About Susan Laing
B.A.(Psych) Adv.Dip T (Art)
I have a degree in psychology and politics from the University of Adelaide, as well as an advanced Diploma in Art Teaching. I taught art in secondary schools in South Australia and the UK for many years. I had a deep interest in integrated curricula and what brings a balance to the predominantly ‘head’ education of our schools. This led me to do further research into Rudolf Steiner Education and become involved with the group which founded the Mt Barker Waldorf School in South Australia in 1979. I later taught art there.
However, following the births of my four children, I was invited by other parents to run parent education workshops and this drew me into what has become my life’s work and my passion— supporting conscious, creative and courageous living with children! I have now been working with parents for 25 years, since 1989, initially through a further education institution (TAFE) in Adelaide, South Australia and then in my own educational consultancy, Creative Living Australia, throughout Australia and in New Zealand. I have also worked with teachers, child care workers and other professionals working with children.
Most recently I have been researching the archetypal patterns of development in childhood, integrating Rudolf Steiner’s insights into development with other child development research and in particular the work of the Gesell Institute of Child Development, whose researchers over 100 years have developed detailed profiles of children’s development at different ages.
I am now very happy to be sharing my approach to understanding, living and working with children and the resources I have developed over the years through this website. More about my approach can be found in My Philosophy
I would like to thank all those family and friends who have shared their photos of their children, themselves and nature with me for use on this website. The children you see here are truly loved children. Nature photos are used for more awkward topics. You can find more of the work of photographers Nick Lennox here Nick Lennox Photography and Pier Carthew here www.piercarthewphotography.com
I live in the Adelaide Hills, in South Australia, with my partner Alduino Mazzone. We have four grown up children. I collaborated with Alduino on his book A Passionate Schooling. Key ideas behind Steiner-Waldorf education (published in 2010.)
I believe that, perhaps more than ever before, the world and our children need our consciousness, our creativity and our courage, to be better parents, grandparents, caregivers, teachers or better older friends of children. When children are supported by these qualities, it is hoped that they will feel better understood, be better loved and nurtured, and be better able become conscious, creative and courageous individuals themselves. The world needs such young people who are also healthy, ethical, compassionate, imaginative and powerful to meet the huge challenges now faced by humanity and the earth.
Children today need our ‘awake’ consciousness— for us to understand their development and needs, and to truly meet and value them as individuals, with strengths and weaknesses. The detailed development profiles provide a lot of information that can help in understanding children. The key question here is to ask: ‘What would help here?’
They also need our creativity— to enrich their lives by full heartedly sharing with them the richness of life and everything that is good and beautiful and true. The key question here is to ask: ‘How can I make this everyday task into one which has more human value, more aesthetic richness and more genuine-ness?’
Children also need our courage— to meet the challenges they bring with compassion and wisdom and the strength to do what is best for them and defend their right to a childhood. What is frequently offered to children may not be in their best interests; consequently we have to be strong in insisting upon what we know our particular children need, not what a dispassionate authority or the commercial world or indeed our family, friends or neighbours think our individual children need. The key question here is: ‘What are the core values I have for the well being of my children which I want to insist upon all of the time, or at least most of the time?’
These resources encourage healthy lifestyle choices— good sleep, healthy whole foods, love and hugs, good rhythms in daily life, healthy boundaries, family meals and sharing, quiet times, imaginative free play, sharing life skills, creative artistic experiences, activities in nature and ‘active doing’, time to grow up in their own time. They encourage a healthy life! They discourage too much screen time, age inappropriate media and activities and passive entertainments and ‘hurrying’, which all compromise healthy development, active play and creativity.
Please note that I have not compromised the detail, language or length of the articles in order to simplify the content, as there is much more simple information already available on the internet. I realise that this may mean some people will not find it very accessible. I hope that those who do find it of help will be able to share it more simply in their own words with those who have more difficulty accessing it.
The main sources for my information have been The Gesell Institute of Human Development for their wonderful pictures of age specific child behaviours; Rudolf Steiner and those working with his insights, particularly in education in Steiner/Waldorf Schools and in medicine; and my own professional work with parents and those who work with children over the last 25 years. All of these have also been my inspiration. More can be found on these sources in Background information to the development profiles.