Woolly warmth…and me getting a bit ranty about childcare

A cheerful yellow fairy joined our home last night and is bringing abundance and good fortune to our financial corner 😉

This fairy floats dreamily above our relationship corner of the living room (unless I got the feng shui bagua all out of order!) The green is for the heart chakra and healing. It seems there is a lot on our hearts lately.

Wool rug in the making…

Cosy wool mama-made sweater. She climbed in here herself…

And out…

She also rocks the horse by herself now too…

I’ve been thinking a lot about warmth lately…in every sense of the word. Realizing decluttering was step one and now there is a bit of coldness to our space, call in the wool! Waldorf philosophy puts a lot of emphasis on warmth…both of the child’s environment as well as emotionally from the care giver. I’m about to have another babe in my midst for a short time and that has prompted closer inspection of our space, what can make it homey and inviting for everyone. We recently had a few little girls over and I was amazed by how they played so unabashedly with our baskets, bits of cloth, pine cones, jingle bells, doll, cradle. Everything was put to use, they were literally in a world of their own making. It made me realize we are on the track that is right for us in terms of toys and our environment but perhaps many things are still beyond my babe’s developmental stage. I don’t want to resort to plastic things that beep. Don’t get me wrong, I literally have zero judgement of any one having these. I have faith you’re doing your best for your family. I don’t have issue with baby quail playing with them in other environments, and I want our home to be as natural as possible. I want her developing senses to be nurtured by natural materials, softer colours, melodic nature sounds. We still listen to some recorded music, and I turn to Raffi on YouTube more than I care to admit when she is sick –which is an on-going saga.

Lazy (wo)man’s felted balls, I had some wool felting yarn, wound it into balls, put them into tied pillowcase and washed them on hot with the diapers, then threw them in the dryer. I then needle felted designs on top. I left the light blue one as it was.

I think working in childcare has honed my sensitivity to environment even more. Sometimes I’d sit in a space where children were acting almost insane and look and listen…realizing when I really paid attention I also felt jittery in the space. I hear heating systems and electrical buzzing, there were well-intentioned almost fluorescent colours on the walls…wide open spaces that were empty, cold and echoed…garish chunks of plastic etc. I could really be describing most settings I’ve worked in here. Just taking the kids outside, especially in a more “wild” space saw the most tremendous settling I’ve ever witnessed. My “wildest: children actually became the most calm. I noticed that many of my children were angry…I believe a frustration from lack of rhythm, harmony, connection and rest in their lives. Lack of adults willing to be adults. I don’t believe in authoritarian approaches, but I have also seen the damage and confusion stemming from “I’m your buddy and you always have choices and there really is no bottom line.” I studied these different approaches in several courses on “behaviour management”…so many who were parented by a very authoritarian model then rebelled and went to the above “buddy” scheme. There is a middle ground. Children who are buddied, I can say without doubt, are confused and angry. They will push your buttons very hard, manipulate, and negotiate etc. until the caregiver feels at a loss. They are begging for limits. Limits make children feel safe, when set firmly with love and not arbitrarily with control or the idea of “obeying”.

I read somewhere that in Waldorf education, the environment (especially in the early years) is said to do most of the disciplining, or discipline prevention! It says loads to a child “under the radar”…a warm environment made with love and care can communicate “You are loved, you are safe, you belong, you’re home, you are worthy (of this beauty).” And that definitely affects behaviour. Environment is so often overlooked in modern childcare settings…or it is looked at as only as good as its “educational stimulation” value…the colour red stimulates their minds, this gadget that says 50 words in a foreign syrupy adult voice and sings will make them read earlier! What children need is presence. Calm. Peace. Stories, MOVEMENT, nature, awe and wonder, not more noise. Our world is so very noisy already, let them enter it slowly while they transition from their spirit bodies to their physical ones. That is hard enough! Let’s bring the gentleness back, mamas! (and papas and grandmas and grandpas and on and on) As we well know, children are impressionable, let’s not assume they “don’t care” if they are surrounded by beauty or concrete, they may not discern intellectually but it will educate their senses, preferences, and comfort zone. If we give them something more idealistic maybe these sensitive little souls will re-create our future so it is friendly for future children and all the birds, bees, and fishes.

Goodness! Where did that come from!? I store up my inklings for a long time sometimes before they come out…my last stint in childcare burned me out. I have been afraid to stick even a toe back in the waters. It was no one’s fault, mainly circumstantial and a time of major transitions for the place I was working. I put 150% into the children and the space and still felt I came up short. I started a garden, family dinners which the children helped with from start to finish, I brought in bits of art, rearranged furniture, started a circle time and thanksgiving for snack, songs (was horrified to discover that many of the children in that area had no music in their schools! Children should feel at home and unselfconscious to sing but they didn’t –at first), drumming, and snack helpers…and longer stretches outside…as well as a more predictable rhythm with park day and art day …gradually, I saw shifts, so beautiful. Children who had stayed on the fringes joining the group to tell me they loved flowers (very earnestly!) and were grateful for clouds when before they spoke only with fists and glares. Still, I became pregnant, and my “core group” was faced with an influx of new children and other new strangers, I was stretched to the max. Very few know how much I put into keeping things together, getting updated in my training, training staff, dealing with many new behaviours, filing, computing, creating the program, leading the program, adding in some extreme pregnancy nausea and I had too many balls in the air…but I digress, either we need to be supporting our mamas and papas more so it is both feasible and sane to stay home more with their children, especially if that is their wish, or we need to improve our childcare settings so they are nurturing for the children and the people working in them. Some definitely are, but the licensing in itself can make for burn out. Most “helping” professions will know what I mean when I say sometimes legislation meant to “make us safe” actually makes us miserable. There is something very wrong when I –someone who truly cared for the kids- often had to spend several times more energy and time documenting an incident or filing or trying to figure out how to let the kids “explore safely” when their very nature is to try to climb higher and test their physical limits….than BEING with the children, loving and caring for them. It is not merely a matter of priorities; I was drowning in papers….And I still grieve a bit over what I couldn’t give the children which they so desperately needed. Make no mistake; many children spend more waking hours with their childcare workers and teachers than they do with their families. As such, we need to make the proper pay, environment, stress reduction etc. a priority.

Ok, now I’m done. For now. Let’s see how much contention I stirred up…

I had wanted to post about my time at the Eco village for a while now but it is a matter of scanning photos, coming soon, I promise.

Play area in progress…

Emotional warmth, bear hugs, and rolly-polly time with daddy.

Cheers,

To you and your bear cubs,

~Laura

P.S. sorry for the wonky photos, had a bit of issue resizing them this time for some reason

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2 Responses to Woolly warmth…and me getting a bit ranty about childcare

  1. kandice fisher says:

    All that you said was beautifully put, very articulate, respectful, and most importantly true. If you stirred up an ounce of contention I would be genuinely shocked.

  2. so true-
    I worked in mainstream childcare for a long time and now I understand why the children acted out..all day long. the environment was full of bright colors, decorated walls, noise, clutter, etc. I couldn’t hear myself think most of the day..
    best of luck on your waldorf journey..I have gleaned much from the internet and other blogs and books…there is so much to learn and sometimes it can seem overwhelming. Just take it slow and gradually make changes:)
    xoxox

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