Innovative New Business Centred Around Supporting Parents Teaching at Home
Written by Jennifer Ross for the School Renewal Magazine, January 2022
When you have been deeply connected to Waldorf education, there is an understanding that this is the healing education for the future. There is an inner knowing that Rudolf Steiner’s clairvoyanceilluminated for him the challenges of materialism, the negation of spiritual realms, and the all-consuming technology that would claim to be the path for humanity. Those of us travelling the path of Waldorf education, educating children within this pedagogy, and watching our own children thrive within this model are grateful for Steiner’s insight. We know that the paring down of excess, to the simplest and most meaningful aspects of life is what speaks to the heart of a child and to the body of a growing human being.We know that cultivating reverence for our humanity lifts us to spiritual realms.
With thevaried opinions and paths in the world today, the task of raising and educating our children is beyond overwhelming. The mainstream voice calls for earlier,faster,and more for our children, and yet the lives of families become more stressful and more anxious.
As a Waldorf teacher, I could never understand how this education wasn’t better known in the world. It amazed me, this secret gem, just hidden out of reach of the mainstream. I have always felt that this education should be public, and that if everyone got to know what it offered, it could become mainstream education. With the healing capacities it has, it saddened me that it was out of reach for so many families.
All these thoughts and feelings lived in me and lived in my two colleagues for many years. I think these hopes lived as possibilities, as seeds. But would they have the things they needed to be nurtured into a new vision? That I could not see at all.
And then we arrived in March 2020, finding ourselves at the beginning of a worldwide pandemic. Our Waldorf school closed its doors to classroom learning and opened lessons online. This became a huge shift for a no-tech style of education, and up for much debate and compromise. As teachers, we adapted our expectations and teaching styles and met the students online. There was something missing in the form of human connection, but we made the compromises needed tofinish out the school year.
Our little Waldorf school in the Comox Valley, British Columbia, was already struggling to stay afloat, and we had made the decision in Feb 2020 that this would be its final year. As the school year, and my career as a Waldorf teacher was coming to an end, new visions and possibilities began to spark. A new way of delivering Waldorf education was percolating in my mind when I sat down by the river one day with my friend, and Waldorf administrator, Mareesha. She was having the same feeling of a new possibility, a new way of delivering this education. She had been involved in homeschooling her own children over the years andknew Waldorf education very well. She was a parent of a child in my class and was receiving my new online guidance and finding it much more enriching than her other homeschool experiences. The sparks of our conversation turned to flames and we began bouncing ideas off each other. The main goal we had was to offer a homeschool education that parents could bring to their children that was hands-on and screens off, and of course engaging and enriching. This curriculum would eliminate the need for the parent to do the lesson planning. We could see the possibility of offering Waldorf curriculum through step by step, guided, daily lesson plans so parents could access at home, and deliver to their child without the need for the child to be learning in front of a screen. We quickly connected with our dear friend and fellow teacher Rebecca, as she was the necessary third in this new endeavour. The three of us had already been working together for many years. It was a no brainer to jump into business together.
The three of us, known as the Wonder Squad, have an amazing energy when we work together. Our gifts and skills of envisioning, communicating, analyzing, and doing, overlap in a magical way and our work often feels effortless. We started meeting in May 2020, and Daily Wonder Home Learning Hub was born. Daily Wonder offers wonder-filled daily lesson plans so parents can homeschool with confidence. Daily Wonder is inspired by both our Waldorf teaching and parenting experiences over the last 20 years as well as our deep knowledge of the BC Ministry of Education curriculum (which translates easily to other provincial/state curriculums). Daily Wonder is our contribution to 21st century education, marrying the 100-year-oldWaldorf curriculum with provincial learning outcomes and First Peoples Principles of Learning. Daily Wonder is also perfectly suited to a Learning Pod style of schooling that brings small groups of children together and shares in parent involvement. Daily Wonder curriculum guides are embedded with parent support and guidance for social and emotional learning. Our love for brick-and-mortar Waldorf schools remains strong, and we are grateful that our children attended such a school. At the same time, Daily Wonder is our effort to keep Waldorf education available in the Comox Valley, and places like it, where there does not exist a brick-and-mortar school. Daily Wonder is our dream of affordable, accessible Waldorf education, available globally, in the truest grassroots sense possible.
We decided that Daily Wonder needed to be up and running for September 2020, because we felt there would be a need for parents looking for homeschool alternatives. Rebecca and I divided that work andcommitted to writing the content for every unit from grade 1-7. Mareesha committed to creating the website, running the marketing and being the daily administrator. We were literally one month ahead of the parents at every step of the way over the 2020 school year. It was exhilarating, inspiring and exhausting.We started getting interest, enrollment, and feedback. It drove us to tweak and improve as we went along.
This is a time when (mainly) mothers are disillusioned by the public system for manyreasons, at their wits end, and are pulling their kids out of public education. However, most were not dreaming of being homeschooling mothers. They are overwhelmed and lack the confidence to believe they can do this important work. Our businessidea began with a product. We sell this product in the form of yearly subscriptions, month to month, and a la carte, so parents can pick and choose what best suits their child. In addition to our guided lesson plans, we offer video tutorials for parents, music, poetry, and story offerings, a parent education series, a resource hub for members to gather material, and a community hub for sharing and connecting. At the end of 2021, we decided it was time to expand our offerings to include support services. We now offer parent coaching, learning pod support, and holistic tutoring. Our vision is to offer support from all angles to ensure that success is experienced, and that heartfelt compassion is given to each family that chooses this challenging path.
Over the years, as we ran our little brick and mortar Waldorf school, we would often be inspired by Steiner’s quote about compromise. It said that we can hold the ideal, but that we must compromise with the times. There is no such thing as a Waldorf school without compromise. In our times, there is a Waldorf school on a dump in Kosovo, in refugee camps around the world, and now there is a Waldorf education accessible by parents online. Parents will finda guided curriculum that is designed to inspire the parent to feel confident that they can bring this holistic education to their child, in real time, in real life, through activated heart forces that Daily Wonder helps awaken and guide. Our mission is to reclaim childhood to transform the world, and we intend to support those on this path. It is in this way that we feel Daily Wonder is playing a role in the evolution of humanity. We have created a service and a product that parents can easilyafford and access, that will cultivate deeper heart-centred connections within the child, between child and parent, between siblings, and in learning pods between friends.We also know, as Waldorf enthusiasts, that this positive spread cannot be stopped.It ripples outwards in ways we cannot see;in ways we cannot know. Waldorf education is the largest grassroots educational movement in the world, and Daily Wonder is another way that these grass seeds are being watered.And let me assure you that in the Wonder Squad’s heartfelt vision,these grassy fields are looking magnanimous.