I spent an entire week in Bohol with four Waldorf kids: two were mine and the other two belonged to my life partner, D. We had a great time. D. and I enjoyed observing our children, the wonderful friendship they share, and the impulse of the education we chose for them. Our kids didn’t have PSPs or handheld games. They moved and played all day long, pausing here and there to read their books. They swam like fish. Every banca we rode was their playground!
You cannot imagine what this boat was for them. They invented so many games, from balancing on the outriggers to using them as a jungle gym. On our last day with the banca, they swam underneath and crossed the width of it, the older boys coaxing my little one out of his initial trepidation and guiding him step-by-step until he broke through the water with the most triumphant yell. Our trip was marked with their personal victories.
It is not easy to be a Waldorf parent, especially if you are in a start-up situation. My children have gone through several teachers, there have been lapses where there shouldn’t be, and there are moments when I yearn for more structure, efficiency and grounding. There is much frustration. But we persevere because we see the quality of our children’s inner lives and decide, time and again, that the imperfections can be worked through. This vacation was a much needed renewal of my faith in this alternative education I constantly choose for my children.
Being with our boys showed me that Waldorf kids have courage and the will to see their decisions through. They wanted to do the zip line. We said yes with no idea how high it was (more than 100 feet). But they were determined. Only one of them was truly scared, but even he didn’t waver. We told everyone they could change their minds, no problem, but they did it anyway. The look on their faces when they returned was a joy to behold. There is nothing like a smile of pure confidence on your child’s face to make you feel you’ve done something concrete and strengthening for your child.
Waldorf kids don’t need to be entertained. On long rides and after meals they hummed classical pieces, each one using his voice to play his instrument. We had a little voice orchestra going on practically all the time. It was such a joy to hear them. Where other moms listen to Justin Beiber, we have Bach and Beethoven. How cool is that? In the swimming pool (the ocean right by our resort was so very shallow that we needed to hire a boat to be able to go far enough for a decent swim), they invented a game called “The Force” which entailed battling each other through the strength of bubbles. This little game evolved from merely blowing bubbles at each other to using their hands to make patterns out of the bubbles that gave strength and direction for “the kill”. They strategized and honed their bubbling skills to perfection.
Waldorf kids create their own worlds all the time. We never travel with gadgets. Their world is so much bigger than that. This power they have to constantly create and imagine can literally transform the world, and this is why I muddle through the imperfections. Other schools will give you in-the-box skills. I really believe our kids are well-equipped for this rapidly evolving world that is at the threshold of a major shift. Most people stuck in the old model will fear that Waldorf/Steiner education is not preparing their children for the “real world”, but I see that this education (of course hopefully taught the best way, with a good balance of substance and structure) prepares them inwardly, in a way that conventional schools cannot. Our kids play, think, question and are allowed to soar as far as their imaginations can take them. They develop the inner strength to move through fear and difficulty with will, determination and a healthy sense of humor. Everything is an adventure for them and they ride towards every experience with joy and confidence.
I am so very grateful for the week I had with these special human beings in my life, and for the education that ensures they can play and be children in a world that ages everyone too quickly. It was a week of renewed learning and faith in the difficult choices I continue to make for them.