Viewer Q&A: Keeping Toddlers Occupied, Unwanted Toys & Becoming a Waldorf Teacher

Hello, and welcome to another “Sunday with
Sarah.” I’m Sarah Baldwin, owner of Bella Luna Toys, blogger at Moon Child, and welcome back! Or welcome if you’re joining us for the
first time. When I launched this video series a couple, a few months ago, losing track
now, I asked for your feedback on questions, topics you’d like me to address in
future videos. I’ve gotten sidetracked along the way with different
crafts and different things I wanted to share with you but I wanted to get back
to some of your questions. I don’t have time today to answer all of them
but we’ll get to a few of them and more of them in coming weeks. So let’s see what we have here. Mama Songbird wrote “Would you address helping
young children into creative play so that a mother can then step aside a bit
and address work around the house that she needs to get done? This is a challenge for me with a three-and-a-half year-old and a one year-old because my three-and-a-half year-old
always wants me to play with him. The moment I step away from his play he gets
whiny or starts tormenting his little brother. It would be great to have some creative
ideas to put to use.” This has been a common question and I’m sure many of
you can relate and you are far from alone, Mama Songbird. It’s a challenge but
some ideas are to involve your child in the work that needs to be done. If you’re
cleaning house, give your child child-sized tools: a small
broom, dustpan and brush, a mop. If you’re folding laundry give him some laundry to fold with you
even though he might not do the job you would. Involve him in real work. I think
sometimes we forget how capable young children are, preschoolers are, of doing
real work and they love to imitate the work of their parents and the adults
around them. I realize that may not always work, it’s one tactic to try.
Another suggestion is to have some special toys tucked away somewhere that
only come out at certain times, something that’s not always out in your child’s
room and available but that’s hidden away on a closet shelf and may come out
at times when you just need that extra half hour or an hour to get
something done. So a special basket of toys or books
that will capture your child’s attention, something that they haven’t seen,
that’s another idea. Yet another idea is to get some some really engaging work. In
my kindergarten classroom I had a basket of branch blocks that we had cut
ourselves with a saw — you can do this yourself, we do sell
natural tree blocks at Bella Luna Toys but you can make your own — and you have a
basket there with sandpaper. Girls and boys love to do
this but a lot of boys really need a really active job and that’s a great one,
just sanding blocks smooth, pulling the bark off and sanding them
smooth. Also, my classroom had a grain grinder
and I will be introducing a new grain grinder at Bella Luna Toys, but
that was a wonderful thing to have in my classroom, filled with rye or wheat
berries and when a child needed a job to do, using this hand mill, grinding and
grinding. So those are just a few ideas. It’s always a challenge, it really
requires some creativity but I hope some of those suggestions help. Let’s see, what else. “How do I convince family the importance
of natural toys? It seems no matter the reasons I give, ultimately the price
dictates a cheaper plastic toy. My daughter is a year old on Wednesday
and she’s been given a plethora of plastic.” This could be a topic for a whole other video. It’s always a challenge, isn’t it, with gifts and we
don’t want to be ungrateful. I’ve always felt like you can’t really
dictate a gift someone wants to give you. Be gracious, thank the giver for it
and then I put them away or give them to Goodwill. Or you could let the child play
with it for a little while. Most kids are not wanting for a lack of
playthings and when my boys were younger, if an unwanted toy would come into the
house they might play with it for a little bit
and then it would just disappear and most of the time they would not even
mention it again. Sometimes they might bring it
up and say “Oh, where’s the whatever-action figure?” And I’ll
just say “Hm, I wonder” and usually it never came up again. Another idea is when a new toy comes
into the house let’s find one to give away, that we can
give to Goodwill. Too many toys are overstimulating and the fewer the better: a
few choice, quality toys. But then in terms of letting our friends and loved
ones know the kinds of things we would appreciate, its delicate, you know your
family. Some parents will be grateful for the
guidance, others might be offended but letting our
family know “these are some catalogs or websites, kinds of toys we would welcome and we might rather
have one well-made wooden toy that will last for
years than several plastic toys coming in over the course of the year.” I’ll get back to that in another episode
because there’s so much more that could be said. One more question for today: Kelly wrote “So wonderful to learn more
about you, I was wondering if you could give some information on becoming a
Waldorf educator. I am a public middle and high school teacher who feels that so
much is missing from the classroom. Thanks.” I have to say when i discovered
Waldorf education it was a real turning point in my life. I
was visiting a classroom, a kindergarten classroom and thinking about sending my
son, Harper, to the Waldorf school and I walked into an environment that
just really spoke to my heart on some deep level. I just had never seen an environment
like this but I just knew this was a healthy environment, this was the right
environment for children. I ended up asking the teacher, I was presumably there
for an interview for my son, but I asked the teacher “how do you become a Waldorf educator?” I
had also been thinking about going back to school. I’d been an actress as some
of you may know before I became a teacher and before I became a mother, and I
asked her about teacher training options. I was living in California at the time
and thought maybe this was something I would do in the future but she told me
about a part-time training in the Los Angeles area, at the Waldorf Institute
of Southern California. They had a program that met on weekends and
three weeks each summer and I ended up enrolling in teacher training before
Harper ever got to kindergarten. All I can tell you is it was a life-changing
experience. The training is not just teacher training, it’s not just about
learning the educational philosophy, it’s self
education and self-development Through my training we sang and we
studied and we did wood carving and we learned eurythmy
and we did handwork — the richest two years of my life and I cannot
recommend it highly enough. There are teacher training centers on
the east coast and the west coast and a few in the midwest, in Wisconsin, in
Chicago. Below this video blog pos,t on my blog, I will post a link to AWSNA’s
website, that’s the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America. Their
website is a treasure trove of information and lists the various
teacher training centers you can get in touch with. Some are part-time programs
and some are full time and there’s training for early childhood, for grade
school teaching, and also for high school teaching. Finally, Lifeways is another
training option that I cannot recommend highly enough. If you aren’t necessarily
interested in teaching in a school but if you’re interested in learning more
about the philosophy, if you’re working with young children, if you’re a parent
at home or if you operate a home day care center or offer
childcare in your home, or you’re thinking about it. Lifeways is an incredible, life-enriching program. I’ll post a link about that too and that’s another subject we’ll
talk about more fully in a future “Sunday with Sarah.” I want to bring a
friend of mine here who’s a director of of Lifeways training to tell me more about
that. I could go on forever! I love answering your questions, I wish I
had more time but I’ll get back to them. Please, as always, leave your comments
here and suggestions for future weeks. Thanks so
much for tuning in. Thanks for all your wonderful feedback. See you next week.

14 Replies to “Viewer Q&A: Keeping Toddlers Occupied, Unwanted Toys & Becoming a Waldorf Teacher”

  1. When it comes to gift I give thanks and then I sell them on second hand or give them to someone who will really enjoy those toys that I am not keen on mainly Disney toys or those characters. Also I am storing them away and then they swap after few months or also use them when I have guest around 🙂

  2. Now my question is : as a Mother how can I apply Waldorf in my house when they are back and during weekends as my kids go to their local school and unfortunately they seems to watch films in there when it is a rainy day (UK weather). Thanks Sarah

  3. It's a pleasure to watch and listen to you Sarah… I'm from Bombay, India and soon embarking on my own exciting journey beginning with enrolling my children in a Waldorf school and myself training to be a Waldorf teacher… I'm so looking looking forward to everything ahead… Thanks for being part of and enriching the path I've chosen…

  4. It's been my understanding that this style.of education was mostly meant for younger students. ..but in the video you mentioned training is available for the older grades. I'm very interested in learning more about this. Thank you!

  5. I would just rather not get gifts for my kid at this point. My daughter is not even a year yet and i just donated a trash bag full of toys.

  6. First I took a picture of my child with the unwanted toy for the gift giver. I put the picture and gift in a box for when the giver came over. Second I let my family know the gift my child wanted and invited friends and family to contribute financially.

  7. I posted a registry on my fb of all wooden toys and stressed that i want to teach my child the value of fair trade, natural toys. Buying a whole lot of wooden animals is expensive but if everyone buys one my son will have a little zoo by the time he's 1!

  8. As a grandparent with limited means, I appreciate the craft type gifts Bella Luna sells. My daughter has 4 children and the wooden egg painting kit has enough eggs to go around : ) My grandchildren (now school age) appreciate getting postcards or simple greetings by mail from grandma. They live far away & it takes some consistent 'doing' to let them know I'm thinking of them even though we are miles apart.

  9. I love the way the natural toys look cluttering up the house, too! So much prettier than a bunch of plastic.

  10. I have different size popcycle sticks and buttons in a sorting tray I took a recycled pasta jar and put a slot on top. I tuck this away My 1 1/2 year old loves this activity immensely so if I need a shower or time to do something I can, just one example of something to keep them busy. ❤ great for fine motor skills I now have numbers on the sticks she can already count to 10 so I have added numbers up to 20

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