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.
Articles in this issue include:
Letters From the Editors by Nancy Blanning and Stephen Spitalny
The Senses as Doorway of Relating by Stephen Spitalny
Math and Science in the Kindergarten by Lisa Gromicko
The Dignity of the Small Child by Kimberly Lewis
Educating the Movement Body and A Drum: Movement Journey by Nancy Blanning
Childhood as an Impulse for Integrated Human Development by Louise de Forest
The Lakota Waldorf School by Patrice Maynard and Laurie Clark
Transitions: Ronna McEldowney by Janis Williams
Book Review: Supporting Self-Directed Play in Steiner/Waldorf Early Childhood Education
Reviewed by Susan Weber
Download the article: Letters From the EditorsIn the early 1980s when I entered the Waldorf kindergarten as a (dare I admit) untrained, wide-eyed teacher with the best of intentions and "a good sense for kids," the Waldorf Kindergarten Association Newsletter was a godsend. The few volumes available were treasures, and I collected them all. The rich body of published resources we now have was then only a dream. The newsletter was the primary source of songs, stories, circle activities, festival celebrations, and practical activities. Additional articles with insights into early childhood development and Waldorf pedagogy enlightened me: "so-that's-why-we-do-what-we-do!" The newsletter offered a collective opportunity for professional development of its readership and was a first link in creating a teaching community.
Download the article: The Senses as Doorway of Relating
This is a chapter from Steve's as yet unpublished book on relating and speaking with young children, tentatively entitled How To Listen So The Young Child Can Speak.
Now, this means that the first three years of life are those which prepare the child to become a member of humanity. Man is born out of the isolation in which he existed in the maternal womb, because there he was nothing else but an isolated, developing being; a being given up to cosmic powers; a being spun into its own karma. This however is a germ which unfolds and grows into walking, into speaking and communicating, and into thinking and imparting, thereby developing the prerequisites for a social life. . . We also know that something else develops out of walking, speaking and thinking. The sense of word develops out of walking and thereby speaking comes into being; the sense of thought develops out of speaking and thereby thinking emerges, while the sense of Ego develops out of thinking and thereby the knowledge, the immediate sensory experience arises that the other person is an individual. You see, walking, speaking and thinking are the prerequisites for a social organism (König, 38-39).
Download the article: Math and Science in the Kindergarten
Steiner-based, early childhood settings abound with rich opportunities for the development of math and science concepts. This may be surprising to some who can easily see the beauty, coziness, and language-rich environment of the Waldorf kindergarten, but not necessarily the mathematical or scientific side. A primary focus of Waldorf early childhood education is on the care and development of the physical body of the child, and that of the child's environment. Considering the "physical" basis of the early years, it then becomes possible to glimpse the natural mathematical relationships. In reality, all activities of Steiner-based early childhood education are math-and science-based, including activities of language acquisition and pre-literacy, such as listening and word recognition, patterning, and story sequencing.
Download the article: The Dignity of the Small Child
Eighteen years ago the question of the care of the small child emerged as a topic distinct from the work of Waldorf kindergartens. Now we find ourselves at a re-birthing of the birth-to-three movement, a challenging task because it must take into account varied ideas and views, scientific findings, current practices, and public and private regulation.
The Dignity of the Small Child conferences began in 1999. The fourth conference was held at the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland in June, 2010. About 700 participants attended from over thirty countries. Eight educators came from North America. Pedagogues from around the world offered twenty-six workshops on all aspects of the care of the young child. The next Dignity of the Small Child conference will be held at the Goetheanum in 2013.
Download the article: Educating the Movement Body and A Drum
Steve Spitalny's article on the twelve senses, as indicated by Rudolf Steiner, describes the individual senses and their importance for human development. Our work in early childhood particularly focuses upon supporting the senses of touch (tactile), life, self-movement (proprioceptive), and balance (vestibular). While sometimes also called the "lower senses: they are in no way inferior to or less important than the better-known senses of smell, taste, sight, and hearing. To the contrary, they are literally the foundation upon which other sensory—not to mention academic and emotional—development depends.
The completeness and maturity of each of these sensory systems heralds how fully other skills related to these domains may unfold. For example, the sense of self-movement/proprioception gives the child her first "map" through the experience of body geography. Which are my shoulders, my elbows, my hands? What is their order in my body? Do I know them so well that I do not need to see where hands and arms are to put on my jacket? Can I sense how hard to pull to zip it up?
Download the article: Childhood as an Impulse for Integrated Human Development
The International Early Childhood Conference took place on July 4-8, 2010, in the Escola Rudolf Steiner in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The theme of the conference was Childhood as an Impulse for Integrated Human Development. The Escola Rudolf Steiner is one of forty Waldorf Schools in the Sao Paulo area; it is hard for us to imagine so many schools in one area, but Sao Paulo is one of the largest cities in the world, with a population of 20 million people.
Waldorf education first came to Brazil in 1957, but as with so many other anthroposophic endeavors in Brazil, it has spread rapidly. There are now 73 Waldorf Schools in Brazil, twelve of them with high schools. Fifteen teacher training seminars exist, training 450 new teachers at present, and there are 2,050 Waldorf teachers throughout Brazil. In 2008, Brazil became a member of IASWECE (The International Association of Steiner/Waldorf Early Childhood Education), making it the first country in South America to have representation on the Council. Sylvia Jensen, from Florianapolis, is the representative to the Council from Brazil.
Download the article: The Lakota Waldorf School
The Mid-States Shared Gifting Group awarded AWSNA a grant that would provide two visits to the Lakota Waldorf School on the Pine Ridge Reservation in Kyle, South Dakota. The visits to this school were to determine the status and the level of sustainability of this school and to find helpful supports for its future development. Tom and Laurie Clark, long-time grades and kindergarten teachers at the Denver Waldorf School, received a call from Patrice Maynard, the Outreach and Development leader of AWSNA, to see if they would be interested in participating with her in such a project. They were in the midst of planning a half-year sabbatical and were honored to add this to the list of plans they had in place already, including Mexico and China. Theirs was not to be a restful sabbatical but a busy one full of lively adventures.
The first visit was in October of 2009 for three days. When they walked into the classroom, they met Verola Spider, the Lakota teacher. Verola spent these days working with Laurie Clark to make the room more inviting, and discussing the needs of the young child. Verola has many years of teaching experience and was taking the Lifeways training in Boulder, Colorado. Laurie and Verola were quick friends, comfortable with one another immediately; and they found commonality in their love of being with small children. Both shared humor and flexibility. These days of mentoring and coaching Verola in the classroom had Laurie demonstrating circle, cooking and baking, coloring, beeswax modeling, and story time. The children are given a hot breakfast, lunch and a snack each day before they go home at three pm, so there is a lot of cooking to be done! After the children left on the school bus, these two teachers would review the day together and plan for the following. They marveled at the strength and energy that the children had despite the destitution, the disruption, and the want that are part of all the children's lives at Pine Ridge. They are unusually beautiful children—open, and unburdened by material possessions.
Download the article: Book Review
by Renate Long-Breipohl (WECAN, 2010).
In August, 2008 at the international conference in Wilton, a colleague from Australia took me aside to share the collection of photographs that she had brought with her. We spread the photos out all around us and I could not tear myself away from them. Here were children indoors and out, playing in ways that Pauline described as illustrating the whole history of humanity, in ways that I could never recall having seen.
I was filled with joy to see the fruits of her years of teaching in this artistic outpouring, but all I could think was that others as well as myself deserved the opportunity to experience these wonderful pictures. It's a book, I kept telling her, you must make them into a book!
Articles in this issue include:
Letter from the Editors by Stephen Spitalny
Deepening Our Capacity to Meet Children in Our Care by Nancy Blanning
Observations of Children Under Three in Kindergarten by Lisa Gromicko
The Seasonal Festivals in Early Childhood by Nancy Foster
A Story for the Evergreen Garden by Joan Almon
Thoughts on my Visit to North America by Helle Heckman
Getting Over Easy by Cynthia Aldinger
It Takes a Village to Raise a Child by Andrea Gambardella
Reflections on Working with Parents by Kimberly Lewis
Wawa Munakuy Nursery Kindergarten by JoAnne Dennee and Joyce Gallardo
Clean-up Time: Chaos or Co-Operation? by Barbara Klocek
The Importance of Touch by Laurie Clark
Book Review: Awakening to Child Health reviewed by Stephen Spitalny