Posts by thewaywardshepherd

SGWS Subjects: Orchestra

»Posted by on Oct 15, 2015 in Curriculum | 0 comments

by Emily Rode

Violins1Here at Spring Garden Waldorf School, orchestral musical training is seen as a layering of abilities. What is taught in the early grades is built upon each year, as more and more is expected musically from the students. Children are given regular opportunities to perform their music, at monthly Assemblies and also at Concerts and Festivals.

Grade 3: In Grade 3, we are just beginning our violin adventure. The students will have an instrument to use during our weekly meeting. It will be a few weeks after the school year begins before they actually begin to work with one, but they are always so excited and enthusiastic to begin!

Grade 4: Grade Four brings fraction studies, and fractions bring quarter, eighth, and sixteenth notes. Student’s are measured and assigned a violin to use at school. Students work with a combination of imitation exercises to learn notes and rhythm, worksheets, and short pieces. They also work within The Etling String Method Book. Having their own instrument is not required at this time, but if they do, they can practice at home to reinforce the skills learned in class. If students have an instrument at home or want to acquire one, I can help with sizing or questions about supplies, care, and maintenance.  

CellosGrade 5: Grade 5 meets on Tuesday and Friday. Students are ready for short homework assignments, which are given on Tuesday and checked the next Tuesday. They should be practicing at home at least 4 of the 7 days for 10-15 minutes each practice. Those comfortable with the lesson measures or scales assigned, can review past assignments or long bows on open strings to produce a clear tone and be comfortable with the bow.

Grade 6: In Grade Six, children can choose to expand their instrumental repertoire by selecting a different stringed instrument to master beyond the violin. Grade 6 meets on Monday and Tuesday and their practice assignments will be given Monday and checked the following Monday. At this age, five additional minutes should be added to the student’s practicing, which should take place at least 4 of the 7 days each week.

Grades 7 and 8: Our Middle School students are now immersed in the language of music as skills are layered upon all that has been learned before. Students can now begin training on woodwind instruments in the upper grades, if they so choose, or they can continue to master their stringed instrument choices. Orchestra class meets on Monday, Tuesday and Friday. Assignments are given each Monday and checked the next Monday. Students should now be practicing 20-30 minutes 4 to 5 days each week.

The benefits of music training, and string instrument training in particular, are vast.  Even if student’s choose not to pursue music long term, we know they will experience the proven neurological benefits, such as accelerated brain cell growth in areas related to executive functioning, including working memory, attention control and organisation.

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Coffee & Conversation

»Posted by on Oct 8, 2015 in School News | 0 comments

BGardenThis month’s Coffee and Conversation is “Beauty, Reverence, and Truth: The Higher Purpose of Gardening through the Grades.” Teacher, Edward Grimes, will lead the conversation on Wednesday, October 28 – 9:00 a.m.

We are increasingly in a two-dimensional worldview. Gardening through the grades reveals the simple truth that everything on earth is in relationship and that separation is an illusion. The subject of gardening provides for the student an understanding beyond a “me vs. it/them” worldview. It seeks to cultivate a deeper understanding of the relationships and relatedness in the physical world, the feeling world, and the human heart. As Goethe tells us, “we must love nature. It is in our capacity to love (nature) that she will reveal her secrets.” All the earth and all within it is nature.     

Join us as SGWS teacher Edward Grimes discusses the role of gardening in the Waldorf curriculum.

This event is free and open to the public.  Click here to register.


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Foundation Studies in Anthroposophy and the Arts

»Posted by on Sep 22, 2015 in Research, School News | 0 comments

Foundation Studies in Anthroposophy and the Arts: Year I & II – 2016-2017

cfa-v10-170A new two-year, part-time program of Foundation Studies in Anthroposophy and the Arts will take place January 2016 – April 2017. Register at

This program of studies is an invitation to learn more about Waldorf education and participate in research in all fields of human knowledge – please join us for this special course which is offered as a starting point for future work as parents, Waldorf teachers, alumni and others.

The course sessions will offer an opportunity to study, discuss, and participate together in transformative artistic activities.  It will also focus on Anthroposophy — the philosophy out of which cultural activities such as Waldorf education arose — which  links the spiritual in every human being with the spiritual in the universe.  

The full Certificate Program consists of 128 hours. The faculty will be a mixture of experienced anthroposophists and artists from our local area and from the wider Waldorf community.

Click HERE to Learn More. 


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Fall Tours at Spring Garden Waldorf School

»Posted by on Sep 21, 2015 in School News | 0 comments

Class 2atWorkAll are welcome to the Spring Garden Waldorf Open House and Walk Through Days this October and November.

  • October 14th at 9 am – In-Session Class Tour
  • November 8th at 1 pm – Open House
  • November 11th at 9 am – In-Session Class Tour

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.”

PreschoolImage2Nothing 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.

Our Open House allows for interaction with our faculty, staff and current parents to answer questions both about our school and Waldorf’s approach to education.


CLICK HERE to Register or Learn More or contact Amy Hecky at 




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Waldorf Outdoor Curriculum: Camping, Ice Skating & More

»Posted by on Sep 14, 2015 in Curriculum, Research | 0 comments

ReadytoCanoeIn today’s busy public education environment, recess is typically shelved by Grade 4 for deeper dives into academics. Considering this, parents are often shocked to learn that Waldorf students not only continue to have three recess periods through Grade 8, they also take whole days off to experience non-academic learning. Or do they really take time off?

The connection between our minds and bodies is being more greatly understood as researchers take on the topic. What we eat, how we sleep, and how we play, move, and use sensory information all directly affect everyday learning. In other words, when our students are camping or ice skating, they are engaging their brains in purposeful ways that will enhance their academics.

This is due not only to the interrelation of movement and brain activity (such as arms crossing the midline helping brain hemispheres communicate), but also because intelligence and academics are multi-layered and dimensional subjects represented in different forms.

LoucileIceSkateHoward Gardner, American developmental psychologist and Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, developed the theory of multiple intelligences and revolutionized the way educators think about learning. In his book Frames of Mind, Gardner outlines the types of intelligences, claiming that all people process information in several different, independent ways.

Gardner asserts that all eight of a person’s “intelligences” – verbal / linguistic, logical / mathematical, body / kinesthetic, visual / spatial, music / rhythmic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic – need to be stimulated and explored to best tap into a person’s academic talents and gifts.

Camp2When we take our students camping, we are helping them connect “real” experiences to learning and also are testing their growing abilities. Not only will the outdoor education experiences that occur during the trip help children learn courage, compassion, and cooperation, but they will also challenge and advance their different forms of intelligence. Children who participate in horseback riding, canoeing, climbing, and sports like archery and team building games are exercising their body/ kinesthetic, visual/ spatial, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic skill sets in ways that are not always as prevalent during class time.

So while the students may see ice skating or camping trips as fun days “off” from academics, Waldorf teachers understand that these immersive experiences offer a depth of experience and varied learning to students that directly benefit classroom time.

Want to learn more about how different types of movement support academics? Please visit: Movement for Childhood, which focuses on how movement programs, solidly based on the developmental needs of children, have school-wide benefit.

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