Another year has passed, and with it, joy, dreams and lessons learned.
As I busied myself sewing a doll, I could not but draw a parallel between the education of our children and how long it takes to complete each part of the doll with care, making sure that each step is done as well as possible and finished before starting another. It is all about patience and love, and only when I put the pieces together, can I appreciate the result. So it is with education, to a certain extent.
Educating our children should be all about love, believing in what they are and what they will become. It is about the time we spend with them, playing, laughing, crying, talking, discussing, arguing, teaching, creating, observing, being happy, being sad, and looking around us. And each moment, day, year passing reveals more of the character of our child. And it has to be respected. And, one day, he or she will become an independent, responsible adult; there is no doubt about it.
I am glad that the teachers of the Village Waldorf School taught me to have a broader appreciation of my daughter. They taught me that it is worth waiting for every milestone in my child’s life and not to rush her into learning material she is not ready for.
And it has been difficult because children from Waldorf schools are often seen as being behind those attending main-stream schools, when, in fact, they are learning the many ways people of our world lived and evolved, with their diverse cultures and beliefs. It helps the child, as an individual, to find their own place in the society. It is quite different from learning subjects that do not seem to relate with each other.
To find their place in the society the child must have a balanced and well rounded education: all subjects must be taken into account: music, sewing, wood working, knitting, sport as well as academic subjects. In a Waldorf school, academic children are invited to learn to use their hands and to exercise; creative and manual children are praised.
This broad approach is most effective if the children are encouraged to do all kinds of activities at home as well.
Of course, we parents tend to see mostly the amount of mess it is going to generate! But when our children show the will to create, there is no way that we should stop them.
A problem, for me, is that my youngest daughter always wants to do projects that seem beyond her reach. They are all in her head, these big projects of hers whether she inspired herself from a book or researched them on the Internet.
So, how do we cope with it?
First she has to explain verbally what she wants to do and for which purpose. Then, her father will ask her to draw what she intends to do as well as she can. Most of the time, we have to convince her to simplify it to make sure the project is viable and can be done in a feasible period of time (and that it will not lie around for weeks on end). She accepts these compromises with complaints and vociferation, because, of course, all looked so easy on the internet. Depending on what she wants to do and on our own skills, we, the parents or older sisters, try to show her what techniques she can use to achieve her goal (papier-maché, copying a pattern, sewing, crocheting, knitting, cooking, etc.). Finally, we discuss what material or ingredients she needs (and how much it will cost) and she has to promise to clean up afterwards (which is the most difficult part of the project).
Now, at the age of 12 she can set her heart on ‘running’ a project from A to Z and she is really proud of it (and us too!).
I am telling you all this just to prove my points above: you child will grow and show you what it is capable of in its own time (whether you despair or not, so see him or her growing up faster). Comparing your child to another and rushing him or her to achieve tasks he or she cannot do yet only results in making you and your child miserable.
Love your child as he or she is, give him or her opportunities and have faith!
My youngest with her Spinosaurus piñata