School Readiness Today
A Report from the Pedagogical Section of the Goetheanum
Geseke Lundgren, Claudia McKeen, MD, Barbara Ostheimer, Rainer Patzlaff, PhD, Claus-Peter Röh, Martina Schmidt, MD, Edmond Schoorel, MD, Michael S Urschitz, MD
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The authors, each expert in various aspects of early childhood development and pedagogy, approach their subject from a variety of perspectives, ranging from physical development to social development, cognitive development and studies demonstrating the impact of early academic education and more. This little book is a powerhouse of information and insight, and comes with a multitude of illustrations in color and duotone that chronicle the changes in human beings from birth through the early grades. Especially interesting are the full color reproductions of children's artwork that follow the development of different children over time. Being able to "see" these children develop is a fascinating journey as well as being concrete evidence of the changes taking place within each human being.
This research was originally presented at a colloquium at the Goetheanum in February 2013.
Cradle of a Healthy Life
Early childhood and the whole of life
Dr. Johanna Steegmans, Dr. Gerald Karnow
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Childhood Falls Silent
The loss of speech and how we need to foster speaking and communication in the electronic age
Translated by J. Collis
$7.00Add a review
I believe this is one of the most significant articles on what is becoming the true crisis of our time, namely that as each generation comes forth, more and more cultural skills are being lost. Cultural skills are the things we all take for granted in our dealings with other people, things like reading, writing, basic cultural literacy in terms of shared education and background. That is, we used to take them for granted. Now, it seems that each person presents a new puzzle as to which cultural skills they bring with them and which they do not. And what skills they may have that are no longer honored or used in modern contexts.
What has become clear to anyone who has been watching the trend lines in education in the Western world is that these basic skills are slipping away - reading and writing are at much lower levels than they were even 20 years ago, and compared to 150 years ago, well, it's just sad how very much we've lost in the way of vocabulary, grammar, and ability to write.
As if that weren't enough, there is now serious evidence that the most fundamental means of communication is also slipping down the cultural slope: speaking and the ability to communicate to others with speech is showing signs of alarming deterioration with each class of children that enters school. A large part of the reason for this devolution, though not the only factor I would hasten to say, is the increasing exposure of very young children to electronic media, recorded voices, electronically amplified voices, etc. Rainer Patzlaff has addressed this issue beautifully, citing not only sound documentation and studies, but offering both by example and by inference a solid picture of why each part of the Waldorf curriculum stands athwart this terrible trend and gives our children what they need to move forward in our culture.
The 18 pages of Childhood Falls Silent are some of the most important reading you may ever do. I hope that everyone who buys a copy shares it with every friend they have. It is not a given by any means that cultural skills, once lost, can be easily restored. Quite the opposite, historically. And yet, there is a solution and it is elucidated in this little booklet: human speech spoken clearly by adults, stories that are complex and spoken, movement training that mimics the movements of voice and music, art training that allows things heard to take imaginative form, drama. In short, those things that are housed within the world of Waldorf education, whether in the classroom or at home.
First Grade Readiness
Resources, Insights, and Tools for Waldorf Educators
Nancy Blanning, Editor
$25.00Add a review
Some history first:
In my more than 30 years involvement with Waldorf Education, I have not encountered a topic that generated more interest, anxiety, misunderstanding and bewilderment than the question of what really constitutes first grade readiness in a child.
In the early days, there was a tendency for educators to draw a line in the sand in relation to a child's age. Which line it was varied from school to school ("must be age 7," "must turn 7 in the first semester," "must turn 7 by the end of summer" and so forth). There was also "must have begun the change of teeth."
Of course, all of this missed a couple of very important points. The first was that Rudolf Steiner never once said that children are ready to learn to read "at age 7." What he said was that "sometime during the 7th year" they become ready - this means anytime after the 6th birthday, not after the 7th birthday. Then, there is the modern fact that (in my opinion) our lives have created conditions wherein child development has become a bit chaotic: children can begin to lose their teeth at, say, 4 years old, but don't seem to mature mentally so far as grammar school readiness is concerned until 7 or 8 years of age. While there are beautiful ways to pull this development together, it did leave the adults in a predicament of not knowing where to look for criteria that would offer the child the best possibilities of sound education.
Later on, there were a variety of coordination and drawing criteria that were sometimes applied, but understood by only a few and contested by others. Given that each school (and sometimes each teacher) had different requirements and assessments, it's small wonder that parents often looked at the process as arbitrary and poorly substantiated, regardless of everyone's best intentions.
Now, my review of this GREAT book:
Happily, all of this is changing through more research and broader understandings of child development needs. I have recently seen in the mainstream press many articles on the needs of young children that would have been at home only in a Waldorf school 30 years ago. And, with increased knowledge and awareness, it has become possible for a true flowering of understanding to arise within the Waldorf movement.
It is a flowering of understanding that Nancy Blanning has brought together in First Grade Readiness. This book is packed with the most comprehensive, detailed, sound and wholesome guidance about what first grade readiness really is and what teachers and parents should look for when considering whether or not a given child is ready to move into the world of abstract learning.
First Grade Readiness is both healing and inspiring. My feeling is that both educators and parents will be heard to sigh with warm relief upon reading it, it offers so much loving common sense and light-filled wisdom.
Read it, use it, share it.
- Part One
- Reflections on First Grade Readiness - Nancy Blanning
- First Grade Readiness - Joan Almon
- Some Guidelines for First Grade Readiness - Nancy Foster
- School Readiness: A School Doctor's Perspective - Bettina Lohn, MSc
- What are the signs that my child is ready for school? - Michaela Glöckler, MD and Wolfgang Goebel, MD
- The Transition to Elementary School Learning: When is the right time?
- School Entry and the Consolidation of Developmental Processes - Audrey E McAllen
- The Development of Memory and the Transformation of Play - Louise deForest
- Creating Partnerships with Parents in First Grade Readiness Decisions - Ruth Ker
- Carrying the Transition to First Grade - Janet Klaar
- A Transition Group at the Edinburgh Steiner School - Melissa Borden
- Building the Bridge to the First Grade: How a Class Teacher Can Lead Children Gently into the Grade School - Kim Holscher
- The Lowering of School Age and the Changes in Childhood: An Interim Report - Claudia McKeen, MD; Rainer Patzlaff; Martyn Rawson
- Part Two
- Developing Our Observation Skills for Understanding First Grade Readiness - Ruth Ker
- The Red Queen: A First Grade Assessment Story - Valerie Poplawski, Celia Riahi, and Randi Stein First Grade Assessment Form
- The Red Queen Materials List
- Reverence List for The Red Queen
- A Therapeutic Educator's Approach: Keeping It Imaginative and Playfully Objective - Nancy Blanning First Grade Readiness Observation Form
- Equipment List
- Activities to Support Healthy Sensory Development
- Observation Forms for the Documentation of Development and Learning Observation Form for Early Childhood Educators
Multiculturalism in Waldorf Education
The Waldorf Multiculturalism Committee
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This jam-packed little booklet offers more richness per page than many books ten times its size. In it are articles about the concept of multiculturalism in a Waldorf context, fairy tales from around the world, kindergarten marionette plays, considerations for Waldorf in the public sector, a resource list of multicultural picture books and bibliography.
The Young Child in the World Today
Part of the Gateways Series
$20.00Add a review
Wonderful! Some of the best articles published by Gateways on some of the most pressing concerns of the day.
Topics covered include new health problems of children and youth, sexual abuse of children, ADHD, violence and electronic media, TV and ADD, virtual reality and the child's growing mind, and child development and television.
Putting all these article inside one cover is a great idea - thank you, WECAN!
Compiled from articles published in the Newsletter of the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America.
In a Nutshell
Dialogues with Parents at Acorn Hill, A Waldorf Kindergarten
$18.00Add a review
What an absolutely wonderful book! Nancy Foster has not only given us great explanation of just about everything parents new to Waldorf education ever wonder about, but she has gone on to give some of the best parenting advice ever written down. In other words, she has poured over 30 years experience as a Waldorf kindergarten teacher into the most concise, readable and useful wee book every printed on the subject teaching and parenting young children. This is a genuinely must-have book for anyone working with or raising young children.
Table of Contents:
Our Classroom Environment
- Color in the Classroom
- Why Curtains?
- Teachers' Dress
- The Significance of Candles
- Naming the Teacher
- No Cars and Trucks?
- What about Puzzles?
- Musical Instruments in the Classroom
Work and Play at School
- The Rhythm of the Morning
- Saying "You may . . . "
- Ironing in the Classroom: Danger?
- Boys and Waldorf Education
- Playing Cats and Dogs
- Music in the Mood of the Fifth
- Can Energetic Boys Enjoy Handwork?
- Gun Play at School
- Field Trips?
- Fairy Tales for Young Children
- The Challenge of Circle Time
- Puppetry and "Told" Stories
Children at Home
- Colors for a Child's Bedroom
- Older and Younger Siblings
- Bedtime Ritual
- Feeding a Child
- Swords vs. Guns
- TV Away from Home
- Forbidden Words?
- Appropriate Gifts
- "What did you learn in school today?"
- Toys in the Neighborhood
- Helping Children in a Time of Trouble - A Few Thoughts
- Is the World a Good Place?