Sunday Books: “Completing The Circle”

Today is another look at the wonderful book “Completing The Circle” by Thomas Poplawski and available as a free ebook.  Today’s chapter is about “Children and Sports: Finding A Balance”, which is an area in which I have some personal experience with my own children and what we have found to work and not work.

The hurried child syndrome has extended to the world of sports. In a world where children often played pick ups games unsupervised by any adult for long periods of time, the sporting realm has now turned into teams organized and run  by adults, with adult rules of play, uniforms and other realms of organization that used to be relegated until the high school level.  This I can attest from my own personal experience.

Poplawski writes the following, which is also something I have personally seen as a pediatric physical therapist: Continue reading

Protecting Your Children From Low Self-Esteem

I am back after a few days of visiting Tybee Island in Georgia with my family and some members of our homeschool group.  It was a lovely trip, and we got to take classes through the 4-H center there that really highlighted the very unique ecosystems in Georgia’s barrier islands.

One thing I have been reading during the drive to and from our vacation spot was  “The Optimistic Child:  A Proven Program to Safeguard Children Against Depression And Build Lifelong Resilience” by Martin P. Seligman, PhD.  This book is really fascinating, and I was interested in reading it mainly due to this quote:  “  As puberty approaches, your child’s theory of the world crystalizes.  She may now be pessimistic, passive and introverted.  As the routine but painful rejections and failures of puberty start, depression reaches alarming proportions.  Almost one-third of contemporary  thirteen-year-olds have marked depressive symptoms, and by the time they finish high school almost 15 percent have had an episode of major depression.”

Grabs you, doesn’t it?

Anyway, one chapter that was very interesting in this book was the chapter on self-esteem and Dr. Seligman’s theory that “By emphasizing how a child feels, at the expense of what a child does – mastery, persistence, overcoming frustration and boredom – and meeting challenge – parents and teachers are making this generation of children more vulnerable to  depression.”

In Dr. Seligman’s view, people who suffer from depression  have four kinds of challenges including behavioral (passive, indecisive, helpless); emotional (sad); somatic (disruption of sleep and eating) and cognitive (they are not worthy of anything and their life is not worth living).  Only the last part, the cognitive part of depression, can be tied to self esteem because in Dr. Seligman’s view even those who feel badly about themselves does not lead directly to causing failure in life.  However, the belief that problems will last forever and ever causes children to give up trying, which leads to failure, which does lead to self esteem being lowered.

Instead of trying to teach a child how to “feel good” about themselves, or setting up situations in which a child never fails, Dr. Seligman advocates an approach held by many psychologists called “doing well” (in place of “feeling well”).  In this approach, children are  taught to change how they think about failure, to be encouraged to be tolerant of frustration, and to have their persistence rewarded rather than just  their success.

In other words, Dr. Seligman has targeted five areas in which children need our help:

1.  To help our children live for something bigger than themselves.  The more a child believes (or an adult) that “I am all that matters” of course, the more blows will hurt.  Things such as religion, duty to the nation, community, family used to be buffers against depression, in Dr. Seligman’s view and in the view of many in the psychology community,  and now we need to figure out what to do when “self has become all important”.

2.  To not rescue our children from negative feelings.  Dr. Seligman writes, “ But feeling bad has critical uses, and all of them are needed for learning optimism and for escaping helplessness.”

3.  To help our children deal with frustration and challenge.

4.  To help our children learn to deal with overcoming helplessness.  “Any complicated task your child might undertake consists of several steps, each of which is more or less easy to fail at. “  If your child fails at a subset, the child can learn to give up and leave the situation, which becomes learned helplessness.  Or your child can stay in the situation and act and try to change the situation, which eventually becomes mastery.  Children need to fail.  If we protect our children from failure, then we deny them the chance for mastery.

5. To set clear limits and enforce those limits for our children.  “The more freedom the child had, the lower his self-esteem.”

Interesting read, with more to come.

Blessings,

Carrie

Sunday Books: “Toys Are NOT Us”

We are continuing with our look at Thomas Poplawski’s book “Completing The Circle”. Again, this book is available for free online at the Waldorf Library.  Today we come to the chapter regarding consumerism and children’s toys:

Manufactured, ready-to-use toys are more present in our lives and in the lives of our children than at any time before in history. This is the result of aggressive product development, advertising, and marketing by large toy companies. These companies are primarily interested in toys that will sell and make a profit, not in toys that will foster the healthy development of children.

Research has shown the benefits of less toys, less structured toys, and a childhood based in play and song.  Having less toys increases the chances that children will engage in social play.  Simpler toys provides the child a chance to construct their own world of play. Continue reading

Sunday Books: “The Power of Play”

We are continuing on with our look at Thomas Poplawski’s “Completing the Circle”, available for free at the Waldorf On-Line Library.  Today’s chapter is about the power of play, especially free play.  In a world full of enrichment classes and a myriad of scheduled activities for the youngest children, free play is consistently undervalued.  The author writes:

In school and even at home, there has been the unending effort made to give
the child every possible advantage by pushing early academic learning and the
early development of specific skills, this in spite of the fact that educational research
has found no evidence that such early “enrichment” programming provides any
long-term advantage for most children. Only disabled children and those from
deprived circumstance, like those served in the Head Start program, clearly benefit
from them.”

The author cites that the American school system bias against play may be historically influenced by Maria Montessori’s methods, Puritanism and Freud.    Yet, we all know that imaginative play is a huge correlate to verbal fluency, mathematical thinking, and genera thinking.    But perhaps most importantly,

“Russ concluded, however, that imaginative play is the tool that every child uses to learn to cope with stress in life and that to interfere with the child’s learning how to play in a healthy manner imperils the later development of emotional regulation and coping skills…..

Brown was asked to investigate the background of a young man who some
years ago shot and killed nineteen people from a tower at The University of Texas
in Austin. He found that Continue reading

Sunday Books: “Taming The Media Monster”

We are continuing our look at Thomas Poplawski’s book Completing The Circle by looking at the chapter entitled, “Taming The Media Monster”.  You can access this book for free here:  http://www.waldorflibrary.org/index.php?option=com_booklibrary&task=view&id=1202&catid=133&Itemid=3

The author begins this chapter with the scenario of a kindergarten teacher discussing her Waldorf School’s media policy and the various reactions of parents who are divided into two camps – one thinking the policy is too extreme, too invasive and the other camp who thinks the policy is perfect.  He writes: Continue reading

“Working Material for the Class Teacher Forming The Lessons of Grades One Through Four”

 

This is a little gem,  a document put into a bound book along with the few pages of the working document I mentioned in my last post (“Examining the Waldorf Curriculum from an American Viewpoint”).  On page 18 of this manuscript, there are several “golden rules” for teaching from a Waldorf perspective and I thought I would highlight a few for you.

 

1.  Thinking, feeling, willing – you hear this a lot in the world of homeschooling blogs and literature but the point is to always bring the subject at hand back to the child.  How does this have to do with your child, how does this concern your child? This takes careful child observation and in this, we can tailor our homeschooling to the child.  It always goes back to the human being.

2.  Doing then understanding, whole and then parts.  This is opposite of how many adults function (ie, first we as adults have to understand in order to “do”), so this can take some getting used to.

3.  The world is beautiful!  I love this one, because it sums up my philosophy of life.  Here is a direct quote:    “For the teacher there is the stumbling-block that he sees what is NOT beautiful in the world.  His task and his exercise will be to see the beautiful in everything and point it out.”  Bring everything into a picture. This is why individual biography is so important in fourth grade and up (after the nine year change). 

4.  Rhythm.  Rhythm is still important – movement and resting, listening and speaking, group activity versus individual activity.  How do we work with this in the home environment?  This is an important question.

5.  Practical life.  Waldorf homeschooling is first and foremost an education of beauty, and of beauty in the practical life.

 

One last quote:  “Of course we must take care take care today that the child does not become precocious, that he is not made “old” too quickly, which is that the times and the overall environment want to achieve with force, and so we must develop willing, imagination and warmth of heart as strongly as the intellect.”

 

Lovely thoughts to ponder today,

Carrie

Sunday Books: Completing The Circle

We are continuing our look at “Completing the Circle” by Thomas Poplawski, and available for free at the Waldorf On Line library.

(If this link does not work, then please go to Waldorf Library On-Line, hit books from the left-hand menu, hit “ebooks” and go the the “C”s to find “Completing The Circle”.  I have tried to fix the link twice; it worked for me but apparently some are still having trouble with the link,)

We are looking at the chapter entitled “Losing Our Senses.”

This chapter should be required reading for all parents.  It is scary, it is frightening and essentially posits that the human brain of the younger generation is changing in response to the fast-paced and busy technological world we live in.  Research done over decades in Munich, Germany by the Rational Psychology Association (GRP) has shown that not only are the senses of  smell and taste declining, but by the mid-1980’s, the receptivity of nearly all senses was declining.  Poplawski writes: Continue reading