It feels wonderful to bring back the Circle of Stones series this morning. The best thing that I have had happen with the blogging world is meeting and creating community with so many amazing women and families. To kick things off on this gorgeous first morning of October, we are joined by Donna Ashton of the Waldorf Connection.
I first met Donna about a year ago, as her newly formed website and free tele-conferences were just beginning. I was honored to be a guest on one of her first series, and we have created a friendship in the months since. Donna’s passion to bring the joys of Waldorf education to as many people as she can is amazing, and her non-stop work to create the best series on topics such as rhythm, homeschooling, handwork, early childhood education and interactions, and loving play has reached thousands.
Donna has recently spent some time around the blog world of ours on tour, and I am honored that one of her final stops is here with us. I hope that you get to know her a little bit better today, and that her work inspires you the same way it has inspired me.
The Circle Opens. Welcome Donna
You run the site The Waldorf Connection. Tell us a little bit about what you had in mind when you started out, and where your dreams for the future are today?
When it began, I set up a few workshops to help “clear up” some murkey topics around Waldorf-inspired education. I wasn’t sure what the reaction would be- but it was families begging for more! Now, I am working on some ground-breaking programs that really get in-depth and answer questions. Future plans? I try to listen to what my community needs and create solutions for them.
What have been the greatest joys of bringing this community of families together through the lectures and workshops that The Waldorf Connection puts on?
What makes it all worth it for me is the feedback, and success stories I receive saying, “Thanks! You have really made a difference in my life and my homeschooling.” The other satisfaction I get is that besides supporting the homeschooling families, I also help promote & support family-run businesses that make their living from Waldorf-inspired products. That’s a double win!
A lot of early childhood families flock to hear the presentations that you hold, what do you think has been the most important information that you have been able to provide?
My main goal is to give as much information so that a mom can take from it what resonates with her. I do not want my workshops to be seen as “the way” to do something. It is only one way to it. I want to increase confidence, clarity & make families feel connected.
In your opinion, what do you believe is the most important thing that we can do for our children in their early childhood years?
Love them and enjoy them! Looking back, it was such a joy to sit and play with my girls. The instincts of the mom go a long way, if we listen. Read, You are Your Child’s First Teacher.
Rhythm is a very talked about subject in waldorf education, for your family, what does a healthy rhythm look like?
I am pretty organized and like to know what is coming next and I know my children do as well. We hear a lot about this in & out-breath of the day. I have found this to be so true! When this breathing rhythm flows throughout our day, things unfold. We come together for our lessons, then a snack and a bit of play, back in for lunch, then free play, back together for handwork or story and so on. It keeps the connection between them and me and also gets me out of my office!
What drew you to Waldorf education? And what keeps it as a constant in your life with your children today?
Waldorf was everything we were already doing and so much more! I love the gentle approach to learning and educating the whole child. All the creativity, art, music- it really was a perfect fit for me and my family. Now in 2nd grade, my girls are beginning to blossom in such a way that is all the proof I need to be committed to this amazing method.
Homeschooling is becoming a very active part of our culture today. What one piece of advice do you have for families who are considering homeschooling their children?
If you are pulled to homeschool for whatever reason, then I say try it! You don’t have to be a teacher, or super-educated person to homeschool your children. You have been doing it since they were born! Relax, have fun and be flexible.
How has your own creative life changed as a result of being a waldorf/homeschooling mother?
I considered myself pretty creative before, but now I am doing things I never thought of before. I learned to knit! I think it is more about consistancy. We bake alot for festivals and snacks. I started sewing handmade gifts and now teaching that to my girls. Oh! The block crayon drawing, chalkboard drawings and painting are like therapy. Creativity is my outlet and fills my soul so that I can give outwardly again.
To learn more about Donna, please visit her at The Waldorf Connection. She always has a new tele-series begining, and her latest upcoming Early Childhood program is not to be missed!
On a personal note, I will be back for a very special post on Monday, and I hope that you will join me then.