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: Waldorf Education and Teacher Training in Chengdu, China
Five years ago I took a sabbatical from teaching at the Chicago Waldorf School to teach English in a Chinese public high school in the north of China. I was amazed and in awe of what I experienced there. After I had finished teaching, I traveled through China on my own, stopping in Chengdu to see the panda research center. At that time there were no Waldorf schools anywhere in China, but I thought if I came back to China I would like to teach in Chengdu. I just liked the city, the parks, and the temples. Later on, people who knew about my connection to China introduced me to Zewu Li, Li Zhang, and Harry Huang, the founders of the new Chengdu Waldorf School. I was very happy to hear about their work and decided I wanted to help them in any way I could to support Waldorf education in China.
The Chengdu Waldorf School opened its doors three years ago with about ten children in kindergarten and first grade. Thanh and Benjamin Cherry are the godparents of this beautiful school. They provided the founders with much-needed practical advice as well as inspiration. Today the school has five kindergarten classes and seven grades. It sits on a huge, beautiful piece of land with a big pond, and is surrounded by farmland. There are plans in the works to build another classroom building. The growth rate of the Chengdu Waldorf School is about the same as in the rest of China's economy. This is a little disconcerting because Li, Zewu, and Harry are burning out fast. And without them things would deteriorate quickly. Because they needed trained teachers, they decided to start the training courses on the school premises. These courses run during school vacation in the summer as well as in October and May.
Download the article: In Honor of Betty Szold Krainis: Early Childhood Building Dedication
Early Childhood Building Dedication
On May 17, the entire Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School community gathered to dedicate our newly renovated early childhood building to our beloved founding kindergarten teacher, Betty Szold Krainis, whose life spanned April 16, 1923 to September 19, 2002.
In 1959 Betty and her husband Bernie Krainis purchased a marvelous fifty-acre property in Great Barrington that included a Colonial-era house, cottage, and barn. Ten years later the Krainis family created the Good Food Coop with more than a hundred families, and housed it in their barn. Some of the same people interested in wholesome food were also interested in starting a Waldorf school, so in 1971 the barn in Betty's backyard was transformed into the Pumpkin Hollow School, a kindergarten, with Betty serving as teacher.
Download the article: Mary Theines Schunemann
Many of you have been touched by the work of Mary Thienes Schunemann of Naturally You Can Sing Productions. She passed away quietly at home in East Troy, Wisconsin on August 30 after an intense, valiant journey with gastric cancer.
After years of being asked to record the songs she taught in several trainings, Mary took the time to create seven children's songbooks to help parents and teachers learn how to sing for and with children. Her music was not only liltingly beautiful but it was full of enthusiasm and joy. A former Waldorf kindergarten and music teacher, Mary finished her final CD one week before she died. This CD, a collection of healing songs, is called I Still Have Joy and is scheduled to be released on her birthday, October 7.
Articles in this issue include:
The World of the Young Child - On the Seashore of the Worlds by Sally Jenkinson
This Is the Way we Bake Our Bread... A Note About Work Songs by Nancy Foster
Meetings with Parents on the Topic of Discipline by Louise de Forest
A Summer Festival in the Parent-Child Class by Nancy Foster
The Inner Life and Work of the Teacher by Margaret Duberley
The Art of Fruitful Conversation by Carol Nasr Griser and Kim Raymond
Shingebiss Redeemed by Stephen Spitalney
Meeting the Needs of the Times by Cynthia Aldinger
Educating the Feeling-Will in the Kindergarten by Michael Howard
Connections with the Pikler Institute by Susan Weber and Vanessa Kohlhaas
The Power of Touch by Joan Almon
Meeting Each Other: The Human Encounter by Heinz Zimmerman
Download the article: The World of the Young Child - On the Seashore of the Worlds
Previously published in our sister publication in the UK,
KINDLING: the Journal for Steiner Waldorf Early
Childhood Care and Education. Extracts from this
article first appeared in EYE magazine, February 2005.
The seashore of endless worlds. . .
Bull's eye (sweet)/lolly - 3d superior to 1d
Interesting stone - obviously
Penknife - succession of (you'd lose them)
Rubber band – you fiddled with it mostly but it was a great projectile
Matchbox with something in it - an ant or spider
Conker - in season
Metal and glass marbles - I liked the feel and the look of them
Download the article: This Is the Way we Bake Our Bread... A Note About Work Songs
Work songs can be a lovely way to draw children to an activity, to create a mood of enjoyment and purposeful focus, or to discourage excessive chitchat by parents or older children in a group. Baking songs, grinding songs, sawing songs, cleaning songs: all may have a place in a group of children or parents and children.
On the other hand, if over-used, such songs can become a sort of "Waldorf muzak," going on throughout the time of the activity and becoming an unwelcome and invasive background music. This may seem a strong statement indeed, but it is worth considering the possibility that constant singing may prevent children from experiencing their own internal music or rhythm or imaginations as they participate in an activity or play elsewhere in the room.
Download the article: Meetings with Parents on the Topic of Discipline
Here is a sample of one of the excellent articles that will be available this summer in a new WECAN publication. Entitled You're Not the Boss of Me, this publication will enrich the work of kindergarten teachers who are striving to understand the many challenging and joyful shifts that occur in young children when they go through the change of teeth.
Among the challenges facing parents today, none is more difficult than setting and enforcing limits, creating and holding boundaries, and guiding children with loving discipline. Many parents, feeling that their own parents were too strict, give their children free rein. Others, knowing their children to be creative, bright beings, follow their child's lead, feeling that to do otherwise would infringe on the child's freedom and creativity. Still other parents, spending little time with their children during the day, don't want any unpleasantness in the little time they do spend together and therefore avoid any kind of conflict with their children. All of these situations are unhealthy ones for the child and the parent.
Download the article: A Summer Festival in the Parent-Child Class
Author's Note: In teaching parent-child classes, I discovered that one of the special joys and challenges of festival celebrations is the need to create a simple and meaningful observance for very young children, while being mindful of seeking the essential meaning of the festival. In addition, I felt it was important to address the adult need for a cognitive deepening of the festival experience. This seemed especially important since at Acorn Hill, which includes Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and other families, we observe the Christian seasonal festivals in a way which seeks to address the universal in the human being.
For me, Whitsun had always been a somewhat elusive festival, even though our faculty studied one of Rudolf Steiner's Whitsun lectures each year in preparation for our own observance. Last year - my last before retiring - our faculty's study for Easter was "Spiritual Bells of Easter II," found in The Festivals and Their Meaning, and this helped things fall into place for me, giving me the picture I needed for a meaningful Whitsun festival in our parent- child groups. At a parent evening we made felted wool balls of oranges and yellows, and during class attached streamers in those fiery colors. The actual festival took place at an outdoor circle time on the last day of school, as described in the following article.
Download the article: The Inner Life and Work of the Teacher
Previously published in our sister publication in the UK, KINDLING: the Journal for Steiner Waldorf Early Childhood Care and Education.
Again and again, the question came: "What is the difference between State education and Steiner education?" How often, as I have been working in Steiner education, I had, usually in a conversation on a bus, or during a walk, or in a new group of people, a new group of students, to try to find an essence, to create a nutshell picture, to make sense of something vast in a few moments.
Now, through 25 years of struggling with this, and finding in these years that gateways have been opening in the souls of many, I have found personally that I can speak, at such times, as also with students, and new teachers, of the truly holistic nature of Steiner education: that we are working with every aspect of the child, which can be termed body, soul, and Spirit. So we try consciously to work with many levels, from the most physical to the most mysterious. A conversation can often lead to the question of the inner work of the teacher. Sensing what is appropriate for each occasion is vitally important.
Download the article: The Art of Fruitful Conversation
From Chapter Six of Mentoring in Waldorf Early Childhood Education, WECAN Publications, 2007.
"What is more splendid than gold?" "Light." "What is more refreshing than light?" "Conversation." (Goethe, "The Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily")
When we think of conversation, we tend to focus on what is said. On further reflection, however, we realize that listening is just as essential a part of conversation as speaking. A true conversation is a meeting of two individuals who together have the possibility of seeing something new arise from their understanding of one another.