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Parenting Archives

December 1, 2004

Creating a Naturally Enriched Environment

There are many things you can do as parents to provide a naturally enriched environment for your young child. Neuropsychologist Jane Healy states, "The brain tends to seek out what it needs at each stage of development. Why not trust the child's brain to seek out the stimulation it needs from a naturally enriched environment?" (Your Child's Growing Mind. A Practical Guide to Brain Development and Learning from Birth to Adolescence). Here are some simple ways to do this:

Continue reading "Creating a Naturally Enriched Environment" »

December 6, 2004

Children and Nature by Cynthia Aldinger

What was it that day, twenty years ago, when my young son came running into the house, eyes widened, breathless, and full of both wonder and trepidation? What had he seen? He tried to describe it - a shadow, but not really a shadow. It moved quickly, and then it was gone. It had looked at him!

To the young child, everything has "being-ness" - and nowhere more than in the world of nature. It is a world that can at once delight, awe and even frighten. And children cannot get enough of it! A favorite story is one I heard from a friend in Denmark who described a toddler who spent half an hour exploring a knothole in a tree. His finger went in; it came back out. It went in again; came back out again.

Continue reading "Children and Nature by Cynthia Aldinger" »

January 2, 2005

Learning Through Play

[This article was written by Rahima Baldwin Dancy and covers Waldorf indications for early childhood development, the stages of creative play, and how they contribute to learning. It first appeared in Mothering, Winter, 1988 and has been updated for this posting. It builds on her article Learning Through Imitation.]

A baby happily throws all of her toys out of her crib. A toddler hides behind a napkin and plays peekaboo with his sister. A three year old finds an old hat in the costume basket and becomes a train engineer by turning over every chair in the house. A five year old tells her friends, "You be the sister and I'll be the mother and Heather can be the dog." All of these children are learning about the world through play, which has been called "the work of childhood." By understanding the stages of play and its importance for young children, you will be able to enhance your child's imagination and experience of the world through creative free play.

Continue reading "Learning Through Play" »

January 4, 2005

The Magical Years of Childhood

[This article on "The Magical Years" by Rahima Baldwin Dancy discusses Waldorf indications for the child's developing consciousness in early childhood, including artistic and cognitive development and a discussion of the use of fairy tales. Imitation and imaginative play are also touched on and are further developed in her articles Learning Through Imitation and Learning Through Play. This article originally appeared in Mothering, Summer 1984; it has been updated as needed for this posting.]

Continue reading "The Magical Years of Childhood" »

January 10, 2005

Childhood Fevers

"Childhood Fevers" by Rahima Baldwin Dancy deals with how fevers can strengthen the immune system and how childhood illnesses can help a child's development; febrile seizures and home care are also covered. The article first appeared in Mothering, Spring 1989.

Most childhood illnesses are characterized by fever. It is widely known that fever activates the immune system in a natural way. It is less widely known that fever can strengthen the immune system, help prevent susceptibility to other illnesses in later life, and confer developmental benefits as well.1 Pediatrician Uwe Stave reports: "Fever attacks can affect children in quite a positive way. Even though his physical strength is reduced, the child may disclose a wealth of new interests and skills. He may find new and advanced ways to communicate, think, and handle situations, or display a refinement of his motor skills. In short, after a fever, the child reveals a spurt of development and maturation."2

Continue reading "Childhood Fevers" »

January 11, 2005

Re-Valuing Free Play

Many parents don't even realize that imaginative free play has been squeezed out of our children's lives, and what a tremendous loss this is. The majority of preschool programs today emphasize early learning, computer literacy, or using the materials in just one way rather than being play-centered. Some public elementary schools provide no recess or physical education time at all. The highly structured time a child spends in preschool/daycare or school/
aftercare, is usually supplemented by a daily dose of enrichment classes and adult-led sports, which are sandwiched in between the three to four hours a day the average child spends watching television, movies or playing with video games. The old refrain from my childhood, "What'll I do?" is rarely heard today as children have almost no time in which they are not being instructed or entertained.

Continue reading "Re-Valuing Free Play" »

January 17, 2005

Imitating Life

We are all familiar with the old expression, "Children are like sponges." Never is this more true than in early childhood. They literally drink in their surroundings, and the major influence is the adults that inhabit those surroundings.

The mother of my two youngest godchildren told me a wonderful story about taking her daughters to a fish hatchery that they regularly visit to purchase fish. On this particular day, as Aurora (4 years old at the time) was feeding the fish in one of the hatchery ponds, one of the "fishermen" was busy cleaning the pond. Dressed in his waders, he meticulously cleaned the algae with focused attention.

As soon as they returned home, Aurora dug out a pair of her old snow pants (this was in early August!) and put them on to serve as her waders. Then she went outside and created her own hatchery environment. Their mesh hammock became a pond which she brushed and brushed - "Momma, I have a lot of algae to clean today." Another area in their garden served as the smoke house where she pretended to smoke several different kinds of fish, as well as chicken and beef! My friend said that this went on for days and days. Aurora even wanted to sleep in her "waders"!

How long had they observed the fisherman? Only about 15 minutes! We, the adults in the child's environment, are their textbooks. When they can see us fully engaged in what we are doing, and even better, doing it with interest and delight, the more they will be eager to take up the tasks of life as well.

By Cynthia Aldinger from the book This Is The Way We Wash-A-Day by Mary Thienes-Schunemann

Our Invisible Helpers

[This article by Cynthia Aldinger on our invisible helpers with housework and gardening, the elemental beings, was first printed in This is the Way We Wash-A-Day of the Children's Songbook series, published by Naturally You Can Sing Productions.]

Have you ever noticed the uplifting feeling that comes after you have prepared a meal from scratch, even though you felt you did not have the time to do it? Or that good feeling that comes after a room or porch has been swept, mopped or vacuumed, after a place has been dusted, after the bed has been made or a room tidied? What is that feeling? One could say it is a sense of satisfaction for a job well done. However, one can feel it even when someone else has done the work. That sense of fresh orderliness is like a breath of fresh air for whoever enters the space.

Likely, there are multiple reasons for such feelings. Could one of them be that the activity involved in maintaining a physical space brings about a qualitative change in the mood of the space? If so, how?

Continue reading "Our Invisible Helpers" »

Toys and Play

When we are creating a work space - an office, a classroom, a retail establishment - there are certain tools we need for specific tasks. We wouldn't normally think of using a hammer to screw a socket into the wall or a screwdriver to drive a nail into a cabinet. We try to find the tool that best serves the need for the task at hand. If we consider toys to be tools of early childhood, we need to give some thought to what types of toys best serve the child through the various stages of development.

Continue reading "Toys and Play" »

February 15, 2005

Satisfaction in Parenting

How can we nurture ourselves while caring for young children? How can we find happiness and satisfaction in a task that often produces no visible results in any given day? How can we find meaning for ourselves as well as being there for our children?
Rahima responds:

Continue reading "Satisfaction in Parenting" »

February 22, 2005

Aggression (young child)

A mother in a Waldorf parent-child program submitted a question about aggressive behavior from her three-year-old son:
"The struggle we are facing is that our son can be aggressive with the other
kids. Some instances it is a circumstance in which he and another child
both want the same toy and he will try and pull it away- this I can deal
with. Other times it seems as though it is out of nowhere- he will just
push another child or hit them on the top of the head with his hand. The
teahers in our class and the other parents are very supportive to us and
encourage us to let this all play out. My question is "do you have any
suggestions for us to help with this agression?" This situation is not
soley at the mommy and me, it happens with his cousin, who he plays with as
well. What tools can we use to help him control the agression? Any advice is
welcome. Thank you!"

Continue reading "Aggression (young child)" »

February 28, 2005

Early Bedtime

This review of the valuable book The 7 O'Clock Bedtime by Inda Schaenen (Regan Books, 2001) is written by Nancy Foster, a Waldorf early childhood teacher at Acorn Hill Waldorf Kindergarten and Nursery in Silver Spring, Maryland.

"Early to bed, early to rise, makes a child healthy, playful, and wise." Thus reads the cover of The 7 O'Clock Bedtime by Inda Schaenen. As a Waldorf early childhood teacher, I have heard so many parents bemoan the difficulties of getting their children to bed at night, and I have observed so many tired, cranky children who seem obviously sleep-deprived. In this sensible, funny, poignant, and, above all, helpful book, Inda Schaenen goes beyond anecdotal evidence to present studies that document the sleep requirements of infants and children, and also the results of inadequate sleep.

Continue reading "Early Bedtime" »

March 3, 2005

Housework, Part I

Housework Part I: Confessions of a Waldorf Mom
by Esther Leisher

This collection of ideas about housework and Waldorf parenting got started when Nikki Stephens asked Esther Leisher what she had done about housework when her children were young. It will appear here in several parts. You can get to know Esther better by reading in the category "About the Authors."

We would be delighted if you would add your own ideas, your own experiences in the "Comments" section at the end of each article. You are busy at the most important job in the world--parenting--and have a wealth of wisdom to share.

Continue reading "Housework, Part I" »

March 4, 2005

Housework, Part II

Housework, Part II: The Kids Get Older
by Esther Leisher

This collection of ideas about housework and Waldorf parenting got started when Nikki Stephens asked Esther Leisher what she had done about housework when her children were young (she has four grown children, two older ones and tw that were much younger; she homeschooled the younger two using Waldorf methods. It will appear here in several parts. You can get to know Esther better by reading in the category "About the Authors."

We would be delighted if you would add your own ideas and experiences in the "Comments" section at the end of each article. You are busy at the most important job in the world--parenting--and have a wealth of wisdom to share.

Continue reading "Housework, Part II" »

March 7, 2005

Imaginary Toys

A mother of a toddler asked Rahima about dolls, gnomes, fairies, and toys for young children:
"I am a little confused about some of the Waldorf toys. I am very interested in Waldorf education and raising my daughter that way. I am reading You are Your Child's First Teacher. I really like the book, but I'm confused about a few things. The author states (for a toddler) that "chartreuse ponies with silver hair" aren't appropriate because they don't represent true nature and beauty. I'm assuming she is talking about "My Little Ponies" or something like that. However, I notice on a lot of different Waldorf doll sites they have mermaids, gnomes, goddesses with pink hair, etc. How are these any different? I'm trying to "skim down" my daughter's toys and keep toys that are Waldorf appropriate, but I'm confused on this issue. She also talks about a "floppy stuffed rabbit" but these don't seem that different to me than the beginner waldorf dolls that don't have much of a shape. I know that tv is a problem, but she also sites Barney. I'm not a fan of tv, but her argument with Barney is also confusing to me. He is an imaginary figure, much like gnomes, woodland fairies, etc. I would appreciate any advice on this issue. I find the author has great insight, and I'm just trying to start thinking in the "Waldorf direction."

Continue reading "Imaginary Toys" »

A Need for Preschool?

A mother with an 18-month-old asks about the need for preschool and about attending Waldorf training programs while her child is young. She asks:
"Is it healthier to homeschool a preschooler, using Waldorf principles, or is
there a greater benefit to being in a Waldorf preschool with other
children? And, if I were to homeschool my daughter during her preschool
years, would it be more beneficial to take a Foundations class or go to a
Lifeways seminar? And, is there a database of Foundation year programs in the
United States that I can search to locate one that fits my needs? Is there
a Foundation program that is taught in seminars (so that it would not be necessary to relocate for one year)?

I want the best for my daughter, and I don't want to leave out anything
crucial in these precious, first years. I have read You Are Your Child's
First Teacher
, as well as many of its referenced texts. Thank you Rahima!
Your book has been an indispensable guide.

Continue reading "A Need for Preschool?" »

March 19, 2005

Living with Two Year Olds

Living with Two Year Olds by Esther Leisher
Esther Leisher writes: Parenting a two year old can cause you to wonder, "Am I on the right track?" Beckie is at home with her first child, who is now two. Our tiny Waldorf community focuses more on education in general, so when she asked at a workshop what you do with a two year old, I dashed off some ideas to her. It would be great to hear from other people, too-send your comments and suggestions on the form at the end of the article.

Continue reading "Living with Two Year Olds" »

Drawing and Painting

A mother writes that her 2.5-year-old son has recently begun insisting that she draw things for him during his paintig or coloring time, becoming frustrated when he cannot draw or paint likeness of various objects to his satisfaction. He is drawing wonderful circles and spirals, and resists her attempts to encourage him to do his own artwork. "Is this normal?" she asks. "How can I encourage him to enjoy doing things himself and not feel like he has to draw or paint 'things'?"

Continue reading "Drawing and Painting" »

March 21, 2005

Parenting A Young Child

Parenting a Young Child - What My Formal Education Never Taught Me
by Susan R. Johnson MD, FAAP, Raphael House [see "About the Web Authors"].
As a pediatrician with subspecialty training in child behavior and development, I thought I knew everything there was to know about children and being a parent. Then I became a parent, and I humbly realized that I knew very little about either one. So here are some parenting experiences (and babysitting survival tips) that my education never taught me about raising a young child:

Continue reading "Parenting A Young Child" »

March 23, 2005

Shyness

A mother asks about helping a child with shyness:
My four year old is very shy, and has always been. She cannot respond at all when meeting new people, and will even make bad faces (rolling her eyes, scrunching up her whole face in what looks like irritation) instead of saying "hello" back, or answering how old she is, etc. And around groups of people, even kids her age, she always stays with me. I feel my baby's discomfort, but I also want her to have good manners. And I want to stop making excuses about her shyness to others because I don't think it's good for her to hear repeatedly. Any head/hands/heart ideas to help us work on this?

Continue reading "Shyness" »

March 26, 2005

Working Outside the Home

A mother describes how she and her husband are juggling jobs and care for their daughter and asks about Waldorf resources for mothers who work outside the home:
"While I consider this the absolute best arrangement that we could provide for my daughter, I am of course torn because I miss the rich time at home with her. I work because we need me to, and for no other reason.

I have been looking for Waldorf-oriented resources for a woman in my position, and am coming up with a complete blank.
When I was at home I found fantastic Waldorf resources for us stay at home mommies--and now that I am out in the work world I need that same sustenance. Do you have any suggestions?
>
As an aside--if no resources are to be found for us Waldorf mommies working out of necessity, I suspect I might have to create something because this is a very challenging existence, just as the transition to motherhood and homemaking was!

Continue reading "Working Outside the Home" »

March 29, 2005

The Mood of Spring

[Esther Leisher shares her contemplations on the mood of spring, and some of the ways she has shared this with her grandchildren.]

Here is the verse I was telling you about, the one that I remembered
again when my grandchildren were here.

The Sun gives light to the plants
Because the Sun loves the plants.
So one person gives soul light to others
When she loves them.
Rudolf Steiner

Continue reading "The Mood of Spring" »

March 30, 2005

Confronting Our Shadow

Confronting Our Shadow
by Susan R. Johnson MD, FAAP, Raphael House

Parenting is one of the most awe-inspiring, noble, and challenging professions. Yet, being a parent gets so little support and appreciation from our culture. It was much easier for me to go through medical school, a pediatric residency, a fellowship, and work as a pediatrician, than be a parent. I can't remember ever being so depleted and exhausted as I have been these past 7-1/2 years parenting a child. I think some of the exhaustion comes from the developmental work that I needed to do (and am still doing) on myself, when faced with this bright-eyed, intuitive, energetic, developing boy. Raising a child provided me with the opportunity to re-live my own childhood. I am discovering that all my unresolved feelings and thoughts, that were long ago repressed, now have come bursting forth to the surface.

Continue reading "Confronting Our Shadow" »

April 19, 2005

First Grade Readiness

Readiness for first grade, social dynamics and shyness are all discussed by Cynthia in response to a mother's inquiry about keeping her daughter, who has an August birthday, in a Waldorf kindergarten for another year.
Cynthia writes:

As parents we truly ache for our children when we feel
they are being left out. Young children often do not
have the capacity to be sensitive to the needs of
another child, although there are times when their
compassion can surprise us.

It sounds as though your daughter is a bit invisible
to the others. They are so in the thick of their play
that they do not take note of whether or not she is
joining in. On the other hand, one or another of the
children (a ring leader so to speak) may be guiding
the other children away from her for reasons we might
not ever know.

Continue reading "First Grade Readiness" »

April 25, 2005

You Are Your Child's First Teacher

You Are Your Child's First Teacher. Third Edition.
Book by Rahima Baldwin Dancy
The place to start if you have young children. Waldorf indications from birth through age six, including growth and development, parenting issues, creative play, and activities to do with our child.

"This book includes and goes beyond the physicalities of parenting to offer substance for heart and soul to ponder." -- Meryn G. Callander

Book (380 pages).

Add to cart

Continue reading "You Are Your Child's First Teacher" »

Navigating the Terrain of Childhood

Navigating the Terrain of Childhood
by Jack Petrash
Book from Nova Institute (144 pages)
Video recording of Jack's keynote address
Audio recording of the keynote

Did you every wish you had a roadmap for the parenting journey? Using the metaphor of a cross-country jounrey, Jack provides an insightful and practical guide for "meaningful parenting and heartfelt discipline" as you accompany your children from infancy through adulthood. Jack refashions the insights about child development used by Waldorf teachers and applies them to the experience of parenting. The book is an essential companion, and the keynote address is lively, timely and full of humor. I especially like the video recording--it would be great to share with a partner or a study group.

Book, 144 pages
Add to cart

Continue reading "Navigating the Terrain of Childhood" »

Times of Genius

"Times of Genius: Raising Children Who Remember Spirit"
Keynote address by Claudia McLaren Lainson

Claudia reminds us that our children come seeking truth and authenticity, for this is what they remember. When they look to us for guidance, it is imperative that we meet them where they are. They will bring a renaissance in education and cultural life to the degree their capacities are drawn forrth. Claudia addresses the questions, "How do we prepare our children for a future we do not understand?" and "How do we recreate our families and educational systems to draw forth their genius?"

Continue reading "Times of Genius" »

Parenting and Teaching from the Heart

"Parenting and Teaching from the Heart"
Keynote address by Penni Rich Sparks

This was an inspiring keynote with its transforming concept of "being a queen in your own realm." Full of humor and practical tips for parents, home schooling families and teachers.

Audio in CD format (60 minutes).

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Constructive Parenting

"Constructive Parenting: Brick by Brick"
Workshop by Penni Rich Sparks (Audio in CD format)

Explore putting your values at the source of your every activity. This workshop will help you take charge of your life and the life of your family by building an inner sanctuary to house, protect and honor the values you hold in life and want to manifest in your family.

Audio recording in CD format.

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Honoring the Lost Art of Mothering

"Honoring the Lost Art of Mothering"
Workshop by Penni Rick Sparks (Audio in CD format)

Penni offers a nourishing imagination of the "Artistry in Parenting" as well as a presentation of inner-work designed to heal the soul challenges we meet on the path to becoming loving parents.

Audio recording in CD format.

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Navigating the Terrain of Sexuality

"Navigating the Terrain of Sexuality"
Keynote Address by Linda Knodle

Sexuality is a personal, physical, cultural and spiritual journey that lasts our entire lives-and one that can cause parents a great deal of confusion and concern. Linda shares ways of exploring our own biography and values, as well as insights into child and adult development that can support us as we parent and educate our children about sexuality-from preschool through young adulthood.

Audio recording in CD format (60 minutes).

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Rites of Passage

"The Quest for Contemporary Rites of Passage"
Workshop by Linda Knodle (video in DVD format)

Unfortunately, our video of this workshop did not work out. But Linda has written information available that explores the basic elements of ritual and the needs of modern day youth in the context of coming of age. Linda is co-author of the I Find My Star Curriculum for Waldorf schools and a mentor for parent groups in developing coming-of-age ceremonies. Check out her work at www.lindaknodle.net.

The Joys and Challenges of Fathering

"The Joys and Challenges of Fathering"
Workshop by Jack Petrash (Audio in CD format)

As fathers today, we play a greater role in the raising of our children and, yet, we often feel unprepared for the task. This interactive workshop explores the fundamentals of fathering and shows how the same principles that guide a Waldorf approach to education are at the heart of effective parenting. Jack led groups for Waldorf fathers for many years and has two grown sons and a daughter in high school.

Audio recording in CD format.

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Parenting in the 21st Century

"Walking the Fine Line: Parenting in the 21st Century"
Workshop by Jack Petrash

Parenting today is demanding work filled with paradox and contradiction. This workshop will explore some of the essential parenting polarities and help both mothers and fathers to maintain a balanced approach.

Audio recording in CD format.

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Exploring the Temperaments

"Exploring the Temperaments"
Workshop by Kristie Burns (Audio CD)

Knowledge of the temperaments can help create more harmonious relationships through understanding oneself and others better, and can help create more joy in life. Kristie teaches an online course in The Four Temperaments and will share insights on their development by Steiner, Galen and Islamic medicine.

Audio recording in CD format.

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May 12, 2005

Televison at Your House

TELEVISION
by Esther Leisher


In a Waldorf study group someone commented that she grew up without TV
and felt that it is important socially for a child to at least watch TV occasionally.
I think it's a valid statement, depending on the age of the child, though each
person is going to see it differently.

Continue reading "Televison at Your House" »

Nurturing Yourself

Esther Leisher writes:

"What do you do for yourself? How often I was asked that when I had four
children at home. I was obviously pouring myself into what I considered my
profession (family life), and it must have looked like I was making great
sacrifices. I wasn't. I was pretty much doing what I wanted to do. You are a
creative artist working with the substance of everyday life. You learn to be true
to the heart of the music but play it in your own style.

Continue reading "Nurturing Yourself" »

June 15, 2005

Waldorf Essentials, Part I

Waldorf Essentials: If you can't do it all, what things should you try first?
From Esther Leisher

Part I: "Noble Minded, Generous Hearted and Affectionate"

Julie commented recently that Waldorf in the home requires quite a commitment. There is so much you are supposed to do. What are the essentials? I thought then of Quetzal.

Continue reading "Waldorf Essentials, Part I" »

June 22, 2005

Reverence and Rhythm

Reverence and Rhythm: "Waldorf Essentials, Part II"
By Esther Leisher

The soul of the child is nurtured by receiving care from someone who is noble-minded, generous hearted, and affectionate. The spirit needs that, too, but to find expression, to become fully, truly human, with all the capacities a human can demonstrate, the spirit needs more.

Continue reading "Reverence and Rhythm" »

July 4, 2005

Imitation, Imagination and Gratitude

Waldorf Essentials, Part III: Imitation, Imagination and Gratitude
by Esther Leisher

Having achieved (to some extent at least) what I felt were some fundamentals, I turned to other Waldorf goals, goals that I would probably only partially achieve -- Imitation, Imagination, and Gratitude.

Continue reading "Imitation, Imagination and Gratitude" »

July 23, 2005

Is the World a Good Place?

Is the World a Good Place?
by Nancy Foster

[The following excerpt is reprinted with permission from Nancy's book In a Nutshell. Dialogues with Parents at Acorn Hill, available from the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America, www.waldorfearlychildhood.org.]

QUESTION: How can we understand Rudolf Steiner's statement that young children should experience that the world is good? Even in his day, the world was a troubled place, and it is surely even more dangerous today.

Continue reading "Is the World a Good Place?" »

August 9, 2005

Not Needing TV

Esther Leisher responds to a mother's questions about television by describing how she created a situation where she and her family didn't turn to television or videos, rather than trying to "get rid of them."

Continue reading "Not Needing TV" »

August 13, 2005

The Best Start in Life

"The Best Start in Life" -- keynote address by Rahima Baldwin Dancy,
plus a handout on creating a naturally enriched environment for your child

All parents want what is best for their child. Yet it is easier to define and meet basic physical and emotional needs than it is to know how, what and when to teach children in the preschool years. What do young children really need? What will really prepare them for life in our rapidly changing world? Rahima addresses these issues, bringing in many of the studies cited by neuropsychologist Jane Healy. She also discusses practical ways to help your child's learning through creating a naturally enriched environment.

Audio recording in CD format, 54 minutes, plus 1-page handout.

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September 29, 2005

Barbie

Nancy Foster answers a question about Barbie Dolls in a "Waldorf home." Excerpted from her book In A Nutshell, available from www.waldorfearlychildhood.org. Please share your thoughts and experiences in the "Comments" section!
Question:
My daughter is persistent in asking me to buy her a Barbie doll; some of her friends have them and she sees them sometimes when we are at the store. She says, "Why can't we just buy one?!" I feel she is so young to have a doll like that, and Barbie is not a role model I want for her. I had one when I was eight or ten, but by then I was able to take care of it, dressing it and arranging its hair. When I see little girls carrying a Barbie doll around, it is usually a mess, hair disarranged, no clothes on... I have been telling her she can have one when she is eight, but this does not satisfy her. What else can I say to her?

Continue reading "Barbie" »

October 7, 2005

Barbie Come Home!

Barbie Come Home!
By Rahima Baldwin Dancy

Not long ago a mother was lamenting that her young daughter wanted a Barbie doll and was having absolute fits at the toy store. I turned to my adult daughter, who happened also to be present for this conversation and said, "That's funny-you never asked me to buy you a Barbie doll." "Mah-ahm," she replied in two syllables, rolling her eyes. "I wouldn't have been that dumb!" (Parents take note: children choose their battles and know where the loopholes are; even as a young child, she knew a futile case when she saw one and wasn't going to waste her energy). "Besides," she added. I could always play with them at Melanie's. She had ten of them!" Fair enough.

Continue reading "Barbie Come Home!" »

November 14, 2005

The Next Frontier in Education

"The Next Frontier in Education"
Keynote Address by Michael Mendizza

The next great challenge in education is reaching and engaging adults-moms and dads, families, coaches and communities-to become what Joseph Chilton Pearce refers to as the "model imperative" for our children. Michael discusses how only such a model can mentor a new generation of children and through time a new intelligent, creative, sustainable culture.

Audio Recording in CD format (60 minutes).

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Cultivating Mastery

"Cultilvating Mastery--Preparing Untroubled Children to Live in a Troubled World" Keynote by Regina Mason

Through her varied experiences over the years as a home schooling parent and Waldorf teacher, Regina will share insights into the effects on our children's development of the current trend toward permissiveness. How can parents instill a sense of order without sacrificing their child's spontaneity, independence, and creativity? Regina will delve into the issues surrounding authority, discipline, and helping children cultivate the mastery to navigate the world's social waters.

Audio Recording in CD format (60 minutes).

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Early Childhood through Adolescence

"It's Never Too Early (to Prepare for Adolescence)"
Keynote Address by Betty Staley

Adolescence doesn't fall out of the sky! Healthy parenting through the early stages of childhood and through the golden years of 7-10 sets the stage for this very important transitional period when we may feel we are dancing on a tightrope with 10-16 year olds. Betty gives a clear description of the path of parenting by discussing five themes of parenting and how they change from early childhood through adolescence.

Audio Recording in CD format (60 minutes).

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Family Matters

Family Matters or "Homemaking 101 for Busy Parents"
Workshop by
Rahima Baldwin Dancy

In this video with Rahima, you are invited to consider the four levels of family life-physical, rhythmical, emotional and spiritual-as a practical lens for making your home life more harmonious and supportive for all members of the family. Something you'll want to watch again and again over time, as your family changes.

Video Recording in DVD format.

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Children and Sports

Children and Sports--When and How?
Workshop by Michael Mendizza

Soccer, T-ball--when to start team sports? Or lessons in competitive sports? What about children with special drive or talent? Michael shares his insights on play and sports gained from extensive interviews with star athletes about playing "in the zone" and interview with their coaches. Learn what really works to encourage, not scare or scar your child.

Audio Recording in CD format.

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Optimum Learning

"Seven Principles for Optimum Learning, Performance and Well-Being"
Workshop by Michael Mendizza

Gathering from years of research on optimum states (being in the zone, flow, play), Michael shares the seven characteristics that optimum states have in common and applies these to the adult-child relationship. This can help adults rediscover the genius of their childhood and transform parenting and mentoring relationships.

Audio Recording in CD format.

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December 8, 2005

You Are Your Child's First Teacher

You Are Your Child's First Teacher 3rd Edition.
by Rahima Baldwin Dancy

384 pages.

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Synopsis by Meryn G. Callander
©1998, see http://thewellspring.com/TWO

The importance of what our children learn in the home and through their relationship with us forms the irreplaceable foundation of all that comes later. Mother, childbirth educator, midwife, and Waldorf educator, Baldwin aims to deepen our understanding of the nature of the young child as a whole being--body, mind, emotions, and spirit--so enabling us to meet their needs for balanced development.

It is Baldwin's sensitive, sincere, and ever-so-natural tending to the soul and spirit, as well as mind and body, of the newborn and young child, that makes this a very special book.

Continue reading "You Are Your Child's First Teacher" »

March 29, 2006

Parenting Authentically

"Dare to Parent Authentically"
Keynote address by William Bento

Conditions today have made raising the next generation a mission extraordinaire! Who dares be a parent in these complex times? The answer: "Only those who still know deep in their hearts that the next generation is the only hope for humanity's sanity." We need to be who we are authentically so our children will see, hear and experience the glorious mystery that men and women of all ages have paid homage to, the one single truth we know as Love. Dare to parent in the virtue of Hope and live in the power of Love!

In this presentation, William adapts Steiner's "Six Basic Exercises" to form a path of inner development for parents.

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Nourishing Our Families

"Nourishing Ourselves, Nourishing Our Children"
Workshop by Thomas Cowan, MD

The research of nutrition pioneer Dr. Weston Price was the first to show how food determines health in teeth, bones, organs, growth and reproduction. Dr. Cowan discusses the power of eating traditional foods, locally grown and traditionally prepared. This approach has recently been made more accessible through Sally Fallon's book Nourishing Traditions.

Audio recording in CD format.

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Adolescence: A Grail Journey

"Adolescence: A Grail Journey of the Heart"
Workshop by William Bento

As the biological chemistry alters throughout puberty, the delicate subtle sheath of the heart transforms, setting the soul upon a universal quest that will involve 16 gateways to maturity. Using the story of Parzival as a metaphor for our times, this presentation explores the meaning of the transformation and the gateways for youth today.

Audio recording in CD format.

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Working with the Angels

"Who's Helping Whom? Working with Your Child's Angel"
Workshop by Myra McPherson

How do we help our children go to sleep, trust the world, or take on a challenge? There is help available from the spiritual world as parents and angels work in partnership to support our children's development. Learn some ways to stop, look and listen with our hearts for guidance.

Continue reading "Working with the Angels" »

Sharing Stories

"Sharing Stories with your Children"
Workshop by Daena Ross

How can you make up stories that are age appropriate? How do you memorize stories, and how much should you dramatize them? This storytelling workshop will help you build confidence and investigate themes and sources of inspiration that can enrich your life as well as your children's.

Audio recording in CD format.

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April 25, 2006

Ennobling, Not Enabling

Ennobling, Not Enabling –Bringing Forth the Best in Yourself & Your Children
by Penni Sparks


[This essay on parenting by Penni Sparks is from her monthly newsletter, which you can subscribe to by contacting Tracy@takeheartinc.com. It's a great way to learn where Penni will be speaking and how progress is going on "The Penni Sparks Show," a television pilot that promotes "our kind of insights" on parenting. Go Penni! Penni will be offering two "Preconference Workshops" at the fall conferences: in California, "Surviving and Thriving with your Adolescent and Preteen" for parents with children in grades 5-12; in Colorado, "Growing and Guiding your Young Child." For more information on the conferences and to register for a full afternoon with Penni, click on "Learn More" between the two conference brochures on the right.

Those of you who don't know Penni from our conferences will find that her clarity and humor come across in the four recordings we have of her keynote and workshop sessions: "Parenting and Teaching from the Heart;" "Constructive Parenting: Brick by Brick;" " Honoring the Lost Art of Mothering;" and "Loving Authority: Building Up, Not Tearing Down." --Rahima]

Continue reading "Ennobling, Not Enabling" »

December 9, 2006

Letting Stories Teach

"Letting Stories Teach"
Workshop by Eugene Schwartz

It is no exaggeration to say that stories are the most powerful teaching resource available to both parents and teachers, having been the primary means for transmitting religious truths and cultural values from time immemorial. Explore ways stories may be used to convey information, ameliorate psychological problems, and stimulate healthy social interchange among children. [Note: Eugene is the author of Why the Setting Sun Turns Red and Other Stories for Children and an expert on curative or pedagogical stories and using stories in the curriculum]

Continue reading "Letting Stories Teach" »

Depth in Fairy Tales

"The Hidden Depth in Fairy Tales"
Workshop by Thesa Kallinikos

Discover what lies hidden within fairy tales and why they speak so strongly to the young child (through first grade). Learn how to select and tell fairy tales for children of different ages.

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Freedom and Choice

"Freedom of Choice or Freedom from Choice?
Workshop by Eugene Schwartz

Is there a difference between the parenting role and the teaching role? In this session for parents, teachers and home schoolers, Eugene explores ways of distinguishing between the varying expectations of the two roles and ways in which your child benefits by responding to a "formed" approach. He also discusses implications of recent research by Judith Rich Miller (The Nurture Assumption) on the relationship between parental and peer influences.

Continue reading "Freedom and Choice" »

Neurology and Nurture

"Neurology and Nurture: Supporting Our Children in Challenging Times"
Keynote by Dee Joy Coulter, Ed.D.

Because today's children will need to cope with more stress and cultivate more resiliency than ever before, it is vital to offer the guidance they need for living into their souls' destinies. This will call for new understandings and new strategies. Dr. Coulter discusses some of the important neurological findings that can point the way toward these new strategies and then explores a wide range of practices and activities that can make parenting fun and successful for the children, while nourishing parents as well.

Continue reading "Neurology and Nurture" »

Parenting by HEART

"Parenting by H.E.A.R.T~Resurrecting the Family"
Keynote by Cynthia Wand

What is at the heart of our families? What is at the heart of our lives? What lies at the core of our values? Virtues are qualities that provide the framework for creating a meaningful life. They are universally valued by all faiths and cultures and form the content of our character. By exploring and resurrecting the purity, meaning and power of virtue, we will redefine what it is to create a family and parent from that place of inner strength.

Continue reading "Parenting by HEART" »

Communities of Learning

"Creating Vibrant Communities of Learning for Our Children"
Keynote by David Darcy

We simultaneously participate in many different communities, with all their attendant joys and frustrations. Whether our child's community of learning is at a school or at home, the dynamics of community are part of the fabric of learning. We will explore the dynamics that exist in healthy and challenging communities, as well as the ideals of the "three-fold social order" brought by Rudolf Steiner. How can we, as adults, take up the challenges of community so that our own learning will be an inspiration to our children?

Continue reading "Communities of Learning" »

Courageous Parenting

"Courageous Parenting: Changing Our Families and the World"
Keynote by Nancy Jewel Poer

The family in today's world has been described as a "bearer of culture." Having explored our own values through the preceding keynotes, how can we create the quality of life we want for our families in the face of forces like commercialism that are working so powerfully against our efforts? How can our parenting impact the world situation, and can we know what the effects of our actions will be on our children? Nancy shares her life-long experience as a parent and grandparent, educator and activist for culture change.

Continue reading "Courageous Parenting" »

Surviving Parenting/Six Basic Exercises

"Surviving Parenting with the Help of Steiner's Six Basic Exercises"
Workshop by Betty Staley

Everyday situations often cause parents to lose their composure and react. Working with Rudolf Steiner's six basic exercises is a powerful way to help us make parenting a positive and creative experience.

Continue reading "Surviving Parenting/Six Basic Exercises" »

Spiritual Companioning

"The Art of Spiritual Companioning"
Workshop by Cynthia Wand

By being deeply present and listening with compassion and detachment, we can help others "to empty their cup of emotion." This powerful yet gentle tool from Virtues Project International supports children and adults to discover their inner wisdom.

Continue reading "Spiritual Companioning" »

Language of Virtues

"Learning the Language of Virtues"
Workshop by Cynthia Wand

By helping your children relate to the virtues or values that underly all social and religious life, you can help their inner development as well as their outer actions. Cynthia is a Waldorf home schooling parent and a Master Facilitator with Virtues Project International, a model global program for families that has been honored by the United Nations.

Continue reading "Language of Virtues" »

Nurturing Ourselves/Our Families

"The Sacred Art of Nurturing Ourselves, Our Children and Our Families"
Keynote by Donna Simmons

In today's world, the family has been called the "bearer of culture." Yet there is very little support for intentionally creating a home life that supports every member of the family. Donna focuses on the importance and pitfalls of mothering in today's culture. She also addresses how mothers, by working with rhythm and festivals and with their own strength and mood of soul, can set the stage for a healthy, child-friendly family life, in contrast to one that is child-centered.

Donna describes her rich and unique experience, which includes being a houseparent in Camphill, teaching children from preschool through high school, homeschooling her two sons, and advising parents through Christopherus Home School Resources, which she founded. Donna has many books and other recordings available at
www.Christopherushomeschool.org [If you have young children, I especially recommend her book on Kindergarten at Home with Your Three to Six-Year-Old. --Rahima]

Continue reading "Nurturing Ourselves/Our Families" »

Parenting and Teaching the Millennial Child

"Parenting and Teaching the Millennial Child"
Keynote by Eugene Schwartz

In considering ways to understand and meet children today, Eugene discusses some of the factors underlying the rise of learning disabilities and behavioral problems and how they are met by the Waldorf approach. He pays particular attendtion to autism, Aspberer's and adoption. A very strong and provocative talk by a leading proponent of Waldorf education.

Continue reading "Parenting and Teaching the Millennial Child" »

Family Celebrations

"Create Your Own Family Celebrations"
Workshop by Esther Leisher

Esther writes frequently on this site, sharing her awareness and the celebrations she created as her four children were growing up. In this video, you'll see many of the simple items she used and be better able to develop your own celebrations, based around the principlces of meaning, symbol, beauty and activity. You'll be inspired to create more magic and wonder in your family's life--fun!

Continue reading "Family Celebrations" »

July 19, 2007

The Greening of Story

"The Greening of Story"
Keynote address with 2 puppet shows by Suzanne Down

When we trust the depths of goodness living in nature's stories and share them with our children when they are young, we build skills and understanding for them to want to become the future earth healers in a challenging world. Suzanne shares practical suggestions and some of her puppetry.

Continue reading "The Greening of Story" »

The Nine-Year Change

The Nine-Year Change: Leaving the Garden
Workshop by Daena Ross

What's going on with your suddenly-moody nine year old to make the eviction from the Garden of Eden such a fitting metaphor? Learn how to meet these inner changes with equanimity and practical life activities.

Continue reading "The Nine-Year Change" »

Creating Play Spaces for Young Children

Creating Play Spaces for Young Children
Workshop by Simone Demarzi

What is free play and how can we design our play environments to encourage children to play both indoors and out? We will talk about toys, the four elements, and how to begin the transformation in your home or program.

Continue reading "Creating Play Spaces for Young Children" »

December 8, 2007

Peace and Philanthropy Ed

Educating Children for Peace and Philanthropy
Workshop by Joan Almon

In a world gone mad, what can families do to prepare their children for a lifetime of valuing peace and service to others? Joan explores some of the ways that are working and participants share stories and resources.

Continue reading "Peace and Philanthropy Ed" »

Fostering Your Child's Creative Spirit

Fostering and Preserving Your Child's Creative Spirit
Keynote Address by Regina Mason

Every parent and teacher struggles with the balance between setting limits and fostering the creativity of the child. How is it possible to bring order and still allow children to flourish in their creative development? Through her varied experiences over the years as a homeschooling parent and Waldorf educator, Regina shares insights into the difference between creative expression and freedom of expression, discusses how to provide "discipline" without stifling your child's creativity and spontaneity, and offers supportive ideas for guiding children toward a creative, expressive adulthood.

Continue reading "Fostering Your Child's Creative Spirit" »

My Guardian Angel

My Guardian Angel
Book by Sharon Sofia Fletter

Sharon's beautiful watercolor illustrations and the contemplative words (translated into five languages!) will encourage your child to know that you understand his or her connection with the spiritual world. Rahima wrote in the introduction:

Many parents have had the experience of entering the room where their newborn was sleeping and being amazed that such a tiny being could have such a huge presence. A parent I quoted in You Are Your Child's First Teacher reported that her three-year-old asked who was in the corner of the room as her baby sister was being nursed. The mother, seeing no one herself, asked tentatively, "Perhaps an Angel?" and reports that the child broke into smiles and agreed enthusiastically as the room filled with peace and light. Such examples are not uncommon, and illustrate that many young children are still very much in touch with the spiritual world from which they have recently come.

This book provide a wonderful opportunity to give your child the recognition and reassurance that wheat they may experience as common place is not foreign to you, even if your own awareness of the angelic realms may have dinned as you became engrossed I the affairs of the Adult world.

This book is designed to be read slowly with your child, without a lot of questions or intellectual commentary. Linger over each drawing, simply allowing your child to "live into" the beautiful colors and images and the simple words.

If you don't ask questions or intellectualize, you might find that your child shares something with you, either as you look at the book together, or at a later time.

Parents sometimes wonder how to respond to a young child who asks about angels or God or what happens after you die (or before you were born). Jesus often responded with parables--living stories or images that feed the soul rather than cold, hard facts, which as more like stones. Or you might give the question back to the child--"What do you think about that?"--providing space for your child's own perceptions and understanding tot come forth.

As an early childhood specialist and author, I recommend My Guardian Angel and encourage you to enjoy this time of closeness with your child, allowing it to be a blessing for you both! --Rahima Baldwin Dancy, You Are Your Child's First Teacher

Continue reading "My Guardian Angel" »

February 7, 2008

TV Habits Affect Attention

At one of our recent conferences, Tim Burns made the startling analogy that by age five, children watch as much television as it takes to get a four-year college degree. So it's as if we're giving our children a degree in television watching!

Now a study reported in a 2007 issue of Pediatrics found that those children who watched more television when they were 5 and 7 were more likely to show signs of difficulty paying attention at ages 13 and 15. This long-term study followed 1037 children and used assessments from parents, teachers and the youths themselves. It compared reports of attention difficulties in adolescence to the time parents said their children watched TV at ages 5, 7, 9 and 11. In addition, psychologists independently rated each child's attention span and ability to concentrate at ages 3 and 5.

Even after accounting for factors such as gender, cognitive ability, and socioeconomic status, the researchers in New Zealand found that those children who watched more than three hours per day between the ages of 5 and 11 had more symptoms of attention problems as teens than those who watched two hours or less.
--Reported in the Daily Camera, 9/25/07 from an article by Sandra G. Boodman of The Washington Post.

January 14, 2009

Inner Nature: The Four Elements and the Temperaments

"Inner Nature: The Four Elements and the Temperaments"
Workshop by Cheryl Mulholland

The four elements also appear within human nature as our temperament, with each person expressing an affinity towards earth, air, fire and water in how they think, feel and act in life. Understanding the temperaments can improve our relationships and parenting and help us guide our children with their strengths and weaknesses.

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June 15, 2009

"Parenting with Spirit" [Book]

"Parenting with Spirit: A Waldorf Guide for the Three Phases of Childhood"
Book by Cindy Brooks and Joya Birns

Cindy and Joya have written a much-needed book describing the three phases of childhood and ways in which effective parenting skills change in response to children's changing levels of development. The seven-year phases of development are described in the chapter on "Working with Developmental Forces in Parenting," as well as ways to influence children when they are centered in imitation (bith-7), admiration (7-14) and individuation (14-21).

The next chapter, "Discipline Skills for Parent-Child Conflicts," focuses on age-appropriate communication skills and strategies, and ways in which these need to change as your child grows and matures. Working with the spiritual world is also discussed, along with tips for co-parenting and single-parenting. The book ends with extensive appendices on therapeutic stories, suggested reading, and community resources.

The book is short (only 60 pages, spiral bound), but it's unique in presenting these ideas in such a concise, clearly understandable and practical way.

Cindy and Joya offered three workshops on "Parenting with Spirit" at our 2009 conference on "Educating Our Children--Changing the Future" in Fair Oaks. All three are available to purchase in CD format. The first session focuses on "Working with the Spiritual World." The second will help develop "Waldorf-Inspired Communication and Empathy Skills." And the third considers ways of "Working with Negative Behavior in Children." All three expand on the themes developed in the book.

About the authors:
Joya Birns and Cindy Brooks co-lead the monthly support group at the Santa Cruz Waldorf School ("Parent Circle") and various workshops for parents. Joya previously taught early childhood and handwork classes in three Waldorf Schools and has worked with parent groups since 1982. Cindy received her MA in transpersonal psychology from Antioch University--Seattle in 1990. In 1995 she completed a two-year training in sandplay at the Child Therapy Institute of Marin and was licensed as an MFT in California in 1996. In 2003 she graduated from the Bay Area Center for Waldorf Teacher Training and has worked with the Care Group at the Santa Cruz Waldorf School since 2003.

To order the book "Parenting with Spirit," click on the button below. We also sell three CD recordings of workshops by Joya and Cindy on Parenting with Spirit.

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Parenting with Spirit: Working with the Spiritual World

Parenting with Spirit: Working with the Spiritual World
Workshop by Cindy Brooks and Joya Birns

In this workshop, Cindy and Joya focus on the reality of spiritual guidance and ways to connect to this source of inspiration and support in daily life. Working with music, meditation, discussion and artistic process, they develop a practice for ongoing dialogue with the angelic realm.

This workshop expands on Chapter 5 in their book Parenting with Spirit: A Waldorf Guide for the Three Phases of Childhood. We also carry two other CDs from their workshops on Parenting with Spirit: "Waldorf-Inspired Communication and Empathy Skills" and "Working with Negative Behavior in Children."

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Parenting with Spirit: Working with Negative Behavior

Parenting with Spirit: Working with Negative Behavior in Children
Workshop by Cindy Brooks and Joya Birns

This workshop focuses on boundaries, tolerating negativity and Waldorf-inspired discipline strategies for each 7-year period. Discussion time is included to help with practical application.

This workshop accompanies and expands on Chapter 4 in their book, Parenting with Spirit: A Waldorf Guide for the Three Phases of Childhood. Other recordings of Parenting with Spirit workshops that we offer include "Working with the Spiritual World" and "Waldorf-Inspired Communication and Empathy Skills."

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Parenting with Spirit: 3-Workshop CD Set

Parenting with Spirit [3-workshop set]
Three Workshops by Cindy Brooks and Joya Birns

These three workshops explain and further develop the themes in their book, Parenting with Spirit: A Waldorf Guide for the Three Phases of Childhood.
The first CD covers "Working with the Spiritual World." In this workshop, Cindy and Joya focus on the reality of spiritual guidance and ways to connect to this source of inspiration and support in daily life. Working with music, meditation, discussion and artistic process, they develop a practice for ongoing dialogue with the angelic realm.

The second CD on "Waldorf-Inspired Communication and Empathy Skills" covers how children develop through the three 7-year periods and ways to work with developmental forces in parenting. The focus is on discovering how age-appropriate communication and mirroring can improve the parent-child relationship. Discussion time is included to assist with practical application.

The third CD focuses on boundaries, tolerating negativity and Waldorf-inspired discipline strategies for each 7-year period. Discussion time is included to help with practical application.

Order the 3-CD set and save!

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Also purchase the book Parenting with Spirit: A Waldorf Guide for the Three Phases of Childhood

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Regarding the book:
Cindy and Joya have written a much-needed book describing the three phases of childhood and ways in which effective parenting skills change in response to children's changing levels of development. The seven-year phases of development are described in the chapter on "Working with Developmental Forces in Parenting," as well as ways to influence children when they are centered in imitation (bith-7), admiration (7-14) and individuation (14-21).

The next chapter, "Discipline Skills for Parent-Child Conflicts," focuses on age-appropriate communication skills and strategies, and ways in which these need to change as your child grows and matures. Working with the spiritual world is also discussed, along with tips for co-parenting and single-parenting. The book ends with extensive appendices on therapeutic stories, suggested reading, and community resources.

I highly recommend this book! It is short--only 60 pages, spiral bound--but it's hard to find this information in such a concise, clearly written format! --Rahima

About the authors:
Joya Birns and Cindy Brooks co-lead the monthly support group at the Santa Cruz Waldorf School ("Parent Circle") and various workshops for parents. Joya previously taught early childhood and handwork classes in three Waldorf Schools and has worked with parent groups since 1982. Cindy received her MA in transpersonal psychology from Antioch University--Seattle in 1990. In 1995 she completed a two-year training in sandplay at the Child Therapy Institute of Marin and was licensed as an MFT in California in 1996. In 2003 she graduated from the Bay Area Center for Waldorf Teacher Training and has worked with the Care Group at the Santa Cruz Waldorf School since 2003.


December 7, 2009

Enjoying Your Daughter at Any Age!

Enjoying Your Daughter At Any Age!
by DeAnna L'am


One of my mentors said to me many years ago: "It's great to work on cleaning the barn, but don't forget to RIDE THE PONIES!"

Are you so busy reminding your girl of her homework/ chores/ the need to get-out-of-the-door, that you don't have time to enjoy her anymore??? If you wonder where did all the joy go, now that your girl is approaching puberty, read on...
When I heard myself sounding like an old tape-recorder reminding my daughter Ellah (9) of simple things she needs to do every day, I decided to start taking walks with her.

Continue reading "Enjoying Your Daughter at Any Age!" »

May 16, 2010

The L.O.V.E. Approach to Discipline

The L.O.V.E. Approach to Discipline
Workshop by Cynthia Aldinger

Learn about this practical, multi-faceted approach to child guidance based on listening, laughter, order, objectivity, versatility, vulnerability, energy and enthusiasm.

Cynthia is the founder of LifeWays North America, and this popular workshop has been offered throughout the country. The workshop deals primarily with young children, toddlers through age nine.

Continue reading "The L.O.V.E. Approach to Discipline" »

Life as the Curriculum for Young Children

Life as the Curriculum for Young Children
Workshop by Cynthia Aldinger

What young children really need can be provided through the Living Arts--domestic activity, nurturing care, creative exploration and social ability. Learn how the LifeWays approach takes home as the model and life as the curriculum to transform your experience with young children.

Cynthia is the founder of LifeWays North America, supporting parents and childcare providers in their work with young children (see www.lifewaysnorthamerica.org).

Continue reading "Life as the Curriculum for Young Children" »

Nurturing Children and Ourselves

Nurturing Children and Ourselves
Keynote by Cynthia Aldinger

How can we find our way to simplicity in living that supports our own well-being and the well-being of the children we care for and about? How can we do everything we want to do and not exhaust ourselves and our children at the same time? This talk is filled with humor and practical suggestions, including how to handle a TOAD (The Over-Abundance Disease) in your life (hint: you can kiss it or throw it against the wall).

Cynthia is the founder of LifeWays North America, supporting parents and professionals in the vital work of being with young children.


Continue reading "Nurturing Children and Ourselves" »

Mothering Our Lively Sons!

Mothering Our Lively Sons!
Workshop by Janet Allison

Mothering a boy can be exhilarating and exhausting! Understanding the role of biology, testosterone, and environmental stresses means you can help him be his best. Effective language, practical activities and developmental insight can deepen your connection to all the boys and men in your life.

Continue reading "Mothering Our Lively Sons!" »

November 27, 2011

New Edition of You Are Your Child's First Teacher

First-Teacher-NewCover.jpgWe are pleased to announce that a revised and updated edition of You are Your Child's First Teacher is now available!

In the third edition I've updated all the references (including web addresses) and added two chapters that have grown out of my work with parents and with LifeWays over the past five years.  The new chapters are on "Home Life as the Basis for All Learning" and "Rhythm in Home Life."

I'm excited that the editors at Celestial Arts contacted me to do a new edition at a time when I had been working with 1-5 year olds and their families through Rainbow Bridge LifeWays Program in Boulder. I'm excited about reaching an expanded audience with this new version!

Check out the new table of contents:


Continue reading "New Edition of You Are Your Child's First Teacher" »

January 8, 2012

Toddlers Need Naps, Study Shows!

sleep napping.jpg[Note: LifeWays offers a video of putting children down for nap in a childcare setting.]

It's always nice when science and academia support what we already know: toddlers need naps! A recent study at the University of Colorado showed that missing just one nap can cause toddlers to be more anxious and frustrated when faced with a challenge. Children in the study were 2-1/2 to 3 years old, and missing just 90 minutes of sleep brought similar results to what adults experience when they pull an all-nighter.

Continue reading "Toddlers Need Naps, Study Shows!" »

February 2, 2012

Mom's Love Affects Brain Development

mother w daughter.jpgWhen Rudolf Steiner described something in 1909, it can sound as if it's coming from left field: for example, that for the young child, love, "pleasure and delight are the forces which most rightly quicken and call forth the physical forms of the organs."

What does that mean? And then, as with so much leading edge brain imaging today, we hear something that sounds remarkably similar: that the young child's brain is actually measurably different depending upon how much loving nurturing he or she receives.

Continue reading "Mom's Love Affects Brain Development" »

February 6, 2012

Parenting the Nine Year Old

Recorder 2 Boys.jpgI wrote this article to describes the developmental changes of the nine-year-old child and how parents and Waldorf education meet this psychological stage. It first appeared in Motheringmagazine.
For further information we also offer a CD of a workshop by Daena Ross on "The Nine-Year Change: Leaving the Garden." Click here to see more information.

Parenting the Nine Year Old
by Rahima Baldwin Dancy

Parents of nine year olds often wonder, "What is happening to my child?" Children at this age can become very critical and argumentative, or very moody and withdrawn. Nightmares, irrational fears, headaches and stomachaches often arise. Some children feel as if no one at school likes them, or others become suddenly self-conscious about being rich, poor, or otherwise "different." Parents may be accused of being unfair or of not understanding, as the child rushes off and slams his or her door.

Searching for an explanation for the changes in behavior, parents sometimes blame a new teacher, a recent move, changes in the family such as separation or the birth of a sibling, or simply "growing pains". An understanding of what is actually taking place can help us avoid needless worry and provide the support and guidance that children need during this time.

Continue reading "Parenting the Nine Year Old" »

September 24, 2012

Children and Choices

girlwapples.jpgA mother wrote:
I am just starting to learn more about Waldorf teaching philosophies. I always want to do all in the best interest of the children. Is it wise to let children select the "one they wish" or for me to decide for them. I am confused with this as I have heard different things from various teachers I have talked to around the country (non Waldorf teachers).
Many thanks for your help!

Continue reading "Children and Choices" »

November 3, 2012

Balancing Family and Work

Having it all article.jpgAnne-Marie Slaughter resigned from the third highest position in the State Department in order to be home with her teenage sons. This thought provoking article she wrote for The Atlantic Monthly, entitled "Why Women Still Can't Have It All" should be read by both men and women alike!  She's also followed it up with, "Work-Life Balance as a Men's Issue, Too." I'd love to discuss them with you over tea!

December 16, 2012

Communicating with Children and Supporting them in Difficult Times

By Hiromi Niwa Doherty

Thumbnail image for angel statue.jpg[NOTE: In response to the recent tragic shootings in Connecticut, parents have been asking how to talk with their children. Hiromi's article after the tsunami is so excellent that I'm reprinting it here.]

As a native of Japan, and having family members and many friends in the midst of the devastation, I continue to struggle to find strength to overcome my own fear and sadness.

Yet, a question came to me--how do I talk to my 4-year-old about this? This awoke me. I felt called to stand up and do something, anything if I can, to protect my own child and to help fellow parents as we work together to protect our children from further harm. How can we support our children while we adults are struggling?

Continue reading "Communicating with Children and Supporting them in Difficult Times" »

January 15, 2013

The Value of "Wait"

grandma copy.jpgDo you know Janet Lansbury's blog "Elevating Child Care"? She has written a fantastic article about "The Parenting Magic Word." It's wait. Take a look at this great article--you'll immediately be able to apply it in your life!

The photo at left is by Harriette Hartigan of Insight Photography.

September 8, 2013

Children, Birth and Sex Education

Pregnant, w toddler.jpgby Rahima Baldwin Dancy
Where do babies come from? What do children need to know in terms of "sex education," and when? What about when a new baby is going to be born at home?

Young children today are usually quite aware that a baby is growing "inside mommy's tummy," and they will sometimes give kisses to the baby or tell you something about him or her during the months of pregnancy. But how did the baby get there, and what will help prepare them for the birth?

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November 12, 2013

Fostering Imagination and Balance

Music triangle boy and girl.jpgA mother wrote to Rahima: I have read books (You are Your Child's First Teacher, and lots of Steiner) and listened to two audiotapes from this site on parenting the young child in the first 7 years of life. I became more conscious of changing the way I parented my son when he was about 3.5 years old. He is now 6.5. In general, I take a loving authoritative approach, I don't offer a lot of choices, and feel confident steering the boat.
My problem is engaging him in discussions. Despite knowing what I ought to do when we come into conflict, I cannot seem to STOP speaking to him with concepts and engaging him in discussions, explaining, talking it out, etc. (It was how I was raised and so much a part of me, and I was precocious, "such a mature young girl").

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