Amanda writes: One way that LifeWays is unique is because it has mixed-age groups of children. Many times people have asked me if it is harder to have a variety of different ages in my care, but I always tell them it’s actually easier. Having a mixed-age group allows the children to be in the same suite, with the same children and with the same caregivers, from the time they start to when they go off to “big kid school.” This allows the children to form strong relationships with both the other children and their caregivers.
The Living Arts: Nurturing
Jeremy writes: At LifeWays we encourage the development of strong bonds and relationships between the children who attend the center and their peers, caregivers, and parents. In addition to these relationships we strive to reinforce a relationship between the children and their food. Just as important as the relationships that strengthen the community the child resides in, the relationship with their food provides both physical nourishment and nourishment of the soul, as well as an appreciation for the bountiful harvests that the planet allows us to produce.
Jennifer writes: A few weeks ago during a visit to my parents’ home, my oldest daughter was working contentedly with her Opa. I was on the phone at the end of the driveway, when suddenly she walked towards me. Making eye contact only briefly, she paraded past me with her chin up and a grin on her lips. She defiantly walked down the sidewalk away from the house never so much as glancing towards me—and I let her go. I let her go to see how far she needed to go.
I haven’t written an article in several weeks, and I have been blaming a writer’s block; I know exactly what I want to say and yet cannot seem to find the words. Several days ago, however, I admitted the unspoken truth: I am burned out. There, I said it (actually, I just got off a bit easier, since I wrote it…). It is difficult for me to admit when I am in need of a break from my children. Actually, I think that may have been one of only three times ever. Ugh, I can barely even write that sentence. What a horrible thing to say when I am so head-over-heels in love with each of them! However, I need to remember that it is not really about taking a break from them, but rather, taking some time for myself. After giving so much of ourselves, each and every one of us needs time to invest in some good ol’ self-care.
This piece, taken from Jennifer's 2013 LifeWays paper on "Becoming Worthy of Imitation," is the last of three installments.
The Language of Technology
“A mighty creature is the germ,
Though smaller than a pachyderm.
His customary dwelling place
Is deep within the human race.
His childish pride he often pleases
By giving people strange diseases.
Do you, my poppet, feel infirm?
You probably contain a germ.”
Beret writes: One of the things I love most about the LifeWays approach to early childhood is the respect given to a child's pace. Children are given ample time to get through any given activity. They are not rushed or told to hurry. Adults do not do things for them even though it may be easier and faster in the moment. Once they are old enough, they are given the time and support needed to complete their own tasks, such as hanging up their coats, getting dressed, etc. Mealtimes and snack times are sit down events, allowing for good digestion, appreciation of the food that has been prepared and each other's company. Lots of time is spent in free play, both inside and outdoors. Adult led academic learning is delayed until grade school. This allows time for the child to grow a healthy physical body, which is the main task of the first seven years.
Getting children to try new foods can be a daunting task. Each child has his own palate which can be wildly different from siblings’ and other children’s in a similar age group. Every child will try new foods at their own pace, but there are various ways in which to expedite the process. Pairing new foods with familiar foods, considering portion size, and positive reinforcement when new foods are eaten by the child all help the child to try new things.
Jaimmie writes: It is another frigid Wisconsin day here at LifeWays Milwaukee, and we are getting all bundled up to go outside. We begin by making sure everyone has at least two layers on top and bottom. The children go to their drawers to fetch extra pants, socks and sweaters, and we start pulling on all of our layers. I help the youngest children by laying out their snowsuits for them and helping them get their legs into place. I remind them to keep pulling until they see their feet. We go on like this for quite some time, singing a merry tune as we work, “Snowpants, boots, jacket, hat – Mittens are always last.”
There are so many festivals of light at this time of year, especially in countries where the days grow short. You may have seen pictures of the oldest daughter in Sweden, wearing a crown of burning candles and bringing pastries to the family on the morning of December 13th, Santa Lucia’s Day. (It’s a long, interesting story how this celebration got from Sicily to Scandinavia!)
This festival of light was also celebrated at the Waldorf Institute when we did the teacher training there: all the families with children were invited to leave their homes open the night of December 12th for the Santa Lucia angels to come in singing and give a star cookie to each child they gently awoke. I was living with five adults and three children at the time and decided not to tell anyone else about our angelic visitors, so you can imagine that the adults were even more amazed than the children….
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