The Living Arts: Social

Celebrating December Festivals by Susan Silverio

Faith Collins wrote: Have you ever wanted to do something special for a festival and then thought, "No, I could never get all of the parents to keep their voices down/sit still/wear appropriate clothing/sing the same song?"  See how Susan Siverio helps the parents at Spindlewood Waldorf Kindergarten and LifeWays Center, to prepare for their Advent Spiral in early December.  She sets the scene, shares the adult symbolism of the event, and asks that parents allow their children to have their own experiences, without the adult interpretations.

A New Room by Sandra Schmidt

        As I wait for my new suite to be completed, I have had the time to think about how well I do with transitions and change. Just when I think the move is imminent and I start to prepare myself for the new rhythm we will have in our new surroundings, a delay occurs that sets back our move-in date. It can be frazzling even for a grown-up. It has also made me examine how I am in supporting the children in my care when there is a change. Songs help transitions -- from washing our hands to getting to the table for meals. A strong daily and weekly rhythm helps too.  With the new suite we talk about our future in the room. We've made visits to the room at various points during the construction and we have talked about how some things will remain the same -- yes, we will be taking our toys with us.

The Joy of Connecting Face to Face by Sandra Schmidt

Sandra writes: Sometimes people wonder why we don't have any media at LifeWays, even audio CD players for music. Recently I saw Miss Jane (the former lead caregiver of our suite) and, as early childhood teachers are wont to do, we updated each other on the children in our care. She let me know how the children that had left LifeWays and my care last fall were doing in Kindergarten and I filled her in on the milestones of the children that had been in her care before she left LifeWays to join the Tamarack School community.

The Process of Becoming by Mary O'Connell

Mary writes: I am kneading dough and lost in thought. It is our last supper.  Our youngest child is leaving for college in the morning and has requested homemade pizza for her last dinner at home. As she heads upstairs to pack up the final boxes, I work the dough, wondering whether she has learned everything she needs to know before she heads out into the world, hoping she’ll meet people who are kind to her and who appreciate her for the unique and spirited person she is.

It’s funny, I remember as I add a little more flour to the dough, I was worried about these same things eighteen years ago when we sent our first child off to kindergarten. Was he ready? Would the world outside our home receive him with kindness? Some things never change, I guess. At each transition for all three of my children, I have fretted over the same things.

Presence in the Digital Age by Jaimmie Stugard

Our phones are now indelibly bound up with our aesthetic souls.

 And today, both are always on.” Robert Capps, WIRED

             A couple of years ago, my husband asked me what I wanted for Mother's Day.  I told him that all I wanted was to wake up in a tidy house and go to bed at night in a tidy house and that I did not want to clean on that particular Sunday.  He looked at me and said, “Can't I just get you a smart phone?” “No thanks,” I laughed,  “I don't need a distraction in my pocket.” Honestly, I was never really attracted to the device.  I learned to like my simple, small flip phone that made calls and received calls and not much more.   

Sharing Christmas with Children by Laura Cassidy

Laura writes:

“The notes I handle no better than many pianists.

But the pauses between the notes—

Ah, that is where the art resides.”

-Artur Schnabel, legendary classical pianist

Thanksgivakkuh by Serenity Gordon

Serenity writes: This year Hanukkah falls on Thanksgiving for the first time since 1888. It won't happen again until 70,000 + years from now. So this Thanksgivakkuh is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Hanukkah is a minor Jewish holiday.  Although it is often compared to Christmas, the meaning is actually much more  complementary to the meaning of Thanksgiving.  Hanukkah commemorates the Maccabees who fought for religious freedom, and the miracle of the oil that burned in the temple for eight nights, when there was only oil enough for one.  Thanksgiving commemorating the pilgrims who arrived on the Mayflower in pursuit of religious freedom and the gratitude for that first bountiful harvest.

A New Mom Balancing Fundamentalism with the Fundamentals of LifeWays, by Kerry Madrid

Kerry writes:  I grew up on the East Coast, lived for eleven years in a tiny ski town in Colorado and five years ago moved to the North Bay area of California.  My westward migration opened my mind more and more, the closer I got to the Pacific.  We settled in a small progressive town about an hour north of San Francisco in Sonoma County.  The weather, beautiful coast, foods, and free-spirited lifestyle still feel like I'm on a long vacation.  The biggest change is that all of the things in my life that were once considered "different" or "alternative," were very much the norm here.  There are three Waldorf schools in town and, for a Waldorf teacher, this is really nice.  Yes, for the job opportunities and to send my own child to one of these fine schools--but also because I was tired of being asked, "A Waldorf teacher? Like the salad?"  Yes, like the salad.

Transforming No into Yes! by Faith Collins

If I had to choose one point—and only one point—to share with people about my keynote address at the conference, it would be the idea that many times when children say “No” to us, what they’re really trying to say is, “I don’t feel as connected to you right now as I wish I did.” 

When we can hear a request for connection, we can respond much differently than we would if we were translating that “No” as, “I’m separate from you and don’t want to do what you want,” or, “I’m testing your boundaries and resolve and seeing if you really mean what you say.”  What a profound difference, and what a profoundly different response we can give.

Materialism, by Jaimmie Stugard

Jaimmie writes:  Recently, a plumber came to LifeWays to repair the garbage disposal.  At the time, we were getting dressed to go outdoors.  As soon as they caught sight of the plumber with his toolbox, a group of little boys in hastily-assembled outdoor gear were in the kitchen doorway watching the “worker guy.”   One by one, I coaxed the intent observers back to their hooks to finish dressing. We fixed backwards snow pants and adjusted an upside-down jacket, put on a missing boot and a discarded mitten.  Throughout the entire process, the little fellas kept inching toward the kitchen and stealing glances at the plumber (all the girls were in preschool on this particular day). 


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