Fresh Spring Greetings from Cynthia
Cynthia and Grandchildren
Dear Friend,

My letter is going to be brief(er) this time because I really REALLY want you to read the whole newsletter, and I know how full your lives are and that time to sit and read is not easy to come by! 

Please read it in installments if that helps; but please do read it.  I love that the Ages and Stages articles are not only about child development...

Please enjoy this video where I share the story of meeting Fred Rogers (of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood).
At this meeting I experienced the "birth" of my latest online course, Discipline with Loving Awareness
(which will be offered again in 2019!).
His words of wisdom are still 'enough'. ~ Cynthia
Potty Training – A lesson in “Educating the Will” 
by Marijke Kemble
Each time I’ve potty trained my girls - at some point - I end up in tears and find certain evidence of my inadequacy as a parent. It usually gets so bad - and I should tell you I am a generally confident and competent person - that I begin to suspect someone else, anyone else, is more qualified to raise my children.

Potty training has messed with my mindset because I let pop culture take up too much space – crowding out basic tools and concepts we learn from Lifeways, Waldorf, and Rudolf Steiner insights. Fortunately, the recent gift of some gentle guidance about “educating the will” got me back on track.

The mainstream articles, books, and stories about potty training that I read over the years suggested...

LifeWays and Positive Transformation in My Work
by Lynn Coalson
“Often when you think you are at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something new” Fred Rogers

“Mrs. Coalson, You need sit perfectly still. Do not move at all. I have some very serious news to tell you. The x-rays show fractures in your vertebrae, from C3 to T 1. One of those is a burst fracture, so DON’T MOVE!

“What? Are you sure? I know what a broken bone feels like, and this does not hurt that bad. I’ll be fine. Just wrap it in something and I’ll go home. I am a teacher and school begins next week and I have lots to do. Thanks for your time, I’ll be going now.”
Yes, I was going… in an ambulance to the Trauma ward, to await emergency surgery!

What began as enjoying a quiet sunset from the Lifeguard chair (my evening ritual for 23 years), ended in a loud garish nightmare...
The Sense of Touch and the Will of the Young Child
by Acacia Moore
The sense of touch beholds a beautiful paradox. Through it we come to an awareness that we are separate from the world, from the cosmos that surrounds us; yet, as we experience it, we also follow a deep longing to reconnect with it. The more intimately we connect through touch, the more we realize how very separate, how very distant we actually are. An example that best explains this for me is a feeling I have towards my sons when they are very young. It’s a love and devotion that is also a sad yearning that makes me want to eat them up so I can have them back inside me. Touching them- holding, rocking, caressing, kissing- not any of it seems to be enough because I know deeply that they are not of me anymore. 
In his book Our Twelve Senses , Albert Soesman explains...
LifeWays Early Childhood Center
Milwaukee, WI
Child care centers work within the context of many complex, dynamic relationships. The center’s identity is shaped by these relationships; from the interpersonal relationships between the caregivers, children and parents to the larger social, historical and cultural context of the community they serve.  Child care centers that work outside the norms of conventional early childhood education, like LifeWays, may find themselves serving a niche market of like-minded individuals. Working within such a tight-knit community of families with shared values and interests has many benefits as well as a few drawbacks. The community within the center is characterized by strong bonds, dedication, high involvement and shared visions and ideals. However, this like-mindedness can also be a barrier that inhibits our ability to reach out into the broader world to share our vision.   
         Many child care accreditation and assessment models focus on child evaluations, assessments and portfolios. At LifeWays Milwaukee, we have always valued child observation. However, our approach was more Presence than Documentation. Mindful presence, objective observation, reflection and meditation are regular practice among LifeWays Master Caregivers. One of the assignments in my LifeWays Early Childhood Certification was to observe children in my care over an extended period. We were asked to note our observations in six specific areas for each child: Movement, Speech, Listening, Sleeping and Waking, Social Interaction and Play. My approach to the assignment was reflective documentation. I knew that jotting down notes while caring for the children would not allow me to be as present as I needed to be, so I saved my reflections for later in the day when the children were no longer in my care. 
After working with the observational tool that the LifeWays Training provided for a while, I realized that it was a helpful way to prepare for parent-teacher conferences. As a new, apprentice caregiver, I would arrive at Parent-Teacher Conferences with a standard “Ages and Stages” printout in hand. This generic document served as a reference point if parents had questions about their child’s development. However, much of the content of those Ages and Stages documents were trivial (i.e. measurable). “At ___ age, your child will be able to stack _____ blocks.” I found that combining my reflective observations from the LifeWays Training with the standard Ages and Stages charts, I could form a cohesive picture for parents about my observations of their child’s development. 
Many years ago, our former director, Mary O’Connell approached the staff about the possibility of LifeWays creating our own observation and assessment tool. We were looking for a way to meet the increasingly prominent impulse to document and assess the development of the very young child while continuing to honor the unique individuality of each child. As the assessment tool came to fruition, I was grateful to move beyond the simplistic “Ages and Stages” charts and have something meaningful to share with parents. Like the written observations, I used the new tool to guide my reflections on the children’s development. I brought the observations and assessments along to parent conferences for reference. But, most often, our conversations were a time for sharing reflections about their child. 
Sometimes, a caregiver will pass along their observations from over the years to the parents of a child who is heading off to school. It is interesting to look back and see how the child’s individuality shines through in each phase of their young life. Recently, I revisited my Child Observations and Reflections from more than 10 years ago. They were delightful to read and I couldn’t resist sending them to the parents. It was wonderful to reconnect with old friends and look back on when their teens were tots at LifeWays. It is an honor to observe how they have developed over the years, from both near and far. 

Jaimmie Stugard, LifeWays Milwaukee Director
...and KinderHouse Teacher began at LifeWays in 2002.

A lifelong caregiver, Jaimmie has been caring for children since she was a preteen. She was introduced to LifeWays as a college student, when she was welcomed into the center to complete her student observation. She was so inspired by LifeWays philosophy and practices that she asked to volunteer. Before long, she was offered a position as a caregiver. Many years later, she was honored to step into the role of director when LifeWays Milwaukee’s founder, Mary O’Connell, moved on to work extensively with LifeWays North America, training early childhood educators across the country in LifeWays unique approach to child care.

Jaimmie continues to work directly with the children as the KinderHouse teacher. She also teaches music and is a guest lecturer in the Midwest LifeWays Training. She has served on LifeWays Board of Directors since 2003.
Jaimmie completed the LifeWays Early Childhood Certification in 2006 and has earned her Child Care Administration Credential through UW-Milwaukee. She is a wife and mother of two lovely young children and resides in Bay View. She is an avid reader, storyteller, musician, artist and nature enthusiast. She enjoys hiking, camping, singing, homemaking, gardening, crafting and the good company of her friends, neighbors and family.    
Observing Young Children
A Tool for Meaningful Assessment
For use with children 0-5 Years
by Mary O'Connell
Observing Young Children is a stunning, full-color book with lots of photos as examples of the archetypal development of the young child.

At last, a research-based tool for meaningful developmental assessment based on the whole child. This tool is specifically tailored for use by early childhood teachers and care providers who embrace and honor the spirit of the developing child, as found in Waldorf education and other child-centered models of care and education.
Observing Young Children is an open-ended assessment tool that you can tailor to your own needs.
Observing Young Children offers a system of meaningful observation , a tool for recording observations, and research-based timelines for 33 areas of child development across five domains (Social/Emotional, Physical, Cognitive, Language and Approach to Learning).
Teachers and caregivers,  use this tool to record observations of children in your care, help to determine where children may need extra support, prepare for parent-teacher conferences, or simply to use as a reference. 

"I have been using (Observing Young Children) for my spring parent conferences and it is amazing how much I have learned and now better understand my children. Thank you!" ~ Barbara N., R.I.
Parents, use this tool to follow the timeline of your child's development and provide just the right support for your child's emerging skills.
This assessment tool has been state approved in Wisconsin and used by our LifeWays Early Childhood Center colleagues
in Milwaukee since 2015!
LifeWays Representative Programs enjoy the highest level of recognition. Their approach to working with children and families is based on concepts taught in the LifeWays training with particular emphasis on Rudolf Steiner’s research on human development. All primary caregivers in Representative Programs have completed the LifeWays training or its equivalent or are currently enrolled in LifeWays training.
Graduates of LifeWays training who become Representative Programs enjoy a monthly video conference.

Regin Dervais, from Nettlewood Playgarden in Palmer, AK writes about her experience with this wonderful opportunity to connect with others in Representative Programs:
Living in a remote area, the representative zoom call allows me the connection I seek for myself and the collaboration needed to strengthen my program. Thoughtful and engaging conversations from colleagues scattered throughout (the US) offers inspiration and insight from accomplished educators who share a common vision and mindfulness in their work. I treasure these moments of kinship and end our conversations with enthusiasm and rejuvenated commitment for my work. I equate our calls to sharing a cup of tea together.   

“A  cup of tea shared  with a friend is happiness tasted and time well spent!”  -Anon
If you’ve been thinking about taking the LifeWays Certification Training, there is no better time to do it.
We’ve been waiting for you. Won’t you join us?
Open new opportunities - both professionally and personally - in the fields of early childhood, parent education and after-school care. Or enrich your life as a parent!

Our one-year , part-time curriculum includes over 200 onsite hours , with independent study and personal mentoring between sessions. It can prepare you to open or transform your own in-home program , classroom or early childhood center. Many parents also enroll to deepen family life.   

There is STILL TIME to save with early registration for upcoming trainings.
See below for details and links!
Norman, OK - begins 8/3/18
LifeWays Certification Training ~ Norman, Oklahoma

Training Dates:
August 3 -11, 2018 (August 3 is evening only)
October 11 -14, 2018
March 16 – 23, 2019
June 1 – 8, 2019

Contact: Shanah Ahmadi, Student Services Director, 405-412-3583
Miami, FL - begins 11/3/18
LifeWays Certificatio n Training ~ Miami, Florida
***NEW** this training offers the first week completely ONLINE !

Training Dates:
November 3-6, 2018 Online
(Students must attend video conferences on November 3 & 4 at specified times)
February 16th (evening only) in person
February 17-20, 2019 In person
April 22-28, 2019 In person
July 13-19 and 21-26, 2019 In person

Contact: Barbara Jiminez , Student Services Director,  305-301-4894
Westport, CT - begins 10/19/18
LifeWays Training ~ Westport, Connecticut

If you've been looking for a retreat getaway to take your LifeWays training, this is it! A beautiful old manor, a short walk from the beach on Long Island Sound, this home even has a swimming pool for you to enjoy during your down time. This beautiful old home near the beach in Westport, CT is an ideal site to immerse yourself in your coursework, form deep connections with your teachers and other students, and still have plenty of space to enjoy solitary reflection.

Training Dates:
October 19 (evening only) - October 26th, 2018
February 23 - March 1, 2019
April 22 - 28, 2019
June 21 - 28, 2019

Contact: Eileen Foley, Student Services Director, (203) 794-2983
Developing Therapeutic Deepening in our Work with Young Children-Cultivating Heart Wisdom in the Teacher
Coming to Kimberton, PA:

An amazing four-day course for early childhood teachers with Laurie Clark!

June 26-29, 2018
8:30 – 4:30

Kimberton Waldorf School, Kimberton, PA

To Enkindle the Soul of Another- A format for Child Observation and Contemplation
To enkindle warm interest for a child creates enthusiasm for their very existence. We will explore a format designed for Early Childhood teachers that deepens and enhances our capacities to understand the contemporary children in our care. We will gain a widened perspective of the child through reflecting on their movements, behaviors and their revealing drawings as well as other aspects that guide us to a healing response.

Adventures in Circle time as Therapeutic Modality
Circle time with young children provides the teacher with a great opportunity for intervention using therapeutic measures. We will practice circle adventures and discuss the various aspects of hygienic possibilities as well as explore the observations of movements we see the children do in our care.

COST : $495 includes snacks, lunches and all supplies.
Friends! If you have ever read any of Laurie Clark's articles or heard her speak, you already know what a gifted educator she is. Her insights into meeting the needs of children with loving interest and observation are amazing, and all that she teaches in her adult education courses come out of her personal experience and deep study. It is true "Heart Wisdom".
This is one of those workshops that can change your life and your work with young children forever. Please spread the word to any and all of your friends who are involved with LifeWays and Waldorf early childhood education. This is one of our deepening workshops, and we hope to start offering more such in-depth courses in the future.
AND - Kimberton Waldorf School in June is gorgeous! AND - working with Chinyelu Kunz in handwork and John Holmes with therapeutic eurythmy is icing on the cake!
Remember: LifeWays always works with our students generously in setting up payment plans. Not everyone can pay the full workshop fee in one payment. We are more than happy to set up a plan for you to pay it out over time. 

Warmly, Cynthia
If needed, contact Michael Aldinger to arrange a payment plan.
Scheduled Courses
The L ivin g Arts
Cornerstones of Care for the Young Child
(birth – six) and for Yourself
with Cynthia Aldinger and Mary O’Connell

May 30- June 30, 2018

15 CEUs

Join Cynthia and Mary for a four-week course exploring ways to use the Living Arts as the cornerstones for a solid foundation of learning for the young child and enrichment for your own life. Each week we will explore one of the Living Arts in detail and you will learn how to bring these activities into your life with young children, whether at home or in programs.

Includes The Living Arts Journal for your exploration of the concepts!
Home as the Model, Life as the Curriculum
Our most popular course with Cynthia Aldinger and Mary O’Connell

September 5 – October 6, 2018

15 CEUs

Have you wanted to learn more about the magic of LifeWays? Join Cynthia and Mary for a four-week course exploring how the best curriculum for the young child springs from life itself. Learn how Life, the Child, the Adult and the Environment all form the perfect learning ground for the young child.

Includes the book,  Life is the Curriculum!
On-Demand Courses
family, table, food, kitchen
Creating Your Family Culture
An Elemental Approach

Created by Mary O’Connell for parents of children from birth to 21.

We don’t always pay much attention to culture, but it’s always there. It holds us, sustains us, and informs the way we act, feel and think about the world. Wouldn’t you love to create the conditions in your home that help each family member live your shared values in a positive way with life-affirming practices?

The course uses the four elements of earth, water, air and fire as a starting point from which to create your own positive family culture based on your values.
Healthy Home Rythmns

This popular online course, developed by Kerry Ingram at Mothering Arts, supports you to create a balanced home rhythm rooted in presence and joy.

Create a more connected home life with the help of this inspiring, step-by-step, course that you can do any time and access again and again as the seasons—and your family—change.

Create time for fun, home-care, family traditions, self-care and nourishment.
Creating Home Away from Home :
A Course for Home Childcare Providers

This on-demand, at-your-own-pace, online course will help you open your own early childhood program at home providing relationship-based care steeped in LifeWays Principles.

25 CEUs

$99 for the online course, OR
$199 for the online course AND three (3) hours of private consulting (phone or video conference) with Mary O’Connell to assist you with your unique childcare business needs.
Newman Foundation Grant awarded to Escuela Popular in San Jose, CA
LifeWays en Español at Escuela Popular in San Jose
By Rosario Villasana, Director, LifeWays en Español
In 2008 a significant conversation between Arline Monks, Development Director at Rudolf Steiner College and Alba Lucia Diaz, Principal at Escuela Popular took place. Dr. Diaz shared her vision for a childcare program for the children of her high school dual language students that would light the way towards a new understanding and quality of care for young children and their families. At the time childcare was provided in classrooms that were either overstimulating or almost bare. A cohesive philosophy to guide and unify teachers was sorely needed. The school was housed in an office building in downtown San Jose with a freeway just overhead. The children’s “playground” was an area in the parking lot where 4-5 parking spaces had been reserved for the children. 
With the support of Newman’s Own Foundation and a commitment from Susan Newman for Steiner based education, a program was developed to train and mentor teachers. Patricia Reguerin, Escuela Popular Executive Director was instrumental to the success of the program providing resources and professional development time to insure the entire teaching team could participate. The San Francisco Waldorf School housed the program in the Kindergarten of Diane David and teachers were able to absorb the beauty, peace and magic of the “Waldorf Kindergarten”. This beginning was...

Congratulations to the first four students who graduated from the LifeWays Training
held in Seoul, Korea
Six of the students came to Boulder at the end of January for the final week of their trainin g under the Direction of Young Sook Kim. In the mornings all the students were able to observe kindergarten, preschool and childcare programs at local Waldorf Schools (Boulder Valley and Shining Mountain), Boulder Waldorf Kindergarten and StarSong LifeWays Childcare. And in the afternoons Cynthia and Rahima taught topics from the LifeWays training.

All of the visitors understood English well enough that translation wasn’t necessary, and discussion took place in both languages with translation. Questions of particular concern were...

Spring Greetings, Living Arts Library and 'Magic Spring' puppet show with students from
LifeWays South Korea
Happy Spring!

My husband and I just got back home to Cincinnati, OH from Seoul, South Korea. We were welcomed back home by beautifully sprouting flowers in our front yard. 

We were so happy to see them sprouting since we had a very unexpectedly cold winter. Seeing the flowers, I could feel the vibes of spring energy. It reminded me of our LifeWays Korea first years’ experience, which we started last spring...

Living Arts Library

From Feb, 2018, five LifeWays Korea social artists have been working hard at a “LifeWays Living Arts library” at an On-Su (Warm Water) public elementary school in Seoul, South Korea. 

This school has over 1,100 students from 1st to 6th grade, encompassing 42 classes.

Once a week, each class comes to the Library in the morning, where students can learn seasonal songs/movement, listen to stories, and make puppets and prepare puppet show with seasonal arts/crafts.
Magic Spring 
Puppet Show

(Retold and Edited by Young Sook Kim)

Cast of Characters:
All Puppets hand made by the class.
Storyteller, Bluebird, Old Man, Young Man, Old Woman, Young Woman, Greedy Neighbor

Hands together
Hands apart
Hands together
We are putting our hands on our lap.
(Lighting a candle)
Fire fairies, come to us
Bring your fire from the sun

STORYTELLER: Once there was an old woodcutter who lived with his wife in a little cottage on the outskirts of a village...

Embracing Early Childhood Education in Tehran, Iran
by Leila Alemi
When I graduated as a Waldorf class teacher from Antioch University, NE, I became one big step closer to the dream of becoming a Waldorf class teacher and take the challenging journey with a group of children from first through eighth grade.

However, destiny had other amazing plans for me...
Views on Ages & Stages from Caregivers in Iran
Aazam Jalali Javaran
When I think of working with an age group that delights me best, I find the year I worked with four year olds as my most enjoyable teaching experience. It was truly delightful to listen to their conversations. I could see each of them trying to encounter the world beyond themselves and meet "The other".
Niloofar Rajabi
I believe being in a mixed-age environment provides a wonderful opportunity for younger and older children to help each other grow. I would always wonder how and why children imitate each other so much. Gradually, I realized in mixed-age settings younger children unconsciously experience the will of their older friends emerging and exploring and applying to the world around them.
Razieh Sanjabi
Fifteen years of working with children before the change of teeth brings me to believe that children who attend mixed-age group settings or children of large families may enjoy the privilege of developing better social skills, such as empathy toward others, reliability, self-esteem, collaboration and reverence for the world and the living beings. They practice problem solving in social encounters naturally while playing, knowing that they have to share a play area or dolls . They learn that by serving others, taking turns and helping each other, everyone can be happy and get a chance to be part of the social life of play and meaningful work. The amazing part is that all of these happen all naturally. 
Fatemeh Molla Abbasi
I work with 5/5 and six years old boys who are getting ready to enter first grade. Each year I am faced with a generation which is more immersed in technology. This reflects in children’s play at the beginning of the year. Usually, they do not know what to do with the simple play stuff such as pieces of cloth and wooden blocks. Nearing the middle of the year the play grows more imaginative. The children begin building houses, shops, ships, restaurants, palaces, airplanes, create farms and become flocks of little farm animals. I enjoy watching them build up on each other’ ideas to make the play more imaginative and joyful. 
LifeWays Editorial by, Mary O'Connell
At the heart of LifeWays’ principles and practices is the concept of relationship-based care, our unwavering commitment to the idea that we humans grow and thrive within the context of warm, consistent relationships. Research and good, old-fashioned common sense support this conviction. Perhaps this is why it is so shocking and dismaying to observe the current trends in the landscape of conventional childcare and early childhood education, where warm, consistent relationships are assumed to be impossible to attain due to high turnover of staff, low wages, profitability, and efficiency. By and large, child care care licensing rules and quality rating systems, created on the foundation of this assumption, overlook relationships and focus instead on filling the void with ”stuff” — curricula, activities, learning materials, manipulatives, and a multitude of things that hang on the wall. If the teacher or caregiver has a college degree it is a real bonus, but the relationship he or she has with the children is considered inconsequential in the grand scheme of measurement and quality assessment. If you’ve been following LifeWays, you know that relationship-based care is a value we have been heralding for a long time.

Imagine our delight when Oprah highlighted...

Employment Opportunities:
Honeycomb Kids of Richmond, Vermont is now accepting applications for lead teachers!
Our core principles are founded in LifeWays, and we use a relationship based model of careOur core principles are founded in LifeWays, and we use a relationship based model of care. This means our relationships with each child and family are significantly more important than toys. Inside the school house, (which is a house), the rhythm of the home is the foundation for our curriculum, and we engage with the children in ‘purposeful work’ such as cooking, cleaning, organizing, self-care, caring for the younger children, gardening, making our own toys and tools as well as planning and investigating relevant subjects over time.. This means our relationships with each child and family are significantly more important than toys. Learn the details of this opportunity in our ad, linked below.

The Playgarden by the Sea of Jacksonville Beach, Florida is looking for an amazing lead teacher!
Calling on compassionate preschool teachers: Come climb the mulberry trees, play at the beach, sing songs, bake bread, create seasonal crafts and prepare organic snacks with our children.

Essential and Required qualifications can be found in our ad, linked below.

***NEW***: For the International community and those who want electronic versions for phone, tablet, or computer display, we are happy to announce that most titles in the
are available for download!
*CDs * Books * DVDs * Forms*
* Convenient * Portable * Accessible *
LifeWays is re-purposing the blog, and we think you are going to  LOVE it!
Practical, Nurturing, Creative and Social Arts for Daily Life
is a weekly blog post that will be delivered right to your email inbox, providing you with inspiration, ideas, reflections and thought-provoking information that you can use right away to bring more joy and purpose to your daily life.
Our community members have asked for this and we listened!
 Make sure you are on the list by clicking the button below.
Serves 6 to 8

When it’s blueberry season and the berries are plump and sweet, this is the cake to bake! It’s a wonderful cake for a birthday celebration or special occasion. Top with whipped, coconut cream!

½ cup oat flour           
1/3 cup unrefined coconut flour (Nutiva)
1 ½ cups Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose gluten free baking flour
½ teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ cup maple syrup
¾ cup water
1 cup fresh blueberries, rinsed and dried
½ cup safflower oil
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Butter and flour a 9” round baking pan.
In a large bowl, combine water, safflower oil, vanilla, maple syrup and apple cider vinegar and whisk. Let rest for 5 minutes to thicken. Sift flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt and add to liquid ingredients. Stir well being careful to not over mix. Add blueberries by gently folding into batter.
Pour batter into baking pan and bake for approximately 40 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let cool before removing from pan.
Serve with whipped coconut cream and fresh blueberries and drizzle with maple syrup.

14 ounce can of full fat coconut milk
½ cup date sugar
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

R efrigerate coconut milk overnight. The cream and liquid will separate, but do not shake. 
On the following day, chill a large mixing bowl for approximately 10 minutes. Remove the coconut milk from the fridge and spoon out the thickened cream on the top layer.
Place the hardened cream in the chilled mixing bowl and beat with a mixer for 30 seconds. Next, add the date sugar and vanilla and mix until it’s creamy and smooth. Adjust sweetness to taste preference.

Nature Weaving Craft
Transform your life with young children!