Join us Wednesday, March 23rd at 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. as we learn about History Curriculum and Approach for Grades 1 – 8 from experienced Waldorf teacher, Royse Crall. Royse is also the current Class 8 teacher.
She will present the path of the history curriculum in Waldorf education and outline how we approach bringing these subjects to the children in a meaningful way and at the right time developmentally. This approach helps bring relevant value to the lessons so our students can connect with their feelings and really relate to the lessons and the humanity behind the history.
Childcare will be available for the evening meeting for SGWS students ages 4 and up. Parents and friends of SGWS are welcome to attend one or both sessions. Morning Session is at 9 a.m. and registration can be done by clicking here. The Evening Session is at 7 p.m. and community members can register by clicking here.
The multidisciplinary, age-appropriate curriculum in Waldorf Education helps meet individual student’s needs and unlock each child’s true potential. Since each child is unique and learns best in different ways, we offer an Educational Support Team (EST) to help give extra attention to the learning needs of struggling students.
The EST at Spring Garden is made up of the Academic Tutor, Extra Lesson Teacher, and Speech and Language Pathologist. This team works in collaboration with teachers, parents, and outside service providers to develop and implement accommodations to support the academic success of all students.
Accommodations may include modifications within the classroom, strategies and techniques implemented by the classroom teachers, and interventions by EST members. Parent permission is needed before any child can work with the EST, and the EST and the student’s teacher will monitor the student’s progress and the effectiveness of the accommodations and communicate this to the student’s parents.
The following information outlines the services we currently offer through our EST program:
Speech and Language Services –
Our Speech Language Pathologist, Dawna Lee, informally screens all students entering Grade One, students new to SGWS at any grade level, and any students recommended for screening by their teacher.
Students who may benefit from speech intervention in the areas of articulation, voice, and fluency are identified by the SLP based on developmental nouns and/or evidence based best practice. Students with language disorders are identified through formal assessment procedures, coordinated by the Education Support Team. If a student qualifies to receive speech and language services, a Services Plan is developed and implemented with parent permission.
Academic Tutoring Services –
Our Academic Tutor, Diane Miskinis, works with students in grades 3-8 providing reading language and math support. In Grade Three, she works with the main lesson teacher to provide support for reading classes two periods per week for all students. This work also helps identify any students who may need additional services.
After Grade Three, students requiring tutoring services in language or math skills are identified by the Main Lesson teacher and referred to the academic tutor with parent’s permission. Diane Miskinis works with parents and the main lesson teacher to establish information regarding the time that sessions will be held, the areas of focus, goals, and a timeline to re-assess the need for services. She also provides twice a year written updates with regards to activities done and progress being made.
Extra Lesson Services –
Our Extra Lesson Teacher, Jennell Woodard, works with every student in Kindergarten, Grade One, and Grade Two. Her regular involvement with the younger students provides the opportunity for long-term observation, which helps identify students who may require additional services in later grades.
After Grade Two, students who would benefit from additional movement activities, individually or in small groups, are identified by Ms. Woodard with input from the Main Lesson teacher. From there, a plan is generated by the Extra Lesson teacher, including information regarding the time that sessions will be held, the areas of focus, goals, and a timeline to re-assess the need for services. Parents agree to, or waive, these services before sessions begin.
If you are a prospective parent with additional questions about support services, please contact our Admissions Director with questions. Current parents can refer to the Parent Handbook or speak with their child’s Main Lesson Teacher.
While the majority of the assessments at Spring Garden Waldorf school are done through observation and without formal testing, we do administer the IOWA Test of Basic Skills once a year, to 4th through 8th graders, for specific academic feedback.
The unique unfolding of the Waldorf curriculum through the grades creates some discrepancies between the areas being measured on the tests and our learning goals, so we give the students only sections applicable by grade level.
- We do not test children before Grade Four.
- 4th Grade students will take the Language Arts and Mathematics sections of the test. The students in 4th grade are not timed while taking the tests.
- 5th & 6th Grade students will take the Language Arts, and Mathematics sections of the test with timing parameters to increase the validity of the data received as well as to provide the students with exposure to this kind of experience.
- 7th & 8th Grade students will take all sections of the test and follow the required time limits.
We do not use the testing scores for evaluations of teachers or students, but do use them to compare individual and class progress from year to year as we move through our Waldorf curriculum. We also have, in years past, used IOWA test scores for our own research and study purposes.
Last year we completed an independent five-year study of SGWS students’ IOWA test scores. The analysis, conducted by the University of Akron Business Analytics department, found that test scores at Spring Garden rose as students rose in grade level, and that student’s national percentile ranks also increased as they moved through the grades.
Impressively, by Grade Eight, SGWS students well outperformed their same-age and same-grade peers nationally who took the IOWA tests.
- 50% of SGWS Grade Eight students tested at a 13th grade equivalency, the grade level at which the IOWA test is capped.
- 75% of SGWS Grade Eight students performed significantly above 10th grade equivalency.
- Also notable… there were no significant differences in the performance of male vs. female students at Spring Garden Waldorf School.
This year, students will be given the IOWA test during between February 29th and March 4th. Parents are encouraged to let their children know that this is just another experience for them and that they need not be concerned about outcome.
“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.”
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:
This fall, Spring Garden welcomed GroundWorks Dance Theater into our school for a second year. The Cleveland-based theater company first hosted an in-school workshop, followed by an on-stage workshop and student performance at the downtown Akron Library auditorium.
GroundWorks spent time with our 5th, 6th and 7th graders exploring the nuances of the human experience through unique and adventurous choreography. Students did three unique exercises — trace letters with movement, work together in an exercise of under over and around, and also work in pairs to balance on one and three points of the body.
The students then practiced these exercises after the workshop and combined them into a dance routine. Here are the performances from each of our three groups of SGWS students.