Finding Indoor Ways! April 06 2020
Guaranteed Cures for Cabin Fever
There’s something about being told you have to stay indoors that creates an immediate urgency to get outside! If you are at home with children of any age, this urgency can become almost frantic at times. It’s important to re-orient our thinking to something along the lines of, “Ah! We get to stay in! We don’t have to rush to be anywhere at all!” And we have some ideas about how to help you actually enjoy this time.
The Importance of Rhythm
To the extent possible, build a new daily rhythm and stick to it, not rigidly, but at least approximately. After a few days, you’ll see that the family looks forward to “the next thing” they anticipate even if it’s not their favorite thing. Rhythm solves many “cabin fever” issues, you will see!
If every day could have a structure, everyone will enjoy these days more. Have a set time every day when you engage with your children and times when each family member is expected to work independently. Resting time is a good thing to incorporate after lunch sometimes, even if everyone is beyond a daily nap. The expectation of accomplishing a quiet hour and a half on one’s own is a reasonable expectation at any age.
Little Ones Before They Turn Seven
With little children who are not yet seven, there is a particular demand on parents at home. There’s less to do in the line of homeschooling, but children are happiest when they can stay engaged with the world to feel calm and part of things. This doesn’t ALL have to come from you! Think about not burning your substance to keep the little ones happy. Think about engaging the child(ren) in activities.
Parent-directed activities like making soup, baking bread (make little shapes and animals out of the dough and watch them disappear as they rise), baking cookies, or any kind of cooking, present lots of opportunities for children to remain happy and participating. Playing simple games (hide and seek in the house, hide a little stuffed animal and see who can find it first, puzzles, building blocks — how high till it falls) are always good for spending time. Once a family told of a toy — the little man who climbs down a ladder, upside down and right side up with each rung. For a very long time, the children (aged 2 and 5) started the little wooden man over and over again to see how many times it took for the man to land standing upright. Each time this happened, whoever was the one to start the trip would get a grape. Simple play can come from simple objects, simple things.
For All Aged Youngsters: Luckily, it’s Growing Season!
Get some seeds, some saucers, pots, bowls, flats, some potting soil or compost, sold in bags at pretty much everywhere from garden centers to some grocery and health food stores, and start the growing!
There are wonderful resources online to see how to plant seeds. It gets everyone’s hands good and dirty (and then you can wash them again when done!). Have your child)ren plan a garden through a drawing and let them think about what seeds to buy to make this happen. They can plan an indoor garden, if you live in an apartment or condo, or map out an imaginary one! Little gardens can be done inside of enormous dreams as if you live in the country! In kitchens, potted gardens are possible, and tubs of vegetables and herbs on a balcony or a windowsill are always possibilities. Watching seeds sprout and grow is always a miracle! You can pot seedlings once they are three or four inches high and give them to everyone you know by just leaving them on a doorstep. Children can make little cards to usher the plants to the giftee’s home.
Older students can plant indoor gardens that allow you to see the roots in action. Waldorf Publications has a Science Kit that does this beautifully. Also, a calendar specifically for planting can teach young scientists about Biodynamic farming. In Kimberton Farms in Pennsylvania, Stella Natura is a calendar that guides the farmers on following the cosmic influences of the Moon and the planets to best assist plants in their growth.
This last can lead to a study of the stars and the planets in a study of astronomy. Simple observations on clear evenings or early mornings are great practice for middle schoolers. Have children keep a notebook and draw, say, the Big Dipper at 5, 6, 7, and 8 o’clock to understand how the stars move, circling counterclockwise around the center of the North Star. You could even use a china marker on a glass window to track the movement of any constellation you can identify. An Introduction to a Study of the Stars is a great beginning book for young and old for this observational astronomy. (available for free download at waldorflibrary.org).
Bird Watching is another gift of the spring as birds migrate north. Many flocks pass through different areas, not to stay but to rest as they travel further to their summer homes. A notebook and a pair of binoculars go a long way in encouraging interest in shapes of birds, colors, songs, calls, wingspans, flying patterns and general joy at the uplift that comes with watching our flying brothers and sisters soar past us and sometimes land! The Audubon Society has magnificent online resources for this activity.
Any observational skills that are fruits of these ideas serve a youngster for life in a keen interest in the world, concentration, and joy in the natural world.
Reading! Out Loud and Alone
Reading is an excellent occupation for averting “cabin fever.” Sitting closely together, reading a good story aloud is comforting. It has been carrying people through difficult times since Homer told his tales of Troy and Odysseus thousands of years ago. If you do not have the stories at home, many can be downloaded and printed online. The Online Waldorf Library (OWL) has many (www.waldorflibrary.org). Never worry about repetition, if you have already read the books you have at home, remember that all young (and older) people love to renew and find new relationships to a well-told tale.
For older children reading independently with a chapter book is a wonderful way to pass an afternoon. Older sisters and brothers can read to younger ones, too. Waldorf Publications has a few great chapter books for both readings aloud or to oneself. The Kirkus star winning books, The Invisible Boat and The Invisible Boat and the Molten Dragon are Eric Muller’s triumphs. His imagination is remarkable and takes us to a magical place. Donald Samson’s Star Trilogy of the luck dragon and the boy who loves him is also a delightful series. For children third grade and up, these can be read independently or read aloud, depending on the reading skill of the child. These are also available for free download on the OWL or for sale at Waldorf Publications, www.waldorfpublications.org.
Artistic Activity is Engaging and Satisfying — Always!
Activities that help young ones to work independently are the best for helping the grownups at home get a break to do some of their work at home, or to rest a little, have a cup of coffee, or think a full thought on one’s own! For this, the idea of rhythm is a winning strategy — a daily structure, regular meals, something to know in your heart is happening at a predictable time. In rhythm, children (and we) all thrive.
Beeswax, clay, crayons, paints, colored pencils — all are valuable assets at a time like this. Asking the young to draw maps of different areas, even imaginative regions, is an activity that is endlessly interesting, engaging, and demanding all at once. After the age of 9 or 10, this is infinitely productive work for children and adults of all ages. Simply drawing a scene from a story or a lesson of some sort is deeply satisfying for everyone. To encourage the young to take time to do this carefully, with strong areas of smooth color, without impatient scribbling tendencies, is to help the young artist feel the power of the colors. Through this kind of careful drawing, the young develop real skills in using artistic tools. Sculpture in clay or beeswax also helps in this same way by engaging the sense of touch in forming animals, pyramids, flowers, insects, towers, fairy tale characters, railroad stations, lighthouses, and on and on, all out of beeswax, clay or plasticine. Any artistic work holds the potential of losing the time-space continuum and occupying a child’s capacities for extended periods of time and giving parents some time to rest, collect themselves, think clear thoughts.
Creative Pathways by Elizabeth Auer, one of the many good books to find at Waldorf Publications (www.waldorfpublications.org), is a book of one good idea after another of tasks to have youngsters accomplish that help in brain nourishing skill sets. In this book, there are projects for all elementary (and high school) aged students to take on over several days that support the Waldorf curriculum while supporting its students. Many of these projects can be accomplished without an adult to direct actions.
Without violating the rules of quarantine, walks outside (or runs, as the need may be!) are possible, and the fresh air is essential. Continue the work of observation as you walk. Note the birds you see along the way. Check the wee seedlings (like your own, indoors) as you walk. Note the daffodils sprouting along with snowdrops and crocus who might be pushing their heads out from the cold ground. See if you can identify different trees and notice those who might be already producing a cloud of light color around themselves and those who are still asleep.
Mine Our Blogs for Great ideas!
Go to the Waldorf Publications Blog tab at the top of the home page to reveal all the blogs we have ever featured on FaceBook. There are beautiful ideas in there to be found!
Look especially at Buy Nothing Day Blogs. There you will find dozens of projects to fill any day with good ideas for children (and you!) to accomplish!
Most of all, as best as you can, try to treasure this time with your family. And don’t forget to take time for yourself!