Does sucking your thumb prevent allergies?

Many books on parenting and child psychology include extensive discussions of the perils of thumb sucking and nail biting, and offer an array of (sometimes bizarre) suggestions to “conquer” these behaviors. Among the many ills attributed to these behaviors are a perceived risk of developing addictive disorders, malformation of developing teeth, speech abnormalities and infections….

The case for free play: TimberNook

An important pillar of Waldorf Education is the emphasis on active play. Starting at parent-child classes, and continuing through the school years, students are encouraged to spend time outdoors—in all weather conditions—to explore and to challenge their mind and bodies. Recess period is no less important than classroom periods. The benefits of free play and…

Minecraft and Waldorf Education?!

Yes, we let our boys adventure with Minecraft, the award winning, addictive video game used by over 100 million people worldwide. Including many of our children’s classmates. And they savor the limited time they are allowed to explore this creative platform. In a recent article in the New York Times, Clive Thompson explores the history…

The benefits of a fountain pen

Josh Giesbrecht, a public school teacher and writer from Canada, in a recent article in The Atlantic, rekindled the discussion on the importance of handwriting (see our posts here, here and here). But, with a twist. Giesbrecht suggests that perhaps it is not digital technology that hinders handwriting and its important benefits to learning and…

Recreating the Sistine Chapel

I led a tour of my daughter’s 7th grade classroom at the Waldorf School of Baltimore yesterday and found the class laying under their desks, in the dark, in silence. Two of the students explained to the group that they were studying Michelangelo, and that he had to lay on his back on scaffolding, working…

More on the importance of handwriting

I previously wrote (and here) and spoke about the importance to learning of taking handwritten notes, and of summarizing concepts with drawings and schematics. A recent article in Psychological Science provides further support for this notion. Researchers at Princeton report that students who took notes on laptops performed worse on conceptual questions than students who…

More on neuroscience and education

I recently wrote about the relatively new advances in education that are informed by parallel advances in neuroscience, and in particularly in brain development. I also pointed out the risks of misinterpreting or selectively choosing (‘cherry picking’) certain neuroscience research findings to support certain educational initiatives. In a recent article The Guardian further explores this…

The use and abuse of neuroscience

As a neuroscientist, and and a proponent of Waldorf Education, I seek evidence-based support for the principles of this education system, and I am particularly intrigued by evidence from brain research, the academic field I chose. Ed Meade (our Director of Education) and I recently had the opportunity to speak with our community about How…

Adolescence: A primer for teenagers

Frontiers for Young Minds is a unique web-based, peer-reviewed scientific journal that aims to engage school age children in the art of science. A recent article, Drama in the Teenage Brain, explores the extensive developmental spurt in the brains of adolescents, and the behavioral developments associated with this growth. Recommended reading for children and their…

Steiner Waldorf schools as models for science teaching

The Austrian Federal Institute for Education Research, Innovation and Development of the Austrian School System (BIFIE) recommends Steiner Waldorf schools as models for teaching in the sciences. The original report (in German) and the original blog post is on Excalibur’s blog. “Based on the relatively high competence of Waldorf pupils in natural science, combined with…

Why we chose Waldorf Education

While I’m very far from a Luddite, one of the reasons that we specifically chose a Waldorf education for our three children was the limitations on technology and media exposure at a young age, which allows them to develop a better sense of ‘self’ so that when they interact with media and technology they are…

Is Parental Involvement Overrated?

In a recent opinion piece in the New York Times, Angel Harris and Keith Robinson, both academic sociologists (and authors of The Broken Compass), review research on the impact of parental involvement on the academic success of their children. Their research—analyses of longitudinal studies that tracked children over three decades—found that “most forms of parental…