Written by Ona Wetherall, Early Childhood Section Leader
One of the common threads in Waldorf education, which is especially focused on and talked about in early childhood, is the education of the Will; nurturing the young child’s natural impulse to do and channeling that into purposeful activity that nourishes their growing bodies, minds, and souls. In reflecting on the education of the Will, different approaches and examples can be found. The pictures below all depict moments of engaging and nourishing the Will. Perhaps the first ones are obvious but the last one is as well, for even finding moments of pause, reflection, and relaxation are activities of the Will. Whether for a child or an adult, feeling and thinking cannot balance without an engaged Will. Another way a child’s will is educated is through imitation, with adults setting examples.
In our ever increasingly busy lives, where we always seem to be engaged in something, whether physically, mentally, or emotionally, we can ask ourselves, “what is driving us?” Or “where is our Will coming from?” Is it coming from external influences or internal impulses? It’s important to notice this because how we engage ourselves is setting an example for how our children will. External influences will always be in flux and bring positives and challenges, but internal impulses will sustain us, will hold us steady and strong in the ups and downs of life.
As parents and educators, we want to support our children as best as we possibly can to grow up with the ability to feel steady, strong, and positive about themselves and to go out into the world with that influence upon it. We want our children to have the ability to sustain themselves in a positive way and have the heart, wish, and drive to take care of their world and their fellow humans, in part by seeing and knowing the good, truth, and beauty of it. This is how we make the world a better place, this is how we hold on to the goodness in humanity for ourselves and our children, and it starts with the Will to Work. The Will to do something purposeful and good.
When our daughter picked that snap pea that she had planted, watered, and watched grow, she ate it and proclaimed, “it is so good!”, and it is.
– Ona Wetherall
Early Childhood Section Leader