Main Teacher

Karen Brennan
  • Karen Brennan

  • .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
  • 773.465.2662 x8351
  • Biography

Chronos and kairos, the experience of flow through play and craft

Monday, January 27, 2014

Someone reminded me this week that Gandhi was a spinner.  For him, handspinning was one of the pathways to independence for India.  But he also spun daily as a form of contemplation.  In some ways, learning a new craft is similar to the play of the child.  There can be a lot of trial and error involved, but once you learn, it can take you out of what the Greeks called “chronos” or chronological time into “kairos,” or what we might call flow.  I know that for myself, when I start spinning (or some other craft) I lose track of time on the clock.  You may notice this during this time of the year in parent-child class when we are spinning and knitting; I will try to get us to snack on time, though.  I believe that this work of our hands can give us a taste of how children enter into the world and enter into play; they enter into it completely and with all of their senses wide open.  The child, of course, doesn’t have any sense of chronos yet.  We can bring them gently into the rhythms of the world, day and night, the changing seasons and ever so gently into the relentless ticking of chronos.  But it is important for us to remember to play, as well, and to enter into the flow.  We use our hands, hearts and minds.  We talk, we laugh, we create.  The children feel it.  We all breathe more easily in this atmosphere of purposeful work/play.

Last week, I wrote about simplified play and trial and error and the sense of touch.  This week we will touch on the other aspects of play the Kim Payne discusses in Chapter 3:

• Pretending; imaginary play:  This type of play begins as imitation in the newborn.  While imitation continues to be the primary way of learning in the first seven years, imaginative play begins in the second year and continues to blossom and grow through childhood and, hopefully, into adulthood.  I hear a lot about “executive function” these days.  Kim defines it as including “the ability to self-regulate, to amend one’s behavior, emotions, and impulses appropriately to the environment and situation.”  This type of play helps the child develop the flexible thinking that will serve them for their whole life.  Simple choices of props and costumes strengthen the use of imagination.

• Experience “Children need experience, not entertainment, in play.”  Children need to experience all four elements, and the tools needed are (surprise) quite simple—buckets, nets, shovels, kites, baskets and other containers, bubbles…
• Purpose and industry: Children love to be busy and useful, even if their idea of the ultimate purpose of the work is not the same as yours.  Giving them real child-sized tools is a great gift.  Kim says that this sense of purpose and industry “counteracts feelings of overwhelm.”

• Nature:  “Nature is the perfect antidote to the sometimes poisonous pressures of modern life.”  Nature, as opposed to screens, nourishes all of our senses.  Kim writes that we don’t need spectacular settings for our children—it is satisfying for a child to know even a modest place that is close to home well through the seasons.  I have watched the children in our school enjoy our modest sideyard through the seasons and the years.  Of course, it helps that their friends are there…
• Social interaction:  “Children need interaction with others, with human beings, to build social skills and their own individuality… The primary predictor of success and happiness in life is our ability to get along with others.” (There is more on the other side)

• Movement:  Children need to move in all sorts of different ways.  Rough and tumble play is important, too, for brain development.  “A childhood rich in physical play, in time and space to move, builds more than physical strength.  It expands your child’s lifelong access to fun, health and connection with others.”

• Arts and Music: “Children need to create.  They need to make art, to feel and see and move their worlds in new directions.”  Kim says that there should always be a place and materials in a simplified room for art.  Music is important, too, and simple instruments, especially homemade ones, can be a lot of fun.
Next week, we will finish chapter 3!!!!!
Upcoming events:
Thursday, Feb. 6:  7:55AM to 9:55 AM, opportunity to visit main lessons in classrooms.  For adults, RSVP required
Tuesday, Feb. 11: 7PM-9PM, Curriculum evening for Early Childhood and Parent Child parents covering the transition to first grade and how our early childhood program prepares children for the grade school.
Feb. 16-23: No school, mid-winter break
Also, if you are interested, I am providing links for a couple of articles about play :

Why Waldorf Works: From a Neuroscientific Perspective
By Dr. Regalena “Reggie” Melrose
--this one is posted on a wonderful blog called "The Magic Onion"

Toddlers to tweens: relearning how to play
Children's play is threatened, say experts who advise that kids – from toddlers to tweens – should be relearning how to play. Roughhousing and fantasy feed development.
By Stephanie Hanes, Correspondent / January 22, 2012, from the Christian Science Monitor