Changing the lives of struggling students
Using the Tomatis® Method, a powerful tool that helps frustrated learners develop effective listening skills so they can thrive in life and school – and you can sleep well knowing their needs are met!
Listen. Learn. Live ... without limits.
Dear Waldorf Teacher …
You always imagined a classroom where every child is joyfully engaged.
As a Waldorf teacher, I know how you committed you. And that you believe deep down in your soul that the classroom should be nourishing, communal, and inspiring for every child. Most of all, you aspire to creating a classroom where each child’s learning experience is full of JOY!
That’s your vision. You imagine greeting the children at the start of Main Lesson and looking out on a sea of shining eyes, eager children standing talking, full of anticipation and excitement for what is to come!
But right now, that's not true for all your students…
Some of them slouch or hide their eyes. One seems listless and unfocused; she can’t seem to recall any of the story you told so beautifully the day before. Another fidgets frequently. And then there’s the earnest child who looks utterly confused and demoralized when work time comes – because he didn’t understand the instructions. He never does, even though you know he’s a smart boy.
Worst of all, the light in their eyes is dimming.
It also keeps you up a night trying to figure out how to help. You’ve done a child study. The parents have already tried all sorts of therapies, dietary changes, Extra Lesson work, and tutoring. But as the years pass, some of these children are falling behind. And you’re beginning to worry their family will start to look for another school.
This simply breaks your heart. But you don’t know what else to do…
Listening skills could be to blame.
What if I told you that these children might be having difficulty with their listening skills? That if we addressed that shortcoming, their school experience could transform?
“Yes, but they’ve been to the doctor and their hearing is fine,” you say.
hear well but listen poorly.
— Alfred Tomatis
Hearing and listening are different.
One is passive; one is active. Hearing just happens, but listening occurs because you pay attention to what you’ve heard. The ability to filter out extraneous sounds and focus on the relevant sounds is a high-level cognitive skill and is the foundation for success in academic, social and professional environments.
Ideal listening development occurs with the development of the ear, during the first four months of pregnancy. But disruptions (physiological as well as psychological) can occur at all stages of life from prenatal all the way through late adulthood. These might include premature or traumatic birth, chronic ear infections in early childhood, stress, overexposure to loud sounds, brain injury, age-related hearing loss, to name a few.
Because a Waldorf classrooms rely so heavily on the spoken word, children whose listening is impaired will struggle and may ultimately leave the school!
Rehabilitating a child’s listening skills, when they have had an interruption in its healthy development, helps create a strong foundation on which to build academic skills, as well as social skills. When a child can make sense of the signals coming from the auditory sensations they are receiving throughout the day, the obstacles to their learning success are removed.
Neuroplasticity makes it possible.
The brain and nervous system are remarkably flexible. Recent research has taught us that they constantly adjust their activity and structure in response to stimuli (inside us, or around us). This is called neuroplasticity. It means that our brain and nervous system change when they encounter injuries or trauma, which may lead to real challenges. But it also makes it possible for us to create change on purpose: with carefully crafted stimuli, we can retrain and reshape our nervous systems so they work better.
That’s exactly what the Tomatis® Method does.
— Alfred Tomatis
The ear does more than just provide a vehicle for the sense of hearing. The vestibule, located in the ear, is in charge of movement and motor planning. The cochlea is in charge of analyzing sound; but if we aren’t analyzing sound optimally, it affects attention and memory. Without attention, listening doesn’t happen.
Listening skills are foundational skills. When they are weak, academic achievement, social engagement and self-regulation are affected. When they are strong, the true human being is free to manifest its full potential!
Tomatis work can help improve…
- postural control
- vestibular and motor skills
- attention and memory
- language skills and communication
- academic skills executive functions developmental delays emotional regulation
Questions Waldorf teachers often ask me…
Difficulty with sustained attention, listening in background noise, ability to follow verbal directions, underachievement, anxiety, argumentative, disorganized, procrastinates, turns in incomplete homework (if turned in at all), makes frequent/careless/consistent errors, expends high effort without commensurate results, difficulty staying on task, hates writing assignments, lacks motivation, becomes frustrated, leaves books/assignments at school/home, difficulty following directions
Mostly classical (Mozart, sometimes marches and waltzes) and Gregorian chant are the main types of music.
Recorded music gives us the ability to finely hone in on the weak areas of a listening skill deficiency. Rudolf Steiner advocated for a thoughtful relationship to technology, and this is what I have wrestled with and am bringing here.
Every client has a different experience, and varying levels of difficulty, so there’s no “average” amount of time to see results. For profiles that have fewer developmental challenges, changes can be experienced even in the first 14 day intensive. For more challenging developmental profiles (on the Autistic Spectrum, for example), development can happen slowly over several sessions.
One of the first things I’ve seen in learning challenged profiles is the client reporting/showing less exhaustion. I’ve also seen more social engagement and interestingly, postural improvements. But again, each profile is different and has different levels of complications. A wonderful result that parents have reported is that they are spending less time helping with homework – what used to take 4 hours (with a lot of tantrums) now takes 45 minutes, and the commensurate happy disbelief that the homework is completed.
An individual child may feel self-conscious doing their Tomatis work in the classroom with their peers, as the headphones and listening intensive device will be conspicuous. I recommend that it be done at home where they can feel safe.
A 10th grader in a private school transformed from an anxious, stressed out, over-vigilant student to a grounded, self-assured and efficiently productive collaborator in her learning environment;
A second grader who had weak expressive language skills (sparse vocabulary and monotone voice), which then impacted his social skills, couldn’t sit still in class and struggled to to pay attention. We started working in November, and by the end of the school year, he was able to engage in proper 2-way conversation, with appropriate turn-taking/language timing, as well as intonation and dynamics in expression.
A young adult, with an autistic profile, started to engage with his family members socially, improved their communication skills, learned and actively practices responding instead of reacting. Parents are now more confident about the future, knowing that their child will be able to live a functional life
Work with me
I'm here to help lighten your load.
Join my exclusive mailing list for Waldorf teachers for insights on the neuroscience of listening, and helpful strategies for the classroom.
Through one-on-one consultations and Tomatis® listening listening journeys, I help parents gift their children joy and success in school – so you can once again sleep peacefully at night!
GET to KNow SUE
It broke my heart...
My children attended a wonderful, nurturing Waldorf school with abundant art, music, movement, and field trips. But soon, I was hearing, “I don’t want to go to school, my stomach hurts” or “I hate school, I don’t learn anything anyway.”
But my son’s struggle began in Kindergarten with chronic ear infections. First he missed many weeks of school. Then many months later we discovered that he could hardly hear because of all the fluid in his ears. But nobody had realized because he was masking so well.
He couldn’t keep up.
Difficulties with movement and attention in elementary school grew into memory challenges. And he was so frustrated, because he was trying as hard as he could but couldn’t match the expectations of his teachers, his classmates, and himself. By middle school, he had trouble following even the simplest of multi-step instructions. I worried about junior high, when there’s so much focus on expressive language and writing. He already avoided these subjects because that’s where he was weakest.
We tried it all.
Worried that he might need to attend a school for the deaf, we tried it all. The ENTs suggested putting tubes in his ears, or hormone therapy (scary!) I spent my days shuttling him between therapy appointments with multiple practitioners. We tried nutrition, physical therapy, speech therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic, and various OT therapies. But these modalities were not having a strong enough effect to stop my son’s downward spiral of confidence and self-esteem.
Then... everything changed!
After my son did a series of Tomatis® listening intensives, I watched him gradually let go of his old, inefficient listening habits. He developed new skills that he missed out on in his earlier years. In high school, he bloomed — making the honor roll for the first time in his academic career! No longer in the learning support classes, he graduated proudly with his peers and is now a college student, collaborating with classmates, with a bright, creative future ahead of him.
SUSAN WAS A DELIGHT TO WORK WITH.
SHE WAS CALM, LISTENED TO ME, AND TOOK THE TIME TO ANSWER ALL MY QUESTIONS.