When I walked across the stage to receive my diploma at Hamilton College graduation, I looked at the sea of people gathered and thought, “Now what the #%#& am I supposed to do?!” I’d been taught information, facts and statistics. I hadn’t been taught how to think about myself or about my place in the world.
I didn’t know how that moment would impact me, but it became clear when I became a parent. I wanted to think for myself and I wanted my kids to think for themselves and have choices in their learning. I wanted to keep them from the 4-walled classroom and give them an introduction to a life full of experiences and connections. I decided to homeschool.
We loved it, but I grew tired. Being the only adult focused on the day-to-day schedule of events wore me out.
In the summer of 2014, my husband took a leave from work and we traveled to the west coast for a 10 week journey of discovery. We visited my cousin in the San Juan Islands of WA state. She had a natural way of interacting with my kids. She was trusting and loving, without judgment. She gave them craft supplies from her garden and left them to experiment and create from their own imaginations.
When we visited my husband’s uncle I found, again, a fully trusting adult who met my girls (8 & 6 years old at the time) with such respect and honor. He gave them meaningful work while on the water in his small skiff; “Zoe, grab the line and hop off.” He didn’t tell her how to do it, or where or when to jump. He trusted her and she thrived.
It was during this week, for the first time, that I realized, “My girls need to go to school.” The girls, and I, needed more adults in our lives. We needed a community to join, we needed experiences beyond that which I could provide. But where? I didn’t want them to learn to hate school or dread Mondays. I wanted them to trust the adults in their lives and experience the world.
I had learned about Waldorf when I was getting my M.A. in adolescent education at Lesley University in Cambridge. With a focus on outside time, and movement, so vital to the health of a body and mind, as well as a strong thread of the arts throughout the curriculum, Waldorf was the logical choice. It was the only school we chose to visit.
My girls are now in 4th and 6th grade and have gained much confidence in the Waldorf School at Moraine Farm community. They have loving adults who see them for who they are and love them because of it. The first time I sat in a parent/teacher conference, I cried. The depth to which the teachers knew my children, the depth to which they endeavored to understand what makes them tick, was something I had never experienced as a child. It felt right for our whole family.
I trust the community of adults at Waldorf to offer my girls the experiences they need, intellectually, physically and emotionally, to uncover who they are and to instill the confidence to go out in the world and make informed choices and decisions about how to connect with our planet, with other people, and with themselves.