Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Preserving Play, Preserving Childhood
Today I read this article about what we're doing to our children's play. With the rise in popularity of educational toys as a culture we've begun to push our children towards "productive play," meaning play that is going to teach them something we've determined to be educational. Unfortunately, by educational we usually mean "what we can test."
Experts have been warning of the dangers of children not having open ended play, loss of imagination and problem solving skills, decrease in creativity and ingenuity, and pressure for children to produce results younger and younger. These problems could have some very serious ramifications for our children as they become adults.
Before we were drawn to a Waldorf environment for our daughters' education, we fell into encouraging "educational" toys and "productive" play in our children. It wasn't long before we started to see stress responses from our then second grader. Which is how we ended up in our first Waldorf inspired school. This move became a game changer not only for our daughters' education but our home life as well. Through conversations with other parents, reading various materials, and parenting seminars offered by our school, we shifted to a different expectation of our children's play: joy.
I can tell you, from the change in our two older daughters' stress levels, it was completely worth it. That was just the beginning. Within months of altering our home life, our play expectations, and our educational approach, we had children that were excited to go to school, their creativity blossomed, their interactions with others became more peaceful, and the whining decreased! These changes along with cutting out media- particularly screen based media, gave our family a gift we didn't realize we were missing: our children were given their childhood back.
This weekend Laura Olsen from the Austin Waldorf School, Waldorf teacher, and mother of 4 will be presenting on "Waldorf in the Home: Helping Children Stay Young" and "Rhythms, Ritual, and Reverence: How Waldorf Education Supports the Needs of the Growing Child." Both of these presentations will be invaluable for parents that want to encourage their children to unfold in a peaceful setting that embraces their needs for peace and rhythm in their daily lives. With practical tools to help parents preserve the childhood of their children, Laura will help parents explore what they can do to make their home a safe place that values joy and wonder in their play.
Don't miss out on these two opportunities to learn more on how to meet your child's needs without conforming to the dangers of a culture that is robbing our children of their play. These presentations are open to anyone, not just to families within BVS, anyone interested in adding tools to their parenting toolbox are welcome to attend. For more information visit either the school website events or the Facebook page. Hope to see you there!
Today it is a priority in our home to preserve our children's childhood. One that we enjoy. Over the years our daughters have showed us how to slow down and embrace life. Enjoying play for no other end than to play. Through rhythm and ritual we are all developing a reverence for life, sharing in our chores, play, and learning with joy. We have a lot to learn and plenty of room to grow (we also have our seasons that we struggle with falling back into old patterns) but the journey is worth the effort to continue to add to our toolbox.