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March 09, 2010



Our parent/child class teacher used to give us articles from Magda Gerber and tried to incorporate some of the RIE techniques and I wondered a lot about some of these activities and how little they related to Steiner's approach on child rearing. The following year the nursery teacher tried to incorporate parts of the non-violent communication movement into problem solving with the children.... It was all a bit disturbing for us and too much of the 'goodness'. This approach and the requirement for my son to attend the following year three mornings at the nursery were the biggest factors that we decided to homeschool.

As Carrie mentioned in her article, it seems as though Waldorf schools, here in the US (maybe also overseas nowadays), are trying to find ways to more and more incorporate the younger child into the school system.
What I find disturbing is that Rudolf Steiner encouraged exactly the opposite, for children to be with their parents until they are at least at a Kindergarten age and keeping them and their senses protected in a warm and loving home environment, before initiating the separation of the small child from the mother and home environment.


I agree. There are a lot of incongruences and problems with the RIE, I personally do not think they are actually beneficial for the human being.

Ursula Ramos

I believe Waldorf schools are being asked by parents, and our culture in general, to incorporate younger children into the school system. Steiner did encourage the opposite and Waldorf schools have been in the difficult position for many years of finding a way to meet this question. A group of Waldorf early childhood educators including Cynthia Aldinger, Rahima Baldwin, and Rena Osmer began looking at this question some 10 years ago. Out of their questioning Lifeways of North America was formed. I was in the first Lifeways class and found it invaluable to working with the very young child. Lifeways have incorporated aspects of RIE into their model, as a way of working with the very young child's physical development and to include infants into larger groups. They did not move away from the rich imaginative language and meaningful relationships one forms with children in their care. There are seemingly incongruous aspects of Waldorf education and RIE, and I am sure many who would not believe in melding the two. However, I think where one school of thought leaves questions, the other can be called on for interesting and beneficial ways of working with this important stage of child's development.

Kim Lewis

With regard to your comment on my article, my task was to help Waldorf educators understand the RIE-speak a little better. It was not to discuss methods used in Waldorf kindergartens. I believe you are incorrect if you think that fantasy and pictorial speech is one of the hallmarks of the first two years. I don't know where this idea would come from. At this young age, language is more valuable when it is embedded in real life, even the nursery rhymes, fingerplays and songs require a certain immediacy, coherence and tangibility. Even the idea of "language free education" is so easily misunderstood. It means that children in the first 7 years learn so much through their direct experiences in the world - and almost nothing of value from an education of explanations. This has nothing to do with the fact that language development is imperative for human development and requires being immersed especially in a relationship of one-on-one language interactions, and this can include verses, songs and games.

I don't think it needs a tie-in for kindergarten. The child's own development is the tie-in. A sensitive teacher will know what the child needs. A teacher wouldn't engage in RIE-speak unless the pre-verbal child made contact that seemed to say, "Let me know you are here, let me know you are paying attention." Even when a child is highly verbal, it's useful to come back to RIE-speak if needed. (By-the-way, when done with skill, I love people to speak to me this way. It's very soothing. Try it yourself and see if it seems too wakeful.)

It's true that there are still many unanswered questions. The birth to three questions that Waldorf educators are now holding are becoming more complex and more expansive and harder to get a firm hold of than the kindergarten questions were when they first emerged. There are many reasons for this. Look for my article in the next Gateways about the conference in Dornach for more about these themes.

Caitlin at Buy Backlinks

Sounds like a good read. I don't really know exactly how old the child should be before you let them go on their own. I know they will always come back home to you. But I don't think the maternity leave is enough time to be attached and then be unattached after the time has lapsed. Kids are proven to be more confident when their parents always attend to their needs.

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