June 2023

Dear colleagues and friends,

We end this school year with gratitude and admiration for the work of Waldorf early childhood educators in North America during this rich and challenging year and eager anticipation for opportunities for rest, rejuvenation, and renewal in the coming summer months.

Before the summer begins, we hope that you will find a few moments to spend reading this News Update, which is packed with news and reports, words of inspiration, a plea for support, and information on upcoming events.

Thank you for your colleagueship and support!

Warm wishes,

Susan Howard, WECAN Coordinator


Holly Koteen-Soule, WECAN Early Childhood Research Group 

It is clear that there are two seemingly opposing impulses at work in our age. One is the need for each of us to fulfill our individual destiny and the other is to balance individual egoism by creating structures that support our working together towards mutual good.


Rudolf Steiner spoke to the teachers of the first Waldorf School about the importance of working consciously in trust with one another, despite the obvious and inevitable challenges, to manifest the spirit of sister/brotherhood that is hovering above us in the spiritual world.


In the United States, the ideal of Beloved Community has long served as an inspiration for the current generation of social activists. For bell hooks, the African American activist, “Beloved Community is formed not by eradication of difference but by its affirmation, by each of us claiming the identities and cultural legacies that shape who we are and how we live in the world.”

Click here for the full article, an excerpt from an upcoming book by the WECAN EC Research Group

WECAN Board in Spring Valley, NY in May, from left to right

Front Row: Ruth Ker, Gabriela Nuñez Plata, Magdalena Toran, Anjum Mir. Back Row: Heather Church, Louise deForest, Susan Howard, Adrienne Doucette, Keelah Helwig

WECAN Staff and Project Coordinators in Spring Valley, NY, in May, from left to right

Front row: Susan Howard, Mia Radysh, Lara Radysh, Elia Gilbert. Back row: Melissa Lyons, Heather Church, Laura Mason, Leslie Wetzonis-Woolverton, Lynn Turner


Louise deForest, WECAN Board Chair and Secretary

The WECAN Board met in Spring Valley, NY from May 10 – 13 this year and it was the first time since the pandemic that every member of the Board was able to be present. The joy of working together, face-to-face, was palpable and with our united focus, we were able to have a very productive meeting. The Board also had the pleasure of meeting with the WECAN staff members before our Board meeting, and we were filled with gratitude knowing the extent of their work and, especially, what good will and love for WECAN is behind their work.

One of our most important and exciting decisions was to change the leadership structure of WECAN, moving from one Coordinator to two Co-Directors, starting in July 2023. The Board has elected Heather Church, Board member, Board Committee member, Birth to Three Co-Coordinator, and Board Treasurer, to accompany Susan Howard as a Co-Director of WECAN. See the introduction to Heather in this Update.

At the same time as we welcomed Heather into a new position, the Board said goodbye to Board member Adrienne Doucette. Adrienne has served as the Chair of the Board Committee and facilitated many of our Board meetings, and she will be missed by all of us. Her love of the outdoors and hiking brought a spark of joy to our work, and we are very grateful to her for sharing with us her many gifts and interests.

Adrienne Doucette

In the same breath, as it were, we are delighted to announce that Laura Mason has accepted our invitation to join the Board. Many of you know Laura as the WECAN Membership Coordinator, a position she has capably held in WECAN for nearly 7 years. Laura has attended most of our Board meetings and acted as a facilitator for our meetings already for years, so becoming a Board member seems a very natural next step. Her clarity of thought, commitment to the DEIJ work, and ability to follow through to the very end of a process will be invaluable to our ongoing work of restructuring WECAN.

Click here for the full report.

Laura Mason


A Note from Susan Howard

After many years of longing for a partner, I am so delighted that the WECAN Board has now chosen Heather Church to take up a new WECAN position, beginning in July, when she and I will become Co-Directors of WECAN. I cannot imagine anyone better suited to help guide WECAN at this moment in its development. Heather brings with her many gifts that will support Waldorf Early Childhood Education here in North America and beyond. 

Many of you have already met and worked with Heather, particularly in her role as WECAN Birth to Three Coordinator in recent years. For those who have not yet had the pleasure of getting to know Heather, I would like to introduce her to you. 

Click here to read more.

Heather Church

Greetings to the WECAN Community from Heather Church

I would like to express my deep enthusiasm and gratitude for the opportunity to serve WECAN in this new collaborative leadership role with Susan Howard. It is an honour to have the chance to contribute to such a remarkable organization, using the skills and experiences I have accumulated over a lifetime.

Working alongside the board and the dedicated staff at WECAN, and engaging with the broader community, is a prospect that fills me with great anticipation. Together, we can strengthen and grow the work of WECAN in these ever-changing times.

For me, Waldorf education and anthroposophy provide profound meaning and purpose to education and life. At the early childhood conference in Dornach in 2019, an inspiring image emerged—a picture of the walls created to protect Waldorf education in the twentieth century and recognizing that they now need to be taken down. They now need to be re-created to become permeable membranes that allow Waldorf education to extend outward into the world and enable the world to enter into Waldorf education. I wish to be of service in meeting the ever-changing needs that lie ahead of us in this dynamic world. I am passionate about deepening our understanding of Waldorf education to address the challenges and opportunities the future brings us.

Thank you once again for this opportunity. I eagerly await the chance to collaborate with the board, the staff, and the wider community to realize the vision of WECAN and make a meaningful difference in the lives of the children.

Warmly, Heather


Laura Mason, Membership Coordinator

The Membership Office has been very active with applications and renewal processes this year. Self-studies and site visits have revealed that many programs are still recovering from disruptions caused by the pandemic, and that most are focusing attention in some way on Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access. The commitment amongst early childhood educators to try to meet the current needs of families, amidst continued change, is clear. I commend all of you working in childcare, schools, and home programs for your dedication to such important work!

Since my report in March, the following schools have completed membership processes:  

  • The Juniper School in Columbus, Ohio, founded in 2014, is a new Associate Member providing early childhood programming from caregiver and child classes through kindergarten, as well as grade school through grade 6. Please join us in welcoming them as new members of WECAN. I invite you to take a look at the Juniper School Website to learn more about our newest member.

  • Sunfield Farm and Waldorf School in Port Hadlock, Washington, founded in 2006, applied for and attained Full Membership status this spring! They now stand as representatives of Waldorf Early Childhood Education worldwide. They provide preschool, kindergarten, and grade school programs on an 81-acre property that includes at 7-acre Biodynamic farm. Congratulations on reaching Full Membership, Sunfield! Learn more about the school, the farm, and the land here

Click here to read the full report.

The Juniper School in Columbus, OH

Welcome to Peggy Tan, new WECAN Regional Rep in the Pacific Northwest, British Columbia 


Ruth Ker, Teacher Education Coordinator

This year, much conversation has happened at both the monthly North American Teacher Education and International Teacher Education Network zoom meetings about working with the students of our time and the relationship of anthroposophy to our work. On the home front we continue to carry the questions “Post covid, what is the new normal?” “ Are students learning in the same way in our times and, if not, what shifts do the teacher trainers need to make to meet the needs of the teachers of our time?”

Meanwhile, all of the North American member institutes have returned to in-person training and some have made decisions to carry a small percentage of their courses online. The feasibility of teaching a small percentage of Waldorf EC courses online will be a topic of future conversation in the new school year. Our colleagues in TEDC (AWSNA’s Teacher Education Delegates Circle) have labored long and hard over this decision. This is an important question being carried by all educators and our EC colleagues in North America will be asked to weigh in on this in an upcoming survey this year.

Click here to read the full report.


Lynn Turner and Leslie Wetzonis-Woolverton, Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access Coordinators

As the 2022-2023 school year comes to its close, we are filled with deep gratitude for the ongoing work and commitment to inclusion, diversity, equity, and access within our schools and communities. As always, we welcome everyone on this expanding journey of learning, unlearning, and growth toward a kinder, more compassionate society.

In August, we will host a Zoom event on our work towards Right Relationship, to help launch the new school year. Future Zoom events, conferences, and other WECAN resources will offer opportunities to continue conversations on this blossoming and growing initiative. Two large questions we desire to carry together are ”What and who is a Waldorf educator?” and “How can we all feel safe, seen, and joyful in our own skin?” 

Please continue to email us with topics that would support our ongoing growing work together. Thank you all and Happy Summer!

Click here for the full report.


We are deeply grateful for the generosity and goodwill of our colleagues, friends, and donors and would like to present you with a picture of the highlights of WECAN’s activity in 2021.

Click here to read the full report.


Nancy Blanning

Dear Colleagues and Friends,


I was lucky enough to attend the World Teachers’ Conference in Dornach this April and came back inspired, energized, sobered, serious and concerned. Almost every keynote presentation confirmed the importance of the first seven years as a unique and critical developmental phase for creating a healthy foundation for the rest of life. This was an enormous affirmation and confirmation of the importance of Waldorf early childhood work.


I came home sobered and serious because the whole Waldorf world is acknowledging that children have been seriously thwarted from growth and socialization because of pandemic deprivations. Children are developmentally younger by 1-2 years than their chronological ages. Teachers are frustrated because the children cannot receive our beautiful early childhood offerings since they are not where we could have previously expected them to be by their chronological ages. We are doing all the right things with rhythm and routine, predictability, etc., and it does not seem to be making enough difference.

I think it fair to say everyone has been traumatized to some degree by the pandemic and that we need to offer the children, families, and ourselves what is being called trauma-informed pedagogy. This is a kind of mini-emergency pedagogy that scoops back to where the children were dropped from their usual developmental path and companions them forward. This is not a replacement of our usual, rich, wise pedagogy but an enrichment. We can think of this as giving someone who has been ill and needs to rebuild their forces extra, nutritious snacks in addition to our regular meals. 

Collectively, we are a community rich in resources such as these which we can share with one another. To that end, you are warmly invited to submit submissions for the FALL GATEWAYS 2023.  

These can be little stories, movement vignettes, hand gesture games to be used at transition times or settling for circle or mealtime, all with especially engaging sounds, healing stories, circle ideas, or verses with interesting sounds to stimulate listening and speech development. 

Click here for other suggested topics and submission details.


Susan Howard, WECAN Coordinator

Steiner/Waldorf early childhood educators representing more than 30 countries attended a semi-annual IASWECE Council meeting in April near Dornach, Switzerland, during the week before the World Teachers and Educators Conference at the Goetheanum.

The Council continued its study of diversity awareness, discussed the current world situation and how Waldorf early childhood programs in specific countries are affected, and looked ahead to the celebration of 100 years of Waldorf Early Childhood Education in 2026.

Click here to read more about the Council meeting and issues around the world.

IASWECE Council, Liestal, Switzerland April 2023


There are many summer workshops, introductory courses, and training programs being offered this summer.

For a list of offerings click here.



Covid-19 Pandemic: Responses and Consequences in Steiner Waldorf Kindergartens and Early Childhood Settings

by Dr. Neil Boland

In 2022 IASWECE commissioned a research study by Neil Boland of the Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand to explore how Waldorf educators around the world have experienced the pandemic and its effects on the children, the families, and themselves. The report raises questions for further study about what we are learning from these experiences and the implications for our work in the future.

$12 Order Now


Raising Sound Sleepers - Helping Children Use their Senses to Rest and Self-Soothe

By Dr. Adam Blanning

Raising Sound Sleepers is an invaluable resource that will empower parents and carers to guide children towards rest, sleep, and feeling calm – skills that will last a lifetime.

$19. Order Now

Toward a Kinder, More Compassionate Society: Working Together Toward Change

Editor Susan Howard

This collection of keynote presentations by Meggan Gill, Keelah Helwig, and Joaquin Muñoz, as well as a wide variety of workshops from the February 2022 online WECAN Conference, is a timely and stimulating resource for working on Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access in Waldorf early childhood programs and schools.

$19 Order Now

Birth to Three in Education and Care: Rudolf Steiner, Emmi Pikler and the Very Young Child

Editor Heather Church

Birth to Three in Education and Care: Rudolf Steiner, Emmi Pikler, and the Very Young Child shares its title with the theme of the first conference of its kind hosted at Sophia’s Hearth Family Center in Keene, New Hampshire. The keynote speakers explored how Emmi Pikler and Rudolf Steiner inform educators’ work with very young children.

$15 Order Now

Loving care for the child under three

By Helle Heckmann

Twenty-first century pressures on families, imposing long working days on parents and much absence from the family and home, create the classic problem of our times: while creating economic safety and security for their families, how can we give the best we can to the children we love, while also satisfying personal needs as well as the demands of society? This book offers perspectives from several adults who care for young children in diverse ways.

$35 Order Now




Process for Becoming – Creating Spaces for the Children Coming Toward Us

February 9 – 11, 2024 in Spring Valley, NY

Our speakers will include Otsistohkwy:io and Wahsonti:io from Skaronhyase’kó:was, the Everlasting Tree School in Ontario, and Arlene Thorn and Heather Church from New Adult Learning (NAL). NAL colleagues have supported the Everlasting Tree community in going through a process that many schools are longing for and have not been able to find.

The conference is open to those who are active in Waldorf early childhood education, as well as other faculty, administrators, and board members. This conference will offer tools for working together in school communities - please encourage your colleagues to attend the conference with you!

Details will follow on the WECAN website. If you have questions, contact us at [email protected].

We hope that you will join us! 


We are so grateful to you, our colleagues, and friends, who awaken, inspire, and challenge us to grow. We are also so grateful for the financial support you continue to offer WECAN. 

Click here to read more.

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Membership benefits include:

  • A subscription to the Gateways Journal (includes the Fall 2023 and Spring 2024 issues)
  • WECAN News Updates
  • A 10% discount on WECAN book sales
  • Discounts on registration fees at WECAN conferences
  • Regular email messages that include reports on activities, conferences, and WECAN and IASWECE (the International Association of Waldorf/Steiner Waldorf Early Childhood Education) events.

Click here for more information.

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