I’m sure it’s a waldorf thing, but I’m just so thrilled to see my 9yo daughter A- be so enthusiastic – and skilled – in her knitting and crocheting efforts. She’s made herself a beret, lots of doll clothes, and is now learning how to do granny squares. It’s part of her lessons at school but it’s clearly not just homework: she just loves doing it.
And then there’s her cello. She’s been playing for just a few months now and has again found something that resonates with her interests and loves. I sat in on her lesson this afternoon and it was such a pleasure to hear her play various songs, her mouth pursed in concentration, and see her determination to do better when she missed a note or had her bow drag lazily on more than the needed string (what she calls “sneakers”, extra notes that sneak into the song).
I enjoy movies and much more cerebral things, so it’s nice to see her experiencing the world so much through her hands, her sense of kinethetics, her physical self.
The average child her age in the United States watches over four hours of TV every day and I know of nine year old and ten year old kids who are blogging, photoblogging or otherwise sticking solidly in their heads. If we were to factor in Nintendo DS units, Sony Playstations and the rest of the video and computer game world, it’s a tough time for children to to have a childhood at all, let alone one that involves their physical being rather than just their heads.
Indeed, the very basis of waldorf education is that it’s simultaneously engaging the child through their heart, hands and head, and through my daughter I can very clearly see that playing out: she’s compassionate, gentle, extraordinarily kind to animals, quite an accomplished young artist and craftsperson, and, yes, she also loves reading.
I really think that children need to have crafts or other manual hobbies, projects that take days, or even weeks to complete. It’s good preparation for adult life too, when we can’t always accomplish all we want in a few hours or with a few judicious swipes of our credit cards.
Be that as it may, it’s days like today that really reaffirm that for our family, waldorf education is exactly where we belong.