Tuesday, February 26, 2008

You Are Your Child's First Teacher

I have just finished reading a wonderful book ‘You are your child’s first teacher’ by Rahima Baldwin Dancy. I thought some of you might be interested in hearing a bit about it. It seems to be one of the most commonly recommended ‘introductions’ to Steiner education (or Waldorf education for you in the US!) and I certainly found that it gave me a good insight into the Steiner philosophy, without getting bogged down in theory or dogma.

The book covers so much ground that any review I write of it will simply not do it justice. Instead I thought I would write a few posts that focus on the parts of the book that I personally enjoyed the most.

So to start with - what does she say about babies?

While attachment parenting and Steiner education are not the same thing, there is a strong attachment parenting ’feel’ to this book. The author stresses the importance of a responsive mother, who is in tune with her child and provides nurturing, comfort and security. Baby carrying, co-sleeping and breastfeeding on demand are certainly supported by this book, as is a slow, gentle path to establishing daily rhythms for little ones.

In line with the Steiner belief that babies arrive from a spirit-realm, she suggests very gentle birth practices, preserving quiet and calm especially in the first six weeks, keeping your newborn warm and wearing only natural fibres, and placing blue and pink silks over the bassinet to bath baby in soft light.

Rahima Baldwin-Dancy is far from prescriptive though, and encourages mothers to develop their own instincts and the confidence to follow them.

”The key, as I see it, is not to follow any “system” or “expert” to the sacrifice of your child. Try to inform yourself and ask “what does the child need in this situation for his or her best development?” Use your head, listen to your heart and make your best decisions based on what you perceive your child needs and what you are able to provide in each situation”.

I can’t personally think of any better advice for a new mum that that.

First published at http://domesticallyblissed.wordpress.com/2008/02/27/you-are-your-childs-first-teacher/

Saturday, February 16, 2008

To Market To Market

One of my absolute favourite things to do on a Saturday morning is to visit a Farmer’s Market. Wandering around the stalls, buying beautiful fresh vegetables, fruit, bread and other goodies, drinking a coffee, listening to a live band and eating something sinful … it just doesn’t get any better.

My absolute favourite is the Matakana Farmers Market, right in the centre of Matakana village. I just adore the atmosphere at this market, somehow I am transformed into the crystal wearing, basket carrying, folk singing bohemian earth mama that I long to be.
At Matakana they, of course, have an incredible selection of organic fruit, veggies, breads, and other lovely food stuffs - as farmers markets do. But there are all sorts of little extras - organic buckwheat crepes made by Rainbow Valley Farm students, amazing mustards, whitebait and mussell fritters, freshly made vietnamese spring rolls, gourmet beers - its foody heaven. And to top it all off, you can then take your goodies, get a coffee and sit down by the river, listening to a wonderful live band.

Sadly, Matakana is nearly 2 hours away from where I live, so visits there are a special treat.
For my weekly fix I head to Oratia Farmers Market, which is newer and not quite as large as Matakana, but still fabulous. I was there this morning, and as you can see in the photo I brought home a rather delicious haul - apples, pears, plums, green beans, tomatoes, carrots, courgettes, capsicums, eggplants and some stunning bread - and I spent less than $20. I think that is incredibly good value, especially given that the majority of the produce is organic.
I managed to resist the temptation to try the icecream, and our ‘budget of doom’ meant I couldn’t buy the salmon, freshly made pasta or gourmet olive oils … but it was lovely to look.
Buying from authentic Farmer’s Markets means you are buying fresh, local produce. Supporting local farmers you are making alternatives to the big name retailers viable.

Its ethical, its sustainable, and the food tastes better. What more could you ask for?
For a list of Farmers Markets in New Zealand visit www.farmersmarkets.org.nz