Creating a Joyful Life with Children

Special Report on the LifeWays National Conference, May 18, 2013 at
Marin Waldorf School in
San Rafael, CA

LifeWays Logo Web
Newsletter of LifeWays North America
Summer, 2013
Increasing your Joy with Children 



The last few months have been filled with excitement and activity. It was an honor and a pleasure to be a Keynote Speaker at the first-ever LifeWays conference, "Creating a Joyful Life with Children," which sold out weeks before it happened!  It was filled with excitement and inspiration, and this newsletter is filled with tidbits from the conference for those who weren't able to make it, as well as new thoughts for those who were there. The articles below are filled with practical suggestions from the workshop presenters. 


On a personal note, my life has begun a transformation in the past few months as my husband and I have discovered that we'll be having a baby in January!  This has already begun to affect our lives in many ways: one effect is that we've decided to leave London and move back to Denver to be close to family.  Another is that I've decided to step down as the LifeWays newsletter editor.  


Many thanks to Rahima Dancy who has done the majority of work to help this current newsletter come to life, and a huge warm "Welcome!" to Lisa Boisvert-MacKenzie, who will be taking over as interim editor starting with the autumn newsletter.  Lisa is a longtime blogger and editor of the online magazine "The Wonder of Childhood" and director of "Celebrate the Rhythm of Life," an online curriculum and interactive program for parents and homeschoolers. She is also a board member of LifeWays North America.  


As for me, I will continue to do Tele-Classes and coaching through Joyful Toddlers, and teach at the Boulder LifeWays training as I'm able.  Thanks to all of you, the LifeWays newsletter readers, for sharing and creating this vibrant LifeWays community, and I look forward to joining you as a fellow reader, as we welcome this baby into our lives. 


Signing Off,

Faith Collins, Editor 

rainbow bridge
Note from Cynthia header 


Dear Friends,


It was a delight to see so many of you at the first LifeWays Conference, co-sponsored by the Marin Waldorf School to whom we send our warmest thanks.   We also welcomed a lovely variety of vendors which added to the festive feeling.While most of the participants were from nearby, we were amazed to see friends from as far away as the East Coast, Midwest, Hawaii and Mexico!


In a way, it felt like a conference of shared research.  Each of the presenters had their own unique ideas and topics to support our overarching theme of joyfulness in working with children.  Not surprisingly, several workshops brought helpful ideas on creative discipline, always a favorite topic!


You can read very brief descriptions of the workshops below or visit the websites of some of the presenters to learn more about their work.  We send our gratitude to Joya Birns, Cindy Brooks, Thea Blair, Steve Spitalny, Rosario Villasana,Faith Collins and Suzanne Down for their very engaging workshops and to Anna Rainville for starting our morning with such fun music.  Also, of course, to Suzanne and Faith for their sweet delights offered in their morning keynotes. To be honest, the room was so warm and we were all so tired by the time I gave my end-of-the-day keynote, I am not sure if any of us remember what I said!  However, I kept my notes and offer them below as an article.   


All of the reviews we received were positive and grateful and full of hope that we will be doing this again soon. Hold those thoughts and we will work on our end to make it happen - when and where to be determined!


Now, to turn our thoughts to our dear newsletter editor Faith.  How can I be disappointed that she is leaving the editor position when the reason is one for which we are so thrilled!!  Faith, we are joyful that your first little one is on the way and wish you all the wonders and gentle mysteries that accompany these months leading toward birth.  Congratulation to you and Tim!Also, we welcome you back to the States.  It is good to have you home again.


LifeWays Board member Lisa Boisvert will step in as interim editor, with help from Rahima, for the next few newsletters to determine if her full and busy life will allow her to take it on fully.You can read a bit more about Lisa in Faith's note above.Thank you, Lisa!  


It has been a huge summer of travel again for me, and I have been so very blessed to meet students in almost all of the current trainings.California Coast, Maine, Wisconsin, and San Diego all graduated recent groups, as did Vancouver.  Congratulations everyone!And this autumn Hawaii and Buffalo will also complete.  We will look forward to their photos.You can see photos of the graduating groups on our Facebook pages.In the meantime, Boulder, California Coast and Vancouver have started their new groups, and we hope in the autumn to also start our newest Austin group as well as a brand new group in Portland, Oregon!Some others are cooking but we will not announce them until we are for completely sure!  Please also check our website for several deepening courses we will be offering in Milwaukee in the coming year, including one with Louise Deforest of the International Association of Steiner/Waldorf Early Childhood Education, one with Suzanne Down on therapeutic puppetry and making the mother rod puppet, and one with Mary O'Connell at the farm on deepening the Living Arts, as well as one or two others!You may also be interested in attending our workshop in November in Pennsylvania, jointly sponsored by the Kimberton Waldorf School, which is now one of our LifeWays Representative sites.Yay!


You may want to check out our Directory for the growing list of LifeWays Representative sites, along with some of our graduates and others aligned with the work of caring for young children and their families.  We have a big board meeting coming up in a few weeks, and I think we are going to have a lot more exciting news to tell you in the next newsletter!  And I will have a new grandbaby to tell you about by then as well.    


'Til then, love to you all.   

Have a blessed rest of your summer,    


~Cynthia Aldinger is Founder and Director of LifeWays North America

Increasing Your Joy with Children 
         Joy in My Heart

  Keynote by Cynthia Aldinger


Where do we find this joy?  Cynthia answers this question and gives practical suggestions for tapping into this wellspring of joy--for ourselves and for the benefit of the children around us. 



A Path to Joy in Parenting:  

                            The First Seven Years  

Workshop and booklet by Cindy Brooks and Joya Birns


This summary covers vital points for increasing your joy in parenting, including care for your own body, soul and spirit.  In addition, they wrote a special booklet for the conference on "A Path to Joy in Parenting." 


Joya Birns (right), Waldorf Educator, and Cindy Brooks, MFT (left), are co-authors of Parenting with Spirit, a guide to family discipline inspired by insights from the Waldorf world and from the fields of psychology and neuroscience.  They have been co-leading parent circles and parenting workshops in northern California since 2004.  For more information see



Transforming No intoYes!

Conference Keynote by Faith Collins 
In this summary and further development of her keynote address, Faith shares her experience that when children say "No," they are really asking for increased connection. She suggests several ways to explore this possibility and meet both your needs.

Faith Collins is a LifeWays graduate and founder/director of Joyful Toddlers. She was cofounder of Rainbow Bridge LifeWays Program in Boulder, Colorado and offers telecourses and coaching for parents of young children in the Denver-Boulder area.  See her work at  
Click here to read her longer article:
"Developing The Habit of Yes!"  
Connecting with Young Children     

Conference Workshop by Stephen Spitalny 
                                                                                 Steve's workshop provided many more examples on how to guide children through connection.  He has also written a book on Connecting with Young Children: Educating the Will.

Early childhood consultant and author Steve Spitalny has been a kindergarten teacher at the Santa Cruz (California) Waldorf School for 24 years. He has given workshops, lectures and courses on many themes and is on the faculty of WISC (Waldorf Institute of Southern California). He is a former Board member and newsletter editor of WECAN (Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America). Steve's valuable book,Connecting With Young Children is available on his website at 

The Joy of Seasonal Stories 
The Story Art of the Heart   
 Workshop and Keynote by Suzanne Down
    Suzanne shared her wisdom and puppetry with participants through a puppet show, keynote address and puppet-making workshop.  Here she shares a seasonal story she adapted for the workshop.

Suzanne Down is founder of Juniper Tree Puppets and offers workshops throughout the country.  She is also the Director of the LifeWays Training in Boulder, Colorado.  See Suzanne's work and sign up for her monthly newsletter at

Children's Massage to Calm and Connect      
Workshop by Thea Blair


Nurturing touch works like magic to bring calm and friendliness, and can help to reduce discipline issues. In this workshop participants learned the science behind the magic of touch, the physiology of the fight or flight reaction, and why it is so difficult to reason with your child when they are stressed. This knowledge can empower parents to make choices that are in accordance with their values. To learn more, see Thea's website and articles.

Thea Blair is a Waldorf teacher and a Pediatric Massage Therapist. She operated a Waldorf-inspired preschool out of her home for fourteen years.  Observing the amazing results of touch, either playful or comforting, in resolving children's emotional stress led her to seek a massage training. She now works as a parent and teacher coach, and a touch educator. Thea brings Peer Massage to schools as a consultant and is available for talks and workshops about touch, parenting, and childhood development. She is the mother of a 17 year old son and 10 year old daughter. She lives in a small, intentional community with a farm in Nevada City, California. 


LifeWays en Espaol  
Report and Workshop by Rosario Villasana

The LifeWays Conference was attended by many Spanish-speaking providers from throughout the Bay Area and as far away as Mexico City. Rosario offered a workshop on "Alegria del Ao Ritmico" and shares more about LifeWays en Espanol in this report.

Rosario VIllasana is a founding board member of LifeWays and director of the LifeWays en Espaol programs. She also teaches at City College of San Francisco, SFSU and Rudolf Steiner College and is president of the board of the Alliance for Childhood.

Take-away from the LifeWays Conference

"The LifeWays Conference was a great chance to meet in person some of the people who we've been reading from or about!  Faith Collin's talk about what "no" from a toddler may really mean was transformational, as well as her concept of how to encourage toddlers to say yes until it becomes habit--through the efforts of adults changing our own ways.  In addition, it was a great treat to meet some of our Spanish-speaking friends who are bringing LifeWays to Spanish immersion or bilingual preschools and nurseries around the Bay area."--Margo Burnham


"After hearing so much about LifeWays, I was lucky to attend their Spring Conference. As a mother of three-year-olds, to spend a day surrounded by parents/caregivers/teachers with like-minded learning philosophies was energizing.  So many of the speakers are educators I've followed online, and attending the conference was the perfect opportunity to meet and hear them present ideas."--Kathleen Johnstone


"As a teacher who has spent the past 10 years transitioning her home- based program from a traditional preschool environment to a more Waldorf- aligned nature based program, I love taking steps each year to improve my program.  This upcoming school year I will transition from teaching all 5-year-olds to a group of young three's, with a few older two's.  Having the chance to be reminded of the world of toddlers during the Lifeways Conference was just what I needed to begin the transition.  My favorite aspect was re-thinking my puppet shows, which with my 5-year-olds were elaborate and lovely.  How was I going to re-create this same puppet show environment with my new group?  Of course, Suzanne Down was just the person to head me in the right direction and get me ready to create, design and simplify.  My school year starts in four weeks.  Thank you Lifeways for getting me ready to start fresh, filled with new ideas, excitement and passion." --Bonnie Hasson, Bonnie's House Play-School



"The best part for me was the storytelling. I had the opportunity to take Suzanne's storytelling class and it did change me forever. She invited me to sit down next to her - she had this loving aura about her. I fell in love with her energy--it was all about love and understanding. I haven't been able to tell a story yet, but I do know how to because of Suzanne. She spoke of love, but she radiated love herself!" --Maria Boyke




"What was most valuable for you from the conference?"

"All the inner work...."

"The topic of joy was carried throughout the entire day...."
"'Joy hatches the organs of the young child.' [Steiner]...."

"Starting with songs is so joyous. Love that it is all early childhood based...."

"Fabulous keynotes and workshops.  Amazing puppetry interludes.  Wonderful music and games...."


Professional and Personal Development
for Teachers, Caregivers and Parents 
Click here for more information on what is covered.  
LifeWays graduates may attend all or part of another LifeWays training for the cost of food and materials.


Trainings are graduating in Hawaii and Buffalo.  

Click on the underlined links to learn more about other trainings. 

  New Texas LifeWays Training  ~ Austin, TX
New training group to launch in October 2013
Contact: Kelli Hoisington 


Maine: Next training July 2014 to July 2015
California, San Diego: Next training Summer 2014 to Summer 2015


California Coast (SF Bay Area): 1 OPENING LEFT NOW!  
Next training August 2013-June 2014  


Wisconsin: Next training starting in 2014. Watch for workshop offerings. 

Colorado: Current training is FULL! Next training 2015  


Vancouver, BC: Next training starts March, 2014 


If you have any questions, comments, ideas for future articles, or news items that you'd like to share, please don't hesitate to contact me!  Just press "reply" to this newsletter, or email me directly at 


Faith Collins, Editor

LifeWays North America
403 Piney Oak Dr.,

Norman, OK 73072.



Austin, TX is your last chance to start the LifeWays training this year!

It starts in October: Register by Labor Day and save $350!   

More information. 


We're planning to offer a training in Portland, Oregon, tentatively starting in February 2014.  Dates and other information will be available on the website.  


The Milwaukee training will be taking a year off, but 5 exciting Living Arts Workshops are planned on LifeWays-related topics.  


We'd like to offer our next conference on the East Coast.  Anyone interested in helping with logistics?


Blessings to CA Coast Training Director Marianne Alsop and her family around the birth of her third grandchild, Sebastian Maxwell Brown.  "Max"

was born on
May 8, 2013 and weighed     9 lbs. 11oz.         


LifeWays workshops

See the Workshop

 section of the website for details and registration information. 

  lifeways students tellling tales with puppets


CA Coast Parenting Seminars: 3 blocks from Sept 2013 - May 2014 
  * Inner Development of the Parent 
  * Child Development 
  * Handwork 
San Francisco Bay Area, CA

Nursery Rhymes, Puppetry, Storytelling and Language Development 
with Suzanne Down 
Buffalo, NY
Oct 31-Nov 1, 2013
Click here for details

Workshop with
Suzanne Down and
Cynthia Aldinger
Kimberton Waldorf School
Kimberton, PA
October 18-20, 2013
Email Chinyelu Kunz for details

Living Arts Retreats
in Milwaukee, WI
Nov. 2013 - Aug. 2014
Click here for details

Wisconsin Training 

Joy in Movement 

Anna Ra
inville brought the joy of singing games to the conference.  You can purchase her book, Singing Games, from Rudolf Steiner College Book Store.

What Do Studies Say?

internet image
Are parents happier than singles or couples without children? The results are complex, but now it seems that they are. Read more here.

List your Program on the LifeWays Directory
mixed age suite

LW Students--only $50/year
LW Graduates, $85/year
Aligned Programs, $100/year

Have the advantage of national affiliation and visibility on our website.
See our Directory here.
Sign up online or by mail.



Have you read these recent articles from our blog? 


"Balancing Fundamentalism with the Fundamentals of LifeWays"

 by Kerry Madrid 


"An Outdoor Summer"  

        by Faith Collins 


"Summer Rhythm, or Lack Thereof...   "

        by Mara Spiropoulos



by Jaimmie Stugard



Subscribe to receive blog updates in your email box.




Join Lifeways on Facebook! 
LifeWays Logo Web
Caregivers, teachers, parents and LifeWays students are sharing articles, asking questions, and chatting on the LifeWays facebook page.  Join the fun!

Now available as an e-book on Kindle! 
Home Away from Home book
You can now read Home Away from Home on your Kindle (available from Amazon), or order the hard copy from our online store.

LifeWays DVDs and CDs are now available for download as MP3 or streaming video files. Order from our online store and save shipping charges!


Waldorf Completion Track at Sunbridge Recognizes LifeWays     


     A new option is now available for LifeWays graduates who currently teach in a Waldorf School to enroll in the Sunbridge College Completion Track, although they state that the person needs to have worked in a Waldorf School for a number of years.  We encourage our students who want this credential to go to the Sunbridge College website and check out the requirements, then follow-up with a call to their enrollment person.  


     LifeWays is a Living Arts

early childhood training based on the fundamental needs of young children according to Rudolf Steiner. Our approach is based on that of a well-

articulated, consciously-striving home, and we do not use a school-based model. However, some of our students go on to teach in Waldorf schools, which require the full Waldorf EC Training (which is twice as long as the LifeWays Training).   



Thanks Everyone!
LifeWays at Marin Waldorf

Special thanks to Marin Waldorf for hosting the Conference, and to Vicki Culp, Christine Margetic, Marianne Alsop, Faith Collins, Agaf and Rahima Dancy, Anna Rainville, the keynotes and workshop presenters, and all the volunteers! 


Join Our Mailing List