Somehow the whole beautiful summer has slipped away from us and we are suddenly finding ourselves picking the apples from our tree, gathering bowls of raspberries from the canes, enjoying misty mornings, watching the squirrels gather acorns in the oak, and thinking about blackberrying. All silent reminders that is nearly time for "school" to start again.
We've been trying to make the most of this last week or two, despite being in the midst of extensive renovations [and despite enduring heart ache over having to (probably permanently) close the door on our longing for a third child]. We've been to the woods, the beach, paddling in the river...it's been time to eat corn on the cob, play with friends, stay up late...
I'm very aware that - for me at least - Steiner education is very "teacher intensive". All home education makes demands upon the mental, emotional and physical energy of the parent-teacher, but unlike going through work books or following someone else's plans, Steiner/Waldorf is such a personal, spiritual, intense education , and I'm always aware that I need to be my very best, strongest and most confident self.
I've been focusing on reducing my caffeine intake, getting to bed early, nourishing my soul with prayers and reflection, and trying hard to do the little things that bring me pleasure: lighting candles, brewing pots of herbal tea, enjoying creation, knitting, reading...
We really like to take the summer off. It is very restorative and refreshing. All the children have done is to be encouraged to continue their reading - although trying to stop Kitten reading would be a challenge! But I have been slowly trying to reintroduce some of the strong rhythm we are carried along by during the school year.
Even something as small and apparently inconsequential as the resumption of daily bowls of porridge has been a signal to the children that soon autumn will be here and there will be daily lessons.
We've spent some beautiful hours processing apples from our tree. To gather around the table in the garden, peeling and chopping apples together, singing and telling stories and chatting to one another, practising staying calm when a "golden gentleman" (or wasp as they are otherwise known) comes to share the fun, and preserving our little bounty from Mother Nature is a very nurturing activity. The rhythmic, purposeful work and the way that the familiar songs and stories bubble up in their minds is a good way to start "pulling the threads" together ready to resume our lessons.
Now, with just a few days to go before our first circle time of the new school year, I have to let go. I have to trust that everything really will be all right, that there is no point worrying or picking away at my plans, that the year will be beautiful and rewarding - and that I am really and truly good enough. Perfection is not required. All I need to do is my best and the rest will fall into place. My learning baskets are stocked with new materials and books, the children's baskets have been tidied, new pencils are waiting to be unwrapped on Monday morning, special food is planned to help us celebrate the start of the new school year, and all we have to do is wait, counting off the mornings.
There is such an unspoken lesson in the business of harvesting apples and working to peel them, cut away the parts that our insect friends have been helping themselves to, chop them, cook them, preserve them - and then enjoy the fruit of our hands days or weeks or months later. It is like an assurance that the work they have done before is all stored up for them to re-discover, and this coming year they will be gathering in a new harvest of knowledge and insight.
And we are so excited and blessed to be the ones who get to feed their hearts and minds and souls!