The Rant: Development of the Whole Child

So, this week I am just going to let it go and have a good little rant.  I went to a wonderful conference this weekend that was a gathering of Waldorf Early Childhood Educators  in my region, and it was said in this conference that childhood development is the best-kept secret in North America.

I would go a step further and say the development of how children move is under assault at ridiculous proportions.  No one seems to see anymore the link between sensory- motor development and later academic success.  No one seems to see the link between sensory- motor development and later emotional-social regulation.  And no one seems to see the link between being comfortable in the body in childhood and how we later become healthy adults.

We have so much information out there and yet we have practically nothing at all that is developmentally appropriate.  It is so frustrating!

We are seeing panic attacks in tiny children, anxiety and depression in our teenagers, rising obesity rates in our children, children whose fine motor skills at the kindergarten levels that are so far behind what we used to see in children entering kindergarten, and we are seeing children with sensory challenges and motor development issues across the board.  And yet, somehow, all we can think about in this country is stuffing more information into these children with snippets of factoids and making sure they know how to press buttons on a computer and that they are satiated with every cheap material good that is around.

So, this week, come delve with me into the world of the child and how movement develops and what you should be looking for at home and what you can do to help your child thrive.  I know I am probably preaching to the choir with those of you who read this blog, but perhaps together we can all lobby for change in the typical way childhood development is approached in North America, and yes, the world.



15 thoughts on “The Rant: Development of the Whole Child

  1. “No one seems to see anymore the link between sensory- motor development and later academic success. No one seems to see the link between sensory- motor development and later emotional-social regulation.” Wow. This is totally what I eat, sleep and breathe right now. And I agree, the mainstream schools don’t get it, even when they think they do. I’m a mom to an almost 5-year-old 26-weeker. We see with our own eyes how sensory motor development impacts everything. We’ve actually been learning a ton about this through our Floortime therapists. (Are you familiar with that intervention? We are working with the late Dr. Stanley Greenspan’s son and a Floortime-trained OT.) Just this week we were talking about how the sensory system is connected to emotional regulation and that both directly impact later academic skills. And learning to BE in your body… so important!!! Wish this message was getting out to more than just those in the Waldorf community and parts of the therapy/special needs community. As you said, this impacts ALL kids! Rant on!

    • I would really like to learn more about how the sensory system is connected to emotional regulation. My daughter had some sensory issues as a toddler/early preschooler and even though therapists told me that she would outgrow them (which it seems that she has), I still think that somehow they are having an effect on her in some way as a 6 year old. I would like to hear more about this. Can you direct me where to research this?

    • Kathy,
      Try searching sensory in the search box on this blog. There are a number of posts that come up, and I think a few of the resources talk about the emotional connection. It makes sense if one is uncomfortable in one’s body, then emotionally one will be either on edge or teary or angry. Sensation is an integral part of movement – every movement is a sensory-motor experience, if that makes any sense, and movement is the foundation of both emotional-social regulation and academic learning. So it really is all connected.

    • Thank you! I will do that. I also looked up Dr. Greenspan and requested two of his books from the library. I’m looking forward to reading more!

  2. I love this rant! I have been feeling a very strong desire for movement lately. Perhaps with the coming winter months I am intuitively on alert for ways to keep the children moving. Even in the world of homeschooling, there is pressure to stuff our children with factoids, like they are little Thanksgiving turkeys on dislay. 😉 I am very much looking forward to this week at The Parenting Passageway, and have a feeling I will be doing some bookmarking. Thank you!

  3. Thanks for taking this seriously! This is one reason we started homeschooling with our first – he had so many sensory issues, and i knew being at school all day would only rub him raw. Now, i see how beneficial it has been for all of my little people to have the peace and security of being home with mama, and the soothing rhythms of home life. One day they will have to be out and about every day, bustling along making a living – But i wonder sometimes if children are more hindered by the lifestyle so many lead, of being constantly out of the house, in lessons, or in care, or at playdates, instead of it being an asset to them. Because developmentally, maybe children need predictable routine and the pleasure of being the favourite child 🙂 and not just one more in the class…

  4. I’m really interested in this topic. For me, you are definitely not preaching to the choir…you are educating someone yearning for useable information! I am new to Waldorf and learning as much as I can, given that daily life must proceed and mama must get a little bit of sleep while trying to change our lives! My three year old daughter has gross motor development delays. We are receiving some limited OT services through our school district (although she is not in a preschool program), and she recently tested at 18 – 24 months on the Peabody scale for gross motor skills. At this point, there is no specific cause (no CP). I will keep watching for anything more on your blog on this topic. If there is any information you can direct me to, I would be grateful to learn how to help my daughter in a way that is consistent with Waldorf parenting. Many thanks!

  5. shared this on our Field, Farm and Forest facebook page — I wholeheartedly agree with every-single-word 🙂 Kristen in Vermont…..

  6. I may have been reading your blog for years, but I am still very much looking forward to what you have to say on this topic. Especially if you’ll be breaking things down by age — what useful information! Thanks for tackling this topic, Carrie!

  7. I agree, whole-heartedly. After going to our local school’s Kindergarten open house, I sadly see that what you are saying is true, and then some. There is a lack of understanding and a neglect of the spirit of our children. There is a lack of knowing how to help children grow into happy, wise, and balanced adults.

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