I Am Different from You
How Children Experience Themselves in the World in the Middle of Childhood
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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.
First Grade Readiness
Resources, Insights, and Tools for Waldorf Educators
Nancy Blanning, Editor
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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.
- 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
The Developing Child
Sense and Nonsense in Education
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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.
Encountering the Self
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Between the ages of nine and ten, as their I incarnates more deeply, children often experience themselves for the first time as separate individuals, different from their parents and peers, and essentially alone. Hermann Koepke provides a lucid and highly readable explanation of the outer signs and symptoms of this essential turning point in the life of a child. He demonstrates the significance of this crucial moment by showing how the destiny and achievements of such personalities as Dante, Heinrich Schliemann, Oskar Kokoschka, Rudolf Steiner and Bruno Walter rest upon a fateful encounter or event in their ninth year.
On the Threshold of Adolescence
The Struggle for Independence in the Twelfth Year
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Hermann Koepke guides us to an understanding of the often tumultuous changes children undergo as they approach adolescence. He does so in a very creative way: through the eyes and experiences of a young teacher, Suzanne, as she endeavors to cope with the difficulties she and her students' parents face: drug use, smoking, apathy, rebelliousness, moodiness, and more. As her class changes, she adapts her teaching. She learns a great deal about these children, and in the process, teaches us a great deal about our own preadolescents. The period surrounding age 12 can be challenging and stressful to parents and children alike - Hermann Koepke offers just the sort of living understanding that can lead us out of the seemingly endless wilderness.
Working with Anxious, Nervous and Depressed Children
A Spiritual Perspective to Guide Parents
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.
Hathor the Moon Cow
Sex Education - A Creative Approach
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I think this journey into human sexuality - and how to convey its physical, social and spiritual realities and outcomes to children (beginning at around age 12 for direct teaching) is one of the most refreshing approaches I've ever read. In the author's usual humorous and relaxed style, virtually every topic of importance is touched upon - actually, delved into far beyond the surface - in a way that is open, engaging and utterly unabashed. I can imagine this one volume being of enormous help to both teachers and parents as they guide children into a healthy adulthood.