Elements of Waldorf Education: Inner Work

inner-work-4When I tell people I homeschool, one of the first reactions is for people to tell me why they don’t. Interestingly enough, the reasons most people give me have nothing to do with best educational practices or money or time. The most common reasons I hear for not homeschooling have to do with the lack someone feels they have in themselves. The two most common reasons being, “I don’t have the patience” and “I’m not organized,” with the third not so far behind, “I’m not smart enough myself.” Funny – but don’t public school parents, and childless adults need these things as well as home educators?

 

One of the really cool aspects of a Waldorf Education, and one of the reasons I am a proponent of it’s use, is that the teacher (or parent-teacher, in the case of homeschooling) works on his/her own personal character. This is called Inner Work, and the concept is that one must work on themselves in order to teach children.

inner-workRudolf Steiner, the philosopher and founder of Waldorf Education, wrote, “You will not be good teachers if you focus only on what you do and not upon who you are.”

A Waldorf Education is onto something important here. Personal growth should be a goal for all of us – not just home educators – but as home educators, it is the core and starting place for educating your children.

Why is it so important for educators?

So we are worthy of imitation. Children do what we do, not what we say. Therefore we should do and be what we want our children to do and be.

 

Deut. 6: 1 – 9

Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the rules—that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long. Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.

“Hear, O Israel:The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

inner-work-3This is one of the most commonly taught passages of scripture on parenting. But the parenting part is a result of the personal part. God command YOU to love the Lord and to obey him – and then as you live out your life doing so (as you sit, and go about, and go to bed, and get out of bed) you teach your children to do the same as you are doing. Imitation.

I love the concept that as you follow God, “you will multiply greatly.” This is not just talking about having more children – it is talking about your children have an abundance of what you have (a love of the Lord), and your children’s children having even more. I know one of my greatest joys in life is watching my preschool age grandkids talk and sing about loving God!

inner-work-2The most important aspect of homeschooling (or teaching, or parenting) is focusing on my own relationship with Christ and my own personal growth – Inner Work.

How do I do Inner work?

Rudolf Steiner recommended meditation. I agree – but only if you meditate on the right thing!

In Psalm 119:15 David is speaking to God when He writes, “I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.”

The true means of Inner Work is to meditate on God’s Word, and to fix our eyes on Christ and His ways.

In the New Testament, Peter tells us to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (II Peter 3:18)

inner-work-9One of the interesting things about personal growth – is that our focus should not be on personal growth. Let’s look at the verses above for example –

In the Deuteronomy passage our focus is on loving God and keeping His commandments – or on obedience to Him. In Psalms, we meditate on God’s principles and ways. And in II Peter, we build knowledge of Jesus.

Our personal character, and building our self-esteem is never our focus or our goal. Instead, it is the result of focusing on Christ and obeying God’s Word.

Galatians 5:22 – 23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

When we focus on God and obey Him – love, joy, peace,patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control will be the resulting fruit that the Spirit produces in us.

Now I’m going to get real. If you don’t have enough patience to homeschool – then you have a deeper issue than your inability to teach your kids – a spiritual issue – and issue in your relationship with God.

Waldorf Education starts with a teacher’s Inner Work. As Christians, our Inner Work needs to be spending time with our Lord and Savior by studying His Word and obeying it. And God will grow you into a person who is worthy of the imitation of your children.

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*Over the next few blogs, I’ll be going over some of the basic elements of a Waldorf-inspired education. Stay tuned for: Delayed Academics, Rhythm, Block Learning, Circle Time, Handwork, Art, Nature Learning, Stories & Books,

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Grace: Mommy Superpower

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I just finished reading I Timothy and started II Timothy in my daily Bible reading, when something hit me: Paul, the author, greets his reader the same way in both books.

“Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” (I Tim 1: 4)

“May God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord give you grace, mercy, and peace.” (II Tim 1:2)

So, you know me – I had to research it. Paul literally uses a similar salutation at the beginning of all of his letters, and he ends them almost the same way. I Timothy and II Timothy end by saying, “Grace be with you all.” In the New Testament Paul blesses his readers with grace 26 times, peace 12 times, and mercy merely twice.

I could make light of it and say it was just a common greeting (which it was) – but I think it is more. I don’t think either Paul, or God the Ultimate Author, meant it as nothing but a flippant salutation. In fact, I would venture to say that because it is mentioned so many times – it is an important truth God wants us to grasp. God wants us to live in and live out His grace and peace.

I’d like to look at what it means to be given grace – as a parent.  (In my next blog post, I’ll do the same for peace.)

What is grace?

Simply put – grace is the unmerited favor of God.

Grace is often linked with salvation – salvation being a free gift from God.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Romans 2: 8 – 9)

So often, I stop grace there. God saved me because of His unmerited favor towards me. And that is awesome, and so hard for me to grasp – but it is not the only thing grace does – if it were, Paul would not have needed to tell Christians to have grace – it would have been redundant.

So what does grace mean to me on a day by day basis as a mom?

Mother 51) I am a Mom by the grace of God.

Jacob realized this. (Not that he was a mom – but that his children were given to him through grace)

“And when Esau lifted up his eyes and saw the women and children, he said, ‘Who are these with you?’ Jacob said, ‘The children whom God has graciously given your servant.’” (Gen 33: 5)

“Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward.” (Psalm 137: 3)

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17)

My children are a gift from God to me, given to me not because I did anything to “deserve” them – but because he favored me and wanted to bless me.

Mother 62) Grace replaces my pride

My six year old memorized more Bible verses than anyone else in Sunday School; my four year old could sing the Books of the Bible – both Old and New Testiment; and my teenager went on more mission trips than anyone else in youth group – and of course, that is because I am such an awesome mom! Or maybe, I’m not so awesome –My sixteen year old son wore a speedo to the community pool; my five year old ate a stranger’s sock at the McDonald’s playground; and my four year old screamed so loudly at a local restaurant that we were kicked out for the sanity of the other patrons. Being a mom is my greatest pride – and what keeps me humble.

“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (II Cir 12: 7 – 10)

My very loose translation of these verses: To keep me from having a big head – God gave me children who act childish – to keep my pride in check. I pleaded with the Lord to give me kids who always behaved and were better than their peers at everything, but He said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast in my parenting – not because what I have done, but because Christ has given me the power I need to parent. I am content with not being the perfect parent, because when I am unable to deal with messy situations (and parenting is messy) – I allow Christ to “deal” through me – and others can see Christ more clearly.

mother 93) There is grace for my failures

I don’t know about you – but I am hardest on myself in the realm of parenting.

I realize the gravity of the task. I realize I am not supposed to feed my child a donut and chocolate milk for breakfast; I realize I am not supposed to yell at my kid when he puts gum in his hair; I realize that I’m not supposed to promise my child I’ll take her to the park – then get so busy I forget. I realize all the things I am supposed to do and don’t; and the things I’m not supposed to do but do. I realize these things – but sometimes/often I fail.

Sometime, somehow, someone told me it is not ok to fail as a parent – ever. So I beat myself up when I do. I image that my kids will grow up and be in some recovery group saying, “Hi, my name is …”

I cannot forgive myself. Literally – I don’t have the power to forgive myself, God is the only one who bestows forgiveness of sins – through grace, His free, undeserved grace.

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7)

Christ takes my sins as a parent – forgives me, and exchanges my failures with his lavish favor. How incredible is that.


mother 83) Grace is my Mommy Superpower

My main ministry is to my family. God has called me to raise my kids for His glory. With a job – I may work 20, 40 or even more hours per week – but mothering is a 24/7 job. When I have “one of those days” – when the baby wants to do nothing but nurse, the two year old throws his spaghetti noodles on the wall, and the 5 year old just released the hamster from captivity – I dream of someone pointing at me and saying, “You’re fired!”

When Donald Trump is not around, when I can’t hand off the job to Dad, Grandma, or the sitter – God’s grace will give me everything I need to accomplish the task.

“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” (I Cor 15:10)

“for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” (Philippians 2:13)

God’s grace gives me the energy I need to hold and sing lullabies to my colicky baby when I’ve had little to no sleep; to clean the vomit after my child snuck into the pantry and ate the whole bag of Oreos; and to hug my screaming 5 year old when she believes she saw an ant at the grocery store.

Grace is my Mommy Superpower.

Thanks – More than a Facebook Post

Thanks 13

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” Winnie-the-Pooh

In a lecture given by Rudolf Steiner and recorded in The Child’s Changing Consciousness, Steiner said, “If, during the first period of life, we create an atmosphere of gratitude around the children, then out of this gratitude toward the world, toward the entire universe, and also out of thankfulness for being able to be in this world, a profound and warm sense of devotion will arise . . . upright, honest, and true.” Waldorf teachers are trained to teach gratitude.

But the idea of living a life of thanksgiving predates a waldorf education by thousands of years. Verses are sprinkled throughout the Bible instructing God’s followers to be thankful. My personal favorite, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

So how do we as parent-teachers teach our kids to be grateful?

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  1. Develop a Thankful Heart

We are not thankful because of what we have, but because of who we are. Gratitude is not dependent on circumstances.

The Bible tells us to be thankful in ALL circumstances. James 1: 2-4 tells, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith  produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” We can be thankful even in the worst of circumstances because we know that there is a purpose for our suffering, and God is in control and at work in our lives.

Our kids need to see us being thankful in good times and in bad – but how do we replace the angry, hurt feelings with an attitude of thanksgiving? In Ephesians 5:4 Paul writes, “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.”

John Piper explains, “The key to unlocking a heart of gratitude and overcoming bitterness and ugliness and disrespect and violence is a strong belief in God, the Creator and Sustainer and Provider and Hope-giver. If we do not believe we are deeply indebted to God for all we have or hope to have, then the very spring of gratitude has gone dry.”

We are thankful just because we exist – and that very existence is dependent on God. Only Christians can have gratitude ingrained in their hearts and pour out in their speech and actions – no matter what circumstances may be.

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  1. Model Thanksgiving

Gratitude is caught and not taught.

When I verbally thank the stranger who lets me cut in the grocery line, or the waiter who pours my tea, or my child when she picks up her toys – my child sees and hears it. When I thank God verbally, both in head bowed prayer and eyes wide open exclamation – like thanking God when I get a good parking spot at Walmart, or praying and thanking Him for my food – my child sees me.

Steiner lectured, “An atmosphere of gratitude should grow naturally in children through merely witnessing the gratitude the adults feel as they receive what is freely given by others, and in how they express this gratitude.  If a child says “thank you” very naturally—not in response to the urging of others, but simply through imitating”

The greatest means of teaching my child to be grateful is to be grateful myself and allow my child to see that gratefulness.

  1. Practice Thanksgiving

Waldorf pedagogy can be implemented in the intentional teaching of thankfulness.

Recitation:

We can recite thanks throughout the day – for the new day, for play outside, and for the food we eat.

The important thing to remember as Christians who use waldorf methodology is who we give the thanks to is as important if not more important than the thanks itself.

Colossians 3:16–17 states “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

We are not called to a vague thanksgiving, but to God himself. Many waldorf verses thank the created instead of the created. For example:

I thank the earth beneath me

For there I stand and walk.

I thank the air around me

Which helps me breathe and talk.

I thank the sun so warm and bright

So far away in Heavens height

To keep me safe ’til morning light

God warns of this in Romans 1: 21 – 25 “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

Here’s some verses which thank God:

Thanks 4Start of the day:

This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Ps. 118:24)

For this new morning with its light,

Father, we thank Thee.

For rest and shelter of the night,

Father, we thank Thee (Emerson)

I thank Thee, Lord, for sleep and rest,

For all the things that I love best,

Now guide me through another day

And bless my work and bless my play.

 Thanks 3

Playing Outside:

For flowers that bloom about our feet,

Father, we thank Thee.

For tender grass so fresh, so sweet,

Father, we thank Thee.

For the song of bird and hum of bee,

For all things fair we hear or see,

Father in heaven, we thank Thee. (Emerson)

 Thanks 7

For Meals:

For health and food, for love and friends,

For everything Thy goodness sends,

Father in heaven, we thank Thee. (Emerson)

God is great and God is Good,

And we thank God for our food;

By God’s hand we must be fed,

Give us Lord, our daily bread. Amen.

thanks 8Bedtime Prayers:

The day is past and over,
All thanks, O Lord, to Thee!
O Jesus, keep me in Thy sight
And save me through the coming night.
 

All praise to Thee, my God, this night
For all the blessings of the light:
Keep me, O keep me, King of kings,
Beneath Thine own almighty wings.

Prayers from your heart:

Repetition is great for small children, but remember God wants us to just talk to him. Pray aloud – just talking to God and thanking him – and your little one will do so too. At bedtime, we pray and thank God for all the major things we did during the day. We thank God for all the people in our life that we love. And we thank God for being God and for loving us.

Stories:

Children learn through stories – so don’t forget to pepper your story selection with stories that teach gratefulness. Here’s a few tales:
King Thrushbear  
https://www.gutenberg.org/files/37381/37381-h/37381-h.htm#Page_152

Androcles and the Lion  http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/type0156.html

The White Snake  http://www.authorama.com/grimms-fairy-tales-36.html

Story of Ruth and Naomi (adapted from the Bible) https://www.gutenberg.org/files/45114/45114-h/45114-h.htm#Page_143

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Let’s remember: Gratitude is a lifestyle, not a 26 day countdown to Thanksgiving on Facebook.

Sing, Sing, Sing and Make Music in Your Home

Sing MomCall it middle age, or menopause – I can’t remember the lyrics to the songs I listened to yesterday on the radio – or the choruses I sang in church last week, or last month or last year. I find myself singing the songs of my childhood. Hymns I sang in Church, Songs from Musicals I was in as a teenager, Folk Songs I sang in elementary school, and songs from my mother’s childhood that we sang together at home.

That got me thinking … the songs I sing with my child today will be the songs she sings in fifty years.

Waldorf promotes singing all day – about everything. Which is just fine by me, because that’s how I’m wired anyway. My older son once wrote a speech making fun of his family – for me he wrote, “My mom lives in a Musical. At any moment in time, she’s likely to break out in song.”

There are countless articles telling why and how to sing in Waldorf schools – how singing engages the soul, gives children a rich vocabulary, enhances reading by opening up the vowels, aids in memorization, and creates a peaceful and joyous environment for learning. I’m not going to repeat all that – I’m going to delve into why it is Biblical to sing.

Sing 7There are over 1150 verses in the Bible which refer to music. Since God wrote the Bible – that means He believes music to be an important element of life.  As Christians our entire life’s purpose is to bring God glory.  Psalm 149:3 – 4 says “Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre! For the Lord takes pleasure in his people. ” God takes pleasure in our making melodies to Him! Therefore, since we were created to delight God and bring Him glory – and singing makes God happy – we were created to sing and make music.

Music outlasts our time on earth. Music is eternal. Revelation 5: 8 – 10 paints a picture of heaven: “And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying, ’Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.’”

God created music as an eternal means of worshiping Him. Therefore, we should sing. So what should we sing about? Everything – Waldorf has this one right.

In the Bible, music was used:

Singing 1

  1. To Wake Up (Psalm 57:8)

One of my earliest memories was my mom opening up my curtains and singing to me to wake me up in the mornings. I’ve modified the tradition, in that I allow my children to sleep as long as their bodies tell them they should – but I cuddle and sing with Rose when she first opens her eyes.

  1. For Teaching (Colossians 3:16)

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” In this verse – singing is linked with teaching, disciplining, being thankful and having wisdom.  Singing in such a way overflows from Christ and His Word within you.

  1. To Encourage Others (Ephesians 5:19-20)

Music is uplifting. When we sing we raise the spirits of those around us and bring our children joy.

Singing Mom

  1. To Create Unity (II Chronicles 5:13, 14)

There is a magic that happens when voices blend together and become one. Multiple voices merge into one beautiful harmonious sound. There is a connectedness between each individual singer. Our family is bonded together when we sing and make music together.

  1. To Transition (Matthew 26:30)

Many kids – including mine – don’t do transitions well. Singing helps move from one activity to another. In this verse Jesus moved from Passover Dinner to walking to the Mount of Olives to pray – and the transitional point was Jesus and the disciples singing together.

  1. To Gather Together (Numbers 10: 2 – 3).

We can sing or play an instrument to call our children together for circle or story time – or whenever we want everyone to gather in one place.

singing happy birthday

  1. In Celebration (I Chronicles 13:7-8)

We can sing special songs to prepare and celebrate holidays and birthdays

  1. For Thanksgiving (Psalm 69:30)

Raising kids with a sense of entitlement creates selfish people, who have a hard time getting and keeping a job, are less likely to stay married, and who are personally unsatisfied with life. Singing Praise to God for EVERYTING – who He is and what He’s done – helps children realize that life revolves around God and not themselves. Realizing God is in control and deserves thanks will create more secure, loving children – who realize their true purpose in life. So sing thanks for every new day, and everything within the day.

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  1. For Comfort in times of sadness (Psalm 59:16)

Rose has had a multitude of surgeries – and there is nothing I can do but hold her in my arms and sing songs of comfort to her as she heals. The psalmist knew this as well, as many of his psalms – which are songs – are written about his trials in life.

  1. For Memorization (Psalm 119:172)

“My tongue will sing of your word.” Although singing can and should be used to teach all memory work to kids – it is especially important to memorize scripture. Read Psalm 119 and mark all the benefits of doing so –for example -being blessed, making wise choices, and staying pure. Add scripture verses to your singing repertoire not just songs about the Bible.

Singing Mother 3

  1. MY PERSONAL FAVORITE: As an Expression of Love (Zeph. 3:17)

Our Father God rejoices over us with singing. “The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” I love to sing over my kids – place their names in silly songs and sweet songs – as well as singing love songs like “You are my Sonshine.” God is our ultimate example of parenthood – and if He sings over us, then by singing over our children we are following His example. Singing over our children demonstrates the character of God to them!

This certainly doesn’t cover all 1150 verses – but it does give us an idea of the importance God places on singing and how we can incorporate it into our home schools. Our kids don’t care if we have perfect pitch – although we can work and improve our voices just as we can work any other muscle in our bodies. God also doesn’t expect perfection (he created you – with or without perfect pitch) – He says in Psalms 100 “Make a joyful noise,” He doesn’t say “Only sing to Me if you were a music major in college.” He created you to sing – so don’t be shy – start singing!

Grandpa Needs a Teddy Bear

Grandpa Teddy Bear

Me: Grandpa’s heart is broken, he has to go to the hospital so the doctor’s can fix it.

Rose: Will they give him a teddy bear first? (Rose’s last surgeon brought her a teddy bear before surgery)

Me: I don’t think so, doctor’s only do that for kids, not grandpas.

Rose: Can we give him a teddy bear, I think he needs one.


We love kindergardenI set up a yearly, monthly, weekly and daily schedule. I cleaned, organized, and simplified the house. I bought Stockmar crayons and paint, “At the Farmers’ Market with Kids: Recipes and Projects for Little Hands” Cookbook, wool felt for handcrafts, and “The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh.” I’ve scoped out and decided on a place to go for forest days. I’ve filed out all the paperwork, packed the bags, and moved my older son into college. I am ready to start Kindergarten with Rose.  First day of school: September 1, 2015 . . .

But we won’t be using the paint or cookbook or felt. Instead, I’ll be at the hospital with my dad who is having open heart surgery. Rose will be at the babysitters – drawing a “Get Well” card for grandpa.  The news of his surgery arrived shockingly suddenly and definitely changed my expectations for the perfect “first week of school.”

Yet, maybe this event is the perfect “first week of school.” Maybe this event serves to remind me what is important in life. Maybe this event sets up the “right” priorities for Rose. Maybe this event reminds me why I homeschool.

Teaching my children to love God and serve others IS why I homeschool. Starting school by loving and serving grandpa is more important than anything else we could be doing this week. There will be thirteen or fourteen years of reading, writing, counting, drawing, and playing.  But serving others must take priority over traditional education.

In a recent survey done by the Barna Group, Christian parents were asked what their number one goal for their children was. Not surprisingly, the number one answer was that their children receive a good education. Less than half as many Christian parents considered their children’s relationship with Jesus to be as important as their education. Even less thought their children’s character was a top priority.  I don’t want to be one of these parents.  Education has its place, but I would choose illiteracy over eternity without God.

God is writing the lesson plans for Rose’s first week of school – and I know His plans are better than my own.

Prayers for grandpaWatching old movies with Grandpa: Sometimes building  relationships supersedes the “rules”    (Rule: no TV on school days)

Visiting Grandpa in the hospital: We are called to minster to others

Coloring pictures for Grandpa: We use our gifts, talents, and passions to bless others

Giving Grandpa a teddy bear: Comfort others as you have been comforted

Praying for Grandpa: Reminds us God is in control – we aren’t, and He is the true healer

Living with Grandpa: Rose has a spiritual legacy. Daily she sees her grandpa reading his Bible, loving others, and putting his faith in God during times of trouble.  He faces death knowing that   “to live is Christ, to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)

So, we will take pictures of Rose’s first day of school – even if it taken in a hospital waiting room.  God’s timing is perfect and this is the lesson He wants me to start my daughters “education” with.

I think we’ll go shopping for a teddy bear tomorrow.

Teddy Bear for grandpa

Freedom From Expectations

raggedy Ann booksI had something to prove. I homeschooled when  it wasn’t cool to homeschool.  My kid couldn’t fall behind; in fact he should be smarter than everyone else his age. I played the one upmanship – like every other mom – my kid could sing his ABCs and count to 20 before most other kids, read fairly early, and memorized  bible verses faster than his friends.

23 years later …

I have nothing to prove. If you haven’t heard, homeschooling works. I’ve graduated 4, and 3 have gotten into college, they are productive citizens of this great country – they even vote … unlike most of their peers.

Raggedy Ann thrown

As I start fresh, with a new child, I commit

  1. Not to worship my child, but worship God, her creator
  2. Not to play the one upmanship game, but encourage other moms to be true to themselves and their children
  3. Not to use my child to define myself
  4. To listen patiently and kindly to other people’ s advise, then ignore what doesn’t work for us
  5. Not to compare my child to other children, but record her individual progress
  6. To enjoy my child where she is now, rather than wishing or pushing her forward
  7. To realize I have 13 years to teach her before college, and she doesn’t need it all now
  8. To listen more than lecture
  9. To give time to “do it myself” vs doing it for her because we’re in a hurry to get somewhere or do something
  10. To observe and respond, rather than fabricate lessons
  11. To include her in my adult activities (like cleaning) instead of arranging my life around activities I design for her
  12. raggedy Ann fairiesTo sing together
  13. To look for fairies under leaves together
  14. To play together
  15. To memorize Bible verses together
  16. To paint together
  17. To lay and watch the clouds together
  18. To tell fairy tales together
  19. To use all of our senses to experience the world, not just read about how it works
  20. To stop and smell the roses we planted together
  21. To dance under the stars together
  22. To sit and be quiet together

After looking at me like I am a relic from the past when I state I don’t believe in early academics, the shock wears off,  and I’m often asked  “Why?”  I like to answer the question with a question, “Why do you believe in early academics?” Although it is the socially acceptable thing to believe in, most can’t give a good reason. I can defend my position scientifically and logically, but more importantly I can defend my position from experience and heartfelt emotion. My daughter has years of academics ahead … I want to enjoy her childlike wonder as long as I can.

raggedy ann outside

Read more about it:

One of the first articles I read – that started changing my mind – on early academics:

Teach our Children to Write, Read, and Spell by Susan R. Johnson, MD

http://www.youandyourchildshealth.org/youandyourchildshealth/articles/teaching%20our%20children.html

Other awesome reports:

Lively Minds: Distinctions between academic versus intellectual goals for young children by Lilian Gonshaw Katz, PhD

https://deyproject.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/dey-lively-minds-4-8-15.pdf

Crisis in the Kindergarten Why Children Need to Play in School

http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED504839.pdf

Kinder Rhythm & Verse

Daily Rhythm

2015

Mom – Inner Work: Bible Study

Breakfast & Bible Memory

Storytelling While Cleaning

Outdoor Work & Play

Lunch & Bible Memory

Daily Focus

Family time

Yoga

Bath

Bible Story, Prayer & Rose Bed

Morning Song

This is the Day by Pace by Joseph W. Ii.

This is the day, this is the day.
That the Lord has made, that the Lord has made.
We will rejoice, we will rejoice,
And be glad in it, and be glad in it.
This is the day that the Lord has made.
We will rejoice and be glad in it.
This is the day, this is the day
That the Lord has made

Memory Verse 

 Said at all meal times before prayer – until memorized

O Lord, our Lord,

how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory above the heavens.

Out of the mouth of babies and infants,

you have established strength because of your foes,

to still the enemy and the avenger.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,

the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,

what is man that you are mindful of him,

and the son of man that you care for him?

Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings

and crowned him with glory and honor.

You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;

you have put all things under his feet,

all sheep and oxen,

and also the beasts of the field,

the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,

whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

O Lord, our Lord,

how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Psalm 8

Chores

Daily Cleaning

Clean up, Clean up

Everybody, everywhere

Clean up, Clean up

Everybody do your share

When we clean up

We have some space

For prancing and playing all day

http://themysticalkingdom.blogspot.com/2009/04/tidying-up-verses.html

Story telling while Cleaning:

September:

Black Sambo

http://www.mainlesson.com/display.php?author=lmr&book=k1rainbow&story=sambo

October:

Little Red Hen

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/18735/18735-h/1

November:

Little Red Riding Hood

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/2591/2591-h/2591-h.htm#link2H_4_0023

December:

Gingerbread Man

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/25877/25877-h/25877-h.htm

January:

Stone Soup

http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/type1548.html#hunter

February:

The Fairy

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/29021/29021-h/29021-h.htm#The_Fairy

March:

Elves and the shoemaker

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2591/2591-h/2591-h.htm#link2H_4_0041

April:

Princess and the Pea

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/27200/27200-h/27200-h.htm#princess

May:

The Musicians of Bremen/ The Bremen Town Musicians https://www.gutenberg.org/files/19734/19734-h/19734

laundry

Daily Laundry

Corner to corner
Meet and greet
Fold our cloth so nice and neat!

http://blog.bellalunatoys.com/2014/waldorf-verses-songs-for-children.html

Outdoor Purposeful Work

Outdoor play

Seasonal Verses:

Summer:

We are the sunshine fairies
And with our sparks of light
We shimmer and glimmer in the air
Hugging flowers with colors so bright

http://themysticalkingdom.blogspot.com/2010/06/summer-verses-and-circle.html

Fall:

Like a leaf or a feather
In the windy Autumn weather
We twirl a-round and twirl a-round
And all float down to-gether.

https://oranaplaygroup.wordpress.com/2013/02/03/seasonal-songs-windy/

Winter:

Furry bear

If I were a bear,

And a big bear too,

I shouldn’t much care

If it froze or snew:

I shouldn’t much mind

If it snowed or friz-

I’d be all fur-lined

With a coat like his!

A.A. Milne

 

Spring:

Spring is coming, spring is coming,
birdies build your nests.
Weave together straw and feather,
doing each your best.

Spring is coming spring is coming,
flowers are waking too.
Daisies, lilies, daffodillies,
all are coming through.

Spring is coming, Spring is coming,
all around is fair.
Shiver, quiver, on the river
joy is everywhere!

http://waldorfmama.typepad.com/waldorf_mama/2009/04/spring-is-coming.html

                                                       Daily BathBath

Bible and PrayerDaily Bible, Prayer & Bed

Read: The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name –

by Sally Lloyd-Jones

http://www.amazon.com/The-Jesus-Storybook-Bible-Whispers/dp/0310708257


White Day (Sunday) Church & Rest Day

Rest Day


Red Day (Monday) – Day Out

Day Out


Orange Day (Tuesday) – Cooking Day

cooking Day

Bless the food that I now take,
Bless my hands that I may make
Something good to cook or bake.

from A Child’s Seasonal Treasury, page 30 http://themysticalkingdom.blogspot.com/

First we add the flour
then we add the yeast
next we add some warm water
and mix it up like this

Now let’s make a nice round ball
squish and squash like that
knead and knead again

http://themysticalkingdom.blogspot.com/2009/04/special-verses-for-kneading-dough.html


Yellow  Day (Wednesday)  – Painting Day

Painting Day

Story from Simple Homeschooling: 

“One morning, Tippy Brush woke up and looked outside his bedroom window. It was a crisp autumn morning. As he looked outside his window, he saw bright red leaves falling from the maple tree and blowing in the wind, filling the sky with their color. ‘Oh, I want to play with red today!’ he thought.

So Tippy jumped out of bed, but before he went outside, he had a nice foot bath…

[Here I would demonstrate rinsing the bristles clean in the jar of water]

…and dried his feet clean with his towel [the rag]. Then Tippy ran outside and cried, “Good morning, Red! I’ve come to play with you!”

[At this point Tippy (my brush) dips his “toes” (the bristles) in the red paint.]

The red leaves were happy to have a playmate, and Tippy joyfully danced among the falling red leaves, until there were piles of bright red leaves all around.”

http://simplehomeschool.net/painting-wet-on-wet-waldorf-watercolors-for-children/#sthash.c7S7ACrH.dpuf


Green Day– (Thursday) – Forest Day

forest day

Read: Winnie the Pooh & The House at Pooh Corner

Verse: 1 Chronicles 16:33 “Let the trees of the forest sing, let them sing for joy before the LORD”

Song (different stanzas different weeks):

 All things bright and beautiful 

Refrain:
All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.

Each little flow’r that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colors,
He made their tiny wings.

The purple-headed mountains,
The river running by,
The sunset and the morning
That brightens up the sky.

The cold wind in the winter,
The pleasant summer sun,
The ripe fruits in the garden,
He made them every one.

The tall trees in the greenwood,
The meadows where we play,
The rushes by the water,
To gather every day.

He gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell
How great is God Almighty,
Who has made all things well.

Cecil F. Alexander


Blue Day (Friday) – Handwork Day

handwork

May our fingers be nimble,
And our hearts be glad,
In every task we do.

http://themysticalkingdom.blogspot.com/2009/04/great-collection-of-waldorf-verses-part_7834.html


Purple Day (Saturday)  – Extended Family Day

Extended Family

Waldorf is Lovely

LovelyFinally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)

As Christians, we are to fill our minds with beauty. Waldorf education is beautiful – just google image it. The lazure walls, the play silks, wet -on-wet painting, natural toys, outdoor play and gardening, verse recitation, music, and dance all surround the child with things that are pure, lovely, excellent, and worthy of praise.

Let’s take a look at some of the elements of a Waldorf education from a Biblical point of view.


Verse

VERSE Walter Crane

The Bible says, “Take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5)

You’ve heard the saying “Garbage in, garbage out.” What children fill their mind with is what will come out in their habits and character. Freya Jafke wrote for International Waldorf Kindergarten Association, “Human speech surrounds the newborn child from its first day. It creates an atmosphere permeated with spirit into which the child “breathes himself.” The child imitates, listens, absorbs and at the same time forms himself.”

The use of verse fills a child’s mind with those things which are worthy of thought.

God commands that we memorize His Words, and keep them with us. “Lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul.” (Deuteronomy 11:18)

By mixing beautiful verse and Bible verse throughout the day – day in and day out – we are helping Children take control of their thought, which will eventually build their character and be the basis of their decisions.


Music

Music

In early education, vocal song, verse and directions are interwoven throughout the day. The Bible states that we should, “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.” (Ephesians 5:19) According the The Well Balanced Child, by Sally Goddard Blythe, “Singing is particularly powerful in entertaining the listening and voicing skills which underlie spoken and written language.” Learning vowels and consonants a well as developing the memory are important outcomes of music.

But the importance of music is even deeper. It touches the soul. God created us to be instruments of His praise. From Genesis to Revelation, music runs throughout.

Making musical instruments was one of the first professions in the Bible – recorded right after the account of Adam and Eve. “His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe. Zillah also bore Tubal-cain; he was the forger of all instruments of bronze and iron.” (Genesis 4:21 – 22)

In early Hebrew history the musicians were charged with being in front of the army. God’s praise preceded the battle, which God had already declared victory over. (Read 2 Chronicles 20)

The Psalms are songs written for the purpose of magnifying God through verses covering every aspect of life.

As teacher parents, our ultimate example is to be like our Heavenly Father – and HE SINGS OVER US!

“The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. he will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 2:17)


Dance/Movement

Night Dance

Waldorf believe that there is a clear connection between dance and movement and brain development – with much scientific proof to back it up. It is used in eurythmy to enhance speech and it is used in recitation to memorize. Let’s be practical, anyone working with small children knows that working with the wiggles is so much easier than containing them.

Like music, dance is a bodily expression of the soul. Sprinkled throughout the Bible are passages about praising God through dance.

“Let them praise His name with dancing.” (Psalm 149:3)

“David danced before the Lord with all his might.” (2 Samuel 6:14)

“Praise Him with tambourine and dance.” Psalm 150:4


Art

Painting

God is the Greatest Artist. The Creator. Psalm 8 describe the earth as “the work of His fingers.” Not only did God create, but He was the first art critic. After each day of creation, He evaluated his masterpiece and said, “It is good.” Psalm 104:31 states, “The Lord rejoices in His works.”

Humanists have stated that from the beginning of man, art has been an integral part of human nature. The Bible tells us why. God created man in His own image. God is the great artist, and we were created to reflect His character.

God also commissioned artists. After Moses lead the people out of Egypt, the Lord tells Moses to have a man named Bezalel artistically design a temple. Not only did He commission him, but God states, “I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft.” (Exodus 31:3 – 5)

God delights in the creativity and artistic expression of His people. Thus, as Christian educators, why would we neglect such an important aspect of who God designed us to be?


In conclusion, I believe Waldorf methodology can be ued successfully to teach kids to glorify God. In doing so, we must evaluate everything we teach by Philippians 4:8:

Is it true? Is it Biblical, since this is the measuring stick for truth?

Is it honorable?

Is it just?

Is it pure?

Is it lovely?

Is it commendable?

Is it excellent?

Is it worthy of praise?

If the answer is yes, fill the kid’s minds to the brim with it – so there is no room for junk.

God Created Rhythm

Reading

Rhythm is the routine of living – learning, sleeping, eating, working, playing, celebrating.

Rhythm is natural because it was created by God.

God marked days and nights.“And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.”  Gen 1: 3-5

God created the earth in six days, rested, set some days as holy (which means set apart).“For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” Exodus 20:11

God controls the seasons.“He changes times and seasons;God instituted celebrations. “ Daniel 2:21

God ordained celebrations.The Bible is full of celebration. The biblical God loves a celebration: feasting, rituals, uniting with family and community was mandated by God.

Living and teaching with a yearly, seasonally, weekly and daily rhythm is good because it connects us to  God Himself.

Rhythm is the baseline of Waldorf-inspired education.

Children crave rhythm. How many times can you read the same book, tell the same story, or sing the same song to your child?

When a child witnesses leaves falling off of a tree, the tree laced with snow, the new leaf buds, and the green canopy overhead, he is experiencing God’s rhythm in nature. Going along with that rhythm, in as to how and what to teach at various times of the year, only seams natural and logical.

Daily rhythm helps a child feel secure because they know what to expect. Most parenting books will tell you the importance of a nighttime routine aids in the sleep process. But when rhythm sloshed from a simple bedtime ritual into the sunlight, I saw many of Rose’s anxieties wean, and she developed a greater sense of peace and security.

Create an external rhythm, is helping her create a greater internal rhythm. And the nee for discipline has decreased. I believe this is because many of her discipline problems stemmed from stress, not knowing what was expected, lack of sleep, and over-stimulation. Many of these issues are eliminated by balancing the daily rhythm in our home.

I’ve also noticed a heightened expectation around holidays and birthdays. When we do the same thing from year to year, there is excitement in the preparation, and peace in the presentation.

Ultimately creating rhythm in our family’s life and in education process has brought about greater peace and joy.

Christian Waldorf?

Chrisian Waldorf

My life has one overriding purpose. . . Nothing else matters: to glorify God and enjoy Him forever

My parenting has one purpose. ..thus my homeschooling has one purpose: to teach my kids to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

So when deciding how to teach and what to teach, I ask myself, “What is the best means of teaching my kids to glorify God and enjoy Him forever?”  I have chosen Waldorf. Not a popular choice for Christian homeschoolers.  Most Christian homeschoolers aren’t familiar with Waldorf, and those who are, are often negative.

Today, I’d like to examine why I believe a Christian Worldview can be taught using Waldorf pedagogy.

Please reread my last sentence. I want to emphasis, my goal is to teach a Christian Worldview USING Waldorf … not to teach Waldorf and incorporate Christian theology. There is a difference, and that difference makes all the difference.

What is Christianity?

The American Heritage Dictionary, 2005, states that Christianity is “the religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, sent by God. They believe that Jesus, by dying and rising from the dead, made up for the sin of Adam and thus redeemed the world, allowing all who believe in him to enter heaven. Christians rely on the Bible as the inspired word of God.”

Christians believe there is only one way to heaven, and that is through Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

Christians also believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God. Therefore the Bible is the only means of absolute truth because it is God’s words revealed to man. The Bible speaks on its own validity when it states, “Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.” Proverbs 30: 5 – 6

What is Christian Worldview?

People live what they think. Therefore, a Christian Worldview is when all of life, all ideas, all beliefs, and all events are filtered and interpreted through the Bible, the only means of absolute truth. Therefore, all choices come from a biblical perspective and the result is a lifestyle that looks more and more like Jesus himself.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  Romans 12:2

What is a Christian Education?

A system of education in which all learning focuses on loving God. All subjects, all philosophies, all sciences, everything that goes into the mind is evaluated according to the truth of God’s Word and for the purpose of loving God fully.

“The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deuteronomy 6:4 – 7

What is Waldorf education?

Waldorf education is an educational method which focuses on the whole child as he grows and changes in different stages of his life.  It is based on the philosophy of anthroposophy which was developed by Rudolf Steiner in the early twentieth century.

What is anthroposophy?

The Anthroposophical Society in America states, “Anthroposophy is a discipline of research as well as a path of knowledge, service, personal growth and social engagement.  Introduced and developed by Rudolf Steiner, it is concerned with all aspects of human life, spirit and humanity’s future evolution and well-being.”

In contrast to the Christian belief that truth is based on God, Anthroposophy claims that humans create truth. Steiner states, in “truth is a free creation of the human spirit that never would exist at all if we did not generate it ourselves. The task of understanding is not to replicate in conceptual form something that already exists, but rather to create a wholly new realm, that together with the world given to our senses constitutes the fullness of reality.” (Steiner, Truth and Knowledge, Introduction to the Philosophy of Freedom, Introduction) Therefore, the basis of anthroposophy is humanism and existentialism.

Is Waldorf Christian?

Waldorf is not Christian.  Waldorf is spiritual in nature, but that spirituality is based on the presupposition that man is eternal and has a soul. Waldorf schools around the world claim to embrace all religions equally, including Christianity.

Yet at the base of Christianity is the belief that there is only one way to God and that is through Jesus Christ. To a Christian, man is spiritual because God created him in His image in order to have an eternal relationship with him.

And once again, Christians believe the basis of truth is the Bible and Waldorf believes the basis of truth is anthroposophy (existentialism).

Can I use Waldorf without accepting anthroposophy?

I believe the answer is yes. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water.  I would ask is any educational method “Christian”? Christianity is a belief and a lifestyle, not an educational method. Using textbooks or unit studies is no more “Christian” than Waldorf teaching materials. The Bible does not dictate a specific technique for teaching.

Waldorf education was developed through observation of children and the study of child development. Modern scientific research on the brain advocates for similar teaching methods. Waldorf also has many similarities to Classical education (based on Aristotle, a non-Christian’s philosophy) – especially three stages of childhood learning. For me personally, Waldorf has elements that logically make sense.

Truth is always grounded in the word of God, even if it originated from a non-Christian. I believe there is a lot of truth in Waldorf pedagogy.  Using the methodology is an educational choice which is neither Christian nor pagan.

How can Waldorf pedagogy and Christian principles work together?

Many specifics of a Waldorf education can either be directed toward knowing God more fully, or because God created them.

  • Rhythm = God Created Rhythm
  • Teaching to Head, Heart, Hands = Teaching to love God with Heart, Mind, Soul & Strength
  • Art = God is the Creator and part of being created in His image is creating
  • Reciting Verse = The Bible says to take every thought captive, this is training in doing so
  • Music = Sing and make music to God
  • 12 senses = God Created the Senses so we would know and love Him
  • Emphasis on nature = God gave man stewardship of the earth
  • Purposeful Work = Work as unto the Lord
  • Teaching to the Temperaments = God Created us as individuals to worship Him fully
  • Fairy Tales =Teaches godly character traits and that good triumphs over evil
  • Dance and Movement = Dance unto the Lord

Many other elements of Waldorf are neither Biblical nor non-Biblical, but personal choices:

  • Delayed Academics
  • Block Learning

Steiner may have developed Waldorf education, but God developed humans, and the basis of Steiner’s research is rooted in truth. Thus, I believe you can use a Waldorf based education to teach a Christian worldview.