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Gateways is the newsletter of the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America and is the professional journal for those working with young children in Waldorf early childhood settings - kindergartens, play groups, home care programs, parent/child classes and child care centers. Gateways is published twice each year, in the fall and spring.

To order subscriptions or back issues, please contact the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America, 285 Hungry Hollow Road, Spring Valley, NY 10977. Tel 845-352-1690. Fax 845-352-1695.  Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Online Waldorf Library
offers Gateways articles from 1995, Issue #29, to the present.

An index of the most recent issues can be found on the first page, an index and articles of older issues can be found by scrolling down.

Fall/Winter 2011, Issue #61: Movement - A Path Toward Freedom

Download the article: Movement - A Path Toward Freedom

From the 2011 East Coast WECAN Conference ♦ Nancy Blanning

We begin with a vast question. What is the intention of the soul coming into a human life, of incarnating? Rudolf Steiner describes that the soul in the spiritual world reaches a point where it can no longer develop. The individuality must return to human experience in order to keep evolving, to purify, refine, and distill the essence of his being and give this expression through physical, earthly life. Rudolf Steiner states in Study of Man (The Foundations of Human Experience):

...Man evolves through a long period between death and a new birth and that then, within this evolution, he reaches a point where he dies, as it were, for the spiritual world—where conditions of his life in the spiritual world oblige him to pass over into another form of existence. He receives this other form of existence in that he lets himself be clothed with the physical and etheric body. What he has to receive by being clothed with the physical and etheric body he could not receive if he were simply to go on evolving in a straight line in the spiritual world (p. 17).

Read more: Fall/Winter 2011, Issue #61: Movement - A Path Toward Freedom

Fall/Winter 2011, Issue #61: The Cottage Garden Home Nursery Program

Download the article: The Cottage Garden Home Nursery Program

We are a licensed large family day care in Amherst, MA. We feel honored in having this opportunity to share a picture of our program with our Waldorf early childhood colleagues. While we both are individual WECAN members, we are currently pursuing full membership in WECAN as a home program. This process has become very important to us. We want to be able to tell the world what we stand for and be able to use “Waldorf” in our advertising. We speak—in our conversations with applicants and parents and in our current advertising—of having our personal educational philosophies rooted in anthroposophy, but we feel that membership would grant us a different level of standing in our community.

Read more: Fall/Winter 2011, Issue #61: The Cottage Garden Home Nursery Program

Fall/Winter 2011, Issue #61: A Toddler Group within a Kindergarten

Download the article: A Toddler Group within a Kindergarten

The following is an excerpt from the book Trust and Wonder: A Waldorf Approach to Caring for Infants and Toddlers, newly translated from the Norwegian and published by WECAN in 2011.

Here is an example of a day in the kindergarten [with toddlers], one way of doing it. The model is the toddler group in our kindergarten in Norway, with ten children ages one to three.
7:30    The children arrive and play freely
8:00    Breakfast
8:30    Free play
10:15  We wash our hands, and have singing and movement in a “ring”
10:30    Lunch
11:00-2:00 Care (changing diapers, preparing for sleep), followed by nap on waking
Small fruit meal and drink when children wake up, followed by care
1:30-3:00 Free play, outside or inside, depending on season and weather. Some children go home between 2:00 and 3:00.
2:30    Meal for afternoon children
3:30    Free play, or a quiet time
4:15    Kindergarten closes

To provide one example from our kindergarten, we will follow two-year-old Pia during a regular day. Pia is the second of three siblings. An older sister is in another section of the kindergarten and the youngest brother is still at home.

Read more: Fall/Winter 2011, Issue #61: A Toddler Group within a Kindergarten

Fall/Winter 2011, Issue #61: Hustle Hoosh, A Hand Game

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The following is an excerpt from the book Dancing Hand—Trotting Pony, recently published by WECAN. The first half of the book is devoted to games for hands, fists, and fingers, which bring dexterity and flexibility into this most important realm for the development of language and thinking in later years. Renate Long-Breipohl points out the manifold benefits of such games in her article in this issue.

The second half of the book portrays many different animals in a series of verses, songs, and gesture games, some for hands only, some for the whole body. One of these is reprinted in full below. Ellersiek’s approach to the animal world has a very rare and special quality. As Ingrid Weidenfeld points out in her introduction to this section, “the animals are shown through play, acting in their natural way. They never begin to speak; never move in ways they would not be able to move; never are they portrayed as quasi-human.” Thus, she says, “the children learn and experience, through imitation, something characteristic about the animal portrayed through play.” They experience the true, living essence of the animal, rather than an intellectual description or emotional interpretation.

Through Lyn and Kundry Willwerth’s devoted work of translation and editing, these games have now been made available in English. WECAN is very pleased to present them in the hope that they will inspire many joyful hours of play and fun, while bringing forces of life and health to the children.

To continue download the full article, link above.

Fall/Winter 2011, Issue #61: A Visit to Costa Rica

Download the article: A Visit to Costa Rica

In March 2011, we traveled to Costa Rica, Central America, where we visited five Waldorf early childhood initiatives throughout the country. We experienced this beautiful, army-less country’s unique character and vision reflected in its peace-loving, conservation-minded people. Everywhere we visited, we were received with hospitality and heart warmth by our Costa Rican colleagues, for which we are most grateful. Here we will describe our visit to the Sea Heart School, which initiated our visit. A longer version of this article with further details and descriptions of our visits to the other four initiatives can be requested from the WECAN office.

Read more: Fall/Winter 2011, Issue #61: A Visit to Costa Rica

Fall/Winter 2011, Issue #61: Book Reviews

Book Reviews:

Connecting with Young Children by Stephen Spitalny
Reviewed by Nancy Blanning

During his tenure as Gateways editor, Steve Spitalny distinguished himself as a seeker of truth. He stimulated the journal’s readers to ask deep questions about how we interact with young children to truly educate the developing human being. He always looked deeply at Rudolf Steiner’s indications to distill what is truthfully essential, sorting out “Waldorfisms” and practices and opinions that may have started truthfully but become sentimentalized.

In his newly published book, Connecting with Young Children: Educating the Will, Steve shares the fruits of his own quest for these essentials through his many years’ experience as Waldorf mixed-age kindergarten teacher, parent and grandparent, researcher, thinker, and student of Anthroposophy. The opening chapters give a broad view of the nature of the child from birth to seven as he or she journeys toward human being-hood with help of the four foundational senses—touch, life, self-movement, and balance . Long-time students of child development will likely read this section with head-nodding assent to the accuracy of a familiar picture. For someone new to these ideas, these pages give a panoramic view upon which to ground the more specific and concrete chapters which follow—“Imitation, Life Activities and the Role of the Adult as Example and Guide” and “Language and Communicating.” These chapters particularly are recommended for everyone’s reading. There are philosophical and practical treasures on these pages.

The Tear: A Children's Story of Transformation and Hope When a Loved One Dies by Nancy Jewel Poer
Reviewed by Laurie Clark

Nancy Jewel Poer offers a rare gift to children and adults in this stunning picture book. Often we are at a loss in helping a child come to terms with the death of a loved one. This book provides a true spiritual picture of death that can guide a child towards a profound understanding that is developmentally digestible. The sadness that comes with such an event is not overlooked in this story but finds transformation through images that bring hope and a continuing trust in life.

Unborness by Peter Selg
Reviewed by Susan Weber

Peter Selg’s Unbornness is a seed-like gift to all of us as early childhood teachers. It is as if he has responded to Rudolf Steiner’s admonition in the first lecture of Study of Man (Foundations of Human Experience) in which he offers that “We must become more and more conscious of the other end of man’s development on earth, namely birth” (p. 17).

Selg has deeply devoted himself to elucidating Steiner’s insights regarding this crucial aspect of the human journey, and he brings it to us with artistic reverence. In truth, this little book is a meditation. The broadest picture of the human being, brought together with the clarity of the description of the most minute spiritual processes, enable each of us a path of study to understand what stands before us in the individual child in our care.

Spring/Summer 2011

Spring/Summer 2011 #60

Articles in this issue include:

Letter From the Editor by Nancy Blanning
Moving with Soul by Renate Long-Breipohl
Pikler, Point and Periphery by Jane Swain
Carving a Manger in the Heart by Laurie Clark
Children Under Three: Some Thoughts About the Song Circle and Storytelling by Christine Christiansen
Working with Parents to Reduce Children's Media Exposure by Lauren Hickman
The I and the Body: World Conference 2012 by Brigitte Goldmann
Waldorf Education in Hungary by Louise de Forest
Helping our Brothers and Sisters Around the World
The Blacksmith: A Michaelmas Circle by Sol Velazquez
Jack and Jill by Franca Bombieri
At Home I Have a Little Bed by Sarina Cirianni-Jones
The Peter Stories by Estelle Bryer

Spring/Summer 2011, Issue #60: Moving with Soul, Supporting Movement Development in the Early Years (part one)

Download the article: Moving with Soul, Supporting Movement Development in the Early Years (part one)

This article is an extended version of a lecture given at the National Early Childhood Conference
at Ringwood Waldorf School in England on October 17, 2009. Part Two of the article will be published
in the Fall/Winter issue of Gateways.

Significant research has been done on the importance of movement for the development and learning of children. Sally Goddard Blythe’s work on brain development and the understanding / treatment of retained reflexes in the movement patterns of children with learning difficulties should be mentioned here (Goddard, 2002 and Goddard Blythe, 2004). Audrey McAllen, who was a Steiner teacher, created “The Extra Lesson”  remedial program, which is partly based on movement therapy and is used in many Steiner schools around the world  as learning support for children at school age (McAllen, 2004).

Read more: Spring/Summer 2011, Issue #60: Moving with Soul, Supporting Movement Development in the Early...

Spring/Summer 2011, Issue #60: Pikler, Point and Periphery

Download the article: Pikler, Point and Periphery

Author’s Note:
This article is based on the author’s study of the work of Jaimen McMillan (founder of Spacial Dynamics), Rudolf Steiner, and Emmi Pikler.

The Competent Infant
Emmi Pikler (1902-1984), was a pediatrician who founded the Pikler Institute in Budapest, Hungary. Early in her career, she lived in Triest, Italy for a year, where she spent time on the beach observing parents with their infants. Pikler witnessed parents teaching their infants to sit, stand and walk before they were able to do so on their own. She asked the question, does this communicate to the child that what he is doing is not good enough, and that he should be doing something of which he is not yet capable? Essentially Pikler’s answer was that what the infant is capable of doing at a particular time is the perfect thing for him to be doing.

Read more: Spring/Summer 2011, Issue #60: Pikler, Point and Periphery

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