Wholesome Ways to Prepare for Christmas with Children

By Annie Bryant

Christmas is all about the journey, and here’s some daily rituals and activities to help bring wonder, patience and joy into your family home during the festive season.

Even if you’re not ‘into’ Christmas, it’s very difficult to avoid the busy energy and consumeristic onslaught that unfortunately dominates the Western culture in the lead up to December 25th. I think it was my own massive aversion to this unsavoury aspect of the season that inspired me to research and create wholesome ways to bring Christmas to my own children.

Children LOVE Christmas, and it just didn’t feel right to me as Mother to deprive my boys (or myself) of the wonder and joy and beautiful messages that can be found within the Christmas stories from around the world.

By consciously celebrating the lead up to Christmas in a meaningful way, I find it helps immensely in grounding and connecting our family at a time when packed schedules and neverending to-do lists can otherwise scatter all of our energies!

Read the full article by clicking this link

Finding Christmas – An Australian Christmas Story by Annie Bryant

Where do you find Christmas in your family?
Is it hidden within the pages of your favourite story book?
Maybe it’s wrapped up in a gift made especially for someone you love?
Or perhaps, it can be found amongst the delicious smells of a Christmas feast?
Well, this is the story of a little boy who went on his own search for Christmas….and you’ll
never guess what he found!

Joey had looked everywhere, but still had found no signs of Christmas.

They were staying on his Grandparents farm, way out west for the whole month until after Christmas – and while Joey usually loved the tractor rides and farm adventures – this time he couldn’t help but think about all the ‘Christmassy’ things he was missing out on back home.

First, there was the Christmas Market & the end of year school Concert.

Then, there was the Santa sleighs and giant candy canes and bright lights up and down his street, not to mention the fake snow and happy carols playing in all shops.

But out here on the farm there was no shiny tinsel or red hats to be seen and he was starting to worry that maybe Christmas just wasn’t going to happen at all?!

And he also missed Dad.

Dad was coming to meet Mum and Joey and his little sister May at the farm on Christmas Eve and it felt like such a long time away.

When they chatted on the phone one night Joey whispered his concerns about Christmas and Dad reassured him, “Don’t worry mate, you’ll find Christmas out there – you just need to know where to look.”

But so far, he hadn’t found anything.

So, before bed that night Joey asked Lil-Ma & Jo-Pa in a very serious voice, “Do you know where to find Christmas on your farm?”

His grandparents looked at each other with mischievous smiles before Jo-Pa turned to Joey and replied with a wink, “I think we might have a few ideas.”

Read the full story from talesandsongs.com here

NAPLAN: How Northern Rivers schools performed over 5 years

By Geoff Egan

THESE are the Northern Rivers schools that consistently top the state’s NAPLAN results.

An independent analysis of five years of NAPLAN results has revealed the schools that performed the best in the Year 5 and Year 9 tests between 2014 and 2018.

Over that five-year period, Bexhill Public School, in Bexhill, had higher Year 5 yearly results than any other school in the state, scoring an average of 2740.2 each year.

The top performing Year 9 school was Cape Byron Rudolf Steiner School, in Byron Bay, where the average yearly result was 3010.0 for the five years.

To find how each school performed between 2014 and 2018, their average scores for each year were combined and the yearly average found.

Special schools, schools with fewer than 20 students enrolled in either year, and schools that did not report any results for NAPLAN subjects in either year were excluded from the analysis.

The figures were independently compiled from the Federal Government’s MySchool website.

That revealed Emmanuel Anglican College, in Ballina, had the second highest results for Year 5s over that period, with a yearly average of 2652.6.

The third best performing Year 5 school was Holy Family Catholic Primary School, in Skennars Head, with five yearly average results of 2637.6.

The second-best performing Year 9 results were at Emmanuel Anglican College, in Ballina, where yearly results were 3000.6.

Shearwater the Mullumbimby Steiner School, in Mullumbimby, had the third highest average results between 2014 and 2018 with averages of 2982.8.

Read the full article from the Northern Star here

Celebrating Advent

Advent starts this year on Sunday the 1st of December and is celebrated for the four Sundays leading up to Christmas until Sunday the 22nd of December. Advent is frequently celebrated by people of every religious background, every faith, every spiritual path as part of the festivals of the cycle of the year.

In the Southern hemisphere, Christmas falls near the Summer Solstice when the light is at its strongest and we celebrate the triumph of light at its greatest point in the yearly cycle. As the year draws to an end we increasingly spend time outside enjoying “the sun in the heavens”. With the long warm days, intense light and balmy nights we are drawn out into the elements rather than into “the sun in our hearts”.

It can be challenging to develop a sense of inwardness, patience and contemplation when the Spirit of the Earth is on its outward breath. To balance this we can consciously choose to “receive the light” and celebrate what is both universally human and universally spiritual. Celebrating Advent can provide an opportunity for some quiet ‘breathing in’ during this outwardly busy time of year and help your children to practice preparation, reverence and patience through the ritual of counting the weeks and days to the special celebratory event. The lighting of candles each week also reflects our own ‘Divine Light’ and helps to bring us a little inward contemplation.

Traditionally Steiner schools and families celebrate Advent by looking each week at the natural kingdoms on Earth: minerals the first week, plants the second week, animals the third week and humans the fourth week (see verses below).

Here are some ideas that you might like to include in your own advent celebrations:

  

An Advent verse
‘The gift of the light we thankfully take, But not shall it be alone for our sake, The more we give light, the one to the other, It shines and it spreads, growing still further; Until every spark by friends set aflame, Until every heart, the joy to proclaim; In the depths of our souls, A shining sun glows.’

Advent Wreath  – on a special table made with greenery and seasonal flowers, four advent candles to light each consecutive Sunday of Advent.

Advent Garden – assembled and added to each Sunday of Advent with the four kingdoms celebrated each week try adding tiny crushed shells (collected from the beach) in a spiral pattern for the spiral on which Mary and Joseph figures walk.

Advent Crib – a nativity scene of the four kingdoms, adding a different one each of the Sundays- Crystal Kingdom, plant kingdom, animal and human kingdoms.

Advent calendars are available from Rudolf Steiner Bookstore by following this link

Verses for the 4 weeks of Advent

Week 1: Crystal Kingdom
The crystal kingdom comes first and is honoured by decorating the wreath or garden with crystals, seashells, stones or little bones you may find.

Week 2: Plant Kingdom
In the second week the plant kingdom is honoured by adding little dried flowers, seeds and pine cones and greenery.

                     

Week 3: Animal Kingdom
The animal kingdom, in the third week, is honoured by adding little wooden animals or beeswax creatures the children make.

Week 4: Humankind
The fourth week sees us honouring humankind by adding a little felted or beeswax child and figures.

      

Additional Reading:
Our library has some Advent handouts available.
Possible stories include The Star Money from the Brothers Grimm, (and if you have the book “Rose Windows”, there is a lovely idea for a window transparency in there); craft ideas in The Children’s Year and Families, Festivals and Food. Other stories include the ones from “The Light In the Lantern: Stories for Advent” from Wynstones Press; Advent Sunday Stories, Collette Leenman; Mary’s Little Donkey, Gunhild Sehlin; Advent and Christmas Stories, Estelle Bryer and Janni Nicol.

Advent & Hanukkah stories

Some lovely stories for Advent and Hanukkah by Eugene Schwartz available by following this link.

Gamified Childhood: Are Digital Devices Replacing Traditional Playtime?

Digital play versus free play: Mott expert addresses the differences and the potential impact on child development at American Academy of Pediatrics session. By Beata Mostafavi

Blocks, books and bikes used to be the staples of childhood.

But as more kids grow up with a seemingly endless menu of virtual activities offered through digital media, child development experts worry about the wane of traditional playtime.

One pediatrician at the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, who is addressing the topic at the national American Academy of Pediatrics meeting in New Orleans, has even coined the phenomenon “gamified childhood”.

“Free, unstructured play promotes interactions that boost vocabulary, nurture parent-child relationships, and encourage social skills and creativity. Play helps young brains develop,” says Jenny Radesky, M.D., a developmental behavioral pediatrician and researcher at Mott who is leading the AAP session.

“But mobile devices are becoming an almost unavoidable part of children’s worlds. We hope to demystify the design differences between technology and classic toys and help parents increase open-ended play experiences for their children.”

Radesky says there are some benefits in “shared” technology experiences, such as watching a movie together as a family and discussing it or looking up new recipes to cook together. But children are increasingly on devices alone as parents see them as tools to pacify tantrums, keep children occupied during mealtime and even as a way to take a break from parenting.

“Early childhood is a vulnerable time for exhausted parents, and they may find relief in technology,” Radesky says.

“But both children and parents need experiences with play that provide a sense of self-efficacy and living in the moment.”

Radesky highlights four key differences between the classic and tech-supported types of play and why parents and pediatricians should take notice.

Child’s Autonomy: In digital games, the app designer is in control, Radesky says. Many apps and games are simple, cause-and-effect puzzles or races with a design that constrains a child’s behavior. They have a “closed loop” design that decides for children what they are going to do next, rather than letting the child’s brain take the lead. “The designs behind much of children’s digital technology does not support the autonomy, self-realization, and parent-child interaction that traditional play allows,” Radesky says.

Another part of autonomy is learning self-control. However, many parents are using mobile devices to keep children seated at the dinner table, calm on brief car rides or to settle them to bed. These habits may inhibit their ability to learn how to self-regulate emotions and be counter-productive when it comes to good sleep.

Unstructured play, on the other hand, puts the child in control. “Child autonomy and control is at the core of unstructured play. The child thinks up what to do, how to do it, and what to do when things don’t work out,” Radesky says. “This is where imagination really allows a child to push past old ideas and create new ones, handle strong feelings, and figure things out for themselves.”

Hooking Kids in Different Ways: While digital games are attention-grabbing, unstructured play is attention-building, Radesky says. In some apps and games, “there are so many over-the-top interactive enhancements” that children mainly pay attention to these exciting features, rather than understanding the concept the app was trying to teach. But it can be difficult to screen for appropriate apps. Radesky’s research analyzing apps and games marketed to young children found that most of them came with a misleading ‘educational’ label that they may not deserve.

“The natural and social worlds are rarely going to be as attention-grabbing and ‘shiny’ as online games and apps are artificially designed to be,” Radesky says. “But this allows the child to determine what they want to direct their attention towards, and to think clearly without artificial distractions.”

External versus internal rewards: Apps and games provide many external rewards, such as tokens, candies, virtual toys, or piggy banks every time children get an answer correct. This is intentional because designers know that young children are driven by rewards, Radesky notes. What can be problematic is that “children may get over-focused on consuming and collecting.”

She points to examples, such as balloons, fireworks and parades that “reward” a child for completing a simple task in a digital game. This type of digital design, known as “persuasive design” is a strategy used to maximally engage a user.

“We need to help parents understand this tricky type of design and how inappropriate it is for children and teens who are so susceptible to social feedback,” Radesky says. “We don’t want children to see play as just collecting and hoarding virtual things.”

The rewards of traditional play, however, are internal and social. “When children struggle with a new challenge and figure out a solution, the reward can be subtle, with a sense of satisfaction and self-efficacy,” Radesky says. “Providing children with praise for hard work is appropriate, but it shouldn’t be over the top. Otherwise children can get used to always needing external validation.”

Solitary play versus social play: Most apps and games are designed in a way that assumes there will be only one user, and children tend to use tablets and smartphones with a body posture that can nudge out social interaction with others, Radesky says.

“In our study comparing play with traditional toys to play with tablets, there wasn’t really that space for parents,” Radesky says. “Children created their own solitary space and cocoon around the tablet. It was rare for a child to look up and say ‘look at this!’ Parents feel this difference in play, so it’s important to help them know it’s not their fault, it’s an intentional design feature of the tablet.”

Meanwhile, toys, nature, art, and music allow for shared experiences.

“Social play creates space for multiple people to take part, have back-and-forth interactions, and see each other’s faces and emotions,” Radesky says.

“Parents are familiar with playing with toys and books because they probably grew up with them. They probably get their moments of strongest connection and feeling effective with their children when they are playing with well-designed toys. As pediatricians, we can help parents carve out spaces for the traditional play that feels good to them too.”

From labblog

Stop Trying to Raise Successful Kids and start raising kind ones.

As anyone who has been called out for hypocrisy by a small child knows, kids are exquisitely attuned to gaps between what grown-ups say and what grown-ups do. If you survey American parents about what they want for their kids, more than 90 percent say one of their top priorities is that their children be caring. This makes sense: Kindness and concern for others are held as moral virtues in nearly every society and every major religion. But when you ask children what their parents want for them, 81 percent say their parents value achievement and happiness over caring.

Kids learn what’s important to adults not by listening to what we say, but by noticing what gets our attention. And in many developed societies, parents now pay more attention to individual achievement and happiness than anything else. However much we praise kindness and caring, we’re not actually showing our kids that we value these traits.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised, then, that kindness appears to be in decline. A rigorous analysis of annual surveys of American college students showed a substantial drop from 1979 to 2009 in empathy and in imagining the perspectives of others. Over this period, students grew less likely to feel concern for people less fortunate than themselves—and less bothered by seeing others treated unfairly.

It’s not just that people care less; they seem to be helping less, too. In one experiment, a sociologist scattered thousands of what appeared to be lost letters in dozens of American cities in 2001, and again in 2011. From the first round to the second one, the proportion of letters that was picked up by helpful passersby and put in a mailbox declined by 10 percent. (When the same experiment was conducted in Canada, helpfulness didn’t diminish.) Psychologists find that kids born after 1995 are just as likely as their predecessors to believe that other people experiencing difficulty should be helped—but they feel less personal responsibility to take action themselves. For example, they are less likely to donate to charity, or even to express an interest in doing so.

If society is fractured today, if we truly care less about one another, some of the blame lies with the values parents have elevated. In our own lives, we’ve observed many fellow parents becoming so focused on achievement that they fail to nurture kindness. They seem to regard their children’s accolades as a personal badge of honor—and their children’s failures as a negative reflection on their own parenting.

Other parents subtly discourage kindness, seeing it as a source of weakness in a fiercely competitive world. In some parenting circles, for example, there’s a movement against intervening when preschoolers are selfish in their play. These parents worry that stepping in might prevent kids from learning to stick up for themselves, and say that they’re less worried about the prospect of raising an adult who doesn’t share than one who struggles to say no. But there’s no reason parents can’t teach their kids to care about others and themselves—to be both generous and self-respecting. If you encourage children to consider the needs and feelings of others, sometimes they will and sometimes they won’t. But they’ll soon learn the norm of reciprocity: If you don’t treat others considerately, they may not be considerate toward you. And those around you will be less likely to be considerate of one another, too.

Parents’ emphasis on toughness is partly an unintended consequence of the admirable desire to treat boys and girls more equally. Historically, families and schools encouraged girls to be kind and caring, and boys to be strong and ambitious. Today, parents and teachers are rightly investing more time and energy in nurturing confidence and leadership in girls. Unfortunately, there isn’t the same momentum around developing generosity and helpfulness in boys. The result is less attention to caring across the board.

Kids, with their sensitive antennae, pick up on all this. They see their peers being celebrated primarily for the grades they get and the goals they score, not for the generosity they show. They see adults marking their achievements without paying as much attention to their character. Parents are supposed to leave a legacy for the next generation, but we are at risk of failing to pass down the key virtue of kindness. How can we do better?

Read the full article from The Atlantic here

Adam Grant is an organizational psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. He is the author of Originals and Give and Take; a co-author of The Gift Inside the Box; and the host of TED’s WorkLife podcast.
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Allison Sweet Grant is a writer and the co-author of The Gift Inside the Box.

RRISK = Reduce Risk – Increase Student Knowledge

The RRISK program aims to reduce adolescent risk taking associated with alcohol and drug use, driving and celebrating.

RRISK is a resilience building program that is relevant to the social life, developmental stage and concerns of adolescents. It extends the school based drug education and road safety curriculum by providing opportunities for senior high school students to develop knowledge, attitudes and skills to reduce risk taking and develop safer celebrating strategies. The program includes a well-designed, multi-strategic seminar day, preceded and followed by a range of in-school activities. It incorporates factual presentations on risk taking, alcohol, drugs, safe celebrating, safe driving and vehicle safety and is enlivened by drama, life stories and role models.

Year 10 Students at CBRSS participate in the RRISK program each year.

We have some comprehensive parent information available from RRISK we encourage all parents of adolescents to make time to read this, you can access it by clicking this link

Halloween

At school, we don’t celebrate Halloween and at home, there can be tremendous pressure to join in “trick and treating”, even if it doesn’t wholly match your family values, we warmly encourage you to withstand this pressure and instead find inspiration below to celebrate with reverence.

In ancient times Halloween was believed to be the time when the veil was thin between the world of the living and the world of the dead. Our ancestors could return to visit us, to give help and advice. People set lights in the hollowed out turnips to guide the spirits of the dead, and put out food as an offering. You no doubt have noticed that in modern times a materialistic aspect has crept in and celebrating and honouring our ancestors has been lost.

We’d like to offer some other ways to acknowledge this festival day and to have a wholesome and in context opportunity to discuss death and family ancestors.

  • Create a family altar: symbols of the season, pictures of beloved dead relatives and special things that may have belonged to them. In Mexico during the Day of the Dead, altars are made for particular family members and include their favourite food and objects of theirs, alongside cut out paper stars, clay figures and bread shaped like people.
  • Tell a story, one that you could repeat every Halloween, for example, Vasilisa a Russian Fairy Tale that includes that old witch Baba Yaga or the Little Hobgoblin which you will find by following this link.
  • Have an Ancestor Feast – prepare a meal that is traditional in your family from your heritage. Before you eat you can take a little from each dish and put on a plate in front of the picture of your relatives.
  • After the feast, or around the altar, you could light a candle,  sit back and tell a story about your ancestors. This could be a personal story about someone in your family or a traditional folktale or myth. You could pass around photos and recall memories. Who were your ancestors? Where did they come from? Did you ever meet your grandparents or great-grandparents? Talking about where we come from instils a sense of belonging and security in the children and also gives a healthy context to acknowledging death.
  • Baking and craft opportunities include carving turnips and pumpkins, making apple chains to represent the Isle of Apples (Celtic tradition) or have a go at making sugar skulls.

Halloween provides a wonderful opportunity to connect in meaningful and reverent ways both as a family and to our heritage.

For more information about Halloween and it’s true significance please read the article further along in this Bulletin.

What is Halloween and do we want to celebrate this with our children?


Regardless of whether you celebrate Halloween or not, or the views you may have about it, let us take a journey together to investigate the history of Halloween and some of Rudolf Steiner’s insights that may be of value.

What is Halloween and do we want to celebrate this with our children?

I am often asked my thoughts about celebrating Halloween and have recently been asked again. In discussions with our class teacher I agreed that I would share my thoughts by writing an article. My hope is that it will inspire some deeper reflections, insights and questions to arise, that you can make healthy choices for you and your family regarding this celebration.
I was born in the UK and immigrated to Australia as a young child. In primary school the children whom I went to school with, celebrated Halloween, and it was also my dads birthday, falling on this same date, the 31st of October. In our family this day was already a special occasion, a day of celebration, so for us having a celebration ‘on’ Halloween was part of our family tradition.

When my own children were young, through my Steiner Early Childhood Ed training and the involvement with my ( now adult ) children attending a Rudolf Steiner school, I was faced with finding the deeper meaning in all of our day to day activities, including the celebrating of Halloween. This led me to investigate and consider deeply what is was and why and how I might bring it to my children in a healthy and meaningful way, including the foods offered by this celebration – as buying and eating lollies and sugar was not a part of our life.

Many people celebrate this occasion with little or no understanding of what lies behind it, or what, or even why, they are celebrating. It has become a marketing madness, expensive elaborate costumes, huge sugary purchases, endless stores offering the latest in Halloween decorating trends, specials, deals etc – so much hype.

As parents, carers and educators, it is for us to first look deeply within ourselves to see what is true, what is it that we wish to bring, to honour, to acknowledge, to share, to offer. It is important that we ask our selves questions and be truthful in the answers.

If we don’t eat junk food, food colouring, additives, lollies, sweets or sugar, then why would we promote that our children knock on others doors to get bags or baskets full of sugary sweets?
Are we wanting to just have a fun fancy dress time or are we conscious of what this celebration is about?

Are we willing to stand true to our own values and not be influenced by the media, by advertising, or by others, if they have different values from us?

As with many festivals that are celebrated in the southern hemisphere, no regard is given to the fact that here it is actually spring not autumn, it is not a time of pumpkins and harvest. So if you were going to carve out a lantern, rather than a pumpkin you may want to consider using something that would more truly represent our seasons such as a watermelon.

Regardless of whether you celebrate Halloween or not, or the views you may have about it, I would like us take a journey to investigate the history of Halloween and some of Rudolf Steiner’s insights that may be of value.

The word Halloween is derived from the words hallowed and eve – hallowed meaning holy – it is the holy evening before All Saints Day, which occurs on the 1st of November. Halloween as it is currently celebrated with costumes, trick or treat, and superstitions, is taken from the Irish Gaelic and Druid Holiday. Halloween was called Hallow E’en in Ireland. Halloween evolved from “All Hollows” Eve, originating from the pagan holiday honouring the dead, which can also be found in many cultures around the world.

Do you celebrate Christmas eve, the evening before Christmas ( the day of the Christ’s mass ), or celebrate new years eve, the evening before the marking of the start of the new Year? The significance of these ‘eve’s’ seem easy to understand compared to the Halloween celebration on the eve before All Saints Day, with the tricks and treats, sweets, fancy dress costumes and jack-o-lanterns.

So an initial question you may like to ask is: If you are celebrating Halloween, the holy eve, do you know what the significance of this evening is? And – are you also celebrating All Saints day, and know the significance of this day?

The definition of a saint – is a person acknowledged as holy or virtuous and regarded in Christian faith as being in heaven after death. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honour all saints and martyrs; the holiday, All Saints’ Day. The evening before was known as All Hallows’ Eve and later Halloween, which incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. Samhain is a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the “darker half” of the year. Traditionally, it is celebrated from 31 October to 1 November, as the Celtic day began and ended at sunset.

All Saints’ Day, also known as All Hallows’ Day, Hallowmas, Feast of All Saints, or Solemnity of All Saints, is a Christian festival celebrated in honour of all the saints, known and unknown. All Hallows’ Eve falls on 31st October each year, and is the day before All Hallows’ Day, also known as All Saints’ Day in the Christian calendar. The Church traditionally held a vigil on All Hallows’ Eve when worshipers would prepare themselves with prayers and fasting prior to the feast day itself. In many traditions, All Saints’ Day is part of the Tridum of Allhallowtide which lasts three days from 31 October to 2 November inclusive.

In countries such as France, Mexico, Guatemala, Portugal and Spain, offerings are made on this day. All Saints’ Day in Mexico, coincides with the first day of the Day of the Dead celebration. Known as the Day of the Innocents, which honours deceased children and infants. Children in Portugal celebrate by going door-to-door, where they receive cakes, nuts, pomegranates, sweets and candies – to promote goodness and sweetness and long life. In countries such as Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Finland, Catholic parts of Germany, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Serbia and Sweden, the tradition is to light candles, place flowers and visit the graves and tombs of deceased relatives.

The celebration of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day stems from a belief that there is a powerful spiritual bond between those in heaven and those living on the earth. It is a day, which commemorates and gives thanks for the lives and deaths of Saints including those who are known or individuals who have personally led one to find faith.

On the evening before All Saints Day, it was believed that there was an opening or thinning in the veils between the physical and spiritual worlds to allow the light of all the saints to stream towards the earth – due to this superstition it was also believed that due to the thinning of the veils between these worlds, that other spirits not of the light, could slip through and wreak havoc on unsuspecting souls, or that these malevolent spirits could get hold of any unsuspecting souls and use them for their own purposes. So the honouring of the Day of the Dead or the Hallowed eve was both to pay respect to, and to appease, the spirits of the dead. It was feared through superstition and folklore that if one failed to make an altar with offerings of food, candles, and gifts on this day, then the spirits of the dead could cause unfavourable acts and wreak havoc in ones life and that of their family.

So why would anyone dress up as ghouls and ghosts and skeletons, or carve jack-o-lanterns, on the eve of all saints day?

Dressing up as ghouls, ghosts and skeletons was believed to fool these unwanted spirits and to scare them away, letting them know they were not wanted or welcome, a practice that originated from the celebrations of the Day of the Dead.

The practice of carving and lighting a lantern was used as another warning, the face with an otherworldly appearance glowing through the lighted lantern was also believed to trick and ward off these malevolent spirits.

This custom also originated in Ireland, where rotting vegetables would emit a gas that could be lit producing a ghostly light. These lights were called Jack-o-lantern’s from an old Celtic legend about ‘Stingy Jack’ where his dealings with the devil led him to be banished from the gates of heaven, left to endlessly roam the world with a little coal that he placed inside a hollowed out turnip or vegetable. Children and adolescents would use these vegetable lanterns to trick their friends and passers by into thinking it was actually ‘Stingy Jack’ or some other forsaken lost wandering soul.

In the northern hemisphere where it was harvest time, turnips were used to carve these small lanterns, placed in the windows and doorways. Turnips became less plentiful and pumpkins became more readily available, and due to the fact they were already partly hollow, the pumpkin was substituted to create the smiling beaming face that we have come to know today as the Halloween Jack-O-Lantern. Many Irish immigrated to America, taking their Celtic and Gaelic customs, which were adopted and adapted throughout America, and subsequently in many parts of the world. Sadly even the pumpkins used today for carving Jack-o-lanterns, making soup and pumpkin scones have been especially grown and bred to be hollow and empty with no substance inside – yes easier to carve, yet what is this image that is presented to the child – that the pumpkin which is actually a food of bounty and harvest is unusable and inedible?

Rudolf Steiner suggests that there are actually times when the thinning of the veils between the physical and spiritual world does occur – and if Man is not fully conscious, then he can succumb to the lowered forces that can come through at these times, affecting his own deeds in the world. Steiner was acutely aware of what he termed the cosmic worlds, both the angelic and arch-angelic bringing goodness and light, and the Ahrimanic or Luciferian forces of darkness which are expressed as greed, wrath, and envy. Steiner’s insights bring into our consciousness the forces of light and dark, and their place and effect in the world.

When it comes to supporting and nurturing out little children, we as the parents, adults, carers and teachers have the task of being aware of the needs of the young child and the effects of what we are surrounding them with. Are the images, ideas, events, and festivals that we bring and offer appropriate to their age and stage of development? Are they designed to enhance the child’s well being and growth in body, mind and spirit, promoting beauty, truth and goodness through the values, and behavious? Or does what we offer create an inner world of fear and mistrust, and lack of well being?

In light of Steiner’s insights, what is the result that we can actually see in the World of Man when there is no conscious regard for life, for light, for good?

What do we see when Halloween is celebrated without any conscious regard to its purpose, intent or origins?

What do we see occurring in the world where only the dark, the tricks and pranks are allowed to flourish?

We see a decrease in the level of regard for good, for beauty, for kindness, for justice. We see people with increased disregard, with malicious intent, those wishing harm and hate. A seemingly innocent occasion for celebration and revelry gets out of hand becoming unmanageable; where there is destruction of property, disregard for others welfare, injury, harm, in some instances leading to death. It would seem that the very reason to celebrate the hallowed eve, which was to ward off the influence of the dark, has been ignored and replaced with the very unconsciousness that it was designed to protect Man from. It would seem that in the unconscious celebrating, the disregard of honouring the day of the dead, of the ancestors, the saints, the light, the holy – that these dark forces or influences are actually invited in.
You can read the full article by clicking this link.

Arts education helps school students learn and socialise. We must invest in it

There has been renewed scrutiny in recent weeks about spending on private school capital works. Alongside science labs, sporting fields, and “wellbeing spaces”, many of Australia’s richest schools feature elaborate performing arts centres.

Melbourne’s Wesley College’s redevelopment, for example, includes a $21 million music school and $2.3 million visual arts and design precinct. Meanwhile, programs for disadvantaged students who show artistic talent have relied on volunteers and small grants.

Usually comparisons between public and private schooling focus on academic or sporting outcomes – but what of creative education?

Increased engagement in arts education has wide ranging benefits for academic and social outcomes – and those most at risk have the most to gain. Research has long shown the arts offer many benefits beyond “art for arts sake”, with health, social and economic benefits which offer both private and public value.

Confidence gained from arts programs, and their capacity to support healthy risk taking improves academic outcomes and student behaviour. For teachers, the arts can be a way of connecting to children who struggle with conventional approaches.

Click to read the full article at theconversation.com

RRISK = Reduce Risk – Increase Student Knowledge

The RRISK program aims to reduce adolescent risk taking associated with alcohol and drug use, driving and celebrating.

RRISK is a resilience building program that is relevant to the social life, developmental stage and concerns of adolescents. It extends the school based drug education and road safety curriculum by providing opportunities for senior high school students to develop knowledge, attitudes and skills to reduce risk taking and develop safer celebrating strategies. The program includes a well-designed, multi-strategic seminar day, preceded and followed by a range of in-school activities. It incorporates factual presentations on risk taking, alcohol, drugs, safe celebrating, safe driving and vehicle safety and is enlivened by drama, life stories and role models.

Year 10 Students at CBRSS participate in the RRISK program each year.

We have some comprehensive parent information available from RRISK we encourage all parents of adolescents to make time to read this, you can access it by clicking this link

Growing Up in a False Reality.

Kids today are out of touch with themselves, others, and the world around them.

Many people are focused on reducing screen time for children; I’m one of those people. The health risks are enormous for our kids, in a variety of ways, from their vulnerable, undeveloped eyes to their growing bodies and minds. And while I am the first to advocate for schools and parents to limit the amount of time our children spend on digital devices, per se, I am also growing increasingly convinced that our emotive relationships with these machines – which correlates to screen time – needs more exploration. What psychological needs are these digital devices filling – and what price is being paid when they dominate our lives?

Not long ago, I reluctantly signed up for a social media account, recognizing the efficacy of that medium for instantly reaching large, targeted audiences. Because I was pursuing the passage of specific statewide legislation, the timeliness of the messaging was important to me, to educate stakeholders and mobilize political support as quickly as possible.

With nearly the same speed that my messages were being sent, my own need to know how my messages were being received, emerged. It was remarkable how quickly I felt compelled to look at my hit count or check for messages. Hit that bar and get that pellet. No pellet? Hit the bar again. Ah. Pellet. Good pellet. Hit the bar. How many people reacted to my message? That’s it?! Send another message. Get another pellet.

It quickly became evident that I was drawn back to the computer with growing frequency, and increased emotional investment. If my message was well received, I felt validated, vindicated, and smart. And if my message was ignored, it was certain proof that no one cared about the things that interested me most, and I felt isolated.

This, from a grown woman, with a lifetime of professional communications and technology experience.

So I can hardly imagine the emotional roller-coaster that many children are now experiencing. It’s very easy to see how cyber-bullying has become such a crisis, since our children’s self-esteem is now hinging on uncontrollable virtual approval, and invisible, shifting, unpredictable digital feedback. The validation we all crave is now seemingly only available to our kids in an artificial way. Even their grades are impersonally emailed to them – no more dirty looks or pats on the back from their teachers.

How uncomfortable, and insecure, then, our children must feel. Whatever approval kids may receive from one another is fleeting, fickle, and unreliable. “Friends” are not real friends. And any embarrassment is amplified, shared universally, and inescapable.

What used to happen and be forgotten in a week when we were kids, now lingers and taunts. A cell phone snapshot can persist online forever, and humiliate a child for years. There is no escape, no relief, no place to hide. It’s cruel. How damaged will this generation be, from the stress of performing for each other, to avoid being “unfriended”? Social media is a sneaky little medium, that hurts. The girl at the lunch table doesn’t yet know she’s the target of criticism by the other kids at the same table.

Read the full article at Psychology Today https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/blog/mental-wealth/201705/growing-in-false-reality

Where Are The Textbooks? The Use of Main Lesson Books in Waldorf (Steiner) Education

Article from Summerfield Waldorf School

Main Lesson books are unique to Waldorf education. While traditional schooling pairs lecturing with textbook references and worksheets, Waldorf students process and record lectures in notes and illustrations on large, blank pages of high-quality paper.

What are these books exactly and why do Waldorf schools use them?

What is a Main Lesson Book?

The creation of a Main Lesson book is an active, hands-on experience of learning that encourages both intention and creativity. Waldorf students record content of each subject of study, presented during a student’s main lesson class, in a Main Lesson book.

These creative, curriculum-rich books become the culmination of all students have learned, in depth, for the year about a topic. These topics, such as History, Science and Mathematics to name a few, are taught in blocks averaging 4 to 6 weeks, and the books serve as both learning tools and documentation of the work learned.

Every Main Lesson features daily work in the Main Lesson book. The student writes and illustrates the lesson’s content into their books. This content consists of relevant illustrations, stories, notes and summaries all written by hand. Children are given freedom within the creation of their books about both what they write and how they illustrate. This makes both the book and the content of the lesson their own.

What is Its Purpose?

The Main Lesson book serves many important purposes. On a practical level, it replaces the textbooks and worksheets seen in other schools. Instead of referencing a book as support material to what a teacher teaches, the teacher is the source material and the Main Lesson book becomes the creative, holistic recording of that imparted knowledge.

In this way, students learn through listening and re-interpreting the teacher’s lessons into useable notes and bits of information — both recording and processing the information as they go along. This is done alongside creative and artistic representations of the material. This brings personalization, beauty, joy and relevancy to lessons.

The goal is better absorption of the material on a deeper level as well as inspiring a joy in learning. Children in Waldorf schools are learning to learn and learning to love learning. Memorization for tests or temporary learning, to simply prove out rote work, is never the goal. Main Lesson books, over worksheets and text books, help ensure that children learn meaningfully and deeply each and every day.

Does A Main Lesson Book Help with Learning?

To find out, please click this link

Class 2 Main Lesson Book

A Parent’s Guide to Teens, Social Media and Smartphone Addiction

illustration by Lauren of Deep Cereal http://deepcereal.com/commissions

What Happens When You Take a Teen’s Phone Away for 7 Days?

Withdrawal symptoms similar to a drug addict. Panic attacks, anxiety, anger, crying, tantrums, screaming, rolling eyes, pissed off body language, lies, pouts, disbelief. Parents of teens have it rough these days thanks to a new cocktail: smartphones laced with social media apps. The mix is so potent it can take over your teen’s life and so dangerous it can literally open the door to stalkers.

Zombie Teens. The New Normal?
There is a teen epidemic happening right in front of us, and it’s called smartphone addiction. If you are wondering why your teenager is always taking selfies, it’s called Snapchat, or better named Crackchat. Why?

Top 10 reasons my daughter “could not live” without her phone (in her words)

  1. Friends would be mad
  2. Losing her streaks (more on this below)
  3. FOMO (Fear of missing out)
  4. That’s where she hangs out with friends
  5. Netflix
  6. “Not fair”
  7. No other way to talk to friends
  8. Youtube
  9. She’d rather lose her voice calling phone app than Snapchat
  10. Boredom

Teen brain hacking
Apps like Snapchat are actually designed to be addicting. It’s called brain hacking, and developers are hired to study the brain and the neurological triggers that keep us coming back for more. According to a former Google product manager, Silicon Valley is engineering your phone, apps and social media to get you hooked. It’s all about the Likes.

The problem for parents today is that the apps sprout up so fast it’s hard to keep up with new ones as quickly as they are available for download. Most apps do not come with any age limits, warning labels or ratings that parents can easily screen.

Dear Parents: Have you checked the children?

If you have a teenager you might need to do a check up, there is a social media crisis happening right in front of your screens.

My daughter just turned 15, and I’ve watched the social media highs and lows influencing her circle of friends the past few years. As a social media expert for businesses and the instructor of the social media management class at the University of Florida, I thought I was more social media savvy than most parents. In my mind, I could easily maneuver my teenager through the dangerous minefields of social media. Little did I know I was in parenting La La Land.

Read the full article https://medium.com/@lisabuyer/what-happens-when-you-take-a-teens-phone-away-for-7-days-617262853122