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: Clean-up time: Chaos or Co-operation?
When I began teaching I dreaded clean-up time with my mixed-age kindergarten class of twenty-four children. It was definitely a time of chaos as I tried to pretend it was a smooth continuation of play. I had the sense I was trying to impose my ideas on top of the children's play, with very limited success. I was giving out directions on the fly to whoever was close by and then moving on to another area and trying to direct the flow towards cleaning up. When I had an experienced teacher come to evaluate me, I was given some direction. She sensed the chaos at this time, and suggested bringing them out of play and then starting to clean up. I was very open to trying this.
Download the article: The Importance of Touch
In my work as a Waldorf kindergarten teacher, I have tried to conscientiously strengthen and enhance the four foundational senses for the children in my care. In many of the classroom activities I try to make sure to incorporate movement, balance, and provide warmth and security for a sense of well-being. I have begun to question whether I have given the children enough opportunities in the sense of touch. The children knead dough, and they touch and play with various natural materials inside and outside, but is this enough? Are the children touched in an authentic, loving way each day by the teachers? I have tried to review the morning and find appropriate times where I could be affectionate in an authentic way, which can be very different for each child considering the needs and sensitivities that they bring. For one child it is enough to hold her hand when coming inside from play, while another child might need me to hold him on my lap with my arms around him in a gentle but firm touch.
Download the article: Awakening to Child Health
by Raoul Goldberg, MD (Hawthorn Press, 2009).
Awakening to Child Health articulates Dr. Goldberg's research into the sources of children's well-being. In this thoughtful approach to children Goldberg begins by connecting the reader with the wonder of childhood by hearkening back to one's own experience as a child, while examples from Dr. Goldberg's years of experience are found throughout the book. (Dr. Goldberg has been a Waldorf school doctor in South Africa for many years. He has a pediatric clinic and directs the Syringa Health Centre in Capetown, a holistic health clinic with a wide range of complementary therapies.)
Articles in this issue include:
Letter from the Editor by Stephen Spitalny
Developing the Eyes to See by Nancy Blanning
A Contemplative and Reflective Format for Early Childhood Study by Laurie Clark
Child Observation by Angela Michel
Self-Review for the Teacher by Sally Schweitzer
The Importance of Singing by Karen Lonsky
Plant Dyeing in the Kindergarten by Linda Grant
Saint Martin by Michael Martin
Emmi Pickler Haus, Part 2 by Joyce Gallardo
Teacher Training in Mexico by Louise deForest
Pictures from Norway by Louise deForest
Book Review: Saint Martin Reviewed by Nancy Blanning
Download the article: Letter from the Editor
My hope as editor is that Gateways stimulates thinking in our readers, that the support we offer to Waldorf early childhood professionals inspires them to something more. When readers respond in writing and share thoughts with us, then the editor knows what speaks to you in our newsletter. The last issue of Gateways included an article on nutrition in the kindergarten, and it led to being contacted by Anne-Marie Fryer Wiboltt. She writes: I am a Waldorf class and kindergarten teacher in Wisconsin as well as a WECAN regional representative. I read Gateways with enthusiasm each time it arrives. Thank you for all your work with the magazine. I especially enjoyed your last article, "Nutrition for Young Children." I too serve a full meal (including sauerkraut) in my kindergarten very similar to what you are serving your children. Last year I published a book [entitled] Cooking for the Love of the World: Our Relationship to Our Spirituality Through Cooking . . . In the book I invite the reader to perceive the world as spiritual activity. I 'lift' food out of the material realm of minerals, proteins, fats etc. into the fluidity of life. . . .
Download the article: Developing the Eyes to See
Notes from the 2009 East Coast Early Childhood Conference
The early childhood educator is sometimes a "magician," a "priestess" or "priest" who sings form into being. This was the opening picture Dr. Gerald Karnow shared with the early childhood educators at the February 2009 East Coast Early Childhood Conference. He described how he had observed kindergarten classes where he saw apparent chaos while the children played. Yet the chaos was highly structured. Within it he could perceive developing organs of interacting groups, mobile flow forms, messes, battles, and intimate relationships developing. When the chaos lost its organization for a moment, the teacher sang a song. The children suddenly moved into a circle and heard a story from which they moved to put the room into perfect order. 'Ihe children knew just what to do. When he sees this in an early childhood class, it is utter, beautiful magic.
Ihese experiences reminded Dr. Karnow of an image from Rudolf Steiner's lectures, Cosmic Memory. A priestess sings to a group of people. 'they move in relationship to what she sings, and the song deeply impresses itself into those who listen. Something is structured through the song into these human beings. Recalling the thoughts presented from the previous year, Dr. Karnow re-emphasized that everything the children experience in our classes literally forms their physical being-as well as their social and psychical being-for the rest of life. Our intention and responsibility as educators is to connect what the children have brought from the past with lawful activities to form and guide their future. To do this rightly, we must find ways through our inner development to become priestly.
Download the article: A Contemplative and Reflective Format for Early Childhood Study
It will indeed come to be for us a necessity
That we observe the children day by day
And also exercise in ourselves day by day
Control of our own thought and feelings.
Every child has a subtle perception
Of whether the person looking after him*
Or teaching him is inwardly equipped in her soul.
The child's well-being depends to a great extent
On what is growing and developing in the inner soul
Of the person in charge.
Develop your keenness of observation;
Nurture the powers of your inner Being;
Develop vitality of thinking;
Depth offeeling, strength of willing.
This verse is an amazing one to contemplate when beginning to look into the world of child study. It is so very interesting that Herbert Hahn would emphasize that the child's well being depends upon the inner striving of the teacher. It is true that when we try to understand and contemplate the child, we are immediately faced with the question of whether we can find the mood of soul that is needed so that genuine perceptions can be born in us and give us the possibility to accompany the child on his or her journey-the child who is, as Henning Kohler so eloquently states, "the guest looking for the way."
Download the article: Child Observation
The Teacher's Daily Prayer
Loving father, please help me to completely obliterate myself as far as personal ambitions are concerned so that Christ can make true in me the Pauline words 'Not I but the Christ in me' so that the Holy Spirit may reign in me. This is the true trinity.
Make me empty of noise, fear, prejudice and any form of projection that obscures my seeing what there really is. Do not allow me to imprint my interpretation and judgment on to the imagination of the child before me. Let me stand in the right place, not too close to see only a partial picture, not within the magnetic ring of reaction, not too far to see clearly and with focus and not so far as to wash over the truth. Let me stand where I can clearly see the whole child. Let me be selfless.
Download the article: Self-Review for the Teacher
Sally writes, "Some years ago I began to write down questions I had asked myself regarding my work with children and the adults surrounding them; it made it easier not to forget things, as I wanted to feel I was doing the best I could and improve where I knew I was not. Since having the joyful, rewarding and challenging task of being an early childhood advisor for the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship, I have extended them and occasionally offered them to a colleague. Now I have been asked to pass on these contemplations to Kindling [our sister publication in the UK]."
The being of the teacher is more important than the doing.
The teacher's example is vital: who we are is soaked up by the child.
Am I aware of my own being as a moral example, of my movements, my inner gesture, my thoughts, my speech, and how and what I said? Do I constantly seek to renew my work?
Download the article: The Importance of Singing
I have often found myself involved in a classroom activity wishing I knew a song to sing while grinding grain, or sewing, for example, that would gather the children to the task at hand. I would often improvise a simple song, but I wished for a resource where this type of songs could be gathered. I felt there must be other teachers who had the same thought, so I wrote A Day Full Of Song as my final project while in training at Sunbridge College three years ago. It is a book of songs in the mood of the fifth pertaining to work in the kindergarten and at home. There are songs for shoveling, raking, hammering, grinding, baking, washing, folding, and so on.
In earlier times, people sang to accompany their work much more than people do today. Not only can it help to pass the time while one works at the multitude of daily tasks which could, if one let them, become tedious and dull, but I believe there are also other benefits to singing while we work. It can definitely help one to bring more joy to any activity, and it may even facilitate the actual physical movements of the body. Moving in a rhythm while working is more efficient, and you may even get more done!