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Newsletter of the Australian Association for Rudolf Steiner Early Childhood Education Incorporated


Winter 2022 - August

SECA acknowledges and pays respect to the past, present and emerging Traditional Custodians and Elders of this nation and the continuation of cultural, spiritual and educational practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Dear members and friends

Nearly six weeks ago, our SECA community had the opportunity to come together through our Vital Years 2022 online conference, to experience the rich and enlivening days of connecting to one another, and the sharing of our understanding of our work with young children. 

The recordings of the conference, and the resources provided by the keynote lecturers and the workshop presenters, enabled us to continue to 'drink from the well'. The breadth of experience, depth of understanding, and 'heart-thinking' consciousness that was shared with us will resonate for a long time to come.
From the feedback we have received from the participants, we know that the conference was very much appreciated and enjoyed.  The committee will consider (at our next meeting) the requests we have received to make the recordings available for purchase, for those who could not register for the conference. The Resources that were made available to participants will also be made more accessible in the coming week.
Keep an eye on that section of the website, as it will be improved, and it is a very worthwhile place to find information. You can always send me articles you think would be good to share!

The sub group of the SECA Committee, called The Working Group (for good reason!), met at least weekly online this year to prepare for the conference, twice a week in the final approach to the big day when everything came alive. What an exhilarating and immense project it was, a special connection to each other was formed through working together. The organising team and the committee feel that we achieved our goal: in the spirit of collegial support and collective seeking, to deepen our understanding of Steiner pedagogy, the universal needs of the young child, in the context of family, and in life as it is today. 

We appreciate and deeply thank Jill Tina, Nancy, Susan, all the workshop presenters, the Wallfly team, our  supporters and creative artists, and all of the participants, for making our conference the wonderful experience that it truly was.

For this issue of Star Weavings, we invited participants in The Vital Years Conference 2022 to share some of their reflections.  Thanks to all of you.

Our full committee meetings will resume now in late August, with a warm  welcome to Chrisanthi McManus, a new member of the committee,  who joins us as Regional Representative for Sth NSW/ACT. We also hope to welcome the new Regional Representative for SA as well. That process is unfolding...It will be wonderful to have enthusiastic new committee members with us.
Discussions and activity is focusing on
  • developing our SECA approach to providing mentoring for teachers and educators
  • providing support for our colleagues in the regions
  • future Steiner early childhood training and professional development.

Warm regards,
Julie McVeigh 
on behalf of the SECA committee

Vital Years Sharing

Conference Theme:

The Essence of Steiner Early Childhood Education


Learning from the Past

Embracing the Present

Unfolding the Future

Day 1 Keynote Lecture: Jill Tina Taplin (UK)


With thanks to Ana Luz Comanchero for sharing her detailed notes with us.

We know that in the first seven years of life the environment forms the child. Nonetheless, in our present society the environment is fast changing.

We live in a time where there are new burdens for children and new choices for parents. Not everything is negative and yet there are many aspects of our modern society that we need to be aware of as they have a negative impact in the development of the young child.

THE PHYSICAL BODY - is being weakened by physical restrictions.
THE ETHERIC BODY - is being undermined by hurry and lack of rhythm.
THE ASTRAL BODY - is being overstimulated by sensory impressions. 
THE EGO BODY or ‘I’ – is being attacked by anti-social forces.

In Early Childhood we only work most directly in the physical body.  However, all the bodies are developing in  in the first seven years of life, and therefore they can all be impacted by what comes from the world towards the child. As adults, we need:
  • Courage
  • Moral Consciousness
  • Flexibility
  • Resilience and
  • Imagination
Jill Tina Taplin then said that what Steiner called LIVING HEART THINKING is connected to the qualities mentioned above.

Living heart thinking is responsive and empathetic, it is connected to the environment, to others and to the spiritual beings that supports us in our work.

Living heart thinking requires from us to be very present, awake, attentive, interested and imaginative so that we can connect with the spiritual beings, and through this connection find inspiration. If we carry this into ourselves, in time, we will be able to have intuitions (pedagogical wisdom).

Living heart thinking allows us to move beyond traditions or routines that might have lost their value and it also allows us to compromise where needed.

What have we got to support us in our endeavours?    
What can help us in our work and journey?


It is through the efforts we put in our inner work that we can connect with the Divine to ask for guidance and support.  There are many exercises for self-development that have been given to us by Rudolf Steiner or by other traditions that can help us to become better human beings.
Rudolf Steiner gave a Golden Rule in connection to the importance of self-development and inner work in his book: The Knowledge of the Higher Worlds:

“For every one step you take in the pursuit of higher knowledge, take three steps in the perfection of your own character.”  

 We need to be making moral efforts all the time, and through these efforts we make/create a space for Higher Spiritual Beings to be able to connect to us and to help us and guide us in our daily work.

Read the full lecture notes here 
 

A Poetic Reflection:

Thank you to Bec Whitcome: Sydney Region

It was a Sunday that I walked early, in the pouring Sydney rain,
Stretching and moving my body to avoid a lower back pain.
I returned to make a nourishing brekie and a warm cup of tea,
I prepared my working desk like a home knowing for three days I will be.

Acknowledgment of country, honouring the land,
A perfect way to start and remember where we stand.
The lighting of a candle with verse, to open our head and heart,
A pure and conscious moment which now I am apart.

An angelic Katrina voice, a winter seed that needs the sun,
We are in great anticipation of what this little seed becomes.
Enter Jill Tina Taplin all the way from the UK,
Speaking the need for movement and imitation in play.

An evolution of humanity, we must change over time,
The importance of inner work, the mission yours and mine.
Living heart thinking, the pedagogy of what we all do,
The meaning and the value of tasks; the highest we pursue.

The call for courage, moral consciousness and flexibility,
To build resilience and spark the imagination is our responsibility.
Breathing of the year from the Calendar of the soul,
So much to consider, a work in progress goal.

Jill took us from the past, through the present, to the future,
Urging us all to carry lightness, joy and humour.
Raffle time raffle time who will it be ? I am so excited for all !
Could it possibly be me ?

Enter Nancy Blanning all the way from the States,
Twas wonderful to feel her energy that she easily creates.
We are indeed the midwifes of the child’s first years,
What a reverent honour for myself and for all my peers.

We support children to feel safe and settled in the earthly home,
It all starts with movement and the freedom to roam.
We protect and allow, their natural unfolding pace,
Unlike the world of mainstream that treats it as a race.

Nancy then welcomes us to join her in play,
Stand up and get ready for a journey to Walpei,
We moved up and moved down, crossed our mid line and walked around.
We moved back and forward too, it was as if I was holding hands with you !

Enter Heather Van Zyl teaching hand gesture play,
Oh what an absolute delight to include in my day.
We held a little Daisy that was small and fine,
She was simply waiting for the golden sun to shine.

Lots of fun had with weedle woodle play,
Working from our heart realm, we learnt was the only way.
Boom and botch and womb and watch is lots of fun you see,
I know all these games for the child will bring so much glee.

A Eurythmy lesson allowed us to open wide and free,
A new way to feel Hallelujah was inspiring for me.
A little child I became watching the puppet show,
And delight in hearing a rainbow story is something I will never outgrow.

My name is Patria and I am part of a group living in the beautiful Huon Valley in Tasmania who are creating a Steiner playgroup for our community.  

My fourth child was born here in Tasmania and my wish was for her to have the same beautiful playgroup experience that my older children had.  Our nearest Steiner school is quite a distance away, so we chose instead to create our own.  
We have had a wonderful group of families meeting weekly for the past few months creating toys and we have been generously supported by our greater community, including many who have had long associations with Steiner education and in particular, early years education.  
It was at a meeting with one such lady that we were reminded of the Vital Years Conference (which was a matter of weeks away) and through these connections and conversations I was offered financial assistance to attend the conference.
The conference this year was such a delight to attend and enriching on many levels.  The back to basics theme was perfect for where we are in our journey of setting up, as we are again looking at all the fundamental principles of Steiner early years education.  I chose to attend the Circle Time workshop during the conference which provided a wonderful overview of creating and leading circle time but we were also gifted with many smaller nuggets of wisdom which has led us to refining our planned circle time and I am so pleased with how it has developed.
The Q and A sessions were wonderfully helpful and thought provoking and I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to be included in these ‘conversations’ where so many people with so much experience were sharing their thoughts and experiences.  Such a wonderful gift to us as a group.
I have been amazed by the support we have received over the past few months. At times, a little overwhelmed with just how much work is involved in creating a playgroup!
As we commence next week, and we see the delight on the faces of all the children joining, I know it will have all been worth it.

Thank you  all the creators of this years conference – you all did an amazing job!

Morning Verse

The sun illumines

Stone, plant, animal and human.

Our soul enlivens

Head, heart, hand and foot.

The light rejoices

When stones sparkle,

Plants bloom, animals run,

And humans work.

So should our soul rejoice

When our heart grows warm and wide,

Enlightened thoughts grow strong,

Enheartened Will can work.

Rudolf Steiner

The 'How Did I Manage Without This?' Sewing Kit:

Kindly shared by Meg Quinlisk: Creator and Workshop Presenter
and Lana Risi: Maker..

Materials and Instructions are found here

The Five Pillars

This article was written by Connie Grawert (from the archive of her many essays and contributions to mentoring and teacher training over the years) and is included here as it is aligned with our conference theme. Pronouns used remain as written at the time.

"The young child is fundamentally a different being from an adult, not only in her physical and emotional maturity, but in the way she experiences the world. Adults grasp the world through their thinking; they are able to take a step back and look at what is happening around them. The young child is totally immersed in her world; she is unable to separate herself from what she hears, sees or experiences. The better adults (parents and teachers) understand this, the more effectively we will be able to meet the child in an appropriate way.
 Because the young child has a different consciousness from the adult it is important to relate to a child in a way that is different than adult to another adult. If we found our interactions on “Five Pillars” of early childhood experience this will go a long way towards meeting the child’s needs in a healthy way.
 I refer to these “Five Pillars” as the 3 R’s and the 2 I’s: Rhythm, Routine and Repetition; and Imagination and Imitation".
Read Connie's  article here

Seasonal Sharing

The following contributions were shared as part of the workshop content at the conference.

Barnong: A Winter Festival Story

Jane Evans: Victorian Region
I wrote this story for a winter festival at Ballarat Steiner Kindergarten. It is a nature story – the details about ringtail possum behaviour are essentially true – and the cultural picture of the Wadawarrung people is accurate, to my knowledge, including their astronomy and the language used.

The weaving in of the lantern walk picture was to connect this picture to our winter festival, and was intended to illustrate the picture of the “inner light” that needs kindling to lend us strength in the darkest months of the year.I am happy for anyone to take this story and adapt it for their region, using their local indigenous language, cultural pictures, astronomy, and animals. This will need a little research, and the permission of your local indigenous cultural centre or land council or similar to use the language of the First Australians in your area.

Winter Morning Circle:

thanks to Hannah Gauchi, Victoria Region.

Winter Gold:

A song for Wattle time with thanks to Katrina Ross, Nth NSW Region

Diversity and Inclusion

Lifelong Learning V - Communities Learning Together. 
Artist: Annie Franklin, South Coast NSW

 Acknowledgement of Country


Thanks to Chrisanthi McManus for sharing part of her beginning to the day,
Yuin Country, BEGA NSW.

 

Here is the land (palms towards the floor)
Here is the sky (palms towards the sky)
Here is the mountain (hands pointing together)
And here am I (palms towards heart)
Together we work (working sign)
Together we play (playing sign)
On Yuin land, everyday (day sign)
Their Elders have always
Cared for the land (help sign)
May we care for it too
Hand in hand. (hold hands together)

Diversity, Representation & Inclusion through Dolls in the Kindergarten


Rachel Ford-Blanchard. Reproduced from Kindling Magazine Issue 39 Diversity 2021: With Permission of the publisher

One of the most effective tools for diversity and inclusion I have in my toolbox right now has been with the dolls in my kindergarten. It is through our conscious decisions to be inclusive that we can bring diversity into the kindergartens in a way that is in alignment with our pedagogical practice. Because we work through gesture, the open-ended nature of dolls and how we care for them is one way for children to directly observe and imitate the care and love we can have for all that dolls can represent.
read the full article Here

International Sharing

Little Ada from Slovenia, is now being well loved in her kindergarten in Alice Springs, Northern Territory, which is in the “Centre “ of Australia. 

IASWECE 


Heather Van Zyl represents Australia on the IASWECE Council, and is a member of the SECA committee.
Thanks Heather for travelling across the world on behalf of our Association and for these comprehensive reports.


IASWECE COUNTRY REPORT: DORNACH APRIL 12 – 16 2022

HAGUE CIRCLE COLLOQUIUM REPORT: APRIL 19 – 21 2022


IASWECE Kindergarten Trainers Conference: October 9 - 12, 2022

to be held in Vilnius, Lithuania, Find more information Here

Little Agnes, generously made and donated to SECA for our raffle by Silvia from Brazil, found her new home: welcomed immediately into a home based day care centre in Coffs Harbour NSW.  A child  who has a family connection to Brazil took an immediate liking to Agnes! 

MEMBER COUNTRIES AUSTRALIA, AUSTRIA, BELGIUM, BRAZIL, CHINA, CZECH REPUBLIC, DENMARK, EAST AFRICA,

ESTONIA, FINLAND, FRANCE, GERMANY, HUNGARY, INDIA, IRELAND, ISRAEL, ITALY, JAPAN, LITHUANIA, NETHERLANDS,

NEW ZEALAND, NORTH AMERICA, NORWAY, POLAND, REPUBLIC OF KOREA, ROMANIA, RUSSIA, SLOVENIA, SOUTH

AFRICA, SPAIN, SWEDEN, SWITZERLAND, TAIWAN, UKRAINE, UNITED KINGDOM, VIETNAM

The Child from Birth To Three

The third year of life: Exploring my world...developing the senses..
intently watching and listening, strengthening the body; achieving balance through independent movement, and trusting that the world is good. 

Voices of a humane pedagogy: Emmi Pikler - impulses for a healthy and child-friendly growing up

A series of Lectures (German/English subtitles) From Goetheanum TV

A contribution by Claudia Grah-Wittich, transmitted on 30. March 2022

The Hungarian pediatrician Emmi Pikler (1902 - 1984) has developed her own pedagogy out of respect for the child's own initiative. She formulated two pillars for working with small children: the child's independent development of movement in a prepared environment and the undivided attention of the carers, who sensitively involve the child through gestures and speech. Pikler pedagogy is not a method, but relationship pedagogy based on trust and cooperation from the birth of the child.

https://goetheanum.tv/programs/emmi-pikler-claudia-grah-wittich
 

Introduction to the CARE 1 Working Group on Pregnancy, Birth and Early Childhood: 

 

Pregnancy, birth and early childhood have a decisive influence on human health and development. Parenting, education and medicine have the task of providing protection and space for each child’s development and for his or her unique individuality.

Trusting cooperation between everyone involved in the child’s care is of great importance. This is particularly true if fears, obstacles and disabilities stand in the way of what is seen as normal development even at this early age.

The CARE 1 working group of the Medical Section of the School of Spiritual Science at the Goetheanum is an international, multi-professional collaboration of experts from the fields of medicine and education. This interdisciplinary cooperation adds new collaborative professional insight and helps us to better understand the nature of children, as well as the unique individuality of each child. You can read more about CARE 1, and find links to different aspects of the work being done by this collaborative group here

The conference on the Dignity of the Child, prepared by the,CARE 1 Working Group was held at the Goetheanum from 15 to 18 June 2022, and was attended by 400 people from 21 countries. 

"It was wonderful to experience the collaboration of representatives of different professions, all devoted to caring for children and parents during pregnancy, birth and in the first three years of life. Philipp Reubke and Georg Soldner, from the Leadership teams of the Education Section and the Medical Section respectively, pointed out at the very beginning that one cannot separate therapeutic, educational and social support in that phase of life. Even after birth, children need an environment that provides warmth, wellbeing and safety and that is open to the child’s intentions.

“Give me time until I can do it myself!” – this is how the pioneer Emmi Pikler described the child’s gesture. This individual movement, children’s joy in discovery, and little adventures in nature; the fostering of their autonomy are as important as loving, sensitive relationships and the meeting of their needs".

05 July 2022 Michaela Glöckler&Georg Soldner https://goetheanum.ch/en/news/child-dignity

Courteous Gnome

Answering your questions on the delicate arts of etiquette and decorum
in the Steiner Early Childhood  setting

Dear Courteous Gnome,

A new family has started with my home based day care.
The child is pretty lively (read: disruptive), and the parents don’t seem interested in craft nights or chatting with me or the other parents at pickup/dropoff times.
Should I tell them it would be best to find another carer? 
I’m worried the other families will become unhappy and leave. 
Yours, 
Undecided in Urangan 


Dear Undecided,

Your question reminds me of a conversation I had with an acquaintance the other day.This man runs a local church that is associated with one of the large organised religions you have in your country.

However, his local group is often openly questioned and criticised by the higher echelons of the religious organisation.
I was surprised to hear of his group’s struggles and asked what he thought was contributing to the ongoing conflict with the religious hierarchy.
He responded that his church building has a very large and controversial sign facing the street. The sign says “All Welcome”.
He paused to enjoy my befuddlement. What could be wrong with a sign saying All Welcome?
“We really mean it,” he said with a wink. 

When we offer a genuine welcome to everyone, that means we welcome everyone—not just the people it would be easy, convenient, or fun to welcome.
We make space for, and warmly welcome, all families, especially the ones who don’t seem to fit our pre-conceptions, the square pegs in our round holes. 

Being truly welcoming might mean you ruffle some feathers, just like my friend and his church have done. If this happens, you can take it as a sign that you are getting your welcoming right! 

New Resources

UPDATE!

Eurythmy in Kindergarten is a beautifully-illustrated answer to the question “Why eurythmy in kindergarten?” 
You can purchase a copy of this booklet from the SECA website Online Shop
$13.50 includes postage

Visit the SECA website
Copyright © 2022 Australian Association for Rudolf Steiner Early Childhood Education, All rights reserved.
 
 
 

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