There is a lot of talk in the Waldorf community about inner work for the teacher and parent but we often forget that children also need this time. A teacher/parent is encouraged to wake up early and start the day with some inner work and time to meditate or be alone so they can center themselves for the day and function with more balance and peace. If you, as an adult, have taken time for yourself each day or even some days, you have felt the difference – the day is different when you start out centered, relaxed and at peace.
In the same way children also need this time. When a child is allowed time to be alone, think without being disturbed by others, be alone in a room or a place, do their “own thing” for some time, and/or choose how they start the morning they are also allowed to center, balance and find peace. A child who starts their day in this manner will be more cooperative, enthusiastic and attentive all day.
In today’s fast-paced world, however, we often wake up and rush out the door to an activity before the child can get this time in the morning or we are so eager to start homeschooling we start the day with a rousing circle time or family breakfast. When a child is asked to “jump-start” their day like this they cannot find their balance in the morning and are usually not able to be at their best until they do. Depending on what tasks they are asked to do in the morning they may be struggling to find their balance as they are performing these tasks.
A child who is not attentive during a lesson, resistant to circle time, has trouble focusing, or is quick to anger or get bored, may simply be struggling to find their balance each morning. So how can we help a child find their balance in the morning? How does a child know what to do during this inner-work time?
The answer is that a child intuitively knows. To some people, loud music may be meditative, to others, it is the peaceful sound of the water running in the bathtub. Yet, to others it may mean a cup of tea, drunk slowly as it cools or lying in bed for a half hour before they actually wake up to “face the world”.
For a child to find their balance in the morning they should be allowed some time to wake and find this balance on their own before the community day starts. If a child has trouble waking up before community/homeschooling time starts then they need to start going to bed earlier the night before. A child should be able to wake up at least fifteen minutes to an hour (depending on the age and the child) before they are expected to join in any family, homeschooling or community activities.
Some possible activities they may choose could be: yoga, lounging in bed, taking a shower, doing their morning routine slowly (hair, teeth, etc…), reading, petting the cat, writing, meditation, drawing, taking a walk or anything else they choose to do.
The morning routine of our household is this:
Son: Long warm shower, a walk
Daughter: Reading or a walk
Daughter 2: Yoga, drawing and/or writing
Me: Writing, laying in bed, visualizing the day
If your family does not already take time in the morning try it for a week and see how your days transform. You will be surprised at what a difference it makes