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: Halloween Circle
There was an old witch, believe it if you can
She tapped on the window and she ran, ran, ran.
She flew helter skelter with her toes in the air
Cornstalks flying from the witch’s hair.
Swish went the broomstick, meow went the cat
Plop went the hop toad sitting on her lap Wheeeeee said I, such funny, funny, fun....
Halloween night when the witches run!
Download the article: Helping Hands
Once there was a little girl who lived in a little yellow cottage at the edge of the wood with her mother. One day, not long ago, when she was playing outside she found a big brown mushroom near the vegetable garden. Underneath the mushroom cap, she saw a little hobgoblin in the grass lying on his back. He wore a red hat that was a little crumpled and needed a washing.
“I want a little friend that I can always carry with me,” she thought. “Will you come and live in my pocket and play with me?” she asked the hobgoblin. “Well, then, pick me up, and tuck me into your pocket, and be quick about it,” he muttered a bit crossly, and so she knelt down, picked up the hobgoblin and tucked him into her pocket.
Download the article: Sea Turtle Puppet Play
Visiting the Carolina coastline, I was newly introduced to the wonderful and mysterious world of sea turtles.
During their long lifetimes they travel far and wide, often swimming over a thousand miles to return to summer beaches from whence they hatched for the purpose of laying their own eggs, ^is done, the female sea turtle covers the eggs with warm sand and returns to the sea. About two months later these eggs hatch and by the light of the full moon the “hatchling” babies find their way to the sea before the cold winds begin to blow, They must complete this sandy journey by nighttime’s shelter to avoid hungry predators.
Download the article: Book Review: Under the Stars by Renate Long-Breipohl
Under the Stars: The Foundation of Steiner Waldorf Early Childhood Education
Hawthorn Press, 2012
This is a very thoughtful book of essays that provide a stimulating journey through the phenomena of early childhood development, the introduction includes an interesting historical overview of how Steiner/Waldorf early childhood work developed purely through oral and experiential tutoring for twenty-five years before any publications on the subject or formal training courses appeared, then some of Rudolf Steiner’s own words on the child under seven were compiled for the use of the growing number of kindergarten teachers, and guides to the practicalities of kindergarten work slowly began to appear. More recently there have been deeper works going beyond the practical, alongside the development of more formal trainings, this book is an important addition at a time when the tremendous international growth of Waldorf early childhood education requires research and consideration of the quality that it offers.
Download the article: Book Review: Therapeutic Storytelling by Susan Perrow
Hawthorn Press, 2012
Children love stories, The nature stories and fairy tales we share in our early childhood classes provide daily soul nourishment, There are also the “pedagogical” stories we create spontaneously to picture to the children a more healthy behavior when something is out of kilter in the moment. In her new book, Susan Perrow takes us a step further to introduce therapeutic stories.
Susan is described as a “story doctor.” She has done her work as storyteller, early childhood educator, and teacher trainer in Australia, New Zealand, the British Isles, South Africa, Kenya, eastern Europe, Asia, and China. In her storytelling workshops with educators, therapists, and parents, she has shared many stories and the tools we need to create stories for our own children. She gave the introduction to this type of story in her first book, Healing Stories for Difficult Behaviors. Now this volume expands with examples of one hundred and one stories that have arisen out her own creative work and within workshops she has guided in different countries.
When I look at our kindergartens, I wonder sometimes whether the children are losing interest in us adults because we actually are not very interesting. The regular domestic activities—washing our small, cloth napkins; wiping the cubbies clean with a wet, soapy cloth—are good examples of caring for our environment, but small in scope and do not take much real effort of body and strength. Cooking is more engaging. Peeling and chopping vegetables for our weekly soup calls for more skill and intention in cutting with a knife, and stirring our bread dough takes determination when the batter gets stiff and courage is called forth to let hands get sticky with kneading. The delicious loaf at the end confirms that we have really done something. With cooking we can experience process more easily and see the result of our efforts. But still these alone do not seem to quell a restlessness the children display. If this question about the children’s interest in us has any validity, what can we do to extend a stronger invitation the children to come, out of their own will, toward what we do?
Download the article: "A Kitchen, Not a Parlor"
Many years ago in England, the summer before I began teaching my first kindergarten class, I had the good fortune to attend a seminar in Wynstones given by Margret Meyerkort. Although at the time I didn’t understand the full breadth and depth of all that she offered, her words resonated within me and I knew instinctively that I was on my intended path. Her enduring comment, “The kindergarten is above all a kitchen and not a parlor,” informed my study and practices over the subsequent years. It implied rhythmical activity, purposeful work, and warmth.
As I grew into my work I grappled with these principles and found that the more we, as adults, worked at our daily life-sustaining and nurturing needs, the more the children would play. Almost on a daily basis our large kitchen table was moved more fully into the room, always in full view of the entering children. One of us would be working, and more often than not, if our daily work was purposeful and earnest, some of the children would engage in their own work—which is play. All children were welcome to join us at our work; there was always room for more. We never asked if they wished to join us. It was a legitimate and perhaps an unconscious inner choice for each child to make for him- or herself. We hoped that our activity would inspire play or the golden words, “Can I help?”
Download the article: Practical Activities with the Young Child
This article was adapted from Steve’s book, Connecting with Young Children.
The task of the kindergarten teacher is to adjust the work taken from daily life so that it becomes suitable for the children’s play activities. The whole point... is to give young children the opportunity to imitate life in a simple and wholesome way. —Rudolf Steiner, April 1923
Imitation is the natural learning mode for the young child. Rudolf Steiner described it as a sort of bodily religion arising from a sense of joy and wonder with all experiences and sensations, the young child, so recently arrived into a physical body from the spiritual world, loves all he meets in the world, the adult, whether caregiver, kindergarten teacher, or parent, has therefore a huge responsibility since the child is molding himself out of his experiences, out of what and who is imitated, therefore it is incumbent on the adults to create an environment of objects, people and activities that we would be happy to have taken up in imitation by the child. An environment that nurtures the child includes crucial elements that create form and order in the developing child: rhythm in daily life activities, safe and healthy boundaries, and adults’ consistency in maintaining the boundaries and rhythm.
Young children naturally are most active in the doing, the willing realm of soul life, they are drawn to adults’ work activity, especially when the adult is truly engaged in meaningful working. I experience that when a chair breaks, or we are making lunch—meaningful work that needs to be done—then the older children in kindergarten are attracted to participating and helping, while the younger ones exactly imitate the activities in their play. Young children are drawn to the activities of real workers and craftspeople like the blacksmith, the carpenter, spinner, plumber, and so on. The experiencing of these activities is a bodybuilding experience for the child, as well as an example of focused adult will for the child’s will forces. A young child who experiences, and even does, various different types of real work is given a blessing of many images to incorporate into his or her development.
Download the article: Kindergarten on the Farm and in the Garden
Recently I came across the word biophilia. Meaning “a love of life and the living world; the affinity of human beings for other life forms,” it is a beautiful wish for good fairies to bestow upon children, and for early childhood teachers to help those wishes come true. Green Meadow Waldorf School’s “farm kindergarten,” located at the Fellowship Community (an inter-generational community centered around the care of the elderly), and surrounded by forest, field, stream, pond and farm, is nestled in an idyllic place for inviting the incarnating human being into earthly life through cultivating rich, reality-based experiences of the seasons, and nurturing a love of nature.
In the autumn, our main outdoor activity is harvesting on the farm. Our small-but-mighty crew helps the Fellowship farmers bring in crops to store in the root cellar, put up for winter, and sell at their shop, The Hand and Hoe. The farmers often generously gift us vegetables for celebrating the harvest at our snack time. Our favorite crops for harvesting are large, child-friendly potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, and shiny peppers, the children enter the fields not knowing the task at hand, allowing the discovery to unfold with delight in the moment. Some children stay engaged with gusto in the treasure-hunt of harvest, while others have their interest captivated and carried away by earthworms, weed-flowers, and other ways to enter into the outdoor environment through their own inner activity.
Download the article: From our Gentlemen Colleagues
In anticipation of this issue, a request was sent out to some male kindergarten colleagues to describe activities they are bringing into their classes. Below are some “bits and pieces” that have come in response. They give a surprising and delightful glimpse into the range of what the “gents” are doing.
Lincoln Kinnicutt Kindergarten teacher
Potomac Crescent Waldorf School, Alexandria, VA
We had been doing Nancy Foster’s woodcutter circle, which I modified so the woodcutter was using a two-person saw. This change was made in part because in the past when we had gestured using an axe, the children (boys) would quickly start chopping each other. We also have a large bow saw, which we use for cutting wood outside, and I wanted to use that familiar image. In circle the children would pair up and hold hands, sitting down with their feet together, and go back and forth “cutting.” When we started cutting wood outside, I realized that the sawhorse I had made was too small. So instead of standing to cut, we would have to sit just like in the circle, using the bow saw as a two-person saw.