WELCOMING HOPE IN THE NEW YEAR
by Karen Imhof
Kindergarten Teacher & Steiner Parent
Our role as grownups as examples worthy of imitation for the children is especially important when the children are confronted with the troubles of our world. From wars to environmental crisis there is always plenty for us to worry about. However, what the children are asking from us in this new year (and always) is to cultivate hope for the future.
Rudolf Steiner wrote that “The forces of hope are life-giving and bring confidence for the future. (…) Life would be impossible in the physical world were not future events to be preceded by hope.” Our task as grownups is to model to the children that we have confidence to meet whatever life brings with the strength of our inner capacities. If we assimilate hope into our inmost being it will be absorbed by the children who learn by imitation. Intellectual explanations about the world obscure rather than clarify the situation for them. They depend on us adults to build a protective shield around them while still offering them truth within the bounds of hopefulness.
In our daily lives we can do many things to help the children build courage and face their lives with confidence. A strong and predictable rhythm of the day and the week can lessen the anxiety of what happens next and helps the children self- regulate. A yearly rhythm of festivals brings the children in relationship with nature and gives life meaning as we celebrate in community. Many opportunities for unrestricted free movement (preferably in nature) build spatial awareness, motor planning, balance and body geography.
Children who feel at home in their bodies also feel confident about their abilities to face life’s challenges. And beautiful stories that picture characters who overcome difficulties and become transformed by the process or who perform a helping deed out of kindness offer the children images that they can live into and absorb. Such stories bring inner security and assurance to them as they “try on” the characters and situations of the stories in their imagination. Needless to say- but forgive me for saying it anyways- any form of media is best avoided for nursery and kindergarten children. It is known to adversely influences the attentional capacities, the social intelligence and the physical and emotional health of the children.
When given the space to move unhindered, children develop the confidence and build a habit of courageous exploration needed for entering the world today. In many ways, THIS is our hope for the future.