Waldorf 101: Notes from Parent Night

Here are some impressions and notes from a parent night at  Cora’s preschool this month. Yes, I’m the dork that takes notes at parent night. What can I say, I’ve been studying Waldorf early years stuff so intensely on my own, and finding such wisdom and inspiration in it, and also so much to be baffled by, that it is a huge relief to just sit back and have someone (our dear, wise teacher) who has been doing it for years give the straight dope. It went something like this:

In early childhood, two pairs of things are most important for educating the child.

The first pair is Rhythm and Repetition. These are the primary tools for teaching children under seven. I love to think of rhythm as pattern. The repeated rituals and acts of daily life that connect us to ourselves and the larger world.

The second pair is Imagination and Imitation. Healthy play springs from what children have seen and experienced, the impressions they take in from the world around them.

Our work as parents is to be worthy of this imitation, to be the best role models we can be. This is where parenting becomes a spiritual act, as we tend to our inner self in order to embody beauty, goodness, and truth. We can do this in part through our own self-education, by asking ourselves what we are doing to grow alongside our child. I can honestly say that I got hooked on Waldorf the moment I realized the extent to which it hinged on my own inner work.

The gestures of gratitude and thankfulness are the well from which all of this—rhythm, imitation, imagination—springs. The virtue of gratitude is instilled in the first 7 years of life, and lays the foundation for the later development of love and duty. Our expressions of gratitude in daily life at home are deeply nurturing to our young children. And ourselves.

That’s the gist of it, folks. Short, sweet, simple. And kind of deep, if you think about it.

I think whether you are into Waldorf or not, there’s a good chance this will seem like common sense. It’s kind of natural and intuitive for us to strive towards this in our mothering, isn’t it?

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4 thoughts on “Waldorf 101: Notes from Parent Night

  1. Absolutely! I’m so passionate about these simple, but super effective and healthy principles I’m leading workshops in my town on Simplicity Parenting. We have to spread the word to the masses! Or at least raise children in this mindful manner to one day lead by example to the masses 😉

    Just wanted to say thank you! You’ve inspired me to do a blog tour regarding my ebook. You’re a genius! 😉

  2. I’ve read this post a few times since you wrote it. The content really speaks to me in reminding me that there are these few principles on which our effective parenting can be built.
    It’s so easy to find my head full of all kinds of ‘stuff’ but when I focus on the R and R and the I and I all interlaced with Gratitude… well, that’s guaranteed to make my day smoother.
    Gratitude is an interesting one with our two little children (they’re both adopted and have had deeply traumatic experiences in their past). I’m helping them to understand what it means to be glad and grateful and it’s not always easy to do this with them.
    But like you’ve said, I know that if any kind of ‘framework’ can help us to create the family culture we want, it’s the Steiner Waldorf approach.
    Thank you for your great blogging! I always pop by to read your posts and always go away feeling inspired 🙂

    • So glad that this speaks to you, that it offers some support in your parenting. It is an ongoing practice for me, remembering these things and also practicing them (two different things!) Many blessings to your family!

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