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Let them play

Cedar Valley Waldorf School hosts Community Parenting Series

With more information available from more sources than ever before, parents today are faced with the most puzzling of conundrums: "What is best for my child?"

The Community Parenting Series, offered by the Cedar Valley Waldorf School, may have some answers.

Now in its eighth year, the free program is open to interested parents, grandparents, caregivers and teachers. Already underway, the second of six sessions in the series -The Importance of Play in the Developing Child - takes place on Monday (Oct. 5) from 7:30 to 9 p.m. at the school, 38265 Westway Ave.

"We want to help provide insight into the development of the child," said school principal Christine Martin. "What we talk about is not just for parents of our school, it's for anyone who deals with children. The more we understand child development as adults the more we can help to awaken, nurture, and strengthen the child.

"Educating a child, at home and at school, is a great task and can be challenging at times, it demands that parents and teachers penetrate a deep understanding of the child."

Part of that understanding, according to Martin, comes from allowing and encouraging an aspect of childhood that many took for granted but now seem perilously threatened: play.

"Neville Scarfe, dean emeritus of the faculty of education at UBC, said 'Play is vital to all humanity. It is a human research activity. Play is the finest system of education known to man.' I can't really sum it up any better.

"The spaces and opportunities for children to engage in creative free play are decreasing significantly, and this is damaging to the development of the child. If parents become more aware of what hinders play they can help create the space, both in place and time, for children to engage in creative play to," said Martin.

Some of those hindrances include electronic media, signing the child up for too many adult-guided activities, emotional trauma, and "adultification" of the child, she added.

"Creating time with in the day for the child to play creatively, both inside and outside, is very important. Children are not small adults, they need time to explore and imagine and grow into their bodies."

Martin also said studies show play is critical for social, cultural, emotional, physical and mental development.

"Many of the great thinkers have indicated how important play is," said Martin, "Albert Einstein said 'The gift of fantasy has meant more to me than the talent of absorbing information.'"

The series continues Monday, Oct. 19 with The Significance of Rhythm in a Child's Life.

Call 604-898-3287 or email [email protected] more information or to RSVP.

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