Letter from Cynthia, Summer 2016

Dear Friends,

I absolutely love this newsletter!  The terms “upside risk” and “downside risk” in Rahima’s article truly resonate with our daily life experiences.  It is such a relief to even read the term “upside risk” considering that any risk at all is given such a bad rap.  I am also grateful that the plight of the elder has come into our LifeWays awareness.  At one time we imagined our work as covering the full span of life.  The world of risk taking has most certainly become an up-close-and-personal experience for me right now.  As my husband Michael continues on his healing journey, I can certainly feel the part of me that wants to hover, to constantly hold on to a belt loop on the back of his jeans as he navigates his walker, and that has to swallow my fear when he takes three or four “free-range” steps sans walker!  Yet every time he has lost his balance or almost fallen nothing catastrophic has happened.  Lessons have been learned, and the freedom to move is most definitely an “upside risk” that must not be denied.   It calls to mind something Rudolf said in 1919 regarding lifelong learning:  “… we have to learn in truth to experience not merely our youth as capable of development but our whole existence between birth and death.”

Again I appreciated Judy’s wisdom words about safety, reminding us that “there is NO formula” and that answers almost always lie in the pause as one considers best action or precaution to take.  Having just returned from a vacation with our adult children and five young grandchildren, I saw this in action.  Our eldest grandchild Ben, almost eight years old and able to swim for many years, jumped off a cliff into the river with his dad and mommy while I floated down below with cautious five-year-old Sam who is still learning to swim.  After his brother jumped, Sam (with arm floaters on) launched off a small boulder to do a mini-cannonball splash.   As an adult it was easy to assess that Ben’s risk was exponentially higher than Sam’s.  Yet each boy felt he had accomplished a big feat.  It is not just what is age appropriate but, as Judy stated, what is child appropriate.  Each awakens at his or her own pace.

I could hear Lynn’s levity-filled voice in my heart as I read her joyful article on Seaside Playgarden’s development of their forest programs.  Congratulations!  I can only imagine that some readers may cringe at the idea of an injury or wasp sting happening on their watch; however, with the warmth and clarity Lynn described in screening which parents are truly prepared to have their children in such a program, one can see the tremendous benefit to all the families when they witness calm and clear processes for dealing with such experiences.

It was fun to read Mary’s article and about half-way through realize that it sounded very familiar to me!  Oh yes, it was in the book we co-authored.  Funny how I never tire of reading Mary’s writings!  If you have not read it before, it is worth heeding her advice regarding how to meet the culture of fear to which some licensing specialists and parents are subjected.

It is also wonderful to see Yael’s KULANU program being featured.  I was privileged to do her mentor observation a year or so ago and had such a sweet time.  I’m equally happy to see the “chart of equivalencies” made available to everyone.  This was completed for us by a young woman with a Ph.D. with whom we are also conferring about two very different sorts of projects.  One is her work to encourage state child care registries to start opening up to alternative childcare trainings, and the other is the consideration of how to create healthy, relationship-based child care for our armed services families.

Finally, I am always amazed to see all that is happening through our little, but growing, organization.  Sometimes I feel we are like the mouse who roared – small yet mighty.  It must have something to do with all of you and the students who find their way to us!  Our tried and true workshops, embedded in our training courses, are always inspiring, along with offerings such as Kerry’s Mothering Arts and the online courses that Mary is busy developing for people all over the world.  I have heard that there are other exciting ideas on our August board agenda!  One disappointment we had to face this week, however, is that the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America has just changed the criteria for their path to membership for training organizations.   Although our application to WECAN to offer our Early Childhood Teacher Education Program at Kimberton was warmly received this past spring and we proceeded forward with enrollment, we recently received notice that their new policy excludes us from being able to become a WECAN-approved teacher training.  This was the Continuation Program we were planning to offer for our students wanting to complete their teacher education to become Waldorf early childhood teachers.  We are sending a letter to our students and graduates with more details about WECAN’s decision and, of course, will be refunding those who have already enrolled.  This decision has no impact whatsoever on our long-time early childhood certificate training for home- and center-based caregivers and preschool teachers, parents, parent-child teachers, kindergarten assistants and nannies.  Although their decision was surprising and disappointing, we are excited about our new trainings and other new possibilities.   

Thank you, Amy and Rahima, for putting together another engaging, informative and wonderful newsletter.  I hope our readers will share it generously.

Blessings of summer to all,