Curriculum

Ice Skating at Kent State

»Posted by on Feb 20, 2014 in Curriculum, Just For Fun, School News | 0 comments

LoucileIceSkateIt’s that time of year again! On February 28, we welcome back our annual tradition of spending three Friday afternoons on the ice.

 

Grade One students are introduced to this tradition by their Eighth Grade Buddy, and all grades share the ice. New students find a supportive and safe environment to learn to skate, and for many students (and more than a few parents), our ice skating trips are the highlight of the long winter months. For a nominal skate rental fee, parents can join their children on the ice, or just sit rink-side and visit with other members of our community.

 

Web MD writer recently interviewed Angela Smith, MD, an attending surgeon at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, who had this to say about ice skating’s benefits, “I think [ice skating] truly addresses all components of fitness at any level,” she says. “It’s good for building lower-body muscles including the hips, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves. Skating also boosts balance, flexibility, quickness, and agility.”

 

We agree! Which, along with the fact that it’s great fun for our children and out community, keeps ice skating a tradition here at SGWS. In order to orchestrate this fun event, we need parents help.
  • Permission slips will be sent home for all students in Grades 1 through 8 by the end of this week. Please return them promptly.
  • We will need many parents to help drive students to and from the Ice Arena. We leave the school at 12:30 and leave Kent State at 2:45. We are generally back at the school by 3:30. (If you wish to pick up your child at the ice arena, you must be there by3:00.)
  • Our skating dates are February 28, March 7, and March 14, and we are always in need of drivers and chaperones.

 

Hope to see you at the ice rink!

 

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Movement, Games, and the Waldorf Curriculum

»Posted by on Jan 8, 2014 in Curriculum, School News | 0 comments

JeffTThe Parent Council is hosting a presentation by Jeff Tunkey of the AHE Friday, February 7, 2014 – 7:00 p.m. at SGWS to discuss the role of movement and games in the Waldorf curriculum.  Jeff is a member of the Aurora Waldorf School faculty and the Association of Healing Education board.

There is a growing body of research in education and neuroscience about the link between learning and movement. Studies have shown that physical changes from exercise can boost cognition, such as the increase in blood flow, brain mass, and neuron development. But research like this study about critical thinking and dance, or this one done through Seattle Public Schools, also connect dots between boosted academic performance and learning through movement.

For several years, our guest speaker, Jeff Tunkey, has been the Games (Gym) teacher, Care Group Coordinator, and, until recently, Extra Lesson Teacher at Aurora Waldorf School. He is an experienced speaker and has led several faculty workshops. You can learn more about Jeff’s work on his website MovementforChildhood.com.

For more information about this upcoming event, email Diane Miskinis.

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Common Core and Your Child

»Posted by on Dec 16, 2013 in Curriculum, Early Childhood, Research | 2 comments

Grade3-2Opponents call it the One-Size-Fits-All education, while supporters say it’s holding children to higher, more in-depth learning standards than current achievement tests. Common Core Standards are rolling out this year and are estimated to cost school systems millions. But what does it mean for families?

 

Too much, too soon, too stressful

Children will be tested earlier and more regularly. Child clinical psychologist Dr. Megan Koschnick is concerned that many of the early childhood Common Core Standards are developmentally inappropriate for young students not yet reaching Piaget’s concrete operational stage. And her peers at the American Principles Project are concerned that no developmental or neuropsychologists were involved in the committees for creating the Common Core. According to Koschnick, there is also little to no scientific research supporting the aptitude recommendations at early grade levels.

As Koschnick said in this video:

When standards are not developmentally appropriate, “Teachers are going to see typically developing children as delayed, parents may be informed that their children are behind and kids are going to get measured against inappropriate standards and might be held back or tracked into remedial classes that they don’t really need.”

FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In addition to the standards being potentially inappropriate for a child’s cognitive abilities, principals in New York, who adopted Common Core early, also say the standards are causing undue stress to little ones. They have written an open letter of protest saying the Common Core was too hard on younger children and they reported crying and physical ailments like vomiting and wetting during test taking.

And it’s no wonder the children are stressed. In Ohio and several other states, there are strict consequences for failing the third grade test. Students unable to pass a retest will not go to fourth grade with their peers. Ohio has joined others in the 3rd grade common core retention law meaning 3rd graders who fail to demonstrate sufficient reading ability on the new state standardized test will be held back.

Are Late Readers really “Behind?”

Winston Churchill -- Behind but not below average.

Winston Churchill — Behind but not below average.

Many great thinkers and leaders throughout history reported being late readers or late bloomers in general including Albert Einstein who could barely read in the third grade and Nobel Laureates Richard Axel and Gerardus Hooft. Would Winston Chruchill, who failed 6th grade in a traditional education system, have passed a Common Core third grade test? Hard to say. But children who are labeled as “behind” in today’s world are often thought to be, or believe themselves to be, below average.

But if a slow-reading third grader is agreed to be “behind” what is required for testing, does that mean he/she is developmentally delayed or below average? The new standards push early reading and many studies show that those who start reading at 5 versus 7 show no differences by age 11.  Does this mean the only benefit to early reading proficiency is the ability to take tests?  In today’s public school system that question is irrelevant, as is the psychological concern of labeling students “behind” when they are initially slower readers.

 

What’s The Common Core FOR?

As Common Core strives to raise standards among global peers, many find it telling that top Western school systems prescribe to an opposite approach. The ever-popular, idealized Finnish school system does not allow children to even begin academics before age seven, which means reading instruction is delayed. But students in this school system do not need to read test instructions by first or even third grade. In fact, students in these high performing schools are not required to take tests or even receive grades until 8th grade.

Sir Ken Robinson’s popular TED talk explores the idea that U.S. education is outdated because it was created during the industrial revolution for jobs that no longer exist and is also modeled after an industrial process rather than considering the unique skills and talents of individuals. He maintains that a culture of testing and standardization has inappropriately labeled students and stunted curriculum. And often he points to the Finnish system as a model for how to address individual learning styles while still competing globally.

 

Waldorf Education and The Common Core

Grade8Waldorf Education is often cited for mimicking the Finnish system, which has a low-stress, non-testing environment for early elementary students and also takes a different approach to reading, with comprehension skills being taught first and phonics decoding beginning in first grade.  What is core in Waldorf standards is catering to a student’s individual learning style with reverence and respect for each child and their gifts.

Waldorf educators also encourage a love of lifelong learning, which they believe cannot flourish in an environment where being slightly behind in one skill set:

  • Causes undue stress and defeatist attitude.
  • Elicits a label for a child as being less intelligent.
  • Leads to a child being unnecessarily held back – delaying learning of other skill sets and social growth.

Waldorf Educators also subscribe to Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences, which  deconstructs the idea of one “general” intelligence ruling someone’s abilities. In other words, a slow reader is not a slow child.

Is your child at risk of being labeled “behind” because they are a late reader or an anxious test taker? Consider Waldorf. Learn more at our website, visit us, request information or call 330-666-0574 to speak with our Admissions Director.

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What Happens to Waldorf Graduates?

»Posted by on Nov 26, 2013 in Alumni, Curriculum, Research | 0 comments

There is a Survey of Waldorf Graduates Phase 2, by Douglas Gerwin and David Mitchell, Full Study Here, published by The Research Institute for Waldorf Education. We recently read the 2007 study and thought our parents would find these pieces of information particularly interesting.

 

Profile of a Typical Waldorf Graduate

  • Majors in arts/humanities (47%) or sciences/math (42%) as an undergraduate
  • Graduates or is about to graduate from college (88%)
  • Practices and values life-long learning (91%)
  • Is self-reliant and highly values self-confidence (94%)
  • Highly values verbal expression (93%) and critical thinking (92%)
  • Is highly satisfied in choice of occupation (89%)
  • Highly values interpersonal relationships (96%)
  • Highly values tolerance of other viewpoints (90%)
  • At work cares most about ethical principles (82%) and values helping others (82%)

 

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Advent Spiral December 2nd and 3rd

»Posted by on Nov 15, 2013 in Curriculum, School News | 0 comments

Advent2

One of Spring Garden’s most beautiful festivals is approaching: Advent. The Advent Spiral Garden is a reverent, candlelit ceremony which takes place during the school day. Students enter the darkened gym, where a spiral pathway of fresh pine boughs has been laid with a large, lit candle at its center.

Each student walks to the center of the spiral with an unlit candle, lights their candle, and places it somewhere along the spiral path as they wind their way back from the center. With each student, the light grows to illuminate the room, reminding us of the eternal light within us and within all mankind.

Parent volunteers sing meditative song, often referred to as angel voices, to help add reverence to the event. Adult volunteers are also needed to help lay the spiral, carve the apples used for candle holders, and retrieve students to participate in this beautiful, solemn event.

Advent Spiral Schedule
      Monday, December 2
         Class 5:  8:40 – 9:25
         Miss Olga:  9:30 – 10:40
         Miss Kathy:  10:45 – 11:20
         Class 3:  11:25 – 12:20
         Class 1:  1:15 – 2:30
     Tuesday, December 3
         Class 6:  8:40 – 9:25
         Miss Julie: 9:30 – 10:40
         Class 2: 10:45 – 11:45
         Class 7:  11:50 – 12:20
         Class 4:  1:10 – 2:20
         Class 8:  2:25 – 3:00
Please note that these times are approximate. Parents are welcome to come and observe as classes walk the Advent Spiral with the exception of parents of students in Grade 8 – in Grade 8, their last year at SGWS, students walk the spiral in silent, reflective solitude. If you would like to volunteer to set up the spiral and/or sing while classes walk the spiral, please sign up on the sheets posted in the office window.
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Martinmas Lantern Walk

»Posted by on Nov 4, 2013 in Curriculum, Early Childhood, School News | 0 comments

The_LanternsThe Early Childhood classes — Miss Kathy, Miss Olga, and Miss Julie — will celebrate Martinmas with a lantern walk during the school day on Friday, November 8. The three classes will walk down to the creek together during their outdoor playtime, to sing songs and leave seeds and crumbs for the forest animals.

Martinmas celebrates the life of St. Martin and reminding us that we each have a light inside of us that we can share with the world. This is a simple celebration, intended to both observe the changing of the seasons and inspire generosity of spirit.

St. Martin was a soldier in Rome in the 4th century.  Legend says that one wintry night, he met a poor beggar, half dressed and freezing.  Martin removed the heavy cloak from his shoulders and, drawing his sword, cut it in two, and gave half to the beggar.  That night, Christ appeared to Martin in a dream, wrapped in the same piece of cloak Martin had given the beggar, and said, “Martin has covered me with this garment.”  Martin became the patron saint of beggars, drunks, and outcasts, dedicating his life to helping others.

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