The big day has finally arrived! Please help me welcome Donna Simmons to my blog. In case you missed my big announcement, head over to Donna Simmons – Waldorf Inspired Parenting and Education Extraordinaire – Live on This Blog January 23rd – 28th to read more about Donna and why this will be such an amazing week on Hybrid Rasta Mama.
A couple of quick reminders. Donna will be here all week responding to your questions. We are opening up the discussion with a specific topic (more in a moment) and please be sure to ask for clarification at any point in the conversation. I will be moderating the conversation as best I can. I do not moderate comments before they post but if your comment does not immediately show up, don't worry. It was probably mistaken for spam and I will check that folder often. Please remember to be respectful of everyone's views and opinions. I am pleased to say that my readers have always been very respectful of each other so really, I have no concerns. I am just excited to see what you all come up with!
Let's open this conversation now, shall we?
I get two main questions from my readers when it comes to Waldorf inspired parenting. Many mamas are curious about the Waldorf view of children and classes, specifically classes for children 7 and under. I get a lot of questions about the value of mommy and me classes, music and art classes, gymnastics and the like for small children. Along similar lines but more pointed, I field many questions about “stimulation” for children in the form of play dates, visits to zoos/museums, vacations and travel, running errands, etc… I have written extensively about rhythm and many mamas are perplexed about why I limit how many errands and play dates I take my daughter on. I think there is still a lot of confusion about this concept.
Before I turn things over to Donna, let me throw in my two cents. First, the under 7 crowd needs to be home with their family. These years are uber critical in terms of development and children develop best when surrounded by the love, warmth, and attention of their own family. Second, children are thrust into the hurry-up-and-go mentality of adults these days when in fact, childhood needs to be protected. Children should be allowed to explore life at the slow pace that is natural to them. A child's job is unstructured, unencumbered play and we are taking that time away from them by forcing this activity and that class on them.
Play dates, mommy-and-me groups, and the like are really for parent socialization in my opinion. The play dates I have taken Tiny on are always less interesting for her and more stimulating for me. In fact, she usually resists going on such excursions. Tiny genuinely enjoys playing at home, exploring the great outdoors, and helping me with work around the house. She knows where she needs to be much better than I do. If we follow our children's cues, we will see that they really do enjoy just being at home.
I am not at all suggesting that young children never leave the house. It is perfectly natural to visit friends and family, go on vacation, go to birthday parties, etc. What I am suggesting is that you forgo all those gymnastic classes, the mommy-and-me classes and the like. Your wee one truly does not need these activities in order to thrive. Your child does not need to be “socialized” in this manner.
I also feel very strongly that young children should be kept away from the competitive sports scene. They have their whole lives to get swept away in the win/lose nature of our society. Why push it on them so young? Does a 3 year old really need to be bogged down with feelings of inadequacy because her soccer team didn't win? Do you think a 4 year old really develops a healthy self-esteem by becoming a star pitcher on his baseball team?
I could prattle on about how we shuffle our children here, there and everywhere in the name of socialization but instead, let me turn this conversation over to Donna who undoubtedly has some really valuable insight into this phenomenon of overscheduling our young children.
I am very much looking forward to hearing what all of you have to add to this conversation as well. Please do not be shy! All comments are welcome and again, feel free to take this conversation in the direction you would like to see it go…staying within the topic of course.
One quick word about HOW to comment…Blogger introduced this new “reply” feature that has made my comment section go a little buggy. I am working to get this fixed but for now, be sure to check the box that has you subscribe to follow up comments. It will show below the comment box you are typing in. This way you will know when Donna or someone else replies to your comment! But just in case that goes buggy, check back occassionally. The comments/reply feature work fine if you use Chrome of Firefox but are a problem in Internet Explorer. Thank you for your patience with this!
Ready, set, here we go….