Thursday, December 29, 2011

Humanising Education through Art , Movement and Rhythm in the Waldorf Science and Humanities Curriculum

‎'Humanising Education through Art , Movement and Rhythm in the Waldorf Science and Humanities Curriculum' from the 3rd to 7th Jan 2012 , at Hyderabad, India.

Please visit for more information and registration.

Article Sharing - Bake, play, learn

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Article Sharing: Secrets of Thriving Children by Sally Goddard Blythe

The Genius of Natural Childhood: Secrets of Thriving Children by Sally Goddard Blythe

Almost every day the newspapers carry a new story about changes in children’s development and lifestyle: Studies which have indicated that children’s muscular strength has declined in the last 12 years when hand grip and the ability to support their own body weight was assessed; surveys in which up to 40% of parents admitted they have never read to their child; a study involving more than 18 000 children which revealed that three in ten children grow up in homes with no books and that children with no books are two and a half times more likely to fall below their expected reading level for their age, but 85% of these same children aged 8 – 15 years own a game console.  This growing body of evidence combined with findings from our own research, which has indicated that a significant percentage of children enter school with immature motor skills and that there is a link between immature motor skills and lower educational performance, led me to revisit the lullabies, nursery rhymes, stories, games and activities from my childhood and ask the questions, “what did these activities provide for the developing child?” What is the genius of natural childhood?
Growing up in the physical world
The rapid pace of urbanisation and advances taking place in technology means that social and cultural change is beginning to overtake the biological needs of the child.   As human beings we are also mammals and mammals have evolved in the context of the physical world, in which physical experience and social interaction have been crucial to development.   One example can be seen in the importance of rough and tumble play in the animal kingdom.  Mammals that do not engage in rough and tumble play as pups tend to be rejected by the group.  Rough and tumble play is important because it develops sensory skills, control, restraint and develops neural circuits involved in creativity and practise of life skills. The young child of today is no exception in this respect as every child must learn to become competent and confident in the use of his or her body to be fully equipped with the tools for learning and for life.

Learning with the Body
Young children learn with their bodies before they learn with their brain. An infant’s first language is one of movement and music.  Babies express their wants and needs through a combination of gestures, alteration in posture, facial expression, speed and quality of movements and the tones and rhythms of the sounds they make.  Movement is important not only as a form of expression but also the primary medium through which an infant explores its world, learns to integrate information derived from the senses (the basis for perception) and to develop good control of the body through development of muscle tone,  balance and posture, which are fundamental to good coordination.  While the driving force for the development of these skills is maturation, they are entrained through experience.
The first of the senses to develop is the sense of balance.  In place at just 8 – 9 weeks after conception and functioning at 16 weeks, the balance system is fully formed and ready for use at birth.  But rather like being given a grand piano as a gift at birth, before it will deliver its potential, the child must learn to play and this can only be done through practice.  The balance mechanism is the primary sensor for gravity and it responds to different types of movement, variation in speed of movement and when movement starts and stops. Before birth, the unborn child’s sensation of movement was cushioned and the effect of gravity reduced by the surrounding amniotic fluid and the support of the mother’s body, meaning that movement was experienced as slow and gentle, just like being under water.  After birth, movements that mimic this pre-natal experience tend to be soothing and comforting for children.  These include slow rocking, swaying from side to side and being carried on the mother’s body – movements which parents use instinctively to soothe a fractious baby.
The first lesson in becoming a master of movement is control of the head and proper alignment of the head in relation to body position.  This will provide a basis not only for posture and balance but also the later control of eye movements needed for reading, writing, catching a ball and even driving a car, and it involves the development of extensor muscle tone against gravity. One way of helping this to develop is giving babies plenty of “tummy time” on a clean floor surface when awake.  (Research has shown that the incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is reduced if babies a put to sleep on their backs.  This advice has led to many parents becoming afraid to place infants on their tummy when awake, or leaving it until the infant is several months old and protests when placed on the tummy.) Wakeful tummy time is important because it encourages the development of head, neck and upper trunk control which are necessary to support posture for the remainder of life.  Examples of this progression can be seen below. Development of extensor tone on the tummy:
Babies placed in a seat for several hours of the day may develop good control of the lower portion of the body through kicking and stretching movements, but the challenge to upper body control is considerably less and they do not to have learnhow to lift the head, to support upper body weight or to learn to sit by themselves.   Later on, this can affect the development of posture and upper body control needed to sit up straight and carry out coordinated movements such as writing.
Sensory motor experience also entrains pathways involved in perception (the brain’s interpretation of sensory information).  Early reflexes provide one example of how this takes place. In the first days of life, a newborn baby will search or “root” for the breast using the sense of touch.  Contact with the area around the mouth will result in the infant turning its head, nuzzling or searching for the breast and when an object is introduced in the mouth, the suck reflex will come into play.
While the visual system is relatively immature at this age, only being able to focus at a distance of some 17centimetres from the face, objects remaining blurred and the eyes being drawn to the periphery of shapes making outlines more significant than the detail contained within, the sense of touch on the other hand, is highly sensitive. Initially, the neonate uses touch and smell to locate the source of nourishment and comfort but within a few weeks, sight of the breast will be sufficient to initiate sucking movements.  In other words, the combination of touch, smell and movement lead into visual association, and vision will eventually supersede the more primitive reflex response.  While maturation acts as the dynamo for development, it needs the context of physical experience to unfold its potential.
Given the opportunity, babies carry out thousands of seemingly random movements every day.  Esther Thelan studied these movements and found that far from being random, movements were rhythmic and stereotyped. What they lack in the early months is cortical direction and control.  When analyzed in slow motion, many of the movements and attitudes constitute primitive versions of highly skilled movements used by ballet dancers, acrobats, divers and gymnasts.  In this sense, the human infant really does dance before he can walk, and sing before he can talk.

The Language of Music and Mime
Babies communicate using the language of music and mime.  Cooing and babbling are essentially musical in nature and the hand movements and gestures made by infants engaged in both listening and vocalising have been compared to the highly trained hand movements of an orchestral conductor.   Nearly 150 years ago, Charles Darwin wrote, ‘I have been led to infer that the progenitors of man probably uttered musical tones before they had acquired the powers of articulate speech.  Babies can ‘hear’ a restricted range of lower to medium-frequency sounds from the 24th week of pregnancy, sounds which roughly correspond to the range of the human voice and the majority of musical instruments used in classical music.  All sounds heard inside the womb are reduced in volume by about 30%, the loudest sound being that of the mother’s heartbeat.  Sounds from the outside world are about 35 decibels quieter than sounds generated from the internal environment, the only exception being the sound of the mother’s voice, which is particularly powerful because it resonates internally and externally, her body acting as the sounding board. Vocal speech and singing have a powerful on all physiological processes including cardio-respiratory function, digestion, hormonal secretion, motion, emotion and intelligence.  Before and after birth, a mother’s voice provides a connection between respiration, sound and movement – an acoustic link from life and communication before birth – to the brave new world outside the womb.
Russian paediatrician and musician Michael Lazarev described the mother’s voice as being,   “the main instrument in his pre-natal education.  This is a tuning fork to attune the strings of the soul to vibrations of the outside world, to get into a universe of human culture.  These vibrations are the first to form the deepest structures of his personality. Mother is the sculptor who shapes her baby with her voice”.
Music is the natural medium for this creative and connective process, because music is composed of elements which are common to all languages, all forms of communication and can be understood at a physical and emotional level by the very young child.  Singing contains all the tonal and rhythmic elements of speech and “motherese” – the sing-song style of speech used by mothers instinctively when talking to their babies – is particularly musical.  Singing slows down the sounds of speech, prolonging the time value of “open” vowel sounds, making it easier to hear and reproduce the sounds and contours of words.
Lullabies – traditional songs of the nursery – have characteristic rhythms which mimic the slow swaying movement of the mother’s body, providing gentle stimulation to the balance system while also providing the comfort and reassurance of the mother’s voice.  Research has shown that the sound of the mother’s voice has the same effect on emotions as receiving a cuddle, while lullabies and nursery rhymes carry the “signature” melodies and inflections of the mother tongue, preparing the ear, voice and brain for receptive and expressive language.
Live music is particularly important because it involves communication, teaching the ability to “read”, replicate and reproduce all the nuances and subtleties gleaned from another’s body language and spontaneous responses.   Stimulation derived from a remote or virtual source does not pay attention to the child’s reactions or listen to what the child has to say. It is essentially an egotistical form of communication which follows its own course without consideration for the listener or the viewer. This medium of stimulation occurs in a pre-programmed, virtual world created by a particular type of mind and constitutes a monologue rather than a dialogue. Children’s response to live music is different from recorded music and babies are particularly responsive when the music comes directly from the parent. It is the human interaction (touch, voice, and eye contact) using a form of language which is attuned to an infant’s level of development which are important, not the individual lullaby itself although all lullabies share a similar range of rhythms and tones – a form of universal language.
The peculiar structure of lullabies where the music is written like a story with a beginning, middle and end appeals to children and this same organisation helps them to learn structure and order and exercise imagination. “The melody and harmony are just intricate enough to stimulate the imagination slightly, yet also send an unspoken message of support and security, in a way no words can describe.” Whether humming, chanting, or singing, anyone can make music and as a parent your child will not judge you on your musical abilities.  As far as he or she is concerned, you are the expert.
Nursery rhymes provide a natural sequel to lullabies although they were not originally designed for this purpose.  Many reflect events in history and the political and social problems that were prevalent in the time and place where they developed, when outright criticism of authority would have resulted in punishment, but parody was still possible.  Many nursery rhymes were originally rather like the political and social commentators, satirists and cartoonists of today. As such, they are an important part of a child’s cultural history and heritage.  They are also rich in rhyming words, repetition and alliteration, helping the young child to identify minute differences between words and their meaning.
Sound of the parent’s voice extends from lullabies and nursery rhymes into reading to children.  In a survey, carried out in 2010, found that more than half of primary school teachers said that they have seen at least one child with no experience of being told stories at home.  In some homes the television or electronic games have become a substitute for books but these do little to nurture a child’s imagination, verbal communication or non-verbal communication. The content of stories is also important.  Here again, our modern society seems increasingly at odds with the wisdom of previous generations.  For centuries, children used to be reared on wonderful rich fairy tales, like Cinderella, the Frog Prince, and The Tinder Box, or on uplifting parables from the Bible like the Prodigal Son or the Good Samaritan. More treasures came from the ancient fables of the Greek storyteller Aesop or the folk rhymes, like Ring-a-Rosie. Yet all this literary wealth is falling out of fashion, for a variety of reasons.  Some think that these age old fairy tales are too scary and therefore would disturb their children.  In a recent poll of 3000 parents for the website almost 20 per cent of adults said they refused to read Hansel and Gretel because the children were abandoned in a forest – and it may give their children nightmares.  A fifth did not like to read The Gingerbread Man as he gets eaten by a fox.
Similarly, in our increasingly secular, atheistic world, anything from the Bible is seen as being tainted with the out dated dogma of the Christian faith, no matter how pertinent the message.

Stories for Life
Fairy stories and parables are important precisely because they use “make-believe” to teach fundamental principles of moral behaviour.  Stereotypes of good and evil are used to illustrate that goodness endures and bad behaviour will eventually receive its just deserts.  Far from demonising the dwarfs, the story of Snow White shows that underlying physical diversity there can be greater kindness and generosity than is found in the stereotypes of beauty and wealth so lauded by celebrity worshipping cultures.  In many fairy stories, (Goldilocks for example) it is the smallest and weakest in the group with whom the heroine identifies and in the Emperor’s New Clothes, vanity and pride are revealed as vacuous posturing without substance, which mask stupidity, and obstruct the use of common sense.  These stories are not cruel and discriminatory; rather they help children to understand through fantasy firstly, the quirks and weaknesses of human behaviour in general and secondly, to accept many of their own fears and emotions in particular.  The modern tendency to protect children from anything unpleasant, that they cannot cope with, does not help them develop the resilience needed to face death, separation, rejection, injury, hardship or conflict in their own lives when they encounter it for the first time.   Fantasy and fairy stories can actually strengthen their fibre. They know, when the tale begins, that they are stepping into a fantasy world, for the opening words “Once upon time” are a signal to engage their imaginations.    What follows, whether it be witches, or princes, castles or forests, can be shocking or enchanting but it all serves to deepen a child’s thinking processes in a way that TV and computer games never can.  Amidst all the heartache before the happy ending, the prime lesson of the story is the courageous virtue of being true to the self.

Earlier this year, my daughter gave birth to my first grandchild.   In the course of making preparations for the new arrival, I was reminded how different the expectations and pressures on parents of today are compared to only 25 years ago. Marketing for the baby industry is so slick and successful that many new parents are seduced into believing that babies are born needing an array of equipment, from electronic devices which play lullabies and classical music to bouncing cradles which mimic the motion of a car.  While these can be helpful to exhausted parents in soothing a fretful baby to sleep, they cannot replace the experience derived from direct physical interaction with the environment and one-to-one communication with another human being.
Some of the best playgrounds and tools for learning are free: Parental time, involvement, communication; space and freedom to move and explore; song, dance and a love of stories.  Two of the greatest gifts that parents and society can give to a child in addition to love, is competence and confidence in use of their body in the physical world and the ability to understand and use language.   While we should not reject the many advances and advantages of the modern world, neither should we discard the wisdom of the past.  Some of the most successful societies are those that seamlessly weave new developments into the existing fabric of the old, enriching the tapestry for generations in the future.
Sally Goddard Blythe directs the Institute of Neuro-Physiological Psychology. She researches children’s learning difficulties and is an authority on remedial programmes. Her widely translated books include The Well Balanced Child, What Babies and Children Really Need and Reflexes, Learning and Behaviour. The Genius of Natural Childhood: Secrets of Thriving Children was published this year in the UK by Hawthorn Press as part of their “early years series.” It’s available in the US from Steiner Books.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Article Sharing: THe Little Ones by Helle Heckmann

We live in a society today that does not invest in our children. Most parents do not have a choice of whether they stay at home with their children or go to work. This means young children need to be cared for by others, which results in parents needing to find a care situation they feel comfortable with when they leave their little ones. Not an easy choice for any parent!



When I had my first child 30 years ago, it was difficult to find a place where I could safely leave my child. People at the different child care facilities were very nice, but I was looking for teachers with an inner calmness and ability to meet my child on my child’s premises. I also wanted for the teachers to have knowledge, even spiritually, of what a human being is.



I found the pedagogy and spiritual insight I was looking for in Rudolf Steiner’s work, and I started at the Early Childhood teacher college in Copenhagen. After finishing my education I opened Nøkken Kindergarten 22 years ago. At that time we were the only Waldorf Early Childhood setting to receive children under three years old.



Since forming Nøkken, I have worked intensively with children. I am reminded daily of how essential it is for children to have enough of the simple, core needs of rhythm, sleep, freedom to move, good nutrition, imitation, the proper clothing and time to do things on their own terms.

  • Rhythm of the Day
Everyday chores and rhythms of the day can be the same though a child’s first seven years. As a child grows, and because it grows, it will get a more nuanced experience of its surroundings. Therefore, a one-year-old and a seven-year-old will look at everyday life very differently, even if they live in the exact same surroundings. They grow into life and notice how the world becomes larger and larger, but the world becomes larger in a recognizable way. It creates security for children to find out how life affects them if they can do it by themselves and in their own tempo. Children need to seize the world before they can understand it.

  • Sleep

Working with children, particularly the little ones, you quickly realize how incredibly dependent they are on sleep. You can say that a good day depends on a good night’s sleep. If a child has not slept well, she will have a very hard time to have enough energy for the social life, she necessarily has to be part of, when she spends the day with other children. The kindergarten and the home must have a close working relationship in order to meet the child’s needs, particularly when “teaching” a child to sleep. It is essential that the child at home gets twelve hours of sleep every night, and for children under three years old, up to a couple of hours during the day as well. Rhythm of the day, both in kindergarten and at home, needs to be built up so that it supports the child’s need for sleep.

  • Movement

It is important for a young child to have opportunities to say “YES” to physical challenges. By being physical the child is stimulated in her curiosity and she can discover her surroundings. By exploring the body’s challenges and possibilities the child gets to know itself. From very early on it is important for children to have opportunities to go for long walks and become inspired by their natural surroundings and experience the changing seasons. It is essential to let children crawl, jump, dance, play with mud and so on. All these things help children to develop and give them a natural confidence. Movement helps children to test and know themselves better. This way a child can meet other children in inspiration, in play and in care for each other.





  • Nutrition

When children sleep and move they have a healthy appetite. A hungry child will eat what is served. It is the adult’s responsibility to know what is good for the child, and it is essential for a child to get nutrition with enough fuel so she has energy for the physical and social challenges she will meet all day long.



The ground rules are basic and support each other mutually: live a rhythmical life with the child, make sure she gets a good night’s sleep and enough movement, has a proper diet and, of course, make sure the child is dressed properly so she does not need to use unnecessary energy to warm her body, but can use her energy to observe and imitate the world.

  • Imitation

Having a mixed age group, from one to seven years old, is important because children of different ages learn from each other. Small children can observe the older children and in this way get inspired to come into the universe of playing. The older children get to know themselves better and they see how capable they are when they measure themselves against the younger ones. If children are also surrounded by adults who truly grasp life in daily work, the children have a model worth imitating, one who inspires and guides them in how to meet the world.

  • How long can a child be separated from its parents?

How many hours can a child bear to be away from home? How many hours can a mother or father really bear to be away from their child without losing sense of their child and without losing a sense of the child being their responsibility?



I have a clear picture of children needing other children. They are very interested in being with each other, but not for 8-10 hours a day. My experience shows that 6 hours a day is more than enough. Then the child comes with a smile and leaves with a smile.

  • Kindergarten replacing families

Is it really clear how kindergartens replace families and in reality become the children’s base? At home many children are an only child, have a big gap between siblings, or live in a household of children brought together from previous relationships, children the child maybe did grow up with.


These family constellations are often very different from the image of a traditional, old-fashioned family. An entire childhood used to be with the same mother, father and children. Even this type of family is today individually so busy, that home is often only a meeting point before going out again. This means the child uses many resources to relate to what happens at home. “What is happening right now?” “Who is here?” “Where am I going?” Because of this I find it is important for children to come to early childhood settings and kindergartens. Here it is possible to create a day that is recognizable and rhythmical. The children will find the same group of children and hopefully also the same adults. When children step into kindergarten, they should feel like they are stepping into an old-fashioned home, where everything is as it has always been. In kindergarten the children will have peace to grow and understand their surroundings in a setting created for the children and without stress.


  •  Childhood is a question of time


Childhood is a question of time, a lot of time! It takes a long time to become a human being, and time is what children needs today, maybe more than ever. It is very difficult today to get the necessary peace it takes for a child to grow. Childhood is a unique time and the foundation for the rest of life. Early childhood is where the seed to everything precious is planted. This time never comes back, and mistakes made in childhood take a lifetime to repair.



If parents invest as much time in everyday life with their children as they really demand, the parents also invest in a future where children are healthy and able to take care of themselves when they grow up. When children are young, it may seem as if childhood will go on forever for the parents, but later, the years with young children seems to have gone by very quickly. A good investment in fulfilling the basic needs in early childhood gives fruit to harvest later because a mutual respect and trust has been established, something to build on for the rest of life






Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Article Sharing: Daily Rhythm at Home and its Lifelong Relevance by Helle Heckmann

As parents of little children, you are often very tired and you get too little sleep, and when you have too little sleep you also have too little energy and then often you give in when you think you should not have done, or you get angry or irritated so you are not present and when you are not present you lose the children and you do not like yourself. To make it easier for you to deal in the daily life with your children there are three important considerations:

To be flexible

•To set limits (borders) and

•To observe the same routine everyday

To become flexible is the result of objective inward observation. You may train your flexibility through an inner work where you learn about yourself. In relation to limits, you have to find out them for yourself. You have to decide what the limits are for your child in your house: time to go to bed, time to eat, what to eat, what language to use in the family and so on. You have to make up your mind about limits beforehand, so, instead of saying “no, no, no…” and becoming angry, you simply do not allow the children to go beyond the limits. You know this is your decision and do not need to be angry. If you are ahead of the child and you see a certain situation coming, with humor and the right gesture or word, you can move away from the situation, and this will be possible if you train your flexibility. Knowing more about yourself will give you the possibility to also be ahead of yourself. When you catch this tool you can start working with your children in a much freer way, because the limits are set.

The third recommendation, to make a routine which is the same every day, gives the child rhythm. All Waldorf families probably know how the daily life is in the kindergarten. The children go through the day in alternate periods of concentration and expansion, as if in a breathing rhythm where there is inhaling and exhaling.

In the inhaling or breathing-in phase the child directs his attention to an activity that basically relates him to himself. For little children each breathing-in period (drawing, water painting, and knitting, eating…) is very short because little children can only concentrate for short periods of time. In the exhaling or breathing-out period, the child relates mainly to the surrounding world (free play, free running etc.). For each breathing-in period the child needs a breathing-out period and so a pattern is established. This rhythm is something that you can bring into your home. You have to try to find out when the children breathes-in and when they breathe-out. And when the children are in the breathing-in period, you have to make sure you are present, so the child feels ah, here I feel my parents, they are there for me. After that, for very short time, you can do what you have to do at home and you can tell your child you have to wait because I need to do this. And this will be all right because you know you have been present with the child. As an example, look at the situation when parents pick up their children from the kindergarten. At the very moment you are picking up your child: Does the cell phone ring and you answer? Do you greet your friends and engage in intense talk? If yes, then you are not present for the child. In my last visit to Mexico I saw very few parents really greeting their children, the majority were talking to other parents or engaged in school affairs or talking in their cell phones, or arriving late or in a hurry.

But, for your child who has been gone for five hours and who really wants you… you are not there. So the child screams I want an ice cream! I want this or that! or he starts running around, or falling, or getting into little conflict because he is confused, because he has not really met you. On the contrary, if you take the time (and it is five seconds perhaps), you bend down, give him a hug and then smell him (so lovely!) and really you are there, his eyes will tell you more than words, how his day was. He cannot tell you with words because he cannot remember, but his eyes will tell you everything.  And then you take his hand and walk together (of course in a tempo that the child can follow), and this is really lovely because you are making a new nice situation, a “you and I situation.” Now, if you need to greet people you can do it, very shortly, but together with the child because your child will feel I am where I belong, with my parent. This was a breathing-in situation where you were present.

Then you go to the car and go home (breathing-out) and it is probably time for eating which brings again a breathing-in situation. How do you eat? Do you sit down together with the child? Or is the child sitting by himself and you are walking around talking on the telephone? If you give yourself the time and sit down with your child you will teach the child manners at the table by your example. Many of the children today do not sit with their parents and they do not learn to hold utensils appropriately. However, this is important, otherwise when they are seven years old they cannot hold a pencil and to learn it at that age is so difficult compared to when they were one or two years old. 

In addition, to sit at the table and to have a beginning, a process and an end, is important because this is how you should live the whole of life. Everything has a beginning, a process and an end. It may take you only fifteen minutes to sit appropriately, to check how the child holds and drinks from cup (children from one year onwards do not need a sip cup), to eat with closed mouth, and everything you are given and so on, being, in this way, an example for your child to follow, but more importantly you have taken this short moment to make again a “you and I situation” and at the same time you also help the child to find a social form of how we are when we eat together.

When you finish with the meal you remind the children they need to help with the table so that they also learn that when they are a part of a social environment they also take part in the cleaning up. In this way you have made and create a situation where you have been present and now you can say to the child go and play (breathing-out) because you have been there, and then you can do what you need to do but you have to be visible to your child. This is so, because a little child cannot play by himself if the center is not there and you are the most important person for the child. You are his center, and if you leave the room the little child will follow you.


When you are doing your things, the situation may occur where children will say I am bored. In this case you, of course, don´t turn on the television or music. When you are occupied with other things, you can tell your child now you play by yourself. If you know you have been present you can actually expect them to find something to do themselves. It is very important that you are not afraid of your children not knowing what to do or being bored. It is very important that you feel it is right: I have been there with them now they can be by themselves.

Nowadays, parents often use media or adult-directed activities for their children because they are afraid of their children being bored and assume that they are not able to do anything themselves. This is a tricky situation. If you think you have to entertain your under-seven children all the time, with media (films, TV, videogames, computers and so on), after-school classes, and/or other adult-directed activities, then they do not learn how to play by themselves. They will not have a moment where they can be in a state of not knowing what to do and from there progress into a state of finding images inwardly and thus creating things from inside out. By letting them to be bored you help them, because being bored represents the opportunity the children will have to go into this process of inner creativity. The fact that children are able to be by themselves, to create their own play without adult direction is of great importance because during the first seven years of the child everything is about being able to create.

If all the activities come from outside (electronic screen, video-games, adult direction, etc.), then not much happens in the sphere of inward creation. That is why in Waldorf kindergartens, teachers do not sit down and play with the children but do real work, from which the children draw inspiration to use it in their own play. In these kindergartens you may find teachers sweeping, cooking, sawing, tending the vegetable patch, taking care of farm animals, cutting wood, and whatever the particular setting of each school allows to do. Equally, you, as a parent, in the breathing-out phase, may do your work and the children beside you should be able to do their work (i.e. their own play). This is possible only when the children feel that they have met you in a previous breathing-in phase.

It is the same when children go to bed in the evening. What the child loves to hear are stories from your life. No book, no radio, no music, no film nor cartoon can make the same impact on the child as you. And to find your own story to tell means so much and it is, in addition, a tool with which you can change very stuck situations. It is so difficult for children to let go of you if they have not felt you present. But, if you have hold your child, blown a little in the ear, told her a little story from the heart, so you have really been there, then you can kiss her and put her to bed and feel I can leave because I have been there. And then you can expect that your child is able to sleep by herself, which is healthy for your child.

In Denmark, where I come from, many parents are in a situation where they have to lie down and hold hands with the child, read 20 stories, sing 50 songs, and all this takes one, one and a half, two hours and when finally they go out quietly of the bedroom they hear ‘Mum, water, Mum!’ and then become annoyed. You can avoid this by setting limits and finding a comfortable way to leave because you have been present in different situations during the day. Otherwise the child has not been filled enough with your love and, if in addition, he has not been given opportunities to do his own play, to work from inside out, you cannot expect he will be able to sleep by himself.

There is an additional aspect I would like to draw attention to for the after-kindergarten time you have with your children. If you take your children from class to class or entrust them to the media in its different varieties you have less time with them. Children are small for very short time. At present, you may be thinking it is a long time to go but, in no time you will see it went so fast. By letting your child to engage in his own play while you are around doing your own chores, and being really present in those breathing-in situations, you build trust between your child and you. And this trust will be important when they get a little older and get into pre-puberty and puberty because with this, they will come to you when they have problems and listen to you when you tell them what and what not to do. But they will only do it if they trust you, if you have been there for them. And that is why the first seven years of children are so important, because their whole trust, their believing that the world is good, is the basis of their future lives.

After that first seven years, it is their friends who become the focus. Their choice of friends has a lot to do with the morality you have shown them and built up through the first seven years. In addition, if children were given the opportunity to work inwardly, they will know themselves and then they will be able to say “no” when they meet something they do not like and “yes” to what they want. You can make a choice if you know yourself and a human being who can make a choice has healthy self-esteem.

In this context it is important how the kindergarten and the home relate to each other: there must be a bridge from one world to the other. In a way, it is a little hard for families who choose a Waldorf education for your children as you become different from the mainstream, but this is your choice. You cannot do both. Once you have taken the road of consciousness, you are concerned about the food, their upbringing, everything. To make the bridge from having the children in the Waldorf kindergarten and at your home is, of course, important so the child can see that everything fits. That is why it is incredibly important to build up trust between the kindergarten and the family, through which the kindergarten teacher is able to support the family´s choice but also for the family to respect what is brought in the kindergarten so one thing without the other is nothing. So you need to find a way together.

I have three children who are 29, 26, and 23 and now I can harvest the 25 years of hard dedicated work with my children, and it is so fantastic because I can see how they can go out in life with freedom and also I can move around in the world with freedom and wisdom, because they don´t need me anymore but they like me and they like to be with me and also their friends. And this is, I think, the highest thing we wish as parents, that when our children are adults, they actually, by their own free choice, choose to be with us at certain moments. We can find with our children a new way of building social relationships because we have another consciousness by which we can meet our children better.

Helle Heckmann is a Waldorf kindergarten teacher in Denmark. Books and a dvd about her work at Nokken near Copenhagen are available from WECAN. Helle is also offering courses and workshops worldwide and can be contacted at

OR click below to read article

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Painting Atmospheric Colour Moods @ S'pore

When: November 15th to 17th

How: Individual and group painting sessions

What: Please see descriptions below

Where: Function Room, The Highgate Condo, 66 Toh Tuck Road, Singapore (596730)

How much: 120 SGD per individual session/ 80 SGD per group session

RSVP: to by Nov 12th, at the latest

o Exploring atmospheric colour moods

o Painting colour interpretations of fairy tales, legends and stories.

o Introduction to Veil Painting.

o Working with Light and Darkness in the medium of charcoal.

o Observation exercises to increase tonal and colour awareness.

o Colour in relationship to the human being evolving through time and childhood development.

o Introduction to Painting Therapy according to the method of Liane Collot d’Herbois.

o Using liquid water- colour and a moist piece of paper, we will learn to paint atmospheric colour moods. The way in which the colours shine and flow into each other, stimulates the imagination and lays a foundation on which to begin building up a picture. This way of painting is very nurturing and relaxing for all ages. For this workshop we will focus on the colour magenta.

Sally Martin has been involved with Anthroposophy since 1980, mainly working in the context of Camphill Communities in the UK. (Living and working together with people with special needs) Throughout her life, Sally has been fortunate to be able to work with many fine artists who stimulated her own artistic development, and from each of them she gathered new insights into the world of colour. In 1994 she came in contact with the teachings of Liane Collot d’Herbois, successfully completing four years of painting therapy training at the Emerald Foundation in the Netherlands; followed by a further 4 years of artistic painting training in this method. In July 2001 Sally moved with her family to Australia. Since then she has consistently worked as a teacher and a therapist both locally and further abroad. In 2008 she founded The Sienna Academy for painting therapy and artistic painting according to the method of Liane Collot d’Herbois. This Australian four-year training based in Mapleton on the Sunshine Coast is well supported by visiting specialist teachers and has attracted an international group of students.

Sally visited Singapore in July last year and ran very successful sessions for our community here. She also works very closely with Dr Lakshmi Prasanna with schools in Australia.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Bunker Roy: Learning from a barefoot movement

In Rajasthan, India, an extraordinary school teaches rural women and men -- many of them illiterate -- to become solar engineers, artisans, dentists and doctors in their own villages. It's called the Barefoot College, and its founder, Bunker Roy, explains how it work.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Talk (30 Oct 2011): Waldorf Music by Martina Etterich

Just got to know about this...hope is not too late

"What kind of musical experience and learning journey would be suitable for our children in this 21st century? "

"How do we select the appropriate music for different ages of children?"

When and where is the talk?

Date : 30 Oct 2011
Time : 9.30am to 12pm
Venue : AMPAC
Anne Musikschule Performing Arts Centre Sdn Bhd
No 23, Block D2, Jalan PJU 1A/20B
Dataran Ara Damansara,
47301, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia

Location map :

How much?

RM50 per person

How to pay?

Please bank-in to Maybank account 164351066456 (SOO WAI HAN). Upon bank-in, please send notification to

You may also pass your cash to the following contact persons :-
Kota Kemuning : Janet 012-3931041
USJ : Cheah Kim Kee 012-3192908
Puchong : Ong Ai Ling 016-3358882

More details at

Martina Etterich, an experienced Waldorf teacher and an Anthroposophical Singing Therapist, visiting Malaysia end of this month. She will be sharing with us:-

- the developmental stages of children
- music experience in a healthy way
- suitable musical activities for different stages of childhood
- overview of Waldorf music curriculum for kindergarten till grade 6
- how music can develop the social skills of the children
- the role of free play and creativity in music
- instrumental skills and sense of music

Martina holds a Master Degree in Philosophy and Literature from University of Constance. She then further her study in Educational sciences in Zurich for two years. She attended Waldorf Teachers' Training College in Stuttgart, Germany. As an experienced Waldorf teacher, she taught Main Lessons, foreign language and music in Ueberlingen, Germany. She also designed Waldorf school curriculum for children with special needs extending from Grade 1 to 9 in Germany.

Article Sharing - Why Can't My Child Behave? 我的孩子為什麼不乖?

Why Can't My Child Behave?


Saturday, September 3, 2011

Anthroposophical Medicine IPMT 2011 @ India

An email from: Waldorf Steiner Education Association Singapore


To Friends of Waldorf

Please find information below for your perusal.

Kindly contact Parimal Pandit directly:

Dear Friends,

Some of you may be aware that the International Postgraduate Medical
Training 2011 (IPMT) is being conducted at Chennai this year. It is
being held from the 19th - 26th of November 2011.

It is a week long residential program which will be held at TTDC
Resort, Mamallapuram.

There is a new group called Community Development which was started
last year. Community Development is group which is for corporates,

social activists, people associated with administration and community
at large like directors, principals etc. This is facilitated by Dr.
Michaela (world head of Medical section of Anthroposophical Medicine).
Its a wholistic way of looking at society, money and corporates.

There is a new group being added this year, called Curative Education.
This deals with children and adults who have special needs.

Do write to me if you are interested and would like to attend. You can
pass this on to friends who you know will be interested.

Thank you.

Warm regards,

Parimal Pandit
+91 9884733004
IPMT Committee

Monday, August 29, 2011

Talks by Anand Mandaiker in November 2011


Two Interesting Talks by Anand Mandaiker in November 2011:

1. The Spirituality of the Child –Friday, Nov 11, 6.30pm to 9.30pm

2. Three Symbols of Michael – Monday, Nov 28, 6.30pm to 9.30pm

Brief Outline of “The Spirituality of the Child”:

The different stages of childhood, as described by Rudolf Steiner, are
the pillars on which waldorf education is based. The faculties of the
child differ during the different stages. Because of this, the child,
at each stage, relates differently to the world around us and to the
spiritual world. For those accompanying the journey of the child it is
important to be aware of this fact. Not surprisingly, we find the
different stages of childhood also mentioned in olden day scriptures.

Brief Outline of “The Three Symbols of Michael”:

Each epoch in history has a certain quality and connected with this
quality a task for mankind. Just like an angel accompanies the journey
of individual human beings, archangels accompany mankind during
periods of time. Michael is the archangel of our times. To understand
the quality of Michael and our task during his reign, it may be
helpful to look at how he has been depicted in art through the
centuries. The sword or lance, the scales and the globe with the cross
are three symbols that were used to depict the specific quality of

Anand Mandaiker’s Profile

Anand Mandaiker was born in Madras, India in 1965.He graduated in 1985
with a Bachelor of Architecture from the School of Architecture and
Planning, Madras and entered the priests’ seminary in Stuttgart,
Germany in 1986.

In 1992, he was ordinated a priest by the Christian Community, a
Christian denomination inspired by Rudolf Steiner which has its
headquarters in Berlin Germany . He served the Christian community in
Basle, Switzerland until 2003.After that he moved to Tubingen, Germany
and served there till 2006.

In 2006, he was appointed to the leadership(Circle of Seven) of The
Christian Community.Anand Mandaiker is married with two children and
currently resides in Berlin, Germany.

Where ?: TBA.

How much?: $20 for members and $30 for non-members.

RSVP: Email: or

SMS: Monica Kho at 91452449.

Please reserve your seat early by November 5, 2011 at the latest.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Visiting Waldorf Teacher in Penang

A Waldorf educators get-together in Penang...if you are interested pls contact the person below.


Dear Friends,

A very good day to you.

My name is Lin (Teacher Lin) from Taska Lin, Waldorf home based play school In Penang. Ms Junko from Taska Nania will have a visiting Waldorf Teacher with 16 years of experience from Japan . She will be in Penang from 9/9 till 12/9. I thought why don't we (Waldorf educators) take this opportunity to meet on 10/9 to get together for discussions and to know each other.We would like to invite you to join in this meeting.

May you have a wonderful evening.

Warm regards,

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Video by shenxinlin (森心林)

A beautiful song.... children @ GK Organic farm...Enjoy!

Video created by Caterpillar House Malaysia team, shenxinlin (森心林)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Wind Powered Art

Beautiful art can inspire a person to see life in a totally new way. Theo Jansen is the Dutch creator of what he calls "Kinetic Sculptures," where nature and technology meet. Essentially these sculptures are robots powered only by the wind.

Amazingly, these machines are made completely of recycled items. The 'stomach' of the sculpture is made with retired plastic bottles that capture the air pumped by the wind. To harness the wind, Jansen employs bicycle pumps, plastic tubing and rubber rings! Witness beauty through ingenuity :)

Video from KarmaTube

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Baking Bread with Children (Craft)

By (author) Warren Lee Cohen, Illustrated by Marije Rowling
RM75.00 (Postage Not Included)

Product Description

Here is an invitation to share the magic of baking bread with children of all ages and everything you need to get started: bread basics for beginners, a variety of delicious recipes, and a rich store of multicultural stories, songs and blessings to enliven the whole experience.This book covers: food; baking; festivals; and children.It is suitable for families; child carers; early years educators; kindergartens; schools; and after-school clubs.It contains reviews and features from parenting, education, and food magazines; national, regional and local newspapers; and ongoing workshops by the author.

Friday, April 15, 2011

To Earth With Love (Part 2) - Our Earth Story

Once upon a time, Earth was a very happy Earth. She sings and dances to her friends the sun, the moon, the forest, the oceans, the animals and insects and all living beings. Everyone is very happy and in harmony.

One day, Earth stops to sing and dance. She becomes silent. Sometimes, she cries out very hard and sometimes she trembles. When this happens, her animal friends and people friends feel afraid.

One day, a little child comes and speaks to Earth. ‘My dear Earth, what happened to you?’ Earth says in a sad voice ‘Do you really want to know, my little friend?’ The little child nodded. So Earth explained ’My little friend, many people do not love and take care of me anymore. They cut down the trees; they throw rubbish everywhere and litter the ocean, and harm my animal friends. I have told the people many times to stop doing that but no one is putting on their listening ears. It hurts me so sometimes I cry very hard and trembles which in turn harm my friends and people. I feel really sad about it. With tears rolling down Earth’s cheek, Earth asks. ’My little friend, will you please help me?

The little child nodded. She gathers her little friends, little children like you and they start to help Earth. They pick up litters, sort out the papers, plastics, cans and bottles and put them into the right bins for recycling, they draw on both sides of the paper, they turn off the tap while brushing their teeth, they walk or ride on their bicycle to go to places nearby, they take care of the flowers and plants in the garden, and plant many trees.

Hoping that one day Earth will be happy again. Will you be Earth’s little friend and help Earth to be happy again?

Written by Leanne
Edited by Lynn
Copyright 2011

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Orff Schulwerk Level 1 & 2 : 27 June to 1 July 2011

The Level 1 & 2 Orff Schulwerk course

Date: 27 June to 1 July 2011
Time: 9.30am to 5.30pm
Venue: AmPac
Trainer: Robyn Staveley and Dr Carol Richards.
Fees: RM2000 (RM1800 for participants who pay by 15 May 2011)

Kindly email if you are interested.

Anne Musikschule Sdn. Bhd.
47 Jalan SS 22A/1, Damansara Jaya,
47400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor,
Tel: 6-012-291 6640

Grains of Life

School Rice fills the stomach with quality jasmine rice, fills the soul with philanthropy and fills rural villagers' heart with hope for a better life...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Parent-Children Playshop: Children Colourful Connection

Date: 9th Apr 2011 (Sat)
Time: 3:00pm - 6:00pm
Venue: The Golden Space Malaysia
No 27-2, Jalan PJU 5/20, The Strand, Kota Damansara, 47810 Petaling Jaya.
Tel: +603 6142 7218 or +6012 2924121 (contact person: Sky / Kok Soon)

Facilitator: Lisa Lee & assistants
Energy Exchange: Parent with one child = RM120 (additional charge of RM30 for additional child)

*Parent is limited to bring up to 2 children only for this Playshop
*Parents are encouraged to bring your children's favourite snacks, drinks and toys
*This Playshop is for children age from 3 to 12 only
*Playshop has a limit of 12 people including children
*10% of all proceeds will be donated to BlueBird Learning Links Bhd (BlueBird is a charity and non-profit organisation working in partnership with the government and families (including welfare homes) to assist children who have difficulty learning. They also create links between government, families and professionals to offer a multidisciplinary, all-encompassing community service.)

Many parents are frustrated in raising their children, and they don't have to be. Many parents wish they had a better relationship with their children, and they can. Traditionally we have been taught how to deal with children's behavior from the outside-in, when we really need to be looking and acting from the inside-out. All it takes is gaining an understanding and perspective and integrate parents and children from inside, creating harmonious relationship. But what does this really mean?

Parents understandably want their children to behave well. Parents have learned to try to make this happen in various ways: some through use of consequences; some through use of punishment; some through rewards, some through other parenting skills, such as communication. Most consist of doing something to or with children from the outside in hopes that our children's behavior will change. However, if we really want to be effective in raising our children and parenting most successfully, it is important to understand the internal process that creates and changes their (and our own, as parents) behavior in the first place.
By deeply understanding the children, all parents can have far better relationships with their children. All parents have the capability to turn destructive relationships into healthy relationships. Further, parents who already have decent relationships with their children can make those relationships blossom and become even better, the way most parents dream it could be.

Relationships of children with their parents strongly affect their behaviour and interaction and connection with their environment, including their social skills, learning abilities and development.

Children should learn to be guided by their own inner wisdom as they grow and develop. And parents should learn to be guided by our own inner wisdom in raising them. We all have the potential to live a balanced and joy-filled life. We all can make a difference in our children's futures, manifest our own dreams, and create a soulful home. Spiritual and soulful parenting can only occur when we expand our awareness to include our children's vivid inner lives. When we approach our kids as grand spiritual beings housed in little bodies, we are parenting spiritually and soulfully. This is an authentic and honest way of interacting with our children day to day.

One of the ways to connect to the children's inner light is through colour connection. Colour absolutely affects our lives and our children's development, when colour is chosen with a purpose we create a balanced, harmonious environment where children can claim their birthright and reach their full potential.
Children's learning, mood, concentration and behaviour can all be affected by the colours around them. We all have a responsibility to ensure that our children are thriving in an early learning environment that will nurture and foster their development and independence.

We have developed a series of Parent-Children Playshops where parents learn to connect with their children from inside creating a soulful home. Our next Playshop is Children Colour Connection where parents and children are encouraged to open their hearts using colours.
In this Playshop, parents will be:

  • working with colours for a heart connection with your children
  • discovering your alignment and connectivity with your children
  • discovering if you are working with your children from outside-in or inside-out
  • discussing issues and challenges with your children with our Practitioners