~ 8 min
As you may know, I really like Waldorf Education. I am not a certified Waldorf teacher but I did work as an Assistant teacher at Morning Meadow and Spanish teacher at Heart Pine Waldorf school for 2 years while I lived in Gainesville, Florida. I learned a lot from amazing teachers there and it was a very revealing and uplifting period of my life! Learning about a different way of teaching, of approaching education trough a different perspective.
The natural materials, the sense of beauty, the love for art and manual things, the respect towards children, the rhythm, the connection with nature and the seasons, … It all felt right to me!
I fell in love with the Waldorf education and since then, I’ve tried to keep it present at home with my little ones. I am not going to talk about what Waldorf Education is because it would be the longest post, but you can read more about it here or watch about it here.
What I do want to tell you is what we do to bring the Waldorf essence to our daily family rhythm at home. Here are 7 easy applicable ideas to do so:
1. EMBRACE NATURE
Go outside every day. Not only out in the streets but try to go to places where you can connect with nature, without cars around, where the kids can play with fallen leaves and rocks.
Also, you can bring a little bit of outside nature in your house! You can create a seasonal nature table, with representative elements from the season. Go on a nature walk, bring a basket with you, gather nature’s little treasures like pinecones, flowers or nuts and create a little corner to display them in your living room. The kids can help arrange it. Include some color apropiate silks, maybe add some felted creatures and there you have it, your own nature table!
2. THINK ABOUT YOUR FAMILY RHYTHM
Daily, weekly and seasonal rhythms help the kids feel secure and happy, because they know what to expect and they like the anticipation. Think about your family, your needs and strucure your day in a way that works for YOUR family. Sleeptimes and mealtimes are very important to provide the basics but most important habits on kids. Not only an early bedtime is necessary for kids to sleep enough hours each night, but also daytime napping (or quite time, if they are done napping during the day). Make mealtimes a good quality family time. Sit together at the table, without distractions, talk about the day and enjoy good, nourishing food together.
3. EMBRACE TRADITIONS AND SEASONS
Think also about which traditions you want to establish as a family like pancakes for breakfast on Saturdays or pizza night on Fridays! And which festivals you want to celebrate every season, like the “Castanyada” baking Panellets or decorating the Christmas tree together, and repeat them every year!
4. NATURAL AND OPEN-ENDED TOYS
Toys are important for kids’ free play time but that doesn’t mean they need a lot of them. The best toys are the ones that are very simple and can become several different things (open-ended toys), made out of natural materials. Once I read somewhere: imgine closing your eyes and feeling different toys with your hands. Can you imagine how different it would be to feel a plastic toy than for exemple a wooden toy, or a doll made out of natural wool instead of plastic!? We need to be thoughful about which toys we bring in our house.
Also, the way we store them and organize them will help the way kids play with them. Put the toy where kids can reach them, and organize each kind of toy in a different basket so your children know where to find each thing. Clean up may need some help but having your toys organized will ensure a less kaotic play time too.
My top 5 favorite toys:
- Play silks. Ramona will play for hours with her colorful silks! They can become a skirt, cape, hat, baby carrier, a blanket for her doll, … Anything the imagination wants! A must have! You can find them here.
- Play kitchen corner with some kitchen utensils and food. Kids love to imitate us, our daily activities, and pretend play is very important for their development! Even better if their kitchen is close to our kitchen so they can cook their dinner while we do so too!
- Wooden blocks are the most open-ended toys. You can build with them, create houses for your dolls, towers, tracks for yor cars, …
- Dress up basket. Who doesn’t like getting dressed up!? Pretending to be a ballerina, a firefighter or a cook is again a very important part of kids play. Kids learn by imagining and doing. So let them imagine and do it!!!
- A doll to practice all this symbolic play again, taking care of a little one, like we take care of them! Feeding them, putting them to sleep, they will be busy for hours!
5. KEEP TECHNOLOGY AS FAR AS POSSIBLE
Kids’ developing minds don’t need a flat screen in front of them to keep them entertained and still. They need to move around, jump, climb, touch, create, fall and learn how to use their bodies. The less screen time the more free play time they will have.
We try to use technology only in a way that is useful for us, like when kids are sick and can’t go outside, while travelling on long flights and we occasionaly do “movie night” at home, where we set the projector and watch a movie or episode together! We don’t own a TV so that also makes it easier, to not have the temtation right there. Ramona does like to watch the videos from our YouTube Channel, to remember our trips and experiences with family and friends!
6. TELL A LOT OF STORIES
Reading every night before sleeping is a good habit, but it doesn’t have to be the only moment we tell stories! Telling a story can be a good quiet activity to settle down after playing outside for exemple. And, we don’t always need a book to read! We should try to just tell stories, without picture books, to allow children to create their own pictures in their mind’s eye, which is an essential skill for creative thinking later in life.
Stories about their daily life activities for the youngest, fairy tales, fables, legends, and stories from history when they are older! Stories about the seasons, about nature, about festivals, … So many good ones!
7. KEEP IMAGINATION AND ART ALIVE
Making things with your hands, painting, knitting, crocheting, drawing, … it’s all a creative way to express yourself, create beautiful things, an aspect of our lifes that we should all encorage! It is gratifying and also good for the little hands fine motor skills to explore different ways of making things! So, get your hands dirty and busy, imagine and create beautiful things!
There’s a lot more behind Waldorf Education. These are just some simple ideas that hopefully you will find useful and will help your family slow down, be more present, more conected to each other and to nature.There’s are lots and lots of resorces out there! Let me know if you want to know more about and specific topic.
Amazing seasonal guides from Whole Family Rhythms!
Thanks for reading me!