Welcome to Joyful Toddlers!

This space is about increasing our enjoyment of the young children in our lives through concrete action and by adjusting the lens through which we view them. My work comes out of LifeWays, which is inspired by Waldorf education. I welcome your comments, and questions about increasing your enjoyment of the children in YOUR life.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

New TeleClass Begins June 27th

I am excitedly preparing for the new session of my live TeleClass, Joyful Days with Toddlers and Preschoolers!  I held the first two sessions of this class in March, and it exceeded my expectations in almost every way.  The women who signed up for the course were a mixture of moms and home-daycare-providers (many were both!), and they told me over and over again how great it was to get a real and practical dose of inspiration and connection every week.  One woman said that just the act of calling in each week calmed her and made her feel more spacious in her parenting!  Here's what else people said:

"I can't tell you how much I appreciate this class.  It truly has done wonders for our family and for me as a mom... My husband has noticed a big difference with me and with the boys... I got more than I imagined I would have gotten [from this class]."
                                                                                            -C.L., mother of 2

So, what is the class like?  Each class is a conference call that lasts an hour and fifteen minutes.  A few days before each call, I will send out my thoughts on that week's theme, and a link to that week's video footage.  Each week has about 10-12 minutes of video footage of me interacting with the children (ages 1-5) in different ways.  When the class-time comes, we call in to the conference call, and we watch the video footage together, stopping frequently for discussion and questions.  Between classes, people can chat through an online discussion groups, and are given optional 'assignments.'  Here's what one student said: 

"...Love your teaching, the three layers of: watch the video, hear your comments on it and live question session, followed by written thoughts, and follow-ups to specific questions, it really creates a rich texture to the class...Every week has given me new ideas to try and made me more mindful of all the elements that go into this work."
                                                                                            -H.C., mother of 2  

I think that the video footage is part of what makes the class so unique and so useful.  It's one thing to hear someone talk about what they do; it's another thing altogether to see them do it.  And each week's video is so different!  The first week is very inspirational:  how to incorporate children in the tasks that make up Life, and why it feels so fulfilling to children when we do.  People saw the footage and said, "I can do that!"  The next week's video footage was totally different.  The theme is Teach Children to Interact Graciously, and every single clip begins with someone shrieking.  The week's themes are:

-Life As the Curriculum
-Teach Children to Interact Graciously
-Make Mealtimes Special
-Smooth and Easy Transitions
-Create Nurturing Spaces
-Be Your Best Self

If you spend your days with children ages 1-5, and you wish the time you spent with children could be more joyful than it is now, I warmly invite you to take this TeleClass.  Click on the tab above (marked June/July Teleclass) for dates, times, and prices.  Email me to hold your spot or with any questions, faithrainbow@yahoo.com 

Miss Faith

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

When I'm Low Energy

Lavender Foot-Baths
When I am in full health, and have gotten enough sleep, I LOVE my time with children.  But when I don't get enough sleep, or I have a headache, or a cold, or medicine is making me groggy, the amount of energy it takes to care for children just seems beyond my capabilities.  And yet there they are, as rambunctious as ever.

Take Care of Miss Faith Day
          On days when I feel wiped out, I implement "Take Care of Miss Faith" days.  I lower the lights.  I pull the curtains.  When the children come in, I tell them in a soft voice, "Today's gong to be a quiet day.  Today will be a day when YOU take care of ME!"  I lie down on the couch, or in the cozy corner that's loaded with lambskins and cushions.  The children bring over blankets and silks and 'tuck me in.'  They bring over the dollies and tuck them in with me.  They bring over books, and we take turns where they read one to me, then I'll read one to them.  We play the kinderharp.  We brush hair and give lavender foot-baths.  We drink warm chamomile  tea.  Take Care of Miss Faith days are days for snuggling, and they are sweet and soft.  I talk more softly, more slowly than usual.  Things I normally do myself, I ask the children to do for me, and they love to rise to the occasion.

When I first started implementing these days, it was when I had a migraine, or a close relative was seriously ill.  It seemed that the children could sense that I really needed some quiet space, and extra care.  Even the littlest ones were more quiet than usual.  But then I thought, Why not have these days a little more often?  The children are clearly capable of doing it when it's needed, and they seem to benefit from it as much as I do.  So I started having these "quiet days" more often. If it was a really rainy day, we'd turn it into a quiet day.  If we had a cold snap and we hadn't been able to play outside in five days, we'd have a quiet day.  If four parents said their kids were grumpy or sleep deprived at drop-off, we'd have a quiet day.  I'd try to do them often enough that the children would remember them, but infrequently enough that they remained unusual and special.  About once a month seemed good.

The reality is that these days still take quite a lot of energy on my part.  I can't just "check out" and let the kids run things themselves; that tends to result in chaos.  Instead, I have to use my energy to create this cozy, intimate atmosphere.  If a child forgets and becomes loud, I'll remind them that "today is a quiet day," and if they can't tone it down, I'll say, "if you need to be loud, I'd like you to do it in the other room.  Today is a day where I need quiet around me."  Because these days are so snuggly and so special, most children would rather tone it down than be left out of the special atmosphere.  But even though they still take energy (I'm still running the show, I'm just running a different show from normal), I find it to be restful and rejuvenating, and the children do, too.  Those who need extra cuddling get as many cuddles as they need, and those who wish they were a little bigger get the chance to stand tall and really help on a whole new level.  And I get to spend significant chunks of time in a semi-horizontal position, drinking tea and having children love all over me.

Miss Faith

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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Time to Play Outside!


          Spring has truly sprung, and in many places, summer is in full swing (unless you're in the southern hemisphere, of course!).  Let me take a minute to inspire you, or re-inspire you, to spend lots and lots of time outside with your children!  The outdoors is stimulating in all the right ways for young kids.  There are interesting things on every level, and everywhere you look there is something new.  Sunlight changes and wind changes and humidity changes, and they affect our whole bodies, but in a gentle way.  Even on days with intense weather, dress appropriately and go outside!  On a VERY windy day, you and your child can be birds, running and soaring through the gale.  On rainy days, the worms come up and the robins go down.  The dirt turns to mud and everything becomes slippery.  Allow your child to experience all of these things, both with you, and (as much as possible) on his own.
          If your child is not used to spending lots of time outside, it may take him a little while to get used to it.  But it's worth it, on every level!   I find that the more time I spend outdoors with kids, the better and nicer our indoor time is.  I find that the more time we spend outdoors, the more easily they go down for nap.  I find that the more time we spend outdoors, the less picky the children are about their food.  And I find that the more time we spend outdoors, the more magnanimous I feel.
          So, how to spend more time outdoors?  Well, build it into your day as a regular staple.  Go outside as early as possible, and stay out there as long as possible.  When the weather is nice, go outside twice a day!  Eat snacks or meals outside.  If there's a neighborhood park that you've always meant to spend more time at but only get to every few months, start going every day or every other day.
          Next, look at your own back yard, and figure out how you can make it a little more magical.  Yards become magical by having lots of texture, different spaces with different terrain, and lots of hidey-places.  Find a place where two fences meet, and curve a plastic trellis from Home Depot to make a little trellis house!  This one I did at Boulder Waldorf Kindergarten, and trained a grape vine over it.  The grapes would grow down through the holes.  Fantastic!

 Plant a bean teepee that's large enough for children to play inside.  Plant a blackberry patch.  Have a bushy area?  Cut the bottoms of the bushes up three or four feet, so that it turns into a living fort.  Make pathways out of paving stones or wood chips.  Put a row of stumps just about anywhere.  Get a pile of bricks for kids to build stuff with, or a pile of river-rocks.  A stump cut into 1-inch rounds make great stepping-stones, pathways, plates, boats for mice, and many other magical things.  But most of all, just do it!  The more time you spend outside, the better everyone feels.  Any corner of your yard that's not currently being used can be infused with energy by putting up a tent, tying a tarp overhead, planting a raised garden bed, piling up rocks, or anything that generates interest.  Be sure to bring snacks, and drink lots of water, and then put out a picnic blanket and lie back in the shade while your children explore.

Joyful Toddlers has moved!  Check out our new location: http://joyfultoddlers.com/