We wanted to point you to a comprehensive collection of articles about the everyday role of music in Waldorf education at WaldorfMusic.org. This particular article, Waldorf Music Education: Living the Musical Life, walks readers through the music education focus for the different grades. In short, the author, Jason Child, says, “While [Waldorf music education] has the ability to produce fine musicians, its true aim is to help produce fine human beings.”
Here are the article highlights of music making by grade:
“In grades 1 – 3 . . . the music instruction is almost wholly qualitative. …Through their exploration, they experience the essential qualities of music: high, low, fast, slow, long, short, etc. This work is really only the vehicle, though. The real goal is to help the students become sensitive, active listeners.”
“In … classes 4 and 5, the music education sets its sights on literacy and more standard music-making. The children learn to read and write music, and they learn the names for all of the fundamental music concepts. They also begin playing a string instrument, and have their first experience of needing to practice and work at learning this new, awkward skill.”
“In the middle and high school, the children have an intense need to be creative and express themselves. … Over time, the music program will evolve so that the students are all in performing ensembles during their middle and high school years. The training in both subtle and practical music skills of the early years will come to fruition in middle school performance ensembles….”
Articles on the Importance of Play:
The Tech Debate:
Homework is in the news again. This time because French president, Francois Hollande, wants to put an end to homework for those in grade 1-8.
One big reason for the switch? According to author Peter Gumbel, a critic of the French school system, “The French are discovering — to their horror — that their performance internationally has been declining over the last 10 years. The French actually are performing [worse] than the Americans in reading and science,” he says.
This leads to a common question asked by NYTimes blogger Joyce Lau, How Much Homework Does It Take to Educate a Nation? Her answer: Who could know? She compares two drastically different educational systems with similar results –South Korea (with hours of homework each day) and Finland (with next to none).
The Latest Study
Much research is being done to answer this question and the results vary. In this most recent homework study, researchers at Indiana University and The University of Virginia concluded: “Contrary to much published research, a regression analysis of time spent on homework and the final class grade found no substantive difference in grades between students who complete homework and those who do not.”
But, as this recent Examiner article discusses, research studies like this one on homework’s benefits or lack thereof, must be taken under this consideration — the only way homework can be effective is if it constructively assigned, reviewed, and if students are given feedback. Most studies never filter for whether the homework consisted of unchecked worksheets or graded science projects.
What’s the Waldorf Homework Philosophy?
Waldorf schools, like Spring Garden, take a healthy approach to homework. There is little to no homework in Primary school, and, in early-mid Elementary, it is kept to a minimum and tends to be project based — used primarily to help children organize themselves and develop good habits at home. By Middle school, Waldorf students generally have a similar homework load to their peers, but the assignments are always related and relevant to the lesson block and in-class work.
Join us Wednesday, November 28 for “Coffee and Conversation” on sleep with Dr. Karen Cseak and nurse Susan Moss. This is a hot topic this fall thanks to two new studies from October of 2012 citing the affects of sleep on both child and adult brain function and behavior.
The latest study, published in Pediatrics mid October of this year noted that:
“A modest extension in sleep duration was associated with significant improvement in alertness and emotional regulation, whereas a modest sleep restriction had opposite effects.”
This study reinforces previous studies such as this one, which produced this chart about sleep and it’s relation to behavior problems in school age children:
Or this British study from 2 years back showing that sleep patterns of infants had a significant affect on learning in school age children – noting that “for every year that the child had a behavioral sleep problem, the likelihood of his having a special educational need at age 8 was increased by 7%.”
In adults, the relation between sleep and brain function persists. This study, also from October of this year, found that sleep deprivation impairs “communication between the hippocampus, which is vital for memory, and the brain’s ‘default mode network;’ the changes may weaken event recollection.” It also found a relation between lack of sleep and disrupted functioning of brain regions associated with memory impairment and Alzheimer’s.
If your child needs a better night sleep, check out http://www.sleepfoundation.org/ for bedroom optimization tips and other recommendations.
Spring Garden has partnered with Westminster Presbyterian Church, The Shaw JCC , Faith Lutheran Church and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church to bring you a four part series about important childhood issues and information. The first session — The Importance of Play in the Development of Children – will be presented by Dr. Joshua Magleby, Sunday, Nov. 18th at Westminster Presbyterian Church in West Akron. Childcare will be provided. Lectures begin at 6 pm. Come learn with us!
We have an Open House coming up this Sunday and wanted to answer some common questions interested parents ask about Waldorf and Spring Garden.
What is Waldorf education, in brief?
There are many essential elements of a Waldorf education, but at its heart, the Waldorf method provides the right learning experience at the right time. This method works because it addresses the whole child—cognitive, social, and creative—and meets the needs of each individual through a challenging and multi-sensory environment.
I hear Waldorf is artsy. Are you an art school?
Children are taught reading, writing, science and math alongside music, art, movement, foreign languages and regular outdoor play. This “head-heart-hands” methodology educates the whole child – fostering the cognitive, the creative, and the social aspects of human nature. Multi-sensory teaching also gives children the opportunity to learn through a wide variety of experiences, increasing depth of understanding as well as intersecting with individual learning styles.
Are Waldorf and Montessori Similar?
Both education methods cater to a student’s individual learning style with reverence and respect for each child and their gifts. We would summarize it this way — Montessori focuses on self-led learning for students and believes children thrive most by teachers stepping aside and letting the child’s brilliance unfold. Waldorf pedagogy provides children more guidance, aiming to bring forth and foster their gifts, while still catering to their individual learning style. Learn more HERE.
What do you hope Spring Garden alumni will achieve / accomplish?
We believe Waldorf’s unique style of multidisciplinary teaching yields graduates with remarkable critical thinking skills, so that they can adapt to a wide variety of situations and contribute to the world in a meaningful way. It is our highest goal to teach children how to learn and to foster a love of learning.
What is the curriculum at Spring Garden?
Primary academic concepts – reading, writing, math, history and science — are taught by the block method of studying a particular theme for a number of weeks. Learning is the primary goal, not testing and grades. Special subject integration into main lesson material is key to the holistic academic experience. Special subjects include: Spanish and German; Arts including drama, painting, drawing, modeling, woodworking and movement; Music including singing, learning musical notation, performances, and instruction on multiple musical instruments; Physical education, and Handwork.
Is reading taught late in Waldorf Schools?
It is taught later than in U.S. public schools. When learning to read, we believe comprehension is key, not the ability to decode letters and form words. Waldorf schools have always waited to start teaching young children “formal” reading, but that doesn’t mean we’re not teaching them reading basics. This approach to delay rigorous phonics in young children is being reinforced now by research about early elementary education and we’re not surprised. Learn more here about our approach to teaching reading comprehension before phonics.
Does delaying early reading mean Waldorf children are behind their peers?
We believe education is not a race and studies confirm that our graduates often outperform their peers. According to a study published in 2011 in the Harvard Education Letter: “Waldorf students tend to score considerably below district peers in the early years of elementary education and equal to or… considerably above, district peers by eighth grade.” Our approach to academics mirrors the Finnish school system, whose student test scores currently ranked #3 in the world. Read More Here.
Why are there no computers in Waldorf Schools? Are you afraid the children will not learn technology in our very technological world?
This is a question of much debate, so we will point you towards the NYTimes article featuring the San Diego Waldorf School and the NPR article featuring Spring Garden for an in-depth look at this question. We believe computers are an essential tool for learning, but not a subject of study in grades 1-8.
Why one teacher? What if my child and the teacher do not get along?
Keeping the class together for eight years lends social and academic cohesion and helps keep the focus on learning. Children learn by respecting and modeling authority figures. Keeping the class teacher (by no means the child’s only teacher) as a steady authority in a child’s life is beneficial to social and intellectual learning. The question of conflict usually arises because of a parent’s experience with public school education where a teacher has little time to develop the deep human relationship with a student and difficult students are often marginalized and passed on for the greater good. In a Waldorf class, a teacher must learn to work with every child and best meet each child’s needs. If a Waldorf teacher and a student are in a difficult situation, the teacher must ask: “How can I change so that the relationship becomes more positive?” We never expect this burden to be the child’s. Learn more HERE.
Have more questions you’d like answered? Bring them to our Open Houses, Call 330-666-0574 or Email email@example.com. Also, feel free to ask them in the comments section below.