There was a dance.
In a fowl play, someone “donated” these friends to the kindergarten yard. As first we were quite happy and then we figured out why they’d been dropped off over the 4 day weekend.
…..the lovely hen on the right is a HIM.
Order had a stage race in Phoenix Arizona. A stage race is 3 days of racing, a time trial (below) fastest time wins ,a road race 64 miles ! and a criterium (think NASCAR with no pit stop).
Two years ago to the day. She did it again, this time it’s a separated shoulder; only a sling not a cast.
Once again it’s me against the Kumquat tree.
“Aren’t we supposed to create these learning moments, teachable moments? Like when he asks me how it works or grows or how come I’m doing it this way. I mean I know the science behind it so why not teach him?” she asked me.
Well, I suppose you could I countered, but what are we teaching exactly if we are so often stepping in and giving the answer. Wouldn’t it serve to let the child wonder a bit, muse or contemplate. All things equal and safe, it seems that having an experience is far richer than an explanation. Often contemplation of a situation or thing will bring a deeper comprehension which becomes the hopeful doorway to knowledge. The experience of building a teeter-totter with friends, and figuring out that you need balanced weight on either side, far outweighs any theories of gravity or fulcrum points and levers. The awe of a kindergartener as the red paint flows into the yellow creating orange is more colorful than an explanation of secondary and primary colors. Our body learns first through the “doing, seeing, touching, hearing” of life before the brain gains purchase.
“Information is not knowledge.” (Einstein)
Any imparted information from us hopefully encourages a hunger for knowledge, not the satiation of the search. I’m all for moments where we can share knowledge – when those moments meet the age and the need of the child. A child at kindergarten (4, 5, 6) and below is a far different story than one at 3rd or 5th grade. Inevitably in one of my workshops, a parent will assure me of their gifted child who is quite precocious and thirsts for knowledge. That may well be true. His thinking might be, but what of his social, emotional, spiritual or physical intelligence? Has that too rushed ahead? I assure you that the mind of a gifted child is not fragile, it can withstand the delayed gratification of information, there is no expiration date on “getting smarter”. My grandmother died in her late 90’s and she still was curious. Hunger for knowledge is fed by healthy balanced meals that provide sustainable nourishment, not super-rushed power shakes.
Lately, it seems that the information is what is important and not the thinking that leads to understanding. I see such a trend towards information overload, almost a consumerism, a materialism of data consumption. Pack it in, suck it up and all will be well, more, more, more. It’s shallow water to give information to a child who’s unable to fully understand it. I liken it to hefting a child into a tree she cannot climb into or out of by herself. She’s there all right climbing the tree, but not by her own ability, and once she’s up how does she get down? By you of course. But encourage her to climb smaller trees and gradually reach higher and she’ll one day be able to scale tall oaks.
“We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom.” (E. O. Wilson)
But I wonder, and I do so a lot. I watch the world around me and question, unpack what I know or have been taught, try shifting and aligning things in new ways. You could say reality is the reality, but then what of what we were taught and how it shifts when science finds that what they announced without the possibility of change has indeed changed. This is not advocating the withholding of information, heavens that would be wrong, it is a metering of the information. Dancing with your child on your shoes so that they might one day dance on their own. I hesitated as I wrote this, concerned that it would be misinterpreted; I mean not to imply that you shouldn’t talk with your child nor give details or information for that matter, but instead consider how often you speak, choose what you do teach or speak about, evaluate it for necessary content. Is it necessary, is it kind, is it true, is it just filling quiet space?
There is a great term fire hosing to describe the overabundance of information. When a trickle will do for an explanation to a young child say kindergarten “the sun comes up because it is day” vs a fire hose, “the sun doesn’t come up dear, as the earth rotates in orbit we revolve around the sun and so the sun isn’t really coming up…”. We think they glean but really they simply contain, we’re hoping to enlighten and we’re burdening. Information is meaningless without context, without the capacity of comprehension. So I wonder if maybe we might instill a love of investigation, of wonder, of awe. Why seems to me one of the most glorious and underused questions we have. Why with silence behind it to leave open the unfolding of possibilities. As I write this it occurs to me that just as the use of open-ended toys can encourage the imagination, so does open-ended conversation.
“Ultimately all knowing, from the highest to the lowest, is the result of experience; it arises on the way of experiences.” (Rudolf Steiner)
“All right,” she said, “how do I do that, what does that look like”.
No answer at all, just a shrug and a hmmm?.
“Hmm, I wonder?” and then say nothing while they explain it to you or ponder, or perhaps never say anything at all.
“What do you think ?” (the younger the child the less you will correct inaccurate information and allow for the imaginative possibility of what they have said- as in younger than 8). Remember that often they want to play with ideas, they’re not looking for accuracy.
“That is something to think about isn’t it?”
“Oh, because it does.” This answer scares parents but try it anyway.
“This is the way we do it.”
“This is the way our family does it” ( chooses, speaks, acts, our family rules…) You can use the same response replaced with In our home….
Go for the most simplistic and accurate answer you can.
I love watching the children in the Kinderyard play. With total abandon they romp, build , imagine and totally forget that I am there.
Well, unless there is a dispute to mediate. Other than that I am a silent observer, they don’t need much else.
If you were to ask me, and someone recently did, I’d tell you to say Nothing. Silence is golden in childhood, sideline commentary can lead to self-consciousness, anxiety and diminished reliance on experiences. No one wants to hear their every move from a color commentator. The beauty of a small child at play is how they live deeply in their imagination, immersed in the doing and being. This is not only healthy but it is a building block for learning.
Let the children just play without interruption or adult intervention. Be an interested observer.
“Did you see that? I swung so high into the sky. Look, Mommy, I went upside down”. Yes, they will ask you to comment, and while as an adult we would like feedback with details, and affirmations, children really only need, “Oh yes I saw that”, or “Wow, or that must have been fun.” Yes, it would seem that this is a great opportunity to give positive encouragement and feedback, a teachable moment to bolster their confidence or self-esteem, but not so fast, think of yourself as a supporter, not an interjector. Acknowledge the effort or simply reiterate what your child said, “Oh that was high up in the sky.”
Over the years, I’ve noted atmospheric changes in the yard at pick up time. The play of some children becomes less free-form and more performance based. A child who previously was unaware of anything but their play and playmates suddenly becomes very focused on verbally detailing to everyone around what they are doing, or asking for attention. The current trends in child rearing have suggested that parents are becoming very verbal often overly encouraging, a running commentary. While some developmentally challenged children may need this, for the average child it is simply too much. The picture that comes to mind is the Shultz, Peanuts comic strip where the adults are represented by “waa waa waa waa waa”.
Think of your commentary as precious jewels, sprinkle them gingerly and only where needed.
The Third Light of Advent it is the light of the beasts;
The light of hope that we may see in the greatest and in the least.
Suddenly the weather here has turned a balmy 80 degrees, mid-December. It rather feels like the helium has been let out of my balloon. The Winter Season lends itself to at least a respectful breezy 60 degrees I think. How then when it feels like a beach day and everything shouts come out, can you find moments of quiet to listen or for inner reflection? King Winter has no ear to my complaints and the rest of the family is quite chuffed at this turn of weather events.
We talk about the “Mood” or “Soul Quality” quite a bit in Waldorf schools, especially the kindergartens. The Advent wreath /Midwinter Wreath is an example of this. It holds the mood of drawing in. We can see this clearer in the larger scale of the Spiral Walks or Midwinter Spirals.
It is said that long ago Bavarian farmers living in the mountains would bring moss and evergreen twigs into their homes and place them on the table with candles and apples during Advent. This custom was then brought by a nurse to one of Steiner’s Swiss curative homes for children where it moved from table to floor and the children walked a path of spiraled moss and evergreens lighting candles held in apples and placing them along the spiral. Eventually, it became part of the celebrations in Waldorf Kindergartens.
Involuting and outgoing spirals and coils are everywhere in nature, seashells, snail shells, unfolding leaves, fern fronds. Deep in the bony area of our skulls, our ears house the cochlea, a spiral-shaped cavity that houses the Organ of Corti, the organ of hearing. The mood or soul quality of this season is of being in darkness and seeking and drawing near to the warmth and the light. In the Spiral Walk, we enter in quiet darkness save the single flame burning in the center to emerge changed, bringing forth light. In our Advent Wreaths, we circle the wreath with candle light, reciting verses each week. The light of our physical self and the terra firma around us, a solid place from which to stand upright and go forth, the light of the plant world that nourishes us, gives air, water and warmth; the light of beasts – it is no wonder that most cultures have human representations of animals in totems or drawings for we can see ourselves in them, their movement, base thinking, and feeling and finally the light of humankind, of man, our place in the universe, our existence relies upon all the lights placed before us on the path and those lights we leave for the others.
Beneath night’s dark blanket
a white candle is lit.
A warm Advent gift,
the flame of human spirit.
With this 3rd light of Advent
We give thanks to the animals
To beasts large and small
Who reflect back our souls
Bless the friendship
and wonderment they provide,
Their gifts of self
nourish our lives.
Bless the deep knowledge
and the lessons they offer,
about caring and loving
And sharing Earth with each other
St Nicholas came to visit on December 6th, oh the joy on the Kindergarten ramp when it was time to put on shoes.
The second light of Advent is the light of plants–
Plants that reach up to the sun and in the breezes dance.
Part of our family’s tradition is to get our tree this week. In unusually cold weather we bundled up in boots, scarfs and jackets. We set out through the wind and the rain, over hill and dale to the local hardware store lot.
I cannot think of the last time in which I stood willingly in a torrential downpour. “This will be a memory we talk about forever ” quipped Harmony.
You may wish to bring in poinsettias or garlands this week. It is also a wonderful week to read the Christmas Rose or plant paperwhites to bloom in January.
Plant Verse/2nd Light of Advent
Beneath night’s dark blanket
a white candle is lit.
A warm Advent gift,
the flame of human spirit.
With this 2nd light of advent
We give thanks to the plants.
To the flowers and trees,
to the vegetables and grass.
Bless the shelter
and life force they provide,
their nourishment and oxygen
Enfolds our lives.
Bless their beauty
Gracing the land,
The strength of their roots
Above which we stand.
**Just a reminder Santa Lucia Day is December 13th, for those of you who wish to celebrate.