My 2 year old won’t be learning her ABCs and 123s yet, and I’m perfectly okay with it

img_4460

Today is the first day of playgroup at Steiner for Little Warrior. She’s been waiting forever for this day. Having seen Big Warrior go in to class day in and day out, she’s often asked me when it would be her turn to be a big girl and go to school. Well, today is the day. 😊

 

While other kids are learning their ABCs and 123s, Little Warrior is learning about the world, through interacting with Mother Nature and listening to story time. And that’s perfectly okay. She’s busy learning the necessary human survival skills, that she might not necessarily use per se, but those traits are what will set her apart from the rest of her robotic peers. She gets to plant gardens and pick flowers, and find out how to work with Mother Nature and appreciate her beauty and resources. She gets to walk barefooted, climb trees, and occasionally get a glimpse of wildlife in the school’s backyard as we are fortunate enough to be surrounded by bushland. Like today, we had a beautiful owl visit us at the playgroup garden. It’s not everyday that one gets to see a wild owl upclose and personal. What an amazing experience for us!

img_4461

 

She doesn’t know her multiplication times table, nor can she write her own name yet, but that’s perfectly okay. She’s busy playing and learning more relevant things like how society works by interacting freely with her peers. They engage in a world of free play where they dictate how the playing goes, where it happens, and who gets to be involved in it. There’s no social pressure on how she’s suppose to be, what she’s suppose to say, or who’s she suppose to maintain good relationships with. She learns how to socialise and be part of a community without unnecessary social influences. She does chores, and learn how to work as a team with her playmates. She gets to learn how to make decisions pertaining to her life from an early age, instead of being helicoptered and told what to do all the time. She gets to learn that every action comes with a reaction, so the next time she knows what to expect when she does something.

img_4459

 

She doesn’t know her written ABCs yet, and she can’t recognise 123s, even though she can communicate as fluently as a 2 year old should. And that’s okay too. She learns how to express herself and be confident with her voice. She sings and says blessings. She learns about empathy and sees the goodness in the world. She will learn to appreciate mothers, fathers, and educators alike, because she will see with her own eyes how everyone respects each other at playgroup despite their age, financial background, and race differences.

 

img_4458

 

Sure, academic education is important. However, I think education about the self and play is equally important. If you don’t know how to be comfortable with your own skin, and be confident with your ability to make decisions, then you won’t go far. So many of our younger generations aren’t equipped enough to go against the tide and think outside the box, and just be different. Our current society is raising a future generation of robots, teens and young adults who follow the herd and do not question what is being taught. Do we really want that for our children? I don’t. I really don’t.

 

I’m prepared to face the insanity of having to reason with my 2 year old on why we don’t run around naked when outside the house, or teach my 5 year old all the proper names of her body so that she’s aware that nobody is allowed to touch her sacred body parts without her consent. I teach them to say no to hugs or kisses when they’re not up for it, even if it’s us or the grandparents asking. I teach them that it’s okay to say they don’t like certain food, as long as they’ve tried at least once. And I tell them it’s okay to reason with us if they feel the need to voice out their opinions.

 

There are so many things worthy of learning that aren’t academic. Little Warrior, like her sister Big Warrior, will not be officially educated in the academic sense until she turns 7 according to the Steiner system. I’m totally okay with it, proud even, because I know that like her sister, she will thrive and blossom into a wonderful little human being when the time comes.

 

2030287696155814270116

 

 

 

 

 

Crossing the Rainbow Bridge

They say every school is the same. But I’m here to tell you they’re not. Waldorf stresses on the importance of childhood that it is impossible for outsiders to understand, unless you’re part of the Waldorf family.

Today, we got to experience a ceremony that celebrates Little Miss 5’s birth. The story that was told today, The Rainbow Bridge story, was absolutely beautiful. It is a blessing to be able to sit through the story of self worth, love, joy, and the pure sacredness of a child’s birth.

Once upon a time there was a Little Angel who was up in the heavens and she was very happy there. She looked at the beautiful colours and listened to the lovely music, and that was where she belonged. But one day the clouds parted in heaven and she saw the beautiful green earth below with all the people happily playing and working and she suddenly longed to go there and see what it was like. She saw all the rainbow colours of the earth, She saw butterflies visiting flowers and birds flying in the air. They seemed to be beckoning her. She saw fish swimming in the sea and all the different plants that covered the earth. She saw children climbing trees running and jumping in the meadows and walking through sand and leaves. It was all so beautiful!

So she said to her Big Angel, ‘Please, may I go down to earth now?” But her Big Angel looked at her and said, “No, it is too soon. You must wait a little while yet”. So the child went and was happy and soon forgot about the earth. Then one day again she saw a glimpse of the earth through the clouds again. She saw mother and fathers doing their work. She saw bakers and engineers and writers and farmers. She saw mothers and fathers loving their
children. Then she saw a beautiful mother with love and longing in her heart for a child and she asked her angel now, “May I go to her?”

The Big Angel said, “Soon, but you must prepare to go through the House of the Sun, the Stars, and the Moon, and over the Rainbow Bridge before you can go over to Earth.”

So with determination, the little Angel went to the House of the Sun, where she was given the gift of courage, which was placed under her heart. Next she went to the House of the Stars, where she was given the gift of Wisdom, which were placed under the soles of her feet. Lastly, she went to the House of the Moon, where she was given the gift of twinkle in her eyes, so that she might always see the humour in life.

Nearing the Rainbow Bridge, the Big Angel said to the Little Angel, “The gifts you have received from the Sun, the Stars and the Moon will help you with the work you have chosen to do on the Earth. Now you are ready.”

So the Little Angel travelled over the Rainbow Bridge that stretched forth from heaven to earth, and straight into the strong loving arms of her earth Mommy and Daddy.

She opened her eyes, and mesmerised everyone around her. It was then she received her first gift on earth, the gift of her name – Leann, which ironically means Angel, or one of sheer perfection.

There are many versions to this story. But this is the closest that I could remember from today.

How many of us have had such meaningful birthday celebrations at school? I know I didn’t. I know my husband didn’t. But I’m glad our children will be able to experience one of the best childhood there is on earth through their school, and that is to be surrounded by pure love and people who truly appreciate them as they are.

 

2030287696155814270116

IMG_5341_1.jpg

Starting the day with a smile

img_5339_fb

Or maybe not. LOL

IMG_1608_FB.jpg

How gorgeous is this cake?

Definitely a birthday to remember…

 

 

I’m no Tiger Mom, and that’s okay

This particular article below was taken from Jacq SunYoga’s Facebook page:

 

————————————————————————–

Parents, do read this.

My third son Jack has Sensory Integration Disorder, which is on the autistic spectrum. He went to a school that pushed him to go to University, though I fought with the head of sixth form on many occasions, telling him that Jack went to school for the socialisation and sports, not damn A’s. Anyway, Jack was influenced and wanted to go to University (because everyone else was).

I tried to make everything as smooth as possible for Jack. During exams, I made sure he had good breakfast, I made sure there was petrol in his car, I made sure he knew what he was supposed to revise, and I made sure he knew the time and date of every exam.

He scraped enough grades to get into a second rate University back in the UK.

And guess what? Because I was not there for his first year finals exam, he missed a crucial paper. And then he went on a downward spiral after missing one paper. To stay on the course, he would have to repeat the whole first year again. He dropped out, demoralised.

I had to spend a year rebuilding him and put him back on track. Today, he works for the Haywards Group and earns a six figure salary doing a job he loves without the degree that his school pushed him into just so that the school looks good on the league table. I unfortunately played my part and became a helicopter parent in Jack’s case.

Helicopter parenting does not work. Because what happens when you stop? And when will you stop? When your child is 18? 21? 25?

My 16 year old should’ve been in an exam this morning but we last saw her on the football pitch at 9.30am. Maybe in her infinite wisdom she has decided not to sit the paper. Who knows but she.

If you want to see Jack’s work, go to this website. He is the one who does the house designs.

————————————————————————–

 

Reading Jacq’s post on education prompted me to jot down my own feelings toward this subject.

 

Many people ask me why in the world would I put my children into Waldorf, my answer is simple. Mainstream education interferes with their learning. I’m no Tiger Mom, my children don’t need to know their ABCs by age 3, nor do they need to know programming by age 8. They only need to know the joys of learning, without social and peer pressure.

 

Why not let them be children? Let them climb trees, walk on balance beams, draw with a stick on the sand, or water the garden. There’s always something interesting to learn from these simple activities – watching that praying mantis camouflage among the leaves, putting your hands out can help balancing easier on a small plank, a shorter stick is easier to draw with than a ultra long stick, water helps the plant grow, etc.

 

10978513_10153215973085312_304122036851790411_n

 

Learning doesn’t have to come from books. Learning comes from the heart, it comes from what you see, hear and feel around you. There’s always something to learn about anything, anyone, and anywhere.

 

I came from a typical “mainstream” life. That includes schooling, social life, and well, life. But I won’t talk about social life and life in this post, I’ll leave that for another day. I went to mainstream education, had tuition (thankfully not all the time), studied enough to pass through all my subjects. Key word here being studied. Because quite frankly, I never really understood what I was studying. It wasn’t a requisite. I wasn’t encouraged to make sense of it, I was only programmed to memorise what I’m suppose to “learn” in order to pass my exams. It was peer pressure that I went on to Science Stream, because you were considered “smart” if you were in it. Once my exams were over, I would literally forget about them. Looking back, what was the point of learning my algebra, history, geography really? It’s something I never understood.

 

It is because of my own educational experience that has led me to parent my kids differently, to show them that there is a different route in life that they could take. They need to know that there is always a choice when it comes to life. Mainstream schooling doesn’t allow that. There is no choice. You either excel or you fail, and the ones in between just get through life doing what they hate, but don’t have the courage to pursue what they are truly passionate about.

 

B5TgS

I’m no helicopter parent either. Because if I was, Big Warrior wouldn’t be attending Waldorf, where she gets to jump on muddy puddles, plant gardens, climb trees, bake bread, and draw on the pavement with chalks. I’d be too worried about the dirt, the height, the lack of academia. But I’m not, so we’re good. Soon, Little Warrior will follow suit. I want them to enjoy the process of learning, to know that there’s more to learning than just text books. They learn how plants grow by actually witnessing the growth process from seedling to plant because they were the ones who dug the hole and placed the seed in to the ground. They learn how they reap what they sow. They learn that it’s okay to share their harvest, because they have the necessary skills and knowledge to source and grow more. They learn that it’s not the end of the world if there’s no TV or iPads, because Waldorf children are not encouraged to have any gadget or technology time during Kindy and Primary years. The earliest they can use a computer for their home work is when they reach high school. As a result of all these, my children are never dependent on technology to keep them entertained (they do get to watch movies on the weekends but they never demand for it), and they can be just as happy just playing in the garden looking for dandelions. For that, I’m forever grateful.

 

 

I get that I’m no tiger mom, and that’s okay. I don’t seem to have that urge to push my kids academically at this point (or ever, but we’ll see). I’m not so much of a helicopter parent as well, and that’s also okay. I let them fall, cry and pick themselves up, because the world isn’t always sunshine and rainbows and they need to understand that. I’d like to think I’m somewhere in between, somewhat of a lazy parent. LOL. I let them figure out how to entertain themselves when I’m busy, but I also try to spend time with them when I can. We co-sleep because I’m too lazy to sleep train them, and because I believe that they will eventually move out into their own room in due time. I still breastfeed my 18 month old because I’m lazy to wean her. I let them eat by themselves even though my Little Warrior still makes a mess most days because I’m too lazy to chase her around to feed her.

 

Being a lazy mom is tiring, and adhering to Waldorf teachings can make it even more tiring, because I can’t rely on the idiot box to babysit my kids. But this combo works for me, and the results are so worth it. My girls are happy, and that’s the most important. They are blossoming in their own way, and they are doing it beautifully.

 

Having said all that, as tiger parents, helicopter parents, lazy parents, we all just want what’s best for our children. If it feels right to you, and your children are thriving, then you’re on the right track. Have faith in your judgement and your parental instinct. After all, it is our human instincts that have allowed our species to survive for so many years.

 

 

2030287696155814270116

 

Waldorf and Montessori for Dummies

Many people have been asking me what’s the difference between Waldorf/ Steiner education and Montessori teaching. I’m no expert, but having had a go at both schools before settling down with Waldorf, this is what I know. Obviously there’s more than what I’m about to write, but consider this a summarized version.

46d8267c60ecf118fd936129268f0a2e
Pic credit: www.morguefile.com
We started Big Warrior’s “schooling” journey at Perth Montessori School when she was about 2, for playgroup. We were there for 6 months before we decided it wasn’t the system for us, well, for Big Warrior. Montessori was very focused on independence. Children were taught to rely on themselves to get their jobs done. They were treated like little adults. Sharing and teamwork were rarely encouraged (I might be wrong, but every time when Big Warrior wanted to play toys with others, the teacher told us everyone would have to wait for their turn, it didn’t seem like they were too keen on children working together). Big Warrior was reluctant to attend playgroup, she didn’t want to stay indoors doing ‘jobs’, she only wanted to go outside to play on the slide, balance beam, bikes, etc. So after 6 months of trying it out at Montessori, we went to Waldorf, which was recommended by a Japanese friend of mine whose siblings attended Waldorf schools in Japan.
When we first went to Waldorf, I never really did much researched on it. All I knew was that it was an alternative system just like Montessori, and they were child-led instead of blindly following the mainstream one-size-fits-all system.
So, first day at a Waldorf playgroup and I could see straight away that this was it. This was the school for Big Warrior. Everything, from the environment to the class setup to the teachers, were exactly what she needed, what every child needed if you were to ask for my opinion. Open space, gentle pastel coloured silks draped around the classroom, vegetable garden to plant their own kiddy crops… So needless to say, we stayed. We stayed alright. And now fast forward 2 years, Big Warrior is in Kindy 5, and she’s blossomed so much under the gentle guidance of her amazing kindy teachers.
Anyways, enough about my opinions. This post is supposed to be about the difference between Montessori and Waldorf. But I thought I’d share a little of my experience of the 2 schools.
So, below is a summary of what I know.
Similarities between the two schools:1. Both respect children as individuals and creative beings.
2. Both believe in protecting children from the stresses of modern life and the overuse of technology such as iPad, computers and television.
3. Both emphasize education as a whole and focuses on spiritual, mental, physical and psychological developments over the orthodox academic curriculum.
4. Both stress the importance of nature and the natural environment of things. such as minimal or no usage of plastic, having their educational activities within a natural surrounding (park or garden), etc.
5. Both systems were banned during the Nazi regime during WWII as they refused to teach the ideology of the state. Their beliefs are that education must be based on the needs of the child, not the state.
6. Both emphasize on a rich variety of art, music, dance and theatre, believing it to be beneficial for a child’s development.

Differences between Montessori and Waldorf:

Academic
Montessori: Children are given the opportunity to do “real work” such as cooking, cleaning, caring for themselves at a very young age (3-6 years old). Academic lessons are also offered, but as something to enjoyed by the children if they choose to participate. It is never required or forced onto the children. The real world is seen as a wonderful creation, therefore, children are introduced to the real world in all its variation beginning at a very young age. The word “work” is used to described the child’s activities instead of “play” because the children are respected as small adults.

Waldorf: Children are kept from academic subjects such as reading and writing until age 7. Academics are thought to be necessary but not especially enjoyable, and is best put off as long as possible so that children are able to explore their creativity and childhood with make-believe, fairies, art and music. The philosophy views play as the work of a young child, and make-believe fantasies of a young child is an integral part of how the teacher works with the child.

Method
Montessori: Children developed in real life situations as they are usually not kept in a group of same-aged peers (3-6 years age span). The teachers provides lessons individually to one child at a time, and often, lessons are given by one child to another. The choice of what to study is solely left to the child, and is guided by the teacher whenever necessary.This form of learning produces high academic level as the depth of concentration of the children is high when focusing on a subject of their own choice. Children also learn to make decisions at an early age. Montessori teachers believe that if children are allowed to follow their interests, they will be able to excel into greater heights.
Waldorf: Children are kept together with peers their own age, and the teacher ideally moving up each academic year with the same children so that he or she becomes the focal point in the child’s learning development. Academic subjects are taught in a more traditional way – teacher speaking at the front, and children sitting at their desks. Activities are often taught and carried out in groups, with the emphasis on art as part of the academic curriculum. Socialisation is an important part of the Waldorf system. Competitive sports and activities are absent in the school curriculum to prevent social bullying.
 Rudolf Steiner, founder of the Waldorf Education System
 Maria Montessori, founder of the Montessori Education System

Do bear in mind that because there are many schools which piggyback on the Montessori or Waldorf name but do not follow the exact teachings of the originator. So be sure to look up the list of real Montessori or Waldorf schools from their official website or contact them to verify before signing your child up to a particular kindy or school.

Sites to visit:
http://www.montessori.edu
http://www.waldorflibrary.org

2030287696155814270116