If you have a young child who is advanced in academics, is an early reader, or seems ready for formal schooling at an early age, you may believe that Waldorf Education isn’t the right choice for you. You may worry that your bright child will be bored in a Waldorf classroom.
However, in this article, Dr. Richard House, a senior lecturer at Roehampton University’s Research Centre for Therapeutic Education, recommends delaying formal schooling for bright children. He says, “…gifted pupils from relatively affluent backgrounds suffered the most from being pushed ‘too far, too fast.’” He quoted a major U.S. study, carried out over eight decades, that demonstrated how “children’s ‘run-away intellect’ actually benefited from being slowed down in the early years, allowing them to develop naturally.”
The absence of worksheets and standardized testing in the early grades does not mean that Spring Garden does not introduce these young pupils to advanced concepts. Students in Grades One and Two are actively taught mathematical concepts along with reading and writing, nature and science, music, art and foreign language — all in a multi-sensory and engaged manner.
Joanna Caley, mother of a Spring Garden student, talks about the benefits her gifted daughter experienced when given a more balanced Waldorf education at Spring Garden.
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In the Fall of 2013 and Spring of 2014, University of Akron Student Athletes participated in the freshman leadership program and chose to work with Spring Garden Waldorf School students. Athletes came to our school in two groups. In fall, the freshman spread 50 yards of new mulch on our playground. This was a big, difficult job, and mulching our play area is essential for the safety of our children. We are so grateful the students were willing to come do such hard work.
In the spring, the freshman athletes talked to our Grade Five class about what it means to be a college athlete. The college students spoke about the importance of sleep, nutrition, and good study habits, and the necessity for hours and hours of practice that might seem mundane, but is essential for competition. They also spoke to the importance of resilience — experiencing failure and getting up to try again. This message resonated with our fifth graders who, at the time of the discussion, were training for a multi-school Pentathlon competition.
At the end of their involvement, the UA students decided to donate $200 to SGWS. We were so moved and honored by this kind gesture after all they had already bestowed on our school. A heartfelt thanks to The University of Akron and their generous student athletes.
If you have a child between the ages of 3 and 4, and are interested in learning more about Waldorf preschool, please join us for a sample preschool morning on June 20th from 9 a.m.-11:30 a.m. On this day, you can join your child and walk through the rhythmic, warm, sensory filled experience of a Waldorf early childhood classroom The morning will include circle time, bread baking and story time lead by our Nursery Preschool teacher, Miss Kathy. This experience is offered to you at no cost, but you must register as space is limited. Please click below for more information or to register.
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Spring Garden Waldorf School is not required to give standardized tests and does not evaluate teachers based on scores; however, SGWS does administer the IOWA Test of Basic Skills once a year to students in Grades Four through Eight. We do not test children before Grade Four.
Administrative Team Leader, Tracy Edwards, explains:
“As a school, we use this test to compare individual and class progress from year to year as we move through our Waldorf Curriculum. Parents also appreciate having a quantitative measure of their child’s progress as compared with public education.”
And how does Waldorf, and Spring Garden, student performance compare to national averages?
The Nov/Dec 2011 Harvard Education Letter reports that “Waldorf students tend to score considerably below district peers in the early years of elementary education and equal to, or… considerably above, district peers by eighth grade.”
An independent five-year study of SGWS students’ IOWA test scores seems to confirm the results of Harvard’s national study. The 2014 study, 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 students’ national percentile ranks also increased as they moved through the grades. This means that 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.
There was no significant difference in the performance of male vs. female students at Spring Garden Waldorf School.
In Grades Four, Five, and Six, the unique unfolding of the Waldorf curriculum creates some discrepancies between the areas being measured on the tests and our learning goals; therefore, we give the younger students only the Language Arts and Mathematics sections of the test. However, our Grade Seven and Eight students take all sections of the test and follow the test’s required time limits, so there were no outstanding variables in the study’s Eighth Grade comparison.
By Nancy Stewart, Coach and Athletic Director
Photos courtesy of Dana Welton
It has been a successful and rewarding track and field season for Spring Garden Waldorf School, with one more meet to go.
On Saturday, Grade Eight athletes participated in the Cleveland preliminary meet against Akron and Cleveland schools. Congratulations to Simon Welton, who qualified in the mile for the championship meet thisThursday, May 22, at Brecksville/Broadview Heights High School at 6:00 p.m. Please come cheer Simon on as he represents SGWS!
Congratulations also to Luke Kapitan and Jerome Hume for their outstanding performances at the meet. We saw the significance of 9/100ths of a second making the difference at the end of a race.
Grade Six and Seven athletes participated in their championship meet on Sunday, with another outstanding representation for SGWS. Congratulations to Kira Cseak, Sarah Caley, Eli Hansen, Jules Christensen-Diehl, Grace Hecky, Hayden Matias, Maya Miller, Jena McIntyre, Megan May, Rominy Moss, Willa Moss, Bethany Hecky, Grace Rossi, and Andrew Scott for finishing in the top ten in their events, and to Sarah Caley for finishing first in the 400.
It has been a very successful season for the athletes! Their hard work has truly paid off. Thank you, parents, for your support and dedication. Thank you also to our coaches, Greg Beck, Tom Humes, and Bryan May, for helping lead the athletes to success.
This Wednesday, May 7, at 9:00 a.m., please join us in the School Store for a tea and reception to meet next year’s Grade One teacher, Marie Paul. Ms. Paul is one of Spring Garden Waldorf School’s founding teachers, and she has extensive knowledge of both our school and Waldorf education in general.
Ms. Paul has a B.S. in Education from the University of Akron, has received her Waldorf Certification and has been with SGWS for 31 years. While at Spring Garden, she has taken two classes from Grade One through Grade Eight; in addition, she has taught a combined Grades One/Two class through Grades Five/Six; one class from Grade One through Grade Three; one class from Grade Six through Grade Eight; and the current Class of 2014 in Grades Seven and Eight.
Ms. Paul has taken numerous courses in Anthroposophy and Waldorf education over the years, and her knowledge and experience are truly one of our school’s greatest treasures. Recently, Ms. Paul was honored in the My Favorite Teacher Contest, sponsored by Barnes and Noble. Her former student, Sarah Welton wrote an essay about Ms. Paul that won the 9-12 grade essayist category.
We encourage you to stop by and say hello, especially if your child will be in Grade One next fall!