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Gateways

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 2009, Issue #57: Emmi Pickler Haus, Part 2

Download the article: Emmi Pickler Haus, Part 2

Part One of this article, published in the previous issue of Gateways, described a visit to Emmi-Pikler-Haus, a residential home in Germany. Part Two gives more background on Emmi Pikler herself and on the two teachers who took up her work in relationship to that of Rudolf Steiner.

A Brief History of Lóczy
After many children had been orphaned by the war, pediatrician Emmi Pikler was commissioned by the City of Budapest in 1946 to organize and direct a foster home where children would live until they were three years old. The fundamental ideas on which this home was founded have a history which goes back to the 1920s in Vienna, where Emmi Pikler went to medical school and received her medical training under Prof. Clemens von Pirquet at the University Hospital.

Read more: Fall/Winter 2009, Issue #57: Emmi Pickler Haus, Part 2

Fall/Winter 2009, Issue #57: Saint Martin

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The following is an excerpt from volume 10 of the Little Series, newly published in English by WECAN in 2009. The Little Series was developed by Dr Helmut von Kagelgen, founder of the International Kindergarten Association, to support the inner work of the early childhood educator, and several of the other volumes explore the major seasonal festivals of Christmas, Easter, and Michaelmas. This study can help to awaken modern American readers to the historical and esoteric significance of Martinmas. While some Waldorf early child educators do not celebrate saints in kindergarten or earlier, many programs celebrate a lantern walk at the time of year of Martinmas, perhaps even the same date (November 11). Saint Martin is also reviewed by Nancy Blanning on page 29 of this issue.

Saint Martin in the Fourth Century
Martin was born in the year 316 in the Roman city of Savaria, today part of Hungary. His father was a Roman officer in the local garrison. Thus Martin was born as a Roman into a military environment. His unusually long life (he died in his eighty-first year) was not filled with inward contemplation or bound to one place. He spent his childhood in Italy, then we find him as a young man in Amiens, in Worms, later in Poitiers or on the island of Gallinaria (now Isola d'Albenga) off the western coast of Italy, to name only a few places, until he finally found a base in Tours for his long journeys through Gaul. He could not be prevented from going into the diocese of Candes to mediate a controversy, although he foresaw his death; there he died on November 11 in the year 397.

Read more: Fall/Winter 2009, Issue #57: Saint Martin

Fall/Winter 2009, Issue #57: Plant Dyeing in the Kindergarten

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Sitting by an outdoor fire on a grey November day, five pots of colored fleece simmering and with a group of kindergarten children gathered close around me, I felt warmed through. I felt warmed by the fire's radiant heat and the children's close attention to all I was doing. The Life Process of Warming was present.

The small wood fire burning out-of-doors is archetypal, as one small child reminded me: "This fire is ancient:' Working with the elemental forces of fire and water, and with the alchemy which happens when these are combined with plant materials and sheep fleece, is a deeply warming and enlivening experience. The feeling that lingered after a morning spent dyeing fleece on an outdoor fire was of inner calm, mellow warmth, and clear perception. I became aware of a deep and even rhythm in my breath. There was a feeling of physical strength and of being fully present.

Read more: Fall/Winter 2009, Issue #57: Plant Dyeing in the Kindergarten

Fall/Winter 2009, Issue #57: The Importance of Singing

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I have often found myself involved in a classroom activity wishing I knew a song to sing while grinding grain, or sewing, for example, that would gather the children to the task at hand. I would often improvise a simple song, but I wished for a resource where this type of songs could be gathered. I felt there must be other teachers who had the same thought, so I wrote A Day Full Of Song as my final project while in training at Sunbridge College three years ago. It is a book of songs in the mood of the fifth pertaining to work in the kindergarten and at home. There are songs for shoveling, raking, hammering, grinding, baking, washing, folding, and so on.

In earlier times, people sang to accompany their work much more than people do today. Not only can it help to pass the time while one works at the multitude of daily tasks which could, if one let them, become tedious and dull, but I believe there are also other benefits to singing while we work. It can definitely help one to bring more joy to any activity, and it may even facilitate the actual physical movements of the body. Moving in a rhythm while working is more efficient, and you may even get more done!

Read more: Fall/Winter 2009, Issue #57: The Importance of Singing

Fall/Winter 2009, Issue #57: Self-Review for the Teacher

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Sally writes, "Some years ago I began to write down questions I had asked myself regarding my work with children and the adults surrounding them; it made it easier not to forget things, as I wanted to feel I was doing the best I could and improve where I knew I was not. Since having the joyful, rewarding and challenging task of being an early childhood advisor for the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship, I have extended them and occasionally offered them to a colleague. Now I have been asked to pass on these contemplations to Kindling [our sister publication in the UK]."

The being of the teacher is more important than the doing.
-Rudolf Steiner

The teacher's example is vital: who we are is soaked up by the child.

Am I aware of my own being as a moral example, of my movements, my inner gesture, my thoughts, my speech, and how and what I said? Do I constantly seek to renew my work?

Read more: Fall/Winter 2009, Issue #57: Self-Review for the Teacher

Fall/Winter 2009, Issue #57: A Contemplative and Reflective Format for Early Childhood Study

Download the article: A Contemplative and Reflective Format for Early Childhood Study

It will indeed come to be for us a necessity
That we observe the children day by day
And also exercise in ourselves day by day
Control of our own thought and feelings.
Every child has a subtle perception
Of whether the person looking after him*
Or teaching him is inwardly equipped in her soul.
The child's well-being depends to a great extent
On what is growing and developing in the inner soul
Of the person in charge.
Develop your keenness of observation;
Nurture the powers of your inner Being;
Develop vitality of thinking;
Depth offeeling, strength of willing.

-Herbert Hahn

This verse is an amazing one to contemplate when beginning to look into the world of child study. It is so very interesting that Herbert Hahn would emphasize that the child's well being depends upon the inner striving of the teacher. It is true that when we try to understand and contemplate the child, we are immediately faced with the question of whether we can find the mood of soul that is needed so that genuine perceptions can be born in us and give us the possibility to accompany the child on his or her journey-the child who is, as Henning Kohler so eloquently states, "the guest looking for the way."

Read more: Fall/Winter 2009, Issue #57: A Contemplative and Reflective Format for Early Childhood Study

Spring/Summer 2009

Articles in this issue include:

Letter from the Editor by Stephen Spitalny
The Child's Relationship to the Doll by Bernadette Raichle
The Kindness Ball by Barbara Klocek
Making Peace with Toddler Conflict by Trice Atchinson
The Sensible Child? by Kevin Avison
First Grade Readiness: The Development of Memory and the Transformation of Play by Louise de Forest
Working Together by Maggie Reilly
Holding the Adult in a Meditative Light- Deepening our work with Parents in the Parent-Child Class by Magdalena Toran
The Role of the Evaluator by Holly Koteen Soule
Emmi-Pikler Haus by Joyce Gallardo
Book Review: Parenting With Spirit by Reviewed by Stephen Spitalny

Spring/Summer 2009, Issue #56: Emmi-Pikler Haus

Download the article: Emmi-Pikler Haus

A Pikler/Waldorf Residential Home for Young Children in Germarny

Emmi-Pikler-Haus, a residential home for children from birth to six years old, is located in Gersdorf, a rural hamlet of Dahme-Spreewald, Germany, halfway between Dresden and Berlin. The nine children who live here range in age from five weeks to six years old. They are mostly social orphans-children whose parents cannot take care of them because of substance abuse or mental illness in the family. The children may have social-emotional or developmental disturbances, as many come from homes where violence, abuse or neglect is common. Each child's story is unique.

Here at Emmi-Pikler-Haus, the children live in a family-like life community with their caregivers, where they are sheltered and protected and given respectful, loving, and tender attention. Consistency and continuity in their daily life is so important for these children, for whom life before coming to Emmi-Pikler-Haus was a series of disconnected, fragmented, and often painful events.

Here life is rhythmical and predictable-bedtime and naps are at the same time each day; nourishing, wholesome meals are served at the same hour each day; there is time for indoor and outdoor play and time for rest. The regular, focused, and respectful caregiving times provide opportunities for intimacy and the cultivation of a special I-Thou relationship between the child and his caregiver; as the child's trust in the adults who care for him is slowly restored, a healing process can begin.

Read more: Spring/Summer 2009, Issue #56: Emmi-Pikler Haus

Spring/Summer 2009, Issue #56: The Kindness Ball

Download the article: The Kindness Ball

It was August and I was getting ready for the new school year. I was hoping for some inspiration, as I knew one of the children coming into my class had a real reputation in the community for being difficult. A harmonious social mood in my class is a high priority for me. I have come to feel that one of my tasks as a kindergarten teacher is to support learning the social skills needed for resolving differences and being inclusive.

This child was prone to poking, pushing, grabbing, laughing at, and saying mean things to other children (and teachers). I had in place a "watching chair" as a discipline tool in my class. This was in fact any chair, but usually referred to several that were set to the side of the classroom. The rough or rude child would be led there, and with the teacher sitting with him or her, would have a chance to sit and observe ("watch") how the other children were interacting. This has the effect of bringing the child into stillness, which for many children is necessary in order for them to calm and collect themselves. It also serves to give positive feedback to children who are able to be kind and cooperative. I have found this a gentle yet effective way to encourage "listening" on the part of the children.

Read more: Spring/Summer 2009, Issue #56: The Kindness Ball

Spring/Summer 2009, Issue #56: Book Review: Parenting With Spirit

Download the article: Book Review: Parenting With Spirit

Parenting with Spirit; A Waldorf Guide for the Three Phases of Childhood by Cindy Brooks and Joya Birns (Parenting With Spirit Publications, 2008).

Cindy and Joya have put together a wonderful booklet for parents on how to relate to children during the first three phases of life. They offer an easy to understand picture of child development and simple guidance on various aspects of connecting with the children, from communication to discipline to the therapeutic use of story. The last issue of Gateways included two stories from Cindy Brooks that are included in this book.

Read more: Spring/Summer 2009, Issue #56: Book Review: Parenting With Spirit

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