Early childhood educators understand the importance of sensory play for young children. As a Waldorf early childhood teacher, I came to an even deeper understanding of how profoundly important it is to provide a young child with materials and playthings that will nourish his senses.
Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf education, once described a baby as being “wholly sense organ,” That is, she learns about the world and takes it in through all her senses (furthermore, Steiner claims we have twelve senses, and not just five, but that’s the subject for another post!).
As Waldorf early childhood educators, we seek to provide sensory stimuli that is soothing and nourishing to touch–materials such as natural wood, the soft wool of a lambskin, silks, dolls made of cotton and wool, smooth river stones, and so forth. Outdoors, a child’s senses are stimulated and nourished by playing in sand, water, mud and soil.
What current research shows us is that a child’s sensory experiences are aiding his brain development. Trillions of neural pathways are being formed and strengthened by his repeated sensorial experiences. This is one reason I am committed to carrying playthings and materials at Bella Luna Toys that will nourish and gratify a child’s senses.
For more information on the importance of sensory play, here’s a great blog post from Amanda Morgan, another (non-Waldorf) early childhood educator.
A Handful of Fun: Why Sensory Play is Important for Preschoolers
(This post is part of the Backyard Mama Wednesday link-up. Visit www.backyardmama.com for more information and to participate)
Yesterday’s New York Times featured a sad but important op-ed piece by David Elkind, author of the books The Hurried Child and The Power of Play, among others, about the newest threats to childhood and play being imposed on our already over-scheduled children.
New York Times: “Playtime is Over” by David Elkind
He states that many schools are now employing “recess coaches” to oversee children’s play time. (Yes, you read that right. Recess coaches!) The traditional culture of childhood is quickly disappearing. I urge you to read this article, then visit The Alliance for Childhood’s website to learn what this organization is doing to protect childhood in the world, and to preserve a child’s freedom to play. Sign up for their free alerts to learn ways you can help.
“Play is the only way the highest intelligence of humankind can unfold.” ~Joseph Chilton Pearce
I was so happy to finally get this blog up and running. I had so much to say, and couldn’t wait to move out from behind a static website and to be able to interact with all of you. Well, it seems that no sooner did “Moon Child” finally go live when Amanda Soule, my favorite blogger and creator of the most gorgeous crafting and parenting blog, SouleMama, made a lovely post about drawing and crayons.
Well, ever since that post came out, I’ve had very little time to write, since all I’ve been doing is packing and shipping box after box of our beautiful Stockmar beeswax crayons! Apparently, the photos of Amanda’s baby, Harper, grasping the Stockmar blocks, and colorful Crayon Rocks in his cherubic little hands proved simply irresistible, and suddenly I can barely keep up with the demand!
It’s really no wonder. The quality of these crayons is incredible. Made with pure beeswax, they smell wonderful and the colors are pure and vibrant. What’s best is that they last FOREVER. (Well, nearly forever!) We still have and use some of the same block crayons that my son Harper, now 18, got from his teacher years ago when when he was in first grade. (Can you believe Amanda and I both have sons named Harper and dogs named Nellie? Oh, and we both live in Maine!)
So, as soon as soon as I’m done packing all these crayons, I’ll be back to tell you a little bit more about the benefits of the different kinds of crayons available at Bella Luna Toys, and how I used them in my classroom.
In the meantime find a child, grab some paper and crayons, and sit down with him or her and have a lovely color experience. Happy drawing!