Play in Childhood

Thursday, September 15, 2016 10:26 AM | Wise Woman (Administrator)
Play in Childhood
by Anne-Marie Fryer

Watch Out! A Wild Beast is Hiding in the Forest!

Playing is the very heart of our childhood -  That is uninterrupted, self directed play with no adult instructions, directions or imposed rules other than what the children themselves create in the moment.

What is it that Steven and Finn are experiencing when stealing through the forest with sticks as bow and arrows in search of wild beasts? When Peter is trying to sneak after them without being noticed? When Maia and Miriam are enthusiastically telling Elmar, the puppet, what it is like to loose a tooth? Marc and August forcing and sharing crystals from the crystal cave? Molly and Susanne following the foot prints of little elves into unknown lands? Helen, Sarah and Lucy making mud pies for a secret surprise party? Kim and Susan sitting quietly by themselves carving, observing Lisbeth and Cindy as cheetahs hunting for food?

Through play the children are forming their very lives and laying the foundation for becoming healthy human beings later in life. One interesting aspect of free, imaginative play is that children are presented with opportunities to learn and try out for themselves different qualities of human life. They get to experience both the beautiful and the darker, not so beautiful sides. These experiences deepen their appreciation that there are indeed others in the world; other people, animals, nature and to be together requires consideration, listening, negotiation, patience and compassion. If these aspects are not allowed to be played out when the children are young, then the natural self-centerness that is a part of healthy child development, continues into adult life and shows itself as entitlement, bullying, ignorance, arrogance and the like.

Imagination in the free, uninterrupted play of the child is different than the imagination or fantasy that we create as everyday escapism. Imaginative playing of a child is facing 'the other', 'the holy other' that is beyond direct comprehension.  Later in life these played out experiences can ripen into ideals that are lived consciously. Courage, ennoblement, honor,  encouragement, gentleness, pride, compassion self sacrifice, passion, affection, authenticity, happiness, faith, decency, hope, responsibility, community, liberty,  friendship, prudence, tact... are these not qualities that belong to a healthy human being, qualities that are almost lost in our culture today? These qualities can never be taught through academic schooling and 'intellectually knowing' about them, but must first be experienced through play early in ones life.

The seriousness and concentration that the children bring into their play is an indication itself that play is important. Steven and Finn do not have to fight over getting a sword to protect themselves, because there are endless swords (sticks) in the forest and the imagination is the only limitation. Searching for 'the beast' develops courage, following elf prints encourages interest in the environment, negotiating crystals fosters sharing, creating mud cakes promotes giving, sitting quietly by oneself awakens observation and confidence, and telling about your hurts and happenings to a puppet unravels emotional frustrations. Reality transforms into imagination, imagination transform into reality. The sticks are at one moment swords the next horses. The children notice prints in the ground, they investigate them, change reality into a lived story. If I say, “No, these are squirrels prints,” I would have destroyed the mood and the experience. I am not denying that the prints are from a squirrel, I do not lie. When they show me the elf prints, I enrich the experience by saying something that goes along the imagination of the children. Of course most of the young children know that it is not elf prints that they see, however that is not what they are looking for.  They want to see if I am able to meet them and allow them their experiences, enter their imagination, enrich it, give it life and share in their enthusiasm instead of bringing a common sense, scientific explanation that destroys the moment and their experience.

To understand and honor the play of the child is a very serious matter indeed. Through the play the child grasps life. Through play the child imitates the life of the adults and situations around them. If children have no possibilities to imitate basic life functions, they have no possibility for understanding life and each other.

It is a child's birthright to have a childhood in which there is plenty of time for uninterrupted, free self directed play and to have adults around them that are worthy of imitation. It is a huge responsibility for all of us to respect and protect this right for our own children, and all the children of the world.

Anne-Marie Fryer

Anne-Marie Fryer Wiboltt is a Waldorf class and kindergarten teacher, biodynamic farmer, author and nutritional counselor. She has taught nutritional cooking and counseled for 25 years in her homeland Denmark, Europe and the United States.

She trained as a macrobiotic cooking teacher and counselor and studied the principles of oriental medicine and the research of Dr. Weston A. Price before embracing the anthroposophical approach to nutrition, food and cooking.

This Four week course will explore some of the many benefits of fermented and cultured foods, and why it is important to include them regularly with every meal. You will be guided through the steps of making sauerkraut, kimchi, pickled vegetables, kefir, soft cheese, and yogurt, as well as get a chance to discover new fermented drinks such as kvass, wines, and beers. I will aim at answering personal questions around your culturing and fermenting experiences.

Intuitively we know that cultured and fermented foods are real health foods. Naturally fermented and cultured foods are an exceptional way to prepare different ingredients and some of the most important side dishes and condiments in our diet. They are often overlooked or not mentioned when we describe what we had for dinner, and yet they are pivotal in creating a well-balanced, nutritious meal.

They add a bounty of nourishing, life-promoting substances and life forces, almost miraculous curative properties, and a wealth of colors, flavors, and shapes. They increase the appetite, stimulate the digestion, and make any simple meal festive and satisfying. The course will be highly practical with many hands-on activities.


In this Four week course you will learn about the nutritional needs of your growing child and receive delicious, seasonal, wholesome nutritious menus and recipes on affordable budget so as to encourage children to eat and live healthy.

During this course we will explore the nutritious needs for your growing child.

We will discover how rhythm, simplicity and nourishing activities support a healthy child development. You will find new ways to encourage your child to develop a taste for natural, wholesome foods as well as receive and create delicious, seasonal nutritious menus and recipes that stay within the limits of your budget.

Cooking for the Love of the World:
Awakening our Spirituality through Cooking

by Anne-Marie Fryer Wiboltt

A heart-centered, warmth-filled guide to the nurturing art of cooking. 200 pages, softbound

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