Opponents 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.”
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?”
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
Waldorf 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.
The 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.
Home Made Graham Crackers
- 2 ½ Cups Whole Wheat Flour
- ½ Tsp Salt
- ½ Tsp Baking Powder
- ¼ Tsp Cinnamon
- 1 stick of Butter
- 3/4 Cup Honey
Preheat oven to 375. Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon into a bowl. Melt together the honey and butter. Pour this into the dry ingredients. Mix with a fork then push the dough together with your hands. Do not knead or over mix. Place the dough on a well-floured rolling pin to 1/8” thick. Cut rectangles (1 ¼” X3”) with a knife and prick them with a fork. Place on a lightly greased baking tray and bake for just 10 minutes. Cool on a rack.
Welcome to the world of outdoor play, EVERY day! Kids don’t care about rain and snow and at Spring Garden they get outside to move three times a day rain or shine, wet or dry, mud or mud. This is why Waldorf schools require proper outerwear for active kids.
Unfortunately, the big box stores don’t have these items on the list of back-to-school essentials, so finding a pair of rain pants locally, in August, can be tricky. Besides, if Target had four pairs of rain pants, one of the other 100+ Waldorf families in your area might have snagged them first. And so . . . here are some places where you can buy rain gear for the kiddos before August 27th (6 weeks from today!).
Need it all? Here are three retailers who sell jackets, pants and boots, all in one place:
If you only need Pieces Parts you can shop above or also try:
Oftentimes, each of these retailers will have all these items or run out of stock in one or more items. So, it helps to shop early. And, of course, there’s always thrift shopping and swapping with other families!
Spring Garden Waldorf preschool is a nurturing day focused on fostering the small child’s imagination through storytelling, music, outdoor play and artistic activities. It is also an extension of the family experience — full of comfort and routine — a step between home and formal schooling for children age 3-5.
For children 3 years old by June 1, we offer:
Three Half or Full Days ~ Wednesday thru Friday ~ 8:30 am to 12:00 pm or 3:20 pm
For children 4 years and older by June 1, we offer:
Five Half or Full Days ~ Monday thru Friday ~ 8:30 am to 12:00 pm or 3:20 pm.
If you have a child you are considering enrolling in 2013, please call or email our Admissions Director, Amy Hecky, at 330-666-0574 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
The day’s activities unfold in an unhurried way with each day following the same rhythm, giving the child a sense of security and consistency.
The program is based on the understanding that young children learn primarily through imitation. The sharing of practical activities such as snack preparation and clean up starts the child on the path toward personal responsibility and respect for others.
Early academic foundations are formed. Work with beeswax modeling cultivates small motor skills, puppetry helps children develop memory and language acuity, and nature walks increase large motor abilities and attention span.
Call and email to learn more: 330-666-0574 and email@example.com.
If you Google, “Summer break with children,” you get two types of search results — a variety of activity lists or articles about the evils of summer’s off. Turns out they call it “summer fade,” which is a one month backslide in learning coupled with an increase in Body Mass Index (BMI) for kids.
Many parents counter these issues with a rigorous schedule of summer camps, sport practice and tutoring. While watching television all day with a box of pop tarts is obviously not good, there are some other options beyond a highly structured and scheduled summer.
When planning, or not planning your child’s summer, consider the scientifically proven benefits of boredom, free play and time in nature. These research studies about children and learning support the idea of a summer slowdown.
In a recent BBC news article, Children should be allowed to get bored, Dr Teresa Belton said, “Cultural expectations that children should be constantly active could hamper the development of their imagination.”
Now couple that reality with studies connecting time in nature with increased learning and emotional capabilities. The positive results of being outdoors for children are vast as seen in this PDF of a decade of Scientific Studies on this topic. Some highlights include:
- “When children engage in authentic play in nature-based outdoor spaces, they develop skills in a variety of domains simultaneously.” - Miller, D.L., Tichota, K,.White, J. (2009).
- “Sullivan has revealed that the symptoms of children with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) are relieved after contact with nature. The greener the setting, the more the relief.” – Taylor, A., Kuo, F. & Sullivan, W. (2001).
- “Children who regularly have positive personal experiences with the natural world show more advanced motor fitness, including coordination, balance and agility.” - Fjortoft, Ingunn (2001).
In addition to the learning benefits to boredom and time in nature, there is also the issue of free play. This article from Parenting Science explores over a decade of studies about the benefits of unstructured play time. The author is careful to note that free play does not mean physcial education classes or sports. Free play is just that. Unstructured play time, which is proven to help math skills, language development, and creative problem solving.
- “Play and exploration trigger the secretion of BDNF, a substance essential for the growth of brain cells.”
- “Psychologist Edward Fisher analyzed 46 published studies of the cognitive benefits of play (Fisher 1999). He found that “sociodramatic play”—what happens when kids pretend together—’results in improved performances in both cognitive-linguistic and social affective domains.’”
And finally, before you schedule a summer of busy stimulation, consider this article and advice from Simplicity Parenting writer Kim John Payne. He says:
“[When Google is hiring they say] ‘we’re less concerned about grades and transcripts and more interested in how you think.’”
If we rewind to a childhood that makes an adult like that, what do we see? Is it racing around from one prep course to another? From soccer to piano to Mandarin? A childhood on the clock and filling up the gaps with zoning on the iPad and obsessing about making more friends on Facebook?
I don’t think so.
When we really look at what happens for a kid when they slow down, tune in to themselves, take space and get busy in serious play, we can see that what they are learning is how to be create a kind of inner structure that will serve them (and us) well in the world ahead. … Play provides a deep and wide-reaching domain for kids to experiment with the real work of the real world.”