Stress is a normal part of healthy childhood development. Moderate and short-lived, stress helps children face challenges and grow. Toxic stress is another story. Toxic stress is severe and prolonged without the adequate support of adults. Children who are displaced by war or natural disaster, in constant fear, or living in poverty experience toxic stress.
Toxic stress can change the course of a child’s life by:
- Provoking psychiatric disorders
- Disrupting brain development
- Interfering with executive brain function
- Altering gene expression
- Hindering the capacity for empathy
- Increasing the chances of committing violent crimes as adults
In the Middle East, toxic stress is detrimental to aspirations for peace.
Outside of the home, we believe children are best protected in loving school environments. reGeneration integrates various classroom approaches to mitigating toxic stress. We are most inspired by Waldorf and Essence of Learning.
We shouldn’t ask: what does a person need to know or be able to do in order to fit into the existing social order? Instead, we should ask: what lives in each human being and what can be developed in him or her? Only then will it be possible to direct the new qualities of each emerging generation into society.”– Rudolf Steiner, the founder of the Waldorf education movement
Most people agree that “what lives in each human being” is more important than a child’s race, religion or ancestry. Waldorf education nurtures this inner potential, graduating clear thinking, compassionate and active members of society. No matter the circumstances.
We believe that in the Middle East, given the right support, Waldorf schools can create the groundwork for sustainable peace. While very few Arabic-language Waldorf schools exist, in Israel, Hebrew-language Waldorf schools are flourishing.
In order to create societal change, trauma-informed education must be widely available to all Jewish, Christian, and Muslim children living in the Holy Land. That’s why reGeneration works to close this equity gap by sponsoring Arabic and bilingual Arabic/ Hebrew language Waldorf schools in Israel and the West Bank.
Essence of Learning
Children living with toxic stress tend to temporarily revert to an earlier childhood developmental stage- a stage which, according to their age, they should have already completed. To revive their learning capabilities, these children need to repeat previously completed developmental steps in a stress-free manner.
Essence of Learning engages children’s sensory system at a lower level than is indicated by their age using affordable, everyday recyclable materials. In a minimal amount of time, traumatized children are returned to their age-appropriate learning level and reintegrated into classroom life.
Essence of Learning teacher training has been conducted in Kosovo, Chechnya, Moldova, Romania, Gaza, and the West Bank.