N4L 153: "You Are Your Child's First Teacher" by Rahima Dancy

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SUMMARY

Early childhood and parent educator Rahima Dancy encourages parents to trust themselves in the 3rd edition of her book You Are Your Child's First Teacher: Encouraging Your Child's Natural Development from Birth to Age Six. Since its first edition, the book now includes advice about technology and even how to teach while the children are around--an environment millions of parents find themselves in during the pandemic.

However, long before this worldwide situation emerged, Dancy knew this: “In the nuclear or subnuclear family, far too much energy gets focused on the child because he or she is the most interesting subject around (try getting excited about waxing the kitchen floor!), but after a time many mothers find themselves getting cabin fever. It becomes increasingly difficult, both emotionally and intellectually, to be home day after day with this child. This is due, in part, to a lack of the perceived value of mothering, but also because children’s demand for attention expands to use up whatever might be available.”

So, tapping into the principles of Rudolf Steiner, educator and scientist who helped launch the now famous Waldorf Education, Dancy teaches us how to build the head, heart, and hands of our children. She rushes to our rescue, recognizing, “Our culture no longer provides a strong and unified message about how children should be raised. In addition, most of us live far away from our own parents or extended family, the people who traditionally provided wisdom, help, and continuity in rearing children.”

KEYS TO REPLENISHING

  1. Being in nature
  2. Sleeping
  3. Meditative practice
  4. Creating art

QUOTES FROM DANCY

  • “The art of mothering has been replaced by the science of parenting, yet many parents have come to question the values their own parents embraced…they are at a loss as to what to do or wonder why being home with a young child can be so difficult.”
  • “To expect a thirty-seven-year-old PhD candidate or a woman who has had an exciting career to be fulfilled spending her days in an apartment with a two-year-old is unrealistic.”
  • “Modern life simply doesn’t support what young children need, which is to see us doing work that involves movement. What they actually see us doing isn’t satisfying to them. As a result, they seem to demand more attention, when in fact they are asking to observe us doing ‘real work’ that involves movement and transformation of materials—something they can both share in and then imitate in their play.”
  • “Many parents try to develop their children’s emotions and their awareness of emotions by naming, expressing, and even practicing emotions with them. We also tend to expose young children to situations that are far too powerful for them emotionally; notice the unhappy children in the theater at the next movie you attend!”
  • “One of our primary tasks as our children’s first teachers is to provide them with impressions of the world that are appropriate for them to take in and copy. This means guarding and protecting them from sensory overload in a world of urban frenzy, and surrounding them with experiences that teach them about the world in a gentle way by letting them do things directly themselves and later act them out in their play.”

Final words of comfort for parents:

  • “Although you can’t go back in time and do things differently with your child, it is also important not to feel guilty about choices you have already made. You were just as good a parent then as you are now. You made the best decisions you could then, based on your knowledge and perceptions of your choices. Guilt only takes us out of the present moment and makes us less able to see what is needed now, thus perpetuating problems rather than leading to meeting the present creatively. If there is going to be the possibility of healing, it must take place in the present. We make the best choices we can for our children in each moment, just as our parents did for us.”

BUY You Are Your Child's First Teacher, Third Edition: Encouraging Your Child's Natural Development from Birth to Age Six

RECOMMENDATION BUY Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids

SUMMARY

Early childhood and parent educator Rahima Dancy encourages parents to trust themselves in the 3rd edition of her book You Are Your Child's First Teacher: Encouraging Your Child's Natural Development from Birth to Age Six. Since its first edition, the book now includes advice about technology and even how to teach while the children are around--an environment millions of parents find themselves in during the pandemic.

However, long before this worldwide situation emerged, Dancy knew this: “In the nuclear or subnuclear family, far too much energy gets focused on the child because he or she is the most interesting subject around (try getting excited about waxing the kitchen floor!), but after a time many mothers find themselves getting cabin fever. It becomes increasingly difficult, both emotionally and intellectually, to be home day after day with this child. This is due, in part, to a lack of the perceived value of mothering, but also because children’s demand for attention expands to use up whatever might be available.”

So, tapping into the principles of Rudolf Steiner, educator and scientist who helped launch the now famous Waldorf Education, Dancy teaches us how to build the head, heart, and hands of our children. She rushes to our rescue, recognizing, “Our culture no longer provides a strong and unified message about how children should be raised. In addition, most of us live far away from our own parents or extended family, the people who traditionally provided wisdom, help, and continuity in rearing children.”

KEYS TO REPLENISHING

  1. Being in nature
  2. Sleeping
  3. Meditative practice
  4. Creating art

QUOTES FROM DANCY

  • “The art of mothering has been replaced by the science of parenting, yet many parents have come to question the values their own parents embraced…they are at a loss as to what to do or wonder why being home with a young child can be so difficult.”
  • “To expect a thirty-seven-year-old PhD candidate or a woman who has had an exciting career to be fulfilled spending her days in an apartment with a two-year-old is unrealistic.”
  • “Modern life simply doesn’t support what young children need, which is to see us doing work that involves movement. What they actually see us doing isn’t satisfying to them. As a result, they seem to demand more attention, when in fact they are asking to observe us doing ‘real work’ that involves movement and transformation of materials—something they can both share in and then imitate in their play.”
  • “Many parents try to develop their children’s emotions and their awareness of emotions by naming, expressing, and even practicing emotions with them. We also tend to expose young children to situations that are far too powerful for them emotionally; notice the unhappy children in the theater at the next movie you attend!”
  • “One of our primary tasks as our children’s first teachers is to provide them with impressions of the world that are appropriate for them to take in and copy. This means guarding and protecting them from sensory overload in a world of urban frenzy, and surrounding them with experiences that teach them about the world in a gentle way by letting them do things directly themselves and later act them out in their play.”

Final words of comfort for parents:

  • “Although you can’t go back in time and do things differently with your child, it is also important not to feel guilty about choices you have already made. You were just as good a parent then as you are now. You made the best decisions you could then, based on your knowledge and perceptions of your choices. Guilt only takes us out of the present moment and makes us less able to see what is needed now, thus perpetuating problems rather than leading to meeting the present creatively. If there is going to be the possibility of healing, it must take place in the present. We make the best choices we can for our children in each moment, just as our parents did for us.”

BUY You Are Your Child's First Teacher, Third Edition: Encouraging Your Child's Natural Development from Birth to Age Six

RECOMMENDATION

BUY Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids

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