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: Whitsun, Multiculturalism and International Working
Waldorf School of Mendocino County
Festivals come and festivals go, but how one permeates the very essence of the festival determines the depth of our relationship with it. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the International Waldorf Kindergarten Association. The work has been going on much longer, but the organization was established in that year. Each year, at Whitsun time, the International Conference for Waldorf Kindergartens takes place with teachers, parents, board members, physicians, and curative workers, from all over the world. This year, in Hannover, Germany, there were 739 participants from 28 different countries! But Whitsun, why Whitsun time? Is this mere coincidence?
Dr. Helmut von Kügelgen, head of the International Waldorf Kindergarten Association, and Dr. Heinz Zimmermann, leader of the Pedagogical Section of the Goetheanurn. both referred to Whitsun and its relationship to the conference. In the Book of Acts, one has the picture of the Disciples and Mary gathered together with flames of fire over their heads. Each began speaking "in tongues," in their own language, but through their heart forces, they understood one another. This is the Whitsun experience: to be enkindled with spirit and working with the Christ impulse, and through this, to have an understanding of one another. What exhilaration and what wonder and awe to be one of three (the only one presently teaching in Kindergarten) from the United States, and to understand and be understood by those from halfway around the world.
Download the article: Birth to the Age of Three: Our Responsibility
Reprinted from the Autumn/Winter 1995 issue of the British Waldorf Kindergarten Assn. Newsletter from notes taken from Dorothy 's workshop at the International Conference.
What is our responsibility to this age group?
One of the answers comes to us from Rudolf Steiner, from Lecture I in the collection of lectures in Study of Man. "...here in the human being you with your action, have to achieve a continuation of what higher beings have done before the child's birth." In the same lecture we are asked to "become aware of birth as an integral part of human development." We are asked to remember that the human being evolves through a long period between death and a re-birth, and as it were, "dies for the spiritual world." The Higher Hierarchies have worked on the soul-spirit and given it the strength to incarnate into a physical body here on earth. To incarnate, to take on a body of flesh is a struggle for the new soul-spirit as it strives to form the inherited physical body as its own. Rudolf Steiner describes this struggle in another lecture series, Kingdom of Childhood "...if a glove were to fit your hand as badly as the body generally fits the soul, you would discard it at once."
Download the article: A Look at Home Day Care and After Care
I was very pleased to see the issue of day care and after care addressed in the Spring 1995 Newsletter. As the introductory article said, the question of day care is not new, but the urgency with which we are experiencing it is.
I had some thoughts out of my own experience as a kindergarten teacher who ran a home-nursery for 3 to 5 year olds in my own home for eight years after our daughter, who is now 10, was born. I left the kindergarten work at Hawthorne Valley School in order to adopt our baby daughter, our second child. Shortly after I returned from my sojourn to South America to find our baby, I was surprised by the number of parents who asked if I would start a little playgroup in my home. It seemed to me a delightful way to spend my time at home (the baby mostly slept while the children were there) and I welcomed the small income to help pay my son's tuition at Hawthorne Valley. The home-nursery grew each year until my neighbor and I (a Waldorf-trained teacher at home with her little girl) decided to accept more children and work together in my home.
Download the article: Christmas Season in a Public School
James Peterson teaches a combined kindergarten/first grade in a small school district in northern California. From time to time he provides us with rich pictures of life inside his classroom, where he integrates Waldorf ideas into the school curriculum.
It's not easy to bring the mood of Waldorf Education into a public school setting. Recently, however, during the Advent and Christmas season, it seemed essential to me to try to bring something of the sacred to the children in my K-1 class. While other public school teachers gave their kids dittoed Santas to cut, color and paste, I tried to put into practice my twenty-five years of association with the Waldorf movement.
Instead of an Advent table, I had to content myself with a nature table based on winter and solstice themes. The earth was covered with snow, with only a few pine trees and bare deciduous trees interspersed. An opening in a clay hill revealed Mother Earth descending away from the surface. Under the nature table was a crystal cave, where hibernating animals lived side by side with an assortment of fairies and gnomes.
Download the article: A Poem for the Advent Garden
Acorn Hill Children's Center
For many years I have told a story in the Advent Garden about Mary's journey seeking threads to weave a robe for the Child soon to be born. I am very fond of the story and the images it brings, and a number of parents have been quite moved by it. This story was published in the Kindergarten Newsletter, and more recently in An Overview of the Waldorf Kindergarten published by the Waldorf Kindergarten Association. For the last few years, however, the need to penetrate to the very essence of our festivals, thus arriving at the universal aspect which can speak to the hearts of all human beings, has become ever more clear and more urgent. One spring morning I woke up knowing I could no longer tell the old story and this poem arose. It is as yet untested in practice, but I offer it on the chance that it may speak to a need perceived by others.
Download the article: With Love for Geneve
Hawthorne Valley School
Note: The following talk was given by a kindergarten teacher for a child she knew well who died while in first grade.
The last time I saw Geneve was here in this hall. It was late June at an evening concert. She stood there, on the bench, poised and quietly watching the people, listening to the music, nestling in her arms the little flannel baby she had sewn so proudly in Kindergarten - like most of the children going on to first grade. The picture of her standing there remains with me - such a beautiful impression of childhood - the taking in of quiet wonder, the tender holding... amidst the turning of larger, noisier spheres.
Geneve graced our Kindergarten at Hawthorne Valley for three years - what a blessing for us all to have shared that time with her! Sunny and bright, fairy light, Geneve was so agile and graceful in her beautiful, upright being; the most amazing jump roper! - able to master skills quickly.
Download the article: Helping Children in a Time of Trouble
Acorn Hill Children's Center
In a time of trouble, such as the death of a family member or friend, parents are faced with the question of how to help the children through this time. In a sense, the question will have many as answers as there are particular children and since children respond so differently to a situation, according to their age and nature. Parents are frequently brought up short by the realization that they must first face their own feelings and questions. Next comes the necessity of dealing with a child's questions.
A generally-accepted "rule of thumb" in responding to children's questions is to give only as much information as the child is actually requesting. As adults, our thoughts on a topic tend to be quite far-ranging, while the child's question is likely to be on a much more direct level. It is better to err on the side of simplicity; if a child needs to know more, another question will surely follow. Your answer to "what happens to someone who has died" will, of course, depend on your own view of this; in any case, a simple picture is usually best for a child. Your honest expression of sorrow and sympathy is very beneficial in helping a child to experience and cope with loss, but uncontrolled emotions are usually troubling or even frightening for the young child. The adult's efforts to recognize and accept grief without being overwhelmed by it can be a profound example to a child.
Download the article: East Coast Kindergarten Conference 1995
Each February, early-childhood teachers in the Northeast welcome the opportunity to escape the winter's chill and bask in the warmth of their shared striving. Snows may be deep and skies gray, but at the East Coast Kindergarten Conference in Spring Valley, we are nurtured and renewed as we meet old friends, eat wonderful food, and attend lectures and workshops that provoke and inspire us.
A new spirit of openness characterized this year's conference. Where formerly we had perhaps been too aware of the "shoulds" and "shouldn'ts" surrounding Waldorf kindergarten work, this year's questions and discussions were uninhibited and searching. It is clear that we need the courage to try new things and to value our experiences. Then, we must seek to validate those experiences in a concrete, objective way.
The conference theme was "The Development of the Senses in Early Childhood as a Foundation for Later Life." Joan Almon, of the Waldorf Kindergarten Association, and Dr. Gerald Karnow, a pediatrician and Waldorf school doctor, addressed the topic in three lectures.