Petra starts at the local Rudolf Steiner kindy on Tuesday.
I have to confess to being a tad hazy about Steiner educational philosophies, but from what I can gather, it’s about providing a child-centred space, free from the push of media and commercialism in the rest of kids’ lives. They’re not at all keen on TV. They want the kids’ bags, clothes, etc to be free of logos, pictures, and slogans, especially those representing cartoon characters. They only use organic food products and toys made of natural materials. They tell stories instead of reading picture books. And they focus on what’s in the child’s immediate environment, rather than abstract things. The example the teacher used was that they like to spend time looking at the snail on the ground in front of them instead of learning all about something like a rhinoceros.
I agree with all these things. I limit Petra’s TV viewing as much as possible because I don’t think it’s healthy for her. I don’t buy clothes with pictures of Wiggles or barbie or whatever because that sort of marketing makes me queasy. And I’ve bought wooden toys when I can find them. We also spend a lot of time in the backyard staring at ants, butterflies, and the stick insect on the strawberries, picking flowers, and digging in the dirt.
But we’re out here in the wider world where there are TV’s and plastic toys and Dora the Explorer sheets (Petra loves her Dora sheets) and food full of sugar and preservatives. As a parent, all you can do is pick your way through the barrage and make the best choices you can for you and yours.
My hope is that Petra will enjoy the kindy, that it will be a secure, ordered haven, where she can learn to socialise and make friends. I think she’ll enjoy the routines, the nicely grandmotherly staff, and the relative calm afforded by a teacher/child ratio of 1/5 instead of the usual 1/10. And she’s certainly very much looking forward to starting.
My worry is that I will find it too doctrinaire, that it will be one of those competitive parenting places where everyone’s in a race to see who’s crunchier than thou.