Sharing the Solar Eclipse with Young Children

Sharing the solar eclipse with young children offers a rare opportunity to help your child learn that they can stay safe and grounded, even when something extraordinary happens.

Learning Through the Senses

For the young child, every day is a celebration.

Young children experience the world through their senses. They feel the light and warmth of the sun through their bodies. They marvel at the sun’s power to wake up plants and birds, chase the clouds away and peel off our winter coats.

Celebrate the Good

In Early Childhood classes at Berkshire Waldorf School, we celebrate all that’s good in the world: the beautiful light of the sunrise, food prepared with so much care, the children’s community of loving family, the safe embrace of Mother Nature, and so much more.

Instead of Explaining…

In our modern world, we focus on the scientific, material aspect of things. We tend to understand phenomena like a solar eclipse through intellectualized explanations. However, giving children rational explanations prematurely can contribute to confusion, anxiety and hypervigilance. It pulls little ones out of the developmental space where the world makes sense to them because they can experience it with their senses. The sages of old knew to meet events like this with the same wonder and reverence as other cosmic events.

Waldorf Education founder Rudolf Steiner writes about how children’s feelings during such moments are the same as what we could call “religious feelings” in an adult.

Focus on Experience

So instead of looking up during the time of the eclipse, how about we look down?

I invite you to tap into your inner quiet during the time of the eclipse, and observe your children and nature. How does the light and the mood change? Look for shadows and light. How are your pets behaving? And what about the other animals that might live in your backyard? The crows, the geese? Are the birds singing? Are the bees buzzing? How do the flowers and trees change? Is your child getting a bit clingy, or are they oblivious to what is happening in nature? Let the experience resonate without a verbal explanation.

Highlight with Gratitude

We can take this opportunity to give gratitude to the Sun and the Moon for sharing their light with us. How about planting some flowers for the bees, who are sometimes called “light workers”? Sunshine soup for dinner? Moon cakes (aka pizza or tortillas)? How about a candle for the moon and a candle for the sun, to give thanks for their life-giving light? These are just a few thoughts to fuel your imagination.

A solar eclipse is so much more than one celestial body passing in front of the other and blocking the light, it’s an opportunity to share the wonder of the world with our children.

by Star Room Toddler Nursery Teacher Rebecca Ruof
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