Love as the Source of Education

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“We need as teachers an awakening of living human nature that experiences again within itself the whole child, insofar as we come into a spiritual connection with the child.”

—Rudolf Steiner

Without a deepening and internalizing of the idea of destiny, it will become increasingly difficult to come to terms with the questions of education: One sees in every child an individuality, whose path is neither confined by the gateway of birth nor the gateway of death. When a teacher receives pupils in the mood of “having a destiny with them,” a new sense of responsibility is strengthened.

When in quiet reflection one directs one’s attention to what is brought into this life individually, and to the capacities and impulses that these children should one day carry from this life over the threshold of death, one obtains an immense power as an elder to support, bear, and help to solve the problems of these youths. The source of strength in the internalized idea of destiny can only become effective, however, if the “modern learning methods,” the technical intermediaries, the cleverly contrived, improved performance programs do not replace the speaking human being.

For the sake of a contemporary spiritually and artistically formed teaching process, Waldorf pedagogy holds human to human interaction as the “most modern” educational method. The communication of knowledge through the creatively fashioning human being can alone radiate edifying forces, wisdom and warmth into the lesson.

When Rudolf Steiner still led the school (according to all eye witnesses) he was for teachers, pupils and parents the source of wisdom and warmth for the prosperity of the school.

He stepped into the center of the school community, attended classes, gave the teachers examples, confidence and advice, worked in the teachers’ conferences on the inner structure of the school organism and on the spiritual permeation of the whole work, spoke at monthly festivals and parents’ evenings. From him there went forth enthusiasm, momentum and heart-warmth.

In all difficult situations he asked first and foremost for that spiritual-human contact between teachers and pupils, indeed he demanded it. Where this contact was given, where work was done with enthusiasm, where in the upper school the love for the teacher turned into love for the subject matter, into interest in the world—then he was thankful, because he saw that his work was rooting itself in humanness.

What human beings alone can give to one another, so that we learn the art of becoming human, he showed in exemplary fashion. This is why he repeated so often the single question in his addresses to the pupils: “Do you love your teachers?” and he was satisfied with the joyful “Yes!” of the hundredfold chorus of children.

The science of the human being that Rudolf Steiner placed at the foundation of Waldorf pedagogy bears the power within itself to awaken love when one works with it. It is love that on the one hand always wishes to become deed and true action in daily life and on the other hand strives to become knowledge, “real spiritual atmosphere.”

It is love that Rudolf Steiner integrated in the foundation stone of the school, so that in the Free Waldorf School, the spirit of love could hold sway and lay its foundations wherever it builds places for childhood and youth in the world.

Every teacher rejoiced (as Karl Schubert describes) when he came into the class. It meant so much for the children. The classroom was filled with a festive mood. He always gave motivation and encouragement. He trusted one more than one trusted oneself. It suited him when one sought and entered upon new paths out of one’s own strength, in connection with the spirit of pedagogy in which one stood.

He allowed much to happen because he wanted much to happen and much to be done. I heard him once say: “I am not in accord with much that happens, and yet it seems right that it happens, because otherwise nothing would develop.” He laid great value on the artistic element, which he would like very much to have seen represented by us. “Go, go” was his admonition, and then came the pleading emphatically spoken word, “warmth, warmth…”

Rudolf Steiner once came into the drawing lesson of Wilhelm Ruhtenberg, who had given the assignment to express in lines “hatred and conflict.” Soon the opposite assignment followed to draw forms that resembled “love and friendship.” That was the moment when the door quietly opened and Rudolf Steiner entered.

He saw that a girl had tried to represent love in round yet melancholic, inwardly directed forms. Ruhtenberg describes in his journal from 1927: “He took her drawing book in hand and drew very plainly with a couple lines two forms that wrapped around each other: above they wish to touch almost tenderly, neither wishes to offend the other, one appears to wish humbly to bow, and the other, as if shielding, wishes to lean over.”

A fellow pupil, Berthold Faig, reports the same situation: “In another lesson Pastor Ruhtenberg had given us the task to bring “love and hatred” to expression in an artistic form, and once again Rudolf Steiner came to us in the class. In the blue drawing book in landscape format with colorful tissue paper between the pages a girl had brought “hatred” to expression in a jagged form. We had not used colored pencils, but only the usual black pencil.

Rudolf Steiner drew “Love” in the book, as it is reproduced here from my memory. My late class teacher also remembered this drawing in the same form.”

Of the three most commonly used forces of education—fear, ambition, and love—Rudolf Steiner felt that in Waldorf education we must leave out the first two. The symbol at the headings and publications of the International Association of Waldorf Kindergartens have to do with the third force. We are often asked what it means and who gave it to us. Rudolf Steiner drew the symbol of love before the eyes of the children in a book. We chose with the foundation of the international Kindergarten Association in the autumn of 1969 this symbol.

By Helmut von Kügelgen

Translated by Clifford Venho

This is the title article from Love as the Source of Education, edited by Susan Howard.

The Trend of Comparing Daycare & Preschool Costs to College Tuition

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As I walked closer to the door of the childcare facility on campus, my two-year-old daughter’s arms tightened around my neck. As a single mom attending the University of Montana, I had to take my toddler to daycare daily in order to attend class. Every day she screamed in protest when the staff pried her out of my arms, and I would walk away with tears in my eyes. Daycare was a costly necessity, and the choices overwhelming, but nothing ever felt quite right.

Fast forward to Seattle two years later: my daughter is four. I dropped her off at 7am in order to make it to work by 8 am. I left work at 5pm, made my way through traffic to pick her up by 6pm. My young daughter spent 11 hours in daycare. Home by 6:20pm, I threw dinner on, fed and bathed her, and tucked her in. I had only 90 minutes on work days with my child. The rest of the time she was being raised by random staff members at a huge daycare center.

One day I had an epiphany. I could make money and have her with me at the same time if I opened my own school. I could offer a level of care that would reassure parents that their child was more than just safe and content. I could create a program that fulfilled children’s basic needs but also nurtured them in a way that was as close to parental love as possible. I could fill their little tummies with nutritious organic food, and provide a curriculum that would provide a true advantage as they entered grade school. I could provide a family away from home, using an eco-conscious curriculum that incorporated principles of sustainability and ecology.

And I did it. I returned home to St. Ignatius, located on the Flathead Reservation in Montana, and opened Advantage Academic Academy. I developed the curriculum by interviewing kindergarten and first grade teachers from several school districts to find out what they felt the main gaps were and the most important learning skills. I also researched dropout rates and statistics to learn the most common factors contributing to academic failure.

I cared for well over 100 children over the next eight years, graduating more than sixty into kindergarten. I then opened two more centers in the nearby city of Missoula, an Infant and Toddler Center and a Preschool Center. I’ve been running my own programs for over twelve years.

It’s been satisfying and challenging, expensive and rewarding. Recently I’ve been noticing a disturbing trend, however. There are conversations making the rounds on social media about how daycare/preschool is almost, as or even more expensive, than in-state college tuition. These posts are followed by many comments from people who agree. They talk about how “insanely” expensive it is; how its “ridiculous” and “something needs to be done”; how hard-working families are getting ripped off; how it’s an epidemic that needs to be addressed.

Here is my response:

First of all, very few people are getting wealthy running daycare centers or preschools. Maybe some CEO’s of huge chain centers with multiple locations, but certainly not many independent owners like myself.

And yes, it IS a significant expense for parents. Multiply the tuition for a year by the number of kids being cared for and you see something well into the six figures. Seems like we’re making out fine, right?

Well, let’s remember a few things:

Most college professors teach classes with anywhere from 50-100 students. One teacher, with possibly a TA, teaching all those students. I, however, have to have a staff member on the floor at all times for every four children in my infant center and one staff member at all times for every six children in my preschool.

In other words, every day, between my two centers I have to have five or six staff on the floor at all times, 50 hours a week. It takes all income from two children to pay the salary of one staff member, so 10-12 children’s tuitions go directly into teacher salaries.

That doesn’t cover any of other many expenses. Colleges don’t need to pay the huge liability insurance fees required by caretakers of small children, for example. In addition, I serve all-organic food to my precious people four times a day. For 25 munchkins, that’s 100 organic meals every day, and 2000 organic meals a month. If you know what even small bag of organic groceries costs, do THAT math!

College students are adults who can take care of themselves. They don’t have university staff wiping their poopy butts and runny noses; putting them to bed, getting them up and cleaning up after them all day; making sure they are happy, healthy, and safe; AND teaching them colors, numbers, letters, and phonics; teaching them to read; and instilling in them awesome social skills: how to share, be polite, use their big child voices instead of whining; how to cough in a way that keeps toys and playmates unsprayed. It’s a significant expense, but shouldn’t it be? The care & education of what means most to you in LIFE?

My staff and I do one of the hardest and most important jobs on the planet. We’re lucky when we get to work with parents who appreciate that and understand what a HUGE undertaking it is. The liability of taking care of people’s precious children and their INFANTS–often keeps me up at night. Ten employees and over thirty families rely on me every day for their lives to run smoothly. If my doors aren’t open, none of them can go to work.

In spite of all the money involved in running these programs, I never made enough to afford my own heath insurance until recently, thanks to the Affordable Health Care Act.

One of the grand ironies is that thanks to what I do, a lot more children will MAKE it to college. Look at the stats about how important early childhood education is to children’s academic futures!

I want people to consider these details before concluding that childcare providers are somehow making more money than university professors. Wouldn’t that be great!? The cost of childcare and education should be right up there with rent/mortgage, transportation and food as a priority. And which of those categories means the most to you and for which is the most at stake?

Overall this trend of comparing daycare and college tuition costs is ridiculous because the only thing they have in common is the fact that education/learning is happening in both places. The care of young children is a completely separate service to educating, and early childhood professionals do both. So you are actually getting twice the service for your money as opposed to when you send your young adult children to college.

As I reflect on this, I see that it’s not just about early childhood education. It’s about the skyrocketing costs of running any small business. Raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour, as Seattle has just done, would put me out of business, unless I were to raise my rates again significantly. If I pay teenage aides and PT entry-level employees $15, what do I pay my more qualified FT employees? $18? $20? Keep in mind whatever base rate I pay an employee I have to add roughly another $3+ dollars an hour to pay on every employee’s taxes (FICA, unemployment, workers compensation, Social Security etc.,) which means that each individual staff member would absorb the tuition of 4 children. I would have to close the infant center, which has a 1:4 teacher/student ratio, or start charging $10 per hour for tuition. That would make full-time tuition almost $2000 per month!

But people are already up in arms about paying $6 per hour. Maybe this conversation really needs to be about tax breaks for small businesses. That, and more subsidies for not just low-income, but middle income families, like myself, who are always the ones who slip through the cracks.

It’s time we take child care seriously, and treat child care providers with the respect—and salary—we deserve.

 

Five Language Children

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More and more these days families are giving attention to the concept that emotional well-being is an important part of our children’s overall health. Whether they’re sorting out toy sharing with siblings, facing changes in playground social politics, or learning how to get their emotional needs met from their parents most effectively, our children are faced daily with the ebb and flow of their emotional body. As parents, we all want to give our children the best possible chance at success. One of the best ways to do so is through expressing our unconditional love and showing how much we appreciate and value them. But is the message really getting through? Continue reading Five Language Children

49 Phrases to Calm an Anxious Child

 

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It happens to every child in one form or another – anxiety. As parents, we would like to shield our children from life’s anxious moments, but navigating anxiety is an essential life skill that will serve them in the years to come. In the heat of the moment, try these simple phrases to help your children identify, accept, and work through their anxious moments.

1. “Can you draw it?”

Drawing, painting or doodling about an anxiety provides kids with an outlet for their feelings when they can’t use their words.

2.  “I love you. You are safe.”

Being told that you will be kept safe by the person you love the most is a powerful affirmation. Remember, anxiety makes your children feel as if their minds and bodys are in danger. Repeating they are safe can soothe the nervous system.

3. “Let’s pretend we’re blowing up a giant balloon. We’ll take a deep breath and blow it up to the count of 5.”

If you tell a child to take a deep breath in the middle of a panic attack, chances are you’ll hear, “I CAN’T!” Instead, make it a game. Pretend to blow up a balloon, making funny noises in the process. Taking three deep breaths and blowing them out will actually reverse the stress response in the body and may even get you a few giggles in the process.

4. “I will say something and I want you to say it exactly as I do: ‘I can do this.’” Do this 10 times at variable volume.

Marathon runners use this trick all of the time to get past “the wall.”

5. “Why do you think that is?”

This is especially helpful for older kids who can better articulate the “Why” in what they are feeling.

6. “What will happen next?”

If your children are anxious about an event, help them think through the event and identify what will come after it. Anxiety causes myopic vision, which makes life after the event seem to disappear.

7. “We are an unstoppable team.”

Separation is a powerful anxiety trigger for young children. Reassure them that you will work together, even if they can’t see you.

8. Have a battle cry: “I am a warrior!”; “I am unstoppable!”; or “Look out World, here I come!”

There is a reason why movies show people yelling before they go into battle. The physical act of yelling replaces fear with endorphins. It can also be fun.

9. “If how you feel was a monster, what would it look like?”

Giving anxiety a characterization means you take a confusing feeling and make it concrete and palpable. Once kids have a worry character, they can talk to their worry.

10. “I can’t wait until _____.”

Excitement about a future moment is contagious.

11.  “Let’s put your worry on the shelf while we _____ (listen to your favorite song, run around the block, read this story). Then we’ll pick it back up again.”

Those who are anxiety-prone often feel as though they have to carry their anxiety until whatever they are anxious about is over. This is especially difficult when your children are anxious about something they cannot change in the future. Setting it aside to do something fun can help put their worries into perspective.

12.  “This feeling will go away. Let’s get comfortable until it does.”

The act of getting comfortable calms the mind as well as the body. Weightier blankets have even been shown to reduce anxiety by increasing mild physical stimuli.

13. “Let’s learn more about it.”

Let your children explore their fears by asking as many questions as they need. After all, knowledge is power.

14. “Let’s count _____.”

This distraction technique requires no advance preparation. Counting the number of people wearing boots, the number of watches, the number of kids, or the number of hats in the room requires observation and thought, both of which detract from the anxiety your child is feeling.

15. “I need you to tell me when 2 minutes have gone by.”

Time is a powerful tool when children are anxious. By watching a clock or a watch for movement, a child has a focus point other than what is happening.

16. “Close your eyes. Picture this…”

Visualization is a powerful technique used to ease pain and anxiety. Guide your child through imagining a safe, warm, happy place where they feel comfortable. If they are listening intently, the physical symptoms of anxiety will dissipate.

17. “I get scared/nervous/anxious sometimes too. It’s no fun.”

Empathy wins in many, many situations. It may even strike up a conversation with your older child about how you overcame anxiety.

18. “Let’s pull out our calm-down checklist.”

Anxiety can hijack the logical brain; carry a checklist with coping skills your child has practiced. When the need presents itself, operate off of this checklist.

19. “You are not alone in how you feel.”

Pointing out all of the people who may share their fears and anxieties helps your child understand that overcoming anxiety is universal.

20. “Tell me the worst thing that could possibly happen.”

Once you’ve imagined the worst possible outcome of the worry, talk about the likelihood of that worst possible situation happening. Next, ask your child about the best possible outcome. Finally, ask them about the most likely outcome. The goal of this exercise is to help a child think more accurately during their anxious experience.

21. “Worrying is helpful, sometimes.”

This seems completely counter-intuitive to tell a child that is already anxious, but pointing out why anxiety is helpful reassures your children that there isn’t something wrong with them.

22. “What does your thought bubble say?”

If your children read comics, they are familiar with thought bubbles and how they move the story along. By talking about their thoughts as third-party observers, they can gain perspective on them.

23. “Let’s find some evidence.”

Collecting evidence to support or refute your child’s reasons for anxiety helps your children see if their worries are based on fact.

24. “Let’s have a debate.”

Older children especially love this exercise because they have permission to debate their parent. Have a point, counter-point style debate about the reasons for their anxiety. You may learn a lot about their reasoning in the process.

25. “What is the first piece we need to worry about?”

Anxiety often makes mountains out of molehills. One of the most important strategies for overcoming anxiety is to break the mountain back down into manageable chunks. In doing this, we realize the entire experience isn’t causing anxiety, just one or two parts.

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26. “Let’s list all of the people you love.”

Anais Nin is credited with the quote, “Anxiety is love’s greatest killer.” If that statement is true, then love is anxiety’s greatest killer as well. By recalling all of the people that your child loves and why, love will replace anxiety.

27. “Remember when…”

Competence breeds confidence. Confidence quells anxiety. Helping your children recall a time when they overcame anxiety gives them feelings of competence and thereby confidence in their abilities.

28. “I am proud of you already.”

Knowing you are pleased with their efforts, regardless of the outcome, alleviates the need to do something perfectly – a source of stress for a lot of kids.

29. “We’re going for a walk.”

Exercise relieves anxiety for up to several hours as it burns excess energy, loosens tense muscles and boosts mood. If your children can’t take a walk right now, have them run in place, bounce on a yoga ball, jump rope or stretch.

30. “Let’s watch your thought pass by.”

Ask your children to pretend the anxious thought is a train that has stopped at the station above their head. In a few minutes, like all trains, the thought will move on to its next destination.

31. “I’m taking a deep breath.”

Model a calming strategy and encourage your child to mirror you. If your children allow you, hold them to your chest so they can feel your rhythmic breathing and regulate theirs.

32. “How can I help?”

Let your children guide the situation and tell you what calming strategy or tool they prefer in this situation.

33. “This feeling will pass.”

Often, children will feel like their anxiety is never-ending. Instead of shutting down, avoiding, or squashing the worry, remind them that relief is on the way.

34. “Let’s squeeze this stress ball together.”

When your children direct their anxiety to a stress ball, they feel emotional relief. Buy a ball, keep a handful of play dough nearby or make your own homemade stress ball by filling a balloon with flour or rice.

35. “I see Widdle is worried again. Let’s teach Widdle not to worry.”

Create a character to represent the worry, such as Widdle the Worrier. Tell your child that Widdle is worried and you need to teach him some coping skills.

36. “I know this is hard.”

Acknowledge that the situation is difficult. Your validation shows your children that you respect them.

37. “I have your smell buddy right here.”

A smell buddy, fragrance necklace or diffuser can calm anxiety, especially when you fill it with lavender, sage, chamomile, sandalwood or jasmine.

38. “Tell me about it.”

Without interrupting, listen to your children talk about what’s bothering them. Talking it out can give your children time to process their thoughts and come up with a solution that works for them.

39. “You are so brave!”

Affirm your children’s ability to handle the situation, and you empower them to succeed this time.

40. “Which calming strategy do you want to use right now?”

Because each anxious situation is different, give your children the opportunity to choose the calming strategy they want to use.

41. “We’ll get through this together.”

Supporting your children with your presence and commitment can empower them to persevere until the scary situation is over.

42. “What else do you know about (scary thing)?”

When your children face a consistent anxiety, research it when they are calm. Read books about the scary thing and learn as much as possible about it. When the anxiety surfaces again, ask your children to recall what they’ve learned. This step removes power from the scary thing and empowers your child.

43. “Let’s go to your happy place.”

Visualization is an effective tool against anxiety. When your children are calm, practice this calming strategy until they are able to use it successfully during anxious moments.

44. “What do you need from me?”

Ask your children to tell you what they need. It could be a hug, space or a solution.

45. “If you gave your­­ feeling a color, what would it be?”

Asking another person to identify what they’re feeling in the midst of anxiety is nearly impossible. But asking your children to give how they feel with a color, gives them a chance to think about how they feel relative to something simple. Follow up by asking why their feeling is that color.

46. “Let me hold you.”

Give your children a front hug, a hug from behind, or let them sit on your lap. The physical contact provides a chance for your child to relax and feel safe.

47. “Remember when you made it through XYZ?”

Reminding your child of a past success will encourage them to persevere in this situation.

48. “Help me move this wall.”

Hard work, like pushing on a wall, relieves tension and emotions. Resistance bands also work.

49. “Let’s write a new story.”

Your children have written a story in their mind about how the future is going to turn out. This future makes them feel anxious. Accept their story and then ask them to come up with a few more plot lines where the story’s ending is different.

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About the Author:

Renee Jain is an award-winning tech entrepreneur turned speaker and certified life coach. She also holds a masters in applied positive psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. Renee specializes in cultivating skills of resilience in both adults and children. Her passion is taking research-based concepts and transforming them into fun and digestible learning modules. For children, she has created one-of-a-kind anxiety relief programs at GoZen! delivered via engaging animated shorts.

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