Computer Gaming and Children: Practical Advice

(As a Waldorf family, our instant answer to the question of computer gaming and children  is “no”!  Childhood lasts until age 21 and it is our job to protect our children. However, I also get mail from many families that are not Waldorf families, and their children are already playing computer games at young ages and playing a lot, so I asked my husband for some moderate thought on this issue.  You will notice he advocates strong limits on gaming for teenagers and to not start until the high school years or longer if possible.  There are many fun alternative ways to spend time, but for families who choose to have their teenagers participate in gaming, he lists the pitfalls to be aware of.  I appreciate his insight here. – Carrie)

For the last five years my lovely wife Carrie has been publishing her thoughts, ideas and experiences to the world in this blog.    In that five years I have supported her and this blog from both the emotional and technical side.  That’s not only my role as her husband, but as the father of our children.

controllerThroughout that time, Carrie would often ask guests to post and add to the conversation where it makes sense.The topic of computer gaming and its impact on children is a question that Carrie has received frequently, though in recent months the requests and comments about this subject have increased.   Clearly this is a subject that should be addressed and Carrie has very nicely asked me to post on this subject. Continue reading

The Twelve Year Old

Here is the picture of the true physical being of a twelve year old:

The forces of growth now become active in the bony system of the body.  The muscles, which were previously bound up with the rhythmic system, become part of the mechanical working of the skeleton….Limb activity appears clumsy when this process begins, and this is made more complicated by the further accelerated growth of the physical body.  The girls have already shown growth in their height and weight, but now it is the boys who take a turn and begin to make visible changes.  If you watch closely, you will notice that the girls start to develop hips and the indentation of the waist, also the breasts begin to form.  Other changes that are not as easy to see are fuller lips and the cheekbones, which begin to emerge from the skull. – Eurythmy for the Elementary Grade by Francine Adams

Rudolf Steiner talked about how this time, the sixth grade year, is a time where the bones are first perceptible.  The child is moving into a heavier, more muscular, time of development.  In this way, things like copper rod exercises as done in eurythmy in the Waldorf Schools show that the rod is indeed the extension of this perceptible bone and provide the challenge and precision a twelve year body needs.  This year of sixth grade and being twelve is a time of challenge, precision, looking forward.

Many twelve- year-olds seem to detest movement outside of a favored sport or two, but they also seem to love a challenge. Something specific such as hiking,  or learning a skill such as how to paddleboard or kayak, can really fill the child’s need for challenge.  They really need you as a model to get out and be physical, and to be outside and be physical as a family.  They need you to help initiate it all.  In Waldorf Schools, gymnastics becomes an adjunct for geometry (Bothmer Gymnastics).  We cannot bring that at home, but we can do our best to bring in movement and also a social experience, so important for twelve year olds.

So, there is this heaviness of the child on the earth that I just described, but there is also Continue reading

The Stranger

This is an amusing yet sobering  piece written by an anonymous person about the stranger living in his home growing up.  It is well- worth the short read.

The  Stranger

A   few years after I was born, my Dad met a stranger  who  was new to our small town. From the beginning, Dad was  fascinated with this enchanting newcomer and  soon invited him to live with our family. The  stranger  was quickly accepted and was around

from  then on.   As I grew up, I never questioned his place in my  family.  In my young mind, he had a special niche.

 

My  parents were complementary instructors: Mom  taught  me good from evil, and Dad taught me to obey.  But  the stranger… he was our storyteller. He would keep us spellbound for hours on end with adventures,  mysteries  and comedies.  If  I wanted to know anything about Continue reading

Freedom Versus Form

This has been a season where the theme of freedom versus form has been coming up repeatedly in my life, and as usual, I took this as a sign that I should write about this subject for my readers.

During one of the first few weeks on her Yahoo Group for homeschool planning called “Sketching It Out” that in homeschooling, Lisa Boisvert Mackenzie wrote something to the effect that we have a freedom so different than what is found in the Waldorf schools in bringing the impulses of Waldorf Education to the home, but then we have to create the form.  I have been mulling this thought around for several weeks now, where it has been germinating in my heart.  I  know from my own experiences in talking to  so many mothers and families that creating the form seems to be the most challenging part for families not just in homeschooling, but in parenting.

A small example in  parenting, for example,  Continue reading

Games Children (Should) Play

A large part of Waldorf Education includes an actual curriculum for games, that leads into sports in the middle school years.  There is a wonderful book called, “Child’s Play 1 &2” by Wil van Haren and Rudolf Kischnick that goes through what games correspond developmentally with what ages, and I thought I would detail some of this for those of you planning your homeschooling year, or even just for parents who don’t remember many childhood games or what ages they played certain games!

I love this quote from page 114 of this book:  True games are a source of health in which the child’s soul is repeatedly submerged, if he is not to miss our on the most valuable things.  However, this is not the only requirement.  In order to build up and play games and activities which are close to real life, it is important to have a thorough knowledge of the child’s essential core, on the one hand, and the moral value of the game relating to the particular stage of the child’s development, on the other.  The metamorphoses in the child’s development sometimes require one thing, sometimes another.  We should not lose sight of the child and his experiences of the world around him.  In themselves, games are worthless if they are not played at the right time and with the appropriate spiritual attitude.

From about ages four to seven, Continue reading

The Five Things About Waldorf Homeschooling I Want You To Know

I hear from many families who are interested in Waldorf homeschooling.  I do think the home environment is much different than the Waldorf school environment; it is much like comparing oranges and grapefruit in a way. A Waldorf school and Waldorf homeschooling are related with Waldorf Schools giving us a model of the curriculum for the school environment but homeschooling has a different flavor!

It is also different because it is up to us, as homeschooling parents, to hold things – to really create that form for the day, the month and the year.  Parents often become interested in Waldorf homeschooling because it is perceived as gentle, based in nature, the better-late-than-early category. It is those things, but there is more. We often hear how we take Waldorf homeschooling and what resonates about this with us and then it is Waldorf education.  However, I think there is more than this.

Actually, I think there are five essential truths that should be worked with regarding Waldorf homeschooling.  If you can get through these five things and feel like it resonates with you, then I think Waldorf homeschooling could be a success for you! Continue reading

Screen Time Rules

I love the writings and musings of  Elizabeth Foss and her mighty blog, In The Heart of My Home.  She is a lovely mother to nine children of varying ages,and wrote this all-encompassing post about “Screen Rules”.  I do hope you check it out:  http://www.elizabethfoss.com/reallearning/2013/07/screen-rules.html

Some of these rules are really wonderful for all of us, especially as homeschooling mothers.  Wouldn’t life in your home run more smoothly if your computer or phone was tucked away by 9 AM and not taken out again until school and chores were over? And,  I really appreciate the integrity represented here as the public image created on the Internet should always be what a person really is in his or her heart. I know many of my readers have younger children, but this would be a great list to tuck away and bring out for discussion with older children when the time is right.

Many blessings,
Carrie

Emptiness

In many ways, this has been one of the best summers I have ever had.  It has been a series of carefree camping, swimming and kayaking dates,  interspersed with lots of time with friends and family.  It has been wonderful and healing for my soul in so many ways.

My friend Catherine wrote a post about emptiness and about having compassion for oneself.  It is a must-read, as is the post she linked to as well: http://catherine-et-les-fees.blogspot.com/2013/06/emptiness.html

It so resonated with me because underneath my really fun summer, emptiness and grief has been a theme of this whole year for me.  Time can be so healing, but yet not enough time has passed, so those emotions and events are still there in my soul, digesting and breaking down.

Empty.  Drained. Exhausted.

Sad.

Not full, but empty.

There is still laughter and fun, but it is there underneath, this feeling.

Sometimes life is like this tide of outward expansion, inward contraction…full and empty, alone and then in companionship.  But it can be so hard when one feels so unsafe, so unprotected, so…challenged and swimming upstream at every turn.  It can be so hard when your “ho hum” has left the building and run away because you feel so raw about everything.

Yet, a curious thing has come out of this summer, simply because I really took some steps to protect myself in rest, to protect myself in peace.  The emptiness has not gone away, there are really raw moments,  but I am starting to see it all as something different.  I am starting to see it all as gifts.

A gift of Continue reading

Links You Have To Read

This is a really important article about suicide and how we all can help in this epidemic:  http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2013/05/22/why-suicide-has-become-and-epidemic-and-what-we-can-do-to-help.html  .  It really goes well with the book I am currently reading, “The Optimistic Child” by Martin E. Seligman.  I hope we go can through this book on my blog on “Sunday Books” after we finish the book, “Completing the Circle”.

Here is something that has been inspiring me lately:  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