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

The Right Brain Develops First ~ Why Play is the Foundation for Academic Learning

Photo credit: Allan Ajifo/flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Did you know that the right brain develops first? It does so by the time children are 3-4 years of age. The left brain, on the other hand, doesn’t fully come online until children are approximately seven years old; hence the first seven years being recognized as such a critical period in child development.

Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” ~ Albert Einstein

The left brain’s functionality is one of language, numeracy, literacy, analysis and time. It is the logical, calculating, planning, busy-bee part of us that keeps us anchored in the pragmatic world, and in past and future. The right brain, on the other hand, is responsible for empathy, intuition, imagination and creativity. It is where we wonder, dream, connect and come alive. Through the right brain we dwell in the space of no-time, in being absolutely present. While the left brain is more interested in outcomes or product, the right brain cares much more about process—the journey is what matters, not the destination.

But there is one more vital piece to understand: The right brain connects us to our boundless sense of being. Being is primary; hence the right brain developing first; hence, human being, not human doing. The left brain is far more interested in doing. Young right-brain dominant children, by contrast, are quite content being.

Understanding this we can better appreciate why play is so important in child learning and development, and why we need to be extra careful with the amount and timing of academic agendas created for children; with how much we emphasize product—what kids have accomplished at school—versus process—who they are becoming and what they feel in their explorations. That the right brain develops first is pertinent information for those in the field of education, as well as parents, regarding what is developmentally appropriate. Pushing literacy and numeracy on children before age seven may just be harmful to their little, developing brains. Without the capacity to use their academic minds in the ways that are being asked can cause children to gain what’s called “learned stupidity.” They believe themselves to be incapable and lose their natural desire to learn.

You cannot measure the qualitative aspects of imagination, empathy and intuition; but, of course, you can measure the aforementioned practical detail-oriented functions associated with the left brain. Yet the more we push those things that can be measured onto children, the more they will grow up feeling like they don’t measure up!

Read the full article by Vince Gowman here

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: Mind over Machinery

By DOUGLAS GERWIN, PhD

The term “media” has an interesting and surprisingly short biography. As recently as the 1970s the Oxford English Dictionary listed only three meanings for this term––the oldest going back no further than the 1840s––and none of them had anything to do with newspapers, magazines, radio, film, or television, though the phrase “mass media” has circulated in popular American parlance since the 1920s.

Instead, “media” is listed in the OED as a biological term denoting the middle membrane of an artery, while in phonetics it refers to a soft mute sound, such as in the consonants “b”, “g”, or “d”. The third definition is simply as the plural of the noun “medium”. On this view, iron bars or pools of water or even table tappers could be described as being “media” for sounds, waves, or disembodied spirits.

Today “media” is such common (and sometimes abused) currency that we all know––or think we know––what we mean by it. Let’s explore different aspects of what by now we call “the media”, especially in their relationship to technology as vehicles or platforms for education. . . .

When Is Technology a Tool? When a Crutch? The Role of Technology in Education

Read the Full article at Waldorf Today https://www.waldorftoday.com/2013/01/the-sorcerers-apprentice-mind-over-machinery/

How technology is hurting our kids

By Mandy Nolan.

Former lawyer David Gillespie is devoted to exposing dangerous social forces.

In his new book Teen Brains, the father of six exposes the addictive impact of technology on our children and how it’s making our kids anxious and depressed.

It’s not a comfortable subject. No parent wants to have to be the one to tell their kids they can only have a flip phone, that there’s no gaming at all, and the computer can only be used under supervision in a public space.

Hardline
But if you want your kids to be mentally healthy, David believes you have to take a hard line. No more demand feeding of technology!

Read the full article at The Echo by clicking this link

Kindness Vs. Cruelty: Helping Kids Hear The Better Angels Of Their Nature

Are humans born kind?

We both assumed, as parents of young children, that kindness is just something our kids would pick up by osmosis, because we love them. It’s a common assumption.

“We often just expect people to be kind without talking about it,” says Jennifer Kotler, vice president of research and evaluation at Sesame Workshop. “We think, ‘Oh, you’re a good kid. You’re gonna be kind.’

Now, that’s not entirely wrong. Humans are certainly born with a capacity to be kind — even leaning toward kindness in many situations.

Read the full article at NPR by clicking this link

Picture by Laurent Hrybyk

Why Social Media is Ruining Your Relationships

Consider social media’s role in modern life, its ability to mold relationships, and how it impacts an individual’s self-image.

How would you define a friend? Is it someone you could turn to no matter what? Just call my name and I’ll be there? Or is it someone who you’re in near-constant contact with, speaking to all day, every day? Is it the person you’ve got the longest “Snapstreak” (chatted on Snapchat for over three days straight) with? How much one-on-one time do you have together? And what are your conversations like – deeply engaged and empathetic, or more interrupted and punctuated into bite-size snippets?

The impact that social media is having on all of our relationships, spanning our families, friends and romantic couplings to our very relationships with ourselves, has been fundamentally altered by the way we use our devices to communicate with each other. What we now need from our networks is in flux, and the very nature of friendship and the foundations on which we believe they should be based have changed almost beyond recognition. The question is: is social media enhancing our social lives, or is it doing the exact opposite?

Humans are by definition social beings. From a genetic perspective, we have evolved to live in social groups for both protection and reproduction. Being social makes us buoyant: connection to a group makes us happier; social exchanges reduce the stress hormone cortisol, while simultaneously raising feel-good oxytocin and serotonin. Being social is basically like biological crack – so is it any wonder that we’ve become so very quickly, so very deeply infatuated with social media?

Read the full article from utne.com by clicking this link

Why Warmth is so Important

It is really important to nurture and protect your warmth. Warmth deserves more attention than it usually gets. Warmth holds a very special place in the life of both the developing child and the adult, because it works throughout the entire spectrum of human experience. There is physical warmth, emotional warmth—the warmth of love, of generosity, of true morality—and all of these “warmths” pour over and merge with each other. Perhaps most importantly, warmth is the essential ingredient in transformative work. Without warmth we cannot change, and our life is full of processes of growth and adaptation. Warmth helps us be healthy human beings on many different levels.

We actually already know warmth very well, but too often we think of it in mundane ways. Consider for a moment your kitchen and how you cook. Warmth allows different objects and ingredients to be blended, to develop whole new flavors, and to become well integrated. While this may seem like a simplistic example, the human being is actually continuously called on to integrate: to become comfortable in new situation, to penetrate and maintain the substances we take into our body, just generally to develop a sense of security and understanding about all the new and unusual experiences life brings. To bring what is in, out; to make what is foreign, one’s own. Warmth is essential in that process.

Waldorf teachers and Anthroposophic physicians have been talking about the importance of warmth for almost 100 years, out of the understanding that fostering physical warmth helps us better integrate on physical, developmental, emotional and spiritual levels. And while it is an understanding born out of many ancient healing traditions, it continues to be “proven” in the 21st century:

To read the full article from The Denver Center for Anthroposophic Therapies which includes tips on maintaining your child’s health through warmth please click this link

Why do young people think some drugs are ‘safe’ or ‘harmless’? Put simply, we tell them ‘lies’ and we don’t teach them to ‘respect’ all drugs

The most commonly used definition of a drug is “any substance (with the exception of food and water) which, when taken into the body, alters the body’s function either physically and/or psychologically.” Drugs can be legal, illegal or pharmaceutical and can be taken in a variety of ways, including “via inhalation, injection, smoking, ingestion, absorption via a patch on the skin, or dissolution under the tongue.”

Over the past 18 months I have been talking (and writing) about a number of substances that appear to be becoming increasingly popular with school-based young people – nitrous oxide (‘nanging’), ‘jungle juice’ (or amyl nitrite), cannabis, and ecstasy/MDMA. With all of these, growing numbers of students are telling me that they (or at least, their friends) believe these drugs to be ‘safe’ or ‘harmless’ – two words that you don’t ever want to hear young people use in relation to drugs. Now, before you start to panic and think that we have a major drug epidemic amongst Australian school students, it is important to acknowledge that according to the latest data, illicit drug use is relatively stable amongst this group. The two exceptions are ecstasy/MDMA (which has unfortunately doubled in use in recent years) and cannabis (which has begun to increase in popularity in recent years but is still at far lower levels than it was in the 90s). My great concern is that when anyone, but particularly the very young, start to believe that a drug is ‘safe’, that’s when things begin to go horribly wrong …

Read the full article from “Doing Drugs with Paul Dillon” by clicking this link

This article has been recommended to parents by our Wellbeing Worker Annie Barrett

Simplifying childhood may protect against Mental Health issues

When my Dad was growing up he had one jumper each winter. One. Total.

He remembers how vigilantly he cared for his jumper. If the elbows got holes in them my Grandma patched them back together. If he lost his jumper he’d recount his steps to find it again. He guarded it like the precious gift it was.

He had everything he needed and not a lot more. The only rule was to be home by dinner time. My Grandma rarely knew exactly where her kids were.

They were off building forts, making bows and arrows, collecting bruises and bloody knees and having the time of their lives. They were immersed in childhood.

But the world has moved on since then. We’ve become more sophisticated. And entered a unique period in which, rather than struggling to provide enough parents are unable to resist providing too much. In doing so, we’re unknowingly creating an environment in which mental health issues flourish.

When I read Kim John Payne’s book, Simplicity Parenting one message leapt off the page. Normal personality quirks combined with the stress of “too much” can propel children into the realm of disorder. A child who is systematic may be pushed into obsessive behaviours. A dreamy child may lose the ability to focus.

Payne conducted a study in which he simplified the lives of children with attention deficit disorder. Within four short months 68% went from being clinically dysfunctional to clinically functional. The children also displayed a 37% increase in academic and cognitive aptitude, an effect not seen with commonly prescribed drugs like Ritalin.

As a new parent I find this both empowering and terrifying. We officially have a massive opportunity and responsibility to provide an environment in which our children can thrive physically, emotionally and mentally.

So, what are we getting wrong and how can we fix it?

Read the full article from raisedgood.com by clicking this link