I taught the Nursery Class at the Charlottesville Waldorf School for the nine years prior to having my own children. It was a joy to work with those ideas in a tangible way, in a beautiful Waldorf Classroom. In that environment, I watched young children thrive and come into a healthy sense of themselves. It was also a gift to work with so many dedicated colleagues and parents.
One of the most rewarding aspects of my work there was parent education. Parents of young children, especially in this culture, are searching for understanding. Many are open to new ideas in ways that they never have been before. Our current culture offers so much information. Often, it can be difficult to find the time-honored wisdom in the confusion of voices. It was during this time that I realized how much parents need support and deeper insights that help them to really understand their children.
When my own children were born, of course, everything changed. Now I experienced first-hand just how alone mothers can feel when caring for their babies and very young children at home. I also experienced how "counter-culture" some of my own parenting choices were. Choices to create
a "rhythmic home-centered" life, based in the natural world, separated me from the "main-stream" of my peers. I wanted to create a family life that
felt centered and less fragmented, than what I saw around me, and I didn't want to do it in isolation.
Slowly, I found a group of friends with similar ideas about family life. We all wanted to raise our kids with a lot of "outside time", good healthy food, and no media influence. We formed a Waldorf-based Homeschool group. We met weekly for years. We celebrated festivals together, shared ideas about education and child development, formed playgroups and co-ops, and taught our children at home, together. I taught my own children all of the core subjects at home. Through this process I worked with several different curriculum materials and took the Wilson Reading System training, to give my own daughter, as well as other students, extra support with reading and spelling.
My son Elias is now 27 years old, and an engineer working for a green energy firm in Boulder Co. Zoe, my daughter is 24 and an artist living n Florida. Both attended Tandem Friends School, (where I served on the Board of Trustees), prior to college and are doing exceptionally well.
I can now say from experience that kids can have a play-based early childhood and achieve academic success later on.
Now my work is to take what I have learned along the way, and offer it to the local community. I have learned that all mothers need support, that none of us can do it alone. I have also learned that it is easier to follow your own heart as a parent, if you don't feel like you are doing it in isolation. My hope is to extend that same support to other families, to help them connect to one another, and to form the kind of lasting networks that ultimately hold our families and community together and create wholeness in a fragmented time.