Posts filed under ‘Steiner/Waldorf’

As life changes

My obsession with all things Steiner is causing a few rolled eyes here at Domestically Blissed. Hubby laughed out loud when I read him this excerpt from “Waldorf Education”

‘As mothers develop an understanding of and appreciation for the Waldorf School they being to bring home life in closer harmony with life in the school. The toys start to change. Plastic is out and natural materials are in. Suddenly there are woven baskets in the home filled with pine cones, nuts and stones. The child’s clothing also changes. “Loose” “layered, and “warm” are the watchwords as the child beings to wear more clothing tan ever before. Hats appear for young children thought-out the year and woolen undershirts as well. 

Building a Bridge to Waldorf Fathers – Jack Petrash.

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April 18, 2008 at 12:33 am 3 comments

Sweet Pea

Hat

Fortunately, given my own talents in this area, My mother in law is an exceptional knitter. She whipped this pilot cap up while watching the rugby, using Sweet Pea’s cancer fundraising pattern.

 

It reminds me a little bit of WaldorfMama’s gorgeous Waldorf Pilot Caps. WaldorfMama wrote a beautiful post on how important knitted hats are for little ones –

 

I feel very strongly about keeping babies and children warm.  young children do not have a fully developed sense for temperature (their own or that around them) so they are dependent on us to dress them appropriately.  And since the majority of warmth leaves via the head, this means keeping their head covered.  Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf education and it’s inherent philosophy, believed that one of the most critical gifts we can give a child is to ensure they have sufficient warmth by keeping their head covered…which ‘keeps the inner soul warm’

 

Sweet Pea’s designed this lovely pattern as a fundraiser when her 5 year old nephew was diagnosed with Leukamia. So, if you are looking for great cause and an excuse to do some knitting – head on over and pick up the pattern.

April 16, 2008 at 4:08 am 2 comments

Baby Stuff I Love

 

When it comes to buying baby stuff, it really is a jungle out there. There are just so many gorgeous things to choose from. I was helping a newly pregnant friend put together her baby shopping list this week, which got me thinking about all the things that may be slightly outside the mainstream but that I think every new parent should have.

 

As an aside, for those of you that are interested, I found this great article on the Waldorf approach to newborn baby care.

 

So just for fun, here are my top picks for crunchy new baby essentials.

 
 Bedding

gogo

photocredit: www.merinokids.com

Firstly, may I recommend a hammock rather than a cot. Its ideal if you are intending to co-sleep as it gives a baby somewhere safe to sleep for naps, and is a perfect alternative to a port a cot as you can hang it from any door frame. Naturesway hammocks accommodate babies well past 1 year, so you will get great use out of it.

I also have to mention the wonderful merino GoGo bags – you can see from the photo how beautiful they are. Its a real shame they are now made in China, but they are exceptional quality and I really haven’t found another sleeping bag that comes even close.

Out and About

Photobucket

photocredit: dulceandzoet.co.nz

Whether you are AP minded or not, a sling  is a blessing not to be under-rated. I love my DulceandZoet sling, but I suggest you try to get in contact with a local babywearing group to see different slings in action. In New Zealand, check out www.slingbabies.co.nz. Intenational groups are listed at www.thebabywearer.com.

Even devout baby wearers usually end up with a pushchair.  If you are looking at pushchairs, give serious consideration to a Mountain Buggy. Made in clean green New Zealand, they have a great range of options for attaching bassinets, car seats, toddler seats, and they stand by their product even years down the track. We have a second hand ‘Terrain’ model, and I’m totally in love with it.

Toys and Things

floomat
photocredit:www.tagyourbaby.co.nz

I have to confess we bought a rather revolting Tiny Love baby activity gym – where the baby lies on her back and looks at dangling synthentic fleece toys. I think it was a contributing factor to Munchkin’s very flat head which took months to come right.

But if I knew then what I knew now, I would have chosen one of these taggy floor mats from TagYourBaby.  It might be made of a synthetic material but this is one case where I don’t mind – little babies spill a lot, so polar fleece does come into its own for a playmat.

You can buy some very beautiful wooden and cloth toys appropriate for little babies. They will quickly start putting things in their mouth, so natural and preferably organic materials will be so much nicer.

Baby Care

Photobucket
photocredit:www.babynecklace.co.nz

Its very anthroposophical to like Weleda products for baby, but that aside they really are lovely . I am a big fan of the calendula nappy hange cream. I also love the smell of ecostore baby products, especially their divine baby bath. And once baby starts teething, I think an amber teething necklace is a worthwhile investment.

Clothing

I really do feel that wherever possible newborns should be dressed in organic cotton – here’s some of the reasons why. It is expensive, but its one place that I think it is necessary. Second hand organic baby clothing has fantastic resale value on eEbay and TradeMe so if you think of it that way its not actually that costly!

For little ones, all-in-ones that snap all the way up the front are the easiest things to get baby in and out of. In colder weather add a cotton or wool singlet underneath, and a pure wool cardigan and hat for outings, you’ll be set for most weather.

While many people will advise you not to buy too many clothes in newborn sizes, you willeasily go through three changes of clothes a day. You don’t want to get stuck in the middle of the night with nothing to change baby into! 

Nappies

I could write a whole post just on cloth nappies (OK, OK cloth diapers for those of you in the USA).  The best advice I can give you is to find your local ‘nappy network’ – I know there are online cloth nappy communities in New Zealand, Australia, UK and US – and probably elsewhere as well.

My top pick for a little baby is a simple prefold and cover system. I love  bamboo prefolds (I use the double layered bamboo inserts – they are perfect as prefolds. For covers, wool is hard to beat. Its breathable, incredibly waterproof, and a lovely natural fibre to use. Its just a little more work than PUL but really, not as much as you would think. These are my favourite wool covers because they are just so pretty.  

I found the most useful information I found on cloth nappies came from the fabulous Snazzipants website. In particular, for newborns they say that “we usually recommend that to stay sane with your first new baby, you use disposables for the first couple of weeks. New babies are really small, and if you are going to have a fit issue, you are going to have it right at the beginning when your baby has teeny tiny chicken legs. And very explosive poo. Not the best mix!”

There is tonnes of cloth nappy information out there, and it can all be a bit confusing. But its only because they are so cute and so much fun – really, they are actually very easy to use.

I’d love to know what your favourite baby things are, so please leave a comment with any ideas that you have.

For more Works for Me Wednesday head over to http://rocksinmydryer.typepad.com
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 8, 2008 at 7:33 pm 5 comments

Autumn

Summer is officially over here, with the end of daylight savings. I have to admit to being a complete grinch about daylight savings. I hate the idea of arbitrarily changing time. I hate feeling mildly jetlagged for a few days afterwards. I hate the hassle of changing the clocks around the house. And now I have a little one I hate trying to get to ‘spring forward’ or ‘fall back’.

Well, with that off my chest I thought I would share my confessions on the buy nothing challenge. With the weather suddenly colder, Munchkin’s wardrobe is badly equipped. I pulled down her winter clothes from last year, and thankfully one woolen cardigan and one woolen vest still fit.

Anemone

I bought this gorgeous top from Anenome prior to the challenge, but it still leaves us seriously short for cold days.

So under the ‘emergency’ instructions from Crunchy Chicken I am endeavouring to buy second hand. I bought one little top last night on TradeMe (Ebay NZ), and have a few other things on my watchlist. I think a few winter basics count as essentials surely!

On a completely different note, I also came across this wonderful looking ‘anthroposophical day nursery’. Anthromama mentioned it to me and it certainly looks like something extremely special. Sadly its about 6 hours away from us, but I found their website fascinating. To me, if you have to put your child into a daycare situation, this is the ideal. Biodynamic meals. Individual care for tiny ones. Plenty of space. A beautiful garden. Steiner’s indications in action. Of course, if you object to being told what nappies to buy and what bottles to use it might not be your cup of tea.

From their website “It is surely every child’s right to grow up in a garden filled with flowers and herbs, vegetables and fruits, where they feel the grass under their feet and are surrounded by the beauty of nature’s creations. The awe of a sunflower towering above them, or the sound of mother hen chortling to her bevy of chickens, are experiences that can only enhance and strengthen the sense of life as well as the child’s relationship to the natural world”

Wishing you all a wonderful week.

April 6, 2008 at 9:11 am 5 comments

Let it wait – Steiner schools and delayed academics

Anemone

photocredit: anemonecrafts  My copy of You Are Your Child’s First Teacher is due back at the library on Monday, so I’ve been busily re-reading it. As soon as a second hand copy comes up I’ll be jumping to buy it – it is such a wonderful resource. One of my favourite chapters is on cognitive development and early childhood education.

One of the things people often struggle with about Waldorf schools is the delayed academics, in particular not teaching reading until the age of seven.  As Baldwin-Darcy says ‘there is tremendous pressure in our society to teach reading, writing and math to children at an increasingly early age’. 

 Parents I know delight when their three year olds love books and start to recognize words. Understandably, we are all so proud of our children, we want them to achieve. But what are they achieving? 

Little children can copy at a rote level, but they’re probably not using the (neurological) circuits which will connect with meaning. Let it wait. Children of this age should not be sitting at desks, doing academic tasks. Get their busy brains out doing and learning, not practicing lower level skills” Jane Healy – Your Child’s Growing Mind 

In fact, there is no evidence that early academics has any long term benefits at all –  despite not being taught to read before the age of seven, by age nine Waldorf /Steiner educated kids are achieving just as well academically. 

Baldwin-Darcy describes a typical Steiner kindergarten (for 3-6 year olds). The days activities include story time, snack time, arts and crafts, a movement and singing circle, and lots of free play, usually outside.  Rather than copying letters and struggling with maths, these five and six year olds are crafting animals out of beeswax, making bread, digging in the sandpit, singing songs, running, exploring, having fun. Of course they are learning, but the three ‘r’s are not the focus here.  

Reading this made me think of what delayed academics might have meant for some people I know who hated school. Right from day one, they struggled with reading, hated sitting still. Right from day one, they were labeled as ‘struggling’. Meetings were held with their parents. Extra tuition was sought. By the time they were seven, about the age that Steiner kids are just starting more structured lessons, these children were convinced they were dumb.  

One man I spoke to said ‘class-room – dumb. after school tuition – dumber. Reading recovery programme – dumbest’.   I loved school. I loved writing, I loved reading, and I shied away from anything artistic or physical. I was not the ideal Steiner child. I wonder if a Steiner/Waldorf school would have made me a more balanced person – rather than being labeled as an ‘academic’ sort of child at the tender age of 4. Perhaps more physical play, more singing, more painting and crafting would simply have been more fun, more healthy than reading chapter books at 6. I don’t know.

So why do we push our children so hard? Is it from pride – that we want our little Munchkins to prove how clever they are? It is from fear – that if they don’t start early they will never catch up? Is it because we think that’s what good parents do – after all every mainstream parenting magazine has ads from Leapfrog and Fisher Price encouraging us to buy their ‘educational’ toys. I suspect it’s a little bit of all of these things – a symptom of our middle class neurosis.

April 3, 2008 at 4:32 am 7 comments

Fantasy

Before I fell in love with Steiner I was very interested in Montessori education. There are many things the two philosophies have in common, but one of the areas they part ways on is ‘fantasy’. 

In The Absorbent Mind” Maria Montessori talks about children’s love of fantasy, magic and pretend play as if it was a sign that something was wrong. Too much ‘pretend’ play should be discouraged, and children gently brought back into the ‘real’ world. This was something I could never quite get my head around. If any Montessorians are reading this and wish to comment, I’d love to hear from you. 

Steiner on the other hand sees that the first seven years are ripe for imaginative play, and that a rich fantasy life should be encouraged to develop children’s full creative potential. This seems to be born out by modern science, in fact a whole episode of Child of Our Time  was recently devoted to the development of creativity and the ‘crisis’ around seven years when the real world comes crashing in.  I remember as a child being very deeply in fantasy land. I had an imaginary friend, I had passionate relationships with my dolls. My aunty remembers giving me a small play-horse and says that I took it into my room and held it up, turning it around and staring at it in awe.

I would love Munchkin to have the same love of fantasy that I had, and find Steiner philosophy full of wonderful ideas to encourage this.           

   In ‘You are your child’s first teacher’, Rahima dedicates a whole chapter to developing fantasy and imagination. Dolls, toys, fairytales and nursery rhymes are all important parts of this.  She explains that  “Everything the young child takes in makes a profound impression on him”. So quality toys, made of natural materials, and that are ‘open ended’ so children can play with them in a myriad of ways are the ideal. I have seen this at playgroup where a circle of rough wood becomes a plate, a hat, a shield, a wall, a door … all in the space of a morning. A piece of blue coloured muslin becomes the sky, the sea, a curtain, a blanket, a peekaboo device.  

Dolls play a particular role in Steiner play. Rahima writes that “We need to put our attention into the quality of the dolls our children have. Not only their expression is important, but the quality of the material as well. Is the doll hard and cold or soft and huggable? Is the hair platinum and grotesquely matted after a week’s play? A soft cloth doll with yarn hair and a neutral expression provides the child with a companion who can change as she does… Barbie is a multimillion dollar enterprise and encouraging our young children to indulge in her designer jeans and convertible supportive values that impoverish the world of the young child” 

And Fairy Tales and Nursery Rhymes are also very ‘Steiner’. I always had a problem with Fairy Tales, and I still hate the Hansel and Gretel tale, and Cinderella. Children being treated badly and alone in the world made me hugely sad as a child, and today. Rahima says to simply avoid stories that bring out these feelings in you as an adult, because your fear will be transmitted to children. However, she suggests a wide range of lovely Fairy Tales, that are actually very sweet.  For three year olds she suggests 

Sweet Porridge

Goldilocks Little TuppensLittle Louse and Little FleaThe TurnipThe Mitten

The Gingerbread Boy

The Johnny CakeThe Hungry Cat  And my last comment on this, rather long and drawn out post, is to dismiss any myth that Steiner parents don’t read to their children. While telling stories to them, and not being ‘book obsessed’ is encouraged, I had a discussion with a woman from the Steiner Federation here who said that we should ‘fill our children’s lives with books’ and continue reading to them not only as babies, but right up in to their teens. Wise lady that.

March 15, 2008 at 1:12 am 1 comment

Steiner blessings

Just got back from another playgroup morning. Munchkin is starting to build up her confidence so much with the surroundings, the other children and the other mums – kisses and hugs for everyone. Its nice to see her seeming a bit more confident.

At morning tea time, when we sit down to eat our buns, the children all hold hands and sing a blessing which goes:

Blessings on the blossoms,

Blessings on the fruit,

Blessings on the leaves and stems

and Blessings on the root.

Spoken: Blessings on this meal”

There is also a line of Maori which may be ‘manahi a kai’ but I can’t be sure. When I work it out I will post it here.

 Its such a lovely way to start a meal. I wonder if I can persuade Hubby to try it at home!

March 11, 2008 at 11:44 pm 2 comments

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