Worthy of Imitation?

“The care with which an item is placed on a shelf, a door closed, or a chair moved is noticed and replicated by our young [children]. We must be consciously aware of the quality of our movements, for whether we like it or not, we will see the children mirror for us what we have presented to them as it emerges in their actions and play.”

-Karen Smith, “The Role of Purposeful Work in a Waldorf Kindergarten”
The Online Waldorf Library

Yesterday as we ate our snack, I realized I was slouching. As I sat up straight, I watched SillyBilly sit up himself, even though he wasn’t looking directly at me.

It was a powerful moment for me, bringing home the concept in anthroposophy that in the first 7 years, the child learns primarily through imitation.

I am not particularly physically active, in fact I love sitting very still while I read novels and eat chocolate. Yet I would like my children to be active and healthy. I love that my son is skinny and muscular, unlike myself as a chubby child. I want my kids to be able to use their bodies to achieve their goals, not be hindered by physical limitation. So it’s a struggle to get myself active on their behalf.

I have also observed that when I act angry or impatient, so do the children. And whoever said “out of the mouths of babes” got it so right. It’s always a moment of chagrin when a child repeats something they shouldn’t have heard in the first place. Around here we don’t use swear words anyway, but still I have heard Napoleona say to SillyBilly, “Don’t do that ever again!” in a very stern tone.

What a gift it has been to understand that the young child imitates and must be active. Tonight we were all hungry and tired and dinner was not ready yet. The kids were getting a bit wild, so I put Napoleona in her high chair, called SillyBilly over, and we all ripped up chard leaves into a pot. This activity allowed them to calm down, focus their attention, and do purposeful work to get dinner done. There was very little ruckus after that. Magic!

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2 Comments

Filed under Parenting

2 responses to “Worthy of Imitation?

  1. Papa Bradstein

    Nice work, AM. A timely reminder that I read while slouching, stagnant on the couch, watching TV, sipping an iced coffee. OK, so I’m watching le Tour and recovering from a late night with Mama, Liberal Banana, and LB’s boyfriend that involved draining most of a pitcher of sangria, but still. . .monkey see, monkey do.

  2. Anonymous

    This morning I was honor to find myself quoted on your site. Thanks. I enjoyed reading about your children.
    Karen

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