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.
The Living Arts: Nurturing
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….
Antes de que Mateo llegara a nuestras vidas yo escuche muchos, diferentes y variados comentarios acerca de como lograr que los niños duerman seguido y por largo tiempo. Esto hizo que mi esposo y yo nos dispusieramos a leer, aprender e informarnos acerca de este tema en profundidad. Especialmente porque yo tengo bien claro que soy una persona que necesita dormir bien, para sentirme fuerte, presente y dispuesta a cuidar de otros. Algo que llamo bastante mi atención fue la frase “A los bebes hay que enseñarles que se duerme de noche y se esta despierto de día, por supuesto mostrandoles con claridad la diferencia entre el día y la noche”. Fue entonces cuando yo comprendí que en realidad el nuevo ser no sabe nada de horarios o de tiempo, ni siquiera sabe distinguir entre la noche y el día.
With an average of ten toddlers from the ages of 18 months to 3 years in an indoor space, there are times during the children’s free play when they need additional quiet rest times, that supplement the traditional afternoon nap. These “rest times” generally do not involve sleep, but allow children who have been hurt, anxious, overtired or overwhelmed to settle back into their bodies and gather themselves. These framed rest times positively affect the quality of the day not only for the individual who receives them, but for the other children and teachers as well. This allows for a more peaceful and fluid day all around.
"In our modern civilization, where all eyes concentrate on outer, material things, no attention is given to the state of sleep, although man devotes to it one third of his daily life. Never should it be thought that man is inactive while he sleeps. He is inactive only in so far as the outer external world is concerned but as regards to the health of his body, and more especially in the health of his soul and spirit, sleep is all important. True education can provide for a right life of sleep, for whatever activities belong to a man's waking hours are carried over into the conditioned of sleep, and this is especially the case with the child."
Rudolf Steiner, The Modern Art of Education
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