An important note about media use in Steiner Schools

When each family begins their journey at Silver Tree Steiner School, we always talk about the impact that media of any kind can have on very young children. There is much evidence to suggest that time spent on screens impacts a child’s healthy development in many ways. Whilst we understand that media exposure is almost unavoidable for children today, we do need parents to understand that any media, but especially age-inappropriate media has impacts way beyond the child that is exposed to it.

Children under 7, so that is all kindergarten children, do not have the ability to filter what they see. Adults can do that. We can watch something and critically examine it and know that it is contrived. Young children cannot do that. The only way they can begin to understand it, is to play it out. This is what we mean when we say they learn by imitation. What the children see us, and you do they need to play out. So, to be worthy of imitation, we work in the garden, we cook, we wash the dishes and cloths by hand, we sew, we weave, we clean, we weed and dig the garden. At home they see you caring for younger siblings, cleaning and cooking for the family. The children then take these activities into their play when they play cubbies and family games. They imitate shopping trips or other experiences they have had such as a special visit to the zoo or a community fair, mowing the lawn, or building and renovating. They play out things they have experienced. They can add into these games imaginative ideas. They might play animal games or building games where each child’s ideas are different, but because they come from the child, a flexibility and negotiation over what the game will look like is possible. However, when a child brings their experiences of a movie, or a TV programme, or TikTok, or a computer game, then that child is not playing from imagination. That child’s ideas are fixed into what they saw and their play is their way of trying to make sense of the images they were exposed to. When another child genuinely brings their imagination to the game, conflict often results, as the media exposed child finds it difficult to be flexible with their ideas because they are playing out an image they have not experienced in real life. This is when the play can become unhealthy, especially when the media the child has been watching or engaging in, is not age appropriate.

It is not up to the child to hold back and not talk about their experiences of media. They have no choice. This is how they are wired to make sense of the world. They will play it out and through that, they expose the rest of the class to their unsuitable media experience, often through the use of inappropriate language or movements or games.

It is the adult’s role to make sure that the children are not exposed to this content in the first place.  So, our request to you this holiday is please, keep it media free as much as you can.

Consider very carefully if the exposure planned is necessary.  

Consider it an experiment. Watch your child’s play. It will not change immediately, but it will change if you persevere and that could be a lifelong gift you give them. Genuinely imaginative play in these crucial early years shows up later in children who can concentrate for lengthy periods on something that interests them and can imaginatively problem solve as adults. Adulthood may be a long way off for your child, but the building blocks are being laid now. You are all amazing parents. You are smart, loving and want the best for your children. This is a gift you can give them, which will help not only them but all the other children in their kindergarten as well.

See the below video for more information.

Written by Jo Blundell – Kindergarten Teacher, Silver Tree Steiner School.