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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 second.

• 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 work.

• 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

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.
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
community page for ways to become involved in your child's school.

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