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You Are Your Child's First Teacher: Encouraging Your Child's Natural Development from Birth to Age Six
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You Are Your Child's First Teacher: Encouraging Your Child's Natural Development from Birth to Age Six

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4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  786 ratings  ·  86 reviews
You Are Your Child’s First Teacher was the first book in America to popularize the insights of Rudolf Steiner, founder of the Waldorf schools, regarding the developmental needs of young children. This revised and updated edition offers new ways for parents andeducators to enrich the lives of children from birth to age six.

Some of the most important learning years happen...more
Paperback, Third Edition, 336 pages
Published August 14th 2012 by Ten Speed Press (first published May 1st 1989)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,532)
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Jenny
Full of great insights and ideas for the first few years of Life. Some of the Steiner-based stuff gets a little "woo-woo" for me, but it's easy to skip over it and take the rest. Great recommended-reading lists at the end of each chapter too, though my old edition, which was from the library, had a fair number of out-of-print books still listed.

Among the many "Aha!" revelations for me in the book was the observation that babies, toddlers, and preschoolers (to age 7, according to Waldorf child-de...more
Gail
Jan 19, 2011 Gail rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Parents/prospective parents curious/interested in Waldorf
Shelves: parenting
If you hadn't gathered this by the description or other reviews, this is a book based on the Waldorf principles. Turns out there are a lot of elements of the Waldorf approach that I really like. Parts of it seem a bit much, but overall there are many things I agree with like simplifying life, minimal material items, emphasizing pretend play, encouraging music and art, not pushing children to excel beyond their years, giving them time to be children, no TV/computer for little ones, no silly "enri...more
Marissa Morrison
I skipped the first chapters, which are about birth and babyhood. There's some interesting stuff here about the importance of play, but also a lot of speculative mumbo jumbo. For instance: "The dreamy state of early childhood is an essential element in the healthy formation of the physical body during the first seven years. The intellect is crystalline and hardening in its effect. When it is engaged prematurely, it can inhibit the proper development of the physical organs and the unfolding of th...more
Bird
I love the premise behind this book, but the execution didn't work for me. There's too much touchy-feely/woo-woo/philosophical weirdness going on. There's quite a bit of talk about religion/spirituality, which isn't my cup of tea, and which I don't think was at all necessary in this book. And some of the author's ideas are just wacky.

She claims you should never read more than one book to a child at a time, even if they want you to, because it's not good for their soul. Yes, you read that right....more
Ashlyn Hunt

The Rudolph Steiner philosophy is sublime, serene, magical . . . conducive to a utopian existence - of which we do not exist. I want so much for my toddler to be separated from the social media that our western culture harnesses. But in all reality, it's utterly impossible to detach him exclusively from television or any other media outlet that doesn't promote pure, unadulterated goodness.

You Are Your Child's First Teacher was well written, and I embrace Rahima Baldwin's standpoint with the utm...more
Mary
Jul 01, 2007 Mary rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all parents of young children, and parents-to-be
I am in the middle of this book, and am finding that I want to underline, dog-ear, and discuss something on every page! I am new to learning about the different educational theories, and this is the first book from a Waldorf perspective that I've read. There is so much valuable information- some highlights for me have been:
-having 'rhythym' in daily life- not strict scheduling, but a flexible predicatablilty to the days that help give kids structure, and help keep the household running more smo...more
Stacey Miner
The title and description of this book are entirely misleading. I don't know exactly what I expected going into it, but I can tell you what I did not expect. I didn't expect to be reading a 370 page advertisement for Waldorf schools. There was some useful information, tips and tricks, mixed into it all, but for the most part I felt like I was reading a spiritualist's guide to figuring out how to pay for private preschool for your children. At first everything seemed dry and scientific, but then...more
Rebecca
I have been curious about Waldorf education and wanted to get a flavor for it without going directly to the Rudolf Steiner primary writings. I learned that a lot of the philosophy is similar to what I already do, I'm just not as extremist about it. I have two renewed goals after reading this book, (1) instead of purposely doing chores when the children are otherwise occupied, to do them with or at least in front of the kids, so that they can either "help" me or at least learn to respect letting...more
Bax
Pros: Lots of excellent information about the stages of early childhood & good practical advice on the most effective way to engage them. I liked all the Rudolph Steiner/Waldorf School stuff.

Cons: Presents some dumb crap in an IMHO misguided effort to be 'balanced'.

Overall, an interesting and informative read and the stupid stuff is easily ignored.
Kate
I read this book a long time ago, and it shaped a big part of my parenting....I am rereading it now and still love so much of its wisdom. It's preachy (as are all parenting books) but I continue to pick and choose little nuggets to help with day-to-day life with the children
Ashley
Whoa, kooky. The first two chapters had some good information, but after the rainbow bridge, I was done.
Stephanie
Some great thoughts from Baldwin Dancy but also a whole lot of nonsense. I was very turned off by angels having a part in child development and there were several issues I took with the discussions of proper weaning and even a crying it out approach of three minutes or so. I don't think this book lived up to its recommendation by attachment parenting friends. Although Waldorf is one of my favorite methods and styles, I feel this book made me enjoy the theories behind Waldorf less instead of more...more
Meghan
3.5 Stars.

Like most parenting books, you take what's useful and leave the rest behind. As others have noted, this is considered one of the Steiner/Waldorf bibles. I don't dig on the anthrosophy or some of the other Steiner theories of learning. But other pieces are imminently appealing.

I do believe there is something here for many mothers--not just Waldorf or Waldorf-curious--and especially those of us who are home with our kids and who tend to question our choices (big and small). What I like...more
Sarah
I rated this book four stars based on what I got out of it, which I will mention following. However, there is a lot of other topics, principles, viewpoints, etc of which I do not agree or really think are unimportant. I will not go into that but just disclosing that I tend to overlook the things I could criticize about Many books.

What I did like about this book is her explanations about how toddlers learn - through their bodies, motion and imitationThis is very applicable to me right now and was...more
Deirdre Keating
My favorite parenting book. It's based on Steiner's philosophy, and like any book, you have to take much of it with a grain of salt (I don't think reading more than one book at a sitting has any negative effects). Still, I love so much of what I found here (and didn't find anywhere else) in terms of creating a routine in the home (beyond just bedtime/naps), learning about different needs based on a child's age, and celebrating as a family.

She also emphasised the need for any care-giver of child...more
Lex
Loved some of the ideas in this book, especially rhythms, simple toys, and encouraging creativity. While I prefer the Montessori philosophy to Waldorf, I think everyone can take some great ideas from this book. I read it when my daughter was a newborn, and it really helped me fit her into my daily life as opposed to trying to entertain her all the time. That being said, this book is geared towards stay at home parents, which I am lucky enough to be, but I think it would be hard to use a lot of t...more
Pranada Comtois
Apr 10, 2012 Pranada Comtois added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Parents
Recommended to Pranada by: Friend
Ms. Dancy speaks about educating children from newborn through teen years from a Montessori perspective in the home. I'm not a sold-out fan on Montessori principles; I like Waldorf, too, for encouraging critical thinking skills. But there's tons of really great information here to help parent's into a mindset of opening their children to the world as their guides. If I knew about the title when my granddaughter was born I would have gotten it sooner. There is solid insights into a child's develo...more
Melissa
This book was recommended by Hank's Waldorf teacher...it is a parenting book based in part on Ruldolph Steiner's philosophies...but it isn't too extreme in its "Waldorf-ness". Rahima Baldwin Dancy happens to live in Boulder and runs a childcare/preschool program here-- but this book is considered one of "the books" for Waldorf parenting, and with good reason; it follows a really developmentally appropriate approach to nurturing the inner life of young children (i.e. does not push extreme early a...more
Nicole
I think this is worth a read for most parents, particularly those interested in waldorf. I knew much of the information presented already, but it did help me solidify my determination to let my children be children, not public school students in the making from birth. While I don't agree with *every* aspect of the waldorf viewpoint, I certainly see its many merits, such as the focus on the development of the entire child - not just academics - and the need for peaceful routine. It also gave a re...more
Ariana
I liked this book overall. A lot of the information (particularly about infant care) seemed a bit obvious, but there was a lot of interesting ideas as well. This book was largely influenced by the work of Rudolph Steiner, whose writings form the basis for Waldorf Schools. I appreciate the strong emphasis on art and music, as well as a belief in minimizing TV watching and respecting children's natural development. I had some difficulty with some of the more metaphysical beliefs regarding incarnat...more
Laura
A great Waldorf inspired classic. This book will reassure you as a stay at home parent that the first three years are crucial, and that you should trust mother's intuition. If you are wondering what you should be doing all day, it is full of gentle suggestions about how to integrate your child into your family's lifestyle, by using everyday chores as teachable moments. It emphasizes reading, nature hikes, and other gentle, healthy ways of parenting.

I get tired of people rushing their 2 years old...more
Sandra
An absolutely wonderful introduction to the Waldorf philosophy. I knew there were aspects that I would like, but I am much more impressed. Let young children be children!

However, what I didn't realize is that Waldorf isn't just freedom, imagination, and fairy tales. It also advocates classical education once children are developmentally ready for it, and not before. I don't agree with absolutely /everything/ but there is definitely a lot I want to incorporate when we have children.
Melissa
I am already such a guilt-ridden person that this book was tough for me--it left me worried that I have already ruined Tennyson's brain by letting her watch 30 minutes of TV a week. Thankfully I have sane friends around me to make me feel better. Seriously, though, the book is thoughtful and--although more extreme than what I think I ultimately believe will work for my family--it definitely has made me at least aware of possible ramifications of choices I make for little T.
Kirstin
While the book is solidly based in Waldorf philosophy and this prevails throughout the book, you don't have to subscribe to anthroposophy to glean loads of helpful information on parenting young children. This is one of the most helpful parenting books I've read in a while.

Reread October 2013. Learned more again. The new edition has lots of good resource suggestions and contains information about technology and how to handle that with young kids.
Kaye
This fantastic book offers a smattering of topics that encompass home life, the value of fairy tales, to encouraging art skills in an organic way, among many others. The real boon of this book though is the number and variety of resources cited and offered. Unlike many other books, where the author makes you hunt for their suggested reading at the end of the work, Dancy handily gives the pertinent resources at the end of each chapter.
Joseph
Given to me 2011, April 22nd and only now finished, it helped me work out the kind of environment I wanted for William to grow up in and helped me realize the parent I wanted to become. It's also a good look at what Waldorf home life is like---it doesn't go too deeply into the philosophical aspects of a Waldorf education (thankfully, I guess) but it provided lots of reasonable, gentle advice and parenting wisdom!
Summer
Jan 17, 2008 Summer rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: parents (present and future) teachers, anyone interested in understanding children better
Recommended to Summer by: Lisa Wilson
I read this when my firstborn was a baby, and it was a turning point in my life that opened up new dimensions in my parenting perspective. What it asks of you in your "teacher" role is both simpler and more complex, both more and less difficult than you might suppose (hint: it does not involve flashcards). You may get the sense, as I did, that somehow it's what your heart knew all along.
Sarah Kopper
I picked up this book to learn more about the Waldorf method. Some of it was hard for me swallow and did not seem based in fact, but most of it inspired me to try and create a beautiful, simple, child-centered physical and emotional space for my son. The most important lesson I took away: the need to protect our children's childhoods from over stimulation, too much media, and early academics.
Jennifer
I am still trying to plod through this book. While I think she provides some interesting ideas and information, it is not exactly an exciting read. Also, sometimes her ideas are a bit too "out-there" even for my homebirthing-tree-hugging-baby-wearing-extended-breastfeeding self. I just don't think babies psyches are quite as fragile as some of her statements suggest.
Julie
This book is written by a Waldorf teacher and gives a very good overview of what the philosophy is all about. How we need to let children be children longer, and their focus on developing the imagination as much as the intellect. It also provided some very good ideas of what to do in your own home and she had a lot of good resources to send you down the trail of more books.
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389778
I tell parents, "I made every mistake in the book--which is why I wrote the book": to share how the insights of Rudolf Steiner revolutionized my home life and my ability to meet the needs of my growing children--and the children I cared for, first as a Waldorf kindergarten teacher in the 1980s and then as director of Rainbow Bridge LifeWays Program from 2007 to the present.
In the1970s I wrote "S...more
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