Serenity writes: When I had my first son, Noah, I had to return to work quickly. I was lucky that as a private-duty nurse I was able to bring my baby to work with me and have him looked after by the wonderful loving family of my patients. I planned to practice attachment parenting and was a co-sleeping, baby-wearing, exclusively breastfeeding new mother. I was a happy new mom, but I always felt rushed through my day, trying to get everything done and be good at every role I played. I thought at the time that I should offer my son every educational gimmick on the market. I purchased programs that claimed to make my baby an Einstein and teach him to read as early as humanly possible, as well as other books and videos that are promoted throughout parenting magazines and baby registries.
Rahima writes: In 1984 another Waldorf teacher and I dropped out of the school to be home more and opened one of the early home-based Waldorf programs in the country. As lead teacher, I essentially re-created a Waldorf kindergarten for three- and four-year-olds in a dedicated room in her home that opened out into the yard. Since working with 12 children instead of 19 was easy for me, she was free to tend to her new baby and put him down for a morning nap before joining us. This all went on upstairs, away from the children, because who had ever heard of a baby in a Waldorf kindergarten or preschool?
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).
[Editor's Note: This article explores personal experiences with two of the attributes of "The L.O.V.E. Approach to Discipline" developed by LifeWays founder, Cynthia Aldinger. To learn more or to share your own experiences, see information at the end of this article.
L - laughter and listening
O- order and objectivity
V - versatility and vulnerability
E - enthusiasm and energy]
Today as I lie next to my sleeping eldest child, watching her breathing calm and her sweet hands twitch from dreamy wonder, I whispered an apology. I had grown impatient with her just before she fell asleep. Ellia, four-and-a-quarter years old, is my deeply sensitive thinker of a child with a stubborn streak. More often than not, she resists napping.
At Rainbow Bridge we always scheduled our “Winter Festival” on the last day before winter break. We would invite all the parents to come from 11:30-12:30 and take their children home with them—no afternoon care that day because it’s so hard for children to have parents come and go without taking them home. Because December is COLD in Colorado, this festival required careful planning to fit everyone inside! Here’s how we did it.
I'd like to share with you something I learned last Fall. It was mid-September, and there was a new little boy in the room, one of many. This boy however, rather than bond with all the teachers equally, bonded exclusively with me. I must admit, it made me feel special. I alone had the power to comfort this little one. I was happy to give him a comforting smile when he looked for me. I was delighted to pick him up when he reached for me. Our dynamic continued in this way for a week or two.
Children love the jolly jack-o-lanterns, but at Spindlewood we like to keep our pumpkins alive all year round, beginning with hunting for them in the overgrown summer garden.
I didn’t mean to be a gardener. Somehow it just happened -or did it? My earliest memories of gardening were the ones of an annoyed teen being forced to help dig and build beds for a large succulent garden that would one day become the front yard for a LifeWays center in San Diego set in an organic garden environment. The seeds of working with the soil, plants, and seasons were subtly planted in my soul by the very act of helping my parents to tend their (our) garden.
Some celebrations can be so fun and so simple-- not much more than the highlighting of a special day. One of the simplest at our house was celebrating the first hike of spring. All we did was to make a hobo bag for each of us, then go off on the first hike of spring, celebrating Nature’s awakening, and delighting in the increasing light and warmth. We used bandanas (but you could use large cloth napkins) to wrap our lunch in and knotted each onto a dead branch or old sunflower stalk sanded where you hold it. These were our hobo sticks, which each person carried over their shoulder. I carried the extras -- water bottles or whatever -- in a backpack.
LifeWays goal is to support the development of home in the lives of children, families, and caregivers because we see home as the natural environment for young children and home-like settings as the ideal for childcare. We do this by offering trainings, seminars, and workshops that lift the participants out of the chaos of the world and reorient them to the foundations of meaningful, purposeful, delightful living. We do this because we know that children thrive in the presence of adults who find meaning in life, who are engaged in purposeful activity and who delight in finding the “yes” in whatever life tosses their way.
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