Warmth for a Healthy Early Childhood

Now that we are in the middle of Winter and every morning is crisp and fresh, we must consider how to keep our children warm. Keeping our children warm throughout the Winter months is fundamental not just to their physical well-being but also to their emotional and cognitive development. A child’s energy can only be used to sustain the growing brain, heart, liver, lungs, and other organs when they are warm enough. Steiner would talk about how the physical warmth that a child receives in the younger years would positively impact not only their physical health in years to come but also their capacity for emotional warmth as an adult. Warmth is one of the most meaningful daily gifts that we can offer to our children. This brief article seeks to provide you with a picture of how we foster this caring for children’s emotional as well as physical needs.

In our Winter morning circle, we imagine ourselves marching up a mountain, cutting down trees, carrying them back to our homes, and then chopping wood to make a fire. Additionally, we form a circle and share “tea” (bean bags). There is a lot of movement, definitely, but the emphasis on providing warmth is what makes this circle ideal for this time of year. Imaginary scenes of people creating, sharing, and giving warm things. To bring these imaginations to life even more, the children collect wood and sticks on our walks and then stored the wood to build fires in our fire pit.

We encourage the children to start the day with layers on, peeling them off as needed. It is important to remember that a young child (under the age of 7) does not always have the ability to know when they are cold or hot and we teachers are attentive to this growing capacity. Beanies and mittens are complimented with a warm touch, a gentle pat on the back and warming drinks. Children wear cosy slippers at school, eat hot soup, and drink warm lemon tea. While they play, they touch and feel wooden toys, handmade dolls, silks and felt. They are surrounded by kindness, wonder and simplicity. Everything is slow, they have time to pause, and rest covered with a wool blanket. Bounded in a safe and beautiful classroom, they laugh, sing, play, and feel connected. All of this has a quality of warmth, both physical and heart-felt. Nourishing and grounding warmth helps them to be healthy on many different levels.