Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Child's play - what is too much?

Hi All,

My daughter,who has just turned 5 and is quite a timid child (sometimes) goes to a kindergarten as they call it here. It is a 'steiner' school but that is irrelavant, I think or maybe not. But regularly, I see or my daughter tells me of children pushing, some biting and saying some mean things etc. Now I know kids play rough at times, but when does it become too rough? Where should the educators draw the line?

I was talking of this with my husband who is 7 years older than me and portuguese, so an age gap and a different culture and we both said the same thing, when we were kids, we didnt play games where we would hit or push others, we would play chase or on playframes, with balls etc but not pushing and hitting games, is this the new play or an issue with the school or the parental guidance of the others? Im not saying Im perfect, far from it but I think this type of play on an almost daily basis is crossing the line.

I would really like to know what others think? What do you think?


  1. Hi! Late to the game on this one, but my kid (age 4) is at the fanciest-shmanciest school in town and I have witnessed pure craziness there too. Once I was approximately 45 seconds into a conversation with her teacher (who had her back turned to the classroom) and I looked over her shoulder and I swear, it was like a flashmob or something...all 24 of them had paired up and were slapping the crap out of each other. Windmill arms and all.

    The teacher saw the look of shock on my face, turned and yelled "Stop!" and in one second they all stopped and were back playing like nothing had happened.

    My daughter has come home twice with a perfect dental implant (once complete with broken skin) on her upper/inner arm. I talked to another parent at the school about this, and she said that one night she was giving her son a bath and discovered his arm covered in bite marks. None of these times, was it reported to us. The other mom scheduled a meeting at the school and filed a complaint. I did not, but will next time.

    I remember being part of absolutely no violent play as a kid, so I'm a bit baffled by all of this.

  2. Hi Sarah,

    Thanks for your comment, I did wonder if I was strange in finding this kind of behaviour over the boundary. As I said like you I was never part of violent play yet it seems to be a common thing these days. At least in your case, when the teacher told them no they stopped, in my daughter school, sometimes makes no difference. But I have seen an older girl hitting smaller ones with something and the teachers dont even see or when they do, kind of half heartedly tell them to stop and kind of strug like its ok. Sometimes I wonder if the teachers are afraid of the children or something or maybe it is the teaching style, but I think this kind of behaviour is found everywhere these days it seems.

  3. Sad to say your instincts are right, it is the teaching style:

  4. Hi
    Thanks for forwarding that article to me, that mother's experience is a little disturbing to say the least. Luckily the school my daughter goes to is nowhere near so 'steiner', they use the steiner pedagogy as a guide but not 'religiously' as this school in the article does. They use the nature and free play ideas but nothing of the Anthroposophy ideas and if they did, Im sure most of the parents would disappear. In my case, the school which has only been open 3 years is trying to give an alternative to other education options locally which are much more 'directed' learning and authoritarian (as most schools around here are, some still using corporal punishment). My main concern with this school is the occasional lack of authority and for some children this works fine, for others not,it just seems to be license to behave badly. Every child learns differently and responds to different stimuli.

  5. Hi, it's good the school is a relatively new initiative as it may be less orthodox, the one we were initially involved with was quite mild at the beginning, but hearing recently from other parents it has become more anthroposophical.

    Reading the teacher training material provides many of the answers. The courses are the same the world over which include Steiner's teachings on destiny and karma. A friend who experienced great problems when her daughter's teacher ignoring bullying discovered a document which includes the following:


    We have labored over this section and it has been written and rewritten a number of times. Can a child’s karma or destiny be that of a victim or bully? Is it a child’s destiny to seek certain experiences to build his or her self-esteem and inner self? Should a potentially abusive situation be stopped, and if so, at what point?

    As I say, it's almost impossible to believe until you read the teacher training material.

    Best of luck x