Showing posts with label Education. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Education. Show all posts

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Why Reading to Your Children Matters

I could list a hundred articles, books and websites right here, right now, that would tell you why reading out loud to your child matters - and not just the under five crowd.  I could show as many examples of why you reading to your child is quite different from a computer, tablet or phone reading to your child.  And, more on why reading to your child from a book made of paper is better than reading out loud from a book on a tablet.  But, I won't.  You will find some of those things here, just not a hundred of them!  You will also find my own thoughts on reading aloud from books that has some scientific basis and is supported by the articles mentioned, my experience being involved in a Waldorf school, study and implementation of home education and most importantly - mother's intuition.

Below is an infographic from Read Aloud which makes it quite clear to those learn visually (most of us) why reading to your young child is important. (Let me be clear, I am NOT saying your older children should not be reading on a tablet.)

There is this article in the New York Times that  tells us, "a handful of new studies suggest that reading to a child from an electronic device undercuts the dynamic that drives language development.
'There’s a lot of interaction when you’re reading a BOOK with your child,' Dr. High said. 'You’re turning pages, pointing at pictures, talking about the story. Those things are lost somewhat when you’re using an e-book.”

Scientific American brought even greater depth to this topic and speaks of mapping of the mind, sensory development and more.  They state, "evidence from laboratory experiments, polls and consumer reports indicates that modern screens and e-readers fail to adequately recreate certain tactile experiences of reading on paper that many people miss and, more importantly, prevent people from navigating long texts in an intuitive and satisfying way."  Again, this blog post is really about parents reading to their children, but there is an element, specifically with the young child, of the appropriateness of a reader vs. a book.  Sitting down with a child and tablet in your lap is a very different experience for all then sitting down with a child and a soft book, board book or chapter book.

The Atlantic adds, " A recent poll showed that only 13% of parents read to their kids every night. Interactive stories will never be a substitute for reading a book with a young child. Physical books offer a parent and a child a unique opportunity to bond. During a bedtime story, the only stimuli are the adult’s voice and intonation and the book’s pictures. The best stories require interpretation and stimulate discussion between parent and child."  I can tell you truthfully that I still read to my 13- year old.  You may not remember but he is the one that finished the library reading program in a week a couple of summers ago.  To say he is an avid reader is putting it mildly.  Every day he sits down with my 8-year old and I over afternoon tea and a book.  For several weeks it was Beatrix Potter stories.  Now it is Little House in the Big Woods (my 2nd grader's language arts program). 
There will be a time in our lives when I will 
wish I had someone to read to and I cherish 
these afternoons more than anything! 

To be fair, I've read several articles on how e-readers increase literacy among older children.  I can see the validity in this for many reasons.  Children who are turned off by books but who are like moths to a flame with a screen may find that they enjoy reading on or at least being read to by a tablet.  Families who do not make time to go to the library regularly but have tablets or computers in the home may allow downloads for their children.  And, knowing that not all private schools have a library and that public schools often build in very little time for the school library, that decreases access to quality books even further making books available on screens preferable simply due to access in some cases.  My own children have access to screens (with limitations).  Both have age appropriate games but there are few books read on the tablet.  Most books (about 15 per week) come from the local public library or they reread cherished favorites from our home children's library.

With all of these things said, in my opinion, the cost of using tablets for young children when books are interactive or using them for older children to teach literacy is much higher.  For many years my family was involved in Waldorf education.  We chose that path for many reasons but one of them was the classical approach to education and child development that is the hallmark of that pedagogy.  Another hallmark is the focus on IMAGINATION and that is something that matters to us.  Again, this is something I have known but it was not until this week that I was smacked in the face by how important this is as well as my own PARENTING FAIL. 

We were sitting at the kitchen table having lunch and discussing the possibilities of visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter this summer.  My 8-year old said, "I wonder if we'll see Voldemort."  A discussion followed about Voldemort's appearance.  My mind wandered at some point and I heard my 13-year old say, "That's not what he really looks like."   What?  "That's not what he looks like in the book."  8-year old responded, "Well, I haven't gotten to that part in the book."  OMG.  We let the Moon see the first Harry Potter movie without reading the book.  No big deal.  Right?  Wrong!  It couldn't be more of a big deal.  We have forever altered how she sees the characters in the books by allowing her to be influenced by the characters in the movie.  Is this earth-shattering?  No, but it served as a reminder to me the power of imagination and the importance of allowing our minds to INTERNALLY create what we see as opposed to reliance on OTHERS EXTERNAL IDEAS of what we should see.

Think about this, "interactivity often creates more of a game experience than a reading experience. Instead of being the focus, the story becomes merely a background." (the Atlantic) The images and the interactivity should be to support the imagining of the story but frequently it has the opposite effect.

Many authors and publishers are resistant to using technology - or at least interactive aps - in regards to children's books.   Liz Thompson from BookBrunch tell us,  "There's a lot of stuff at the moment that we're doing because we can. It's a question of whether you can really add value to the story. If you can, then it's fun, and there is some really creative stuff going on, but certainly ebooks seem to me not so cosy, that there's a feeling of curling up with a book that you can't replicate, however good the technology." (The Guardian)

The Atlantic really sums it all up for me with:   "Fiction can show you a different world. It can take you somewhere you’ve never been. Once you’ve visited other worlds, like those who ate fairy fruit, you can never be entirely content with the world that you grew up in. Discontent is a good thing: discontented people can modify and improve their worlds, leave them better, leave them different.” We don’t want to lose that."

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I Am Woodshop

April 17, 2014

I was going to post today about my tribe…or rather lack of one.  But, that post would be all about me and then I saw this and realized we have greater issues in this country than who I connect with.
The story goes something like this….

After picking up the Moon from school and running a few errands, we headed toward gymnastics.  Two things happened along the way.  The first was she fell asleep in the back.  This is great as she still needs a good 12 hours of sleep per 24, so we are happy about a nap.  The second is I looked over at a stop light and saw a sign that read “Mechanic Wanted – Starting at $30 per hour.”  What?  After quickly doing the math I realized this is well over $60,000 per year.  I have many colleagues with multiple degrees, bachelor’s, MBA’s, advanced certifications, etc. who make well under this advertised rate of $30 per hour.

Fast forward.  We arrived at gymnastics a little early and with my little gymnast asleep that gave me time to…..get on Facebook.  Yeah.  I said it.  Stuck in a car, no book (BTW, I’m reading The Book Thief), I had little to do besides check everyone’s status.  It seemed appropriate, maybe even prophetic, that I would see this Mike Rowe (for President, please) post about an Ottawa, IL situation that involved increasing the salary of the school Administrators while eliminating wood shop.

I am quite certain I am simplifying the story (you’ll have to read it yourself).  But, my friends, this is what is wrong with education today.  We have eliminated the creative, real-world, problem solving skills that propelled our country to where we are today (or maybe were 15 years ago) for a “virtual” world that is something out of a futuristic nightmare or Disney movie (think Wall-e).

You might say that those good times are gone and that Mayberry (or Huck Finn), no longer exist.  I say you are wrong and that is room for both the virtual and the real.  This may be a constant theme here on my blog in the future – or at least a persistent one.  But the truth is, I believe in our country.  I believe we can be socially accepting of differences (GLBT) and honor 2nd Ammendment rights.  I believe that kids should be taught wood-working and cooking (both requiring skills) in one class and how to make a Power Point in another (which I can tell you does not take an MBA).

We thought having our kids in a Waldorf school would help us find that balance.  And, for many families it does.  But we have decided to take it one step further and step off the crazy wheel that most of us live on.  Seeing articles such as Mike Rowe’s have allowed us to continue to feel like we made the right decision, but it was The Sun who really put it into perspective.  He said, “Mom, the perfect day would be spending about four hours in the morning working with you on school stuff.  Then, we’ll have lunch.  After that I’ll get my bow and arrow and a good book and head into the woods.”

Fidgeting and The Washington Post

July 10, 2014

So all of my friends in alternative education are floating this article around. I see these regularly, articles that allow folks to feel good about their choices in life. We all do it, so no judgment there.   The article was written to highlight the reasons that ADHD/ADD diagnoses are on the rise and only addresses only one of the possible reasons.  The Washington Post was basing their blog posting on the blog post from Timber Nook, a developmental outdoor camp located in New Hampshire.  Timber Nook is a great resource and has a wonderful blog that is a great reminder for folks to do what is natural for each and every one of us – going outdoors - and they summed up the issue in one succinct sentence.

So, what does Timber Nook say?  “The problem: children are constantly in an upright position these days. It is rare to find children rolling down hills, climbing trees, and spinning in circles just for fun. Merry-go-rounds and teeter-totters are a thing of the past. Recess times have shortened due to increasing educational demands, and children rarely play outdoors due to parental fears, liability issues, and the hectic schedules of modern-day society. Lets face it: Children are not nearly moving enough, and it is really starting to become a problem.” True dat.

But, what are the other contributors and how do we as parents come into this equation?  Have you recently handed your toddler or preschooler your iphone or an ipad?  If so, you might want to read this article the dangers of putting technology into those small precious hands.    Or this article, listing 10 reasons to keep handheld devices out the hands of the 0-12 year old crowd.  Check out this article about technology decreasing our ability to focus.  I know, you can argue that your child has great focus.  She can sit for three hours while playing first person shooter games (don’t even get me started).

But, that’s not the same is it?  It’s not the same as sitting down with a new book and being so enthralled that you read it from start to finish (this is a regular occurrence in my home).  It’s not the same as handing them a model set and watching them build for two hours before coming up for air (yep, my son does this).  It’s not the same as sending them out into the backyard with nothing but a blanket, a bow and arrow and their imagination and telling them they cannot come in until dinner time (yes, we do this at our house).

I don’t mean to mislead you.  There is no perfection here.  My husband and I do things wrong – on a daily basis.  And, we have a television, a subscription to the Netflix DVD service and a handful of favorite movies that we watch again and again.  We have a Wii, but only have two types of games – Lego games and games that make you move like Wii Sports Resort.  There is no TV in our car and our daughter (age 8), instead of staring at a DS, listens to books on tape when we are in the car.  James Herriot’s Treasury for Children is among her favorites.  Our son is now 12 and we stepped a little more into the world of technology with him this year.  He is now playing Minecraft and Age of Empires on the computer and now has his own iPod which he most often uses to listen to music – preferably soundtracks from favorite movies – and occasionally plays games.

There is a part of me that truly regrets having introduced the television or any gaming components to our kids.  But, I can tell you, that they are healthy and balanced and find as much joy in a five-mile hike at a local park as they do sitting on the couch staring numbly at a screen.    I’ll leave you today with a couple of things.  The first is a blog post from Mollie Hemmingway over at Mommyish.  Mollie reminds us that sticking a screen in front of our kids takes away from teaching them the basics in life.  “But the fact is that we think our job as parents is to teach our children how to dine appropriately. That means that we teach them to converse with us, ask and answer questions, eat appropriately (as in, no, you should not stick the eggplant in your ear, thank you very much) and for the love of all that’s holy, learn how to drink with a straw.”

The second thing I’ll leave you with is an image of my 12 year old son training for the Appalachian Trail.
Noah Beaman Park

“And I leave the children the long, long days to be merry in in a thousand ways, and the Night, and the trail of the Milky Way to wonder at….”  ~Williston Fish, “A Last Will,” 1898

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Thank Goodness I'm Not Alone

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Experiential Education and Change on the Horizon

Each day my daughter walks into a mixed age kindergarten where she sings songs and recites verses.  She plays half of her day on a lovely playground and then goes inside to grind wheat in a hand turned grinder.  She has a natural snack of oatmeal or quinoa or bread made from the wheat ground earlier in the week.  She watercolor paints using vegetable based dyes and fingerknits using natural yarns.  In case you could not tell from the photos on the blog she was adopted from China and became party of our family at the age of 3.5  with an unrepaired cleft palate.  Though we have a little way to go, she was recently released from speech for a break after about 18 months of therapy one day per week.  Her SLP at a world renowned speech clinic told us that very few native English speakers who come to their clinic have the vocabulary and ability to speak and string sentences together that she has.  Though I know that much of it is living in a language rich home there is no doubt in my mind that the verses and songs and puppet shows she sees and hears and participates in daily have given her an edge and vastly helped her in her language skills.

Our son walks in each day to a blank page and spends a full school year creating his own textbooks.  His 4th grade curriculum was filled with animal studies, fractions, Norse mythology and essay writing.  He learned cross stitch and played kick ball and studies Spanish.  Each day he was taught experientially.  He was never told something would be on a test.  He was educated for the sake of being educated and learning to go forth successfully into the world.  His world is more reflective of a classical education surrounded by the beauty of the Waldorf method instead of cramming knowledge into be regurgitated on a test to be forgotten the next day.  He is submersed in subjects for weeks at a time instead of taking a leap frog approach to subjects skimming the surface enough to ring the bell  before moving to the next lily pad.  

Does it matter?  To us it does.  In today's educational environment children are being conditioned to "the test."  I have not heard it from one college professor but from many.  When college professors are teaching the hands go up.  "Professor, is it on the test?"  Last night a girl who has a Ph.D. and is a literacy coach in a large public  school system said that in the current education environment that if she had children they would most likely also attend private school like she did.  She said she could not send children into classroom where the test is the ultimate goal and teachers are held hostage to the percentages.   

With that said, she also shared with us change is on the horizon in the public schools and that gives me hope.  I have been studying news articles regarding education, particulary in TN and the greater Southereast.  Though test scores do little for me I was happy to see that TN has gone from being 46th in the nation in education to 21st and that Georgia has made it to number 8.  I have been hearing from friends who are involved heavily in public schools in Nashville that the high school we are zoned for has allowed the local Chamber to step in and help steer the school and created a series of "academies" that are the talk of the nation.  In fact, they often host educators from all of the country wishing  to recreate the model in their own schools.    

These academies give real world experience and allow the children (high schoolers) to choose their potential career paths from 5 broad options.  They are taught from the perspective of those paths and are even partnered with local professionals in a mentoring process.  It's all about the experience and giving the children a larger view of education and providing hands on opportunities.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Education - City Mouse vs. Country Mouse

Though my experiences were not the best in the small town in which I grew up I know that much of what fuels the education debate is a crisis found more in large suburban areas and in cities where there is much disparity among schools.  Growing up  in  a small town the children received the same education regardless of whether or not they lived in a large country estate or in housing projects in the middle of town.  Having only one elementary school (now there are two) in my hometown we did not have to consider busing vs. neighborhood schools.  There were no lotteries or magnets schools.  Charter schools were something that crazy people in California were discussing and had no bearings on our educational system.  

Living in Nashville I see much the broader picture of urban education and its impact on my own family.  If we were to put our children in public school in the Fall we would be driving them a couple of miles down the road to what I hear is a fantastic public elementary school.  Looking at the website and talking to folks in our area, I believe that it is truly is a great place to be.  Unfortunately, the school in my backyard - which we are not zoned for - is also a great school and is Montessori based.  We are a 5 minute walk to that school but children have to be enrolled there through a lottery process by age 3 or else there is little chance of getting in.  That school has no buses that roll through.  The families there are committed to education and it has a high level of parental involvement (though I hear the other one has very involved parents as well).  

For families who cannot afford private school and who cannot afford to be zoned for a great elementary school, the lottery is the only choice if they are seeking a better education for their children.  I do not want this to seem like I support busing (because I do not), but there has to be a better way.  The question I always come back to is why aren't all of the school as good as the lottery schools?  In Nashville where many of the elementary schools are fantastic why do I meet parents in all areas of my life who pull their children out of the public system as they enter into middle school if they do not get into a magnet school?

What can be done to improve education overall in the US that will not only satisfy those who push for markers of success but will satisfy the needs of all communities and most importantly feed the children emotionally, socially and mentally?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Education and Roadblocks Along the Way

Okay, so I shared with you some of my personal experiences in education.  For myself, the issues in the classroom centered around a few key points.  The first is being forced to sit for the majority of the day with one person (1-5 grades) droning on about subjects that I cared very little about.  Had our day been broken up with movement and song and projects I would have had a much more enjoyable experience.  When not in the classroom (having been sent to P.E.) we were subject to the whims of a couple of women who clearly hated teaching and were to be quite frank - cruel to all but their favorite children.  We were not allowed to speak at all during lunch which limited our ability to talk to recess which was unfortunate as that was only about 30 minutes for the entire day.

Bullying was also a very serious issue for myself and a couple of my friends who also came through the system.  Daily taunts and cruelty from a few other children who were allowed to behave badly due to the social status of their families or because they were top students did not make life any easier.  Between extreme boredom and bullying the 180 days per year I was forced to attend school was pure agony. 

I want to be clear here.  I know that is NOT everyone' experience.  But, it is the experience of many.  I also know that we are in an age when so many education reformers are working so hard and putting their time and talent to improving the education of children in this country.  I know that so many are attempting to remove antiquated methods and bring in progressive thought on how children should be taught.  And, I know that those teachers are being blocked in many schools by legislation, administrative staff members who are not progressive, lack of funding (how can we fund major league sports and not have enough text books?) or teacher unions who do not allow the best to stand out as it emphasizes those who are not performing as well.  

For the children who find themselves zoned for great school districts (in cities) or who land great teachers these are not issues.  For the rest of the children....well.....they are.  

Stay tuned for more on my thoughts on education and why we have made the choices we have made. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Experiential Education and the Reasoning

If you read the previous post you know that I am constantly thinking about education and the choice we make for our children as the financial investment into private education is huge.  It really was only this year that I began to really articulate for myself why we continue to make the choice of Waldorf education for our children.   One of my "aha's" came a few weeks ago as I was cleaning out our garage.  A neighborhood church was having a yard sale and was advertising pick up of unwanted items to be donated.  I called and a gentlemen in his late fifties came and picked up our donation.  As we spent some time visiting with this man and chatting about his life in our community talk turned toward education and where our children go to school and where his adult children attended school.  Near the end of the conversation I shared with him that I wanted my children to walk into a great experience each and every day.  He told me that was not possible.  Rubbish!  We choose our reality - at least I do - and I know that the choices we make for them dictate much of what they experience each day.

Speaking of experience, though I will not go into great detail here I will say I had varied experiences in school.  A product of public education nearly each of  the first 7 school years for me were pure hell with the last 5 improving greatly.  I can honestly say that the improvement came as a result of having about 8 phenomenal teachers between 8th and 12th grades.  Not to say my entire high school experience was great.  But those 8 teachers made the rest tolerable.  Tolerable.  That was largely my school experience.  Had it not been for those 8 teachers (who were inspiring and motivating and exciting) and of course the great group of friends that I surrounded myself with I might not be able to use the word tolerable at all.  I would guess that between 8th and 12th grades I had approximately 25 teachers and even now looking back to be able to say that 8 were phenomenal is shocking to me even now.  That is not to say there were only 8 good teachers at my high school.  There were others in classes that I did not take but I can honestly say that many of my classes were uninspiring and ineffective to say the least.  And, that is NOT to say that every teacher in every private school is inspiring and phenomenal because I also know that is not the case. 

Circling back around to my previous post and keeping the word "tolerable" in mind I'll share with you the conversation my husband and I had last night as we stood by the bonfire talking with his friends and listening to another alum play the guitar and sing.  I told him that SAS must have been a really great experience.  It was he said.  As he went there late (as a junior) he wasn't quite as connected to the culture and the people.  But, he had a great experience.  His days were filled with inspired learning where knowledge was taught for the sake of knowledge and for the sake of learning and acquiring wisdom.  Subjects were delved into and critical thinking was encouraged.  We stood under the stars last night and I listened and knew that these folks were greatly shaped by their education environment.  They are all life long learners and were part of a long tradition of people who had come through the ranks at the school.  Each year this reunion is for all graduates of the school.  There oldest reunion class that I saw was 1952.  To know that these folks all come back there each year to celebrate that experience is amazing.  

Experience.  Experiential.  What is it about the experience?  Stay tuned for more thoughts on the experience vs. the education.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Experiential Education and the Cost

Last night I had the opportunity to attend my husband's 20th high school reunion at St. Andews Sewanee here in Tennessee.  As I met with some of his high school friends and watched many other reunion groups during the evening it fueled much thought and fed into my ever dissecting of the decision each year we make to send out children to private school.

Let me set the stage.  St. Andrews is a former military school turned college prep in 1981.  My husband's class was only 11 years into the college prep program and now they are moving into their 32nd year of co-ed education.  St. Andrews is set on a huge campus of beautifully forrested land on a mountaintop in Sewanee, TN and the children attend classes in a wonderful modern building amid Spanish influenced dorms and offices.  They fill their days with inspired classes and have access to an incredible university library a few miles down the road.  Extracurricular programs include typical high school things such as football and cross-country, drama and art but due to their mountain setting they have opportunities to hike and canoe and explore nature as well.

Most of the graduates (of course there are exceptions) are thriving adults who went on to institutes of higher learning and are leading successful lives all across the country.  For the most part, there is nothing too extraordinary about the folks I met and spoke with.  They are in design, finance, education, and engineering.  They are married with children and live for the most part a fairly typical life.  As someone who is constantly reevaluating our choice in education for our children, I listed intently on the conversations these folks had about their school experience as well as what their lives look like now.

Let me clarify something about the reevaluation.  I do not reevaluate because I doubt the educational choice for my children as in questioning the validity of the method.  I do question each year if it will make a difference in their lives later on to have made what will eventually be a 6 figure investment into each of the children's primary education.  I am writing about this today because I know that so many of us who are making this investment do question.  Beyond the financial  the real question is this - what difference does it make if my children attend the private school of our choice or our neighborhood public school.  In the long term what is the difference? 

I am going to leave you with that thought and tomorrow you can see what I have over and over again come up with as well as continuing to have my feelings validated by experiences such as this weekend's reunion.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Kim John Payne

Recently Kim John Payne was a guest for a few days at the kid's school.  KJP shared so many things that I have said for years but it often takes someone like him to drive the point home.  He had a profound impact on so many of our families and I'm sharing his blog with you here!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

WOW! On Education...

I want you all to run to this article as it may be the most profound thing I have ever read or at least read in a long time on education. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Handmade Dolls

In case you are wondering....this is the type of art that the kids do at Noah and Arwyn's school.

Monday, July 12, 2010

St. George and the Dragon

St. George and the Dragon was a big part of the school year.  They used it as part of the pedagogical study and this was the play that was performed.  I LOVE Noah's Dragon.

2nd Grade Math

The Crow and the Pitcher

Well, I have NO idea why these loaded like this.  I even tried rotating them before uploading them.  Oh well.  This was one of my favorite stories as a child.  The Crow and the Pitcher.  I love that Noah wrote it out and illustrated it himself instead of reading someone else's book and seeing that person's art.

The Peacock

This is Noah's peacock and one of his printed pages from the earlier part of the school year.  I love this picture.  Did I mention there are no lines on the page?  They use TOTALLY blank paper.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Another Reason for "Why Waldorf"

Pressure-cooker kindergarten
"A new emphasis on testing and test preparation -- brought on by politicians, not early education experts -- is hurting the youngest students."

Read On: Boston Globe

Monday, August 24, 2009

Why Waldorf and Why No Media?

Last night as Nathan, Noah and walked down the Shelby Bottoms Greenway I had time to think about our day which led me to further reflection about the media policies in Waldorf Education. Of course, these are my personal thoughts and not nesseccarily from a Waldorf pedagogical stance.

First, let me tell you a little about our week. Noah watched television last Sunday. We had no TV again until Wednesday afternoon which was his first day of school. It was a half day but was still overwhelming due to getting up early, mine and Nathan's committment to the Hospitality Committee that morning and Noah's first day of getting back to that routine. And, it was seriously hot. So, by the time we arrived home, we were both overheated and just plain exhausted. He asked and I said yes, so PBS was turned on for about an hour and a half and I vegged out in front of the computer. Noah did not see the TV again until Saturday morning.

Over the weekend, he watched a little television, some on Saturday morning and then on Sunday. We have been listening to Harry Potter and the SS on CD and as we have finished it, I decided we could watch the movie on Sunday night. So, from Sunday to Sunday, he probably watched a total of 8 hours of TV which works out to an hour a day, which, quite frankly, is still too much, but compared to what the average child watched - 28 Hours - I'm feeling pretty good. And, considering that out of those 8 days, only 4 consisted of TV time - I'm still feeling good.

There are days when we are torn. We would like to eliminate the television entirely, but Nathan and I also enjoy it and we want Noah to grow up with access to some media as we do not want him to be an adult that cannot carry on conversations with other adults when it comes to pop culture. That may sound silly, but I have met those people and it is not pretty.

That, coupled with the fact that MANY of the kids we interact with have seen so much more than Noah and he is already feeling a little left out, leads us to this. But, I want to be clear about the media and its affect on our children. Noah and his friends can scarcely carry on conversations without them including references to television shows. Noah is NOT allowed to watch cable television shows such as Spongebob, but so many of his friends are - even the Waldorf kids - and it is somewhat disturbing to me that even at this young of an age that the media has so much influence over them.

I was thinking of these things last night and what I realize is that the media policies that exist in Waldorf education serve many purposes and it is my hope that as families turn to Waldorf schools and enroll their children there they will follow the policies to the best of their ability. Though I have no PROOF of this, I would daresay that the day for an average child in the US goes something like this:

Get up in the morning, get dressed, have breakfast and turn on the TV. If the child is not at a school that has a dress code, they might put on a Dora or Scooby Doo shirt. They go to school where other children are wearing character clothing. At some point during they day they may be shown a movie (yes this happens, I remember it as a child and have recently had families tell me that their child is regulary shown movies at school and I KNOW that MANY daycares use movies for toddler/preschool children). They spend much of their free time disucssing TV shows and then come home to turn the television back on.

There is really not a point during the day when the children are free of the distractions of television. I say television but I also lump video games into this category. Most of the families we know outside of Waldorf have at least one gaming system, many have them all. We go to restaurants and see children as young as 5 walk in with DS games and never once look up or talk to the parents. We see kids texting and never interacting with their families at dinner.

It is incredibly sad.

So...that is one of the reasons we are so grateful for our school and the Waldorf perspective. While at school the children are not allowed to discuss TV or pop culture. No cell phones are allowed. No video games. No clothing covered in Bakugan. None of those things. The children are able to knit, read, paint, do their work in a media free environment giving them the one respite they may have. Our children will have MANY years to be rammed by the media machine. Childhood only happens once and I am glad we have chosen this path for Noah where he will have at least a few years of having a few precious hours of each day in a media free environment.

With that said, I would LOVE to have a Wii. Oh well.