Kiki & Lala

How To Make Brainy Babies… Really

Posted on: November 10, 2009

There was a talk in school last week given by a Danish Waldorf teacher whose name is Anders Hoeier (whose picture I couldn’t find on the net – at least Google couldn’t ;p)

Mr. Hoeier has been teaching for over 30 years and he was kind enough to share his knowledge and wisdom with some parents and teachers at The Acacia School. Specifically, he talked about brain development.

I had a pen but no paper that day, so what follows is what remains of my mental notes!

As we know, TV for kids under two (and older!) is not such a good thing. So much so, you can get your money back from videos that claimed they could make your babies smarter. Really, the most educational thing you can do, is get down on the floor and PLAY with your kid.

But let’s not get into the TV thing because that was hardly the focus of Mr. Hoeier’s talk.

He emphasized that doing things with your hands is what sets the brain on fire – or to be literal about it, it’s what gets your neurons firing and creates those all important connections.


photo credit:

That is why Waldorf kids are always doing something with their hands – knitting, crocheting, sculpting, playing instruments. And natural materials are preferred because these have variable textures that are more “interesting”. It’s almost like those textures make your fingers think.



Mr. Hoeier said that a lot of people think of Waldorf schools as art schools because art and music are a big part of the children’s everyday. But he explained, the reason we do music and art is to help the kids (and teachers!) with the Main Lesson (which is your Math, Language, Science etc.) But how? What’s the “connectment” ??

Your brain looks like this:


The left is logical and linear while the right is artistic, dreamy.

Waldorf schools introduce left brain subjects in an artistic manner.
To make school more fun?
So your notebooks are prettier?

Not quite… True learning of any subject matter requires feelings. We need love, joy and appreciation for what we learn for it to be of any use to us.

Feelings are also important in decision making.
For example, when you purchase a car, you will likely make your decision based on gas consumption, engine size, airbags etc. But you would also need to choose a color. What drives that decision? Usually, feelings. (Feelings are so important, you’d even be willing to wait a few extra weeks just to get the unit in your desired color!)

So Music and Art come to play here because:
1. They require moving your fingers purposefully resulting in neurons making connections.
2. They are two things you cannot do without… feelings.

“Feelings, schmeelings… School is for learning!”, I hear someone say.

Well, what happens when you don’t have feelings? Or love? Or appreciation?

Nazi Concentration Camp5.GIF



It doesn’t even have to be on such a wide scale. Did you hear about the boys who set another boy on fire?

Sorry to be so graphic but it’s true. The people who did these unspeakable things, were not in touch with their feelings, and consequently not in touch with humanity.


OK, back to the brains…

Does this music connection really work?
According to a study that Mr. Hoeier quoted (sorry, no source available from me due to afore mentioned no paper situation), some kids who were having trouble in Math were NOT just given more Math…


but more…



… MUSIC!!!

And yes, their math skills improved significantly. Exactly how that happened is beyond the scope of my little summary here but you get the picture.

Still on feelings, Mr. Hoeier also stressed that kids who are… well, stressed or fearful simply won’t be able to learn.


It’s like the brain just has too much to deal with and the neurons aren’t able to make to make those connections. This is why it’s so important kids are relaxed at school – and at home. Even if you don’t pressure your kids at home but they see you stressed, they could easily take on that stress. Oh great.


And the last thing I remember from the talk is this. Mr. Hoeier said, he has often seen in the past, all kids need is literally just someone standing behind them and they can do their work.


He called it “magical” – how it’s as if there is a transfer of love, energy and intent from teacher to student – just when you stand behind them. We all just need someone to believe in us – no matter how old we are.

Now are all these things as hippy and kooky as non-Waldorf folks like to imply? Methinks not.


5 Responses to "How To Make Brainy Babies… Really"

This is great stuff! It makes a lot of sense to me. I think I will gift my favorite Kimkim with a Rubik’s cube! I so agree with that school of thought. And being an overzealous and over passionate girl, that whole feelings idea so sits well with me. And I love your pictures, btw!

Thanks 🙂
It really makes so much sense and resonates with me. I can’t imagine bringing her back to traditional school. Can’t. Won’t.

hmmm this makes me think about our biz….. now to have some sorta pottery business… or art lesson…. or choir… or something…

yeah – they had painting for parents at school which i joined a few times and i loved it.

not that i have self-made masterpieces on the wall now but i learned it’s so much about the process and not necessarily the end result.

and also, the FEELING while you paint – after you stop caring what it will look like in the end – is just so soothing.

i took my art lessons online from some popular website and i do got a great art lesson package .’:

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