the waldorf inspired curvy board is one of those toys that does many things ‘right’ in the world of play and development. it’s because it ticks so many boxes, that it often becomes the favourite toy not just of the child but of the household.
often dubbed more a piece of furniture than a toy, the waldorf curvy board quickly becomes part of the home, played with in many ways over many years.
here are some of the reasons that the design of the curvy board works so well with children to stimulate play…
1. an invitation to play
just think for a minute about what makes kids curious? what intrigues them?
it’s usually something that’s slightly unexpected, that defies some rules, that is unusual in some way.
this fascination for the unusual actually has its roots in evolutionary biology. it is what makes children such eager learners, constantly adding to their storehouse of knowledge, contributing to the rapid growth that the brain sees between the ages of 0 and 6.
the traditional waldorf balance board piques this sense of curiosity – it fascinates children by its unique shape. it’s like a piece of furniture, but it balances strangely, and wait! i’ve never seen wood bent quite like that before. although not articulated in so many words, the curvy board presents an invitation to children to explore and play.
2. physical play at various developmental levels
children always find ways to play that challenge themselves. this is why you see children jumping onto the edge of the pavement, or walking on the divider. they self select these challenges as it boosts their development naturally. (think – if children never challenged themselves, they’d never learn to walk, run, jump, let alone climb… challenge-seeking is hardwired as a part of development.)
the curvy board represents different challenges at different developmental stages. for a toddler, just learning to crawl, perhaps sitting on it is a challenge, rocking on it, crawling over its back is a challenge, crawling under it.
for a children aged 2 and 3, standing on it and holding on to ones’ balance is a challenge, climbing over it is a (mountain climbing!) challenge.
as they grow, children instinctively push their own boundaries, and even older children aged 7 and up enjoy challenging themselves by placing their feet further and further apart, or even hula hooping while on the board!
3. imaginative play
we know that imagination and creativity is hugely important now, and in the future for our children, and the curvy board is a huge invitation to the imagination!
it’s true that the simplest things make the most room for imagination, and children prove this time and again with the curvy board by playing with it in millions of different ways - from riding on a dinosaur’s back, the curvy board transforms into a rainbow, a bridge, a tunnel, a slide, a boat, a race car, a parking space and an animal shelter...
so when you take the curvy board home, don’t name it, don’t tell the children what it is or what it's "meant" to do – just say its for them to play with, and see the millions of ways in which they do.
4. the sense of balance
in waldorf pedagogy, the "sense of balance" is one of the 4 foundational senses. the foundational senses are the ones that prepare children for later learning and life. the sense of balance works towards giving children a sense of mastery over their own bodies, and an understanding of their bodies in space.
since being "imbalanced" helps draw attention to all parts of the body and various muscle groups, these unique curvy boards were designed to help children develop balance, posture, poise and a give them a greater awareness of their bodies and movements.
this basic body mastery is essential to prepare not only the body, but also the brain for later learning.