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.
The Online Waldorf Library offers Gateways articles from 1995, Issue #29, to the present.
In my first years of teaching in a mixed-age kindergarten class I felt anxious about the challenge of making decisions around first grade readiness. Witnessing the grandness of the change that the six-year-olds experience on all levels left me confused as to what criteria I should consider when making decisions about their future placement. The ability to understand what I was observing was not living in me yet, and I relied heavily on my instincts and untrained observations. Many times I simply fell back upon the school's cut-off date for grade school entrance and hoped that the parents would support this.
Then I began to meet more and more mystery children whose development and future placement posed even larger questions to me and also more and more parents who wanted to know what was behind my recommendations. Many times I felt inadequate to meet the important questions of the parents. How I longed for skilled and informed local companions to accompany me in making these decisions!
Download the article: Therapeutic Stories
The following therapeutic stories, while adaptable for an early childhood group setting, were intended for parents who have children between the ages of three and nine. It is still possible to tell therapeutic stories to children age nine or over, but parents need to know their child and what she or he is likely to find inspiring. Once the child turns nine she will more likely see the correlation between a therapeutic story told by an adult and the adult's motivation in telling the story, although not always. True stories, especially from one's own experiences or biographies of historic figures, are usually more useful as therapeutic stories for children age nine and older.
"The Little Seed's Journey" is helpful for building a sense of security, safety and confidence in the young child. Meant especially for children ages three to seven, this story could be used with children up to ages eight or nine. "A Stormy Day in Mother Earth's Garden" is helpful for bringing healing after a day of explosiveness-a child's or yours or both! Parents may find that reading this story at bedtime after a "stormy" day leads to greater calm in the child the next day.
Download the article: Reflections on the Sistine Madonna
The Sistine Madonna is one of the greatest and noblest works of art in human evolution.
-Rudolf Steiner, The Mission of Raphael in the Light of Spiritual Science
Man is the sun, his senses are the planets.
The Sistine Madonna has long been a loving presence in Waldorf kindergartens, acting as a gift to the children that brings them an image of an embracing archetypal heavenly mother and heavenly child. This work of art has profoundly lifted and transformed the souls of those beholding it for over five hundred years, for it reminds us of our true spiritual nature. In our classrooms around the world, it is has been there to give hope, transformation, and a sense of protection to generations of children.
Download the article: Working and Living with So-Called Difficult Children, Part 2
Dr. Karnow's presentations began with the following verse, which Rudolf Steiner gave to Dr. Ita Wegman in December, 1920.
The human being is a bridge
Between the past and future existence.
The present is a moment; moment as bridge.
Spirit grown to soul in matter's husk
Comes from the past.
Soul growing to spirit as seed encased
Journeys toward the future.
Grasp future things through past ones
Hope for evolving things through what has evolved.
So grasp existence in evolving growth;
So grasp what will be in what exists.
Download the article: Supporting the Development of Movement in Children Under Three
Two streams are especially important in early childhood, the one which leads to the development of imagination and thinking, and the other stream which is related to the development of movement and will; the stream of connecting with the past, the pre-birth experiences, and the stream into the future, moving forward into earthly life. In working with movement, especially with older children, there is a wonderful merging of both aspects, imagination and will.
The following considerations relate to the steps that children need to have completed in order to happily and confidently participate in guided movement programs such as the morning circle.
In the process of working with issues of movement, the question of what is needed for a healthy development of movement has condensed for me into one single main aspect: Uprightness.Rudolf Steiner has placed great emphasis on uprightness as the archetypal human gesture, and my own work with children has confirmed this for me.
Download the article: The Stars are Brightest in Your Peripheral Vision, Part 2
Working Towards a Constitutional View of the Epileptic/Hysteric Polarity
When development is closely observed it is always dynamic. What do we mean by dynamic? We mean that it is moving, in process. While modern science loves nouns and labels, facts and numbers, development really happens in verbs. This poses a real challenge, of course, because it is easier and safer to stay with the labels, the descriptors, but that rarely helps us know what we should do. When we can begin to live into the process then we can understand the origin and the healing of a developmental imbalance.
Download the article: Incorporating Movement for the Epileptic/Hysteric Indications
In many ways we already incorporate movements into our circle times that express the indications Steiner gave for these polarities. Whenever we vary tempo, particularly when we accelerate movement and speech to create a little bit of tension, we are giving a therapeutic gesture for the hysteric-inclined child. One could picture that with a particular child for whom this little "shocking" is intended, the child could be next to the teacher. The teacher's calm, firm urging to "hurry up" will support the child in being "shocked" to make the shift in tempo. In general, whenever we alter the tempo, quickening or slowing down, we are offering healing experience for the hysteric constitution. For all children, the shift of pace is fun and offers opportunity to develop restraint and impulsive control of full body movement. Variation in tempo also provides a kind of breathing in the circle activity, the importance of which Steiner describes to us in the first lecture of Study of Man.
Articles in this issue include:
Letter from the Editor by Stephen Spitalny
Working and Living with So-Called Difficult Children by Nancy Blanning
The Stars are Brightest in Your Peripheral Vision by Adam Blanning, M.D.
In the Light of the Heart by Lisa Gromicko
Movement in Early Childhood Education by Renate Long-Breipohl
Sailing Our Ship in Calm or Stormy Weather by Tim Bennett
Stories for the Journey by Nancy Mellon
From the Garden to the Table by Susan Perrow
Waldorf Education in Mexico by Louise deForest
In Memoriam: Wilma Ellersiek by Kundry Willwerth
Book Reviews: You're Not the Boss of Me!; Baking Bread with Children; The Apple Pie that Papa Baked
Download the article: Letter from the Editor
From the Editor Stephen Spitalny For this issue of Gateways we had the good fortune of receiving more articles than we could include. Thank you to all who have submitted articles, and our apologies to all those whose work we were not able to include this time.
There are two themes that I would like you, the potential writers, to consider as something to offer to our readers in future issues. This issue of Gateways has an excerpt from a book on the older child in the kindergarten, written by Tim Bennett from Seattle. It can be the first in an ongoing series of articles about different rhythms-of-the-day in our early childhood programs. This will give a sense of the various approaches people take, and why they made their particular choices. And it will give the readers new ideas that they might chose to incorporate into their work. So start thinking about why your day is arranged the way it is, and then write up your thoughts and send them to me.
Download the article: Working and Living with So-Called Difficult Children
The following highlights come from three keynote addresses given by Dr. Gerald Karnow at the February 2008 East Coast Waldorf Early Childhood Conference in Spring Valley, NY. Topics from the book, Difficult Children: There is No Such Thing by Henning Köhler, gave the conference its theme. Dr. Karnow is an anthroposophic physician in the Fellowship Community and also school doctor to the Rudolf Steiner School in NYC and Green Meadow Waldorf School.
A second article arising out of the conference, on the topic of coming to understand the child through observation of the threefold organism, is in process. Look for it in a future issue of Gateways.