January 27, 2017

In the Waldorf community you will hear the word 'rhythm' a lot. I have loved learning more about what rhythm looks like and how to create a more Waldorf inspired environment in our days at home. At first I just thought, okay you're replacing the words 'routine' or 'schedule' with 'rhythm' and making it sound 'prettier.' And in a sense that is exactly what rhythm is but with more intention and that is the part of it I've fallen in love with. The point of creating daily rhythm is to slow down, create calm, encourage creativity and i'm sure the list could go on (I'm still learning.) For us, keeping to a schedule just meant we did x y and z at certain times of the day but there was no real intention or mindfulness behind any of it. Don't get me wrong, we still eat, nap, sleep at specific times but the freedom I've found through creating these natural rhythms has been so, so good for me and my girls in our days. And also, I'm still learning and struggling to find balance in creating these rhythms versus falling into old habits like having the TV on for my daughter while I'm cooking or putting the baby in for naps, etc. Another element that has been hard for us to work around is the fact that Ru does not like to play or work if i'm not with her AT ALL. We are a work in progress and I'd love to hear from others who are maybe on a similar journey.

So what does that actually look like? For me, our home environment is a huge part of it. No clutter, clean spaces (of course you can't focus so much on this aspect or you'll go crazy but it definitely helps set the tone,) soft music playing throughout a lot of the day (Renee and Jeremy are a favorite around here) a lot of creating through art, a lot of candles, involvement from my girl in preparing meals, washing dishes, taking care of plants and designated quiet times. As part of quiet time I just started having it start by making my daughter a cup of tea (which I got from other Waldorf mama's.) It's just a nice, quiet way to set the tone of quieting her body and she loves adding honey and stirring it. I often will turn on a show for her at this point in the day which I have a love hate relationship with but I just can't figure out another way for her to rest her body without needing me. I've tried a basket of books, some music, even just some coloring but she always ends up running wild with her imagination (which is not a bad thing!) and doesn't end up resting at all. We are working on it. (Also with that said, I am definitely in the camp of thinking a bit of TV is not the end of the world. She has honestly learned so much from shows like Daniel Tiger, Creative Galaxy, and sweet shows like Stella and Sam. So no shame there! :) Anywho....

How do I incorporate daily rhythm and Montessori idea's together? Well, a huge part of the Montessori philosophy rests in the idea of the prepared environment. I've talked a lot about this is the past but to touch on it again, for us this means my children have access to everything they need in a day without needing assistance from me. Their toys or 'work', snacks, water, their dishes and utensils, their clothing and shoes, etc. Ruthie finds so much joy from real life work and it helps me slow down and allow her to be independent. Sometimes that looks like 5 extra minutes to get shoes on but she is so confident and happy when she is able to do these sorts of tasks on her own. When we actually give our children the gift of independence, you will find they are so capable! I also love Montessori materials so we have quiet a bit of those in our play/work space. (I mention what we have out right now in this post.)

I'd love to hear what your days look like and what sorts of 'rhythms' you've created in your home.


January 19, 2017

If you follow me over on Instagram, you know there aren't a lot of things I love more than making a home and Montessori / Waldorf education. I wanted to share bits of our play and work environment here to talk a little bit about the intentional choices we've made in this particular space for our children. First off, before I had my girls, I was a Montessori primary teacher. I love everything about the philosophy and could talk for days about it. I'm a huge nerd when it comes right down to it. I am also aware that our home environment (and the way I teach my children) doesn't fall into the strict, traditional Montessori pedology. So, 'true' Montessorians would disagree with my incorporation of Waldorf (And vice versa for Waldorfians) but I find the both of them to be beautiful educational philosophies and I also believe there is not one single, or right or wrong way we must educate our children. I take the things that work for us, that I find beautiful about each method, and apply them here at home. My aim is to nurture my children as a whole, help them find their unique identities, instill in them confidence, teach them to serve others, respect nature and one another and learn in a safe, welcoming, loving environment. As a side note, I do find that there are a lot of similarities in the two philosophies, although strict followers of either would probably disagree with me there too. 

We also have wonderful Montessori and Waldorf programs in our city and it has been a gift to have my oldest daughter experience both. She goes to Montessori two days a week now and I'll start my baby bird in a parent/child Waldorf nature class next fall then into the same Montessori program once she's 3 1/2. We may have them do Waldorf summer programs or enrichment classes here and there too. I love that we can just see how we feel and decide as the time comes. Im finding that sort of freedom really empowering with our decision to partially homeschool. 

Anywho! This space! I have it mostly set up in the traditional Montessori sense of low level shelves with work set out completely ready for them to use with little to no help from me. I do have some traditional materials out for them as well- sandpaper letters, the pink tower, numbers and counters, spindle boxes, and the moveable alphabet. I also have a play kitchen, a lot of art materials and baby dolls out which all fall more in line with the Waldorf philosophy. While Montessori stresses the importance of reality, real materials and real work, which I love, I do also really like the whimsy, imaginative aspects that Waldorf encourages. I think there can be a nice mix of the two that doesn't create confusion in the child while still allowing them to work and play all in the same breadth. 

I am actually interested in adding a few more Waldorf touches to the space including a nature table and natural fabrics. I think it is also important to note that neither of these philosophies, at their core, are about materials. These beautiful methods can be implemented in your home, regardless of financial means. With a bit of research and commitment to practicing you can certainly achieve your educational/lifestyle goals.

A few sources that might help in understanding the philosophies better, and some of my own personal favorites:






January 11, 2017

I've been thinking so much lately about raising a family in the city versus the suburbs versus the country and what each place can offer and what each place lacks and is there one that's better than the other? Recently a friend posted something to social media about their new home in the suburbs, leaving the city and some comments I read really got me thinking. The city is overrated. The country is so much better for kids. It's so much safer. Quieter, etc. I wonder, can one environment be really amazing while the others are amazing too? Does everything have to be better or worse? I certainly believe the beauty and freedom nature allows in children is extremely valuable and that children connect to nature in a way most adults have a hard time understanding. I've seen my own daughter explore creeks and woods in awe and it really is quite magical. I also believe that exposing children to people and density is extremely valuable. The ability to interact with people of different races and class, I believe is giving our children a broader world view - that they are a very small part of a very big, diverse, complex place. I want them to learn what it looks like to help your neighbors, show compassion and make in impact in our community, in our daily life. Equally, I think we have a lot to learn about what it means for us to be good neighbors to others. I am also finding a lot of (a lot!) of value in walking almost everywhere we go. We have the opportunity for a lot of conversation, observation and exploration just from getting from point A to point B. And as a huge added bonus - it is SO nice for Nick and I to be able to walk anywhere we please on those rare date nights.

So I think what I'm trying to get at is, where we choose to raise our families is almost irrelevant compared to HOW we choose to raise our families. My children still have a lot of exposure to the outdoors and to nature and outdoor play is a part of our everyday lives. We have a backyard and live a block from a huge, beautiful park and we are a 10 minute drive to some beautiful wooded hikes.

But more importantly than WHERE we live, is the idea that we are working to instill in them kindness, service, compassion, and their own unique identities in a very big, ever changing world. I want them to grow knowing they are capable and worthy. That it is more important to treat people with kindness than to get an A on a test. That Nick and I could care less what they grow up to be as long as they grow to be happy, caring and selfless.

It is tricky business raising little humans no matter where you are doing it and what I so love is that there isn't a right or better way to do it as long as you are doing it with the best of intentions. So carry on country mama's, suburban mama's and fellow city mama's. Let's raise some kick ass kids.

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