Waldorf In The Home

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Goddess Wednesday: Barbara Dewey

Last weekend, I attended an inspiring workshop led by the pioneer of Waldorf Homeschooling, Barbara Dewey. She drove all the way from her Taproot Farm in Ohio to be with us here in Pennsylvania. For years, I've wanted to attend her weekend retreat, but the drive and my homebody-self could never make the commitment. Thanks to my friend, Megan, who invited Barbara to spend the weekend with us. It was a true blessing. 

I learned many things from Barbara 's workshop, and here I list just a few:

*Stop over-intellectualizing the curriculum. It really is that simple. 

*Let them play. 

*Form drawing is fun and therapeutic. Let it happen. Stop over-thinking it. 

*Bean bag games are fun, and tricky even for us adults.  

*Child-led learning is PLAY. No need to over-think it or put a label to it. 

*Encourage your children's passion, don't dictate it. 

*Let them play more. 

*Writing affirmations about your children and meditating on these affirmations will improve any difficulties that we are experiencing with  them.  Here is a sample of my affirmation:

Vivian is a child from our dear Mother Earth. 

I imagine Vivian not over stepping boundaries 
or consumed in thoughts of getting treats. 

I am in awe and very thankful for Vivian's loving spirit to all living things. 

*Inner work is vital. It paves the way for Mamas and Papas to create a calm, healthy home environment for ourselves and our family. Take the time to do it everyday. No one else can do this for us.  The calm energy comes from within. 

*Carschoolers - a new term for homeschoolers who drive around all day attending classes. They can easily turn any calm, Waldorfy class into chaos.  I love this new term as I have experienced it first hand and of course Barbra's subtle sense of humor is well, funny. 

*Keep a rhythm. Maintain a nice calm, inner and outer breath throughout the day. 

*Let them play outside. 

*Practicing yoga with children is ok even if Rudolf Steiner never did it.

*There is no such thing as Waldorf police.  If you are doing something non-Waldorf and it works for you keep doing it. 

*Social comparison is a waste of time. Just be authentic and well-meaning.  

Homeschooling in the Waldorf tradition isn't about following a curriculums as much as it is about living an intentional lifestyle that inspires learning. As adults we tend to over-intellectualize this concept. We worry about our children and if they are getting enough. Am I doing enough?  I think the best advice is to decide which path you are going to follow or start and then trust that path. Do your inner work, keep your house tidy and welcoming,  make art, create a soft place to land at night, eat healthy food, tell stories, involve all family members in house chores, get enough sleep, keep mainstream thoughts in mainstream, and create a rhythm that works for YOU and your family and ENJOY being together.  There are no rules to living this lifestyle. It is more about reverence, and connecting to what is really important to you. For us, that is our family life and our connection with nature. 

I admit, I was really nervous about not teaching my oldest to read until half way into second grade. I trusted the process,  listened intently and followed what the seasoned Waldorf educators promised and it worked. I never "taught" Ella to read, she just started reading one day.  Poof. I didn't sway or supplement. I didn't let mainstream ideas deter us, but I easily could have. Inner work has always brought me back to my first intentions: to preserve childhood and family life through home education. 

It was very inspiring to be surrounded by twenty other Mamas and some Papas who share the same passion for Waldorf education in the home as much as I do. Barbra Dewey is a wise, kind spirit. She is confident and self-assured. She is a Waldorf Goddess.   I enjoyed her workshop very much. 

If you are not familiar with Barbara Dewey you can find out more about her at her website Waldorf Without Walls.  

Thank you Barbara for coming to Pennsylvania and sharing your passion with us. 

Much love and gratitude, 

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