by Joep Eikenboom, grade 5 teacher at the Dordtse Vrije School, the Netherlands
We live in unexpectedly unreal times. This coronavirus crisis totally affects life in most countries in the world. As Waldorf teachers, we never thought that schools should be closed, and that we would be separated from our children.
We can spread to the children a confidence for the future. This also involves education of the will forces; always remember that fear presents a negative role model.
Our educational task—under normal circumstances—is to lead them and not to dive into this virtual world too early and unprepared. But the state of emergency breaks these laws. ‘Necessity knows no law’. You can still keep in touch with the children of the class using modern means of communication. Have no fear of or hesitancy about this modern technology, but show the children that a human being can manage in all circumstances. We as Waldorf teachers are also contemporaries of the modern era, and as adults we know how to appropriately use modern technology. Remember that the children have come into this new incarnation just to gain these kinds of new world experiences.
To support the parents in creating some structure for their children during the day, you can start by designing a simple daily home schedule—of course taking into account the age/s of the children. Please remember to communicate regularly with the parents—that is the best for the children. The goal would be that they spend more or less the usual daily times on school work.
9:00 - 10:00: work of main lesson content
10:00 - 10:30: small break
10:30 - 11:20: school work (mathematics: let the parents know what to cover)
11:20 - 11:30: smaller break
11:30 - 12:20: school work (language: reading a book, writing a text according to the current curriculum)
12:20: lunch time
14:00: songs to play on the recorder, drawing assignment, craftwork (knitting, crocheting, embroidery), followed by play time
You can prepare for the parents a document with assignments and homework for the children—for a couple of days or for a whole week, depending upon your situation.
Activities connected with the main lesson block/s
Writing a small review of the children’s book the child is reading (briefly about the content; what did they like best in the story? Would they recommend it to a class mate or friend?) Children could even share these reviews with each other.
Creative assignments: form drawing, drawings, if possible even painting, handwork, simple craftwork activities.
Songs to play on the recorder, to include singing and humming the songs
We also need to keep in mind that all children will miss their class mates, and maybe they even miss us. The following is something we never thought that we would do as Waldorf teachers: You can keep in touch with the children via FaceTime or WhatsApp. This will allow the children to make visual contact with you. Be clear, however, that this will only be possible during certain school hours. Children can then ask you questions, they can show you their work. Thus they will feel less isolated, and they will certainly feel less abandoned by you, their teacher.
Let's hope that this state of emergency will not last too long, and that all the children will be back in front of us in the not too distant future.