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Use the information provided on this site as an educational resource for determining your options and making your own
informed choices. It is not intended as medical advice or to diagnose, prescribe, or treat any specific illness.
Toys, Products, and Ideas
for Sensory Education
Here is an excerpt from Learning Disability: A Rose by Another Name at The Natural Child Project website:

"Imagine for a moment that you are visiting a plant nursery. You hear a commotion outside, so you investigate. You
find a young assistant struggling with a rose bush. He is trying to force open the petals of a rose, and muttering in
frustration. You ask him what he is doing and he explains, "My boss wants all these roses to bloom this week, so last
week I taped all the early ones, and now I'm opening the late ones." You protest that every rose has it's own schedule
of blooming; it is absurd to try to slow down or speed this up; it doesn't matter when roses bloom; a rose will always
bloom at its own best time. You look at the rose again, and see that it is wilting. But when you point this out, he replies,
"Oh, too bad, it has genetic dysbloomia. I'll have to call an expert." "No, no!" you say, "you caused the wilting! All you
needed to do was meet the flowers' needs for water and sunshine, and leave the rest to nature!" You can't believe this
is happening. Why is his boss so unrealistic and uninformed about roses?

Such a scene would never take place in a nursery, of course, but it happens daily in our schools. Teachers, pressured
by their bosses, follow official timetables, which demand that all children learn at the same rate, and in the same way.
Yet children are no different than roses in their development: they are born with the capacity and desire to learn, they
learn at different rates, and they learn in different ways. If we can meet their needs, provide a safe, nurturing
environment, and keep from interfering with our doubts, anxieties, and arbitrary timetables, then- like roses- they will all
bloom at their own best time."
See our
Learning Styles page for more on children's different temperaments and needs.  And don't forget to let them
play! See "
A Child's Work The Importance of Fantasy Play".

Educational Therapy
Educational therapy investigates, defines and addresses an individual’s pattern of learning strengths and deficiencies.
Educational therapy addresses underlying learning skills such as visual and auditory processing, attention and focus,
and memory skills on an individual basis. An educational therapist is a professional who works with young children,
adolescents and adults for the evaluation and treatment of learning problems. These problems may include, but are
not limited to, dyslexia, attention deficit disorder,  reading comprehension, language processing problems, writing,
spelling, math, ADD, poor motivation, low academic self-esteem, poor social, organizational, and study skills,
performance anxiety, and other learning difficulties.

Therapy goals include restoring self-esteem, improving the learning process, developing learning strategies, and
helping the student feel comfortable in his or her learning environment.  Key to the success of educational therapy is
the one-on-one format that provides positive, immediate feedback in a "safe" environment; one in which a child is not
embarrassed or threatened by exposure of what he is unable to do in front of peers, siblings or parents.  Teaching
students HOW to learn allows students the eventual freedom of succeeding on their own as independent learners.

An Educational Therapist typically has access to and consults with many other specialists including Educational
Advocates, Child Psychologists, Speech Pathologists, Occupational Therapists, Resource Specialists, and Tutors. If
your child is struggling, see
All Kinds of Minds resources for help.

Educational Therapy Q & A.  Visit our links page for local resources, advocates, and community groups.

When children relate what they learn to their own experience, they are interested and alive, and what they learn
becomes their own. Waldorf schools are designed to foster this kind of learning.

Waldorf Education has its roots in the spiritual-scientific research of the Austrian scientist and thinker Rudolf Steiner
(1861-1925). According to Steiner's philosophy, man is a threefold being of spirit, soul, and body whose capacities
unfold in three developmental stages on the path to adulthood: early childhood, middle childhood, and adolescence.

Waldorf Education is a developmentally appropriate, balanced education that integrates the arts and academics for
children from preschool through twelfth grade. Waldorf Education encourages the development of each child's sense
of truth, beauty, and goodness; an antidote to violence, alienation, and cynicism. The aim of the education is to fully
develop the capacities of each student and to inspire a love for lifelong learning.

Some distinctive features of Waldorf education include the following:

• Academics are de-emphasized in the early years of schooling. There is no academic content in the Waldorf
kindergarten experience (although there is a good deal of cultivation of pre-academic skills), and minimal academics in
first grade. Reading is not taught until second or third grade, though the letters are introduced carefully in first and

• During the elementary school years (grades 1-8) the students have a class (or "main lesson") teacher who stays
with the same class for (ideally) the entire eight years of elementary school.

• Certain activities which are often considered "frills" at mainstream schools are central at Waldorf schools: art, music,
gardening, and foreign languages (usually two in elementary grades), to name a few. In the younger grades, all
subjects are introduced through artistic mediums, because the children respond better to this medium than to dry
lecturing and rote learning. All children learn to play recorder and to knit.

• There are no "textbooks" as such in the first through fifth grades. All children have "main lesson books", which are
their own workbooks which they fill in during the course of the year. They essentially produce their own "textbooks"
which record their experiences and what they've learned. Upper grades use textbooks to supplement their main lesson

• Learning in a Waldorf school is a noncompetitive activity. There are no grades given at the elementary level; the
teacher writes a detailed evaluation of the child at the end of each school year.

• The use of electronic media, particularly television, by young children is strongly discouraged in Waldorf schools.

See the
Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA) website.

Natural Toys page has links to our favorite natural, wooden, and/or Waldorf toy sites.

See our play page for more of Maria Montessori's philosophies.  Anyone who is interested in finding or starting a
Montessori school should be aware of the fact that the word Montessori, is not patented and anyone can use it. Thus,
the use of the word Montessori is no assurance of quality. If you want to enroll your child in a Montessori school it is
important that you learn what a Montessori school should be like, and then observe children working in the school you
are considering.

Educational Materials for 0-3
A sparse environment of carefully chosen materials calls the child to work, concentration, and joy. A crowded or
chaotic environment can cause stress and can dissipate a child's energy. Before the age of six, a child learns from
direct contact with the environment, by means of all the senses, and through movement; the child literally absorbs what
is in the environment. The toys and materials in the home and school should be of the very best quality to call forth
self-respect, respect and care from the child toward the environment, and the development of an appreciation of
beauty.  Montessorians are very cautious about allowing children to be guinea pigs for the use of new inventions, and
in the long history of humans on earth, both computers and televisions are very recent inventions. We are finding out
that even such relatively simple objects as pacifiers and walkers get in the way of optimal and healthful development,
and recent brain research reveals to us that computers and television may have far more negative influences on our
children's development than positive.

The Montessori educational philosophy believes that the educational method, to be effective, must support and
address the nature of the child. The nature of the child is not a theoretical construct, but based upon Montessori's
detailed observation of the child.

Based upon her observations Montessori came to understand the inner nature of the child:

  • The child is a dynamic, curious person that has an inner need to know the the world. The Montessori classroom
    has a multitude of fascinating materials from which to select.

  • The child comes to know the world through the senses. Consequently, experiences that develop and refine the
    sense are fundamental to knowing the world. Further, because knowing the world comes through the sense
    activities must concrete and have "manipulatives" (i.e. toy or game-like). The curriculum area of sensorial in the
    Montessori classroom aids the child in the development and refinement of the senses and the many
    manipulative materials in the classroom allows the child to explore and learn.

  • The child auto-educated. Essentially, the child constructs knowledge through physically manipulating the
    environment. The physical manipulation, or handling of the environment, allows the child to construct mental
    images. Mental images lay the foundation for later abstractions. The Montessori teacher does not teach, but
    rather provides experiences for the child to construct mental images.

  • The child learns that which is of personal interest. It is important, therefore, for the child to have freedom to
    select activities that are highly interesting. The Montessori classroom contains hundreds of colorful, exciting
    materials that are of interest to children.

  • The child repeats activities until they are fully mastered. The Montessori class schedule has long, uninterrupted
    times in the morning and in the afternoon for the child to concentrate on activities.

  • The child is orderly and focused. The Montessori classroom is calm, respectful and peaceful. This atmosphere
    meets the child's inner need for an atmosphere that supports concentration. The Montessori classroom is
    orderly and encourages the child to maintain an orderly environment.

Based upon the inner nature of the child the role of the teacher is defined:

  • The teacher observes the child to determine what is of interest to the child.

  • The teacher prepares the environment to meet the observed needs of the child.

Based upon the nature of the child and the observed needs of the child the environment is prepared to serve the child.

Visit the
American Montessori Society to locate a school.

Coalition of Essential Schools

Small, personalized learning communities where teachers and students know each other well in a climate of trust,
decency and high expectations for all. Essential schools work to create academic success for every student by sharing
decision-making with all those affected by the schools and deliberately and explicitly confronting all forms of inequity.
Essential schools focus on helping all students use their minds well through standards-aligned interdisciplinary studies,
community-based "real-world" learning and performance-based assessment.

See the
Essential Schools website to find out more or locate schools near you.

Unschooling and Homeschooling

Unschooling is also known as natural, interest-led, and child-led learning.  Unschoolers learn from everyday life
experiences, follow their interests, and learn in much the same way as adults do—by pursuing an interest or curiosity.  
In the same way that children learn to walk and talk, unschooled children learn their math, science, reading, and
history,  pursuing questions and interests as they arise and using conventional schooling on an "on demand" basis, if
at all.  John Holt, schoolteacher and founder of the unschooling movement has an in-depth definition
here and has
written several books on the subject which can be found at the website

Homeschooling is an exciting movement in education today.  It's not exactly new; up until 1850 most children in
America were educated at home.  The past 25 years have seen a revival in homeschooling and now between two and
three million children in the United States are learning at home.
Homeschool.com was created to empower parents to
create the ideal school for their child at home! Homeschool.com’s founding principle is to consistently provide
resources, information, and support to all homeschooling families.  In his book, "Family Matters: Why Homeschooling
Makes Sense", David Guterson, a high school English teacher tells why he has chosen to educate his own sons at
home, offering information on the academic success of home-schooled children, the meaning of education, the
psychology of learning, and education in other societies. Visit
All Things Homeschool and/or Homefires for a great
start. There are also many online educational websites that offer curriculum, games, worksheets, and more!

ICT Games-online math and literacy games for grades K-5
Medtropolis-Virtual Tour of Human Body for grades 5-12

See our
Earth Friendly Classroom page for ways to teach environmental awareness and make your classroom a part
of it.

There is one thing you can give to your children that no one can take away and that is an education.  No matter what
type of education you choose for your child, be involved.  Ask their teacher how things are going.  Talk to your child
about their day, their friends, and their schoolwork.  Volunteer at their school.   Be an advocate for them.  And trust
that they will grow into the independent, responsible, honorable adult that they were meant to be. See our
page for ways to become involved in your child's school.

"Kids don't resist learning; they resist teaching." John Gatto
Homeroom creative link