Why Pennie Brownlee?

Why attend the Pennie Brownlee workshops? 

Come together with a group of like-minded people – Parents and Educators committed to extending their wisdom and skills in the field of babies and children. Both workshops are held in a sunny rural hall with views of Mauao and only 5 minutes drive up Ohauiti Road. Jaye, from Good Food, will be catering an inspiring vegetarian lunch. Both days will send you back to children feeling nourished and re-energised providing you with fresh ideas and ways of playing, creating and relating with children.

The Power of coming together to Learn:

I recently attended a film workshop and I was amazed at how profoundly, being with other people passionate about film, re-arranged my (winter) spirits. At the end of our afternoon I felt energised and encouraged to try some new things on my camera and brave editing. I felt humbled and reassured that others in the room were experiencing similar frustrations or lack of confidence or blocks in creativity. Coming together with people for a focused day was pure food. Now, I’m impatient and hungry for more group learning – “Nature of Creativity” and “You’re not the boss of me” in mid-August.

Who is Pennie Brownlee?

Author of “Magic Places” and “Dance with me in the Heart”, Pennie is a mother, grand-mother and artist. She has offered inspirational creativity and parenting workshops for parents and teachers for more than three decades. In 2004 an 2006 she did the Summer Schools at the Pikler Institute in Budapest sparking a passion for more respectful care and education of our youngest citizens, with an emphasis on making working partnerships with our babies and toddlers.

Highlights from Pennie Brownlee’s “Dance with me in the Heart”:

“If your baby could tell you what she would really like from you, she would tell you that she would like three wishes: to feel safe, to feel loved and to be respected.”

“Paying full attention is one of the greatest skills that you can practise in any relationship.”

“Nearly all the things we say to babies and children are habits of speech for us. In our culture it has been a habit to comment on the child – who he is, and not the action – what he does.”

“Children will be as gentle with each other as they have been treated themselves, yet still children pull hair, mouth (bite), and hurt others…It is enough to put your hand between the child wanting to explore hair and the hair while saying, “I can’t let you pull Jason’s hair. It hurts him.”

” It’s not what you teach your babies that counts, it is how you are with them. As Joseph Chilton Pearce says, “We tell children how to be and they keep mirroring back what we are.”

My personal experience of Pennie Brownlee?

Tess Gamble (a long-time friend and an inspiring mother, and playcentre Mum) gave our family Pennie Brownlee’s “Dance with me in the Heart” as a welcome to the world present for our Clara.

It was a magic gift, as “Dance with me in the Heart” is a small book compared to most parenting or education books, which made it quick, easy and encouraging to read. What I loved most about this book is it echoed the sentiment of others I was reading such as Magda Gerber and Aletha Solter. These 3 authors and ‘edu-carers’ focus on peaceful parenting and allowing our children space and caring for them with – for want of a better term – respect. Some of the simple lessons I took from Brownlee, Gerber and Solter were:

  • To communicate with Clara before physically moving her. We talked with her even as a newborn about what we were doing. “We’re going to change your nappy now Clara”. “We’re going to give you bath time Clara”. “I’m going to wash your face Clara.”
  • To observe her play rather than doing the play for her. Instead of waving a rattle in front of her face or putting it in her hand we put a collection of things around her and watched which one she chose and what she did with it.
  • To use specific and relevant language to feed-back to her as opposed to an automatic “Good girl”. We said, “I watched you roll all the way to the door”. “I can see you’re enjoying that banana, and there’s no more left” We used these meaningful words so she knew we were giving her our attention and noticing her actions and responses.

It did take some time to develop these new habits as it was ‘pre-programmed’ from our own childhoods and we continued to hear the default statement by friends and whanau – ‘good girl’. I can imagine also, for someone who hasn’t come across this way of relating to very young children (babies) one may be saying “but babies don’t talk, there’s no point in spending the energy and time talking with them”. I found it intriguing to consider: we know babies hear sounds in-utero and they continue to develop listening when out in the world. Do we know how much they understand? Babies at least garner our expression and intention when we communicate with words. Just as adults feel more relaxed when someone tells us what’s about to happen, our babies do too. I remember reading – how would we feel if we were in hospital and a carer (without talking first) took our pants off, lifted our cold bottoms in the air and proceeded to wash us?

I’m sharing these personal responses to Pennie Brownlee’s gathered ideas, so someone who hasn’t come across these notions, may have one Mother’s sense of why I follow these 3 women and their ideas and why I’m organising –  “You’re not the Boss of Me” and “Nature of Creativity” – Pennie Brownlee courses in Tauranga.

Pennie Brownlee shares about ways of being with (teaching) children with a focus on care and heart. She talks of treating children as we all deserve to be treated with space and time to be, to grow, to learn. Her courses are sensitive, encourage nature and creativity, and give us pragmatic tools to sculpt the way we relate to people and the world.

Grab the early bird $140 discount before 20th July and $155 after this date and email Emily for a registration form to secure your place on the workshop(s).
Contact Emily: Email: wildandgrace@gmail.com  Phone/Text: 021 662 852
Internet Bank: E Mowbray 06 0433 0026302 00

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