Some Toys Are Better Than Others – Some Toys Have A Soul

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I’ve sometimes struggled with the Steiner School world I have been immersed in for so much of my parenting life. At times it has felt as though my default choices would have been too ‘processed’, too ‘muggle’ and it’s really annoyed me. But like the wise old sage that I am, looking back, I am able to say that some of the seemingly bonkers doctrine is possibly correct.

For those of you gifted by not having to live in ridiculously over-priced postcodes such as Forest Row, York, Totnes or Kings Langley, you may not have heard of Steiner Schools. It’s an education system a bit similar to some Scandinavian countries where the onset of ‘formal’ learning, decoding abstract concept (ie reading and the use of mathematical symbols) is delayed until the age of seven. The idea is that play is the work of the small child and that being surrounded by natural materials is best for the growing brain.

Before my ex-husband’s catastrophic stroke, he was a teacher in a Steiner School and because we had a HUGE fee reduction,  my children went to the school. Of course, the government’s benchmark EYFS targets are not met by children baking bread, learning seasonal songs and walking in the woods, so you have to go private if you’d rather that than phonics and numeracy targets for your four year old.

As Steiner parents, we were taught that toys held qualities beyond the immediately obvious. I already knew that Barbie = bad and guns = awful, but what I found a touch mental there was that we were told that toys come with a heritage, a soul, a backstory, a weight.

Something stamped out of a mould in a plastics injection factory in China, and shoved, along with tens of thousands of identical items, into a crate by a craply-paid minor to be transported to Argos, will not, we were told, hold the same soul-connection for our children as a dolly or ball sewn by hand and filled with the love of a person who actually enjoyed its creation.

Don’t vomit. Bear with me. I too thought that this was the Nag Champa muddled propaganda of…

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