I am so excited to share with you some reflections and photos from my inspirational week at Sunbridge College. I first want to thank so many of you who wrote me kind words, emails, comments, and sent well wishes to us as we embarked on this trip.
I have so much to tell; so much to chew and digest from all of the wisdom I encountered during the past week. It will be lovely for me to use this blog as refelction space for the many, many inspirational and revolutionary experiencesI had during my stay in the Threefold Community. I'll most likely break this down into 3 seperate entries; recalling our weekly schedule.
Upon arriving Sunday night, we counted our blessings as we discovered the beautiful house which we were guests for most of the week. The family was on vacation and still let us stay, even though they had never met us, spoke to us on the telephone...we didn't even have a mutual friend. They trusted us, which is something I don't think is common today. Staying in a family home made the transition much easier for W. The backyard view wasn't too bad, either:)
While my father cared for W during the week, I was in class from 8:30 am-9:00 pm, with well timed breaks in between. Our first night was an introduction to the "Three R's of Waldorf Early Childhood Education".....
We spoke about how "life is rhythm, and rhythm is indeed life." Rhythms grow out of repetition; the child comes to sense what is happening next during the day. One of my moments of clarity during this evening came with the phrase, "It's not what you do, but rather how you do it or why you do it." I feel like this can ring true especially with Waldorf teachers or home educators. Do we embark on, say, beeswax modeling because we want to? Or because we feel like we have to? Do we do it with joy and spirit? Or do we go through the motions; all the while, the children surely sensing this....
Let me assure you, it was easy to relax and pay close attention during class while sitting in this beautiful Kindergarten room....
The next morning, we arrived as "kindergarteners" to a beautiful classroom set up for a typical kindergarten morning. We played just as if we were children, with all the time in the world.
We sat for a "shoe" themed circle, which was incredibly fun. Every single song and fingerplay was so catchy and joyous, I was starting to wonder how in the world I was going to retain all of this information! (luckily, we were given a rather thick resource folder full of songs, verses, articles, etc.) Our hands were washed in a cool bowl of lavender water and gently patted dry with a soft towel after rest time and before snack. We played outside, climbed trees, and looked for a special object from nature to bring back inside with us.
Upon coming inside, we were led into a circle, and a piece of beeswax was pressed into our hands, which were now serving as "little ovens." The teacher told a beautiful story about a lily, a child, the sun, and a grandmother who shows the little girl how to work with beeswax; a gift from the flowers, the bees, and the sun. By the end of the story, the wax had warmed in our hands and was beautifully pliable. We shaped it into flowers and placed it in a "beeswax garden", along with the object we had discovered outside.
It was a warming, meaningful, and sensory experience. I can only imagine how magical this would be for a child.
A lengthy discussion followed, as it would for the rest of the week after any activity. There were 33 of us in this class, and I have never been around more magical people. There was something about each person; I could understand why they were there. They had a spark. We were instant friends and travellers together. We were in awe; we wiped tears away numerous times during the week. My eyes burned almost hourly...even just at the sound of a single note played on the glockenspiel.
I have so, so much to say, but the 102 degree weather and pure exhaustion is leading me to crawl into bed, rather continue writing. I must remark, however, that this trip truly revitalized me. I awoke to many concepts...and it was helpful to have ample time to sit, concentrate, absorb, and reflect. I missed W and my home terribly, but I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to do this not only as a parent and preservice teacher, but for myself. Often, I feel like I get happily lost in the mix of parenting, care giving, and homemaking...these roles do play a large role in identifying who I am, but there is always more, and these things shouldn't be forgotten or pushed to the side. This week, I was able to rediscover myself as a singer (something I truly love), an actor, and someone who takes the time to...breathe.