“Purposeful work”. This is a term that we commonly use in Waldorf education to describe work that adults do in the presence of children... work that can be seen - scrubbing, mending, sawing, building, gardening, etc.
In Waldorf, it is thought that adults are responsible for setting the mood of the children’s play each day. Note that I said “the mood of play” not the actual play itself .
When adults are engaged in meaningful and purposeful work, the children play in a much more imaginative, content, and focused manner. When we instead take an onlooker stance, the children feel the adult’s eyes focused upon them, and as a result, they often become more agitated and chaotic in their play.
Well, here at our little farm there is no shortage of purposeful work. Mitch and I are constantly working on something tangible for the boys to see. And the boys, like most
children, do what has been modelled for them.
This week, Luke and Lochlan decided to dig a hole.... a big hole. They happily and contentedly worked (with fresh garden chives for a snack), simply creating. They got to see and feel and experience the fruits of their labour.
Giving our children the space, time and freedom to work hard, work collaboratively, work for their own self-driven purpose provides plenty of whole body development.