From a Parent-Toddler class through the grades, children in a Waldorf school are immersed in stories.
Starting with simple nature stories in the early childhood, children will hear many stories through the years: fairy tales, folk tales, fables, myths, legends, biographies, and stories from history, spoken aloud by the teacher and transmitted heart-to-heart.
In addition, academic subjects throughout the grades−from math to science to history to art to handwork—are all introduced through storytelling.
For example, in a past video blog post on Waldorf watercolor painting, I demonstrated how a kindergarten teacher might introduce painting with a story about “Tippy Brush,” who dips his toes into the water for a foot bath before inviting the other colors to come and play with him.
A first-grade teacher who is introducing the four processes of basic arithmetic may tell an imaginative story about Princess Plus, Duke Division, or Emperor Equal.
Teaching math through storytelling. Used with permission of the Bright Water School.
Introducing subjects through stories engages children’s imaginations and strengthens their inner picturing capabilities–their ability to create a picture in their “mind’s eye,” an essential skill for creative thinking later in life.
It took me many years of experience as a parent and Waldorf teacher before I learned a really important lesson.
I learned that when I really needed to get my message across to a child, it is much more effective to get down to the child’s level, look him in the eye, and speak in a quiet, calm voice.
When we yell, children (and adults!) tune us out. When emotions are flying high and voices are escalating, it can take a child by surprise to be spoken to in a tone close to a whisper. The child will stop what she’s doing to really hear what is being said.
We are adults. When children experience us as being in control of our emotions, they feel much more secure, even when their immature emotions are spiraling out-of-control. It is our job to keep calm and let children know that we are in control and able to help.
It’s not always easy to do with a screaming toddler or while a pair of siblings are pummeling each other, but it’s important to take a deep breath, stay focused in the present, and remind yourself that you are the adult, and that you are capable of responding calmly.
Wish I’d learned this when my own children were younger. I hope that many of you will learn this important lesson sooner than I did! It will absolutely result in more harmony—at home or in the classroom.
Do you have any discipline challenges, or tips to share? Please leave a comment!
Here are 10 fun ideas for getting kids outside and in nature this spring.
What are some of your favorite outdoor activities to do with your children? Please share them by leaving a comment below.
Happy spring and have fun!