Early Childhood

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.”


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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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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Early Childhood Graham Crackers

»Posted by on Jul 26, 2013 in Early Childhood, Just For Fun | 0 comments

Our Early Childhood Extended Care teacher, Kathy Miller, shares one of her favorite recipes from the  Morning Glory Playgroup at Prairie Hill Waldorf School.

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.



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Where Do You Buy Rain Pants?

»Posted by on Jul 15, 2013 in Early Childhood, Just For Fun, School News | 0 comments

RainGearKidsWelcome 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!


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Openings Now Available in Full Day Preschool

»Posted by on Jul 8, 2013 in Curriculum, Early Childhood, School News | 0 comments

FullDayPreDue to planned expansion, our wait list has cleared and we now have several new openings in our full day preschool program.

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.

Program Schedule:
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 admissions@sgws.org.

More Information:


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 admissions@sgws.org.

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Teacher Communication – Early Childhood

»Posted by on Jan 23, 2013 in Curriculum, Early Childhood | 0 comments

Kathy MillerResizeHere at Spring Garden, parents receive regular communication from class teachers about what the children are learning and what the teacher’s are observing. We wanted to give an example here on our blog of our thorough, and some might say, inspired, teacher communication.

This letter is from our Extended Care, Early Childhood teacher, Kathy Miller:

Dear Extended Care Families,

The children came back from holiday break relaxed, calm and happy to see one another.  The afternoon life rhythm here at Spring Garden has become such a strong part of the children’s daily life that with only a few gentle reminders we were able to get back into the swing of things.  It was like we had never been away from one another.


As a mother and teacher I always like to stress the importance of a daily life rhythm.  Having a consistent routine (rhythm) is also a preventative to illness, builds an inner knowing of time, makes transitions easier, eliminates discipline problems, builds trust in children’s surrounding environment and overall decreases stress in children because they always knows what is going to happen next.  Wow, all these benefits when we simply provide a rhythmical daily.

There have been a few questions/requests from parents regarding lunch meal requirements.  The following table provides the elements of a recommended healthy lunch and some ideas for meals.

Bread/Bread alternative (1 serving)






Grains –oats, barley, millet, couscous

Rice dish


Mashed potatoes



Fruit & Veggies (2 servings)


All types of fruits and Veggies.

Recommended amount( ½ cup of each)

1)  2 servings of veggies

2)  2 servings of fruit

3) 1 serving of each

(fruit cereal bars, fruit snacks, fruit roll ups, juices etc… do not count as one serving of fruit)

Protein (1 serving)


Milk (1 cup)

Meat/Meat alternative (2 oz)

Yogurt (¾ cup)

Cheese (1 ½ oz)

Peanut butter/or other nut or seed butter (3 TBS)

Peanuts/soy nuts/tree nuts/seeds (3/4 oz)

Cooked or dry beans or peas (1/2 cup)


I have recently introduced the Old Mother West Wind Series for the nap time story.  The chapter book tells about the adventures of animals that live in the “Green Forest”.  Throughout this series the children have been introduced to many different animal characters such as; Bobby Raccoon, Johnny Chuck, Jimmy Skunk, Jerry Muskrat, Grandfather Frog and Danny Meadow Mouse just to name a few.  I read one to two chapters every day.  Many children have captured these characters into their hearts as I’ve heard children question, to each other, whether the animals live in our woods next door.

Before winter break I mentioned that we were going down to the woods to play in the afternoon.  I strive to go there every afternoon.  However, it does depend how sleepy our children are and how the nature of the afternoon is unfolding that will predict whether we get there or not.  With this being said, dismissal area has become different on a daily basis.  If we are not in the meadow playing, it means we have made it to the woods and therefore dismissal will be in the hallway at 3:20 pm.  If we are in the woods and you need to pick up earlier then 3:20 pm, please see Hazel at the front desk and she will verbally guide you down to where we play.  You could also check the extended care room.  Your child may still be in the room with Ms. Lori as she is helping the last group of children get ready to go outdoors.

KidsonTeeterTotterThe play area in the woods is quite, still and very magical this time of year.  Together many of the kindergartners have created a home out of large sticks (tee pee like).  I’ve observed children sweeping the ground with large sticks preparing the home.  Some children have gone fishing (large wet soggy leaves have become large tasty fish) for dinner in the large puddle of standing water not too far from where the home was built.  Sometimes the roof of the home falls in and the children call the ‘roofers’ to come and fix it.  It really is magical to see all the children working together.  The preschoolers continue to explore the open area.  They are busier with moving their bodies.  They climb and swing from fallen logs and branches.  Some love to dig in the large dirt mounds.  Some love running up and down the hill that guides them to the play area.  The paths in our play space have slowly come to life again with work from teachers and children.  These paths provide a large running area for all the children.

With a very chilly week a head of us, please remember to dress your child in layers.  To dress in layers please consider the following; three layers on top for example:  t-shirt, long-sleeve cotton shirt or sweater and two layers on the bottom for example:  cotton PJ or long underwear & Pants.  Going outside in cold weather provides opportunity for physical movement and sensory experiences.   When the children dress for the outdoors we guide them in the following way; snow pants, boots, jacket, hat, scarf, and mittens/gloves.  All children are encouraged to dress themselves.  It is important to provide children with outdoor gear (including boots) to be successful in dressing themselves.  This is the time of year we begin to get older kindergartners prepared for 1st grade, which includes dressing self.

Based upon the different areas I have touched on in this newsletter, there are follow up articles located in the Early Childhood Hallway, (by Extended Care Classroom on round table by double doors).  Feel free to take and read.

As always if there are any questions or concerns do not hesitate to email or call me.

Stay warm on this chilly day!

Ms. Kathy


Mitten Strings for God; Reflections for Mothers in a Hurry by:  Katrina Kenison (Rhythm)

Illness By:  Gudrun Davy (Trust, Blessing of a fever, Illnesses of Civilization)

More Nutrition Ideas By:  Susan R. Johnson, MD.  (Guidelines about the foods we eat & health)

Do Kids Catch Cold Outside?  By:  Robert Needleman, M.D & Gloria Needleman



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