LifeWays North America Newsletter
Summer 2014
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By Mary O'Connell
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"Gramma needs help sawing some tree limbs for firewood for the winter."  Already too many words and too much of a directive on a laid-back summer day.  My oldest grandson, almost six years old, wasn't interested.  What had captured his interest, however, were the toy knights from England that had once been his father's, and our new closet where he could privately play with them.  His younger brother, three, was equally in his own deep play with a few toy dishes and a set of very small shelves that worked perfectly as stove and storage.  "I'm a cooker man, Gramma.  Want some yoghurt?" as he handed me a little brass cup with a spoon in it. The baby, 5 months, was practicing rolling onto his side and intermittently grabbing his feet, fully absorbed. 


All I had done in the above scenarios was provide space where such things could happen.  The rest was up to child-driven discovery.  It took me back to the time when our two sons were younger and how it felt, sometimes, as if they were the only children who spent two full days in a row at home playing, building upon and deconstructing their themes.  Even then, over thirty years ago, we realized that we were choosing differently from the rush and rally of family life that was pervading our culture.


It continues to delight me when I visit the Rose Rock LifeWays Center in my hometown, Norman, Oklahoma, and see how up to nine or eleven children from toddlers to five-year-olds play harmoniously (mostly) with very few toys.  The fertility located within their awakening souls and their bursting growth forces is sending out shoots and stems of frolicking imagination and the purity of joy in embodiment. Surely these thriving spirit-filled little beings must be sensing, in a non-thinking way, the thrill and goodness of life. 


Many thanks to the friends who have shared their wisdom and wonder in the articles and blog posts in this newsletter. Take time to read them and relish.  Each of them gives pause to ponder.  Again I am blown away by Mary O'Connell's insights earned by her up-to-her-elbows work on the farm and articulated in her article on the four elements.  Also to note: I had a chance to meet Mig's three little billy goats (see the photo below), as I stayed in Wee Cottage while I was teaching in the Maine LifeWays training this summer.  So sweet. 


While I am thinking about it, I am excited to almost be finished with a small book called Life Is the Curriculum. Based on the studies of Rudolf Steiner, it works directly with his words and offers life examples based on the insights he offers toward providing the simple life activities that best support the developing child.  We'll let you know when it is finished, and it will be available on our website, both in paper and as an e-book. 


Well, I still needed to saw the tree branches for kindling, described above, so I did what I know to be true: do meaningful, practical work and this will encourage the children's deep play.  I had sawed two branches when my oldest grandson appeared, full from his play with the knights. "Can I help, Gramma?" "Sure," I replied. "Here's the saw. You're just in time."  



Cynthia Aldinger is Founder and Director of

LifeWays North America 

photo from Tang article (internet)
Childhood Interrupted:
The trap of entertaining & over-stimulating

Oh, Summer! How we've longed for you so. Hazy days, chasing butterflies, flowers, bumble bees, gardening, fireflies, picnics, beaches, stargazing and so much more! And yet, I've been hearing many people with young children speak of feeling completely overwhelmed this summer. Not only are their children enrolled in many activities such as classes and events, they're also creating different projects because they don't want their children to be bored.
What a perplexing idea! 

Something I've learned over the time I've spent with young children is that no child is ever bored. Not really.  This ismore of a cultural perception, as you can read about below in Rahima's article "Mommy, I'm Bored!" We have this increasing guilt in our culture to entertain children, which is instead resulting in their over-stimulation. What we view as a bored child is more likely a drained child.

We must try to remember that 
all things in this world are new to the young child. Wonder is the natural state of early childhood and we, as parents, teachers or caregivers, must always strive to protect it. Freedom to play is a vital part of keeping this wonder alive. We must allow adventure and exploration without the constraints of our own personal expectations. 
This can be challenging at first.
One of the most difficult parts of my new job in the Wonder Garden was simply allowing the children to
be. I needed to be present but not distract them from the wonderful work that they were already doing, exploring the new world all around them. I realized most of the difficulty in doing this came from within myself and the perceptions I have as an adult, such needing to be in control and busy in order to be effective and successful. This isn't true. Not in the least. I felt guilty, though, as I imagine others do. We need to remember that we are not letting our children down. We are granting them the freedom to explore without interruption. Let's stop the glorification of "busy" and take time to smell the flowers.
With that said, I do hope you enjoy and find inspiration in our articles on this theme. We've included additional references for further reading as well. Please follow our blog and like our Facebook page to keep up with what's new at LifeWays!
We hope you're having a wonderful summer! 

"Receive the children in reverence; educate them in love; 
let them go forth in freedom." ~Rudolph Steiner

Blessings on your day!
Amy Gerassimoff, Editor 
A Sense of Place      
Tracey Harrington, The Garden School Neighborhood Play Garden, San Rafael, California
We celebrated our first week of summer in a local creek-side park with our group of nine children ages 3 to 6 years. We set out on adventures each day, finding our rhythm and sense of connection among all the expanse of the nature preserve and park. Later in the day we would go exploring along the quiet nature paths to connect again with each other, among all the activity and people that gather there. This was a testimony to the power of rhythm with young children; there is a hidden art of learning to contract and relax in the openness of summer...


Read More and see more photos of Tracey's program.
Nature and the Child's Senses
Judith Frizlen, Director of The Rose Garden Early Childhood Center in Buffalo, New York  

"All grown- ups were once children...but only few of them remember it." - Antoine de St. Exupery


Scan back to your memories of being a child in the summertime. If you are like most people--and I have spoken to many--you will recall an experience of being outdoors alone or with other children. Details vary, but the descriptions always involve a full sensory experience. When an adult is there, they are not directly engaging the child. The child is complete within herself, immersed in nature...

Read More 

"Mommy, I'm bored!"  
Rahima Baldwin Dancy, LifeWays board member and author

There's a notion today that "Boredom is good," and to the extent that it reflects a counter-motion to over-programing children's time by leaving enough time and space for their own creativity to arise, I would agree.  However, I would also suggest that boredom is foreign to the young child's world: it is a cultural construct they learn from older children or their parents. 


The young child is totally into exploration and play, which has been called "the work of early childhood."  For the young child, everything is new, and anything can become transformed into something else by the child's active imagination.  In recognition of this, the "plain old stick" was inducted into the "National Toy Hall of Fame" in 2008, recognizing that "The stick may be the world's oldest toy."...


allegra in the soil
Less is More        
Joya Birns and Cindy Brooks,

The wonder of young children is that they can be happy with what looks to an adult like doing "nothing!"  They innately find interest in the most common things, which we adults often bypass.  When taking a walk, a young child is not trying to "get to" a destination.  She is taking each step, enjoying everything on the way with a sense of wonder and delight.[1]  A snail slowly crawling on a leaf, an anthill buzzing with activity, a flitting butterfly or a shiny stone can each bring the utmost joy. 


To adults, more invested in thoughts and ideas or in achieving goals and results, the child's process can seem like wasting time...


Further reading on our topic:

LifeWays Blog Articles:

New at the LifeWays Online Store!


New Book Release:


Words for Parents in Small Doses

by Judith Frizlen


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


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: The First Seven Years 

by Cindy Brooks and Joya Birns




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. 


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. 


  • 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!

We have 3 new trainings starting, in California, Colorado and Pennsylvania:

San Francisco Bay Area
Marianne Alsop, Training Director

Chinyelu Kunz, Student Services Director
610-933-3635 X109

Faith Collins, Student Services Director


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

"Me, Myself and I"

with Executive Director,  

Cynthia Aldinger


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
Portland, OR
August 5-7, 2014

For information: 

Click here or contact 

Mary O'Connell, 414-218-8558 



with Julie Griggs, R.N.


In this hands-on course, you'll learn how to care for your family at home with natural home health care techniques, such as wraps, poultices, massages, and inhalations for common childhood illnesses and fevers.  Julie Griggs will explain the importance of warmth, sleep and good nutrition for your growing child, the role that childhood illnesses play in your child's development and more - all with practical suggestions for everyday use.


Portland, OR

August 9-10, 2014

For information & registration: 

Click here or contact 

Mary O'Connell, 414-218-8558 



Suzanne Down

How Storytelling and Puppetry Support This Profound Stage of Development. A Workshop for Teachers, Parents and Speech Therapists.


What lives in the mystery of speech mastery, and how can the therapeutic art of storytelling and puppetry be one of the best supports for our children's love and aptitude for language? 


Dates & Locations:


Asheville, NC 

September 21 - 22, 2014

For information & registration contact:

Ashley Masters, 828-989-9189 

Rockport, ME 

October 11 - 12, 2014

For information & registration contact:

Marie LaRosee, 207-276-5388 


Portland, OR 

October 28 - 30, 2014

For information & registration contact:

Mary O'Connell, 414-218-8558  



In this hands-on course, you'll learn how to care for your family at home with natural home health care techniques, such as wraps, poultices, massages, and inhalations for common childhood illnesses and fevers.


Asheville, NC 

November 10 - 11, 2014, 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

For information & registration contact:

Ashley Masters, 828-989-9189

Click here for details. 

LifeWays News  


New Additions:


With delight and anticipation of lots of fun we welcome three little "billy" goats to our new LifeWays program. Named Bodie, Paco & Howie, they were greeted to their new home peacefully by our 9- year-old Yorkie, Scooter. Along side their fenced yard are also 7 hens and 1 guinea named Nellie. Enrollment has begun and we are very excited to have so much lively-ness going on already. 


With "wee" blessings, Mig Case, Wee Cottage, Rockport, ME 



School for Sale:

The Stone House Preschool, run by LifeWays graduate Sarah Cole on St. Croix in the beautiful US Virgin Islands, is available for sale.


For more information:  





Job Opportunities:

Rose Rock School

Now Hiring to start Summer/Fall 2014


The Rose Rock School, a growing LifeWays Center located in the heart of Norman, Oklahoma, is looking to fill new positions for the 2014-2015 school year. We are seeking dedicated and hardworking individuals who are passionate about working with children in a warm, family-oriented environment, and are willing to offer time, love and energy toward growing a young school and upholding its mission.


Lead Primary Caregiver/Kindergarten Teacher - Full-time, Monday-Friday - Responsible for meeting with teaching staff, planning and upholding curriculum for children ages 2-6 years old, and participating in seasonal festivals and school fundraisers.  Must have experience working with children. Familiarity with LifeWays and Waldorf curriculum is preferred.


Assistant Caregiver - Part-time, 2-5 days per week - Responsible for meeting with teaching staff, assisting lead teacher in care of children ages 2-6 years old, and participation in occasional festivals and fundraisers.  Experience with children is preferred.


Cook - Part-time - Monday-Friday - Responsible for meeting with teaching staff, purchasing food items, and planning & preparing all meals including morning snack, lunch, and afternoon snack for all school operating days and any necessary festivals and/or fundraisers.  Must have experience cooking with organic, whole foods.


All prospective employees must complete a background check and receive clearance from the Department of Human Services in order to be eligible for hire.


To submit a resumé and cover letter, please contact Acacia Moore at



Toasted Coconut Pops

1 1/2 cups (125 g) unsweetened desiccated coconut
1 (13.66 fl oz/403 ml) can unsweetened full-fat coconut milk or coconut cream
2-6 Tbsp (20-60 ml) pure maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
pinch fine sea salt

Preheat oven to 325F.
Spread the coconut out in an even layer on a baking sheet and bake until golden, about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so. 
In the meantime, whisk together the coconut milk, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and sea salt (or mix in blender).
Once coconut is toasted, stir it in and then pour mixture into popsicle molds.
Gently tap the mold a couple times on a hard surface to help any air bubbles escape, then insert the sticks.
Transfer to the freezer overnight (or minimum 3-4 hours.)

Berry Coconut Pops

1 (13.66 fl oz/403 ml) can unsweetened full-fat coconut milk or coconut cream
2-6 Tbsp (20-60 ml) pure maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
pinch fine sea salt
2 cups fresh (or frozen/unsweetened) berries

Place all ingredients in blender and and mix until well combined.
Pour into popsicle molds and freeze overnight (or at least 3-4 hours). 



A few hints:
These recipies both yield about 8-10 pops.  
To easily unmold the popsicles, dip the bottoms of the molds into hot water until they slide out. 
Be sure not to fill the molds over the "fill" line, since liquid expands as it freezes.
If you don't have molds, you can use paper cups.  Freeze for about an hour (until porridge-like consistency) then insert popsicle sticks.
If you're serving them more than 48 hours after making them, you can keep them tidy by wrapping securely in waxed paper or plastic wrap.

For extra decadence, add one of the following:
~ chocolate coating (1/4 coconut oil + 3/4 c chopped quality chocolate -- melt in double boiler, then dip fully-frozen and unmolded pops in.  Then refreeze.)
~ 2-4 Tbsp cocoa powder
~ 1/4 c grated dark chocolate 


Recipes from LifeWays Asheville


Amy Gerassimoff
LifeWays North America