This little book was published this fall and is already proving to be very popular among Waldorf parents. One of its wonderful qualities is its balanced look. Its length of about 200 pages is inviting. Its layout is attractive with enough white space to make reading it a pleasure. Its illustrations by Jean Riordan, who used to assist Barbara Patterson in her home based kindergarten, are delightful. The photographs are simple and work well with the illustrations. While it’s true that you can’t judge a book by its cover, in this case the lovely painting by Jean and the layout of the cover give one a good sense of what is to follow.
Even better than the look of the book, however, is its content and tone. The book is written especially for parents and grows out of four sessions that Barbara led for parents. Barbara is an experienced kindergarten teacher who first taught in Los Angeles at Highland Hall, and then established a lovely home program, River Park Children’s Garden, in her Chicago home. In recent years she has devoted herself to the development of the Great Oaks School in Evanston, Illinois.
The main sections of the book contain questions and answers between the parents and Barbara. These focus on raising healthy children, play, the twelve sense and discipline. There is a very practical chapter on parent-child classes which will be a help to teachers starting out with that work, and there are practical appendices at the back of the book.
Barbara’s voice as a kindergarten teacher speaks in this book. There is warmth and caring and a healthy dose of common sense about the needs of children and families. The opening chapter, which describes her childhood, full of healthy rhythm and much love, sets the tone. Throughout the book she is able to impart that which is healthy for children while recognizing the difficulties of achieving it in modern life. She does not preach but manages to inspire.
The book is co-authored by Pamela Bradley, a writer and Waldorf parent who says she had longed for such a book when her own child entered a Waldorf School: ” … a small book, readable, kept on the night stand to explore in small doses each night.” We can be grateful that she helped to create such a book and allowed Barbara’s voice to speak through so gently and clearly. Congratulations to all who created this book.
Co-Chair, Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America, WECAN
Coordinator, Alliance for Childhood
published in “Gateways” Journal of WECAN, Fall 2000