One Mom Tells All

November 11, 2012

This post will share another blog post of a Kelowna Waldorf Mom and her experience with our Parent and Tot program:

“Gnomes & Fairies: It’s a Waldorf Thing”

Written by Sarah Dhooge

Swimming, library program, skating, tumble time, music classes.

I had it all scheduled for the little man. LOVED the idea of 6 am coffee at the rink; followed by 5pm coffee at the soccer pitch. Go, go, go; learn, develop, achieve, succeed!

The “rug-rat race” had begun, I was full speed ahead racing.  My eco-granola-ey friends (that I adore so they won’t mind me calling them that) had  all listened, had all smiled at me and my big plans; so gracious in their ability to not comment, suggest, or judge. They just went along their merry way, playing outside in the mud, with their simple wooden and felted “toys” and of course those dolls with no faces. Outside, with the gnomes and fairies.

“Intrigued, I heard them talking about some Waldorf-thing, and I quickly jumped to the whole “oh yeah, it’s a Montessori-thing” (which, in my newly found experience, have realized is SO not the same thing). Then I started the dialogue with a few of these aforementioned friends, and they started to tell me a little bit about what it was all about. They were not selling it; just simply telling me what it had meant to them. So, I too, started reading about the whole Waldorf-thing for preschool and elementary education.

“So, my hats came on.

“First, my Speech-Language Pathologist hat came on, and I liked what I read: lots of songs, poems, legend and fable storytelling, following the young child’s lead in play. A focus on imitation, use of movement, foreign language learning, “people games”, and direct language arts (including reading and writing) instruction.


Next, my Crafty hat came on, and I liked what I read: classroom toys and equipment made of natural materials that encouraged imaginative play; “handwork” (beeswax and clay modelling, baking, sewing, knitting, felting, painting,wood sculpting, etc); and an (often) decreased use of computers and electronic gadgets.

Then, my own Eco-granola-ey hat came on, and I liked what I read: lots of outdoor play (and healthy snacks!); the opportunity to learn about, respect and explore the environment around them;  respect and learn about different countries, religions and cultures; a focus on independent thinking and feeling; and the incorporation of the seasons, music, visual arts, and drama into all curriculum years.

My Parent hat came on next, and I liked what I read: a focus on the building of imagination, problem-solving capacity, creative thinking, moral and social responsibility; academic excellence in addition to strong interpersonal skill development; respect and cooperation, not competition; positivity when looking into the future, and a focus on developing a child’s own spirit, compassion, and reverence.

of course, my Researcher hat had to come on. I started reading about all the curriculum, history, theory, opinions, the pros and cons, and the personal stories. How the Silicon Valley geniuses were all sending their kids; and how research (varying in quality with regards to research design) on these graduating kiddos  looked, well, pretty wonderful (oh, and I breathed a sigh of relief when my biggest fear, the whole “They don’t teach reading right away?!?”thing got extinguished by actually learning about the process and method of developing a passion for reading that is built into the curriculum.)

Finally, the most important hat came on: the Mom hat. I went and experienced a Waldorf Parent and Child Playgroup. I admit, I arrived sceptical despite all that I had read and heard (I also had my Business hat on, where I recognized that Waldorf schools do charge a tuition).

Here is what happened:
We played outside in the sand and grass with my son’s favourite things on earth: rakes and brooms and kitchen utensils (sweet!). We climbed and slid down the slide; we played in the wooden house (where, apparently, the gnomes live), and in the garden (also where the gnomes, apparently, live). We then held hands made a circle as “wide as the sun”, and sang a good morning song, welcoming everyone and shaking each others hands (little man of course danced in the circle then had to shake everyone’s hand, twice). Everyone waited, patiently, as my little man was allowed to make the rounds, stopping here and there to give a few hugs to his new friends.

Inside the gingerbread-esque house, we played in the open, cozy space: In the corner, a simple, pretend kitchen with dishes and utensils, all wooden and easy for little hands to manipulate, and table with chairs for all the little ones to sit at. There were dolls and cradles and doll clothes, all knit and sewn with care (all the little girls went to town.) Wooden ride-on toys; felted fruit and gnomes to play with and felted balls to play catch with. We baked bread as a collective; singing along the way. We ate a healthy communal snack, on real china with little glass cups (my how little hands can handle this, if we patiently give them the chance!). Then more circle time with songs and songs and more songs; all with movement and dance and general, all-around glee.

My first day, I left in tears. Honestly, I have never in my entire life of working in schools and daycares and preschools, have I EVER been in such an environment. Warm, accepting, peaceful, supportive, calm. The type of environment that I felt in my heart would foster the development of my little man into a caring, kind, responsible and positive person. A good soul.

All hats, research and opinions aside; I left with my own soul completely happy.

The proof (I needed) was in the pudding; and little man fell fast asleep with a sweet smile, his still-warm bread clutched tight to his chest.”