May 2014
LifeWays North America Newsletter
Spring 2014
Quick Links

Did you read the three-part article by Jennifer Sullivan on "Using Our Voices with the Young Child"?

See it here and subscribe to the LifeWays Blog!
On our theme:
See the NPR article and interview with the author of
All Joy and No Fun, a book about parental well-being.
Join us on Facebook!

        When I first looked at the content listed for this newsletter, I thought it seemed a bit light - don't we usually have more articles?  Then I started reading the submissions and realized what treasures each one is.  How wonderful that we can offer such richness in just the right amount!  It reminds me of a fine restaurant where the dishes served are not super-sized.  They are just right for tantalizing the palate and leaving room for dessert!  Thanks to each of our writers for being the main course and the dessert rolled into one!


        This also feels like a testament to the nature of joy in general.  Typically it does not come in large doses.  In fact, if we are not paying attention, not slowing down occasionally, not listening or looking, we risk missing the moment altogether.  Interesting isn't it - that a world of "too much" may be less likely to bring us joy than a fleeting moment of awe!


         Recently I was interviewed, being asked to reflect on my years of work in early childhood and particularly working with parents.  The final question had to do with what advice I might want to offer to parents today.  I was surprised at how quickly the answer came to me: Find what brings you joy and be aware when you encounter it. 


         Regarding the theme of Joy in Caring for Young Children, one of my recent joys is a rather practical tip I have learned since the birth of my granddaughter, Eloise.  Her parents taught me the wonder and wisdom of the yoga ball as a rocking chair.  Truth is - sometimes joy, or at least relief, comes when we find something that works to support our efforts to care for our little ones.  And the great thing about the yoga ball is that while you are soothing your baby, you are also getting some easy exercise!  Something I often do when I teach in the LifeWays training is to ask everyone to share their favorite way to soothe an infant.  Some people do a light bouncing movement.  Others rock back and forth.  Some sway from side to side. The yoga ball makes all of those possible.  Usually as soon as I sit on the yoga ball, my little granddaughter starts singing herself to sleep.  And that's a sound that brings joy to any parent's (or grandparent's) heart!


Wishing you all the delights of spring,  


Finding the Joy in Caring for
Young Children

We are finally saying farewell to Old Man Winter and welcoming lovely Lady Spring! Spring brings so much excitement as the world blooms before us in anticipation of the summer. With this excitement also comes very restless children. In our preschool class we can't seem to find enough "good work" to keep up with their excitement! Does this sound familiar? Spring also brings spiritual renewal, and with it cleansing and clearing the way for new internal growth. It's a wonderful time to focus on yourself and make positive changes in your life for the year ahead. 

Our topic in this newsletter is "Finding the Joy in Caring for Young Children." What a perfect time to discuss this, as many are facing the challenges of spring fever, be it at home or in care centers. So how do we transform these moments? How do we find our joy again? It seems the common theme is to find it within ourselves first. When we center ourselves and take a step back, then we are able to appreciate the joy found in tiny little moments. Those moments when you look up from the garden bed you're planting and find that your daughter not only isn't staying out of the garden bed, but she is naked, covered in mud, "planting" herself in a hole next to the blueberry bush. Your neighbor looks at you with a raised eyebrow and your daughter asks you to fill the watering can so that she can water herself. It's in those moments where you could probably cry, but instead find yourself smiling uncontrollably at the ambition and happiness in her sparkling bright eyes and proceed to give her the nickname "blueberry girl." I think it's in those moments that we can find joy, if we let go of perfection. 

Below you will find more articles on finding joy again. I hope you find them insightful and inspiring. 

Blessings on your day!
Amy Gerassimoff, Editor 

Joy and Self-Care   
     By: Kerry Ingram


As the old song goes: "I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart. Where? Down in my heart. Where? Down in my heart." That's right, it is down in your heart, your core, your center. It has many different names-- joy, bliss, passion, light, divine--and that joy is part of you and has been since before you were born.  


It remains there at all times for you to access, though some days it eludes us and perhaps even weeks may pass without unlocking the golden door to that light-filled room that houses our joy.  When it is unlocked and that special place is nurtured and tended to, it becomes bigger and brighter, a source of ease and presence.  

But for many of us, we might need to clear away the cobwebs and bring a lantern to get there...maybe even a road map.  I have personally been working on my own road map to joy, and I have noticed a consistent route to get there: self-care



Eight Optimal Soul Attitudes for Joy in Parenting
      By: Cindy Brook and Joya Birns from their new book Discovering Joy in Parenting: The First Seven Years   (now available from the LifeWays online store

Cindy and Joya are well known to many LifeWays readers through presenting on joy in parenting at our national conference last year and through their previous book,  Parenting with Spirit. 

Their new book, Discovering Joy in Parenting, is filled with practical suggestions that combine Steiner-based understanding with a contemporary approach. They've agreed to share two selections with our LifeWays readers: Read More


One Spring Morning at Spindlewood, Maine   
       By: Susan Silverio
I marvel at how calm and collected Sam is as he reports to me that Tom has spit rain barrel water in his face. I suggest that we go talk to Tom, so we walk together and Sam takes my hand as he confidently says, "You will go with
me." I must admit I am beginning to swell with righteous indignation, but we approach Tom and I quietly tell him that there seems to be a problem, and I take his hand also.

Sam matter-of-factly relates this misdeed again.
"Sorry" is Tom's reply. But Sam continues, this time speaking to Tom directly, "Was that a nice thing to do?"
"No," admits Tom.

Sam goes on. "Where's that nice boy?
(That's what my mom says.)"
"Uh... I ate him," says Tom.
"He's too big," says Sam. Then
he leans gently toward Tom, puts his forehead near his and whispers, "Be a nice boy."
By this time both boys are smiling and resume playing together, building dams in the rushing spring stream.


Walking Brings Joy 
        By: J'Mae Shemroske


Walking brings joy.


I love to walk.  I love to shuffle along as I daydream, content in a world all my own. I love to summit mountains with the uncontainable feelings of exhilaration it brings. I love to walk down into the field early in the morning to open the chicken coop when the air I breathe feels like life itself.


In college I walked a lot and it always benefited me. If I was alone I was confident, free, and connected to myself. If I was with someone else, it was usually a guy I was interested in. I have always been attracted to the woodsy type where walking together was like writing love poems. I fell in love walking. 


Read More 


Brand New at the LifeWays Online Store!


New Book Release:

Words for Parents in Small Doses

by Judith Frizlen

Director of The Children's Garden,

A LifeWays Representative Program in Buffalo, New York


In this beautiful book, Judith offers a weekly rhythm of insightful observations, discussion and reflections that will inspire your parenting or teaching.

Give yourself a year's worth of inspiration for Mother's Day!


Read several of the selections and learn more about purchasing this book for yourself or for parents in your program--click here!   


To learn more and to purchase, click here. 




New Book Release:

Discovering Joy in Parenting

by Cindy Brooks and Joya Birns


LifeWays is pleased to offer Cindy and Joya's newest book, Discovering Joy in Parenting: The First Seven Years. They are uniquely able to bring an understanding of child development based on the insights of Rudolf Steiner to questions of how to set boundaries and adapt communication skills to meet the unique consciousness of the young child. 


In addition to detailing ways to use rhythm, ritual and reverence to foster joy in family life, the second half of the book is filled with practical suggestions of ways to "untangle knots between parent and child" and make repairs when situations have deteriorated.  It is one of the few books to address ways to effectively respond to tantrums if they occur.  The authors' many suggestions on nurturing yourself are realistic and practical and can help parents and teachers stay on an even keel--as well as regain their bearings when they are off.


To read an excerpt from the book on "Eight Optimal Soul Attitudes for Joy in Parenting," click here.    

To read more about the book or to place an order, click here.

The authors can be contacted through their website,  



New E-Booklet:

Rethinking the "Pre" in Preschool

by Meg Freeling (E-Booklet) 


What needs to precede school life for young children? At this time when curriculum is being pushed to ever-younger children, Meg Freeling encourages us to begin rethinking the "pre-" in pre-school so children's earliest experiences support them optimally. 

Considering aspects suggested by the letters "P-R-E," she encourages caregivers to serve young children by becoming worthy models of

  • Protection, Play, and Possibility
  • Rhythm, Relationship, and Reverence, and
  • Earth textures, Eating together, and the Emerging "I"

She writes: "When teachers weave the values, qualities and attitudes of these experiences into a tapestry of loving activities with young children, they help give those children inner strength and allow each to unfold in all his or her mystery and delight. May more pre-schools become places where such attention to the young can thrive."


Ideal for early childhood educators, caregivers and parents, to deepen their understanding of the principles that lie behind the LifeWays and Waldorf approaches to nurturing young children.


Learn more about this new e-booklet from LifeWays North America. 


FeaturedProgramFeatured LifeWays Program 

Rose Rock School, 

a Representative Program in Norman, OK


Frances Whalen writes: On November 12th, 2013, after a lengthy two-year process, Norman (OK) City Council approved the rezoning of our property at 1515 West Main St. in central Norman. With the new zoning, we will be able to house faculty-in-residence on location, and eventually increase the student body to 59 children, ages 2-6.  


Because maintaining a homelike space is one of the central tenets of LifeWays, we were steadfastly committed to this vision for our new school of having teachers actually live there, despite the long, tedious, and sometimes difficult dynamics this idea brought to the rezoning process. During our journey, we have learned that licensing regulations and city code can be in conflict, making retrofitting a house for childcare usage a challenge. 


Read More


TrainingLifeWays Training Courses 

~ Are you interested in a natural, holistic approach to child care?  
~ Are you looking for innovative, groundbreaking ideas on how to care for children-your own or others? 
~ Do you want to create your own home-based preschool or a parent education program? 
~ Are you seeking personal growth through artistic expression, music, handcrafting and meaningful practical skills? 

COME TO LIFEWAYS! Trainings meet part-time over the course of a year, supplemented by independent study and work with a mentor between sessions to help you gain:
  • A comprehensive understanding of the developing human being
  • A deepening experience of personal growth
  • Guidance in establishing a successful program
  • A sense of being grounded in practical, artistic, and nurturing skills
The LifeWays training is based on the human development research of Rudolf Steiner (founder of Waldorf education) and contemporary researchers. It is designed to engage you as a whole person, not only intellectually. It is a very hands-on approach that will refresh and rejuvenate you. Put joy back into the center of your work and parenting! Graduate credits are available through Ashland University in Ohio. 

Enroll now to assure your place in these new trainings:

Register by May 31 and save $225!
Santa Monica/Pacific Palisades, California
Kristen Green, Student Services Director
Register by Mother's Day (May 11) and save $225!
Rockport, Maine
Marie LaRosee, Student Services Director
WorkshopsLifeWays Workshops

LifeWays offers a variety of Workshops for parents and professionals, on topics such as Storytelling and Puppetry, Nurturing and Nourishing, and Parenting Seminars.

Social Arts: "Entering into a Partnership with Parents and Colleagues" 

June 18-21 2014, with Louise deForest in Milwaukee, WI 

at LifeWays Early Childhood Center, 3224 N. Gordon Place, Milwaukee, WI 53212.   


Louise is a long-time member of the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America Board and is one of the U.S, Representatives on the IASWECE (International Association of Steiner Waldorf Early Childhood Education) Board.  She is a highly sought after international speaker who warms the hearts of all who hear her.  Her work with parents is inspiring and thoughtful and her collegial tutelage for how to work with and support parents is stellar.  In her very busy schedule we are fortunate to have her coming to the Midwest.  
For more information: Click here, or contact Mary O'Connell at (414) 218-8558, or

"Me, Myself and I" with LifeWays' Executive Director, Cynthia Aldinger

August 5 - 7, 2014 with Cynthia Aldinger in Portland, OR


The young child learns primarily through imitation. How do we - as parents and adult caregivers - offer worthy examples of love and warmth for our children, while at the same time not feel completely inadequate as we strive and fail? This two and a half day workshop on adult development offers us some tools and insights to help us grow, find balance, and learn to love ourselves and our partners.

  • The Four Temperaments
  • Seven Life Processes
  • Working with Partners and Colleagues
  • Personal Life Balance and Pacing
  • Mindfulness and Meditative Practice
  • Music for yourself and your children
  • Healthy movement exercises
  • Nourishing, wholesome snacks and meals

For information: Click here or contact Mary O'Connell, 414-218-8558 



LifeWays News

New Arrivals:

Congratulations to Megan Gardner and her family on the birth of their son on April 3rd at 10:50 am.  George Jasper Gardner-Dicks was born into this world weighing 8oz and was 20 inches long.  Megan is a LifeWays student from Marble, Colorado, who is taking the training in Boulder.




Home Made Graham Crackers



2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
6 tbsp butter
1/2 cup honey (please buy honey from your local farmer if possible!)


Mix dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
Melt butter and honey in a small saucepan stirring constantly.
When it's completely melted add honey butter to your dry ingredients.
Mix with a fork until all mixture is moistened.
Press into a flat baking sheet with your hands. (the kids loved doing this part-get them involved!)

Bake at 375 for 15 minutes or until lightly browned on the edges. Cut into rectangles or break into pieces. 


Serve plain or they're quite delicious with cream cheese and jam.




Amy Gerassimoff
LifeWays North America