As we hurtle around this star that we call ‘Sun’ the various stages of our journey are marked clearly out for us. We have seasons, we have order, we have the moon and her demands on our journey too; the year begins, blooms, wanes and dies, and begins all over again.
Our bodies also have a journey, and we mark the stages of our journey with milestones. Each stage has a beginning and an end, and then we grow and move on. Nothing is ever stationary. All is in flux.
There is a teaching in Islam that, ‘you play with a child until they are seven years old, instruct and teach them until they are fourteen, guide them until they are twenty-one, and then you set them free’.
In our society we are used to farming our babies out to schools from as early as possible; maybe with the misguided belief that this is beneficial, perhaps simply as a reprieve. Not many children these days have their right to develop through play until seven any more. Play is a waste of time – something you do AFTER work.
But the work of the child *IS* play, and I’ve been very determined to allow my babes the space to grow without artifical constraint. I have purposely not taught them the alphabet, or how to read until I can see that their body has matured enough to lay the pre-school child down and pick up the beginnings of their new stage of growth, naturally.
I’ve given up trying to justify this to people who regard it as educational sacrilege; I know what I know, and I won’t sacrifice my children on the altar of politcal expediency, or the need to prove my worth as an educator or theirs as learners.
The midget was quite happy in his role as chief role-player in our house, never showing the least bit of interest in anything academic, but a couple of months back he bagan to show signs of boredom. Restlessness. Stalking the house in a pirate hat, cape and fur stole for ‘something to do’ rather than in his imaginary world he was so often happy in.
Then came the interest in books. So far the midget had resisted books – it just cut into his play time, and I didn’t push it – after all, he has his entire life to read, but only a few precious years to be a child. But the last few months he became interested in a big way.
‘OK’, I thought, ‘he’s ready to move on’. And if any doubts remained a couple weeks later came some wobbly teeth – a sure sign in Waldorf methodology that the next stage in development had arrived.
I am always humbled when these ancient wisdoms, these natural cycles, fall into place just so. When we honour the seasons and honour our own rhythms and accept and work within our pre-ordained nature we work with, not against, the natural flow of life itself. We create an act of harmony and there is peace within and without – for there is no need to struggle uphill against the flow of the stream.
So, at the work table in the mornings you will find another little soul ready and able to join in the work of learning. He is more than ready, and planting this seedling out at the right time makes the difference between growth and wilting.
He is also ready to start get used to praying properly, and a handmade prayer rug was his gift the day he lost his wobbly teeth; a symbol of passing into the stage of learning, like the big boy he is.