PRESCHOOL EDUCATION: KEEPING THE MAGIC ALIVE, Preserving The Spiritual Potential of Early Childhood
By Gesine Abraham
ISBN 978-098232554-4, quality paperback, 177 pgs $18.00
Gesine Abraham has worked with pre-school/kindergarten children for over 40 years. Her book, Preschool Education: Keeping the Magic Alive, was written in response to the concerns of parents and teachers. Are children not being unduly pressured into being “super kids”? Are children not losing something vital and precious in the process?
Most parents feel there is something wrong with a system that robs children of their childhood. The author encourages parents to trust their instincts. Drawing on Waldorf Education, perennial wisdom teaching, and child development specialists, the author places the child’s magical consciousness within a broader framework of human potential. From this vantage point, a deeper insight into the inherent purpose and value of early childhood is gained.
The author asks: “Do we really want to place our children on a fast tract to be overly competitive in a materialistic world?”
It is far better to work with and nurture the glow and wonder of childhood rather than erode it prematurely. Working with the glow is what age-appropriate parenting and teacher practices is all about. This provides a spiritual foundation for a more fulfilling life.
Chapter One – Crisis and Transition in Early Childhood Education
The Loss of Childhood — Parents Play a Crucial Role in the Current Crisis — Parental Love is Key to Finding a Healthier New Direction —A Brief Overview of Factors Leading to the Present Crisis — The Child’s Happiness is Consistently the Parent’s Highest Priority
Chapter Two – Modern Culture’s Subversion of the Spirit of Childhood
Jean Piaget’s Findings About the Growth of Intelligence — Children Are Pre-logical or Intuitive before the Age of Seven — In the Pre-Operational Stage the Child has a Magical Worldview — Intellectual Climate of Modern Culture Stifles Magical Consciousness — Over Emphasis on Material Values. — A New Vision of the Meaning of Childhood is Emerging and Gaining in Strength
Chapter Three – Magical Consciousness in Light of Transpersonal Dimensions
Vision of the Human Potential — Stage Beyond Ego Identity — Correspondences Between the Child and the Sage/Genius — The Child’s Passionate Mission of Play
Chapter Four – The Waldorf Kindergarten: Honoring the Spirit of Childhood
Seven-Year Cycles — Joseph Chilton Pearce, Biological Plan for Growth of Intelligence — Feeling Sub-Cycle of Will Cycle: 3 to 5 Years — Impressionability: Receptive Side of Imitation — Play: The Active Side of Imitation — The Child’s Intrinsic Spirituality is the Basis of Imitation — The Responsibility of the Adult is to be a Worthy Model of Imitation — Facilitating Pretend Play is Central to the Waldorf Kindergarten — Thinking Sub-Cycle of the Will Cycle, 5 to 7 years — Developmental Changes in Children’s Questions — The Emotional and Social Life Has Remarkable Similarities to Adolescence
Chapter Five – The Two faces of Childhood: Child-Like and Childish
Basis for Child-Like Quality — Basis for Childish Quality — Snack Time, Both Difficult and Delightful — The Need for a Gentle Waking Up — Questions of Parental Authority — The Wakening Effect of Reasoning with Children — Curriculum Examples which Foster the Unconscious Unity Dimension — Entering the Natural World without Severing the Connection to Wonder — The World of the Fairies, Gnomes and Nature Spirits
Chapter Six – The Value of Fairy Tales
Fairy Tales: An Indispensable Source of Soul Nourishment — Ancient Origin of Fairy Tales — Connection Between Fairy Tale Imagery and Profound Soul Experiences — Universality of Fairy Tale Images and Correspondence to Stage of Unconscious Unity — Example of Soul Experience—The Triumph over the Forces of Nature — Repetition of Fairy Tales and Calm Tone of Voice — Concern about Truthfulness of Fairy Tales — Children “Know” that the Fairy Tale is not about the Ordinary World of Every-day Reality — Fairy Tales, a Validation of the Child’s Experience — Not Advisable to Change or Alter Fairy Tales — The Meaning of the Happy Ending
Chapter Seven – Waldorf and Montessori: Similarities and Differences
General Principles of the Montessori Philosophy — Similarities with Waldorf — The Montessori Didactic Materials — Differences Between Waldorf and Montessori — The Vitally Important Feeling Factor — The Value and Meaning of Play — Role of Imagination and Play in the Montessori Method
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Since the 1960’s, Gesine Abraham has been applying Waldorf early childhood principles in a variety of settings, including Head Start, play groups, day care, and private Waldorf schools. She taught kindergarten at a private K-8 private Waldorf school in Southern Oregon for 10 years. Throughout these years, Gesine has also been actively involved in parenting education. She gave parent evenings, workshops, and lectures. She was a founding board member of the Madrone Trail Public Charter School in Medford, Oregon — a school that uses Waldorf inspired methods and curriculum.
Gesine earned her BA degree from the World Program of Long Island University. During her undergraduate studies as a World Program student, she attended the foundation year program at Emerson Waldorf Teacher Training Institute in England. She completed her second year of Waldorf teacher training at the Waldorf Teacher Training Institute in Detroit, Michigan.
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