Waldorf Education | Invite your Child to Travel Back in Time
© Copyright 2011 Tracy Lynn Conway with all rights reserved.
When you think of the busy technology based, pressured and commercially driven lives many children live today, do you ever imagine what their lives would be like if they could travel back to a simpler place and time? A place where children played outside and connected with nature rather than staring at the graphic flashing images on a TV screen? A place where free play had more value than being on a soccer team? A place where learning about who you are is more important than being an early reader? A place where children aren’t targeted and marketed as consumers from the day they are swaddled in their first diaper?
Believe it or not this place exists today! There are thousands of families and educators that have completely rejected what it means to be a kid in today’s modern society. These families refuse to allow their children to be exposed to over commercialized media. They refuse to allow their children to sit for hours in front of a television or a play station. They encourage their children to play outside and interact with other kids in a natural setting. This method of education is called “Waldorf Education” and modern parents and educators have a lot to learn from this philosophy in terms of meeting the needs of children as opposed to children meeting the needs of their parents and society.
"In this time of extraordinary pressure, educational and social, perhaps a mothers first duty to her children is to secure for them a quiet and growing time, a full six years of passive receptive life, the waking part of it for the most part spent out in the fresh air." ~Charlotte Mason
The stages of child development have been studied time and time again. These studies reveal that children under the age of 7 need open ended play, preferably outside in a social environment where they can learn about themselves, their surroundings and how to relate with others. While most children today are forced to be ‘academic’ from early ages for some distant ideal of getting good grades or being a ‘good reader’, Waldorf children are learning how to be themselves. Parents need to start making a conscious choice about doing the right thing for their kids; society will not do this for them. Young children today are being exposed to more media and commercialization than any child has been throughout history. These children are guinea pigs in an unprecedented study on what affects this kind of childhood will have on them, and their very own parents have unknowingly signed them up for the research.
Waldorf parents and teachers opt out. Waldorf students are put in a nurturing, natural environment as an extension of the home where they can grow and flourish as nature intended. They play with natural toys, learn about their bodies by moving them as much as possible, eat homemade foods that they often participate in making. They begin painting with water colors and sing songs that incorporate movement. These children are also told fairy tales and fables that ignite their imaginations rather than watching media images that stifle creativity. Human beings, and especially children, are not meant to sit still. Study after study proves that movement is the key to engaging the mind and body for children and yet this knowledge is being ignored by educators when students are forced to sit and learn the letters of the alphabet before their bodies are fully equipped to do so.
The movie “Race to Nowhere“ talks about what childhood has become in that it is a pressure cooker of sorts, forcing kids to spend all their waking hours studying and competing with one another while suffering from depression, stress and other related negative effects rather than having a balanced childhood. There is a lot to think about for parents when the burden of doing the right thing falls so heavily on their own lap.
I invite you to allow your child to travel back in time in whatever ways you can. The changes can be slow, incremental and one at a time. You can start by allowing less TV or less scheduled activities which deprive your children of the chance to get to know themselves before they know so much about Sponge Bob Square Pants.
This passage gets to the heart of why we should allow children to be children.
I am struck by the fact that the more slowly trees grow at first, the sounder they are at the core, and I think that the same is true of human beings. We do not wish to see children precocious, making great strides in their early years like sprouts, producing a soft and perishable timber, but better if they expand slowly at first, as if contending with difficulties, and so are solidified and perfected. Such trees continue to expand with nearly equal rapidity to extreme old age.
Henry David Thoreau
Author's note: While I agree with many aspects of Waldorf Education, I do not support any pseudo-scientific concepts that may be associated with it.
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- Fairy Tales | The Best Stories for Children
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