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You Are Your Child's First Teacher, Third Edition: Encouraging Your Child's Natural Development from Birth to Age Six Paperback – August 14, 2012

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You Are Your Child's First Teacher, Third Edition: Encouraging Your Child's Natural Development from Birth to Age Six + Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press; 3 edition (August 14, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1607743027
  • ISBN-13: 978-1607743026
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #35,402 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“This is a terrific book, packed with commonsense advice on the real basics of healthy mental and emotional development.  Rahima is a wise and knowledgeable guide for parents struggling to raise good kids in a challenging world. Someday your children will thank you for reading this book!”
–Jane M. Healy, Ph.D., author of Different Learners and Your Child's Growing Mind
“Here is an extraordinary work for those who want to develop a truly intelligent child and, in the process, unlock new levels of their own intelligence and spirit. Rahima Baldwin Dancy gives us a brilliant new insight into early childhood based on the work of Rudolf Steiner and her own rich experience as mother, midwife, and teacher. I only wish it might be required reading for both men and women in all high schools and colleges.”
–Joseph Chilton Pearce, author, Magical Child
"Every time I dip back into You Are Your Child's First Teacher, and there have been many times, I feel like I have been gently elevated and reassured. Rahima gives a compass bearing to the parenting soul."
–Kim John Payne, M.ED., author of Simplicity Parenting
“In You Are your Child’s First Teacher Baldwin Dancy offers counsel and advice as from a warm and caring friend, never condescending or authoritative, but encouraging, supportive, suggesting new approaches and offering her own experiences for consideration.”
–Home Education Magazine

“It is Baldwin Dancy's sensitive, sincere, and ever-so-natural tending to the soul and spirit, as well as mind and body, of the newborn and young child, that makes this a very special book.”  
–The Wellspring Guide
“Parents do not need a new set of rules or another authority telling them how to raise their children, only the capacity to see and understand the young child as a human being. Baldwin Dancy believes she can help parents harness the necessary ‘cognitive and intuitive knowledge’ to accomplish the task.” 
–The Brown University Child Behavior and Development Letter
“Baldwin Dancy helps us to see that there are real risks to treating our children like little adults. She suggests ways that we can enhance and nurture their development by making conscious choices in our efforts to educate.”
–Bookmarks, newsletter of the International Childbirth Education Association

About the Author

RAHIMA BALDWIN DANCY is internationally known as a Waldorf early childhood educator, author of Special Delivery, and coauthor of Pregnant Feelings. A mother of four, Dancy is a founding board member of LifeWays North America and co-founded/directed Rainbow Bridge LifeWays Program in Boulder, Colorado. Currently, she is the director of Informed Family Life, through which she organizes national conferences on alternatives in birth, parenting, and education. Visit

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Customer Reviews

I found this book to be very enlightening and fun to read.
A book that offers a different possibility to the current views of child rearing.
Milda Buxton
I'll be buying this book for all of the new parents I know.
Susan Silverio

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

92 of 98 people found the following review helpful By AshleyDri on June 12, 2013
Format: Paperback
I tend toward the "crunchy" end of the spectrum as far as parenting styles are concerned, but something about this book just bugs me. There are lots of things that I appreciate about the Waldorf approach: creating a calm, loving home environment with reassuring rituals and rhythms through the days, weeks, seasons and years; providing an environment that nurtures creativity, with quality, open-ended toys; limiting "screen time" for young children. Basically, let your kids enjoy their childhoods, let them get outside and get dirty, and take it easy with all the lessons, teams, camps, and enrichment whatever.

If this is your general philosophy, skip this book and try "Simplicity Parenting" by Kim John Payne or "Calm and Compassionate Children", by Susan Dremond. Both of these are Waldorf-inspired, but written for a more mainstream audience. "You are your child's first teacher" is very strongly based on Rudolf Steiner's anthroposophy philosophy. While I think it's possible to appreciate and incorporate many of Steiner's indications, "You are your child's first teacher" is quite dogmatic from my perspective. While others' have commented that they find the author's tone to be supportive I find it to be condescending in a lot of instances. While she pays lip service to the fact that guilt is not helpful to anyone, the exhaustive list of very specific "Do's" in this book can't help but be guilt-inducing, especially for a newer parent.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Jenell on August 25, 2012
Format: Paperback
As a new mom, I was curious to know more about the Waldorf philosophies on early childhood development and education. I found this book to be very enlightening and fun to read. It confirmed many of my thoughts on things like television and toys that inspire creativity, but also inspired me as I read about what my 14-month old might be learning through her everyday experiences.
I noticed that during a recent trip to the park, I felt more relaxed and patient to allow my daughter to play and experience the newness and materiality of the sand and a found pinecone on her own.
I've also been challenged to slow down and regard the rhythm of my movements in daily work around the house as important keys to her development. As a SAHM, it is easy to consider mundane household tasks such as washing dishes and doing laundry as less important than, and even in competition with, directly interacting with my daughter. This book values a child's observations of, and later interactions with, this kind of work in the home, and encourages parents to allow their child more time for independent play and exploration.
I am not sure that we will ultimately choose a Waldorf education for our child, but I do feel I've gained a lot of insight into ways that we can promote her natural growth and development during these important first few years. And I feel that we'll be better-equipped to evaluate our early-schooling options when the time comes.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A reviewer in Brussels, Belgium on August 24, 2014
Format: Paperback
OK, I'll admit I didn't read this book in its entirety. However, I am already familiar with many of the Waldorf concepts, and agree with some of the ideas (barring some of the weird fruitcake notions). My major complaint is that, reading excerpts of this book that I came across, there is evidently BAD breastfeeding advice in this book. This book is not supportive of mothers who continue to nurse over a year. In fact, it seems that the author has some very unscientific, silly ideas and would encourage mothers to wean around nine months. This completely goes against the very uncontroversial and scientifically sound medical advice to breastfeed for AT LEAST a year. Know your facts! How can an author that claims to be some self-appointed expert on child-rearing peddle such ideas? She says things that are so kooky, so beyond the pale that I find it to be dangerous to anyone that would take her seriously! For example, the notion of milk and heredity, and that by weaning our children earlier we are "releasing" them from the clutches of our "lineage". Such nonsense! Honestly, it makes me want to throw the book out the window.

To sum up: wooden toys, low media, organic snacks- great. But all the other silly unscientific advice? Give me a break. If you support breastfeeding and believe in weaning babies and children when they are developmentally ready, I think you can give this book a miss.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Lauren E Kolb on December 21, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I found it an easy read that gave a lot of insight into the phases of growth our children go through. The information is presented in a way that is memorable and easy to share with other adults in my child's life. My son is only 8 months old, but I plan to return to this book throughout his childhood for a refresher on ideas and information for each stage of life. I especially appreciated the lists of suggested resources at the end of each chapter.

Most importantly, I feel this book validated my actions as a mother who doesn't keep my baby on my hip all day. He has always needed time to play independently. This book helped me to realize that, by letting my baby play independently (with supervision, of course), he will have the opportunities to learn to crawl, walk, manipulate objects, observe adult actions, and imitate life around him. I now am more guilt free about letting him do things like bang on the swiffer box in the kitchen while I unload the dishwasher instead of feeling like every waking moment I need to be interacting with an entertaining him. With this approach, he has become a very curious, independent, and determined little mover who can teach ME how he likes to play and explore the fascinating (every day) world around him.
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