O.Fred Donaldson in San Francisco Bay Area, August 8-10

Master of roly-poly play, international teacher, O. Fred Donaldson, the creator of Original Play and author of “Playing by Heart: The Vision and Practice of Belonging” will teach how we can play with our children in the way they truly wish to be played with.

fred playing

Play becomes a language of deep connection, love, and understanding.

You are invited to Fred’s transformative weekend workshop in Fairfax, CA.

Public talk: Friday eve August 8th 7:00pm- 9:00pm
Workshop: Saturday 10:00am – 5:00pm and Sunday 12noon-3:00pm

Private location in Fairfax, CA 94930 – Please register for information

Please come dressed and prepared to be on the floor, and move freely and comfortably.

Children will be welcomed into the workshop for the last part of Sunday’s playshop.

Friday night only (drop-ins welcome / email carmen@newlearningculture.com for address): suggested donation $20

Complete program: Friday night, Saturday and Sunday: $185 reduced course fee $100

Please register with your payment:

What is Original Play?

The Original Play® program is the result of thirty years of research on childrens’, adults’ and wild animals’ play behaviour.

“Original Play”® seeks: to improve relationships between individuals and groups by replacing aggression and violence between people with kindness and love to make every child feel safe and loved.


“Original Play”®: presents an alternative to aggression and violence without the use of force, while maintaining self esteem for oneself as well as others. It provides choices of possible reactions to aggression, violence and fear without the need for revenge. It transforms deep-rooted negative habits and patterns of behaviour into new habits based on feelings of love, belonging and safety. It creates a safe space for the transformation of physical or verbal aggression.

fred inner city
“Original Play”® is a preventative, intervention and strategic process that uses the power of natural play to activate natural mechanisms of development and health.

“Original Play”® is a psychological and physiological process. It is a combination of cognitive, emotional and sensory-motor learning, which can only be understood and developed by practice.

“Original Play”® is free of competition, rivalry and feelings of winning or losing. It is a universal process, reaching beyond cultural, social or language boundaries. That is why it serves as the basis for interpersonal communication and cultural integration. It is a meeting place where we can feel that we belong to a group, without the social divisions.


Come join us for this unique opportunity to learn from O.Fred Donaldson!

CLICK TO REGISTER: http://www.newlearningculture.com/fred-donaldson.html

Or contact Carmen Gamper Carmen@NewLearningCulture.com

Yeay ! School’s out! Mom, I’m home! 7 Tips To Get Your Home Ready for Summer Vacation

Summer vacation is here! Your kids maybe spending more time at home. Let them feel welcome by re-arranging some basic things around the house and creating a YES environment. Prepare play spaces intentionally to inspire your kids toward meaningful activities. Then, you can allow them to play freely within safe and healthy boundaries. Observe your kids lovingly, soon you will see that behind the sometimes cute and seemingly illogical activities, true learning processes are occurring. As you know, learning is not limited to school hours.


1) Prepare floor and table spaces for your kids to play, work or create without interruptions. Choose beautiful, comfortable, sunny spaces with cushions so that your kids LOVE to hang out there. A rug can define a play-space on the floor, so that the toys and learning materials don’t flood the whole room.

2) Prepare a shelf or drawer with basic art supplies for your kid’s independent use, meaning they don’t need to bother/ask you when they would like to start a small art project. Place paper in various sizes and colors, pencils, kid-proof scissors and glue, beautiful pictures for collages, colorful yarn. Use supplies you already own. “Waste material” like toilet paper rolls, egg boxes, and yogurt cups make great art supplies. To enhance creative work, you could add an extra table for art projects.


3) Move all breakable decor, such as vases and delicate china, from the lower shelves in the living room and place them out of reach on higher shelves so that you won’t need to worry that they will be broken. The lower shelves work perfectly for toys, books or art supplies.

4) Kids love role-playing. Prepare a “dress-up” space with colorful materials, jewelry and hats. You can help arrange puppets, stuffed animals, dolls and miniature landscapes with cars, trees and figurines. By imitating mom, dad, or others, children process emotions and situations they experience. By pretending to fly, dive or eat, their creative, imaginary world is activated, and kids explore the concept of symbols, which is the foundation of literacy and numeracy.

5) Have water and healthy snacks in easy access places, so your kids can eat and drink without having to ask for it. You can place a water pitcher and glasses and nicely cut fruit and vegetables on a table. Add a sponge and towel for cleaning up, so spills are not a big deal.


6) Your children need plenty of movement to maintain a healthy body. Inspect all outdoor spaces in your home and remove all potentially dangerous items — boards with nails, glass, unstable ladders, toxic chemicals, etc. Wander through your garden and find out if the tree is suitable for climbing, where little huts or fairy houses could be built, and where your kids could start gardening space to watch plants grow. If you don’t have an outdoor space at home, explore the nature trails and playgrounds in your area. (Go for a theme walk together, and find as many different leaves as you can. Then, look them up in a lexicon at home or take a trip to your local library.)


7) For teenagers: Help them find a “real-life” project, like planning the family’s vacation, painting a wall or repairing the fence. In adolescence it is essential to find meaningful ways to contribute to the family and to a larger social circle, like volunteering at a community garden or at the library.


Your home can be a creative playground for kids as well as a sanctuary for adults when spaces are effectively defined. Communicate with your kids patiently and state your boundaries friendly but firmly. Share your expectations and also listen to their wishes. Find compromises to fulfill as many needs as possible. By holding space for your kids to play freely and naturally, you can (re)experience the present-moment awareness and joyfulness of childhood together with them at home.

Child Education Survey for Parents

Dear Parents,

We are interested in learning more about your thoughts and experiences surrounding your child’s education.
PARENT SURVEY: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/9MHXYHQ

This brief survey is anonymous and your answers will help us better understand your needs to refine the New Learning Culture offerings and courses to better serve you!

It will only take 3 minutes of your time.
Please complete this survey once per child.

We appreciate your participation.
Thank you!
PARENT SURVEY: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/9MHXYHQ

With love and enthusiasm to better fulfill your family’s needs,
Carmen Gamper Founder New Learning Culture Consulting
and Mary Oscategui Founder International Maternity Institute


Does discipline matter to you? Do you think discipline has a role to play in your parenting? Do you recognize the value of healthy self-discipline in your own life?

I just read a great book Mindful Discipline and it reaffirmed that there are healthy versions of discipline and self-discipline.

Here’s the link to Mindful Discipline on amazon:

Here are the four reasons why a loving and mindful discipline is important:
1. Discipline creates harmony in your home.
2. Discipline supports mental health and a sense of well-being.
3. Discipline helps kids function well and reach their full potential.
4. Discipline ultimately leads to the resolution of “behavioral problems.”

Harmony in your Home
We all want out home to be a place of rest: a place where we can enjoy some amount of quiet, flow with our projects, and sweet intimacy with each other. To do this, we need to create a certain amount of structure and habits of respectful and heartfelt interaction. When we focus on meeting our children’s needs first, they feel better, act out less, and become more capable of contributing to harmony in the home. Meeting your child’s needs is the basis of Mindful Discipline, and leads to more harmony in the home.

Mental Health and Well-Being
Your child’s overall health and experience of life depend on the development of her body and nervous system—and many factors go into that development. But the area of the brain that is perhaps most responsible for mental health and the experience of well-being is the middle regions of the prefrontal cortex (PFC). This area—often called the CEO of the brain—is responsible for the following 9 functions:
1. Bodily regulation
2. Emotional balance
3. Down-regulation of fear
4. Impulse control/response flexibility
5. Attuned communication
6. Empathy
7. Ethical behavior
8. Self-insight
9. Intuition

This list—created by Dr. Dan Siegel—is the basis for mental health and the experience of well-being and is optimally supported by the Mindful Discipline approach.

Optimal Functioning and Becoming Fully Ourselves
A disciplined mind and brain not only feels better, but functions better. Full brain development takes at least twenty-five years, and every step of the way the PFC supports our functioning in life. It is the basis for emotional and social intelligence, allows us to remain focused when under stress, and allows us to choose the most appropriate response given the needs of the situation. This is how we not only come to function well, but also how we become able to pursue our dreams and reach our full potential in life. Don’t we all want that for our children?

The Resolution of Behavioral Problems
And finally, one of our jobs as parents is to guide our children toward taking responsibility for greater and greater portions of the “work” of daily life as they mature. We all hope that one day they will be able to brush their own teeth, get along with each other, and do their homework without our having to badger them. The more we can turn the work of parenting over to them, the more we can relax into the joys of being a parent.

For these reasons (and more), we parents should find a way to incorporate a healthy and loving discipline into our homes. Mindful Discipline does a fantastic job at detailing what children need in order to grow up into emotionally intelligent, self-disciplined, and resilient beings who deeply appreciate their parents.

You can read the book’s introductory chapter here:

With gratitude to the authors, Dr. Chris White and Shauna Shapiro Phd.

Carmen Gamper

From Passion To Active Compassion To Vocation

Here’s a personal post I published as a guest blogger on Lynn Sheurell’s who is a creative catalyst and business consultant….Enjoy!

From Passion To Active Compassion To Vocation


Whenever you feel deeply touched by an injustice you hear about, you may be a step closer to your calling. Take a newspaper and read the headlines and notice which ones make you crunch inside the most. Is it environmental abuse? Injustice done to the weaker ones, children, prisoners, patients, animals? Or is it economic disparity?

Pick your battle! But instead of or in addition to battling what is, consider putting all your passion and efforts into finding and supporting solutions. There is a reason why you feel affected by specific issues. It ruffles your feathers so you can get active and become part of the solution.

You can become part of the solution in many ways, and if you decide to commit fully to one of our problems that needs to be solved, be sure the magic support of the universe is on your side. That may sounds too fantastic, but it is true. Once you commit your strength to alleviating suffering in any way, the infinite force of evolution is on your side.

Now let me share my story with you. I was around twenty-five years old, and the issue that started touching me deeply was the abuse children experience at school. Having been at public school in Europe my whole life, I knew the issue by heart. I noticed I lost my joy of learning early on but luckily functioned well in the school system. Only during my Montessori teacher training that I concluded (after becoming a university-trained high school teacher) did I realize how much more joyful I could have been in my learning if I had been given a chance to be more self-directed. In addition, I realized that through all these school years, I didn’t learn any of the skills I now desperately needed: team work, non-violent communication, mediation, emotional processing, healthy nutrition, being connected to my inner guidance and the list goes on.

So I had found my “battle”. I researched more child-friendly education methods and discovered that a whole lot had already been tried. Through my years in some of the child-centered Wild-inspired schools in Europe, I developed the New Learning Culture approach – an approach that takes the most child-friendly elements from alternative education approaches and synthesizes them for teachers to learn how to provide child-directed learning environments.

On my path to becoming a consultant for child-directed learning, I was surprised with countless blessings. All my needs have always been met even during the times when my young business did not bring in enough to pay the rent. My family and friends reached out to support me during the times when I set up my course programs. I miraculously found a house with affordable rent. People were open to trading with me for my services when I did not have enough money to pay for their services. And this was validation for me to pursue my new passion.

By following my vocation, I experienced the help of many many people and each time I received a miraculous blessing, I knew it was the force of evolution itself that supported me. And it is still happening.

Obviously I don’t know if it will be the same way for you. But I do think the power of the pure heart devoted to finding a solution to the immense unnecessary suffering that is happening is irresistible! The additional intelligence you develop when stopping emotional drama and survival fear while dedicating your time and effort to a cause is going to help you manifest a livelihood. All surroundings are spontaneously compelled to support you because they know it’s reciprocal and they also support themselves and their own children by helping you.

Your passionate compassion turned vocation can change the world. If you’ve let anything stop you up until now, and don’t do something starting now, you’ll never know what might have been – and it is the people you could have helped that will suffer the most.

Lynn Scheurell – the wonderful owner of this blog can help with business questions. I met her over 5 years ago, when she offered me and a few inspired friends a special connection in order to give our business wings. We haven’t looked back since – thank you Lynn!!!

About the Author
Carmen Gamper is founder of New Learning Culture Consulting and passionately serves as an international advocate and consultant for innovative child-centered education. She combines elements from Montessori, Waldorf, and Reggio Emilia education, as well as the new sciences of epigenetics and neuro-cardiology. Carmen is part of a new European wave of “enhanced” Montessori teachers who are inspired by Rebeca Wild, Claus-Dieter Kaul, and Joseph Chilton Pearce. She co-created two K-8 private schools in Europe based on child-directed learning within healthy boundaries. http://www.NewLearningCulture.com

Happy birthday Maria Montessori !!!

In honor of Maria Montessori’s birthday, on August 31, my dear friend Sybille Tezzele Kramer, artist and homeschooling mum, created a wonderful poster for her !


Sybille’s description of her work:
At the center of the poster, you see a learning companion or mother with some children of various ages. She plays with the Montessori bead frame, and the child in her arm loves to participate! Scattered on the table are some Montessori wood numerals – that seem to interest the cat – and a few bead bars.

Another child is busy with the square roots board, while observing what others are doing. The child left (my favorite child in this picture ) daydreaming and cuddles with the cat. 
On the right we see a girl who chose her own resting place, focusing on a book.

A green moon shines from top reminding me of the Montessori Grammar Box with its crescent green moon symbol for prepositions.

Opposite the sun radiates from the Montessori seasonal cycles material with the colorful icons for each month.

On top, a rainbow bridge connects a small town, symbol for the inner world, with a field of flowers, symbol for the outer world.

In the flower field there is a girl happily contemplating the hanging Montessori multiplication beads.

On top left, two children are exploring a large snail which stands for ” learning at one’s own pace ” look .

Right and left there is a butterfly and a bird, because in Montessori education, there is sufficient space to grow wings!

I dedicate the poster to all who continue to love the spirit and knowledge of Maria Montessori!

If you like the poster, you can copy it and show it on your blog, Twitter or Facebook! Let’s celebrate Maria Montessori’s special day in this way!

With love,
Sybille Tezzele-Kramer
Check out my Art Diary!


Consulting a Public Montessori Middle School in Northern Italy

This spring I had the honor and fun to give a few workshops at an Italian Public Montessori Middle School in Northern Italy. Together we found additional, effective ways to include more Montessori, child-directed elements into their current curriculum.

Mittelschule Schlanders

We introduced Peace Tables in each classroom to give students a proven structure to solve their problems peacefully. We brushed up the weekly classroom meetings with meaningful rituals to help create a space where “talking from the heart” is welcome. We introduced the native American talking stick, and fun beginning and ending circle rituals such as clapping rhythms and making silly faces!


I shared how to offer simple fun physical exercises that connect right and left brain, and help students think better and be more focused. I also shares Master Choa Kok Sui’s Superbrain Yoga, a powerful simple exercise that improves mental capacity and overall health.

MCKS Superbrain Yoga

Here’s what one of the teachers, Daniela Cappellano, said (translated from Italian):”The workshops were very interesting, most of all because I learned practical techniques that I can use to resolve conflicts, and others that help my students concentrate and use their own energies in efficient ways.”

So much gratitude for this meaningful project!
I look forward to offering more workshops next year!

Carmen Gamper

How Children Develop Empathy

When we are born, empathy is not part of our skill set.
We still float in an ocean of oneness and cannot yet distinguish between “you” and “me.” We feel in union with our mother and our environment. As young children, our capacity for empathy expands somewhat, but our worldview remains largely determined by our age-appropriate, child ego-centrism. In the early pre-school years, we tend to believe everyone feels exactly the same way we do. But each time we discover a person feels different than we do, we learn that each of us are separate individuals with unique feelings. As we grow up, we are meant to develop empathy, which is the ability to understand the feelings and perspectives of others.


Empathy is a crucial skill for living together peacefully, cultivating friendships, and working in teams. Through empathy, we willingly slow down to have someone else catch up, or stop our loud drumming because someone else’s ears are hurting. We take time to hear out our classmate and try to understand what she is saying before blurting out our opinion. With the capacity to understand others inner world of motivations, feelings, and perspectives, we can make better decisions as a group and reach our goals together.

We can help our children cultivate empathy.
When we say, “Look at the dog; it seems like he is hurting when you hit him,” we help our children focus on the inner feelings of others to help guide their behavior. In this way, we play an important role in helping support the development of empathy. But here is the good news: it is not all up to us. Mother nature supports children in naturally developing empathy while FREELY PLAYING WITH EACH OTHER. Their internal drive for ROLE PLAY and PRETEND PLAY lead them to playfully experience many different roles, naturally growing their capacity feel the internal world of another.

Children love pretending to be someone else.
They joyfully take on the roles of teacher, student, mother, father, child, storekeeper, hairdresser, doctor, baby, cat, horse, princess, king, pirate, fairy, unicorn. In short, all they “try on” what they see in their environments and hear in stories. By “playing out” different roles children naturally experience the archetypes of human life: the betrayer and the betrayed, the hater and the lover, the excluded one and the admired one, the taker and the giver, the powerful and the weak one, the leader and the follower, the enemy and the ally.

Fasching  2011 091

Through experiencing these different roles during play, children become intimate with the many nuanced movements of the human heart and psyche. The more they experience these nuances, the more empathic they become. HOWEVER, role play only teaches empathy when EACH CHILD FEELS SAFE during play AT ALL TIMES, and when each child knows, they can STOP THEIR GAME anytime they feel unsafe. This is part of our responsibility as adults caring for children.


to make sure that each child can chose her own role joyfully, and that each child’s boundaries are respected. Learning Companions know how and when to step in, stop or redirect children towards play therapy materials such as the sandbox. As Learning Companions, we walk the line between allowing joyful play to do the teaching, and stepping in when necessary to make sure the environment is safe and conducive for optimal learning.
Would you like to learn to use basic skills from non-directive play therapy to skillfully hold a safe space for their role play? Become a Learning Companions by taking The New Learning Culture Online Course

Video Introduction to The New Learning Culture Approach and Course

You may giggle as you hear the beginning of this recording and that’s just right! Yes! Joy and warm-heartedness in education is possible, –alongside academic excellence!

Please keep that smile on your face as you join me onto a journey into the New Learning Culture:

Introduction to The New Learning Culture Approach & Course July 6, 2013 from Carmen Gamper on Vimeo.

With love,
Carmen gamper

Next New Learning Culture NLC ONLINE Training starts in May 2013



Please RSVP for dial-in information: Carmen@NewLearningCulture.com

Froebel Gift


Session 1 — The New Learning Culture Approach
Session 2 — Inspiration and Tools from Maria Montessori, Rebeca Wild, the Reggio Emilia Approach, Friedrich Froebel, Célestin Freinet, the Waldorf Approach, Non-Directive Play Therapy, the Forest Kindergarten, and Democratic Education
Session 3 — The Child in You is Important
Session 4 — Fulfilling Authentic Needs 1: Physical and Emotional Needs
Session 5 — Imagination and Free Play: The Self-Healing and Self-Educating Powers
Session 6 — Fulfilling Authentic Needs 2: Intellectual and Spiritual Needs
Session 7 — Inner Guidance and Healthy Boundaries
Session 8 — Setting Boundaries with Respect
Session 9 — Natural Child Development and Child-Directed Learning
Session 10 — Being a Learning Companion and Offering Non-Invasive Teaching
Session 11 — Creating Inspiring Learning Environments
Session 12 — Hands–on Learning Materials especially to simplify Mathematics
Session 13 — The NLC School in Practice




E-mail Carmen@NewLearningCulture.com

DIY Montessori Spindle Box – same but different

I’m just back from a 6 week NLC consultation stay at the school of the Huichol Center for Cultural Survival founded by Susana Valadez, in Huejuquilla del Alto, in the Sierra Madre, Mexico. I consulted the teacher staff of their preschool and after school program, and we became friends in the process.


Because the teachers have to work with very limited resources, we came up with lots of learning materials made of recycled and nature items.

To create a material similar to the Montessori Spindle Box, we took big bottle caps, numeral stickers, and beans:

bottle caps material

In addition to learning about matching numeral with bean amounts, children can also do simple addition. Just take two bottle caps full with beans that you would like to add to each other and pour them into a third cap that has no numeral sticker, then count the beans…

bottle cap addition

I shared with the teachers how to present materials with the Three-Period Lesson – and they loved it! So simple! So fun!

Stay tuned for more…we made Montessori materials with laundry clips, Froebel materials with plastic bottle rings, the Golden Beads with golden beans, and much more…

Best wishes,
Carmen Gamper

New Learning Culture Online Training starts March 5, 2013

With great joy and due to enthusiastic demand, we are offering the first NLC ONLINE Training starting MARCH 5, 2013.


Session 1 — The New Learning Culture Approach
Session 2 — Inspiration and tools from Maria Montessori, Rebeca Wild, the Reggio Emilia Approach, Friedrich Froebel, Célestin Freinet, the Waldorf Approach, Non-Directive Play Therapy, the Forest Kindergarten, and Democratic Education
Session 3 — The Child in You is Important
Session 4 — Fulfilling Authentic Needs 1: Physical and Emotional Needs
Session 5 — Imagination and Free Play: The Self-Healing and Self-Educating Powers
Session 6 — Fulfilling Authentic Needs 2: Intellectual and Spiritual Needs
Session 7 — Inner Guidance and Healthy Boundaries
Session 8 — Setting Boundaries with Respect
Session 9 — Natural Child Development and Child-Directed Learning
Session 10 — Being a Learning Companion and Offering Non-Invasive Teaching
Session 11 — Creating Inspiring Learning Environments
Session 12 — Hands–on Learning Materials especially to simplify Mathematics
Session 13 — The NLC School in Practice


froebel gift

Tuesday, February 26:
11am PST, 2pm EST, 8pm Rome
Or by appointment

FOR DIAL-IN INFO RSVP TO: Carmen@NewLearningCulture.com


Starting March 5 until April 9, 2013 — from the comfort of your home
1 hour every Tuesday and Thursday for 7 weeks
13 hours live online training plus 1 hour conclusive personal consultation
(Exact time to be determined according to the group’s needs)


REGISTRATION: E-mail Carmen@NewLearningCulture.com

The New Learning Culture School Model

The New Learning Culture school model (NLC model) can be used as a template for alternative schools based on self-directed and hands-on learning. This model is adaptable to any budget and culture. It can be used for home-schooling and classroom environments, from preschool to high school.

Rebeca and Mauricio Wild spearheaded this school model in their preschool through high school learning center in Ecuador. The Wilds shared their experiences in parent circles during their annual visits to Europe during the 1990s and 2000s. In fact, in Europe these schools are called Wild-inspired schools. Carmen Gamper is adapting this school model to the needs of the educators and families in the United States. She calls her personal development of the model the New Learning Culture Model. From her experiences in the European schools, she learned that the adult’s sacred child within needs to heal and learn together with the children. Deepened awareness of personal childhood conditioning prevents us from transferring personal wounds onto children and onto each other. Adults, just like children, need companions and willingness to honor their emotions.

Outdoor area, Lindenschule

Today, there are approximately one hundred and fifty schools adapting this model to their community’s specific needs. Schools have emerged especially in the German and Spanish speaking parts of Europe; Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, South Tyrol (Italy), and Spain. Many of these parent-initiated schools were established in family houses with between five and thirty families participating; some schools serve over hundred families.

Preschool and kindergarten-aged children learn together in prepared environments. Elementary school children share their environments with middle school kids. In addition, middle school kids also have environments that are designed for them.

These schools offer intentionally prepared indoor and outdoor learning environments that change with the needs of the students. Each room is prepared for self-directed, hands-on learning. Each provides a great variety of hands-on materials developed by educators such as Montessori, Seguin, Nikitin, Steiner, Freinet, and many others, including new materials developed by the
parents. These materials cover the traditional elementary and middle school curriculum and more. In addition, children find ready for their independent use: tools from daily life, games, toys, art supplies, countable and uncountable objects, natural elements such as gardens, sand, dirt, water play, and more.

Lindenschule Innsbruck, Austria:

The hands-on materials are presented in structured environments. Depending on the size of the house, there will be a room or corner for math, language, foreign languages, history, geography, science, arts and crafts, music, imaginative and block play, theatre stage, wood shop, full kitchen ready to use, eating areas, as well as outdoor areas for academic study, play, free movement and more. The whole property may be designed according to the principles of permaculture. Children can move freely throughout these learning environments and decide spontaneously what they would like to do in the present moment. Everything a child does is seen as part of a learning process: movement, play, emotional processing, experiencing and resolving conflicts, resting, and of course working with the hands-on learning materials.

Teachers and/or parents, known as “learning companions,” are always present. They facilitate, inspire and assist learning processes. Learning companions make sure the children are not interrupted in their play or work, that healthy boundaries are respected, and that all things go back to their places. Through healthy boundaries and rules, we can allow the children as much freedom and independent movement as possible while everybody feels safe.

Guided lessons are provided as additional learning opportunities by the learning companions. Invited experts, such as a baker, policeman, or architect, guide lessons as well. Children can choose if they would like to participate in specific day-long or recurring weekly lessons. As children grow older, excursions to the adult environment are offered. Learning companions accompany children to the bank, doctor’s office, nursery, farm, and the like.

The whole school is structured to fulfill the child’s genuine needs for safe exploration, healthy boundaries, movement, play, hands-on and intellectual learning, communication, timelessness, emotional safety, tension release, and time in nature. The need for being witnessed and making personal choices is honored. Learning companions take responsibility for the environment and make sure that authentic needs can be fulfilled to the greatest extent possible.

Children learn in self-directed ways. Their spontaneous activities, curiosity, and genuine interests are regarded as the inner guidance that leads to appropriate learning opportunities needed in the moment. Learning companions respect the children’s genuine interests. All lessons and offerings are based on free choice.

Children feel safe to be who they are. In this way, disciplinary problems are minimized. Companionship and trust can develop between adults and children. With their respectful presence and the principles of non-violent communication, learning companions offer to accompany personal emotions as well as conflicts between children. In fact, some schools offer specific areas for these authentic internal growth processes. For example, a cozy, beautiful place for sadness, silent spaces for resting, a structured and safe place for friendly rough-and-tumble, and a place for chatting and eating.

Since children co-determine their learning process actively, these schools do without a pre-set curriculum. Children have a folder with a check-list of all topics and required skills of the curriculum. They cross a topic off the list each time they have mastered a subject. There are no involuntary tests, nor comparative grades. Educators give each student feedback on their personal progress. Goals can be reached within five to eight years.

These schools acknowledge that parents are deeply connected with their children. Learning companions share responsibility, concerns, and ideas with the parents. Parents are invited to participate in the school in many ways. Parents can choose to be learning companions on a regular basis at most of these schools. All situations, conflicts, and joyful events are received as opportunities to grow in understanding, awareness, and caring for all the children, parents, and learning companions involved. These schools are aware of the importance of providing a central point for community development. Community members are invited to share their skills at the school with the children and other adults. A community-based school like this fosters peace and productivity while eliciting the very best each participant has to offer.

Let’s bring this school model to the US. It responds to the genuine needs of many families looking for an educational environment that embraces the whole child and the whole family. We are currently planning a school K-5 in the S.F. Bay Area, Marin.

Get in touch for more information

With kind regards,
Carmen Gamper

Froebel USA 2012 International Conference August 4–5

Join us in San Francisco this August for a 2-day hands-on immersion into the original early childhood methods of Friedrich Froebel, inventor of Kindergarten. Registration fee includes catered lunch both days, plus beverage and snacks morning/afternoon. Presenters include co-host Carmen Gamper, Scott Bultman, Stacey Wellman, John Reynolds, Bruce Rawles, Finella Scholtz, Tiffeni Goesel, Bradford Hansen-Smith, and others.

The focus of this year’s conference is using the Froebel Gifts & Occupation materials with children in a modern setting (in classroom/homeschool and other environments). The content of the workshops will involve practical aspects of Gift Play, connections to the Occupations activities, the modern day use of the Mother Songs and movement games, as well as gardening and nature education. Attendees will work with experienced Froebel teachers and have many opportunities to play themselves. There will be many opportunities for networking and social interaction with other Froebelians.

Who should attend? This conference is aimed at a diverse and multidisciplinary audience, including art educators, math teachers, homeschooling parents, early childhood professors and practitioners, educational historians, and others. Attendance is extremely limited and early registration is encouraged.

The conference venue is the South San Francisco Conference Center, located close to the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) with easy access to mass transit. You are welcome to use the New Learning Culture promo code to receive a $100 discount: NLCFUSA2012


The Rights of Children at Schools

In my work as an educational consultant, I have visited many schools all over the world. I have observed, in both traditional and alternative schools, that children’s basic rights are often ignored. I believe that all human beings, no matter how old they are, must be granted the right to take care of their bodily needs. The child’s body and whole organism are by nature determined to move and learn in specific ways. When we adults refuse to collaborate with the child’s natural development, we create immense, unnecessary suffering. Even seemingly harmless experiences such as occasionally being denied the right to go to the toilet when needed, can leave trauma and health problems that are carried into adulthood.

The widespread assumption that children should sit still and listen, has been repeatedly disproved by scientists, psychologists, and educators. Children are meant to move their bodies and play. This is how they learn best. Furthermore, children in all school models are still being discriminated against, shamed and punished for having different learning styles. Sadly, children who learn more quickly or more slowly than their peers are often neglected in the classroom. Sometimes, learning content simply is not interesting enough or even age-appropriate. If children are unable to relate to the subject matter or the way in which it is delivered, they naturally lose interest. Children are drawn toward classroom activities that are aligned with their stages of cognitive and emotional development.

The “school model” itself will not protect children from abuse. Every single teacher and parent needs to take responsibility for his or her own well-being and for the child’s well-being.

UNESCO’s Rights Of Children are very basic human rights (e.g., to protect children against child labor and violence, and secure their right for education). http://www.unesco.org/education/pdf/CHILD_E.PDF My list of children’s rights starts from the assumption that children are in an educational environment. I hope this list of rights will raise awareness for the subtle abuse and hidden suffering that occur in schools every day. If we allow children to feel more comfortable in learning environments, we adults will also feel better and happier! Instead of having to worry about being thirsty or feeling emotionally drained, children will consistently have their needs met. Children will gain the opportunity to experience true, authentic learning with joy. This leads to a lifelong love of learning.

by Carmen Gamper

All the children have the right to do the following:

1. Go to the toilet when needed.

2. Have drinking water available.

3. Move the body when needed.

4. Learn to take care of personal needs.

5. Learn and process emotions through play.

6. Learn through exploration, trial, and error.

7. Make mistakes and not be judged or shamed.

8. Learn at a personal pace.

9. Fully understand a subject before being tested.

10. Not to be tested involuntarily. Instead, share knowledge by free choice, only when ready to receive feedback on learning progress.

11. Not to be punished. Instead, children should be respectfully encouraged to become more self-disciplined.

12. Not to be compared with peers. Instead, acknowledged as an individual student with individual talents, opinions, and characteristics.

13. Not to be judged for being different.

This declaration will be available as a poster soon.

by Carmen Gamper

Would you put a flower in the fridge?

In my Montessori teacher training, a student asked one of the teachers: Shouldn’t children be exposed to hardship to get used to the reality of life?
The teacher answered with a question:
Would you put a flower in the fridge to help it get used to the Winter?

Our answer was of course, NO!
We would nurture the flower, water water, expose it to sunshine, protect it from pests and help it get strong for the Winter. Why don’t you think we should do the same with children?

Instead of creating unnecessary hardships for children, we need to nurture them best we can. Life will bring hardships in its own time, and then a child will be strong and feel ready to overcome any obstacle.

Carmen Gamper

The Natural Rights of Children #6 through #10 by Gianfranco Zavalloni


From birth on, eating healthy foods, drink clean water and breathe fresh air


To play freely in the center plaza and walk the streets safely



To build a shelter or fort in the woods, to have to hide-out in reeds, to climb the trees



To listen to the wind, the singing of birds, the splashing of water


To see the sunrise and sunset, to admire the night, the moon and the stars

Friedrich Froebel – Grandfather of New Learning Culture

Friedrich Froebel (1782-1852), the inventor of kindergarten, is one of New Learning Culture’s “grandfathers”. In a time when children were treated incredibly poorly, he recognized the child’s beauty and purity.

He invented the Kindergarten and did groundbreaking work to help children grow with joy and ease. He developed a series of teaching toys, the Froebel Gifts, which were enthusiastically used by Buckminster Fuller.

He left us with truly inspirational texts which are as valid today as they were over hundred fifty years ago. To quote Friedrich Froebel:

“The mind grows by self revelation. In play the child ascertains what he can do, discovers his possibilities of will and thought by exerting his power spontaneously. In work he follows a task prescribed for him by another, and does not reveal his own proclivities and inclinations — but another’s. In play he reveals his own original power.”

Excerpt from “The Froebel Kindergarten Philosophy” by Scott Bultman, Founder Froebel USA

– Humans are creative beings.

– Play is the engine that drives true learning.

– Children can only learn what they are ready to learn.

– Education means to “lead someone to knowledge.”

– Kindergarten is meant to be a prepared environment.

– Activities are a window into a child’s inner world.

– Mathematical work is not just for instruction, it also emphasizes order.

– Teaching should always be joyful, fun and easy.

You can read the full text at www.froebelfoundation.org
You can see and order the Froebel Gifts at WWW.FROEBELUSA.COM

Here is a clip about the Froebel USA Conference 2010:

We are planning to organize the next Froebel Conference (2011) here in the San Francisco Bay Area! Please comment or e-mail if you are interested!

With joy,

Listening to Silence

Fall, with its short days, invites us in a very natural way to more calm, tranquility and meditation. We can accept this invitation.

Instead of planning trips or turning on the TV, we can allow ourselves to light a candle on a dark evening and to do nothing , just nothing.

Resting and slowing down are very important components of natural growth processes. We can sit down and breathe deeply. To our children we can say: “I am resting, just like the plants in winter.” Or “I am listening to silence.”

Basically we can say that we have two different ways of perceiving the world that depend on whether we are relaxed or stressed. In a laid-back mood, it is much easier to be friendly, patient and considerate. However, when we are stressed and in a hurry, it is much harder to demonstrate patience, and it often happens that we are rude – especially with children. We easily lose patience and have little understanding for the nature of a child.

These two opposite ways of looking at the world can even be distinguished on the biological level. For example, when we are in a hurry, stress hormones are released into our bodies and change our way of thinking and acting.Relaxation is almost a prerequisite to understand the child’s world. A stressed adult has little patience with himself and even less with children.

To honor silence, we can concentrate on our breathing, or on the breath of our child and vice versa. The slower and deeper the breath, the more relaxed we are. Then we can think or say: “I breathe in joy. I breathe out sadness. I breathe in kindness. I breathe out stress. ”

Then we can focus on our body and consciously feel and release tension. These types of meditation are very effective for adults, but not for all children.

Children have a natural gift for meditation, if we understand meditation as “allowing ourselves to dwell in the present”. They can focus deeply on a drawing or a game, and all the forces in the body and mind are focused on their activity. Thus, their activity naturally becomes a meditation.

Dr. Maria Montessori recognized this natural affinity to meditation in children. She respected and nurtured this phenomenon and named it “normalization”. An anecdote says that once Dr. Montessori placed a child together with his chair on a table while the child kept working quietly on a learning material.

At home place we can create space and time for this type of focused activity. Many crafting works are suitable to bring about calmness and concentration. It is not just about finding wonderful crafting projects for the season, but also about how we present these and lead the child to focused work.

We can ask ourselves: “Is the child ready for concentrated work? Or do we need time for a walk first?” If willingness can be felt, we turn off the TV, computer and telephone. On the table we should only place relevant materials – no distractions.
Then we can start, and describe our activity with a few clear words. Step by step we can help the child to do it by him/herself, and once the work is in progress we can work on our own project or watch the child work.

To summarize, whether resting, doing quiet meditation, or tinkering – the most important aspects are the relaxation and well-being that are being evoked. Then, everything can become an important part of a natural learning process.

Wishing all my readers a peaceful and happy holiday season!

Carmen Gamper

P.S.: New Learning Culture will be again at the Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Family Day (Woodacre Ca. 94973) on Sunday January 30! Come by and explore our wonderful learning toys! RSVP here: www.spiritrock.org

New Learning Culture at Green Fest San Francisco

New Learning Culture offered a booth at Green Fest San Francisco at the beginning of November 2010.

We presented a variety of hands-on learning materials from Montessori, Nikitin, Froebel and contemporary educators. The materials look like simple toys, board games and jigsaw puzzles, but are made for math and language skill development, spatial thinking and sensory development. These materials fulfill the genuine need for deep understanding of subjects and concepts which are often only taught on paper.

Kids and parents enjoyed the materials alike! A few kids focused so deeply on a material, that they didn’t want to leave anymore!! A father asked his son: “Now, what do you prefer, this block game or your i-pod?” The seven-year-old boy said: “This block game!!” Victory for hands-on learning 🙂 !!!

Adults were very interested as well and explored the materials. Many of us have never had the opportunity to learn math and language with hands-on materials, even less in a self-directed way. While the children were mostly focusing on the materials, we were able to inspire parents and educators to use more hands-on materials and also self-directed learning techniques.

On both days, I gave a talk about hands-on and self-directed learning.

Many thanks to all the people who came by our booth and signed up for our e-mail list!
Many thanks to Gustavo Alcantar for the great graphic design and the invaluable support at the booth!
Many thanks to Katrina Zavalney for inviting New Learning Culture to Green Fest!
Many thanks to Bryan Ting for organizing the kid’s zone perfectly.

Look for us at next spring’s Green fest April 2011. We hope to be there!!
Carmen Gamper

My child doesn’t like to read…

My thoughts on that situation:
Sometimes it can be useful to remember how your child started reading. Was he/she self-motivated, starting to read because of deep curiosity and interest? Could your child suddenly read, learning it almost overnight? Or, did somebody sit down with the child, and teach him/her how to read step by step?

If children start reading fueled by their own interest, it is relatively easy to reawaken the joy of reading now. If, however, a child has learned to read in laborious work mode, perhaps even reading to the child now is arduous and exhausting. It is more difficult to raise self-initiative, and bring joy to reading, where there is a  history of difficulty. In these cases, it is sometimes better not to pressure the child, who might need time for healing.

In fact, the natural and joyful way to learn reading is not connected to pressure but develops from self- initiative, often at age of three, four and five years. If the child’s natural rhythm is respected, one can expect another “reading boost,”  at the age of ten and eleven years, when abstract thinking at a higher level is being developed.

Kindling, inspiring and evoking a genuine need and love for reading is the most effective and sustainable way to get children to read. Although it is controversial, or even problematic, however it is true that many children learn to read because they want to understand television programs.

A joint trip to the library can be very helpful; let your child pick out a book to check out at the desk.Take time to listen to the child reading. One could also record or film the child while reading.

Just think about everyday situations with your children, where can you write something, instead of saying or showing it. Perhaps write a shopping list together. Or a birthday card to a relative. One could label the objects of daily life, offer written instructions for crafting, or cooking recipes.

Along with reading, writing also leads to better language skills. Sometimes children like to write letters to mother, friends or vacation acquaintances. Together, parents and children could write a letter to a magazine, start a diary, or a photo album with descriptions. As a mother or father, how about writing stories, or a letter to the child … “I’ve written this especially for you.”

On the following picture, tiny objects all starting with ‘r’ were gathered (rabbit, rug, rose, etc.):

As in almost everything, I vote for inspiring a child, but not pushing too much. The “magic” power of self-motivation is, in fact, what creates the joy of reading. If reading is connected with too much resistance and negative emotions, then even forcing a child will not help much to improve reading skills. Sometimes children find the joy of reading again in adulthood, after the school years, when they can choose how much and how long they would like to read.

It might be a good idea to ask the child why they don’t like to read. Maybe they have eye problems. Maybe they think they should be an instant expert, and need to hear that it is a process.  Maybe they need someone to sit with them and read with them, helping to sound out words, etc. Or they would just rather be doing something else right now. Try to find out what is going on in their mind. Try to make reading be a whole lot of fun. Anyone for Dr. Suess?

I am writing this with the hope that children receive a stronger voice in their learning processes, and that we as adults put more emphasis on the joy of learning.
Carmen Gamper

11 Ways to Show Kindness to Children

1. Make sure the environment is safe, and prepared for free play.

2. Give children a voice in daily life. For example, plan the course of a day together; choose clothing, food, and room arrangements together with a child.

3. Share information with children: where is the child at the moment, where are you going next, what can the child expect there.

4. Smile frequently at children.

5. Be predictable. Keep promises.

6. Show ways how children can express frustration safely, such as tearing up a newspaper, yelling into a pillow, or running in nature.

7. Help adults understand and communicate with children, and practice advocacy for children.

8. Don’t force a child to hug or kiss anyone.

9. Don’t talk to other adults about the child as if he or she wasn’t there.

10. Avoid taking things from a child’s hands without asking.

11. Avoid altering a child’s painting, drawing, or crafting work to “improve” it. Respect the child’s work as is.


Art Work by Sybille Kramer http://sybilletezzelekramer.wordpress.com/

madonna mit den Baukloetzen