Jul 032012


“The Challenge of Rudolf Steiner’ is an inspiring film by BBC documentary filmmaker, Jonathan Stedall.  Rudolf Steiner’s contribution to modern day life ranges from a wholistic ecological approach to education to agriculture, medicine, science and art. A comprehensive film for anyone wanting to explore the work of one of the 20th century’s visionary thinkers. Stedall presents Steiner’s life through the eyes of people who lives and work have been inspired by Steiner.

The Challenge of Rudolf Steiner – Trailer from Jonathan Stedall on Vimeo.

The complete film is downloadable for 5 pounds (UK – approx $7-8 US/AUS) by following the links

Part One http://steinerfilm.fetchapp.com/sell/uzeshara

Part Two http://steinerfilm.fetchapp.com/sell/oquoceip

Nov 212011

Forest kindergartens

There is growing evidence about how access to green outdoor spaces helps to develop children’s cognitive ability, foster creative play and relieve symptoms of attention deficit disorder.

In Germany, there are 700 groups of children aged between 3 to 6 years old who spend their days in the woods singing songs, building fires and playing in the mud.  These are called ‘Forest Kindergartens’ or ‘Waldkindergärten’  in which children spend their days outdoors year-round. (1)

The number of German children attending forest kindergartens is increasing.  Local parent groups began setting up ‘forest kindergarten’ programs in the mid-1990s, following similar programs in Denmark and other countries.

In Australia, the Inspir=Ed Spirit of Childhood programs use the principles of connecting children with nature as an integral part of the play and learning environments. Many parents select Steiner Waldorf kindergartens which have natural settings in which the children can play and learn.

In the U.S. a private Waldorf School in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., opened a forest kindergarten requiring students to spend three hours outdoors each day. A teacher at the school observed the benefits of outdoor learning….”students’ improved motor skill development, they worked out their social issues in a better way and they had more imaginative play”. (2) Another U.S. program. The Mother Earth kindergarten, opened in Portland, Oregon last year to combat “early academic fatigue syndrome”.  Marsha Johnson who launched the kindergarten said “We have 5-year-olds who are tired of going to school.”  The children spend four hours a day at the privately run school playing in a state park forest.

Research reported in May 2008 showed that U.S. many children in day care programs were not playing outdoors.  Richard Louv, in ‘Last Child Left in the Woods’  reflects how children have been shepherded indoors at the expense of their wellbeing.

‘eco parenting – growing greener children’  is an excellent book that provides evidence based research on why going back to nature is good for children.

1. Mike Esterl, ‘German Tots Learn to Answer Call of Nature’  Wall Street Journal,  http://on.wsj.com/v6VI8y

2. Sarah Amandolare, ‘US Schools Realizing Benefits of Forest Kindergartens’  http://bit.ly/u9fOPs



Sep 062011


Delta Kay, Byron Bay Arakwal spokesperson, works as a Aboriginal Family Support Worker with the Bunjum Aboriginal Cooperative in Northern NSW, Australia. She describes the phenomenal change in the behaviour of children when all the plastics were removed from playgroup and replaced with natural wooden toys and other natural materials at the launch of the eco parenting book series in Byron Bay in August, 2011.

“We packed away all the plastic and brought out all the wood and everything changed. Their children’s behaviour changed and I watched how the parents changed. Parents couldn’t believe their children’s behaviour by putting plastic away.

In 2009 the Bunjum Aboriginal Cooperative, Ballina, Northern NSW, invited Jane Hanckel and the Inspir=Ed project to run a nine week parent education program along with a professional development program for Aboriginal health and early childhood professionals.  Following a makeover of the playgroup room which involved throwing out old toys and equipment, painting the playgroup room a soft calming light pink and packing away all the plastic the parents and children were welcomed by the quite calming environment.  Over the nine weeks parents and children learnt new parenting skills in a warm and supportive environment.  As Delta describes, the changes in the behaviour of the children and parents was extraordinary.  From running around and climbing the walls the children played happily and cooperatively with each other.  The children and parents learnt new songs and foods to eat creating a stronger sense of connection to each other and the community.

The work with Delta, Bunjum and other communities was one of the inspirations for Jane to write ‘eco parenting – growing greeener children’.  “I witnessed at Bunjum and other communities how by simply changing the environment by removing plastics and creating calm and nurturing spaces the relationship and behaviour of children and parents change.  In a world where children are increasingly being medicated for dysfunctional behaviour, it is so important to look at the environments along with diet and lifestyle, before resorting to medical intervention.”

Jane Hanckel and Thanh Cherry, international Steiner Waldorf early childhood educator, run training workshops for health and early childhood professionals.  Jane co-founded the Spirit of Childhood Foundation to run Inspir=Ed programs in communities across Australia.