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Feminism is a loaded word in today’s society yet it’s crucial to approach it as ‘gender equality’ to your kids before they hear it as anything else.

Below are 6 tips for raising little feminists who believe in the diverse representation of women and uniform rights for all.

1. Start a conversation

First of all, sit your kids down and open with the direct line, “Have you ever heard of feminism?” If they are young, chances are they haven’t and you can start with a clean canvas. But if they have, let them say what they think. Then direct them towards the ideals of gender equality, such as anybody’s right to voice an opinion regardless of sex or be open to the same job promotions if they are doing well at work. Ask, “But isn’t this a lot like what feminism aims to do?” And voilà. You have your starting point.

2. Give it a clear definition

Make sure your kids understand that feminism is not ‘man-hating’. It means the economic, social, political and personal equality between boys and girls. This means they will be paid the same for the identical job, possess the same opportunities to pursue different interests and share the same right for their bodies to be respected. It means freedom to discover and express personal identities without limitations like ‘boys don’t cry’ and ‘ladies don’t do that’.

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3. Show real-life examples of sexism

An inevitable part of parenting is heightening your child’s awareness of our society and its many problems. Try starting small with fictitious examples such as, “If Bob picks two apples and Jane picks two apples, don’t you think they should be paid the same?” Or, “Bob likes playing with toy trucks. Jane likes it too. Do you think they should play together?” Then expand these to real-life examples your child has experienced or possibly will in the future

4. Be a role model

Use your own home to teach real gender equality – nothing impacts your child more than their personal environment. Share household chores between different sexes of the family, like having dad cook and mum do the dishes. Let everybody have a fair say during discussions, such as whereabouts the family’s next vacation should take place. Practice empathy during situations of conflict to highlight how everyone’s opinion is valid and valuable.

5. Defy stereotypes

Choosing your own clothes, hairstyle or the colour of your bedroom is a kind of empowerment crucial for self-confidence. Defy stereotypes by letting your son have longer hair or your daughter wear shorts. Promote positive body image and show them to respect how other children choose to express themselves by only saying stuff they would want to hear themselves and not touching others without permission.

6. Monitor their entertainment

Finally, be aware of possible sexist values embedded in everything your child is watching or reading. Do not underestimate this! In Thomas the Tank Engine, depictions of female trains often fall along the lines of, “Wise and older Edward always had good advice for Emily, who really is a very nice engine but who can be a bit bossy.” Instead, choose books and family movies that have a healthy depiction of both male and female heroes such as Disney favourites Frozen and Moana or TV show The Legend of Korra.

 

Imagine an education where singing, drawing, painting, craft and drama are a regular part of school life embedded in the curriculum, where students have one teacher for their primary years, where spending time in nature and the outdoors is a regular part of instruction, where all children learn at least one foreign language from the earliest years, where play is seen as children’s work, children don’t begin formal classroom learning in literacy and numeracy until age 7 and still reach standards of excellence on later school life, and where assessment is not based on mass standardised testing but on daily teacher observation.

 

Although the education system referred to here is in Finland, it could equally describe the education offered by Glenaeon Rudolf Steiner School, Australia’s oldest Steiner school.

Finland is the country which for many years has scored highest on the PISA tests which assess Year 9 students in OECD countries, tests at which Australia does only middling well. As a country Australia has much to learn from Finland. Many of the principles of Steiner education derive from the traditions of northern Europe, traditions on which Dr Rudolf Steiner built when he developed the core principles of the first Steiner school in Germany in 1919.

Like Dr Steiner, Glenaeon Rudolf Steiner School is and always has been ahead of its time.

When the school began in 1957, its founding teacher, Sylvia Brose OAM, talked about the importance of imagination and the arts, about emotional growth, about looking for the positive in every student, about school as a community, and about building a sustainable relationship with the natural environment.

The school’s vision of education is actually a blend of the best of tradition and an innovative future. This vision stems from the classical tradition of the Greeks and their values (Goodness, Beauty, Truth), refashioned in the European Renaissance through the Humanist tradition of the balanced human being, and reformulated as an education for the future by Dr Rudolf Steiner at the beginning of the 20th century.

So what does the Glenaeon school journey look like?

Students grow through a series of developmental stages, starting in what Dr Steiner called the Kingdom of Childhood in Kindergarten. Here lie the roots of their creativity and imagination.

Glenaeon creates an environment where children can move toward learning and away from the noise around them.

The school offers a curriculum which gives children back their childhood. It heals while it teaches – offering imaginative stories, learning immersed in the creative arts and lots of playtime, all of which eases them along their natural path of development.

 

One of the biggest challenge facing teachers today, particularly in the infant and primary years, is the inability of children to sit still.

Young children now come to school flooded with images and impressions from an increasingly chaotic external environment, and teachers find it difficult to educate them as a result.

At Glenaeon, the teachers slow down the world for the children and by extension, for themselves. The children learn deeply, not by memorising yet more facts, but by developing a relationship to and interest in the world around them.

And it works.

In just a short time, teachers notice their students settle into the rhythm of their days and on to their own path of discovery.

At Glenaeon teachers work hard to honour the traditions of childhood, ensuring a joyful, nourishing and imaginatively rich foundation to life. The primary years are a time of journey in a secure relationship with the same Class Teacher, enjoying the imaginative unfolding of the human story.

In Middle and Senior School, students will be academically challenged to perform at their absolute best, their learning infused with a rich cultural aesthetic.

The 21st century is asking for new qualities in our graduates: a blend of professional rigour and creativity, imagination, emotional intelligence and a compassionate sense of what it is to be human in this increasingly digital age.

Glenaeon’s students are well educated, to start to find out who they are so that when they step into the world they will be equipped to find their own meaning and purpose, and to add something of value to the great human story.

Glenaeon is not a cookie-cutter school: it is a school producing individuals, who can think creatively, act ethically, and express themselves culturally. The task of the school is to give students a rich and nourishing environment that will inspire them to be their individual best.

For over 60 years, Glenaeon has produced individuals who think creatively, act ethically, and express themselves culturally. Their graduating high school classes consistently place in the top 12% of NSW high schools based on HSC results.

To book a discovery tour at one of their three campuses on Sydney’s lower north shore, visit their website to book a tour and find out why a Glenaeon education might be just what you’ve been looking for.

www.glenaeon.nsw.edu.au

enrolments@glenaeon.nsw.edu.au