Friday, June 15, 2012

a Waldorf morning

good morning dear earth
good morning dear sun
good morning dear trees and flowers every one
good morning dear beasts and birds in the tree
good morning to you and good morning to me

-source unknown

I spent a beautiful morning with Marieka, a homeschooling mom who uses the Waldorf philosophy for education.  She has three children, the oldest is 5 and she is in "Kindergarten", the middle is 3 and youngest is a year and a half.  The younger children participate in the morning as well and Waldorf is such a gentle approach with singing, rhymes and storytelling that it is natural for young children to enjoy "school" without having to keep busy while the older child does school with mom.  I love that!

We arrived to their rural homestead around 10 am and were welcomed in. A candle was lit in the room to indicate the beginning of our morning together.  We started the morning with the good morning verse written above and each child was welcomed individually using their name.  The morning continued with beautiful songs (one with guitar accompaniment), rhymes and action songs.  Marieka moved through the songs seamlessly without introducing them and everything was memorized on her part.  The children (and I) followed when we could and enjoyed the calm flow of the morning.

The setting for the morning songs and rhymes was a central room in their house, painted a light pastel with wood and natural fibers/cloth used for toys and storage. Waldorf education is an educational system based on a child's development.  Waldorf education believes in the education of the whole child, encompassing the head, heart and hands. The rhythm of the day is emphasized in their home with even the songs and rhymes and stories repeated for a couple of weeks.

Let's put on our coats and zip them all the way
It is very cold on the wintry day
Next comes boots, mittens and hat
Now we are ready, just like that
But it is so cold, let's get warm by moving about

Clap your hands, spin around, jump in and jump out!
Now we are read to take a journey,
To find King Winter's castle, follow me.

"Wynstones" by Nancy Foster

We had the icy tunnel, two frozen rivers and frozen log to cross over and the children enjoyed this active rhyme very much.

We moved to the kitchen for the storytelling.  A candle was lit at the large dining room table and the children sat quietly, listening to Marieka and her story of the little duck and his search for fish through the ice.

We had a yummy snack of popcorn popped on the stove (coated with butter and nutritional yeast... a new favorite around here!) and I seized the opportunity to ask Marieka a few questions about her experiences with Waldorf and why she chooses this method for her family. She discovered Waldorf through a relative who homeschooled using this philosophy and then in Ontario, took training at the Waldorf training program in Toronto. She had one year of preparatory studies in anthroposophpy, which is the philosophy founded by Rudolf Steiner.  This philosophy is the foundation of Waldorf education, and the first Waldorf school opened in 1919 in Germany.

Marieka's second year of training focused on 4 practicums.  As a student teacher, she focused on carving, dance and clay.  Marieka also worked at The South Shore Waldorf School for a year and a half.  She is a strong believer in the importance of being a teacher for your children in the early years, and is passionate about educating the whole child. Waldorf reflects what might have traditionally happened at home with young  children, following rhythms of the day and with no traditional academics in the early years.  Marieka may not have always known she would stay at home and homeschool but it seems natural and beautiful the way the children respond to this type of learning in her home.

Outdoor life is another very important aspect of Waldorf education.  In fact, some schools take place entirely outdoors.  Every day, after snack, Marieka and her children head outside.  I happened to be there on a beautiful sunny day, with a fresh snowfall from the night before.  Charlotte could have stayed out all afternoon!

Thank you, Marieka for letting me participate in a memorable homeschooling morning. We truly enjoyed this experience and appreciate the peek into your Waldorf homeschool!


  1. Lovely blog post and like the new banner! Have you incorporated any of these learning techniques with your girls? Such a beautiful and peaceful approach!

  2. Very inspiring! We use an eclectic approach, and I'd love to incorporate some Waldorf, too.

  3. That's absolutely beautiful. One of my friends daughters goes to a Waldorf playgroup here and what she's told me about sounds like I would love it. It's super expensive to join though....