Welcome to the winter session of Parent-Child
Sunday, January 6, 2013
Happy new year everyone and welcome to the winter session of our parent child class! I am so glad that you have decided to share this time with us. New beginnings are both wonderful and challenging. Having a community to share the joys and challenges with is, indeed, a blessing.
I thought that the beginning of this new session would be a good time to review some of the ideas we work with in Waldorf early childhood classes and in our parent child class. As always, please feel free to ask any questions of me or the other parents in the class.
Rudolf Steiner said, “Our highest endeavor must be to develop free human beings who are able of themselves to impart purpose and direction to their lives. The need for imagination, a sense of truth, and a feeling of responsibility—these three forces are the very nerve of education.”
This is a worthy endeavor, but how do we get there. Steiner believed that the young child learns through imitation, and so said that the role of the teacher (which includes parents) is to be worthy of imitation. What we do teaches them much more than what we say at this time in their lives. Steiner speaks of the importance of joy, reverence and warmth in the adults who are with young children. They need us to be adults and be responsible for caring for them and loving them unconditionally and making appropriate choices for them until they are ready to make their own. While it is helpful to know generally how children develop, each child unfolds differently. Setting clear boundaries for children helps them to feel safe and cared for, but it is important that these boundaries are based on our observations of what they need and are able to do rather than our expectations. In a classroom setting, we also need to find a balance between letting the children just be themselves and creating an environment that supports the whole community.
When I taught the nursery class, parents would often ask me how I disciplined the children if they were acting out. I would tell them that it really depended on the child. Really, young children learn through imitation, so I would trust that if I acted as kindly and thoughtfully as I could, they would eventually learn to do the same. Each action a child takes is a form of communication and it is up to the adult to interpret that language, to listen deeply, with love and without judgment.. If a child was having a hard time, she might need to sit with teacher for a while and help with her work, while another would need a clear “no.” For some children a clear “no” would reduce them to tears and a more gentle approach was more effective. Sometimes the child would need something to eat or to go to the bathroom. Whatever I did or said to the child came out of my love and respect for them and from my knowledge that whatever they were doing, it was the very best they could do at that moment. All of our little ones are doing the best they can.
Next week we will begin discussing Chapter 4, “Indoor Play,” in Heaven on Earth.by Sharifa Oppenheimer
There are two special events coming up that you might be interested in:
If you would like to meet our other wonderful Early Childhood teachers, we will be having an open house for our parent child parents, for adults only, this Saturday, January 12 from 1-2:30PM in the Early Childhood classrooms. Please RSVP to me or the Jenn Zielinski if you would like to come.
On February 12, from 7-8:30, we will be presenting and Early Childhood Curriculum Evening in the auditorium. Some of the early childhood faculty will speak about how we meet the needs of the different ages of children in the mixed age classrooms. One of our educational support teachers will speak about first grade readiness, and one of our grade school teachers will talk about how we teach children math and reading in first and second grade. It should be an interesting evening. Parent child parents are invited, as well as all the early childhood parents and parents who have applied to our EC program for next year. Again, please let Jenn Zielinski or me know if you are planning to attend.