I’m at an interesting point in my life right now. I am finding that there is this fascinating sweet spot where Waldorf, Montessori, and Reggio Emilia all meet. I’m at the thinking stage, sorting it all out.
Waldorf, clearly, has been a long-time love and passion of mine, so much so that there isn’t even a specific Waldorf topic heading, as I considered this for the longest time to be a Waldorf blog. I wrote an early childhood seasonal guidebook I consider to be Waldorf-inspired. And I attempted to homeschool using Waldorf methods for over 13 years. I have felt pulled towards Waldorf since high school, when I wandered into the basement stacks of the Lancaster Public Library and read some of Steiner’s writings. When I had my own children, I was once again drawn to this slow, grace-filled, joyful way of living. I did not, however, look at it uncritically. I tried my best to see Waldorf and Steiner through wide open eyes, taking what worked for my family and leaving the rest.
In college, I studied education. While I majored in music and left certified to teach music, preschool through twelfth grade, I was always particularly drawn to methodology, curriculum development, and educational psychology. Constructivism– the idea that curriculum is co-created as a collaborative effort between the child, the teacher, and the environment– was especially interesting to me. When I left college and began teaching preschool, I was interested in Lilian Katz and the project approach, and in graduate school I discovered the schools of Reggio Emilia, Italy. Imagine how incredibly fortunate I felt when I went back to work, almost 16 years later, and ended up at an amazing Reggio Emilia-inspired early learning center! There was a period of time where I was in correspondence with Lilian Katz, a pioneer in the project approach, about a project on fish I was collaborating on with toddlers, and it was an amazing experience. I have scoured the internet for some sort of remembrance of this project but, unfortunately, have found none. Nevertheless, I have always found the give and take between student and educator found in both Reggio Emilia and the Project Approach to be an extremely satisfying and effective method of learning together.
And then there is the Montessori method. I’ve always had a soft spot for Maria Montessori and found a lot to respect in her methodology. Last year, Daniel was accepted to the Pittsburgh Public School’s Montessori magnet school, and this year the twins are there as well. It’s only been a week that all three were there, but so far, it’s been amazing. I feel incredibly fortunate.
And so, here we sit, in this Venn Diagram of Waldorf, Reggio Emilia, and Montessori. I am going to continue to write this week about those intersections– what I like and what I struggle with, how they gel and how the repel, how we implement them in our home and what parts we leave behind. I’ve never been a purist. I don’t think I have ever pretended to be. And it’s taken me 18 years, but at last I feel as if we’ve found a combination that works.
PS: This may seem like an odd place to jump back in again. But I’ve been struggling with knowing where to start, so I have decided to just begin where I am, and this is where I am!