*This piece was written by my lovely friend Alea Waters, and submitted as a guest piece to this blog. There are a lot of different ways to live one’s life, and that includes how we parent and raise our children. The more views and ideas we allow ourselves to be aware of, the more conscientious caregivers we can be. Remember, there is no “right” way to parent, except for what’s right for each family individually, at their own right time and place. We are all doing our best, and should support each other on our individual journeys – no matter how they differ from our own.*
I choose play and toys over technology for my growing toddler.
When I first became a mother, I thought I knew exactly how I was going to parent my daughter. I thought I knew what my values were as a mother, but somehow as Leona has gotten older and I see how life effects her I change my mind.
Leona is 14 months now, and as she gets older I have felt the undeniable pressure from other parents and our society to push my daughter into activities that she is not ready for, emotionally or developmentally. I feel the pressure to have her use my iPad and iPhone, to learn how to count and talk before she is ready. I have ignored my values around technology and I have seen it hurt my daughter. When I put an iPad in front of my daughter with a flashing counting game, or turn on the TV to a child show, I see Leona turn into a baby I don’t know. I see her stop all movement and her eyes are glued to whatever is in front of her.
She starts to act out within ten minutes of any technology being on. She will throw herself on the floor and cries for no reason, she gets mean, hits, slaps, pinches. This is not normal behaviour for Leona and it only happens when she is around technology of some kind. She will even go and turn the TV off when she feels her body getting overloaded, then she just needs to come sit on my lap and we sing a song, or read a book. This is why I choose play and toys over cell phones, iPads, or TV.
I looked into a lot of teaching styles and took what I liked out of each. Two of my favourite are Waldorf and Montessori.
From a very young age I have let Leona play with paper and crayons. She is now starting to really get into it and realize what she can create with her colours. Because with this activity I go along with the Waldorf style, Leona gets only the three primary colours. This way she can learn to blend and get her secondary colours when she is ready. The same goes for when she is painting.
I take inspiration for activities from the Montessori style as well. Leona loves to read and look at books. Sometimes she wants to be alone and just have some quite time, so I set up a child tent and put a dog bed on the floor to make it cozy. I chose some picture books to put in the tent, and now Leona goes into her quiet place to sit and look at pictures on her own.
I created a sensory motor game for Leona out of a yogurt container and some wine corks. I cut three holes in the lid of the container and now Leona loves to sit on the floor and put all the corks into the holes and hear them clink against the bottom, then when she has used them all she takes the lid off, empties it and does it over and over again.
Leona loves listening to music. Her favourites are classical and, of course, Raffi. She moves her body, swings her arms, and bops her head back and forth with the song. The music seems to fill her with joy and life. It makes me feel good knowing that something as simple as music can make my daughter totally light up and enjoy embracing her body without shame or fear of judgement.
My whole family is happier when we have a happy baby in the house, and this is why I choose play over technology.
Do you use technology as an aid for education, or stick to a purely play-based approach? What are the benefits and drawbacks you see for each way?