Child Development

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.

The Journey of the 'I' into Life

A Final Destination or a Path Toward Freedom?

Edited by Nancy Blanning

Lectures from the 2012 International Waldorf Early Childhood Conference at the Goetheanum



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The Journey of the "I" into Life presents us with the notes and transcripts of gleaned from five lectures given in 2012 by medical doctors, early childhood educators and a consulting Waldorf class teacher.  It is a rare combination of crystal clear thought and facts presented through hearts filled with warmth and love.  I have seldom been as moved as I was to read these lectures, and felt my understanding of human development was not just enhanced, but very much deepened as well.  It is hard to convey in just this bit of writing, but there was something so poignant and wonderful about being able, for instance, to see the photographs of the progression of development of human synapses from 0 to 3 years.  Combined with the thoughts being expressed by the lecturer (in this case, Dr. Michaela Glöckler), I found myself in the presence of a process that is in and of itself miraculous: it is a miracle that such development is possible, and a wonder that with it's indescribable fragility and mutability it most often leads to the emergence of fully capable adult human beings.

This little book in its entirety is filled to the brim with moments and revelations like this one.  I would wish that everyone be allowed to encounter what it contains.

Cradle of a Healthy Life

Early childhood and the whole of life

Dr. Johanna Steegmans, Dr. Gerald Karnow


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Offered with both compassion and depth, Dr. Steegman's presents valuable insights into the ways experiences and conditions of early childhood craft what later becomes the health and outlook of adults. Key developmental stages are described afresh, and a path indicated that can help caregivers to "read" in the physiology of hte child what he or she needs in order to grow into a free adult.

The Creative Word

The Young Child's Experience of Language and Stories

Daniel Udo de Haes



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In this small book, we embark on a fascinating journey into the consciousness of the very young child. Toddlers need our understanding and support as they make the great transition from wordless communion with the world to encountering people and things through human language. Out of his wisdom and experience, Dutch educator Daniel Udo de Haes brings guidance in how to gently and sensitively help children through this transition.

From Kindergarten into the Grades

Insights from Rudolf Steiner

Selected and edited by Ruth Ker



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In going through this outstanding collection of Rudolf Steiner's thoughts and observations of 6-7 year old children, I was struck at almost every page with how extremely practical his suggestions are, and how very clearly insightful he was.

This gathering of Steiner's thoughts about children at this age can serve parents, teachers, and caregivers in so very many ways: as a quick resource of useful suggestions as to how to help children through "bumpy times;" as an enriching account of the lives of children during this transition period; as food for thought as we find our own way with the very unique children in our care; as a bellweather indicator of how much and how little has changed in the 100 or so years since Steiner penned and spoke these words.

Ruth Ker is to be highly commended for her wisdom and discernment in the excerpts she has chosen to present.  Her compilation is masterful, its potential to help the world's children beyond reckoning.

Recommended without reservation!

Simplicity Parenting

Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids

Kim John Payne, M. Ed., with Lisa M. Ross



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Our daughter-in-law, Kaye Lathe, is not only a librarian by profession, she is also the mother of our twin granddaughters, Margot and Remy.  She wrote the review below which I found to be so immediate and to-the-point, that rather than write my own review, I will share her's with you here.  My only added comment:  Everything she says is true and awaiting your own discovery.  I can't recommend this book highly enough!


It's a rarity when you read some sort of improvement book, and actually take action immediately after reading it. I'd have to say that this is the first time ever that I've delved into action mid-book!  This book is prescriptive and addresses how to incorporate simplicity and routine into your child's life, whether you and your partner both have busy careers, or if you are a stay at home caregiver.  Simplicity Parenting deals with simplifying your child's environment (which may calm an anxious child), but it also delves into the issue of sports and children, busy schedules, and how to give your child the right amount of information. It may be the only behavior parenting book you will ever need.  Ultimately, it is a guide to how less is more, in terms of toys, television, engagements, and explanations.  It also shows how easily the adult world can encroach into the world of children, and serves as a reminder that even if your child can understand/participate/own, it doesn’t necessarily mean he or she should.  Academically, that makes sense, but Simplicity Parenting is prescriptive, and will help the reader to sort out the application of how to simplify your environment, for both you and your family.

The Genius of Natural Childhood

Secrets of Thriving Children

Sally Goddard Blythe



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Young children love creative play, stories, nursery rhymes and games.  These are not only good fun, but are also good for the brain.

Sally Goddard Blythe analyses why early movement matters, and how games develop children's skills at different stages of development.  She offers a handy starter kit of stories, action games, songs and rhymes, and explains:

  • Why movement is an essential ingredient for healthy brain development
  • Why music, song, lullabies and nursery rhymes prepare the brain for language
  • How fairy tales can help children face their fears in in safety
  • How rough and tumble play develops the neural circuits for creativity and self-regulation
  • The links between learning problems and sedentary lifestyles and overexposure to electronic media
  • What to look out for if your child does not seem to be "ready" for school.

By special invitation, Jane Williams of Toddler Kindy GymbaROO offers her favorite baby massage rhymes, with action songs, finger play and more rhymes to inspire families.

Childhood Falls Silent

The loss of speech and how we need to foster speaking and communication in the electronic age

Rainer Patzlaff

Translated by J. Collis

Saddle-stitched pamphlet


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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.

Under the Sky

Playing, Working and Enjoying Adventures in the Open Air

Sally Schweizer

A Handbook for Parents, Carers and Teachers



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Sally Schweizer presents a fresh world of possibilities for children in both urban and rural areas, opening doors to expanded experiences of life in the open air. Packed with anecdotes, games and practical activities, Under the Sky is a vibrant resource for parents, teachers and carers.

What can children do outside? How about singing, whittling, chatting, climbing, digging, and making dens? They can build, run, watch small creatures, count tree rings, listen to stories, perform puppet plays, learn woodworking, and investigate the many forms of bark. Outside, children can enjoy quiet conversations or make a big noise, be alone or be with others. And that's just the beginning ...

Under the Sky is an invaluable guide for everyone who wants to help children cultivate play and imagination. It features ideas for planning expeditions and adventures, toys and equipment, and activities for the four seasons and the four elements! It includes plans, tips and advice on child-friendly outdoor design, materials, surfaces, seating, gardening, pets, wildlife—even campfires, picnics and train journeys. Under the Sky also includes a chapter on how educators can work toward formal “early years” government goals.

Well, I Wonder

Childhood in the Modern World

Sally Schweizer

A Handbook for Parents, Carers, and Teachers



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In our modern world, imagination, play, wonder, and even fun itself are in danger of being left behind. We have surrounded children with technology and early learning, television and computer games, and then top that off with premature intellectualization, early reading, and tests.

Sally Schweizer calls for a reevaluation of childhood and an awakening to the real needs of children. Being a mother of four and having spent more thirty years in education (as a kindergarten teacher, teacher trainer, and advisor), she is qualified to ask the hard questions and offer real solutions. Well, I Wonder is packed with practical suggestions, anecdotes, humor, and delightful quotes from Schweizer’s students. Her approach is based on the study and practice of Rudolf Steiner’s educational philosophy, as well as personal, firsthand knowledge gained from long experience.

The author guides us through the stages of childhood development, explaining children’s need for daily rhythm, movement, and play. She emphasizes the importance of guarding children’s imagination and the significance of festivals and celebrations. She offers helpful tips and wise advice throughout this well-illustrated book, which also features an eight-page color section on the evolution of children’s drawings.


Adventures in Parenting

a support guide for parents

Rachel C Ross


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Adventures in Parenting is such a lovely book. It is like having a wise grandmother at hand, one who answers so many of the perplexing questions that young parents find themselves puzzling over as they raise their children.

Rachel Ross beautifully discusses the joys and concerns almost all new parents experience and goes on to discuss everything from parenting styles and the patterning we carry from our own parents to discipline and boundaries, developmental issues, and how to create a home that fully nurtures your children while it also nurtures you.

I want to add that her section on developmental issues is brilliant (Rachel is an remedial movement/eurythmy teacher). Her list of difficulties and solutions is unlike anything I've ever seen in print - I think if this were the only thing in the book, it would still be a treasure of priceless worth and will be comforting and liberating to parents everywhere.

Awakening to Child Health - Vol. 1

Holistic Child and Adolescent Development

Raoul Goldberg MD



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Awakening to Child Health - Vol. 1, is an exquisitely beautiful and warm portrait of child development and the health-giving impact of a warm and nurturing environment on the emerging human being. I should be clear that this is *not* a home medical care guidebook. It is something that I've always that was very needed - an exploration (in clear and common English) of the nature of childhood with lots of examples and considered discussions.

In other words, this is a book about children, who and what they are, what they need to develop into healthy adults, what they need to be healthy and strong as they grow. The knowledge, warmth and wisdom of Awakening to Child Health is truly life enhancing, at every level.

This book is wonderful - the sort you'll read, explore and be grateful to have known for years and years to come.


  • Meeting Children and Your Inner Child
  • The Prenatal Journey of the Incarnating Child
  • Body, Soul, and Spirit and the Three Births of Childhood
  • The Heavenly Years from Birth to Three
  • The Golden Years from Three to Seven
  • The Beautiful and Healthy Years from Seven to Fourteen
  • Puberty to Adulthood
  • Seven Life Processes, Four Temperaments, Three Physical Types and Seven Character Types
  • Awakening to the Self and Identity

First Grade Readiness

Resources, Insights, and Tools for Waldorf Educators

Nancy Blanning, Editor

Spiral Bound


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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.


  • Foreword
  • 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
    • Introduction
    • 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
    • Contributors

The Therapeutic Eye

How Rudolf Steiner Saw Children

Peter Selg



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Rudolf Steiner’s extraordinary ability to perceive the inner nature and development of children provided insights at many levels and areas of the creative learning process. He spoke of this ability as a precondition for all forms of healthy childhood education—including special education—and suggested that teachers should develop such a capacity within themselves.

This process involves the recreation of the child within oneself, based on what we are able to observe in the child’s physical appearance, temperament, ways of moving, and environment. In The Therapeutic Eye, Dr. Peter Selg discusses Steiner’s views on childhood development, how teachers can look at children, and ways that these approaches can be used to develop lessons and classroom activities to deal with behavioral extremes and learning challenges.

The Therapeutic Eye is a valuable resource for teachers and parents - well worth studying again and again.

Why Children Don't Listen

A Guide for Parents and Teachers

Monika Kiel-Hinrichsen



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What can you do when a child just won't listen? How we speak to one another is at the very heart of human relationships. Children are frequently much better than adults at reading between the lines and deciphering the messages we send out through body language and our tone of voice.

Here is an invaluable handbook for parents and teachers on how to communicate better with children. It covers all aspects of talking and listening to children, including speaking to children of different ages, the effect your voice has, and understanding the wider situation in which the conversation is taking place.

The author translates the theory into practical, everyday solutions. She argues that it's not what we say, but how we say it —and more important, how well we listen to the answers — that matters.

You're Not the Boss of Me!

Understanding the Six/Seven-Year-Old Transformation

Ruth Ker, Editor

Spiral Bound


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There are few parents and, I think, no kindergarten teachers who have not heard the title of this book shouted at them in fury by children between five and seven years old. In fact, some of us can remember, however dimly, our own frustrated rage as we ourselves shouted these words when we were that age. Perhaps there's something on the human genome that over the millenia has imprinted "You're not the boss of me!" as the iconic phrase human beings must utter before leaving their infancy behind.

Of course, in the face of this imperative resistance, we adult teachers and parents are often left perplexed and frustrated ourselves. When the subject was raised at a WECAN conference, it was joined with such acclamation that a work group was formed to explore the phenomenon and ways of helping children move positively across this threshold.

The result is You're Not the Boss of Me! - a collection of articles and excerpts by kindergarten teachers, sensory integration experts, and medical doctors. It is wonderful! Teachers in schools and home schools will find so much to help them meet the needs of the six-to-seven-year-olds as they also find ways to take joy in those children who stand at this threshold. Parents can gain new understanding and lots and lots of friendly help and highly useful advice.

Thank you to the WECAN work group for bringing us such a needed book!!

The Care and Development of the Human Senses

Willi Aeppli

Softbound, saddle stitched


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This small book has for years been treasured by Waldorf teachers and others interested in the nature of human sensory perception and how education can foster and develop it.  Aeppli's in-depth presentation of Rudolf Steiner's ideas on the nature of the twelve human senses as he saw them and their role in education continues to resonate with practical applications and inspiration.



  • A general conception about the significance of the sense-organism
  • Perception and thinking
  • The threefold nature of the human organism

The Human Sense-organism

  • The origin of the sense-organs
  • Number and grouping of the senses
  • The four lower senses
  • The four middle senses
  • The four upper senses
  • Relations between the lower and upper senses

The Development of the Sense-organism

  • Human development
  • Individual development
  • The loss of the sense-organism
  • Possibilities for an enlivening and ensouling of the sense-organism

The Cultivation of the Sense-organism through Education

  • Stages of 'object lessons'
  • The cultivation of living thinking
  • The cultivation of the will-senses
  • The cultivation of the feeling senses
  • The cultivation of the cognitive senses
  • The cultivation of the sense of sound
  • The cultivation of the sense of language
  • The cultivation of the sense of thought
  • The cultivation of the ego-sense



Challenges on the Path of Child Development

Waldorf Journal Project #3

Compiled and edited by David Mitchell

Spiral bound


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A collection of essays and excerpts by master teachers, physicians, researchers and Rudolf Steiner.  This volume is exceptional in the breadth and depth of its approach to the subject of child development and education readiness and support.


  • Life’s Anxieties—Life’s Opportunities: Anxiety and Its Importance to Inner Development
    Two Essays by Pietro Archiati and Felicitas Vogt
  • Sleep Disturbances and Healthy Sleep
    by Christa-Johanna Bub-Jachens
  • Nutrition: Modern Food: Is It Really Future-Oriented?
    by Petra Kühne
  • Food and Nutrition: What Nourishes Our Children?
    by Petra Kühne
  • The Feet Reveal the Human Will
    by Norbert Glas
  • Hearing: Door to the Soul and Spirit around Us, with a Look at Technological Media
    by Heinz Buddemeier
  • The Unfolding of Sexuality
    by Mathias Wais
  • Puberty and Its Crisis: Educational Help in Overcoming Difficulties
    by Dr. Johannes Bockemühl
  • Drug Addiction: The Wake-up Call of Our Times
    by Felicitas Vogt
  • Education Seen as a Problem Involving the Training of Teachers
    by Rudolf Steiner.

Developmental Signatures

Core Values and Practices in Waldorf Education for Children Ages 3-9

Rainer Patzlaff, Wolfgang Sassmannshausen, et al.



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Developmental Signatures is the result of studies commissioned by the the German Association of Waldorf Schools (Bund) and carried out by a team of teachers, doctors, parents, and scholars. You'll find the developmental stages of Waldorf education as related to State educational requirements in Germany, and which can be applied in kind if not specifically to Waldorf education as it is practiced in schools and homes throughout the world. These first two parts of a three-part study are concerned with children from three to nine years old and the conditions required for successful schooling. The results of this study offer an opportunity for teachers and parents to reflect and renew their understanding and practice of Steiner's pedagogy.

Baby's First Year

Growth and Development from 0 to 12 Months

Paulien Bom and Machteld Huber



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A baby's first year presents parents with many different challenges. The initial excitement of pregnancy is followed by the child's birth and subsequent development, but many parents feel the need for significant support and information related to the everyday areas of life, such as nutrition and health.

This practical guide takes a holistic approach to the growth and development of a baby. Written by doctors qualified in both allopathic and anthroposophically extended medicine, it deals with all aspects of caring for a small child up to the age of twelve months.

Divided into short comprehensive chapters that cover the various stages of development, Baby’s First Year discusses subjects such as feeding and growth, diet and weaning, and bathing and sleeping. It includes sections on physical and spiritual development and presents an overview of childhood vaccinations.

Baby’s First Year is an ideal reference for people embarking on parenthood for the first time, or as a refresher for those having a second or subsequent baby. Veteran parents in particular may find its holistic approach refreshing and inspiring in comparison to standard baby-rearing texts.

The First Seven Years: Physiology of Childhood

Edmond Schoorel



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Bob and I have always believed that Steiner delivered the seminar, known in English as Foundations of Human Experience or Study of Man, as information and insights to be used. It is, therefore, deeply exciting to come upon a book such as Schoorel's The First Seven Years, written as it is from someone who has been doing precisely that: using and applying and developing a living understanding for the material Steiner shared with the teachers of the original Waldorf School.

Schoorel's approach is wonderful - he takes a particular topic, describes it thoroughly then moves on to relate it to physiology and environment. So, for instance, when he discusses "the birth of the etheric body", he not only offers a clear and meaningful picture of what that means for the developing human being, but then discusses what physiological changes mark this process as well as how environment affects it.

For anyone interested in or working with young children, this book is a treasure to be turned to again and again. It fosters understanding as it also gives much food for the sort of thought that deepens and enlightens. The First Seven Years is a gift to teachers, parents and most especially to our children.


Human Pre-existence and the Journey toward Birth

Peter Selg



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Not only do we pass through the gate of death as immortal beings, we also enter through the gate of birth as unborn beings. We need the term unbornness, as well as the term immortality, to encompass the whole human being. (Rudolf Steiner)

As anyone who has had a child knows, newborns enter the earthly world as beings different from their parents. They arrive with their own individuality, being, and history. From the beginning, they manifest an essential dignity and a unique “I,” which they clearly brought with them from the spiritual world.

This unborn life of a person’s higher individuality guides the whole process of incarnation. It frames our lives, but we fail to recognize this because of a single-minded focus on immortality, or life-after-death, which makes us forget the reality of our “unbornness.” This unbornness extends not only from conception to birth, but also includes the whole existence and history of one’s “I” in its long journey from the spiritual world to Earth. Unbornness—the other side of eternity—allows us to experience the fact that birth is just as great a mystery as is death. In a new and striking way, unbornness poses the mystery of our human task on Earth.

It was one of Rudolf Steiner’s great gifts that he returned the concept of unbornness to human consciousness and language. In this brief, stunning, and moving, almost poetic work, Peter Selg gathers the key elements and images needed to begin an understanding of—and wonder at—the vast scope of our unbornness. Drawing on and expanding on Steiner’s work, as well as Raphael’s Sistine Madonna and the poems of Nelly Sachs and Rainer Maria Rilke, Selg unveils this deepest mystery of human existence. After reading it, one will never look at a child or another human being in the same way again.

Life after death
life before birth;
only by knowing both
do we know eternity.
(Rudolf Steiner)

Your Reincarnating Child

Welcoming a Soul to the World

Gilbert Childs and Sylvia Childs



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“One of the main purposes of this book,” write the authors, “is to demonstrate that human beings are primarily of spiritual nature, and only secondarily of bodily nature.” They explain how these two natures complement each other in the processes of maturation and development, from the period before birth and incarnation into maturity. With a firm philosophical grounding, the authors discuss key questions related to prenatal and antenatal phases, including those connected with clothing, food, play, work, technology, and discipline.

The primary contention of this book is that, as spiritual beings, we all live beyond death and eventually return to earth in new human bodies. With this in mind, the authors give sound practical advice as to how parents—or anyone who spends time with children—can welcome souls into the world and help them grow into healthy, responsible human beings.

Mainstream educational policies and practices can cause children to be pushed prematurely into adulthood before they have a chance to truly experience childhood. The authors demonstrate that a true understanding of the human being as body, soul, and spirit leads to the knowledge that every child should be allowed to grow gradually into the world.

Phases of Childhood

Bernard C J Lievegoed


Back in print!


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A new edition of Bernard Lievegoed's classic work of child development.

Every age has its philosophy and way of bringing up children. Today's educational approach depends largely on materialistic, nineteenth-century ideas derived from the notion of "knowledge as power." The education of children in beauty, wisdom, and culture forms only a very small part of the modern curriculum. When we consider a child's full humanity of body, soul, and spirit, however, we emerge with a very different balance in our approach to education.

The author of this book tells us that our children cannot become happy, wise, and skilled adults unless their education—from the very beginning—take into consideration the development of body, soul, and spirit. Drawing on the educational ideas and philosophy of Rudolf Steiner, Goethe, and Schiller, the author describes the three main stages of child development and the genetic and biographical potential revealed at each stage. He goes on to explore the practical application of these insights as an educational method in harmony with the child's developing relationship with the surrounding world.

This is the essential, classic resource for all parents, teachers, and care givers.

I Am Different from You

How Children Experience Themselves in the World in the Middle of Childhood

Peter Selg



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In many of his lectures to teachers on education, Rudolf Steiner called attention to a significant but often overlooked change in the way children experience themselves and the world that occurs in the middle of childhood, in the ninth or tenth year. “There comes a time when children show, not in what they say but in their whole behavior, that they are struggling with a question or a number of questions that indicates a crisis in their soul life. It is a very subtle experience for the child that requires an equally subtle response.”

In this deep and concise book, Peter Selg illuminates this momentous phenomenon in child development, this “dramatic change” in the child’s consciousness. Though it is “hardly noticeable” to the observer, Steiner reveals that children during this time in life experience a sudden inner instability, a loss of the foundation they felt had been naturally supporting and carrying them. It is a crisis that pediatric psychologists and psychiatrists know well, as many fears and weaknesses that rise to the surface later, in adolescence, can be traced back to this subtle event. Parents and educators need to know what to say and how to act, because their response at this time will be crucial for the child’s entire life. Through Rudolf Steiner’s profound wisdom of children's inner essence, adults can learn to give them the experience of being carried by a strong and sure relationship:

When children cross the Rubicon between the ninth and tenth year without that feeling, something will be lacking in their later life, and they will have to struggle to attain what they should have received naturally at that moment in childhood.

I Am Different from You is a vital book for all parents and teachers to read—well before the crisis in the middle of childhood—to recognize what is necessary to support children during this decisive event in the right way.

At the Source

The Incarnation of the Child and the Development of a Modern Pedagogy

Harlan Gilbert



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Harlan Gilbert has written a highly readable, interesting and thorough book that will guide parents and teachers toward a deeper and more practical understanding of children, their developmental stages and how to create a pedagogy meets children where they are.

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of At the Source (to me at any rate) is the author's grade-by-grade descriptions that include sections on how the child of a given age sees the world, the educational methodology that best meets the child's understanding, and what curricula are appropriate, even necessary, at the given stage. These are short and sweet descriptions that nonetheless manage to go straight to the heart of the question and succeed in increasing the reader's understanding by leaps and bounds. The passages are so rich with deep understanding and so simply and straightforwardly conveyed, that reading them becomes a window to a much wider understanding that the surface of the subject matter would imply. Really great stuff!

Children and Their Temperaments

Marieke Anschütz


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One of the best and most accessible resources on the subject of the four temperaments and children. Anschütz gives us a guide to children's different temperaments and their role in child character, health and personality development. She illustrates her ideas with examples from home and school, using the context of the Waldorf/Steiner school classroom, and discusses how to use these insights in managing and relating to groups and individuals. This is an fascinating journey that will be enlightening and invigorating to both parents and teachers.

The Temperaments in Education

Roy Wilkinson

Softbound booklet


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This is an extremely conscise, highly useful explanation of the temperaments and how to work with them to the advantage of all students in a classroom. Filled with anecdotes, examples, even illutrations of the different drawing styles of each temperament, any parent or teacher will find this to be the sort of book you pull out again and again.

The Well-Balanced Child - Movement and Early Learning

Sally Goddard Blythe



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Sally Goddard Blythe thoroughly explains why movement is so important for the healthy development of babies and young children. She describes movement, balance, reflexes, learning, and behavior in early education and how music affects brain development. The book includes songs, games and, activities that encourage learning at key stages of development.

Here is a unique and holistic approach to the senses, movement, the brain, play, and movement. It is also a valuable resource for helping parents and professionals assess children with learning difficulties and for dealing with learning and behavioral problems through movement.

This one is highly recommended for all early education teachers and parents of young children.

Sally Goddard Blythe is director of The Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology, which researches the effects of neurological dysfunction in specific learning difficulties, and devises effective remedial programs. She is the author of Reflexes Learning and Behaviour as well as numerous professional papers and articles.

The Developing Child

The First Seven Years

Part of the Gateways Series




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WECAN has produced another wonderful collection of past Gateways articles, this time focusing on child development from birth to age 7. Some of the best and most insightful experts in the field are now all gathered in one place, offering their wisdom and guidance together. I am especially pleased to see articles explaining kindergarten and first grade readiness guidelines. The Developing Child is an outstanding contribution to the world of early childhood education; and a resource that can bring a wealth of experience right into your living room or classroom.


Stages of Development in the First Seven Years

  • The Laws of Childhood - Dr. Helmut von Kügelgen
  • Stages of Development in Early Childhood - Freya Jaffke
  • The Young Child form Birth to Seven - Dennis Klocek

Birth, Infancy and the First Years of Life

  • Child Development: Conception to Birth Embryology
  • Making Sense of Uprightness - Bonnie & William RiverBento
  • The Wonder of Acquiring Speech - Dr. Michaela Glöckler
  • Movement, Gesture and Language in the Life of the Young Child - Bronja Zahlingen
  • Supporting the Development of the Human Hand - Ingun Schneider
  • Toward Human Development: The Physiological Basis of Sleep - Lisa Gromicko
  • Laying the Physical Foundation of the Consciousness Soul - Dr. Jenny Josephson

The Development of Consciousness: Imitation, Play and Learning

  • Forces of Growth and Forces of Fantasy: Understanding the Dream Consciousness of the Young Child - Dr. Michaela Glöckler
  • The Vital Role of Play in Childhood - Joan Almon
  • The Genius of Play - Sally Jenkinson
  • Understanding Imitation - Joop van Dam

Readiness for Kindergarten and School

  • Kindergarten Readiness - Dr. Elizabeth Jacobi
  • The Birth of the Etheric: Transformation of Growth Forces into Thinking Forces - Dr. Michaela Glöckler
  • First Grade Readiness - Joan Almon
  • Some Guidelines for First Grade Readiness - Nancy Foster

Compiled from articles published in the Newsletter of the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America.

The Developing Child

Sense and Nonsense in Education

Willi Aeppli



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In this simple gem of a book, Willi Aeppli takes us to the very core of the task of education. His is not a picture of senseless cramming and memorization, but of service to each child and to humanity. All who seek an education make the greatest sacrifice, that of the self, all their gifts, and their future. They have the full right to expect that this self will be returned as a stronger and truer self. Aeppli describes a curriculum that can make this possible. This book develops not from theory, but from years of practical experience.

Willi Aeppli (1894-1972) was a master Waldorf teacher in the Rudolf Steiner School in BAsel, Switzerland. He is remembered as an excellent teacher who used his observations and daily experience to enrich his classroom teaching.

Childhood: A Study of the Growing Child

Caroline von Heydebrand


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Caroline von Heydebrand was one of the most beloved teachers at the original Waldorf School in Stuttgart, someone Rudolf Steiner looked to as a guiding light for the children. Childhood is the fruit of her twenty years experience teaching children and studying anthroposophy, and the book is filled with stories, examples, anecdotes - all couched in her deep love of nature and people. Some of the topics she addresses are: child development, the four temperaments, the growth of consciousness, and the development of moral, imaginative and other capacities. Highly recommended.

Difficult Children: There Is No Such Thing

Henning Köhler

An appeal for the transformation of educational thinking



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Köhler's unceasingly heart-filled account appears at a time when, on the one hand, we face rising numbers of children whose classroom behavior classifies them as "educationally difficult," and on the other hand seem to find ourselves painted into a corner with fewer and fewer means to address this crisis. Köhler eloquent protest is founded in his long and deep experience in working with special needs children, and the success of his approach is beyond dismissal. He challenges these accepted patterns of thought and outlines a spiritually deepened concept of education and upbringing that is truly refreshing. Every parent and teacher will benefit from this book. In fact, I'd go so far as to say every adult human being will benefit from learning to see others through eyes taught to look as Köhler looks. Difficult Children has our highest recommendation!

Star Children

Understanding children who set us special tasks and challenges

Georg Kühlewind



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While working on this book the following happened to me: As I checked in at the airport in Hamburg a young couple was in front of me, and the mother had a three-to-four-month old baby in her arms. All of a sudden the baby turned round, looked me straight in the eye, and I was deeply shaken; for that was not the look of a baby but of a very self-aware adult, a wise one, and he appeared to see right through me.

- Georg Kühlewind

Who are the star children? In recent years, much has been written about “gifted” children with special abilities, sometimes called “indigo children” or “crystal children.” It is said that these children are coming to earth to help humanity in its development. Based on extensive research, Georg Kühlewind confirms that this new generation has been incarnating among us for the past couple of decades. This event, he states, is one of the most important of our age.

Kühlewind gives us the necessary background to follow experientially what he has to say. He takes us consciously and scientifically into the realm from which we all enter the world as babies, “trailing clouds of glory.” We all possess the tools he describes for taking this path: our thoughts, our heart forces, and our willpower. By using these faculties with full attention—by focusing our attentiveness and eliminating everything else—we can enter the realm of the spirit where the prevailing laws are different from those on Earth. The author helps us by closing each chapter with themes for contemplation and meditation.

Star Children is a compelling addition to the literature on the theme of “special children,” offering a unique perspective based on spiritual science and research.

Learning Difficulties

A Guide for Teachers Waldorf Insights and Practical Approaches

Mary Ellen Willby, editor

Audrey E. McAllen, René Querido, Margret Meyerkort, Ingun Schneider and many other contributors


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A wonderful book and one for which I have been hoping for many, many years. Learning Difficulties gathers together nearly 300 pages of the best insights, deepest experiences and most successful approaches to learning difficulties by over 30 teachers expert in the field of learning disabilities.

In it you will find eye-opening accounts of the physical/emotional/mental configurations that most fully describe common and uncommon learning difficulties. Paired with these incisive descriptions is a clear and practical account of approaches, therapies, exercises that can be used to counter and heal these conditions. There are also numerous articles giving (often with really good illustrations!) diagnostic exercises that teachers can use to better understand a child's difficulty.

This book is such a grace-filled gift! My hope is that many, many children experience and benefit from the work this book can inspire.

Sexual Abuse of Children

Understanding, Prevention and Treatment

Dr. Michaela Glöckler

Softbound pamphlet


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Dr. Glöckler offers a considered response to the increasing incidence of children who have been sexually abused - most often by someone they love and trust. Here is a social overview, with suggestions for the direction of medical, psychological and pedagogical treatment.

Sacred Faces

Physiognomy in the Light of Spiritual Science

Alan Whitehead

A Study of Man for Teachers and Parents



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A knowledge of physiognomy is essential for the understanding and education of the child.

- Rudolf Steiner

Thus opens Alan Whitehead's fascinating exploration of realms of the human soul that are revealed in our faces. His intent is to increase adult understanding of who the children before us are - and with that understanding, to enable us to teach and raise them in the best way possible.

The author takes the reader on a journey through traditional and anthroposophical interpretations of face structure - a journey that will linger in the mind long after the last page is read. There is much to ponder here and no small amound of insight to be gleaned.

Reading the Face

Understanding a Person's Character through Physiognomy

Norbert Glas, MD



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As a boy traveling to school by streetcar, Norbert Glas often passed the time by studying the faces of his fellow passengers, pondering the significance of the shapes and contours of their noses, eyes, and mouths. Later in life, after becoming a medical doctor and a student of Rudolf Steiner’s spiritual science, Glas gained greater insight into the mysteries of human physiognomy.

In Reading the Face, the first translation into English of his seminal work, Glas begins by defining the three parts of the human face and explaining the importance of their relative proportions. A face that is more pronounced in any of these areas tends to indicate certain personality traits and specific physiological characteristics. People with a strong mouth and chin, for example, tend to have a strong will and an active, driven, and assertive nature. With the help of many photos and drawings, Glas presents the physiognomy of three basic types and analyzes the specifics of the head, forehead, ears, eyes, mouth, and nose.

Reading the Face will be valuable to doctors, teachers, and anyone who wants to better understand, accept, and love others.

Animals in Translation

Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior

Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson



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I've read and heard many reviews of this remarkable new book by Temple Grandin. Depending on the reviewer's focus, Animals in Translation has been seen as a groundbreaking revelation of animal behavior and awareness and/or an inspiring revelation of the world seen from within autism. It is both these things, but in my opinion it is also something else - I experienced it as one deep and brilliant insight after another into human nature itself, not just autistic human nature, but all human nature.

Grandin's insight into animals is so uncluttered and straightforward that she penetrates into the recesses of the human heart as well. The descriptions she gives of the sources of many animal behaviors apply unswervingly as well to the things hidden in the depths of the human soul that well up as surprising, irrational or inconsistent reactions.

If you work with children, this book has more to offer you than I can describe in the space of one review. I can, however, give you an example which I think goes to the heart of how this book can be used on behalf of other people, especially young people. On page 145, Temple begins a discussion of Fear-Driven Aggression. She has previously described Assertive Aggression and is now contrasting it with aggression resulting from fear:

Fear-driven aggression causes so much violence and destruction in the animal and human worlds that I've often asked myself, What is rage for?

Why do we have rage circuits at all?

When you look at animals living in the wild, the answer is simple. Rage is about survival, at the most basic brute level. Rage is the emotion that drives the lion being gored to death by the buffalo to fight back; rage drives a zebra being caught by a lion to make one last-ditch effort to escape. I once saw a videotape of a domestic beef cow kicking the living daylights out of an attacking lion. It was some of the hardest kicking I have ever seen. Rage is the ultimate defense all animals draw upon when their lives are in mortal danger.

When it comes to human safety in the presence of animals, fear cuts two ways. Fear can inhibit an animal or a person from attacking, and very often does. Among humans, the most vicious murderers are people who have abnormally low fear. Fear protects you when you're under attack, and keeps you from becoming an attacker yourself.

But fear can also cause a terrified animal to attack, where a less-fearful animal wouldn't. A cornered animal can be extremely aggressive; that's where we get the saying about not getting someone's "back up against the wall." An animal with his back up against a wall is in fear for its life and will feel he has no choice but to attack.

On average, prey species animals like horses and cattle show more fear-based aggression than predatory animals such as dogs. That shouldn't be a surprise, since prey animals spend a lot more time being scared.

I categorize maternal aggression differently from some researchers; I put it in the fear department. I think maternal aggression is fear-driven at heart because over the years I've observed that the high-strung nervous animals will always fight more vigorously to protect her young than will a laid-back, calm animal like a Holstein dairy cow. Many a rancher has told me that the most hotheaded, nervous cow in the herd is the one who is most protective of her calf.

Any mother, nervous or calm, will fight to protect her baby. That's why on farms the human parents always warn their children to stay away from mama animals. But the fact that it's always the most nervous, fearful mother who shows the most maternal aggression makes me think that maternal aggression is driven by fear, even when the animal is calm by nature. When mother animals think their babies are in danger, they feel fear, and their fear leads them to attack. That's my conclusion.

This brings me to the fundamental question you have to ask yourself any time you're trying to solve a problem with aggression: is the aggression coming from fear or dominance? That's important, because punishment will make a fearful animal worse, whereas punishment may be necessary to curb assertive aggression.

Bringing Out the Best in Boys

Communication Strategies for Teachers

Lucinda Neall



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Although it is true that some of the material in this book is directed especially toward classroom teachers (the parts, for instance, about constructive ways to handle parent meetings), the better portion of the book contains gems that will be valuable to all teachers (whether at home or in the classroom) and parents.

Neall offers time-tested communication strategies that help get the best out of boys. The tips for tackling difficult behavior wil result in more cooperation and learning to the benefit of everyone.

The author works with teachers and schools to identify what helps boys learn. The result is this handbook, packed full of techniques, examples, and tips. Topics include:

  • Affirming and channelling boys' energy, so you can get them on your side
  • Improving boys' emotional literacy, so they gain in confidence and self-awareness
  • Using boundaries and appropriate discipline to calm classes
  • How to encourage boys so that they can be at their best
  • Getting boys to cooperate without nagging and shouting
  • Engaging boys with hmor and playfulness.

I feel strongly that this approach is something almost everyone involved with educating or rearing boys in this world of ours has been longing for - it is clear, practical, warm and, best of all, effective. Very highly recommended!

Developmental Insights

Discussions between doctors and teachers

edited by David S. Mitchell



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A wonderful compilation of articles and reports coming out of the First International Conference for Doctors and Teachers, held in Stuttgart, Germany, and sponsored by the Medical Section of the Goetheanum.

Topics covered include

  • the role of the school physician
  • constitutional types in school-age children
  • dental health and development
  • therapeutic principles in the curriculum of the arts and crafts lessons
  • therapeutic aspects of form drawing
  • reading and writing difficulties
  • math difficulties
  • working with difficult children
  • changes with maturity
  • opportunities and risks in the third seven-year period
  • therapeutic approaches in the high school lessons
  • youth and occultism
  • media
  • prevention of mental illness at school age
  • special needs education
  • aspects of left-handedness

Child Development and Pedagogical Issues

Compiled and edited by David Mitchell

Waldorf Journal Project #2 August 2003



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Here is a collection of translations and supportive articles from German, Swedish, Norwegian, British and American journals that focuses on child development and pedagogical issues from the Waldorf perspective. Valuable for study and useful as resources in striving to truly serve young people.

Working with Anxious, Nervous and Depressed Children

A Spiritual Perspective to Guide Parents

Henning Köhler

Introduction by Philip Incao, MD



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Henning Köhler courageously presents parents and teachers with a practical path of schooling the thinking, heart, and will in selfless devotion to the individual destiny of each child. This is a book every teacher, parent and friend of children will want to read and consider - it offers a way of receiving troubled children into our hearts, into the stream of our love such that healing and forward movement become possible.

Helping Children to Overcome Fear

The Healing Power of Play

Russell Evans


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Helping Children to Overcome Fear is one of those books that is itself a legacy, reaching out beyond the threshold of death to those of us still working with others on this teeming planet of ours. Jean Evans was a hospital play leader whose life work was with sick children. Her husband, Russell, has gathered together her stories and pictures that illustrate and teach so beautifully how the healing power of play can help children suffering illness to give voice to their feelings and find security.

Actually, I feel strongly that almost all children can benefit from Jean's wisdom and creativity. In my experience, almost all the young children I meet - and many, many I have known in the past - come into the world afraid. Or perhaps I should say, they come into the world acutely aware that the adults who love them are anxious about . . . well, the children don't know just what the adults are anxious about [you and I do, though], but they feel it and live it. And this is where Jean Evan's shining legacy can do so very much good. As we learn how to heal children's fears through play, we can find ourselves healing; as we also heal from our fears, the world our children live in shines ever more brightly.

This is a powerful, graceful book. I hope it reaches millions of hearts. It is a reminder of what is true, what is everlasting - and it is a pathway toward learning to live within that glorious truth.

Rhythms and Turning Points in the Life of the Child

Eugene Schwartz



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The author examines the importance of rhythms in the child's life and describes the developmental signposts from age nine through adolescence.

The Andover Proceedings

Tapping the Wellsprings of Health in Adolescence

October 2001
Andover, Massachusetts

High School Research
Project #6

Spiral Bound


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These Proceedings include the work of ninety Waldorf high school teachers researching adolescence and includes four key lectures by Dr. Michaela Glöckler.

Topics include:

  • teenagers in the new millenium
  • adolescent illness
  • forming faculty care groups
  • counseling and moral development
  • extensive resources, contact information, and research descriptions