my background

joy de berker .jpg

Born in 1956, my own primary school began academic studies more slowly than is common today. Many creative and artistic activities were experienced daily throughout the week. Lessons often took place outside in the garden, and we were allowed to play there in our break times whatever the weather. This accent on free, imaginative play and a childhood that needs to be close to thenatural world has had a profound influence on my working life, and was a key element in my later attraction and involvement in Steiner Kindergarten work.

Whilst bringing up my own family, I realised that what was available to them educationally appeared to be a system working against a child’s true nature, and did not take fully into account their natural course of development. After qualifying as a Steiner Kindergarten teacher I pioneered an independent Kindergarten and school which grew rapidly to under a hundred children. This was an extremely rewarding and demanding experience, and has had a key part to play in my interest and involvement with young, pioneering projects and working with parents and teachers today.

I saw also that mainstream teacher training departments were by and large unaware of Steiner educational practice, and could greatly benefit by encountering the elements that could be introduced into both private and State schools. The more rich and diverse are the educational establishments today,the better we will meet the needs our children in a relevant and joyful way.

Finally, and for me most importantly, I hope to provide support, encouragement and enthusiasm for this most important yet much neglected role of being a parent. Isolation through a lack of kindred spirits in one's community can make family life and the role of the main carer extremely hard. Monetary pressures also force many mothers to leave the home prematurely, but where can these children really gain the rich and loving experiences they will need to carry them through the struggles of later life? All the material and resources that I bring to these groups has been learnt, tried and tested through my own time spent both as a mother and teacher.