But surely little kids don't really like television? Do they? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 15 Old 04-09-2014, 11:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We're considering a Steiner School for our daughter, who'll be 3 in the summer, and as well as attending their parent and tots group, I've been reading up on the subject.

 

There's lots I find appealing in the approach, but I find myself increasingly perplexed by the demonisation of tv.  I don't consider it to be "necessary" for young children, or especially educational, and I don't watch much myself - so I suppose I don't model constant tv watching.  However I really can't see the harm in it - and if small children are occasionally baby-sat by it, and it keeps them content  so that their parents can get on with other stuff without them "helping", then so what?

 

There seems little evidence that it is harmful in itself, and the spectre that evil-tv will carry away our bright young children, so they end up mindless couch potatoes seems odd to me.   Both my girls have enjoyed children's tv and children's films, but I think TV is always very much a second choice for most little kids - certainly for mine.   Unless they are very tired, mine would always prefer to do something active - like go to the park or a walk in the woods or baking a cake or reading a book.  In my experience, small kids crave attention and interaction, and surely no-self-respecting little one is going to be more interested in TV than an interested adult?

 

I understand people are concerned about the marketing surrounding films etc., but a lot of children's films that my girls have liked just seem retellings of traditional tales...  and in any case, you don't need to buy the merchandise.    So when we watched Frozen we used a snowflake cutter on sheets of wax, for example, to make "Frozen Candles" or we bought a cheap cookie cutter to make Disney Mickey Mouse biscuits, or use a pink wrap to dress up like "Aurora" from Sleeping Beauty, or we sing the songs together.

 

On the other hand, I've never had a child older than 3... maybe dariling daughter will shortly turn into a tv-hungry-monster!   

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#2 of 15 Old 04-10-2014, 05:18 AM
 
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My son would watch tv (or videos as he calls it, since we don't have cable so it is all DVD or online sources) all day long if I let him. He is 4, but has been completely mesmerized by the tv since he was a year old (he did not get much exposure to it before that). With that said, it depends on the child. I took him to a 4th birthday party last year and a movie was put on for the kids. My DS and the birthday boy sat on the couch, glued to the tv for the duration of the movie, but all the other children in attendance (including the birthday boy's 5-year-old brother) quickly lost interest and began playing with toys instead. The host's mother told me that her sons had always been like that--the older one had no interest in the tv and the younger one couldn't concentrate on anything else when it was on.


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#3 of 15 Old 04-10-2014, 11:36 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Maybe it's more individual then, and some of us have more addictive personalities than others?  

 

Just seems a bit arbitary to blame telly for the ills of the world.. when they seem to have no problem with early years daycare - lots of convincing evidence that is detrimental for under 3s.  Someone was telling me that some American authority recommend no telly for under 2s...  can't imagine why they do that, when there is loads of evidence that daycare is bad, but no one says you shoudln't do that.  Perplexed :(

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#4 of 15 Old 04-10-2014, 01:37 PM
 
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There's some evidence that daycare has benefits, too. Just to be balanced about it. DD would choose TV over playing. It's like a drug, "better than reality." But if she's engaged on an activity she clearly likes the activity more. I use the TV when I just can't be a "good" parent, if I have to focus on something else. I always feel bad about doing it, on the other hand I know DD is thrilled. I just know every time I do it I'm squashing some of her creative potential.
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#5 of 15 Old 04-10-2014, 10:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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There's some evidence that daycare has benefits, too. Just to be balanced about it. DD would choose TV over playing. It's like a drug, "better than reality." But if she's engaged on an activity she clearly likes the activity more. I use the TV when I just can't be a "good" parent, if I have to focus on something else. I always feel bad about doing it, on the other hand I know DD is thrilled. I just know every time I do it I'm squashing some of her creative potential.

The only evidence I've seen that daycare for under 3s is beneficial is that it benefits children with severely chaotic domestic arrangements.  So if your mother is a heroin user or the home is scary because your father routinely beats the crap out of you, you're better off in daycare - and the more of it, the better chance you have of turning out somewhere approaching normal.   Thankfully though, most parents can do at least as good a job as commercial institutions, so most children are better off at home if that is an option.  

 

The other plus point for daycare that I've seen pushed is that it is a great equaliser.  I used to be a policy maker myself, and I appreciate why that's a good thing - equal societies work better, so you'd always be looking to pull up the bottom (the sort of children who will grow up workless or likely to end up in prison and so on) at the expense of the top lot not achieving quite so much.  However, as a parent making decisions for your single family, you're more interested in securing the best possible outcome for your child!

 

But GOSH Ratchet - just feel for you and your guilty TV position - and your terror that you're squashing some of her creative potential, all wrapped up with the notion that you're not a "good" mum unless you're sitting on the floor playing shoe shops or baking cookies 13 hours a day.   I don't see what's wrong AT ALL with your child spending a portion of the day watching some telly - I think this idea that we need to be cramming some "meaningful" activity into every second is just too bloody much - too much pressure.  How could any one individual/parent keep it up?

 

Isn't there a lot to be said for letting your children indulge themselves in an activity they enjoy?  I have a PhD in feminist theory, but occasionally I like to sit on the beach and read a crappy best seller - and I think that's great and I see nothing wrong with it - it's good to have some down time.  If my husband followed me around berating me for the wasted opportunity when I could be reading James Joyce, it would be awful - and I sort of imagine that must be how kids feel.   I don't think you should feel guilty at all.

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#6 of 15 Old 04-10-2014, 11:12 PM
 
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Some little kids like television quite a bit. I don't see a problem with it, and I don't feel guilty for allowing my kids to watch it.

Daycare is beneficial to small children because it allows the parents to earn income, thereby providing the children with shelter and food. I don't think that it is exclusively beneficial for children of drug users. greensad.gif. Some other benefits include building rich relationships with other caregivers and other people. Children in daycare tend to enter school with better social skills and understanding of social and peer structures.

What kind of evidence do you have that daycare is detrimental to young children. Clearly, you take issue with society recommending limits on screen time for young children. At least this is something within your control. Imagine the extra guilt and horror you put on young mothers who have no choice but to put their kids in 'daycare'. This is frequently not a choice parents get to make.

There's nothing wrong with tv, daycare, or allowing your kids to figure out way so entertain themselves.


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#7 of 15 Old 04-10-2014, 11:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Some little kids like television quite a bit. I don't see a problem with it, and I don't feel guilty for allowing my kids to watch it.

Daycare is beneficial to small children because it allows the parents to earn income, thereby providing the children with shelter and food. I don't think that it is exclusively beneficial for children of drug users. greensad.gif. Some other benefits include building rich relationships with other caregivers and other people. Children in daycare tend to enter school with better social skills and understanding of social and peer structures.

What kind of evidence do you have that daycare is detrimental to young children. Clearly, you take issue with society recommending limits on screen time for young children. At least this is something within your control. Imagine the extra guilt and horror you put on young mothers who have no choice but to put their kids in 'daycare'. This is frequently not a choice parents get to make.

There's nothing wrong with tv, daycare, or allowing your kids to figure out way so entertain themselves.

 

I agree that going to daycare is better for an under 3 than having no food or shelter.   I meant that (given choice, and assuming enough resource for basic needs) it is better for under 3s to be cared for at home by a loving parent.   I don't really think daycare allows children to build rich relationships with other care givers - I think children benefit from being surrounded by loving adults - but day care is a contractual relationship.   I worked with my older daughter and we used a nanny - I think that's about as personal as it gets...  even so, after 18 months of spending 3 days a week with my daughter, she left us... and suddenly that relationship was broken, and my daughter only ever saw her again once!  I realise aunts and uncles might go live abroad or whatever, but I think these contractrual relationships are a flimsy imitation of proper loving relationships with other loving adults.   

Entering school with a better understanding of institutional settings - I can see that might be the case - but I don't think it's a good thing tbh :(

 

Lots of reputable studies to suggest daycare isn't ideal for under 3s.  I always thought the stuff Professor Belsky (from London University) was pretty convincing, but there is lots around if you google it.   There is plenty wrong with daycare, but there is a political agenda to keep mothers (even mothers of very young children) in the work force - so the whole taxation and benefit system in the UK (and presumably the USA too) is geared towards doing that.   I dont' mind the State providing recommendations on anything... but I do think not warning against childcare and damming tv is more about politics than safeguarding kids.... and leaves a lot of confused and guilty parents :(

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#8 of 15 Old 04-10-2014, 11:59 PM
 
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There are two points I'd like to comment on.
1- the dangers of tv. I don't have a link handy, but there is scientific evidence out there that I found compelling regarding the effect of television on developing brains. Especially in the first 2-3 years when brain growth is so rapid. Unfortunately the average two year old in the USA watches 4+ hours of tv per day. For many children it does cause them to zone out or become zombie like. My DD can't NOT watch if its on, even when she has no interest in the show. I think really though it's about balance. If a child watches a bit of tv now and then there likely is little to no harm done, especially if they are otherwise in an active and stimulating environment.

2- Waldorf. The reason Steiner schools nix the tv has nothing to do with technology and everything to do with content. They believe that watching scripted tv shows makes it more difficult for children to imagine things on their own, that instead children are reduced to repetitively acting out scripts. There is also some religious stuff mixed in. The official Waldorf views on tv, and much of mainstream culture, are NOT balanced. (though at the Waldorf school I went to pretty much everyone had a tv anyway. Even the headmistress!) there are some real cult like aspects to Waldorf/Steiner schools. They will not just teach your child during the day and send them home, they will tell you how to parent and organize your home life. I suggest reading up on anthroposophy before you sign your child up, and really thinking about if you want the school to be so involved in the rest of your life. Some parents can happily send there kids off for the day and ignore the rest of it, and some even agree with the party line. It didn't work for us when our DD went there. Even though I was a Waldorf graduate myself we ended up pulling DD out mid year.

I'm pretty anti-tv myself, but it's hardly the worst thing. And I feel the need to caution parents who are interested in Waldorf because of the image they have of fairy stories and art projects and "teaching the whole child". There is so much more to it. Go in with your eyes open.

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#9 of 15 Old 04-11-2014, 09:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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There are two points I'd like to comment on.
1- the dangers of tv. I don't have a link handy, but there is scientific evidence out there that I found compelling regarding the effect of television on developing brains. Especially in the first 2-3 years when brain growth is so rapid. Unfortunately the average two year old in the USA watches 4+ hours of tv per day. For many children it does cause them to zone out or become zombie like. My DD can't NOT watch if its on, even when she has no interest in the show. I think really though it's about balance. If a child watches a bit of tv now and then there likely is little to no harm done, especially if they are otherwise in an active and stimulating environment.

2- Waldorf. The reason Steiner schools nix the tv has nothing to do with technology and everything to do with content. They believe that watching scripted tv shows makes it more difficult for children to imagine things on their own, that instead children are reduced to repetitively acting out scripts. There is also some religious stuff mixed in. The official Waldorf views on tv, and much of mainstream culture, are NOT balanced. (though at the Waldorf school I went to pretty much everyone had a tv anyway. Even the headmistress!) there are some real cult like aspects to Waldorf/Steiner schools. They will not just teach your child during the day and send them home, they will tell you how to parent and organize your home life. I suggest reading up on anthroposophy before you sign your child up, and really thinking about if you want the school to be so involved in the rest of your life. Some parents can happily send there kids off for the day and ignore the rest of it, and some even agree with the party line. It didn't work for us when our DD went there. Even though I was a Waldorf graduate myself we ended up pulling DD out mid year.

I'm pretty anti-tv myself, but it's hardly the worst thing. And I feel the need to caution parents who are interested in Waldorf because of the image they have of fairy stories and art projects and "teaching the whole child". There is so much more to it. Go in with your eyes open.

 

About the TV - what I think is really surprising on the thread so far is that someone was at a  party where the parent put the TV on - I mean - isn't that seriously weird!  I just can't imagine organisng a b'day party where watching tv had any part to play!!  So maybe our tv watching is just very different to other families?

 

Really interested in your advice about the Steiner school.  It's all very new to us, and I have been reading up on anthroposophy.  I don't agree with it all, but haven't found anything that really concerns me so far.   I'm not really sure I get the reasoning behind tv stopping kids imagine stuff.   They are big on oral story telling in our Steiner tot group - and use puppets and other objects to tell stories... doesn't that affect their ability to imagine things... and might you not use the same argument to say you shouldn't have pictures in books?

 

I think part of the reason we are attracted to Steiner is because they seem more interested in partnership with parents, and their seems more opportunity for meaningful input.  We also are attracted to the later start and the shorter hours,  Children in Scotland start school in the State system at 3, and do kindergarten (3 hours a day) with child led play for 2 years, then at age 5 they start formal lessons - very structured, learning to read and write... which we feel is too early.   At that point they also do a full day - 8.45 to 2.50pm.  There is a strong tradition in Scotland of decision making behind closed doors - not much effort is made to include parents - you're basically expected to hand your child over, and leave it up to the "professionals".   In the State school nursery (for 3 and 4 years old) there are 50 children in the session. The teacher has one group in the morning, and another in the afternoon - so 100 children to think of altogether!!  Even at nursery, they begin to focus on skills I'm not keen on - like learning to sit still and write your name.

 

The Steiner school just seems calmer and more appropriate for small children.  I like the focus on practical skills, as I personally remember sitting in primary school aching from having to sit still.  I like the small groups and the focus on the individual needs of each child.  I like the festival year and the focus on natural materials.  They are obvioulsy also much better resourced.  I think waiting till 6 or so to start more formal lessons seems better. They also introduce lanuages at 6 - when there is no provision int he State sector still secondary school.   

 

There are other private schools, but unfortunately parents seem to equate high quality with long hours - and there is a focus on incredibly long days - so the nursery school will run from 9 to 3pm.  Of course most parents are working, and need 8 to 6 childcare anyway, so I suppose it is appealing to them to believe their child should be at school.   Once you get to 7 or 8 here, you can be in prep school, where basically you start at 8am and don't finsih till 9pm!  So that would have a big impact on your home life!!! 

What specifically did you find intrusive about the Steiner school that led you to withdrawing your child?

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#10 of 15 Old 04-11-2014, 11:03 AM
 
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Well it wasn't just the intrusiveness that was a problem. DH didn't like the religious stuff (we're atheists), they expected a really high level of parent involvement, and DD was having some behavior problems they weren't willing to work with us on. Their solution any time she acted out was to send her home. It got so that I was leaving work/school really often to pick her up. We have since learned that DD has ADHD, ASD, and anxiety in addition to some early trauma. The Waldorf school doesn't want kids with special needs, and won't accommodate them for the most part. They want kids to conform.

Specifically on the stuff we found intrusive - the teacher came to visit our home and told us changes we should make, they dictated what time my DD should go to bed at night, the teacher told me I had to spend 30 minutes coloring with my DD every day after work (whether she wanted to or not), they assigned us stories to read with DD at bedtime, and I got told off because DD didn't have lace up shoes. I bought her some Velcro sneakers before school started, only to find out later that the teacher required lace up shoes for all the students. I couldn't afford another pair of shoes and DD (age 4) wouldn't have been able to tie them anyway, so I refused. And she ended up yelling at me, which I found really unprofessional, but she was backed up by the administration. Obviously this is a specific teacher at a specific school here, your experience may be totally different. But when I asked my dad about when I was at Waldorf as a student, he told me about similar interactions. He was always getting in trouble for not doing things their way, though I was oblivious at the time.

I didn't know that early education in Scotland was so heavy on academics. I wouldn't want my kid in that situation either. And I'm not advocating that you stay away from Waldorf, just that you research it fully before you commit. Ask lots of questions. For some families it is a really good fit. And generally they excel with the younger grades. Just so you know, public school didn't work for us either, we homeschool now.

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#11 of 15 Old 04-11-2014, 12:08 PM
 
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Interesting topic. . .. my near-4 year old Juniper watches selected TV progs specifically aimed at children, though I am hawkeyed as to their content. Even sub-PG13 programmes can be scary.

 

Our little ones, though, seem fascinated at the digital presentations that catch the eye. For example, on BBC telly from beneath the ocean we see hippos swimming in a circle, which in real life would be laughably unreal - but thanks to clever digital manipulation, almost any image can be changed  - and they catch the eye to hold our attention.

 

I restrict Juniper's TV watching. I'd much prefer her playing outside where one of my sisters or her nanny is properly suprvising her. Maybe I'm being over-zealous, but since little children are being encouraged so much more these days to use tablet computers, it doesn't ring right to me. But nature programmes hold my little one's attention, too. I sit and guide her at to what animals and birds are doing.

 

I've heard of the Steiner Schools. There's a Rudolf Steiner School for Music that I'd love Juniper to attend one day. She definitely has an 'ear' for music.I have a Taylor Koa Koa and play keyboards; she sits closely and goes quiet. But it's that knowing smile on her perky little face that tells me that she's way much more interested in music than television.

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#12 of 15 Old 04-11-2014, 11:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well it wasn't just the intrusiveness that was a problem. DH didn't like the religious stuff (we're atheists), they expected a really high level of parent involvement, and DD was having some behavior problems they weren't willing to work with us on. Their solution any time she acted out was to send her home. It got so that I was leaving work/school really often to pick her up. We have since learned that DD has ADHD, ASD, and anxiety in addition to some early trauma. The Waldorf school doesn't want kids with special needs, and won't accommodate them for the most part. They want kids to conform.

Specifically on the stuff we found intrusive - the teacher came to visit our home and told us changes we should make, they dictated what time my DD should go to bed at night, the teacher told me I had to spend 30 minutes coloring with my DD every day after work (whether she wanted to or not), they assigned us stories to read with DD at bedtime, and I got told off because DD didn't have lace up shoes. I bought her some Velcro sneakers before school started, only to find out later that the teacher required lace up shoes for all the students. I couldn't afford another pair of shoes and DD (age 4) wouldn't have been able to tie them anyway, so I refused. And she ended up yelling at me, which I found really unprofessional, but she was backed up by the administration. Obviously this is a specific teacher at a specific school here, your experience may be totally different. But when I asked my dad about when I was at Waldorf as a student, he told me about similar interactions. He was always getting in trouble for not doing things their way, though I was oblivious at the time.

I didn't know that early education in Scotland was so heavy on academics. I wouldn't want my kid in that situation either. And I'm not advocating that you stay away from Waldorf, just that you research it fully before you commit. Ask lots of questions. For some families it is a really good fit. And generally they excel with the younger grades. Just so you know, public school didn't work for us either, we homeschool now.

That sounds difficult - though I have friends who assure me that the State sector isn't keen on kids with special needs either :(

 

I quite liked the idea of a home visit tbh.  In the State Sector here, they do a 40 minute home visit - they sit on the sofa and show the child a book about starting nursery, whilst the other teacher asks the parent questions.  It was all very strange, and we were left feeling bemused.   I thought the Steiner home visit at least seemed better thought through, and I liked the idea that the teacher wants to know everything about the child - it seems a huge contrast to the state system where the 1 teacher has 100 kids.  I would struggle to remember their names!!

I raised my eyebrows at the sneaker thing too...  apparently stout shoes are healthier.  LOL    However, if that's what they want, it's not the end of the world I suppose.  State schools here don't have a uniform at nursery level, but aged 5 in Scotland (or 4 in England!) children would start school in full uniform, plus specificed gym kit etc etc... so stipulating stout shoes and no slogans is quite laid back in the run of things!

 

Your Wardolf teacher sounds a bit scary!  I thought she was meant to be setting an example for the children!!

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#13 of 15 Old 04-11-2014, 11:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Interesting topic. . .. my near-4 year old Juniper watches selected TV progs specifically aimed at children, though I am hawkeyed as to their content. Even sub-PG13 programmes can be scary.

 

Our little ones, though, seem fascinated at the digital presentations that catch the eye. For example, on BBC telly from beneath the ocean we see hippos swimming in a circle, which in real life would be laughably unreal - but thanks to clever digital manipulation, almost any image can be changed  - and they catch the eye to hold our attention.

 

I restrict Juniper's TV watching. I'd much prefer her playing outside where one of my sisters or her nanny is properly suprvising her. Maybe I'm being over-zealous, but since little children are being encouraged so much more these days to use tablet computers, it doesn't ring right to me. But nature programmes hold my little one's attention, too. I sit and guide her at to what animals and birds are doing.

 

I've heard of the Steiner Schools. There's a Rudolf Steiner School for Music that I'd love Juniper to attend one day. She definitely has an 'ear' for music.I have a Taylor Koa Koa and play keyboards; she sits closely and goes quiet. But it's that knowing smile on her perky little face that tells me that she's way much more interested in music than television.

Steiner doesn't like tablets either - the under 7s don't get any screen time at all...

 

Take it you're in the UK?   My almost 3 year old likes Andy and the dinosaur programme - the Cbeebies one where he travels back in time.  Husband and I are hugely impressed with the graphics... you get to see dinosaurs moving in herds and a sense of how they moved and looked and interacted with each other.  I think the technology really encourages you to have a different pespective that it was hard to glean from looking at a dinosaur fossil - it has really brought them to life for us - and I really can't see how that's a bad thing!

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#14 of 15 Old 04-11-2014, 11:17 PM
 
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Steiner doesn't like tablets either - the under 7s don't get any screen time at all...

 

Take it you're in the UK?   My almost 3 year old likes Andy and the dinosaur programme - the Cbeebies one where he travels back in time.  Husband and I are hugely impressed with the graphics... you get to see dinosaurs moving in herds and a sense of how they moved and looked and interacted with each other.  I think the technology really encourages you to have a different pespective that it was hard to glean from looking at a dinosaur fossil - it has really brought them to life for us - and I really can't see how that's a bad thing!


Yes I am in the UK. Cbeebies is awesome. :)

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#15 of 15 Old 04-11-2014, 11:39 PM
 
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I raised my eyebrows at the sneaker thing too...  apparently stout shoes are healthier.  LOL    However, if that's what they want, it's not the end of the world I suppose.  State schools here don't have a uniform at nursery level, but aged 5 in Scotland (or 4 in England!) children would start school in full uniform, plus specificed gym kit etc etc... so stipulating stout shoes and no slogans is quite laid back in the run of things!

Your Wardolf teacher sounds a bit scary!  I thought she was meant to be setting an example for the children!!

Oh, I have no problem with a dress code or uniform. This was just that one teachers preference, announced after the school year had already begun. And it wasn't the sneakers (trainers?) at issue, just the fastenings. She wanted me to replace them with different sneakers that had laces. eyesroll.gif At least she didn't yell at me in front of the kids.

We're really happy with homeschooling, but it sounds like Waldorf might be a good fit for you.
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