Soul Fever!

Kim John Payne affirms something very specific and VERY important in the first few lines of chapter 2: You know your child unlike anyone else.  No one else has the instinctual knowledge of your child that comes so naturally to you.

He introduces us to the concept of the soul fever. The soul fever can have many manifestations, but we as parents know it: That feeling that something is off with your child. Behavior may be a bit odd, food desires change, emotions may run high. If we find our own inner quiet and connect with our instincts, our response to the soul fever is just as simple as our response to any physical fever: SIMPLIFY.

The steps outlined help us connect with the process.

Noticing: Recognizing the small snit that has lasted for several days now, the sullen stare that doesn’t fall off in the bright playful game, or the entertaining yet attention seeking outburst.

Quieting Things Down: During a soul fever, children may benefit from a quiet weekend at home, more time spent together at school, or a 1-1 peaceful walk in the woods. Pulling back can help you and your child identify the root of the soul fever.

Bringing Them Close: A break from regular routines, and a refreshing of old family favorites will help alleviate some soul fevers. Painting together,  board games, camping. Anything your family loves and relaxes you all. You provide the support and the container for the emotions they are working through. Also providing yourself with appropriate self care can make it much easier to walk with them, even if the path they walk triggers your own strong emotions.

Running Its Course: A long cry, a few weeks of slow pace, and refraining from what Kim calls “hyper parenting” the time and support needed for somethings to simply pass. While we want to support our children, sometimes their pain or struggle is their own and all we can do is say “I am with you.”

A Slow, Strong Return: His usual easy laughter returning, her smiling eyes bright again, a more confident stride. The little signs of the passing of a soul fever leave us with a renowned feeling of “Phew!”

Walking the path with a soul fever, supporting the journey and providing emotional container for release is not easy! But the knowledge that we were present, mindful and available during their hard times stays with our children and creates long lasting imprints on our relationships with them, and their relationships with others.

Now for my request!

You have been reading this book for a while now. Chapter 3 is all about Environment. Won’t you guest blog and tell us about how that chapter has been implemented in your home?



Every time I read this book I see it through new eyes. The first time I read, it was like a breath of fresh air confirming my feelings about parenting and teaching.
Now, as a more seasoned parent and teacher, I read it and feel the renewal of strength I can have in my ideals.

Why Simplify?
Our children are surrounded by messages that tell them to hurry up, grow up, get there, over achieve. Where do these messages come from? A few of the sources are obvious. Television, pop music, friends, & family members. Traditional school settings have bought into the fast paced, heavy testing approach. When these methods and societal norms are questioned, often a backlash is experienced and we begin to question our own beliefs.

Multiple sources point to our current societal pace as contributing to the high levels of stress, attention issues, and emotional concerns in many children today. Adult information and adult speed of life have caused many young children to have high levels of anxiety.

“A protected childhood allows for the slow development of identity, well-being, and resiliency.”

While becoming a helicopter parent can certainly stifle a child, being an “adult oriented” parent can lead to anxiety and stress. Striking a balance between play and protection allows children to more freely focus on being children. Erecting barriers between the onslaught of societal influence and ideals allows us to watch childhood unfurl in a magical way. For some families that means limiting or eliminating television. For others it means a purposeful return to the outdoors.

“Like any work of art, families need inspiration, fresh infusion of home and imagination.”

Where do you see inspiration for crafting your family life?
For me, I find like minded moms who blog inspirational! Being a part of Bayou Village School has been an amazing gift for finding my tribe. As a teacher, over the years, I have often felt a disconnect between my classroom goals and the goals of parents who were deeply invested in the fast paced, test based academics that popular high priced private schools were pushing.  At BVS, I feel surrounded by parents who are putting their children’s confidence, happiness, health and intelligence ahead of “success”.  

What were your first  experiences of needing to slow down? Where do you find inspiration?

Simplicity Parenting. Sounds so simple right? But for many of us, it is a vast change from the way we were raised and the way our friends and families are raising children. Kim John Payne’s book “Simplicity Parenting” is a great tool for those seeking to have a more meaningful relationship with their children. Simplicity Parenting was one of my first introductions to the ideals behind Waldorf education.  It has been a treasure that I have re-read many times as my parenting and teaching evolved.


What is “Simplicity Parenting”?

Written by Kim John Payne in 2010, Simplicity Parenting is a guide to the ideals promoted in by Waldorf educators. Though written for a broad audience, you will quickly recognize the connection between the book and the school. There are four main realms discussed in the book:

Environment: Clutter-free and inviting environments promote peace and harmony in the home.

Rhythm: Predictability and consistency help children feel safe and reassured.

Scheduling: Slowing down busy schedules and creating purposeful breaks in scheduling allows us to live in the present, in our sense of Being, rather than an of use of  our sense of Doing.

Unplugging: Freeing our children from the realm of adult concerns, and media and commercial influence allows them to expand curiosity, imagination, social and emotional intelligence.

Using these ideals, Payne encourages parents to find their own personal values and inspiration for the parenting journey.

Who is Kim John Payne?

Well to begin with, he is no relation to me!  From the Simplicity Parenting website:

A consultant and trainer to over 110 U.S. independent and public schools, Kim John Payne, M.ED, has been a school counselor, adult educator, consultant, researcher, educator and a private family counselor for twenty seven years. He regularly gives key note addresses at international conferences for educators, parents, and therapists and runs workshops and training’s around the world. In each role, he has been helping children, adolescents and families explore issues such as social difficulties with siblings and classmates, attention and behavioral issues at home and school, emotional issues such as defiance, aggression, addiction and self-esteem and the vital role living a balanced simple life brings.

He has also consulted for educational associations in South Africa, Hungary, Israel, Russia, Switzerland, Ireland, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. Kim has worked extensively with the North American and UK Waldorf educational movements. He has served as Director of the Collaborative Counseling program at Antioch University New England. He is Co Director of the Simplicity Project a multi media social network that explores what really connects and disconnects us to ourselves and to the world. Kim is the Founding Director of The Center for Social Sustainability.

In addition to authoring Simplicity Parenting© . Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier and M0re Secure Kid,published by Ballantine Books/Random House in 2009, he also authored The Games Children Play©, (1996) published by Hawthorn Press and is presently working on – The Soul of Discipline, and co-authoring Whole Child Sport™ How to Navigate Child & Youth Sports™.

He has appeared frequently on television including ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox; on radio with the BBC, Sirius/XM, CBC & NPR and in print including being featured in Time Magazine, Chicago Tribune, Parenting, Mothering, Times Union and the LA Times.

Kim strives to deepen understanding and give practical tools for life that arise out of the burning social issues of our time. He is based in Northampton, Massachusetts with his wife and two children.

In addition, he is the founder of the Social Inclusion Approach, a method of overcoming  anti-social behavior causing  exclusion and isolation which has been implemented in many communities both on the child and adult levels.  He was the Co Director of an extensive research project, exploring and developing a drug free approach to Attention Related Disorders.

I hope you will join me in reading and discussing this transformative book. This week I will be reading Chapter 1 and will post Friday evening about my impressions and thoughts as they relate to parenting, teaching and life!  A link will be posted in the Big Tent forum for us to collaborate and share our impressions. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

Welcome to a new semester of learning and growing at Bayou Village School!

The Bayou Village School blog is designed to keep you connected to the spirit of Waldorf-Inspired education, and to keep you connected with each other! After each blog, we can discuss the content on the PTCC Big Tent group.

I’m going to be the primary writer of the blog, and I will have regular guest posts from teachers, parents, board members, and even older children!

My name is Colleen Elena Payne and I am the first grade teacher and assistant director at BVS. I am “Mom” to 10 year old 4th grader, Rebecca. I adopted Rebecca from foster care 3 1/2 years ago, and I am so proud of her!
I am from Fort Worth, Texas and moved to Houston in 2004. I attended UH and studied Education and Sociology. I received my Montessori teachers certificate in 2008.
My family and Rebecca’s sister and her family live in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and we travel there often. We love to camp and spend lots of time in Texas State and National Parks. I love antiques, especially those related to country life, black glass, and books. Rebecca and I recently went gluten free and are always looking for  a good recipe!  I have always known I wanted to be a teacher. My great grandmother was a first grade teacher, and, later, a college professor.  Sitting in her living room reciting Robert Frost is how I spent many afternoons as a child. Whenever my class works on a poem, I think of the time spent with her.

How I found Waldorf education:
After about a year or so home, it was clear that the Montessori style of learning was NOT a match for Rebecca’s learning style. I started looking into other holistic methods and even homeschooling. I had heard of Waldorf, and started using these methods in my homeschooling. However, as a single working mom, Rebecca had to attend school. So for the 3rd grade, I took a leap of faith and sent her to public school.  It quickly became evident that while the teacher directed learning was better for her than the Montessori approach had been, the massive disconnect between the value systems of the school, the other families and myself were staggering. I felt that I knew Waldorf was working for her at home, and was eager to have her spend her days with people who shared our value system and taught in a way that spoke to her learning style.
As a teacher, I found that the original methods set forth by Maria Montessori were being misused to push academics on an increasingly younger crowd. It was far to common an occurrence to have parents ask me why their student was not yet reading yet at age 3 or 4.   Though my fellow teachers and I tried to patiently explain the norms of childhood development, the private schools that the children went on to after my class often expected and allowed enrollment of children who were far beyond typical childhood development.  For the parents this created a massive amount of pressure for the children to “succeed”. I began to wish for a parent body that could respect the sanctity of childhood and allow the children the opportunity to blossom independently.
I met Cheryl Hensley at Mam’s Ice House two summers ago. A very little Kayla and Rebecca were playing and Cheryl and I began discussing education. She told me about Bayou Village School in its early days, and I was intrigued. I went home and looked it up. I attended several speaker events, and also came to a meting of homeschooling parents who were forming a group connected to the school. Six months or so later, I had a garage sale. Melanie Carranza came and bought some of Rebecca’s toys. One very special doll can still be found in the Sunflower Garden! We chatted about the development of the school and I found myself at another of the schools speaking events. In early 2012, I was ready to make a change in my teaching and in Rebecca’s schooling. In one of my usual antique hunts online, I came across the hiring needs of BVS! Having received a third message from the universe, I said to myself, “The time has come.”

My time at Bayou Village School:
When I arrived at Bayou Village, I was so delighted to find co-teachers who believed in the magic qualities of the child’s inner life. The staff, faculty, board, parents and children could not have made me feel any more welcome. It has been a lovely first semester. As a young, developing school, yearning to adhere to Waldorf ideals, much is asked of the teachers. The teacher is held in high regard. The teacher, who spends her days with the children, her evenings planning for them and her weekends preparing to meet their needs, is honored and revered in Waldorf. The teacher, who knows each child and their family intimately, is asked often to serve on committees and chair events. We work together to create a harmonious environment for the children.  I have been honored to be a member of the College of teachers, the hiring committee and the facility and maintenance committee. In December 2012, I was honored to be asked to use my previous experience in administration to help the school grow and evolve. As assistant director, I am able to help the director, Jenny Garcia, in many aspects of school administration and practical day to day function. I am also excited to be writing the school blog, and look forward to getting to know you all better through the connections we make here.
This spring, my class will be headed into the second semester of first grade. This semester we will keep practicing our roman numerals, begin skip counting, introduce the four processes of mathematics, learn seasonal poetry, and make our own books to read! Watching the wonder of the children as they discover their own abilities is inspiring and amazing! Each child has their own personality and contributes their own special way to the group. I can not imagine my class without each of them!

Up Next:
    I invite you to join me in beginning 2013 with a renewing of the ideals of Waldorf inspired parenting with a book study. Each week we can read a chapter or two of the classic book “Simplicity Parenting” by Kim John Payne. Then join me on Big Tent to discuss what we’ve read!

Hours & Info

M-F: 8-4

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