Knitting and handwork is a subject in Waldorf of equal importance to Music and Spanish and the other special subjects. Wonder why? Learn to knit! It requires counting, fine motor skills, spatial awareness and multilateral thinking. Best of all, unlike a math worksheet, this math lesson, a pattern of weaving and intertwining multiple rows, layers, and numbers according to formula, results in a beautiful and functional piece of art. Something each child is truly proud of having made.
Here is an excerpt from after the click:
“Needles are held in both hands, with each hand assigned it’s respective activity; laterality is immediately established, as well as the eye’s control over the hand. The right needle must enter a fairly tightly wound loop of yarn On the left needle, weave through it and pull it away, in the process of tying a knot. Only a steady and controlled hand can perform such a feat, so the power of concentration is aroused . . .”
Music is beautiful and enriching to our lives. Children who learn music gain confidence in their ability to master a complex skill. But research also shows music does so much more for our brains. Below, we have posted some music and intelligence research to go with this lovely video of our 7th and 8th grade orchestra performance.
From The M.U.S.I.C Foundation: “Music training is far superior to computer instruction in dramatically enhancing children’s abstract reasoning skills, the skills necessary to learn math and science.”
From Parenting Science:
“Moreover, brain scans of 9- to 11-year old children have revealed that those kids who play musical instruments have significantly more grey matter volume in both the sensorimotor cortex and the occipital lobes (Schlaug et al 2005).”
“People with music training often outperform their non-musical peers on cognitive tasks (Schellenberg 2006).”
“A new study of older adults–aged 65-80–found a correlation between childhood music training and cognitive performance. The more years a person had spent playing an instrument, the better he performed on tests of word recall, visual (nonverbal) memory, and cognitive flexibility (Hanna-Pladdy and Mackay 2011).”
From Science Daily: ”Researchers have found the first evidence that young children who take music lessons show different brain development and improved memory over the course of a year compared to children who do not receive musical training.”
From the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: “Short-term music training enhances verbal intelligence and executive function. After only 20 days of training, only children in the music group exhibited enhanced performance on a measure of verbal intelligence, with 90% of the sample showing this improvement. These improvements in verbal intelligence were positively correlated with changes in functional brain plasticity during an executive-function task. Our findings demonstrate that transfer of a high-level cognitive skill is possible in early childhood.”
Many of our parents are online and share pictures of family and friends and sometimes school information online in social media sites. FaceBook is, by far, the most popular. Did you know that FaceBook often updates its website and when this happens many privacy settings reset to default settings, which make information like pictures and profiles public?
In order to protect our extended family’s privacy, we wanted to post this information about privacy settings on FaceBook in case our community members want to ensure their online privacy.
- Go to the small flower-esk icon in the top right toolbar.
- Click it and scroll down to privacy settings.
- Choose whatever setting you like by clicking the edit link to change from public to friends or friends of friends.
When people tag you or your children in a photo, which then links to their FaceBook profile, you can choose who sees these as well.
- In Privacy Settings click – Timeline and Tagging on the left. See Figure 1
- Look at the section labeled: “How can I manage tags people add and tagging suggestions?”
- Edit this according to your comfort level.
- Check your settings by logging out and viewing your profile as a member of the public.
- Then login with a friend’s account and view your profile.
By Stephanie Sesic Greer
Integrated curriculum across subject areas is a hallmark of Waldorf education, and this integrative approach is applied not only among academic subjects but also between academic learning and social learning. In the early grades, storytelling is a key for student learning.
First graders learn math by hearing and telling stories about gem-collecting gnomes, but these stories also teach important social skills, such as cooperation. For example, when Matthew Minus loses some of his gems, Patty Plus will happily share hers. Teachers in the early grades also tell impromptu stories that address social conflicts as they arise among students. This allows children to consider the nature of the conflict and how it might be solved without naming names of the actual participants in classroom conflict. This inclusive method helps to maintain the class’s sense of community.
In second grade, fables are a main focus of the language arts curriculum, but because these animal stories are also part of the students’ social learning, teachers are careful never to tell children the moral of each fable. Rather, students are encouraged to discuss the fables and form their own judgments and characterizations of the animals based on their behaviors. In this way, young children learn the valuable social skills of interpreting behaviors and responding appropriately.
In the later grades, the social studies curriculum illustrates the higher level social skills of working together in groups for the advancement of society. Examples include the study of Native American circles and Viking councils in fourth grade, Ancient Greek democracy in fifth grade, the Roman Forum and Senate in sixth grade, and European Republics in seventh grade. These lessons about the development of societies throughout history also show how society’s development mirrors individual development in terms of learning to build community.
As with other aspects of Waldorf education, Spring Garden focuses on the long-term value of developing its students’ social skills. Consider, for example, the benefits to Spring Garden graduates who enter the challenging realm of high school with the tools to understand and express their own emotions and to confront and resolve conflicts between themselves and their peers.
How many adults do you know who suffer from the lack of these very skills? How much would society as a whole benefit if more of its members had been instilled from childhood with a deep understanding of self and a sense of responsibility to resolve conflicts within their communities rather than to merely assign blame to other groups or individuals? To me, this is the shining promise of a Waldorf education that develops self-motivation in both academic and social development: that our children will know who they are, that they will claim their place in the world, and that they will make that world a better place.
By Stephanie Sesic Greer
Just as conflict is a common occurrence among young children who have yet to fully develop their social skills, so discipline is a common concern among parents who naturally wish to ensure that no harm comes to their child as the result of a conflict.
Here at Spring Garden, some traditional disciplinary tools, such as accident and behavior reports, are used when serious behavioral issues arise. On the whole, however, the teacher’s goal is not to punish children for a behavior but rather to help children progress in their ability to govern their own emotions and temper their own actions so that ultimately, outside intervention or punishment from an authority figure becomes unnecessary.
A child may be separated from the rest of the class as the result of a conflict, but this is not a punishment so much as an opportunity for the child to calm down enough to reflect upon the conflict and to help in resolving it through discussion with the teacher and the other children.
This focus on progress rather than punishment helps children establish an internally derived sense of self-worth. For example, a child who is frequently involved in conflicts on the playground, rather than being scolded or given a detention, may need to have temporary physical limits placed on her or his play area in order to limit the potential for conflict with other children. A child who has a hard time avoiding conflict may need more boundaries in order to feel secure and to succeed on a smaller scale. Once the child has successfully and consistently avoided conflict within this smaller play area where fewer children will be encountered, the teacher will gradually expand the child’s play area. This process allows the child to progress toward better self-control and healthier interactions and, ultimately, a greater sense of self-worth based on those accomplishments.
Avoiding a simplistic system of punishing bad behavior and rewarding good behavior provides real self-improvement to children who might otherwise be labeled as “bad.” In a less obvious but no less important way, the Waldorf method also better serves children who might otherwise be labeled as “good” for reporting the bad behavior of their peers. Children who are told they are “good” for following the rules and reporting the rule breakers for punishment are unwittingly being encouraged to become overly competitive and self-serving, and they are learning to base their self-worth on external factors rather than on a more reliable internal sense. Such labeling of children also creates a divide in the classroom, undermining the sense of community that Spring Garden prides itself on cultivating.
In the next post in our series, I’ll discuss how our teachers use the Waldorf academic curriculum to reinforce students’ social skills.
By Stephanie Sesic Greer
As part of the Waldorf model of educating the whole child, the teachers at Spring Garden make great efforts to nurture and develop our children’s sense of themselves as social beings.
A feeling of social inclusion is key to a child’s happiness and success in school, and the conscious development of social skills from an early age may be one of the most lasting benefits of a Waldorf education.
The Waldorf model takes the long-term view that, as with academic learning, healthy social interaction must be self-motivated. Our teachers seek to provide students with important social skills that will enable to them interact compassionately with others, to create a sense of community, and to confront and resolve conflicts within their community.
This is the first in a series of posts that will detail how these long term goals of social inclusion are achieved through the daily practices of Waldorf teachers and students from first through eighth grade.
The first and most important goal is to help students learn how to work together as a group and to view their class as a community that each student plays a vital role in nurturing and maintaining. Instruction in academic subjects cannot effectively progress until some social cohesion within the classroom is achieved, allowing the teacher to focus on letters and numbers rather than on policing students’ behavior.
Students learn to work together by first learning to play together. When conflicts occur among students, on the playground or in the classroom, the teacher acts primarily as a mediator, expressing sympathy for children who are upset, calming the children so that they are able to constructively discuss the conflict, making sure that all of the children involved in the situation are allowed to speak about what happened and how they feel, helping each student to think about what they can do to resolve the conflict, and finally, discussing how a similar conflict might be avoided in the future. Thus, children learn self-control, empathy, responsibility, and conflict resolution.
In the early grades, teachers may focus at least as much on developing students’ social skills as on academic instruction, thereby establishing a community of students that is able and eager to work together to learn.
In the next post in this series, I will discuss what happens in acute or ongoing situations that call for the teacher to be more than a mediator.