Author: Carmen Gamper (page 1 of 12)

The Rebeca Wild based (RWB) schools

{Excerpt from Carmen Gamper’s book Flow To Learn} Rebeca Wild based schools or RWB schools is an umbrella term Carmen created to identify schools that incorporate Rebeca and Mauricio Wild’s education approach. There are approximately 700 RWB schools across Europe and worldwide. These schools all differ slightly from each other, and you would know whether a school is an RWB school only by reading its mission statement (which usually also includes references to Maria Montessori), so they are not so easy to spot. It was Rebeca and Mauricio’s request to course participants that their names not be used as part of any school’s name because they feel each school is a unique entity that should have its own name and individualized approach. In addition, there is no official website about their work, and as a result, it is difficult to find information about it on the internet.

Math room

In RWB schools, children are supported to keep learning in a state of flow as they grow up. We achieve this by allowing them to choose their own activities in thoroughly prepared learning environments. Within the healthy boundaries of the school, children may play and learn at their own pace as their hearts desire. The myriad learning opportunities include time to explore the many hands-on materials such as Montessori math, language, and sensorial materials, pretend play and make-believe in elaborate doll play and block building areas, movement in their gym room and outdoors on the playground, tending to the gardens, crafting in the makerspaces, cooking and baking in the kitchen, working in the woodshop, resting on big pillows, snacking at the communal dining table, and communicating with each other and us, their teachers and flow companions / learning companions, about anything that is important to them.

Making stilts

Inspired by Montessori education, Berlin-born Rebeca Wild (1939-2015), and her husband Mauricio Wild (1937-2020) created an experimental school, the Fundacion Educativa Pestalozzi (informally known as the Pesta), near Quito, Ecuador, in 1980. The Wilds initially founded this school as a kindergarten for their second son, hoping to avoid the disastrous experience their rst son Leonardo endured until age 13. Needing an educational environment for both sons, the school grew to accommodate learners from preschool to high school. In this school, indigenous students learned alongside those from wealthy ex-pat parents.

In their yearly visits to Europe in the 1990s and 2000s, they held hundreds of workshops in which they shared their insights with thousands of parents and teachers. They sparked a grassroots movement of parent- and-teacher-founded schools across Europe and beyond. Many of their course participants traveled to Ecuador to visit their school The Pesta (the name derives from Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, [1746-1827], a Swiss pedagogue and education reformer) to receive deeper insights into their methods. Here are some of the Wilds’ core messages:

  • The harmonious growth of a child is a natural and slow process. The task of the adult is to create appropriate conditions to meet the genuine, authentic needs of a growing child—not to try to speed it up. If as adults, we are capable of not interfering with a child’s natural growth, instead provide supportive love and healthy boundaries, we allow them to develop inner guidance and critical thinking skills instead of having to rely on someone else’s directions.
  • Based on Humberto Maturana’s research (biologist and philosopher born in 1928) the Wilds realized that every living system—from a single cell to a large group of cells, such as a human being—creates and maintains itself from within; it shapes itself (adapts) in accordance with and reaction to outer circumstances; this process is called “autopoiesis.” Love (supportive conditions) is the only driving factor for any living system to grow and learn.
  • Hence, adults must create environments where children can move, learn, and interact in alignment with their inner realities and in loving, non-invasive, supportive relationships with their adult companions.

The Pesta in Ecuador doesn’t exist anymore, but the over 700 Rebeca Wild based (RWB) schools today in the world, mostly in Europe, Spain, and South America, are alive, well, and growing in number. Some schools exist only for a few years, for the founding parents to raise their own children there; others grow larger and exist beyond the initial founders to serve other children in the community. Some schools offer only preschool and elementary school; others also offer middle and high school grades.

Art studio

In the many European RWB schools, we witness that children’s natural, self-motivated joy of learning continues throughout all their school years because it is nurtured and supported. These children have time to grow up at their own pace, and they experience individual, natural, balanced development of their body, heart, and mind.

A Rebeca Wild based (RWB) school near Vienna, Austria

Founded by parents and teachers in 1990, the Rebeca Wild based (RWB) school, Lernwerkstatt im Schloss Pottenbrunn near Vienna, Austria is a renowned, innovative school, recognized by the state of Austria.
It is located in a beautiful, ancient castle that is surrounded by a moat filled with water. David Meixner, an experienced teacher and  learning companion at this school, generously provided a few photos, that I’m excited to share with you here.

There are approximately 100 learners ages 6 to 16, and they are learning, playing, and growing together in environments  prepared for their genuine developmental needs.
Learners are supported by skilled learning companions who are available whenever children wish guidance, help and inspiration.f Christine [david m] (19)
There are no classrooms as we know them from traditional school, instead there are a great variety of  learning areas where learners move freely.
These play and learning areas are prepared for:
– Pretend and role play
– Mathematics
– Language and Cosmic Education
– Kitchen / cooking
– Carpentry
– Outdoor areas with trees, pond, and playground.
There are additional separate environments for middle school kids.

Lernwerkstatt PottenbrunnThe prepared environments provide endless play and learning opportunities and create the foundation for learning guided by curiosity and joy. Through their worry-free attitude towards learning children develop boundless creative intelligence, solution-finding skills, and open-mindedness.

f Christine [david m] (24)
Here, adults create an atmosphere of trust and emotional safety. They help children during naturally arising conflicts and transform them into learning opportunities for social skills and developing even deeper friendships. There is so much more to share about this exquisite school. You can go visit, get a tour and even spend a morning with the learners: http://www.lernwerkstatt.at/

The innovative, heart-based practices at the Lernwerkstatt Pottenbrunn are inspired by Rebeca Wild. In order to facilitate creating schools like this all over the world I developed the New Learning Culture (NLC) school model.

Discover the amazing learning and teaching possibilities of Hands-On Learning Materials

Healthy children love to be active and play; they are naturally drawn to touching and exploring their environments. Why not collaborate with this natural instinct and provide opportunities for experiential learning? Especially basic math, such as fractions, geometry, algebra etc. should be taught with tangible materials – to keep the joy of learning alive!

Hands-on experiences build a foundation for the abstract concepts of books and results in deep understanding that is rooted in the body. This is the foundation for heart-based intelligence. Through the use of hands-on materials, children can more naturally develop their skills, such as fine and gross motor, sensorial and academic skills, logical, visual, and kinesthetic thinking. They can make use of their natural capacity to focus all energies on one activity in the present moment, and master the elementary and middle school curriculum with ease.

DSCN4186

Many child-centered educators developed hands-on learning materials, knowing very well that children learn by doing. New Learning Culture Consulting uses selected materials, elements, and teaching skills from Maria Montessori, Friedrich Froebel, the Reggio Emilia approach, democratic education, Boris and Lena Nikitin, Rudolf Steiner/Waldorf, Célestin Freinet, Elfriede Hengstenberg, Eduard Seguin, Rebeca and Mauricio Wild, Anne Beate Huber, Claus-Dieter Kaul.

Topics, usually taught only on paper, can be introduced with hands-on learning materials: addition, subtraction, multiplication, times-tables, division, fractions, decimals, percentages, money, geometry, square-roots, basic algebra, language, grammar, science, history, astronomy … you name it!

Materials are available for each developmental stage. Some are interesting for all ages. For example, a square root board can be used for square root equations, and also to make beautiful patterns.

Many materials can be made at home with art supplies and recycled materials such as egg boxes. Visit the NLC blog for a few DIY instructions to materials or check some of the countless online resources.

When hands-on materials are provided in a self-directed learning environment with healthy boundaries, children can learn at their own pace while receiving error feedback and experiencing the direct results of their activities. This is very empowering and allows for intelligence and even brilliance to emerge.

LIST OF VARIOUS HANDS-ON MATERIALS:

Montessori Materials
Montessori materials are developed for kindergarten, elementary and high school ages. They are divided into practical life, sensorial, language, mathematics, biology, and geography materials.

Froebel Gifts
The Froebel hands-on materials, called gifts were developed for kindergarten ages, but can be provided for elementary grades, too. They train spatial, mathematical, and architectural thinking. Frank Lloyd Wright loved them! They clarify the concepts of two and three dimensions, building, constructing, structuring, recognizing, and creating meaningful patterns.
They can be used in three different ways:
– Forms of Life (to tell/hear stories in connection with the child’s life),
– Forms of Knowledge (to learn specific math, geometry or language skills)
– Forms of Beauty (to explore symmetric patterns, such as mandalas, and assymmetrical patterns)

Nikitin materials
The Russian parents Boris and Lena Nikitin raised their seven children in the 1960s believing firmly in the natural ability to learn and adjust to environments. They transformed their home into play and learning environments and developed highly intelligent learning materials which are being used in European alternative schools. I haven’t found them for purchase in the U.S. yet.

Ancient Materials
• China: Abacus
• Incas: Taptana, Yupana

Also do internet searches for Waldorf pretend toys, Pikler materials for babies, Hengstenberg materials, and find endless inspiration on instagram.

Great Books – Great Inspiration

Below are the books and authors who inspire me most …

Rebeca Wild: Raising Curious, Creative, Confident Kids: The Pestalozzi Experiment in Child-Based Education

Maria Montessori: The Secret of Childhood

Joseph Chilton Pearce: Magical Child

Daniel Pink: A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future

Peter Gray: Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life

John Holt: How Children Learn (Classics in Child Development)

Janet Lansbury: Elevating Child Care: A Guide to Respectful Parenting

Dr. Chris White: Mindful Discipline: A Loving Approach to Setting Limits and Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child

Dr. Shefali: The Conscious Parent

Book Release – Flow To Learn: A Parent’s Guide

After two years of full-time writing, closely collaborating with a stellar on-the-job-trained parenting expert, several editors, and a delightful book illustrator, Sybille Kramer, my first book is finally available for purchase as print and eBook.

{You can read about the book here or go straight to the book’s beautiful website: https://flowtolearn.com}

FLOW TO LEARN: A Parent’s Guide to Recognizing and Supporting Your Child’s Flow State –the optimal condition for learning.

Flow To Learn is an uplifting, illustrated parenting guide featuring 52 weeks of practical suggestions and compassionate insights for creating independent play and learning opportunities for children at home. Using practical, evidence-based tools from the fields of child development, psychology, and child-centered education, readers are guided step-by-step through the creation of simple hands-on activity stations that boost children’s love for learning. In these prepared environments, children naturally experience flow, the deeply focused, fulfilling state scientifically proven to be the optimal condition for learning. Creating flow-friendly learning opportunities at home frees up parents’ time while strengthening children with spaces that support their inherent talents, creativity, and wide-ranging intelligence.

This book helps parents to see children as guides to accessing their own flow states, which brings more joy and purpose into life, and also helps develop a deeper understanding of and relationship with their child. Each of the 52 weeks/chapters is divided into two parts. First, reflections and information about flow are shared. This is followed by practical suggestions, “TRY THIS,” on how to facilitate flow in life with children. Some weeks include authentic, inspiring, and encouraging insights from a mother who incorporates the flow-parenting approach with her family.

When adults allow children to be in flow, they provide access to the child’s potential of mastery. Proficiency takes more than thinking, reading, hearing about, or just wanting something. Advanced skill levels take practice, and the most powerful, effective practice is done during activities that children choose for themselves.

Flow To Learn helps parents to..

✩ Support the flow state in children to help them grow and thrive.

✩ Create a home, a sanctuary, where you and your children love to spend time, find fulfilling activities, and can replenish from school and work.

✩ Create spaces and choose toys and learning materials that help children drop into flow states.


✩ Debunk current myths in education, including the overuse of rewards and the erroneous expectations of academic rigor in early grades.

✩ Help children process their time at school and other potentially stressful experiences with tension-release supports.

✩ Nurture mutual respect between you and your child.

✩ Reinvigorate your own life with flow experiences.

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