“There is physical warmth, emotional warmth- the warmth of love, of generosity, of true morality-and all of these “warmths” pour over and merge with each other. Perhaps most importantly, warmth is the essential ingredient in transformative work. Without warmth we cannot change, and the life of the small child is consumed with processes of growth and adaptation. Warmth helps us be healthy human beings on many different levels. A healthy education model understands that a child is indeed actively striving to integrate: to learn to feel comfortable in her body, to find the means for expressing outwardly what she feels inwardly, to develop a sense of security and understanding about all the new and unusual experiences brought by the world around her. To bring what is in, out; to make what is foreign, one’s own. Warmth helps that process.” ~Adam Blanning, MD.
Inner and Outer WarmthAs the seasons change and shift all around the world I am reminded of the importance of warmth. Keeping our children warm is essential during the colder months for their physical, cognitive and emotional development. When a child is sufficiently warm there is enough energy to support the development and growth of their brain and inner organs (especially heart, liver and lungs).
Warmth is one of the most simple gifts we can give our children on a daily basis, physically and emotionally. Woolen undergarments and hats are complimented by a warming touch, aromatic baths, warming drinks and nourishing food.
Children have an extremely high metabolic rate and therefore they very seldom "feel" cold even when they actually are. Woolen/silk long underwear are ideal for the colder months so the children can easily take them off and put them on when the weather may shift. My little one lives in her marino long undershirt. I very rarely wash it and often after I take her out of a bath at night I will put it right back on for sleep. The undershirt should cover the child's entire torso making sure their kidneys stay sufficiently warm. Some schools of thought believe this method to strengthen and hold the child's etheric body (life-force, energy) and so the garment is best worn for a prolonged period of time without washing. The type of fabric you chose to put on your children's skin is crucial. Natural fibers such as silk, wool, linen or cotton breath and insulate easily encouraging healthy circulation and warmth. As many of you know, wool has anti-bacterial /anti-fungal properties and can be self cleaning. Therefore you don't have to rush to wash these clothes. This can be very helpful for us busy parents! Merino is soft and not as irritating to the skin.
Nourishing your family through food
Warming food is an important part of nourishing and supporting your family's health and immunity during the colder seasons. Home made bone broths, soups, stews, spiced milks and hot porridges are a few yummy choices. And because these foods are slow cooked as opposed to raw they are easier to digest leaving more energy to keep our bodies warm.
Here are a few great recipes to get you going
Bone Broth recipe adapted from Nourishing Traditions
Traditional Ayurvedic Spiced Milk
Warming up your space
The physical environment must be understood in the widest sense imaginable. It includes not just what happens around the children in the material sense, but everything that occurs in their environment, everything that can be perceived by their senses, that can work on the inner powers of the children from the surrounding physical space. – Rudolf Steiner, The Education of the Child
Early learning is deeply connected to the child's physical and sensory experiences. Therefore everything the child hears, smells, touches and sees has an effect. Thus, we begin to understand how the space a child inhabits will play a large role in their learning and development. As the weather grows colder, the spaces we provide for the children should become filled with warmth physically and emotionally. Whether it be outside or indoors, the location can provide varied and nourishing learning opportunities. Creating a safe comfortable area for the child is essential for the enjoyment of self education in touch, balance, movement and inward listening. In any season, all of these experiences are created by the space we provide for our children and have the ability to instill a sense of warmth.
There are many ways to set up a space of warmth and comfort. Creating a beautiful seasonal nature table or making a little cozy nook for children to play, read or rest in are just two recommendations. The color of a space can create warmth. You may want to drape a pink, golden or peach colored cloth over a table or along any surface to warm your space. You can also choose to dress yourself or your children in warming colors to keep things bright in the cold winter months.
"The care, love, and intention expressed through the outer materials and furnishings of the classes are experienced unconsciously by the child. The child experiences the immediate environment as ensouled and nurturing." ~Susan Howard
Media Mindfulness is a way of being conscious of how much time we spend in front of screens whether it be televisions, computers, iPads, smart phones, video games or any other technological devices.
What screen time can really do to children's brains
When very small children get hooked on tablets and smartphones, says Dr. Aric Sigman, an associate fellow of the British Psychological Society and a Fellow of Britain’s Royal Society of Medicine, they can unintentionally cause permanent damage to their still-developing brain's frontal lobe. Too much screen time too soon, he says, “is the very thing impeding the development of the abilities that parents are so eager to foster through the tablets. The ability to focus, to concentrate, to lend attention, to sense other people’s attitudes and communicate with them, to build a large vocabulary—all those abilities are harmed.”
The brain’s frontal lobe is the area responsible for decoding and comprehending social interactions. It is in this corner of the mind that we empathize with others, take in nonverbal cues while talking to friends and colleagues, and learn how to read the hundreds of unspoken signs—facial expression, tone of voice, and more—that add color and depth to real-world relationships.
How and when does the brain’s frontal lobe develop?
The most crucial stage of frontal lobe development is in early childhood and it is dependent on authentic human interactions. So if your young child is spending all of his/her time in front of an iPad instead of chatting and playing with teachers, parents and other children, his empathetic abilities (the instinctive way you and I can read situations and get a feel for other people) may be dulled, possibly for good.
What you can do
Families should encourage "media mindfulness" in their children's lives. Parents and children can work together to decide how much time to spend with media every day, and to make sure good choices are being made about what media to take in.
Tips on sorting out screen time
What we are doing in our home
Here in New Zealand we live in a community space with family and friends. Niko, Mirabai, Silas and I live in a yurt and we have our own kitchen about 100 yards away from the main house which is the shared community space. There are travelers and friends passing through the main house most days and this can make it tricky to get every one on board for setting healthy media examples. We recently had a core family meeting and discussed how we can be better role models for the children and each other in the community. Media mindfulness was a topic that I had brought up and upon much discussion we decided to set up a 'internet cafe' in one of the rooms at the main house. Now we have a space where all the technology lives and where people can go and work on their computers or phones. The children can still be in the community space without the devices being used freely all the time here and there around them. The adults are showing that they have clear intentions and meaningfulness around using technology. The process and follow through of setting up a set space in our home for the use of computers and phones has been extremely helpful, healthful and rewarding for all of us and I highly recommend it for any family living in or out of community.
In Kim John Payne's book 'Simplicity Parenting' he touches on four guidelines that may initiate ease in your creative discipline journey with your children.
I left a handout at school which mentions effective methods in clearing out the clutter from your children's lives, starting with the toys. You can also use these techniques with their clothing. Please let me know if you need more information on this topic.
Payne believes if you provide your child with lots of time for free play and down time, many of your disciplinary issues will decrease.