SGWS alumni, Hannah Schurr, has been awarded an all-expenses-paid trip to London, Salsburg, Vienna, Venice and Rome. Schurr,who is majoring in drawing with a minor in art history at Edinboro University in Pennsylvania, competed against students from 14 Penn State Universities for this honor.
Students had to provide a resume, recommendations, samples of work and complete interviews before two were chosen to attend the trip June 1-17th. Congratulations Hannah!
If you Google, “Summer break with children,” you get two types of search results — a variety of activity lists or articles about the evils of summer’s off. Turns out they call it “summer fade,” which is a one month backslide in learning coupled with an increase in Body Mass Index (BMI) for kids.
Many parents counter these issues with a rigorous schedule of summer camps, sport practice and tutoring. While watching television all day with a box of pop tarts is obviously not good, there are some other options beyond a highly structured and scheduled summer.
When planning, or not planning your child’s summer, consider the scientifically proven benefits of boredom, free play and time in nature. These research studies about children and learning support the idea of a summer slowdown.
In a recent BBC news article, Children should be allowed to get bored, Dr Teresa Belton said, “Cultural expectations that children should be constantly active could hamper the development of their imagination.”
Now couple that reality with studies connecting time in nature with increased learning and emotional capabilities. The positive results of being outdoors for children are vast as seen in this PDF of a decade of Scientific Studies on this topic. Some highlights include:
- “When children engage in authentic play in nature-based outdoor spaces, they develop skills in a variety of domains simultaneously.” - Miller, D.L., Tichota, K,.White, J. (2009).
- “Sullivan has revealed that the symptoms of children with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) are relieved after contact with nature. The greener the setting, the more the relief.” – Taylor, A., Kuo, F. & Sullivan, W. (2001).
- “Children who regularly have positive personal experiences with the natural world show more advanced motor fitness, including coordination, balance and agility.” - Fjortoft, Ingunn (2001).
In addition to the learning benefits to boredom and time in nature, there is also the issue of free play. This article from Parenting Science explores over a decade of studies about the benefits of unstructured play time. The author is careful to note that free play does not mean physcial education classes or sports. Free play is just that. Unstructured play time, which is proven to help math skills, language development, and creative problem solving.
- “Play and exploration trigger the secretion of BDNF, a substance essential for the growth of brain cells.”
- “Psychologist Edward Fisher analyzed 46 published studies of the cognitive benefits of play (Fisher 1999). He found that “sociodramatic play”—what happens when kids pretend together—’results in improved performances in both cognitive-linguistic and social affective domains.’”
And finally, before you schedule a summer of busy stimulation, consider this article and advice from Simplicity Parenting writer Kim John Payne. He says:
“[When Google is hiring they say] ‘we’re less concerned about grades and transcripts and more interested in how you think.’”
If we rewind to a childhood that makes an adult like that, what do we see? Is it racing around from one prep course to another? From soccer to piano to Mandarin? A childhood on the clock and filling up the gaps with zoning on the iPad and obsessing about making more friends on Facebook?
I don’t think so.
When we really look at what happens for a kid when they slow down, tune in to themselves, take space and get busy in serious play, we can see that what they are learning is how to be create a kind of inner structure that will serve them (and us) well in the world ahead. … Play provides a deep and wide-reaching domain for kids to experiment with the real work of the real world.”
The mind and the body are not separate; they function as one. Waldorf Educators believe that, for children, learning without movement can be difficult. Waldorf educators also deeply know and study the mind body connection in regards to learning. Nothing represents this Waldorf culmination of physical and intellectual togetherness quite like the Fifth grade Pentathlon.
Fifth grade students are transitioning in development. After having come to realize the isolated self in third grade, they have grown into this reality and are now ready to look at the world around them in an ordered sense (space and time) to better understand their place within that world.
When it comes to physical education, the students are ready to emerge gently from the world of cooperative-only games and into the world of individual competition – a necessary transition before the sixth grade introduction of team-based sports.
These mind and body elements of readiness combine with Main lesson teachings of history and culture. Class 5 studies ancient history stretching from 3000 BC to 300 BC beginning with ancient India, moving to Persian culture the Chaldeans, Hebrews, Assyrians, Babylonians, Egyptians and ending with Greeks.
So as the end of the Class five Main Lesson school year wraps up Greek History, the end of the Class 5 Physical Education school years ends with a five event Greek Pentathlon: discus, javelin, wrestling, long jump and running. In gym class throughout the year, students will have prepared for their individual events and then will compete in an all day Pentathlon festival with other regional Waldorf schools.
Here are all six of the Fifth Grade classes in the 2013, Ann Arbor Pentathlon, singing Glorious Apollo together for the first time.
Waldorf Education: A family Guide
Students get to choose a choral piece to share with the community and this year Class 7 & 8 chose Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen.
To see more videos from our Spring Program, check out our SGWS YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/amyhecky
Once again, SGWS graduate, Isabella Sparhawk, makes the news. She has not only been granted a patent for her science project work this year; her project has also advanced to be judged at Intel ISEF, the world’s largest international pre-college science competition. The Intel fair is this week, May 12 to 17, and offers cash awards ranging from $1,000 to $100,000. Good luck Isabella!
Congratulations also go out to SGWS alumni, Timothy Fries, who has received the Second Year Distinguished Scholar award from Muskingum University, where he ranks in the top 5 percent in academics for his graduating class. Fries was also inducted into the Omicron Delta Kappa, the National Leadership Honor Society this year.
The 2012/2013 school year at Spring Garden Waldorf was a great success and many thanks go to the University of Akron’s Service Learning Program. The program sends college students out to work in local schools with younger students on innovative service projects. This school year, the University of Akron worked on five different projects with the community at Spring Garden Waldorf School of Copley, Ohio.
The year of collaboration began when five students from an UA English Composition II course decided to work with SGWS to beautify our facility. The goal being to help the outside of the building reflects what goes on inside the building. The UA students gave a presentation at the end of the semester for a chance to win a $500 grant for the project, and while SGWS did not win, a member in the audience who heard the presentation became a donor to the school.
Our next project was the creation of the beautiful Day of the Dead alter displayed at our school store this last fall. The altar was built by UA Spanish students and Spring Garden eighth grade students, in celebration of one of Mexico’s most renowned traditional celebrations. According to UA, “This service-learning project provided UA learners an opportunity to engage in meaningful research, collaborate with local Spanish students, and have first-hand experience with a Mexican tradition.”
This spring, advanced Spanish Composition students collaborated with the 7th graders for a reenactment of the novel Don Quixote de la Mancha. The UA composition students served as playwrights and wrote the script for the young kids to perform as well as worked along side the students to paint scenery and create props for the performance in April.
UA students came to work outdoors on two occasions as well. Twelve UofA athletes came out for part of their Pay it Forward program. They helped remove hazard trees, moved gravel to create a pathway, painted a classroom, painted an exterior door and re-ribboned our Maypoles. A different group of U of A students came out in May to help SGWS fourth graders prepare their garden for spring planting. They brought, as all the U of A students do, a solid work ethic, a great sense of humor and an openness to complete the task at hand with energy and positivism.
Students in the UA Service Learning projects always set a wonderful example for our students.
Thank You University of Akron!
In this discussion of Class 5 curriculum, our source material is Eugene Swartz’s Millennial Child website, the grade description from Eugene Waldorf School of Eugene, Oregon, and Waldorf Education, A Family Guide – Fifth Grade written by East Bay Waldorf School in El Sobrante, CA.
Main Lesson subjects expand in Grade 5 to include, History, Geography, and Botany in addition to Mathematics and Language Arts.
History: Class 5 studies ancient history stretching from 3000 BC to 300 BC beginning with ancient India, moving to Persian culture the Chaldeans, Hebrews, Assyrians, Babylonians, Egyptians and ending with Greeks. The children will read poetry and myths, create maps, study hieroglyphics, and sample arts and crafts of the various ancient peoples and work to create similar creations.
Botany: After studying zoology in Grade 4, fifth graders are ready to discover the plant world. They start by experiencing what is in their own world using all their senses and the focus is on the metamorphosis the plants experience in roots, stems, leaves, flowers and fruit. After understanding plant life found in their own environment, the students learn about vegetation in other parts of the world.
Geography: American geography is studied both physically and culturally, meaning the physical understanding of landscapes and mapping and make-up of mountains, rivers and prairies is linked with the way human life has been lived in each region such as how humans used natural resources, developed industry, and produced crops. Swartz describes this approach saying, “Students study Native American tribes that lived in varied environments, as well as the biographies of individuals who seem to exemplify a particular geographical setting. To further enrich the subject, we will learn regional poetry, tall tales and songs. We will learn something about the way our nation in governed.”
Math: Mathematics becomes more conceptual in grade 5 as students continue work on fractions and decimals and expand into basic geometric concepts.
Language Arts: Students continue to study language arts through composition, reading, writing, recitation of poetry and oral review of lessons. Grammar is delved into during this grade.
Music: Students continue in choral singing and playing their C-recorder flute along with progressing into more intermediate stringed instrument skills.
Physical education: This year students come together with other area Waldorf school to compete in a Greek Pentathlon which includes javelin, wrestling, and other historical events.
Special Subjects: Woodworking involves carving, knitting now uses four needles, form drawings and painting will relate to the study of Ancient History, Geography, Botany and Geometry. The study of Eurhythmy and Foreign Languages also continues.