The Pentathlon – Class 5

»Posted by on May 20, 2013 in Curriculum, Research, School News | 0 comments

IMG950906The mind and the body are not separate; they function as one. Waldorf Educators believe that, for children, learning without movement can be difficult. Waldorf educators also deeply know and study the mind body connection in regards to learning. Nothing represents this Waldorf culmination of physical and intellectual togetherness quite like the Fifth grade Pentathlon.

Fifth grade students are transitioning in development. After having come to realize the isolated self in third grade, they have grown into this reality and are now ready to look at the world around them in an ordered sense (space and time) to better understand their place within that world.

When it comes to physical education, the students are ready to emerge gently from the world of cooperative-only games and into the world of individual competition – a necessary transition before the sixth grade introduction of team-based sports.

IMG_0901These mind and body elements of readiness combine with Main lesson teachings of history and culture. Class 5 studies ancient history stretching from 3000 BC to 300 BC beginning with ancient India, moving to Persian culture the Chaldeans, Hebrews, Assyrians, Babylonians, Egyptians and ending with Greeks.

So as the end of the Class five Main Lesson school year wraps up Greek History, the end of the Class 5 Physical Education school years ends with a five event Greek Pentathlon: discus, javelin, wrestling, long jump and running. In gym class throughout the year, students will have prepared for their individual events and then will compete in an all day Pentathlon festival with other regional Waldorf schools.

Here are all six of the Fifth Grade classes in the 2013, Ann Arbor Pentathlon, singing Glorious Apollo together for the first time.




Article Sources:

Waldorf Education: A family Guide

Millenial Child: The Waldorf Curriculum: Grade Five

Chicago Waldorf School: Why The Pentathlon

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Screen Free Week Starts Monday

»Posted by on Apr 25, 2013 in Just For Fun, Research | 0 comments

Parent-Needs-to-UnplugAs Waldorf parents, you know the value of screen-limited living. Now, help spread the word and encourage the people you know and love to take part in Screen Free Week this upcoming Monday, 4/29 through Sunday 5/5.

Screen Free Week is organized by The Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood.

Here are some great resources for screen free week, including articles, books, links, reports and fact sheets about the influence of screen time on children.

And screen free week is not just for the kids. Stop checking that smart phone first thing in the morning and leave Facebook and Twitter alone in the evening and at lunchtime. You can do it. Turn Off  media and turn On Life!

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My Child Will Learn to Knit?

»Posted by on Feb 28, 2013 in Curriculum, Research | 3 comments

KnittingKnitting 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.

Waldorf Educator / Guru Eugene Swartz discusses this topic in full here at Millenial

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 . . .”

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Playing Music Increases Intelligence

»Posted by on Feb 21, 2013 in Curriculum, Research | 0 comments

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.”

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FaceBook Internet Privacy

»Posted by on Feb 7, 2013 in Research | 0 comments

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.

First Step:

  • 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.

view-facebook-timelineNext Step *Important*:

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.

Final Step:

  • 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.


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Social Skills Series – Part 3: Using the Curriculum and Long-Term Goals

»Posted by on Feb 1, 2013 in Curriculum, Research | 0 comments

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.



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