We find ourselves in an odd and uncertain time, as Toronto families shelter-in-place to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. This means parents are working from home, and children are off school, but continuing their learning remotely.
While at first this change might have offered stress in its uncertainty and unfamiliarity, many Toronto families have settled into a routine and we hope that many are seeing the benefits of this unexpected situation.
First, families have the unique experience of slowing the pace of their activities and gathering together in meaningful ways on a daily basis. As parents cease commuting, opportunities for quiet time, reading books, watching movies, baking and cooking, and otherwise connecting with one another abound.
As spring unfolds around us, we can soak in the sunshine and fresh air on walks and hikes through nature and along city streets. Exercise quiets the mind and keeps the body healthy! It also offers opportunities for children and parents to have long, winding talks, with no rush to get to any destination.
As parents work at home while overseeing their children’s schoolwork, we recognize the challenges this duality may bring. And yet, it offers an intimate connection between parents and their children’s learning that may not happen so strongly during normal times.
Waldorf education focuses on ritual and rhythm, building in daily rhythms to the classroom that parents can replicate at home. The benefits are manifold, for parent and child alike!
Beginning the day with a verse and a lit candle, standing together to breathe deeply, sets each family member on course for a productive day. Introducing two or three outdoor breaks during the day, to assimilate work already done and prepare for work to come, is also helpful.
Morning is usually focused on intensive learning, with afternoon more open for creative projects and movement.
For early childhood families, each day has its own project – one day includes drawing, the next soup-making, while other days are devoted to painting or baking or Eurythmy/movement. Older children intersperse more academic learning – history or language, math or writing – with art-making, handwork, gym, independent projects and music. This interweaving of subject matter and activity helps activate various sectors of the brain for whole-person learning, and total immersion in a subject.
One wonderful activity that all family members can participate in would be a family journal, chronicling this unique time in our history. Surely, historians will reflect on this time as a unique and unprecedented occurrence, like with the Spanish Flu of 1918. And with 21st century modes of communication, we have the opportunity to add our voices, our insights and our perspectives to the story.
Imagine organizing your day around a 15-minute project, where the whole family contributes thoughts, sketches, words, or art to reflect how that day unfolded, recording their thoughts and experiences. Doing this will enable your family to look back on this unique time and see how you got through it, together and creatively.
As we are all isolating in our homes, Waldorf Academy staff and faculty miss having our school community all together on campus. And yet, we know this is but a short time when we are forced to separate, so we embrace the beauty that can come forth from it, building new connections and new sensibilities until we can once again come together in person.
We would love to hear how you are embracing this unique time at home!