Brooklyn Waldorf School Media Policy
The Brooklyn Waldorf School is committed to promoting the healthy mental, physical, emotional and social growth of children. Through cultivating each child’s imagination, artistic sensibility, and capacity for independent and critical thinking, our approach to education attempts to support and build on the child’s inherent capacities for learning. Maximizing a child’s ability to learn requires his/her mental, emotional, and physical engagement at the highest level. It is with the goal of striving for the ideal learning environment that we question the use of electronic media for young children.
For our purposes, electronic media includes television, DVDs, videos and video games, computers, MP3 players, and other similar sound devices. Such media is known to interfere with children’s natural play instincts and inhibit the imagination. Media of this kind often introduces powerful, sophisticated and complex images and sounds that can be overwhelming, inappropriate, and misleading. Additionally, current research suggests that the rapid succession of flickering images diminishes a child’s capacities for attention and memory development, both of which are essential to learning.
Media use is known to habituate a learning state that lacks full physical, emotional and sensory involvement. The influence of electronic media can also interfere with a child’s ability to participate in the overall life of the classroom. Regardless of content, it is said to cause a diminished development of the senses through passive viewing and listening. The effects of media’s pre-programmed and synthesized sounds and images can cause stress, leaving little or no room for creative input. When natural learning modes are inhibited, a child can become disengaged, frustrated, or unable to concentrate.
When a child is in an active learning process, there is participation, visible engagement, focus and enthusiastic response. We strive through the Waldorf approach to provide an environment in every classroom that nurtures this deep level of engagement and vitality in the learning process.
Based on our reading of the current research, our experience as classroom teachers, and our understanding of child development, we are moved to further educate ourselves and explore the influence of media on the learning process, and in our school. We invite you to be active participants in this, as Waldorf education is a partnership between parents and teachers. Workshops, lectures and community events will be scheduled between now and the end of the school year so that we can go through a process of dialogue and education together. We invite everyone to take an active role in this, and to consider the following topics, observations and ideas for conversation.
Bonding with your child, and taking time to be present as much as possible, provides many opportunities for role modeling that can support the behavior you wish to see in your child. Also, having regular family meals and time together helps maintain the healthy daily rhythm so indispensable for children, and helps insure they have as much regular time with you as possible.
Explore the Imagination
Allowing for, encouraging, and later asking them about their spontaneous play gives room and critical exercise to their growing powers of imagination. Supporting story-making and play-acting, providing material, and allowing time for this kind of activity to take root and grow within a child, greatly helps them to develop and strengthen within themselves these faculties that are so important to the development of their thinking as adults.
Be Creative Together
Provide time, creative space, and “raw materials” to engage in hands-on tinkering and building. Make a corner where art can be explored through drawing, painting, and other venues (letting the process be the goal and guide).
Share together the rhythms of the changing seasons by tending a garden year-round. Take your child on excursions in natural settings. Find other ways to explore the world of nature together.
Find Your Musicality
Sing and play an instrument to and with your child. Explore the voice together as a first instrument. Expose your child to appropriate live music, song and dance. Make simple instruments of your own with your child. Learn together about musical styles and various instruments.
Make time for activities and outings with friends. Work with others to promote safe guidelines and rules in support of positive group dynamics and experiences for your growing child.
Join the Conversation
Join in the dialogue that addresses the vital questions and concerns surrounding media and education in your child’s school. Be an informed parent by reading books and articles on alternatives. Help to organize activities that provide a forum for discussion. Participate in community events such as “TV Turn-off Week” in your local school district or community of your choice.
References for suggested reading and further research:
Why Waldorf Works
Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America
Alliance for Childhood