All are welcome to Spring Garden’s upcoming Walk Through The Grades Day — Wednesday, February 10th, at 9 am. REGISTER HERE or Email our Admissions Director, Amy Hecky, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spring Garden is part of the longstanding Waldorf tradition, drawing attention for what the New York Times calls, “a teaching philosophy focused on physical activity and learning through creative, hands on tasks. Waldorf educators strive to implement the right thing at the right time and follow a multidisciplinary approach to teaching, which is supported by modern day scientific research about successful learning.”
Nothing shows the power of this type of education like seeing it in action. Our In Session Class Tours, also known as Walk Through the Grades, provide parents a unique opportunity to see how our teachers employ this innovative approach to education, which gives children the opportunity to learn through a wide variety of experiences, increasing depth of understanding as well as intersecting with individual learning styles.
People often note the quiet and concentration of our Early Childhood students and their ability to listen carefully to their soft spoken teachers.
Children learn best by doing. Movement is key to teaching math, writing and reading in Primary School children.
Music and art are woven into Main Lesson subjects like reading, writing and math.
Third graders are eager to learn about the world outside of themselves and have the skills they need to concentrate and absorb challenging information.
The Fourth grade day is rich, including special subjects like clay sculpture, gardening and violin on top of regular academic rigor.
On tours of Grade 5 classes and beyond, many parents comment about on the amount of collaboration and vibrant conversation among the teacher and the students.
Spanish, geometry, history, language arts are all taught through engaging and interesting projects. Here is an example of the final result of a Sixth grade geometry lesson.
Our Seventh graders are often encountered in the Science Lab, being led to their own conclusions about experiments taught through Socratic inquiry and interaction.
On any given tour, you may find our oldest students helping their First grade buddies, making a chair in woodworking class, practicing for orchestra, studying algebra, anatomy or physics, or working on a paper for U.S. history.
You will also find, that whatever our students doing, they are not only passionate about it, but engaged with the subject and with one another, and respectful and grateful for their teachers.
“We can’t blame children for occupying themselves with Facebook rather than playing in the mud. Our society doesn’t put a priority on connecting with nature. In fact, too often we tell them it’s dirty and dangerous.” – David Suzuki
The National Wildlife Federation has essentially created a whitepaper on dirt to explain and encourage mud play among children. There’s an International Mud Day in June. And Immunologist, Mary Ruebush, has written a whole book about it: Why Dirt Is Good: 5 Ways to Make Germs Your Friends.
We know playing outdoors, in general, has a myriad of proven health and learning benefits. And sensory play is also essential for developing skills, especially in younger children.
But why is mud, specifically, so good for children?
First, there is the issue of children’s immune systems. As Ruebush says, “Let your child be a child. Dirt is good. If your child isn’t coming in dirty every day, they’re not doing their job. They’re not building their immunological army. So it’s terribly important.”
In fact, there are many ways in which dirt’s microscopic bacteria benefit children’s bodies and minds. One in particular, Mycobacterium vaccae, had been found to increase the levels of serotonin in our brains, which boosts mood and relieves anxiety.
Researchers at The Sage Colleges in Troy, New York also wondered whether, in addition to its antidepressant effect, M. vaccae may also have an effect on schoolwork.
“Since serotonin plays a role in learning, we wondered if live M. vaccae could improve learning in mice,” says Dr. Dorothy Matthews, who co-authored the study. “We found that mice that were fed live M. vaccae navigated the maze twice as fast and with less demonstrated anxiety behaviors as control mice.”
Turns out there are great body benefits, too. In addition to being good for the immune system, experts at the University of California at San Diego have found that mud play combats inflammation while improving wound healing. The researchers studied both mice and human cells in their lab and found that common bacteria, called staphylococci, can reduce inflammation after injury when they are present on the skin’s surface.
But most importantly, the kids love it because it’s fun to get dirty, fun to play outside, and fun to be with friends and have unrestricted playtime in nature. So let the kids be kids.
As American botanist Luther Burbank once said, “Every child should have mud pies, grasshoppers, water bugs, tadpoles, frogs, mud turtles, wild strawberries, acorns, chestnuts, trees to climb. Brooks to wade…bees, butterflies, various animals to pet, hayfields, pine-cones, rocks to roll, sand, snakes and hornets; any child who has been deprived of these has been deprived of the best part of…education.”
Win a free ticket to the auction! This upcoming Friday Morning, January 29th, enter for a chance to win a free ticket to this year’s Benefit Auction, valued at $75.
Raffle tickets are $1 each and will be on sale Friday morning from 8:20 – until the start of the Assembly. After that time, tickets can be purchased in the office until the end of the school day on Monday January 31st. The drawing will take place Tuesday, Feb. 1st.
Enter a Waldorf school for a tour and you may be immediately struck by the beauty within the classroom. Within that beauty, your eye will no doubt settle at the chalkboard, where the children look daily, to behold a colorful and beautiful piece of hand crafted artwork — the chalk drawing. All Waldorf teachers do these amazing chalkboard drawings, but why? Rudolf Steiner made no specific mention of teachers drawing elaborate and gorgeous art with chalk.
Yet the trend, as it were, is rooted in Steiner’s belief that learning must invoke, “The True, the Beautiful, and the Good.” He believed these three great ideals tapped into, “the sublime nature and lofty goal of all human endeavor.”
As Artist Kate Walter, says in her website, Living Traditional Arts, “One of the rewards found teaching in a Waldorf school is the required opportunity to work with colored chalk on the blackboard. In the Waldorf classroom, we put drawings on the board to create mood and atmosphere in the classroom and to be an artful aid to the students, encouraging them to enter their lessons imaginatively.”
We like this further elaboration from Chapter 6 of the book, A Passionate Schooling, by Alduino Mazzone, PhD: “In a world where so many children are cut off from the beauty of nature, from forests and bird song and even blue skies, where contemporary youth culture can be even deliberately ugly, it is important that, in the school, children are surrounded by beauty, in the physical and human environment, and have all around them models which demonstrate and encourage the value of creativity and imagination.”
For more about Waldorf Chalk Drawings, visit ChalkboardDrawings.org, a definitive resource from this lovely paper from Catie Johnson at Antioch University.
Here are some of the recent Chalk Drawings seen at Spring Garden Waldorf School:
Join us at a new date To Be Determined, for Coffee and Conversation regarding parent-teacher relationships. Parents will view a webinar together, “”The Human Encounter: Parent-Teacher Relationships in a Waldorf School,” followed by a question/answer/discussion period with Royse Crall and other experienced Waldorf teachers.
The relationships between our teachers and our parents represent the health and warmth of our school community. And, like all relationships, consideration, respect, and commitment to enhance the connection is essential in growing the well being of the personal kinship within the community, the success of our children, and the health of our school.
In this webinar, Dr. Torin Finser, Chair of the Education Department at Antioch University New England, explores parent and teacher relations using architectural images to represent the social architecture of communities and how they operate.
Among other things, he encourages us to remember that the relationship between teachers and parents is, “not a matter of technique. It’s a matter of learning to work together in the human encounter.”
Please join us as we view and discuss this thoughtful lecture by Dr. Finser.