and are more independent. You can be proud of that.
Happy Summer! I hope to see many of you in the Fall. If you don’t live here in Denver and ever want someone objective to converse with, feel free to make a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am devoted to helping parents and families in any way I can. I hope to see some of you in Simplicity Parenting classes. We will create our strategies together. You are not alone!
Most of the fabulous pictures in my blog have been taken by Brianna Doby of little o photography, a former Waldorf parent and Mama to two beautiful children. You can see her picture here. Brianna is a professional photographer, but some of these photos were taken in my classroom. She just quietly slips in, making friends with the children, chatting with them, showing them her camera, waiting for “those” special moments, and the ultimate outcome is precious pictures of relaxed and happy children. Look at her website, little o photography for more information.