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Monday, October 19, 2020

You Are Your Child's First Teacher by Rahima Baldwin Dancy Book Review

Title: You Are Your Child's First Teacher: Encouraging Your Child's Natural Development from Birth to Age Six

Author: Rahima Baldwin Dancy

Formats: Kindle, Paperback, and Audio Book

Pages: 336 Pages

  • ISBN-10 : 1607743027
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1607743026

Publisher : Ten Speed Press; 3rd Edition

The first book in America to popularize the insights of Rudolf Steiner, founder of the Waldorf schools, regarding the developmental needs of young children.

You Are Your Child's First Teacher: Encouraging Your Child's Natural Development from Birth to Age Six was written by Rahima Baldwin Dancy. The book essentially presents the Waldorf philosophy of education and includes quotes from famous people in the Waldorf movement. However, much of the information is quite practical and helpful and can be applied in general to early childhood education.

"We have lost touch with natural processes in child development, convinced that we have to 'do something' rather than allowing the child’s own inner processes to unfold." 

She does not advocate for pacifiers, walkers, jumping toys, and other aids that supposedly help children achieve milestones before they are actually ready. She does advocate for an unrestrained, baby-proofed environment that the child can freely access and roam without problems. She feels the children will develop best this way. She also does not advocate for the early swim or gymnastics lessons as the learning cannot be sustained. She says toddlers do their own very appropriate gymnastics.

You Are Your Child's First Teacher by Rahima Baldwin Dancy Book Review

I spent much time reading the parts about babies and thinking about the book. As a grandmother, I got stuck on her ideas about the child becoming incarnate in the first year. She says the spirit at birth is larger than the body. Ponder that a minute and remember when this seemed true about newborns you have known. 

"Perhaps you have had the experience of walking into a room where a newborn is sleeping and wondering how the room can feel so filled by such a tiny creature sleeping over in the corner."

Growing Down

Dancy's description of how children "grow down" is so true. She described this as first the baby becomes able to move his or her eyes and head, then gain control of the torso to roll, later the hands begin to work, and finally the legs when the child can walk at about one year of age. Children grow up as they grow down. So interesting!

The author (and Waldorf education) is not for having children younger than age 7 sit still for long. "The tremendous growth of the first seven years is accompanied by the nearly constant movement as muscles and bones grow and coordination is gradually achieved." We know if we ask a child to sit for long, how they wiggle and fidget! Although children can learn certain things at young ages, she says if that is done it takes from the energy that is otherwise needed for growth and development.  Emphasis on intellectual growth too soon can have negative effects later, according to the book.

You Are Your Child's First Teacher by Rahima Baldwin Dancy Book Review

The book has a chapter on how to choose a preschool. Criteria are listed and can be consulted for parents who are trying to make such a decision. I notice that often in the Montessori on a Budget Facebook group these kinds of decisions are discussed. Parents want to know what to consider and this book can help with whatever type of preschool is being considered.

What about children watching television? What about video games? What does she think about immunizations? How should you care for a sick child? What about emphasizing religion in daily life? The author emphasizes that gratitude and reverence for life are essential to the whole development of the child. If you have questions in this area, the book offers pros and cons to consider, that I'm sure parents will find very helpful.

Conscious Parenting

"Conscious parenting requires keeping perspective and not letting ourselves become so bogged down in the day-to-day task of raising our children that we neglect to focus on the larger picture." 

Conscious parenting is: being present in the moment and attending to the present needs of the child. She says we should see the light in the child, as we parent.

The appendix has a discussion about Rudolf Steiner and Waldorf education. I did not realize that Waldorf has become the largest private school movement in the world. I didn't know that such schools were closed in World War II. Steiner is the founder of Waldorf Schools and is a pioneer in the area of developmentally based, age-appropriate learning. Early childhood educators are all in favor of such learning, and this book offers an understanding of such practice.

Thank you for reading! Carolyn

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 The New Book Review is blogged by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. Authors, readers, publishers, and reviewers may republish their favorite reviews of books they want to share with others. That includes authors who want to share their favorite reviews, reviewers who'd like to see their reviews get more exposure, and readers who want to shout out praise of books they've read and love. Please see submission guidelines in a tab at the top of this blog's home page or go directly to the form at Authors and publishers who do not yet have reviews or want more may use Lois W. Stern's "Authors Helping Authors" service for requesting reviews. Find her guidelines in a tab at the top of the home page, too. And know that Carolyn Wilhelm, our IT expert, award-winning author, and veteran educator, makes an award image especially for those who volunteer to write reviews from Lois's review-request list and post them in the spirit of her "Authors Helping Authors" project. Reviews, interviews, and articles on this blog are indexed by genre, reviewers' names, and review sites so #TheNewBookReview may be used as a resource for most anyone in the publishing industry. As an example, writers will find this blog's search engine handy for gleaning the names of small publishers. Find other writer-related blogs at Sharing with Writers and The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor. #TheFrugalbookPromoter, #CarolynHowardJohnson, #TheNewBookReview, #TheFrugalEditor, #SharingwithWriters, #reading #BookReviews #GreatBkReviews #BookMarketing

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