Our Waldessori Home
Today I’m sharing a behind-the-scenes look at the blended parenting and education philosophies we’ve chosen to raise our children.
My husband is incredibly practical and analytical. While I’m a little more whimsical and creative by nature. We wanted to create a child-led learning experience in our home that balances our individual parenting beliefs and blends the philosophies of two systems of education – Waldorf and Montessori.
What is Waldorf Education?
Rudolf Steiner was an Austrian thought leader who lived from 1861-1925. He’s often credited as being the founder of anthroposophy, a philosophy that aims to encourage ‘human wisdom’ and understand our deepest needs in relation to nature, creativity, and spiritual belonging.
Steiner’s interests were diverse, encompassing education, medicine, art, nutrition, social consciousness, and the environment.
In 1919, he opened his first Waldorf school and created a system of education that incorporated all these fields.
One of the things I love most about the Waldorf philosophy is its nature-based play – especially for younger children. It encourages a sense of wonder in the world around us so that children truly become a part of nature, rather than just observers.
Steiner placed great importance on the flow of the seasons, and lessons are often rooted in what’s happening in the natural environment.
Toys are made of natural materials like wood, wool or stone and encourage a deeply rich play experience.
Storytelling is another core feature of Waldorf learning and traditional fairy tales are used as an inspirational tool for teaching.
The Waldorf method combines intellectual learning with creativity, spirituality and practicality, and I find it to be a beautifully nurturing philosophy, for me and my children.
What is Montessori Education?
Maria Montessori was an Italian doctor, women’s rights advocate and educator who opened her first school to disadvantaged children in 1907.
She observed that children have a natural tendency towards learning if exposed to the right materials and environment.
What she came to realize, was that children had the power to educate themselves when placed in an environment where activities were designed to support their natural development.
The Montessori approach encourages children to learn independently and at their own pace within a structured environment.
This structured framework allows children to develop focus, concentration and self-discipline in a way that is appropriate for their age and developmental milestones.
This system is very much child-centered with children choosing what they want to learn but with encouragement and guidance from teachers. Children are also encouraged to observe and learn from each other.
Activities are also play-based but more focused on real-life scenarios than the imaginative play of the Steiner approach.
One of my favorite take-aways from the Montessori system of education is toy rotation.
Montessori advocates an uncluttered learning environment where children only have access to toys and tools that inspire them. By observing what my children are gravitating towards, I can make these accessible to them and put the rest into storage until they’re ready to explore them again.
How We Combine the Waldorf and Montessori Philosophies
Both approaches encourage children to learn in a creative and practical way. They allow children to develop their moral compass, problem solve and develop a love for learning.
The Waldorf method is teacher-led and encourages the use of fantasy and the imagination.
The Montessori method is child-led and also encourages imaginative play, but through more of a real-life, practical lens.
We’ve taken our favorite parts of each to suit our own lives and the needs of our children.
In our home, we provide ample opportunity for our children to gain independence through participating in practical life routines, cooking, cleaning, dressing – all mundane tasks that can bring a child (and family!) so much joy.
We embrace toy rotation as a way to keep the house tidier and more organized. We’ve found having too many toys to choose from can make our children feel overwhelmed and not know what they want to play with.
In the depths of Idaho winter, we rotate our toys about once a week which stops them getting bored during indoor play. They get really excited about ‘rediscovering’ the things that have been put away from rotation.
In summer, most of our play is outdoors so I only rotate the toys twice during the whole season. I’m constantly amazed at the number of ways a stick can be played with!
I love the texture of natural materials and love that so many toys can be handmade, thrifted, repurposed or upcycled. Toys that are sourced with love encourage a deeply imaginative, play experience. Curating a delightful selection of toys does not need to break the bank.
I think one of the beauties of being a parent is the ability to create your own unique parenting style and tailor learning experience to the individual needs of your children.
Our Waldessori philosophy is just that – a handpicked philosophy that we all love!