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: Plant Dyeing in the Kindergarten
Sitting by an outdoor fire on a grey November day, five pots of colored fleece simmering and with a group of kindergarten children gathered close around me, I felt warmed through. I felt warmed by the fire's radiant heat and the children's close attention to all I was doing. The Life Process of Warming was present.
The small wood fire burning out-of-doors is archetypal, as one small child reminded me: "This fire is ancient:' Working with the elemental forces of fire and water, and with the alchemy which happens when these are combined with plant materials and sheep fleece, is a deeply warming and enlivening experience. The feeling that lingered after a morning spent dyeing fleece on an outdoor fire was of inner calm, mellow warmth, and clear perception. I became aware of a deep and even rhythm in my breath. There was a feeling of physical strength and of being fully present.
Download the article: Saint Martin
The following is an excerpt from volume 10 of the Little Series, newly published in English by WECAN in 2009. The Little Series was developed by Dr Helmut von Kagelgen, founder of the International Kindergarten Association, to support the inner work of the early childhood educator, and several of the other volumes explore the major seasonal festivals of Christmas, Easter, and Michaelmas. This study can help to awaken modern American readers to the historical and esoteric significance of Martinmas. While some Waldorf early child educators do not celebrate saints in kindergarten or earlier, many programs celebrate a lantern walk at the time of year of Martinmas, perhaps even the same date (November 11). Saint Martin is also reviewed by Nancy Blanning on page 29 of this issue.
Saint Martin in the Fourth Century
Martin was born in the year 316 in the Roman city of Savaria, today part of Hungary. His father was a Roman officer in the local garrison. Thus Martin was born as a Roman into a military environment. His unusually long life (he died in his eighty-first year) was not filled with inward contemplation or bound to one place. He spent his childhood in Italy, then we find him as a young man in Amiens, in Worms, later in Poitiers or on the island of Gallinaria (now Isola d'Albenga) off the western coast of Italy, to name only a few places, until he finally found a base in Tours for his long journeys through Gaul. He could not be prevented from going into the diocese of Candes to mediate a controversy, although he foresaw his death; there he died on November 11 in the year 397.
Download the article: Emmi Pickler Haus, Part 2
Part One of this article, published in the previous issue of Gateways, described a visit to Emmi-Pikler-Haus, a residential home in Germany. Part Two gives more background on Emmi Pikler herself and on the two teachers who took up her work in relationship to that of Rudolf Steiner.
A Brief History of Lóczy
After many children had been orphaned by the war, pediatrician Emmi Pikler was commissioned by the City of Budapest in 1946 to organize and direct a foster home where children would live until they were three years old. The fundamental ideas on which this home was founded have a history which goes back to the 1920s in Vienna, where Emmi Pikler went to medical school and received her medical training under Prof. Clemens von Pirquet at the University Hospital.
Download the article: Teacher Training in Mexico
Waldorf education is alive and well in México! This summer marked the ninth year that the Centro Antróposofico has hosted teacher training courses, currently at the Waldorf School of Cuernavaca, (the City of Eternal Spring) in the state of Morelos.
The teacher training started in 2001 and the directors of the Centro at that time were Alida Gonzalez, Teri Block and Verónica Gabucio. Feliz and Beatriz Zimmermann, longtime Waldorf teachers from Switzerland, had already spent years offering workshops, conferences and talks on Waldorf education in México and, given the interest and the rapid growth of Waldorf programs and schools, the time seemed ripe to offer professional training.
Teri Block has since gone on to pioneer new ventures, but Alida and Verónica have steadfastly carried the Centro and its students for each three week intensive. This past summer was no exception.
Download the article: Pictures from Norway
In early May, 2009, I found myself waiting to meet Susan Howard in the airport of Oslo, Norway. We were on our way to Arendahl, a small, seaside town close to the southern tip of Norway and we had come to speak (along with Ann Sharfman, from South Africa) at their national early childhood association yearly conference. These yearly conferences are held in different schools each year and the school hosting this particular conference, Stjerneglimt (Star Glitter, or Shine) was also celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary. Founded by Eldbjorg Paulssen, who still teaches there, it is now home to infants through five-year-olds. When we attended an Open House there, we met several young mothers who themselves had been children there in the early years of the school.
My first impression of Norway was that of granite, pushing the land into jutting mountains, steep hills and rock-strewn valleys. It is no wonder that the Norwegians became a seafaring people-the land looked impossible to farm! Trees are tall, forests dense, and the rock, almost like a sleeping beast just under the surface, always present. I understood all the trolls and giants in Norse tales now that I had seen this rugged and wild landscape.
Download the article: Book Review: Saint Martin
Saint Martin: Between Michaelmas and the Holy Nights by Michael Martin (WECAN Books, 2009).
Martinmas is not one of the American traditional celebrations (outside of some Waldorf schools), yet it is appealing in its images. The simple story of the legend of Saint Martin we know. Martin, a Roman soldier, took pity on a poor, shivering beggar. He cut his cloak in two and bestowed half of it upon the beggar. Later in a dream Martin saw that the beggar he had served was the Christ. This event at age eighteen transformed his young life completely, and shortly afterward he sought baptism and true, humble dedication to his new Christian faith. Two years later while still serving in the Roman army, he laid down his sword and refused to bear arms against another human being-in opposition to family expectation, training, and instruction of his Roman commanders. Martin went on to become bishop of Tours in France. He was known for his humility and compassion toward others, especially the downcast, the poor, and those whom society had rejected. The light and sense of hope he brought to these people is reflected in the Lantern Festival some of us celebrate in our Waldorf schools each autumn around November 11.
Articles in this issue include:
Letter from the Editor by Stephen Spitalny
The Child's Relationship to the Doll by Bernadette Raichle
The Kindness Ball by Barbara Klocek
Making Peace with Toddler Conflict by Trice Atchinson
The Sensible Child? by Kevin Avison
First Grade Readiness: The Development of Memory and the Transformation of Play by Louise de Forest
Working Together by Maggie Reilly
Holding the Adult in a Meditative Light- Deepening our work with Parents in the Parent-Child Class by Magdalena Toran
The Role of the Evaluator by Holly Koteen Soule
Emmi-Pikler Haus by Joyce Gallardo
Book Review: Parenting With Spirit by Reviewed by Stephen Spitalny
Download the article: Letter from the Editor
A colleague in Denmark, Christine Christiansen, sent along a short and noteworthy quote from The Sense of Wonder, by Rachel Carson, perfect for starting off this issue of Gateways. Carson writes, "If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in:' It reminds me of something Rudolf Steiner wrote (in The Education of the Child in the Light of Anthroposophy) that has appeared in these pages before. "Pleasure and delight are the forces that most properly enliven and call forth the organs' physical forms.. . The joy of children in and with their environment, must therefore be counted among the forces that build and shape the physical organs. They need teachers that look and act with happiness and, most of all, with honest, unaffected love. Such a love that streams, as it were, with warmth through the physical environment of the children may be said to literally 'hatch' the forms of the physical organs:' Two different takes on how important it is for developing children to be surrounded by adults who live joyously.
Download the article: The Child's Relationship to the Doll
In 1995, Bernadette Raichle began Awhina Day Nursery and Kindergarten in New Zealand, which has been a model and inspiration for many others seeking to provide anthropsophically-based out-of-home care for young children. In her book, Creating a Home for Body, Soul, and Spirit: A New Approach to Childcare (WECAN, 2008) Bernadette explores in loving detail the many aspects of making a true "home away from home" for children. These excerpts from Chapters 12 and 13 give a few of her insights.
There is nothing more sacred than making a doll for a beloved child. The creating, which may be experienced as an "ensouling," begins with the first piece of fleece that is taken to begin rolling the head, organically building up, little by little, each layer of wool. . . a gesture of enfolding, of wrapping, until you have before you a beautiful sphere. For the young child, this sphere, which is later to become the head of the dolly, resonates of cosmic memories.
Download the article: The Kindness Ball
It was August and I was getting ready for the new school year. I was hoping for some inspiration, as I knew one of the children coming into my class had a real reputation in the community for being difficult. A harmonious social mood in my class is a high priority for me. I have come to feel that one of my tasks as a kindergarten teacher is to support learning the social skills needed for resolving differences and being inclusive.
This child was prone to poking, pushing, grabbing, laughing at, and saying mean things to other children (and teachers). I had in place a "watching chair" as a discipline tool in my class. This was in fact any chair, but usually referred to several that were set to the side of the classroom. The rough or rude child would be led there, and with the teacher sitting with him or her, would have a chance to sit and observe ("watch") how the other children were interacting. This has the effect of bringing the child into stillness, which for many children is necessary in order for them to calm and collect themselves. It also serves to give positive feedback to children who are able to be kind and cooperative. I have found this a gentle yet effective way to encourage "listening" on the part of the children.