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8th Annual Early Childhood Symposium

The Five Golden Keys of Early Childhood:
Protecting the Child and the Teacher’s Etheric

November 10-12, 2017

Dates: November 10-12, 2017
Presented By: Early Childhood Department
Keynote Speaker: Helle Heckmann
Price: Symposium $225, Friday Pre-Conference $50

Meal Option: Lunch on Saturday, November 11 is included in the conference fee for all attendees.
Vendors: If you are interested in being a vendor at our Early Childhood Symposium, please contact Anne Boyd at

Join us for a weekend of singing, puppetry, workshops, and inspiration.

Keynote speaker Helle Heckmann is the founder and director of Nøkken, a Waldorf daycare center in Denmark for children from ages one to seven. Nøkken has served as an inspiration for Waldorf kindergartens and nurseries worldwide.

Workshops include wet felting, parent work, aftercare, birth to three, therapeutic movement, and more. Movement groups as well as discussion groups will include singing games and circle work.

Pre-Conference on Friday, November 10
Pre-conference workshop topics include Working with Children Birth to Three with Cynthia Aldinger, Singing Games and Circle Work with Anna Rainville, and How to Create Parent Partnership and Meaningful Parent Meetings with Annie Bosque.

Also Included
Marionette performance Saturday night
Vendors’ Bazaar on Saturday
Singing with Anna Rainville
Puppetry with Jennifer Aguirre

Pre-Conference Workshops

Friday, November 10
Choose (1) Workshop

How to Create Parent Partnership and Meaningful Parent Meetings with Annie Bosque
Imagine an early childhood program where families and teachers work together as partners. What would that look like? Can educators create and support an atmosphere of unity and collaboration? Educators have a unique opportunity and responsibility to create mutual trust with families and demonstrate the importance of relationships to children. The educator might consider the following introspective questions:  What feelings arise when thinking about working with parents?  What strengths are needed?  What can be challenging?  Reflecting upon questions such as these, teachers develop an understanding about their own perceptions and beliefs around working with parents. Participants will be given a user guide to support them in partnership activities, with a main focus on monthly parent meetings.

Wrapping a Mantle of Warmth and Delight Around the Early Years Birth to Three with Cynthia Aldinger
Let’s gather and share our deepest understandings, our joyous delights, our trials and tribulations, our wonderings and ponderings about these marvelous and mysterious little ones in the first three years of life. Bring your stories as well as your questions regarding working with young children.Taking the metaphor of travel (“how like an angel came I down”), we may consider the following:

  • Delayed departures and early arrivals
  • Coming in for a landing
  • At the arrival gate
  • Which terminal am I in?
  • Baggage claim
  • Settling in
  • Where next?

Singing Games and Circle Time (Traditional and New Singing Games) with Anna Rainville
Singing games are a part of every culture and generation. These gems provide healthy opportunities for sensory integration while lifting spirits and building community. Singing and moving together in simple or complicated forms appeals to all ages whether in a classroom, faculty meeting, or neighborhood gathering. They are contagious joy. Come experience the wisdom embedded in these games to encourage healthy human development in body, soul, and spirit.


Saturday, November 11
11:15a-12:45p and 2:00-3:30p (all workshops span both time slots)
Choose (1) Workshop

The Art of the Fleece Story Board with Jennifer Aguirre
In this workshop we will create beautiful needle felted flat wool fleece figures to bring to visual life in a story. Several stories will be offered as examples and class participants can choose among these story suggestions or bring story ideas of their own. We will not be making the storyboards in this workshop but instructions on how to make your own will be given plus there will be some available for purchase. Class is limited to 20 participants and there is a $10 supply fee payable to the instructor (must be in cash).

Working with our Hands with Barbara Klocek
Using handwork and child’s work to enhance the classroom culture in the kindergarten. What is the role of work and handwork in the classroom? How can children help in the classroom? What are some teacher- and child-friendly projects? How important is the end product? How can we support children in developing skill with their hands? We will follow work and handwork through the year as a way of exploring skills and projects with cleaning, wool, sewing, paper and puppets. We will experience the process of creating wet felted vegetables and bunnies during the class. Class is limited to 24 participants.

Therapeutic Movement with Alice Stamm
Movement to support the teachers’ life forces for renewal and maintaining imaginative forces as well as movement integrative for the children out of eurythmy and song and for moving puppets and enlivening the children. Class is limited to 25 participants.

Life is the Curriculum – Finding Joy in the Midst of it All! with Cynthia Aldinger
Working with some of the guiding questions explored in Cynthia’s book Life is the Curriculum, we can explore how to maintain levity and joy through meaningful, purposeful work that comprises daily life with children.

The Future of Care Taking Children with the Changes of Family Constellations and Modern Life with Helle Heckmann
This workshop will explore the mixed age kindergarten as well as the care taking of children with regards to changing families.

Strengthening our Etheric with Lee Sturgeon Day
“All anxiety arises from being out of touch with reality.” ~ Rudolf Steiner
The etheric is the life giving and healing realm, within each of us, between others, and ourselves and which unites us with the world around, both visible and unseen. This workshop will offer some practical and creative ways of strengthening our relationships, our deep, but often broken, connection, and ourselves with the healing forces in the world around us. Come and enjoy working with images, picturing your child, and supporting each other in this great and challenging adventure of life!

Building Community in Aftercare with Debra Wilkinson
In this workshop, we will explore how to build community through crafting and celebrating the festival life of the school. Participants will leave with practical ideas on how to set up healthy communications with teachers and parents, how to keep balance when working with multi age children, and ideas for nutritional snacks that are fun and easy to prepare with the help of the children.

Understanding Outliers with Stephen Spitalny
How extremes (large/small headed, thin/thick skinned, autism, etc…) can teach us about all the children and suggestions for working with children in our early childhood groups with unusual needs. This workshop is based on years of experience and research based on Steiner’s Curative Education lectures.

Singing and Playing the Harp in the Pentatonic Mood and Mood of the Fifth with Andrea Pronto
Creating a musical space of light and peacefulness. Class is limited to 10 participants.

Optional Movement or Discussion Groups

Saturday, November 11
Choose (1) Discussion Group or Movement Group

Discussion Groups (All discussion groups are limited to 30 participants)

  • Essentials in Aftercare and Working with Children in the Afternoon with Katie Montgomery – This discussion will focus on both aftercare and full day programs. Let’s explore how the afternoon rhythm may compliment the morning and nurture the children with warmth, joy, rest, and wonder.
  • Inspirations for Parent Partnership and Meaningful Parent Meetings with Annie Bosque

Movement Groups (All movement groups are limited to 25 participants)

  • Eurythmy with Alice Stamm
  • Thinking Outside the Ring: Simple, Imaginative Games for the Preschool Age Child with Stephanie Skinner and Hellene Brodsky Blake
  • Singing Games for Kindergarten Age Children with Anna Rainville
  • Circle Work with Stephen Spitalny
  • Movement Drawing with Lee Sturgeon Day – This calming, harmonizing and energizing activity can relieve the stresses of daily life, and focus and balance us for the tasks ahead. Welcome all “doodlers.” No artistic experience necessary.


Lunch on Saturday, November 11 is included in the conference fee for all attendees. Many of our ingredients are organic and locally sourced, some from our own biodynamic Raphael Garden. Select your choice of regular, vegetarian, or gluten-free meals when registering.


Friday, November 10

12:00-1:00p Pre-Conference Registration
1:00-4:30p Pre-Conference
5:30-7:00p Conference Registration
5:30p Presenters’ Dinner in Philadelphia Hall
7:00-7:15p Welcome from Annie Bosque
7:15-7:30p Singing with Anna Rainville
7:30-7:45p Puppetry with Jennifer Aguirre
7:45-8:45p Keynote Speaker Helle Heckmann

Saturday, November 11

8:00- 8:20a Singing with Anna Rainville
8:20-8:40a Puppetry with Jennifer Aguirre
8:40-8:50a General Announcements
9:00-10:30a Keynote Speaker Helle Heckmann
10:30-11:15a Snack Break and Shopping at Vendor’s Bazaar
11:15a-12:45p Workshop: Part One
12:45-2:00p Lunch (provided by RSC) and Shopping Vendor’s Bazaar
2:00-3:30p Workshop: Part Two
3:30-4:00p Break
4:00-5:00p Optional Movement or Discussion Groups
5:00p Vendors’ Bazaar Closes
5:15-5:45p Magic Lantern Traveling Marionette Theater

Sunday, November 12

8:30-8:45a Singing with Anna Rainville
8:45-9:05a Laughter with Ronald Koetzsch
9:05-9:20a General Announcements
9:20-10:00a Questions & Answers with Helle Heckmann
10:00-10:30a Snack Break
10:30a-12:00p Final Keynote Lecture with Helle Heckmann
12:00p Closing with Annie Bosque


Helle Heckmann has dedicated more than 30 years to working with young children and parents. She was the director of the Kindergarten Nokken in Denmark. She has written countless articles and books to support early childhood educators and parents and has traveled to more than 50 countries.

Anna Rainville has lifted spirits with singing games and group harmony for decades. An experienced Waldorf educator, she travels widely to mentor and teach. Her book, Singing Games for Families, Schools and Communities, is cherished by early childhood teachers.

Jennifer Aguirre is in her 20th year of teaching a puppetry grades curriculum at the Sierra Waldorf School in Sonora, California where she also performs regularly for the school’s kindergartens and festival events.  Over the years she has developed 8 different themed Puppet Pocket Story Aprons and for 20 plus years she has enchanted young audiences with her puppets in a variety of public venues. She lives in a Gold Rush era home with her husband where they raised their two grown children.

Cynthia Aldinger founded LifeWays North America in 2001. Author of the book, Life is the Curriculum, and co-author of the book, Home Away From Home: LifeWays Care of Children and Families, Cynthia has lectured and presented internationally and is pedagogical director for trainings and seminars across the U.S.  She served 14 years on the board of the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America.  A former Waldorf kindergarten teacher, Cynthia received her Waldorf teaching certificate at Emerson College in Sussex, England.  A mother and grandmother, Cynthia’s passion is the preservation of the playful spirit of childhood and helping to create home-like environments that provide the comfort, security and activities found in a healthy home.

Alice Stamm has been teaching in both Waldorf private and charter schools for some 38 years and especially, after retiring several years ago, in kindergartens! She has developed puppet eurythmy and also does first grade assessments to round out her love and admiration for this vocation.

Annie Bosque is the Lead Faculty in the Early Childhood Department at Rudolf Steiner College in Fair Oaks, California. She is also the teacher and creator of the outdoor kindergarten program at Golden Valley River School. She recently completed her Master in Education at RSC with a focus on how to create and support parent teacher partnership.

Barbara Klocek taught kindergarten for more than 20 years at Sacramento Waldorf School.  Recently retired she has been mentoring teachers as well as following her artistic path. She has a Master in Fine Arts, Waldorf Teacher Training, and has worked as an art therapist. She and her husband Dennis have three grown sons and a large biodynamic garden.

Stephen Spitalny was a kindergarten teacher at the Santa Cruz Waldorf School in California for 24 years. His mixed-age kindergarten included children from 3-years-old until they were ready for the first grade. Since the mid-1990s, Steve has given workshops, lectures, and courses on many themes for institutions and groups including Rudolf Steiner College and schools in Indonesia and China. Steve’s first book, Connecting with Young Children: Educating the Will, was published in 2011. Conscious Parenting: A Guide to Living with Young Children and What’s the Story? were both published in 2015.

Stephanie Skinner teaches preschool at Live Oak Waldorf School in California.  She has taught in the teacher training program at Rudolf Steiner College for several years and has been an active member on the Alliance for Public Waldorf Education.

Lee Sturgeon Day is a counselor and adult educator. She has been offering practical and imaginative resources to help parents and caregivers nurture themselves during the stresses of life for more than 30 years.  She has taught in several Waldorf teacher training programs across the country.

Hellene Brodsky Blake brings over 20 years of teaching experience. She has taught parent tot classes through college graduate level classes. She has taught at a variety of teacher training programs that include Rudolf Steiner College, Gradalis, and Journey School. Hellene has learned to cultivate joy, love, and reverence in her classroom like seeds in a garden. She continues to draw strength in teaching by building exceptional “community” with parents and colleagues.

Debra Wilkinson has worked in the aftercare program at Golden Valley River School in California for 9 years. Before working at Golden Valley, she worked for eight years as a head preschool teacher in a local Montessori school. Debra also has a licensed daycare in which she runs her summer camps. She has run her Free Range Summer Camp for 5 years. Her strength is building community through the festival life of the curriculum.

Katie Montgomery is an afternoon teacher at Cedarwood Waldorf School in Portland, Oregon. She teaches with the Woodland Garden Full Day Program. She recently completed her Waldorf teacher training at Rudolf Steiner College with a focus on aftercare and full day programs.

Andrea Pronto currently teaches music at Golden Valley Charter Schools. She has taught at Live Oak, Rudolf Steiner College, WISC, and has conducted workshops for the last 30 years. Inspired by her teacher, Julius Knierim, she continues to deepen her understanding of the Mood of the Fifth and how it can nourish the child of today.

Early Childhood Symposium Flyer (PDF)

EC Symposium Flyer

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