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.
Download the article: Letter from the Editor
This issue of Gateways is filled with many wonderful offerings to support our work with young children. Thanks to all of our contributors for providing a wealth of inspiration and taking the time to articulate in writing what they are doing and thinking. Thanks also to all of those who are starting to put their thoughts into writing, hopefully in time for the next issue. (This means you.)
Included in this issue is an article taken from an upcoming book published by WECAN, You're Not the Boss of Me! – Understanding the Six/Seven-year-old Transformation, and a section from a book jointly published by WECAN, AWSNA and the Research Institute entitled Developmental Signatures: Core Values and Practices in Waldorf Education for Children Ages 3-9. Both of these books deserve a place on the Gateways reader's bookshelf! They will soon be available from the WECAN office. The continuing work of Emmi Pikler is highlighted this issue with two articles articulating the connections of Waldorf early childhood work with the RIE approach. There is a sentence in one of these articles that bears repeating: The Real Work May be in the Real Work. This could be one of the keynote statements about our work with the children in our programs. These are just some of the wonderful contributions to this issue of Gateways.
The long-expected You're Not the Boss of Me! - Understanding the 6/7-Year-Old Transformation, edited by Ruth Ker on behalf of the WECAN Working Group on the Older Child, will be published by the end of 2007. This comprehensive resource is packed with information and ideas about working with children who are going through the six-year-old change. Here is a sample from Section Four, "Meeting the Child's Needs: Suggestions for Working in the Classroom."
Should handwork have a place in the kindergarten? Does it serve the children in some way or does it keep them from play? What is appropriate in the class and why? Does handwork keep the children or teachers focused on product rather than process?
Download the article: An Archetypal Festival of Compassion and Brotherhood: Celebrating St.Martin's Day
We celebrate St. Martin's Day each year on November 11, when the days have grown short and the air is cold and damp. We carry our lanterns into the chill darkness, singing:
St. Martin, St. Martin,
St. Martin rode through wind and snow.
On his strong horse, his heart aglow,
He rode so boldly through the storm.
His great cloak kept him well and warm.
By the roadside, by the roadside,
By the roadside a poor man arose.
Out of the snow in tattered clothes,
"I beg you help me in my plight,
Or else I'll die of cold tonight."
St. Martin, St. Martin,
St. Martin stopped his horse and drew
His sword and cut his great cloak through.
One half to the beggar man he gave,
And by this deed his life did save.
Download the article: Salutogenesis
The following is taken from the new publication, Developmental Signatures: Core Values and Practices in Waldorf Education for Children Ages 3 – 9. Jointly published by WECAN, AWSNA and the Research Institute for Waldorf Education, this volume is a translation of the first two parts of a three-part German study on the education of the young child. As Susan Howard says in her Foreword, "As we strive to adapt in insightful and meaning-filled ways to meet the changing cultural climate in which our Waldorf schools and kindergartens find themselves, and to articulate both to ourselves and to others what it is that we stand for, this study by our colleagues in Europe can serve as a helpful stimulus and support."
Salutogenesis as a Foundation for the Educational Process
The interplay between the "I" and the threefold organization is not a routine occurrence in either children or adults. It is an extremely sensitive process prone to disruptions, requiring continual and renewed efforts to bring the whole organization into healthy balance. It is part of human freedom that these efforts can fail or be temporarily impaired. Herein lies the significant cause of illness.
Download the article: The Sistine Madonna: Thoughts and Experiences
In this short article, I describe my personal experiences and ideas in relation to kindergarten work and the Sistine Madonna, painted by Raphael Sanzio in 1513/14. For context, know that I had the Sistine Madonna hanging on the wall in my kindergartens for many years and now I do not.
My first experience of the Sistine Madonna in a Waldorf kindergarten was when I arrived for an interview with my stepson's soon-to-be kindergarten teacher. I was still some years away from taking up kindergarten teaching. The Sistine Madonna hung on the wall above her as she asked many thought-provoking questions about his life. I was impressed by her interest and wisdom, and yet was put off by the image on the wall. It smacked of Christianity to me, and I was into spiritual pursuit, but not religion. I was willing to take a chance though, and he was enrolled.
Download the article: Seven Important Aspects of Mindful Parenting
Usually Gateways does not include articles geared for parents, so the following is an exception. This article can of course be offered to parents, and it can also be a resource for early childhood teachers. In it we are reminded of some essential practices that we can continually attempt in our working with the children, all supporting the essential activity of connecting with each of the children. One could easily substitute the word "teacher" each time "parent" is used. - Stephen Spitalny
The task of parenting is one of the most challenging, stressful, demanding, and rewarding jobs on the planet. There is no instruction manual on "how to parent," and all of the popular guidebooks mostly deal with specific behavioral challenges that children present to adults. Parenting is a subjective activity that is influenced by so many internal and external factors that oftentimes we do not have time or extra energy to consciously examine how we respond to children. Day after day our relationship with our children can become an "auto-pilot relationship," where we merely react to external circumstances that are out of our control.
Download the article: The Kindergarten Apron
As a Waldorf kindergarten teacher, I have considered the question of what to wear in the classroom from a number of different angles. Reflecting on one's appearance from the child's perspective does keep the question simple - anything eye-catching or out of the ordinary in our appearance draws their attention to us, and they comment appreciatively or frankly on what they see. Their attention then is on us and our "stuff," rather than their play or their friends. However, I have found that in practice, wearing clothing that hides one's anatomy and offers a flowing, softened form can hinder certain types of movement. Haven't many of us gotten tangled in our skirts crawling around the circle?
In addition, while many people in many professions wear work clothes that are not reflections of their own personal style, we in the Waldorf kindergarten are particularly concerned with working from a place of truth. Careful editing must be done when we strive to leave our personalities at the door. Leaving too much of ourselves outside of the classroom can result in an empty falseness not conducive to the kind of organic, inspired energy that we hope fills each classroom.
Download the article: Extended Day in the Schools: Sharing Challenges and Raising Questions
Sharing Challenges, Raising Questions
Twenty-four teachers from ten schools and Sunbridge College gathered at the Kimberton Waldorf School for a day-long meeting on April 14, 2007. Schools represented were: Sheltering Arms Family Center, Acorn Hill, Baltimore Waldorf, Green Meadow Waldorf, Kimberton Waldorf, Susquehanna Waldorf, Richmond Waldorf, Shining Mountain Waldorf, Rudolf Steiner School/NYC, Garden City Waldorf, and Sunbridge College. Many of the teachers were working in the extended-day programs in the schools.
After introductions, participants divided into four topic groups: Sleep and rest time, Programs in schools, Teacher and care provider, and Facets of care. Following lunch and a meeting of the full-member schools, a final large group conversation offered reports from the topic groups. Presenters were teachers in the schools and programs: Lisa Gromicko, Lisa Miccio, Monika Gallardo, and Nancy Brown.
Download the article: WECAN Regional Representatives/Board Retreat
The inaugural meeting of WECAN representatives from the North American regions took place at the Lake Champlain Waldorf School in Shelbourne, Vermont, August 16–19. This gathering was funded by grants from the Waldorf Schools Fund and Waldorf Educational Foundation. Representatives were graciously and efficiently supported in all ways by the organization of Sueanne Campbell of the Lake Champlain Waldorf School, and housed in bed-and-breakfasts in the beautiful New England landscape. This gave refreshment to the long days of study and intense discussion of regional issues. The group also reviewed the new tasks WECAN has assumed, in collaboration with AWSNA, to become the oversight body for all Waldorf early childhood programs, even for AWSNA member schools. The first year of this process has shown areas needing attention and revision for the WECAN membership process to be supportive and as easy as possible for members. The diversity of early childhood programs - home, stand-alone preschool/kindergarten, birth-to-three, as well as full school classrooms - calls for flexibility to embrace each one fairly and appropriately.
Download the article: Two Streams Entwined: The Work of Emmi Pikler and Magda Gerber in Relation to Waldorf Education
Striving to Understand the Work of Emmi Pikler and Magda Gerber in Relation to Waldorf Education
We thus see that man accomplishes a momentous thing during the first three years of his life. He is working on himself in the spirit of the highest wisdom . . . This happens because the human soul and entire being are, during the first years of earthly life, in much closer connection with the spiritual worlds . . . Man works on himself by means of a wisdom . . . mightier and more comprehensive than any conscious wisdom of later years.
As a matter of principle, we refrain from teaching skills and activities which under suitable conditions will evolve through the child's own initiative and independent activity . . . While learning . . . to turn on the belly, to roll, to creep, sit, stand and walk, [the baby] is not only learning those movements but also how to learn. He learns something on his own, to be interested, to try out, to experiment . . . He comes to know the joy and satisfaction which is derived from this success.
The newborn baby . . . is between heaven and earth, not quite here yet . . . Trust that she will develop in her own time, rhythm and manner. After all, who knows better how to be a baby than a baby?