There is a natural rhythm within Buddha Hands playgroup. With roots buried in ancient philosophies and a focus on Waldorf learning, a unique space has been created for local families in Warragul.
A path of self-learning is journeyed at Buddha Hands. Children are encouraged to follow their own compass; to meander, experiment and explore.
The group demonstrates that learning does not have to be rigid, but is more fluid in nature; an ever moving force that we travel and traverse throughout our lives.
Buddha Hands founder, Sylvia Dardha, researched Waldorf and Montessori based ideas and concepts. She explored Reggio Emilia and investigated all sorts of alternative play based philosophies for two years.
“It was really important to firstly base the idea on an open hearted and non-judgemental space for families to come together. The other aspect was incorporating basic Buddhist concepts and Steiner based concepts- from how we delivered activities or songs to the type of toys and playing environment we offered.”
Sylvia said that Waldorf education is about learning by example.
“Instead of giving the child games, puzzles and toys, Waldorf encourages play in everyday chores; mimicking hanging clothes, or washing dishes, maybe putting the baby down for a sleep- all these things are play and in play is the learning."
Sylvia said that children are encouraged to play in their own way.
“We offer them something and they take off with it, in their way. The exposure to positive activities like yoga or singing, not all children care for it, but it is there and it becomes practices they are familiar with."
"This is a lifelong mindset that can stay with them; being loving and tolerant human beings. And this is where all of the philosophies mesh together, creating confident, loving, kind, happy individuals and they are doing it with others, not just as a home practice."
Playgroup Victoria’s Marketing and Communications Coordinator Samantha Yan nominated Buddha Hands for Playgroup of the Month after watching them blossom over 13 months.
Samantha liked that they had their own style and that they took pride in their playgroup.
Samantha noticed that they have a different parent/child relationship due to their philosophies. Positivity shone from the group.
“Buddha Hands are a very unique playgroup, honouring the philosophy that they believe in, such as meditation,” said Samantha.
“Their messy play event is a great example of their spontaneous way of teaching, highlighting early developmental learning outcomes, such as sensory play and active motor skills, while letting the children play freely.”
Buddha Hands enjoy a bit of mess and they like giving children the freedom to play without restrictions.
In the modern world that we live in, Buddha Hands encourages trust. Sylvia believes that children need to be given more trust.
“More time and guidance allows children to make a choice that is beneficial for themselves and for others- and trusting them to do that.”
“Our general way of life is so fast paced, so children are rushed and choices are taken away from them, because we have to ‘do it’ quickly. It doesn’t leave room for children to learn how to make beneficial choices.”
The African notion of, ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ is upheld at Buddha Hands. A special community space where ‘Cultivating Kindness’ is at the fore, enables a freedom and continuity.
Sylvia stresses how important free play is for young children, and for their parents too.
“It is nourishing for the child and really gives opportunities for parents to be so much more present with their child and get out of their heads, that are usually full of well-meaning advice and instruction."
"Buddha Hands is very much moving into the unschooling realm and we have a few homeschooling and unschooling families who gel with our free play approach."
Interestingly Buddha Hands are very much engaged in the technological realm online.
They have a catalogue of beautiful photography which tell great stories.
How does this tie in with their natural methods you may wonder?
“My partner and I are photographers and artists, so sending the message about Buddha Hands naturally for me, had to be visually pleasing and creative, as well as it being an easy way for me to communicate with others,” said Sylvia.
Sylvia said it is a passion for her, and she hopes that people gain an understanding of what Buddha Hands represents and what it is like to join in, just from browsing through their Instagram photographs.
A lot of the meaning underpinning Buddha Hands philosophy is derived from kindness.
“Kindness to me is simply compassion, the action of compassion,” said Sylvia.
“You can have compassionate thought, but then kindness is the gesture we make in the real world.”
When asked what she treasures about her playgroup sessions, Sylvia’s answer comes back to playing freely.
“It is actually observing the children in their independent conversations amongst themselves. How expressive they are and how confident they are in what they are saying. As parents, we can be far too intrusive at times, so those little glimpses are precious."
Article by Sinead Halliday
Learn more about Buddah Hands at buddhahands.com.au
Photographs courtesy of Sylvia Dardha
Buddah Hands appeared in the Warragul and Drouin Gazette as Playgroup of the Month.