Morning Garden Magic

The beauty and sweetness of the Morning Garden is perhaps the subtlest, most enriching, treasure of the Waldorf School. No one will tip you off. You step inside the door and there is a sweet woman at work doing something sort of ordinary, yet not ordinary at all. She sings unceasingly, she cuts the apples a new way revealing a perfect star at the center. Later it seems you can look back on that first day and recognize a turning point in your life. It is the moment you found an opportunity to be mentored as a parent, to claim your role as parent, and begin to craft the culture that will be your home, that will create the early impressions of a coming generation.

The sweet woman won't tell you that. She'll show you how to make a gnome, she'll fill your basket with songs and rhymes and stories that at first might seem nonessential, like extras. Before long you observe the little sayings and ditties creating peace and harmony between you and your child, between your child and his world. That space, the gaze between you and your child as you share perhaps a finger rhyme, is the essential nourishment for human life, the foundation for peace in your home and upon the earth. Wholesome, nurturing, relationship. No agenda. No schedule. No "purpose". The ultimate present moment — you and your child. How can I ever express my gratitude for all that the Morning Garden has brought to our family?

"I'm healing. This is healing," one parent exclaimed as she played in the little play kitchen in the morning garden with her daughter amidst a dozen handmade dolls. The idyllic, storybook Grandmother smiles.

We come to the door thinking of the Morning Garden as a program for our children. But what actually occurs is meant for us as parents, too. We observe the effects of the stories on our inner lives. We experience the development of our own confidence as we complete a handmade toy. We come to life in a new way, a sometimes long forgotten way, singing and reciting rhymes playfully with our children. This is the environment of health, soulful warmth shared by adults with the next generation. This is the social climate where peace and love reign. It can be emotional, for when we experience these revelations it may stand in stark contrast to the culture we remember as children or the culture we have been providing our children until this point. Most other programs, as enriching as they can be, are driven by content — the child will learn "x." We can find ourselves lining up for it, applauding when our child achieves "x." But the very young child does not need our applause. The child is content to simply be with us. To learn to simply be together, better yet, to be together in playful good humor, in joy, sustained. That is the experience of the Morning Garden, and it is changing the world.

— By Marianne Perchlik, an OVS Parent