Out Of The Frying Pan

….and into the fire I leap.  You can see my controversial opinion of the RIE movement that is making inroads into Waldorf Early Care here :  http://christopherushomeschool.typepad.com/blog/2010/03/review-a-warm-and-gentle-welcome-a-wecan-publication.html

For those of you who have not heard of this movement, here is the beginning part of the review I wrote that explains what is happening:

A Review: “A Warm and Gentle Welcome: Nurturing Children from Birth to Age Three”

“This is the Gateways Series Five book which consists of a series of articles compiled from the work of the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America RIE/Pikler Working Group. I bought this book because I am a Waldorf homeschooling mother with an extreme interest in the Early Years. Also, as a neonatal/pediatric physical therapist, I really wanted to understand more about the RIE/Pikler approach that is seems to be becoming part of the world of Waldorf for children from birth to age three.

Unfortunately, I found I had more questions than answers after reading this book than when I started.

The underlying assumption of this book is laid out in an article of Introduction by Trice Atchinson and Margaret Ris: that there is a growing conviction within the Waldorf movement to “respond to the needs of the times” (ie, child care for younger and younger children) and because Rudolf Steiner’s indications for working with children and adolescents in Waldorf schools had been put to practical use for many decades, little existed on how best to meet the needs of children at the very beginning of life – particularly in light of societal trends such as daycare, single parenting, dual working families and the isolation of at-home mothers.” Therefore, a working group associated with WECAN began to investigate Resources for Infant Educarers, or RIE, founded by Magda Gerber, as a resource for the child at the beginning of life.”

To read the whole review I wrote, please see the link above.  I have grave and serious concerns about this approach, which my review details.

For those of you looking at Waldorf early, early care (for birth to age three), please do a bit of research regarding this issue and see how you feel about it; really talk to the provider and see what approach they use within their care.  This way you can make the best decision for your family.




9 thoughts on “Out Of The Frying Pan

  1. Great article Carrie! You have said a lot of the things that my family has been thinking for a long time as well.
    The need for some Waldorf schools to incorporated the younger child is getting a bit out of hand I think. This was one of the main reasons why we decided to homeschool.

  2. Oh wow. I need a whole article to talk about this myself. As a childcare provider, attachment style parent and waldorf homeschool mom- i’m starting to realize some very interesting things.
    First of all, I can not attachment childcare. So whereas I want a firm and loving connection with the child- I must set limits not to create the wrong strong bond. Where, I might carry my own child all day, or hold or sleep with them– these are not the needs of a babe in my care. Which leads to the next.
    I have noticed,through the years,that many babies when separated from mom in the very early months would prefer if you wrap and care for them- then leave them alone to sleep ( and sometimes even eat). I believe it is less stressful for them. Not all babies are like this and you can tell by the cry after years of experience. ( this is very stressful as the provider, you think your not giving enough)
    But most of what is waldorf still applies. And if you read Penelope Leache’s new book on childcare in America, you’ll see the need.
    I, of course, believe in a home care, single provider. A commitment between provider and parent to work together in the raising of the child, to work closely, and to recognize the providers love for the child is very important.
    The hardest part is that so many places are pushing for formal education earlier and earlier. Parents often want to know what the kids are learning.
    My favorite quote ” A happy childhood lasts forever”
    mindful care, understanding, and refrain from judgement is our responsibility as grown-ups.

    • Sherene, It is folks like you who are forging the path….Nokken is an interesting model as well, and Lifeways training…no clear path yet…
      Excellent points.
      Many blessings,
      Carrie 🙂

  3. Hi Carrie,
    This is the first critically constructive perspective I’ve read that comes out of the Waldorf approach, so Thank you!
    I have read Magda Gerber’s books, and took a RIE workshop when I was pregnant with my first child. I must say that found the caregiving approach full of love and warmth and joy. In all caregiving…the dressing and holding (indeed even in how you pick up your baby) and bathing, etc…the importance was placed on respecting and loving and recognizing the baby/child where they are at and CONNECTING with them there. I totally loved watching my children learn to develop their gross motor skills on their own and, at the same time, always being there for them. There are some things about the approach I don’t agree with…and have over the years felt deep regret over letting our first born cry to sleep…but overall I’ve found the approach compatible and easy to transition into Waldorf kindy/preschool ways. I think the “self-confident” part grows out of the gross motor skill development…that children can develop confidence in themselves and other qualities like balance and trust as babies that carry forward into their lives for a long time to come. Respecting the dreamy quality of the young child, the pictoral language of songs and rhymes, all of this seems and was compatible with the RIE approach.
    I also did a week-long at Sophia’s Hearth with Helle Heckman (Nokken) on developing a childcare program for ages 1-7. The love and joy among the caregivers was profound; in fact Helle speaks of deep love for the children as essential and foundational. Her approach also is very much in line with RIE, from my experience. As a “waldorf” home- caregiver for young children 2-7, I’ve found the insights of RIE/Pickler and Nokken, very very helpful. What they are doing up at Sophia’s Hearth (Keene, NH), is really worth looking into.
    Again, thanks for bringing this. I just wanted to share my experience. Finding the middle way, the way that feels right in my heart, between RIE and AP has been a struggle…but a fruitful one!

  4. well, for myself, I would have been GRATEFUL for a waldorf daycare for my daughter.

    We were in a traditional daycare, and while they did everything I asked for (no time inthe exasauser, no tv, no music all the time, only give my food, my bottles of breasmilk etc) it still had challenges…like plastic toys and total overstimulation

    And I like this place and still like these people who run it. They are just using a different pedagogy.

    STaying home full time with emerson is not an option we can explore now…so we needed childcare when she was 6 months old

    When steiner invented his pedagogy and philosohy, it was a different time. A time when there WAS someone to stay home with children…and extended family to help. This no longer exists as we move into economies that require 2 working adults and nuclear families

    Better, I think, to allow the philosophies of Steiner to be integrated to serve more children, not fewer.

    I’d love to see more waldorf and waldorf inspired schools, not fewer. Of course, my desire is a selfish one…wishing I would have had more options with Emerson…and wondering what will happen when she is of school age (no waldorf schools within my driving distance).

    This should not be a pedagogy for the elite. It shoudl be open to everyone…unfortunatally, it isn’t all that accessible currently, for a bunch of reasons.

  5. oh and I’ll add — Emerson’s care providers LOVED her…really and truly loved her. We all cried when we left…and her current nanny was a former teacher…and she LOVES emerson

    They take excellent care of babies…and their devotion to the children is obvious…so I agree with you, Carrie, love and warmth are important…

    We recoginzed that that far outweight the problems we had with pedagogy.

    we finally HAD to do something, since in the preschool room, TV is allowed (though rarely used)…but we just weren’t ready to compromise on that…and “academics” (like flash cards for colors) were heavily utilized…again..not something we wanted to compromise on at the moment.

    • Remember too, this review wan’t so much about Waldorf in childcare but should RIE be part of Waldorf in childcare…
      Excellent points though!

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