This is a fascinating and complex book covering many aspects of parenting children from birth to six years old.
The author, Rahima Baldwin, is a midwife, parenting expert and proponent of the teaching methods developed by Rudolph Steiner, founder of the Waldorf Education Programme. This book draws on her knowledge in all these areas along with that of raising her own children. Rudolf Steiner's educational philosophy involved promoting creativity through artistic and musical study, educating in a home-like environment and only teaching cognitive skills such as reading and mathematics when the child has reached a certain level of physical maturity.
The book's theme is one of maintaining a child's innocence by giving them a childhood filled with joy and fun. It advocates that a child should be protected from 'hot-housing', from too many structured activities and too earlier education.
Dancy begins with caring for a newborn, a baby, toddler and a pre-schooler. For each age group she suggests how their development can be enhanced without destroying the 'dream-like state of innocence' by the use of simple toys, art, music, storytelling and day-to-day routine.
Inevitably she says that the best way to achieve this is by the mother staying at home to look after the child, however she is aware of the pressure that this can bring, and has many suggestions for how a mother can deal with the strains of looking after children. She does not recommend giving constant attention to the child but carrying on with many daily activities and gently encouraging the child to amuse itself for short periods of time. What a relief! Too many books suggest that your whole life should be devoted to your child's development, while Dancy (a mother of four herself) believes that not only is this stressful for the mother, it is counterproductive for the child.
This book is a wide ranging read on birth, parenting, child development and Rudolph Steiner education, written in a calm, gentle, non-prescriptive manner. It suggests a more relaxed and creative approach to parenting. A fascinating read.