Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Young Child..

....continuing with another excerpt from a paper I have written for school...the topic is the essential needs of the child in the 3 phases of early childhood, with an emphasis on how we as adult caregivers and educators can best meet these needs...

The “young” child (age 3-5)

       It is during this phase of development where we begin to see fantasy and even spontaneous play helping to build the body! At this time, we can support this essential need of play by offering unfinished play materials which will allow the child to “fill in the details” by way of their own unique life experiences. Children need a caregiver who models joy in work; taking the time to assist during clean up, washing the dishes with care and spirit. Children need to see care and love enter into all that we do.

     The adult is a sort of “assistant” to the child from this point on. We lovingly help with personal care, carrying the rhythm, and providing nutrition, but we model through actions and thought ideally, not words or direct instruction. The child needs to feel safe and good in the presence of the adult. We can foster this by continuing on the path of self exploration and soul development; by truly believing that the world is good and loving our role as a student of life!

     Another essential need for this (and each!)  phase of early childhood is the need for rhythm. We can support this need by creating a flowing and predictable course of the day for the children, coupled by a sense of “there is always enough time”.  Focusing on the tasks of the day; the curriculum of “life” guides us through the time spent together, rather than a rigid schedule and/or a planned activity filled morning.

    Children also need us to respect the “hermit like” nature of their play by giving them the space, time, and the quieting of our adult fixated minds, wills, opinions, moods, and goals. We can begin to respect and support this by bringing them out of play slowly and gently when the time arises.

 Striving to understand that all play is truly the work of the young child is integral for an educator. Ideally, ample time is allotted for all aspects of the day..dressing, undressing, washing, brushing. This is a time for mistakes, “corrections”, triumph, and even frustration. All aspects prove to be of great importance. The children at this age need us to be rhythm. They need an adult with strong life forces; someone who is active, healthy, well rested, and artistic. This is how we  help them into the body which they have been given.


  1. This is wonderful-- I love the idea of the adult as assistant. Please consider adding this to our Waldorf link-up here. I think this is definitely something that would inspire others!

  2. It is so refreshing knowing that others out there are taking the time to let children learn naturally.

  3. well written. I often miss those days with my children. such a magical wonderful time. I still get glimpses now and again, but at nearly 11 and 12 it is much different now.

  4. Wonderfully written, well done friend.

  5. Rebecca (and anyone who cares to answer), I've been wondering something. Do you think that recovery can be made if the rhythms and positive mood and cheerful methods have been lost for a time (or were never there)? If modifications are made toward rhythm, gentleness, and "a predictable course," can some of the benefits still be drawn? Thanks!

  6. I struggle to slow down with my young children. When we are out walking, I feel a sense of urgency that the young one in the stroller will want to get out and it is difficult to hold him, push a stroller and ensure the three year old's safety. I find doing little projects, like coloring or painting poking are very difficult with the one year old, yet I want the three year old to be able to engage in these types of activities. Any suggestions on how to quiet my mind? On how not to instruct when I want so badly to?


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