This is an extract from a Living Deep Blog “Conscious Toys business interview with Ana Parra”.
In a world where excessive screen time for children is becoming increasingly normalized, many parents are now pausing to evaluate the relationship between their children’s mental health, brain development, and electronics. Although it is still early to determine the long term impacts of substantial screen exposure at a young age, what we do know is that there are already proven key benefits from time-tested Montessori and Pikler inspired approaches to learning and playing that have many positive impacts on our children.
Coupled with an increasing awareness of the harmful consequences that come from exposure to materials used in factory-made goods (for the planet and our bodies) it can be difficult for the conscious family to source products and practices that address both of these issues. We know that active play (ideally outdoors for added health benefits) helps children engage their imagination and physical bodies, practicing both mental presence and healthy communication. We also know we’d like to see toys made with non-toxic materials, built with integrity; products that are handmade and provide social impact locally.
Wiwiurka, truly embodies consciousness through all channels of its business. From ideation and design inspired by Montessori, Pikler and Steiner to sourcing and manufacturing they’ve created a beautiful line of children’s toy that promote healthy brain functionality and build confidence.
We sat down with their Co-founder, Ana Parra, to discuss the unique approach they’ve taken and the challenges they face.
LD: How can parents today encourage children to get outdoors in a culture that supports constant screen time?
AP: I believe that as parents we need to reconnect with ourselves and remember what our childhood was like, what our favorite games were, or the places we liked to spend time with family or friends. Our children are the first generation to spend more time in front of a screen than living in real experiences. As parents we want to give them the best and sometimes we get confused and think that the best is having more or going faster, using more technology yet there is nothing that replaces the cognitive, sensory and emotional experience that the child acquires when playing outdoors.
LD: Your parenting ethos is inspired by Pikler, Montessori, and Waldorf’s pedagogical proposals. How has this shaped your business approach?
ACPN: There are three key themes that permeate our parenting style along with the business:
- From Waldorf pedagogy, “The world is beautiful”, the approach to accompanying children during their first seven years, surrounding them with natural materials that nurture their senses, favoring contact and connection with nature and promoting free play.
- From the Montessori method, promoting children’s independence and autonomy, recognizing that each child learns in his or her own time.
- From the Pikler approach, allowing freedom of movement and treating infants with respect… Although It is complex for me to translate, to me these proposals seem to be threads of the same fabric. Sometimes I imagine what conversations and conclusions Rudolph Steiner, Dr. Maria Montessori, and Dr. Emmi Pikler would have had and concluded had they lived in today’s era with the technological resources we have.
LD: What are some of the challenges you face building a socially responsible and environmentally responsible business?
ACPN: Many, but I would say that the two most important are access to raw materials and the growing competition from brands that sell at very low prices and that only see an opportunity to do business but are not truly committed to creating a better world for children.
LD: Finally, what message would you give to the people who read this interview?
ACPN: It's not about making money It's about the impact we can create on children lives.
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