January 28 — Parent Child Classes:
New sessions begin at the end of this month. See the full schedule HERE. It’s a wonderful way to introduce new families with young children to the Waldorf education system. If you know of a family that might be interested, please send them our way!
February 2 — Parent Meeting:
“The Color Choices for Waldorf Classrooms” on February 2 from 4-5p.m. Please join Parent Council when we host Fifth Grade teacher, Cate Hunko who will present her recent graduate research and thesis, discussing the historical overview as well as the therapeutic and developmental reasons for the specific progression of color in Waldorf schools, including our own.
February 5 — Sock Knitting Workshop:
Join us! It runs four consecutive weeks, beginning Wednesday, February 15, 2012 from 9-10:30 a.m. The workshop will be held in our School Store Community Area. Cost for the four-week workshop is $10 plus any supplies you’ll need from the school store. Participants must have beginning knitting skills.
What is your favorite quote about teaching or education?
“Accept the children with reverence, educate them with love, send them forth in freedom.” — Rudolf Steiner
How did you first hear about Waldorf education?
I found out about Waldorf Education when Michael (Gannon) came home after his first visit to SGWS. He was amazed at the children and their capabilities, as well as the method of teaching.
How long have you been teaching? How long have you been teaching at SGWS?
I’ve been teaching young children for nine years, and working here for eight. This is my third year as the lead teacher; before that I was an assistant for the amazing Ms. Peg.
What was your favorite trip/vacation? Where did you go and what did you do?
I really have enjoyed my time each summer spent in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. There is a field station near the town of Munising that I used to work at when I was in college, and return to now as a visitor. It is a retreat and a refuge, with clear lakes, a huge sky, stars brighter than I’ve seen anywhere else, and a composting toilet, among other highlights. It is perhaps the most peaceful place I’ve ever been.
What is the most interesting thing about you that most people don’t know?
Something that people may not know is that I spent a year with my family (from age 9-10) living in Morija, Lesotho. Lesothois a small, land-locked country located in the middle of South Africa. My mom is a pediatrician, and she worked in the hospital there.
What has changed about Spring Garden since you started working here?
Many things! One big thing is that our school has gone through the accreditation process and is now an AWSNA accredited Waldorf School.
What is your dream for the future of Spring Garden?
My dream is that our community continues to grow, both in numbers and in the fellowship and friendship that’s formed through working together.
What is your favorite subject to teach?
Why, Kindergarten of course!
Who is the person that has had a profound effect on your life and choice of path? Why?
Many people! From teachers, to my parents, to friends’ parents, colleagues and friends made along the way.
What is your favorite food or meal?
I love Indian food. Probably Saag Paneer is my favorite dish.
What is your favorite book?
I like books quite a bit. There’s nothing better than having the time to curl up and get lost in a good story. It’s very hard for me to pick a favorite. One that comes to mind is The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.
Young children at Spring Garden spend their day in a place that honors their imagination and innocence while feeding their minds, bodies and spirits. Rhythm and routine are so essential for the well being of a child which is why the early childhood day is focused on comfort and predictability.
- The day begins as children come inside after outdoor play. They put on their indoor shoes, wash their hands, and, after a softly sung greeting, sit in their circle to begin the morning routine.
- Children then take part in a structured artistic activity such as wet-on-wet watercolor, crayon drawing, baking, making soup or handwork.
- From there, the children move to free play with simple materials that inspire the imagination. During this time, children may be encouraged to sew or be selected to help with a classroom task such as folding laundry
- Then comes snack time — one of the most exciting points of the child’s day. Each day of the week has an assigned food, the highlight for most is bread day, when they knead and shape the dough that is then served fresh and warm with butter and honey. Children help prepare the food each day, set the table and recite the blessing before enjoying their healthy snack. As snack time finishes, the children wash and dry their own dishes.
- Now the children listen to a story – told not from a book, but by the teacher, who tells the same tale repeatedly. The children never tire of hearing the story because interactions are added via puppets and role playing. In this way, the children create a mental picture of the story, absorb and comprehend it fully. This helps prepare them for first grade by teaching them how to learn lesson material in depth. The stories lengthen and become very detailed as the year progresses. This also helps develop the children’s attention spans, focus on details and memory.
- After story, it’s time to go back outside in rain or shine, warm or cold. Fresh air and active play are not optional activities in the Waldorf kindergarten. Outdoor time is essential for the growth and stimulation of young children’s minds and bodies.
- Then the day comes to close with a simple verse:
Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye we say.
Tomorrow, tomorrow again we will play.
And, when the children return tomorrow to learn, they know exactly what to expect in their familiar, peaceful world.
Academic activities are not found in a Waldorf Kindergarten. The emphasis is on developing skills through experience. Here are the experiences and a brief description of their significance.
Creative Play Time: An atmosphere of work permeates the room. Play is important work for children. While the teacher prepares snack or sews a doll, the children play and imagine with a wide variety of natural toys and materials. Learning: Development of the imagination, social interaction with peers, problem solving, and carrying tasks to completion are just some skills developed during creative play.
Circle / Story Time:
The class comes together to sing songs, recite versus or listen to a teacher told story. Learning: Repeating and remembering verses builds memory. The ability to sit and listen to an adult for a sustained period is developed at this time as well. The story told by the teacher also exposes children to the beauty of language which supports literacy skills builds the person-to-person relationship between teacher and child.
Wet-on wet water coloring, beeswax modeling, crayon work and sewing/finger knitting are done as a group activity, although each child is absorbed in their own work. Learning: These activities encourage the child’s natural sense of beauty and color. These artistic techniques will be built on in further grades. They also develop motor / visual learning skills and the ability to focus on a task for a lengthened time.
A group activity where children prepare snack together and eat together. The children also clean up after themselves and tidy the room. Learning: This time is a good transition example of home to school life. It also teaches social interaction, how to follow directions, the science of cooking and cleaning and personal responsibility.
Children are free now to run, use imaginations, and experience the outdoor world in all seasons. Waldorf outdoor time happens daily in all but the most inclement weather. Learning: Large motor skills, imagination and creativity, social skills, and natural science. It is hard to think of a skill not fostered during outdoor free play.
When children tell an adult that they are in Kindergarten, many ask, “Are you learning your letters and numbers?” This is a product of the new requirements in public education. 30 years ago, Kindergarten was the gradual transition into social play and the beginning of structure in an environment outside the home.
In the Waldorf classroom, this is still the case, and so children between the age of 4 and 6 come together to learn to:
- work within groups
- listen to stories
- interact with a teacher
- follow a routine
- lengthen attention span
- develop memory skills
Although the children would never notice, the teacher is also focused on each child’s development. Physical and mental skills are fostered through imitation and social activities that include:
- beeswax modeling
- story telling
- creative play
In our next article, we will discuss how each early childhood activity develops a child’s skills and fosters a love of learning.