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November 24th, 2012 | Childhood, Play, Sunday With Sarah, Waldorf Education | Permalink | Comments (18)

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September 3rd, 2010 | Childhood, Parenting, TV and Media, Waldorf Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Well, September 1 has come and gone. It was the date I had hoped to get the new and improved Bella Luna Toys website live. I didn’t make my original goal, but I am determined to open its doors to you before the month is over.

Plugging away around-the-clock, as I am—editing product descriptions, uploading photos, and adding scores of new natural Waldorf toys—has left me with very little time to do much writing. (Even though I have dozens of ideas percolating!)

In the meantime, I thought I’d leave you with some interesting reading for the long weekend. Here are a few of my favorite blog posts from the past week on the themes of childhood and parenting.

Did you know that spanking is illegal in Sweden?

spanking Sweden

Photo by Linda Aslund

Today on her blog Not Just Cute, Amanda Morgan writes about Sweden’s anti-spanking laws, and offers gentle suggestions for positive discipline (that won’t require calling in law enforcement officials!).

No Spanking in Sweden

Watch What You Say! Young Children Affected by “Racy Talk.”

One of my favorite sites focused on children and media (and my favorite guide for learning what movies may not be appropriate for children and teens) is Common Sense Media. This week, Caroline Knorr addresses a recent report from the American Academy of Pediatrics that determined that “racy talk” and suggestive innuendo doesn’t go over young children’s heads. (Another pet peeve of mine when it comes to Disney movies.)

Racy Talk: Kids Are Listening (and Learning)

Are Our Fears Making Us Crazy?

Another of my favorite bloggers, Lenore Skenazy at Free Range Kids writes about the insane ways in which we behave, propelled by our fears of the all the possible dangers that are waiting to befall our children. On a lighter note, she addresses the absurd comment of a produce distributor that watermelon seeds could pose a choking hazard.

Kids! Watch Out! It’s — God Help Us — a Watermelon Seed!

And more seriously, she recounts a young man’s experience of being harshly and unfairly disciplined in high school for carrying a pocket knife. In his native Switzerland, it was customary for children to carry pocket knives to school. What, I wonder, would public school officials think about the many Waldorf early childhood teachers I know who give a pocket knife to each of their students on his or her sixth birthday? Call the spanking police, no doubt!

The Most Insane Zero Tolerance Story Yet

There you have it. Now I need to batten down the hatches in preparation for Tropical Storm Earl, which is scheduled to hit the coast of Maine this evening. I hope the weather is better where you are, and that your Labor Day weekend is full of play!

What blog posts have intrigued or inspired you this week? Please share your links!

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August 10th, 2010 | Childhood, Parenting, TV and Media, Waldorf Education | Permalink | Comments (35)

Last month, my younger son William and I saw Toy Story 3 in New York City in 3D. I loved it! Yes, you read that right. Miss Sarah, the anti-media-for-young-children Waldorf teacher, absolutely loved Toy Story 3.

Those of you who’ve seen it know that the ending is a tearjerker, but I nearly melted in a puddle of my own tears, thoroughly embarrassing my 15-year-old son. The movie was especially heart-rending for me because my older son Harper is the same age as Andy, the boy to whom the toys belong.

Harper was about four years old when the original Toy Story was released. At the time, we lived in Hollywood, my husband was working in the entertainment industry, and we were invited to the premiere. As perks, we were given full-size Woody and Buzz Lightyear toys, which Harper played with for years.

In Toy Story 3, things have progressed in real time. Andy has grown up and is getting ready to head off to college. And guess what? Harper is 18 now and leaving for college in a few short weeks. Like Andy, he is in the process of saying goodbye to his toys, his childhood, and his parents, so the poignant ending of Toy Story 3 left me crumpled in a sea of wet tissues.

Not only did Toy Story 3 have personal relevance for me, but I also appreciated its compelling story, great dialogue, engaging characters, and its technological sophistication. It’s the first movie I’ve ever seen in 3-D, and it really was a marvel, perhaps one of the best animated movies ever made.

But in spite of my enthusiasm for the movie, I would not recommend it for children under nine. Bracing myself for the backlash, I can already hear the cries of protest: “But it’s rated G!” “We took our four-year-old to see it and he LOVED it!” “Come on, it’s Disney. It’s wholesome family fun.”

Let me explain my thoughts . . .

Read the rest of this entry »

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July 23rd, 2010 | Childhood, Inspiration, Natural Toys, Photographs, Play, Waldorf Toys, Wooden Toys | Permalink | Comments (5)

Right now I am spending every free moment working on the new Bella Luna Toys website, about which I’m all aflutter. I can’t wait for you to see it! As a result, I’ve had very little time to write blog posts.

So here today, inspired by SouleMama, I am sharing Amanda’s Friday ritual. A single photo, no words, capturing a moment. (And, in this case, a sneak peek into what I’ve been working on!)

Wooden Toy Train from Bella Luna Waldorf Toyscopyright Sarah Baldwin, all rights reserved

Wishing you a wonderful summer weekend full of play!

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July 19th, 2010 | Childhood, Play, Sensory Play, Waldorf Education | Permalink | Comments (9)

On Saturday, I stopped by Free-Range Kids, one of my favorite blogs written by Lenore Skenazy, author of the book by the same name. I was delighted to find there a guest post by Mary O’Connell, a colleague and fellow board member of LifeWays North America. Mary offered an essay about the problem she has with sand tables being considered essential pieces of equipment in early childhood classrooms.

You can read Mary’s essay on Free-Range Kids here.

Photo by LaPrimaDonna

I was surprised at how many comments were left in relation to this post over the weekend, and astonished to discover how high emotions seemed to be running in defense of sand tables, and how much vitriol some people expressed toward outdoor sandboxes. Who knew? Readers defended the value of sand tables for giving children valuable sensory input (no argument there), but many of them also bashed sandboxes and playing in dirt as being impractical, messy and unsanitary. Having read most of the 90 follow-up comments, I thought many readers were missing Mary’s point, and offered the following comment of my own:

I am a Waldorf early childhood teacher. My take on the essay was not that Mary was condemning the sand table as detrimental for children, but rather that she was trying to raise our consciousness by asking if we are, in effect, replacing children’s outside play time in nature, by attempting to bring those experiences indoors.

Sand tables seem to have become de rigueur pieces of equipment in early childhood classrooms in recent decades. I’ve used a sand table at times, sometimes filled with sand, sometimes with beans, and the children enjoy it. There is nothing inherently wrong with a sand table (even though, Mary’s right that they DO make a mess!).

But I think that Mary’s point is that they shouldn’t become a substitute for the real thing. Children who are lucky enough to have plenty of time for outdoor play in nature will get all the sensory experiences they need in order to develop healthy brains and bodies — by digging in dirt, playing in sandboxes, wading in water, or climbing trees.

Some of us may teach in urban areas with no outdoor play space (but I wonder how many of us don’t even have a concrete playground with room for a covered sandbox). Some of us may live in apartment high-rises with no yard or outdoor space. If there is not even a park in your neighborhood where children can play outdoors, then a sand table could be considered a necessity. One might also want to have a sand table indoors during the cold winter months when the sandbox is frozen. But, in my opinion, sand table play is no substitute for being outside, digging, and making tunnels and mud pies in real dirt

And as to the animal feces argument against sandbox play, it is so easy to cover a sandbox with a tarp at the end of playtime. The children in my class would help with this task everyday. There are also covered sandboxes which are readily available. [Which I just so happen to carry at Bella Luna Toys!]

Just my two cents in defense of Mary’s original argument.

Dear Readers, have a look at Mary’s essay, and let me know what you think. On which side of the sand table do you stand?

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