Sunday, October 2, 2011

The challenges of a home care program..

One of my biggest opportunities for inspiration and growth as a teacher, mother, and..human being (!) is my homecare program, The Rosebud Garden...
The Rosebud Garden was conceived last Fall after pondering how I could work from home, but still be very much with and include our son...
Caring for children in our home is a wonderful fit for all involved, despite the small challenges along the way...
Here's some I have been reflecting upon lately...
First and foremost, #1...
My home is not, and will never be, a Waldorf School.
I aim to imitate so many of the beautiful qualities I have been lucky enough to glean from my classroom observations in the past year or so. But. This space is also a home and I work with whatever resources I can muster up, beg, borrow, or reuse. I was recently interviewed by a local magazine about "Alternative Education"...a journalist came to our home with a tape recorder and asked me a ton of questions about Waldorf education and what I thought about public education in general. I enjoyed this conversation, but I was misquoted several times... the article incorrectly captioned a photo of our home as "A Waldorf Preschool". That it certainly is not. I'm not accredited or licensed...I'm only about to start formal training! More so, I find our program much closer to a Lifeways center (please visit the link!!). We are now "self affiliates"; soon to be listed on the Lifeways website. Luckily, I contacted the editor and had this fixed before it went to print last week! (..Only to find another misquote after it was too late...!)

  I strive to make this a space for children; free of adult conversation and ideas, as much as I can. But again, this is also our house and people walk in and out through out the day...a father-in-law to check something in the basement, my father visiting from out of town..everyone seems to always walk in when we are having rest time or our "mini rest" before snack..
Before I get too upset that my rainbow crystal of a world is shattering, I need to remind myself that I am also...home. And things happen.
A part of me does love being on a budget. It is sometimes a fun challenge to see how much I can come up with while using so little money. I've been pretty lucky with shopping for handwork materials and playthings, but the food budget is what really challenges me most. This is primarily because I am very conscious of the food I bring into our home and nearly all of it is organic, especially and always produce. I'm also hardly every baking with sugar anymore, so I go through a lot of honey and maple syrup. To me, this is one 'department' that just can't be "on the cheap." ..Just this past weekend, while checking out at the grocery store, I caught the young couple behind me eying up my grocery order. It didn't look like much, and for some reason, I always think "I may have money left over!". Always wrong! While paying, I overheard the woman exclaiming, "well, it's not cheap to eat well".....yes, ma'am. You're right.

Part of me doesn't want to write this, but it is sometimes the truth. The children I care for are between the ages 3.5-6 and they are real "self starters." Every moment to them is an opportunity to play and I bask in the glow of these free spirits every day. I think back to my day care employee days and the 5 year olds in my room complaining that "all we ever do is play.." To me, this speaks volumes about having a few carefully selected open ended toys which receive real care and reverence!
My W is nearly 26 months and he adores the playschool children. The children have really adapted to him as he continues his journey through toddlerhood. He loves to climb on them...step on them..grab their toys...throw blocks at them...throw more blocks at them...yell during storytime....grab the storytime figures from my hands...throw food during lunch...blow out the candle before mealtime is over...scream for me while I am preparing lunch...refuse to come inside...refuse to leave my side or my breast...destroy the table set for lunch...fight a nap for 45 minutes...yell while I play the lyre softly...and....I am laughing while typing this!!!

  These are the behaviors we deal with on a daily basis. I know that he becomes overstimulated and that he is probably too young for any of this. I sometimes remind the children that whatever they "do", W will also "do." They have become very patient with him and every day they seem to take on the role of "the bigger boy or girl" while in his presence. I know that W is in the developmental phase of imitation, so I try my very hardest to be calm. If he grabs a toy, I touch his hand and softly ask for him to give it back. The thing I am learning most about this kind of situation is to take my time....or "our time." Maybe I have to ask him a few times, but he almost always "listens" after a bit. The older children see me handling the situation in this manner, and they imitate....leaving me out of the next "struggle for a toy." My aim really is to stand back and watch them figure out problems on their own. We're getting there.
Mind you, I don't mean to rant about my little boy...I know he is "acting out" for attention from all of us; myself and the children alike. I struggle to find ways to give him this attention, but keep the "ship running" as smoothly as I would like it to. Also, let us not forget that W shares every one of his playthings with his playschool friends. I don't expect him to understand the concept of sharing, but he is learning in his own way; watching the other children take turns and work together. He has a good group to imitate and for that I am thankful.
Sometimes I look around our house and I can't imagine not sharing it with children. They help bring such life to this space. One day my cabinets won't be filled with 14 wooden bowls...10 painting boards...a closet full of naptime blankets and pillows...pairs and pairs of shoes lined up on our porch...

I'll always remember these days and how I was able to share our home with these very special and loved children. I think of them 10 years from now and I wonder what they will remember from our days together. What impression did I leave on them, if any?
On the other hand, I am so hopeful to one day work at a Waldorf assist with an established classroom and one day have my own. To be a part of a community of like minded families who support one learn from experienced teachers...
Maybe, one day...
But for now..there's no place like home:)


  1. I laughed out loud reading about W.'s much like my little boy who is two and a half! The throwing of blocks, the yelling at quiet times, the need to be in Mama's arms when Mama is otherwise occupied! So familiar...
    Glad to know I am not the only one! Sometimes on Waldorfy blogs, it seems like every little one is playing peacefully in the corner with the pine cones and playsilks...Meanwhile, my guy is using the Stockmar crayons to color on my dining room table. :)

    One thing I wonder is if you have a specific rhythm for W. or if he follows the rhythm of the older kids while they are there?

    I'm beginning to work on establishing a rhythm for my little guy so I'd love some pointers.

  2. Thank you for the honest post! Everything can look so ~pretty~ that it is a honestly a relief that though the beauty is real, there are everyday human things being managed and worked through.

    That being said, I really appreciate your intention. I plan to have a similar play school, as soon as next Fall, and it is really helpful for you to share the challenges in addition to the beauty you obviously have.

    Also, regarding child rearing/social harmony when I ask for Guidance (in the Waldorf tradition) from the angels, it seems I am able to intervene in the most respectful way.

    With Love,

  3. This is a great post and I thank you fo sharing it. Just thinking about the situation with W and I love how the kids in your care have taken on a 'big kid' role. Actually I think this is invaluable. Today and in many 'normal' daycare setting children are grouped into age ranges and they never see or experience (especially if they have no siblings of their own) children of other ages. They miss out on learning to care for and understand younger kids. I think this can be the very beginning of taking on a nuturing role, aside from doll play, that I think is also vital for girls AND BOYS. It is healthy and normal for the kids to see and live with younger kids and to see you mothering from the heart is a more valuable lesson than quiet while you play the lyre ;-) hugs Laura xx

  4. I meant to add, I'm having a waldorf doll giveaway on my blog (easy on the budget ;-))

  5. Ah, well things are going pretty well because you didnt mention the biggest challenge- parents. After over 8 years caring for children in my home I have found many of the same things true, and also found little ways around them. I try to have certain parts of the day where disruption is unacceptable. Turning the phone off at circle time,etc. Its true- it is real life, and a real home. And although a waldorf school has many advantages, so do you. Firstly, cost to their parents. Secondly, young children seeing your home run smoothly and with them in mind will carry that always. A wonderful foundation for their life's education.
    Sharing is hard. When you have to share your mama, your toys and your home. Even when my children were very small I reminded them that having these children in our home means we can stay together all day. That we are helping them and they are helping us. And my children's rooms are off limits unless you are invited in, but anything on the main level must be shared.
    And oh good about W's antics. Because when I read your nap routine, I wondered how in all of creation you did that with him in tow. I assumed a breast was involved! Yep, all those antics are part of it all. It doesnt all have to be peaceful all the time ( what fun is that!), but we must convey that inner peace through it all ( most of the time, anyway). I must admit- I put all children who cant actually participate in circle time down for quite time. Its a 15 min rest- and saves everyone elses sanity! I used to finish circle so frustrated having to correct them and disrupt our stories and games.
    And the food thing- I make as much as I can from scratch and keep it simple, buying directly from farmers. I feed 6 full time daycare children and my own family for a very good price. I go to BJS once a month for some larger staples and the farmers market weekly. It takes time, but the kids love to help cook anyway.

  6. Dear Rebecca, Oh so much of this resonates with me as a home school mom of four very different ages: 10, 7, 4, and 1. So much patience, flexibility, and balance is required! While such small children as W, and my 4 and 1 year old crave and are nourished by rhythm, they also so easily upset a set the flow of things!
    I am always so inspired by your love and devotion to small children, and to Waldorf and teaching- what you are giving these children is a gift beyond words. They will always remember this time with you, and if they forget the specific details (since they are very young) they memories will be carried deep within themselves, forming who they are. Much love and hugs to you! <3

  7. um, please excuse my grammatical errors. . .

  8. Dear Rebecca, thank you for sharing! I was wondering if W gets jealous and how you deal with it. At 29 months my daughter has started Waldorf preschool for a few hours a week and I stay with her the whole time to get her used to it. I try to stay out of the way so that she does not associate school with me but of course other kids come to me and want to talk/play/read a book and I gladly communicate with them, but my daughter immediately starts crying if she sees me reading a book to kids. And she cries really hard and loud so that I am unable to continue doing what I was doing, holding her in my lap does not help, I have to get up and take her outside and let her calm down. It got to the point that I am refusing "read book" requests because I don't want her to get upset and not like school. I guess you are in a different situation because W is at home and feels more secure but how do deal with such situations? I was also thinking about running a home daycare to be able to stay with my daughter the whole day but now I see that it would just not work.

  9. Thank you for this place, I will read and get inspired when I have the time and possibility.
    After seeing my 18 year old son struggle his way through the ordinary school system here (Norway), I seriously consider homeschooling my young daughter. Even if there are possibilities, I believe it happens rarely. 'Waldorf' is all new to me, but I would like to look at every possibility that doesn't break a child's spirit and eagerness to learn and explore.
    Kind regards,

  10. A beautifully complex topic indeed ~Explored with warmth and reverence.
    I feel like the things that challenge me the most, often end up stretching my spirit in ways I never thought possible. But darn those growing pains! LOL!
    Whenever the girls get home from their play school mornings, they sleep for a few hours and when they get up they are refreshed and often their play for the rest of the day is imitating what they saw or did at playschool. We have a very mixed extended family and often struggle for support of our alternative views. Mostly with media and peaceful parenting choices. If we spend too much time with certain family members, the girls feel the difference deeply and often end up crying or having tantrums. On one hand, it's wonderful reinforcement that my instincts are right on! on the other hand, it is quite challenging watching my babes get obviously overstimulated or judged or watch a wonderful moment of discovery be squashed because of an adults need for the situation to go a different way :/ We are so thankful for our play school mornings. I see a deep healing taking place ~ for the twins and also for me. As moms aren't we all constantly questioning, re-evaluating, etc. some of the choices we have made? It's such a blessing to have a few glorious hours where we are with like minded families.
    Thank you for opening your home ~
    Many Blessings,

  11. at home care can pose it's challenges -- i have been providing care in my accredited program in my home for nearly 7 years now -- what a journey it has been -- i care for children 12 months to 6 years all at the same time and mixed ages are very challenging and rewarding... i too have started my formal training for waldorf -- it is a dream come true -- much much light and love to you as you continue on your home care journey... hugs

  12. I love this post.
    I started caring for a friend's daughter, she's 18 mo so she slips right between Merrick and Mariann. They are all in different stage with very diffenrent needs and it was hard to adjust. It resulted in my big girl wanting to be cared for just like the babies, so a lots of whinnng and crying, and I'm with you with the naps.... The child that is not mine fall asleep imidiatly, but mines... oh well, after 1h30 of fight, the big girl got to sleep! the babie didn't as I was so occupied with the big one....

    At least we have a great adaptability!

    We're not as organized as you. We have some kind of a rhythm but it has no circle time, break time and such.

  13. Like Melanie, I so can relate as a homeschooling mama of three little ones, the youngest only 20 months. Schooling with her there is very much like what you are saying with W. And it is very challenging, but I agree that it does also provide a change for the children to learn by example.

    I think you will one day make a wonderful waldorf school teacher. You are already providing such a beautiful environment for these children.

  14. I'm sure the children will remember their days with you fondly. You've created something truly wonderful for them all.

    I can imagine the challenges. I also have a little one about the same age so I know how much they require especially in a group setting. I'm sure he just loves to be with them though and it's awesome he gets to be with Mommy all day.

    I so appreciate your blog. I especially love what you've written on storytelling and your handmade and less expensively made Waldorf items and toys. Waldorf can be pricey but it doesn't have to be. I love your ideas, so thank you for all inspiration.


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