Education, Waldorf

Does Nature essential for the child development ?

Modern society takes us away from nature more each day. This is unfortunate for our well being, and much more for our little children. Nowadays many studies show the health benefits of being in the Nature, but what about children development ?

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As my point of view Nature is for Human like the Sun is for the day, and the Moon for the night. If there was no Sun there would be no day, or probably we’ll call it differently. The Sun is the essence of the day. And vice versa for the moon and stars for the night. It’s very logical, Nature is the essence of the Human being. Everybody know it, but you know sometimes we forget it…

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Our little children need to explore, more then anyone else, their senses and motor skill. I can tell you with a great certitude that nature is the best playground that you can offer to them. Small children are very sensitive with touch and looking of things. Food is one exemple among a thousand. For Rudolf Steiner, artificial stuff drains children vital energy, when nature nourishes them. It is also a place to take care of the living, others, to develop empathy, respect and the sense of wonder.

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It could start with very small things, bring some leaves on the way back home. Invite your child to cook with you or to make clay work. I think you understand it, you can let allow your imagination taking over!

Im my next article I will speak about adult-child relationship.

Meanwhile I let you discover Waldorf Education from a Neuroscientific Perspective.

You want to start now ? I understand, I’ve made a Clay tutorial for you.

Education, Waldorf

Could playing be the center of early childhood education ?

Why should we let children play most of the times ? Does playing will affect my child’s academic success ? These are answers that you could find below.

This follow my previous article about early child brain development : Waldorf Education from a Neuroscientific Perspective. I advise you to read this past article first. It will help you understand the thoughts below better.

I hand over the speaking to the neuroscientist Dr.Melrose (her website) :

“You now know that the brain develops in a hierarchical fashion from more to less primitive, from the animal to more uniquely human. What that means is that the healthy development of the more sophisticated neocortex DEPENDS upon the healthy development of the feeling, limbic brain which DEPENDS upon the healthy development of the sensory brain. The problem with today’s mainstream educational models is that they want the brain to walk before it can crawl. Well, let’s be accurate: Most school systems today want children to RUN before they can crawl. We encounter proud parents who say, “My child was walking at 9 months! She didn’t even need to crawl, just up and went! Isn’t that terrific?” And what I want to say is, “No! No, that’s not terrific! Push her to the floor! Make her crawl!” That might be an overzealous reaction, but it is grounded in sound knowledge that every single stage of development is essential to the next, laying a neural foundation to support what is to come. Our children need ample time and practice to “marinate in their mastery,” of one skill or another, at each and every juncture of their development. This is not happening in enough schools across the country today, but it is happening at Waldorf.evolution-296584_1280

Numerous studies have shown that play at every stage of development improves IQ, social-emotional functioning, learning, and academic performance. The findings of several studies conducted over a 4 year period found that spending one-third of the school day in physical education, art, and music improved not only physical fitness, but attitudes toward learning, and test scores, according to Dr. Elkind. Furthermore, when the performance of children who attended academic pre-schools was compared to the performance of children who attended play-oriented preschools, the results showed no advantage in reading and math achievement for the “academic children,” but did show that they had higher levels of test anxiety, were less creative, and had more negative attitudes toward school than did the “play children.”water-fight-442257_1280

Steiner knew that play is the invaluable foundation for any kind of healthy, human growth, including academic progress. And let’s be clear about what kind of play this is. It is what Dr. David Elkind calls “the purest form of play: the unstructured, [spontaneous], self-motivated, imaginative, independent kind, where children initiate their own games and even invent their own rules.” This kind of play, he warns us, is disappearing from our homes, schools, and neighborhoods at an alarming rate with great cost to the health, well-being, and achievement of our children.child-1864718_640

This is precisely the point we are missing in today’s achievement-driven culture. We have bought into a myth in education that “more equals more.” A formula of more time spent on academics, starting earlier in development, with more homework, is not increasing the output of our children. It’s decreasing it! Cutting time out for the arts, physical activity, and time in nature, so our children can spend more time reading, writing, and doing arithmetic is not the answer. It is the culprit. Our children are burning out and dropping out at catastrophic rates not just because more doesn’t equal more, but also because it equals shut-down.”

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We saw that playing increases social-emotional functioning, learning capabilities but also improves IQ and academic performances. Shouldn’t we let our children play for their own good ? Next time that your neighbors complain that your child plays too much and that you are an irresponsible parent, tell them that in fact you really care about your child education.

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Do you think playing has limits ? Your viewpoints are importante for me, tell me in the comment below.

Next week I will the second foci of Waldorf Education : The Nature.

If you want to know about playing through art : Educational Art

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Art and education, Education, Waldorf

Waldorf Education from a Neuroscientific Perspective

Since few years Neuroscience has been vulgarize, lightening many field, and especially everything that touch well being of children. But what does Neuroscience says about Waldorf Pedagogy?

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Let me introduce you Dr.Melrose: Dr. Regalena “Reggie” Melrose is a licensed clinical and credentialed school psychologist with nearly 20 years experience working with children and adolescents in schools, clinical settings, and private practice. She is the author of several books including, “You Can Heal Your Child: A Guide for Parents of Misdiagnosed, Stressed, Traumatized, and Otherwise Misunderstood Children,” and the groundbreaking, “Why Students Underachieve: What Educators and Parents Can Do about It.” Dr. Melrose is an international speaker on the effects of stress and trauma on the brain, learning, and behavior and maintains a private practice healing the effects of stress and trauma in children, adolescents, and adults, in Long Beach, CA. Her Website.

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These purpose was shared during a lecture gave by Dr.Melrose. The topic was on brain development and, specifically, how cutting-edge neuroscience supports Waldorf theories.

Why Waldorf works has more to do with how the brain develops and functions optimally than Rudolf Steiner ever could have known. Sure the educator and founder of Waldorf Education theorized convincingly about how children learn best, but until MRIs and other sophisticated measures of the brain were developed, we had no way to prove or disprove any of Steiner’s theories, not with the kind of precision and accuracy we can now. An overwhelming body of evidence from the last 20 years of neuroscientific inquiry supports Steiner’s theories, including some of the most fundamental foci of Waldorf Education.

Three foci thrill me the most, both as a parent of a Waldorf student and as an international speaker on the topic of learning, behavior, and the brain: holism, play, and nature. An emphasis on all three is consistent with how the brain learns best: when the whole brain is engaged at any given moment, when its foundational neural connections have been given ample time to develop, and when it is in an optimally aroused state.Knowing how the brain develops is essential to understanding why these three foci are so important to the success of any educational program. Let us first learn some basic fundamentals of the brain. First of all, it is “triune,” that is, it has three parts. More importantly, not all three parts are fully developed at birth as we once believed. In fact, very little of a newborn’s brain is “online” and “ready to go.” When the brains of newborn babies are observed with an MRI, the only part of the brain that is lit up or active is the most primal part – the brain stem, sensing brain, or “animal brain,” as it is also called. (Small underdeveloped parts of the auditory and visual cortices are the only exceptions.) This primal part of the brain is responsible for our experience of arousal and stress. It kicks into high gear and mediates our fight or flight response when needed. I like to call it the “sensory brain” because it only speaks the language of sensations, the only language that most consistently enables our survival. When we encounter a bear in the woods, for example, our words will not save us, but our heightened senses do.

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The second and third parts of our brain – the limbic, feeling brain and the neocortex or thinking brain, respectively – only begin to develop after birth. This is critical new knowledge that provides a compelling answer to the long, highly debated question of nature versus nurture. We now know that because we only have use of a very small part of our brain at birth, the brain is literally sculpted by the experiences we have interacting with others in the environment. It is not until 3 to 4 months of age, when the feeling brain has become activated by experience that newborns are able to express more than just states of distress or contentment, as it does with only the sensory brain. At this somewhat older age, babies can share a wide range of emotions, thereby giving us a more social baby.

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Steiner’s approach to education was a holistic one. He recognized that our senses, feelings, and cognitions must all be actively engaged at each stage of development in order for students to maintain, over the long term, a joy and love of learning. Waldorf educators do not make the same mistake made by a number of other more traditional, conventional, and mainstream models of education. Waldorf educators do not overvalue the development of the neocortex and left brain to the exclusion of the right brain, that which senses and feels deeply. It does not focus at too young of an age, before the brain is ready, on purely academic endeavors that attempt with rigor to engage a part of the brain that the child has little access to, the underdeveloped neocortex. (The neocortex is not fully developed until we are in our mid- to late twenties!) Instead, what Waldorf educators do successfully is involve and nourish the sensing, feeling parts of the brain, those easily accessed by young children, so that essential foundational neural connections needed for later academic learning are solidly laid.”

Next week I will develop one those three foci of Waldorf Education : The play.

If you are curious about Waldorf Education I recommend you to check this website.

You can also see my article about Creativity benefits.

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Art, Education, Waldorf

Educational Art

Throughout my childhood, art has always been teaching me a lot. One morning I wanted to know how Art education contributes towards child development. What is this tool which is available to everyone? The sheer number of its’ positive aspects are impressive, and yet it is also seriously underestimated. This therefore, marks the beginning of a great adventure.

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The author Robert Fulghum who wrote the best-selling book “Everything I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,” said that if you go to any kindergarten and ask, “How many of you here can draw?, almost all children will raise their hands. If you ask, “How many of you can sing? All hands would rise again. “And what would happen if you did not know the words? , ‘’We would do it’’ , the children would reply. “How many of you can dance?” All hands would rise again. The young child at the Kindergarten shows us that the human being is an artist. It is part of our essential nature, that we are indeed creators. Art is for the child therefore is a most vital element.

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The Centre for the Developing Child of Harvard University, demonstrated that the human brain creates a major part of its neuronal connections during the early years of its growth. What a great gift it would be to offer to a child the means to develop by expressing himself/herself fully and freely. To explore his/her abilities and become aware of their potential and live life with greater depth from an early age. Art is not only a vital element for the child, it is also vital for education.

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The Artistic Organizations are very clear today. If one looks at a publication that was issued by the National Committee of the State Legislators: Reinventing the Wheel: A Design for Student Achievement in the Twentieth Century, there are an impressive number of positive aspects that the “experts” of Art Education provide. These includes:

1) Art can integrate all areas in a school.

2) Art offers the possibility of new ways of evaluating students.

3) Art excites the learners and keeps them in school. (Studies show that dropout levels decrease with the number of art courses taken by students.)

4) Art promotes a perception of an enlightened development.

5) Art helps creative problem-solving, decision-making, and critical thinking skills.

6) Art helps promote self-discipline, self-esteem and self-awareness.

7) Art stimulates co-operative learning and helps multicultural understanding.

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The Department of Labour reports that in 2013, 80% of the jobs available in the United States are those which didn’t exist in 2002. This trend could only change with the influx of new technologies. Skills such as adaptability, creativity, problem solving, collaboration, and observation – all developed by the arts – should be considered as fundamental parts in the education of tomorrow.

sources: WaldorflibraryCenter on the developing child, Harvard Universities