Sample Day for Preschool

»Posted by on Feb 11, 2015 in Early Childhood, School News | 0 comments

FirstDayMeadowAre you interested in Spring Garden Waldorf School for your Pre-K child?  We have a free sample morning classes available for interested parents and their children.

On this day, you can join your child and walk through the rhythmic, warm, sensory filled experience of a Waldorf early childhood classroom  The morning will include circle time, art activity and story time lead by our Nursery Preschool teacher, Miss Kathy.

If you have a child between the ages of 3 and 4, you are invited to join us for a sample preschool morning on March 21st from 9 a.m.-11:00 a.m.


This experience is offered to you at no cost, but you must register as space is limited.  Please click below to register.

Age 3-4, March 21: Register Now!

As a special offer, parents who choose to apply for preschool following this experience will be discounted the application fee ($70).  Have questions or need more information? Please contact Amy Hecky at

Waldorf and Music Training

»Posted by on Feb 3, 2015 in Curriculum, Research | 0 comments

Violins1Facebook has been abuzz lately with articles about the benefits of musical training on the brains and learning abilities of our children. The influence of music training on learning has long been cultivated in Waldorf Education, where musical instrument training begins in Grade 1 with pentatonic flutes and moves to stringed instruments by Grade 4. Students also receive choral training, study music reading and notation, and learn Solfege.

This latest round of internet excitement comes from a new study released by researchers at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. They found that children between age 6 and 18 had both physiological and behavioral benefits from musical instrument training.

According to this Washington Post article, Music Lessons Spur Emotional and Behavioral Growth in Children, James Hudziak, Director of the Vermont Center for Children, Youth and Families, says, “What we found was the more a child trained on an instrument [the more it] accelerated cortical organization in attention skill, anxiety management and emotional control.” When children played and practiced playing an instrument, it thickened an area of the brain related toexecutive functioning, including working memory, attention control, as well as organisation and planning for the future.”

CellosThis new study is also layered on top of three additional studies published late in 2013 by The Society for Neuroscience. According to the press release, those finding show that [l]ong-term high level musical training has a broader impact than previously thought. Researchers found that musicians have an enhanced ability to integrate sensory information from hearing, touch, and sight (Julie Roy, abstract 550.13).

The age at which musical training begins affects brain anatomy as an adult; beginning training before the age of seven has the greatest impact (Yunxin Wang, abstract 765.07).

Brain circuits involved in musical improvisation are shaped by systematic training, leading to less reliance on working memory and more extensive connectivity within the rain (Ana Pinho, MS, abstract 122.13).

Music Training at SGWS

Here at Spring Garden Waldorf School, musical training is seen as a layering of abilities. What is taught in the early grades is built upon each year, as more and more is expected musically from the students. Children are given regular opportunities to perform their music, at monthly Assemblies and also at Concerts and Festivals.

Grades 1 & 2:

In the early years, music is an expression and embodiment of imagination. In Grades One and Two, children learn music from the pentatonic scale both in song and on their flutes or recorders.

Grade 3:

In Grade Three, during the nine-year change, children are ready to begin learning the language of music. A diatonic scale is introduced with a new recorder, notes are named by letter, and children learn basic music notation such as the scale and clef. Third graders also begin Solfege – a music education method used to teach pitch and sight singing.

Grade 4:

Grade Four brings fraction studies, and fractions bring quarter, eighth, and sixteenth notes, which then leads to teaching rhythms, rounds, and some simple harmony. Now that the language of music has been introduced, children begin to play musical instruments, starting with the violin.

Grade 5:

Students in Grade Five are ready for three parts in choral music. Accidentals are also introduced in this grade, and new keys are taught beyond the key of C. Students also continue to master the violin with regular training and performance.

Grade 6:

In Grade Six, children can choose to expand their instrumental repertoire by selecting a different stringed instrument to master beyond the violin. They also learn and master written music from the Medieval period, aligning music with the Main Lesson curriculum. Acoustics are also studied this year.

Grade 7 & 8:

Middle School layers skills and practice upon all that has been learned before. Ensemble choirs read music and sing in harmony and rhythm. Sight singing also begins and Solfege study continues, and Orchestra is part of every student’s curriculum. Students can also begin training on woodwind instruments in the upper grades, if they so choose, or they can continue to master their stringed instrument choices.

26th Annual Benefit Auction

»Posted by on Jan 30, 2015 in School News | 0 comments

Dear SGWS Parents,

BirdOn Saturday, April 18, 2015, Spring Garden Waldorf School will host its 26th Annual Benefit, Come Together – Heads, Hearts, and Hands. Our benefit will be held once again at the historic Greystone Hall in downtown Akron.

This event is a very fun evening and a great opportunity to invite friends and family to support SGWS. Mark your calendars and plan to purchase early bird tickets when they go on sale in February.

The Annual Benefit is our school’s biggest fundraiser and we need the support of our parent community to be successful in meeting our goal of raising $36,000.

We work to limit our fundraising to the Annual Giving Campaign and the Annual Benefit. We ask that each family support both of these important fundraisers that provide money to our general operating budget and help keep SGWS tuition costs one of the lowest of all Waldorf schools in the US.

This year we are asking each family to do at least one of the following in support of the event:

  • Donate an item or service to the event. Consider the following ideas:
  • Handmade items are always popular at our auction
  • Donate a service to the auction. Babysitting, class lunches, a dessert a month for the year, custom outings/experiences for children or adults are some examples.
  • Gift certificates to restaurants and for experiences are very popular. Consider soliciting one from your favorite local business, or ask Sandy Conley for some suggestions for businesses you can solicit.
  • Solicit an ad or sponsorship from a business that you frequent.

ParentsTreePlease click here to download a copy of the procurement packet, which includes all necessary paperwork for donations, ads, and sponsorships.

Additionally, this information can be completed online using the following links:

You can also click here to access a very helpful FAQ document.

If you have any questions, please contact Sandy Conley, Auction Chair, via email or at 330-784-5298. Thank you for your support of SGWS!

Making the Transition to First Grade 

»Posted by on Jan 28, 2015 in Curriculum, Early Childhood, School News | 0 comments

Rose2012-22Please join us on Wednesday, February 11, to learn more about the Waldorf First Grade curriculum.  Ms. Royce Crall, an experienced Waldorf teacher, has graciously offered to give a talk for all parents. Her talk will cover how skills and curriculum are approached in the first grade. This is an exceptional opportunity to educate yourself on how Waldorf education meets the needs of the child by presenting developmentally appropriate material, or, as we like to say, “the right thing at the right time.”


This event is FREE and open to all SGWS families as well as the greater community. We hope you are able to join us for this informative presentation. Please feel free to bring friends, family, or acquaintances who would like to learn more.


To accommodate as many families as possible, we are offering two sessions: one at 9:00 a.m., and another at 7:00 p.m. Both sessions will last about an hour and will cover the same topics.


To register for the 9:00 a.m. session, please click here.
To register for the 7:00 p.m. session, please click here.

We look forward to seeing you there!

2015 Work Days

»Posted by on Jan 23, 2015 in School News | 0 comments

As you may know, or may have learned recently when we dropped a note in your mailbox, 30 hours of volunteering is required from each of our families.  Part of those hours must come from a collective work day at the school.  Work days are our most effective way to accomplish larger scale projects. They also help project planning and completion, help build community, and show the children what’s involved in supporting the school.  Many hands make light work.

Here is the upcoming 2015 Work Day schedule.  

Please Click to sign up and you’ll be redirected to our online Sign Up tool, SignUpGenius. 

Spring Garden Waldorf School  Work Days 2015

Spring Garden Fun in February

»Posted by on Jan 21, 2015 in Just For Fun | 0 comments

MGrasThere are lots of fun school related events coming up in the month of February!


Mardi Gras Benefit Bash at Tangiers- February 7

The Third annual Mardi Gras Benefit Bash this year is set for February 7, 2015, at 6 p.m. at The Tangiers Restaurant in West Akron. There will New Orleans themed tapas, live performers, and live Zydeco music! Proceeds from the event benefit Spring Garden Waldorf School and Music Alive.


Big Love Festival at Musica – February 28

BigLoveFor the second year in a row, Big Love Fest, a free, family-friendly festival celebrating community, creativity, and collaboration, will take place from noon-midnight on all three floors of the Musica Complex (51 East Market Street in Akron) Saturday, February 28.


We are looking for volunteers to staff a children’s activity table at this amazing festival. You can volunteer for a single hour or for multiple hours. To sign up, please click here.

Sleep Well; Learn Well

»Posted by on Jan 15, 2015 in Research | 0 comments

Waldorf educators teach in a three day rhythm: presenting information or an experience the first day; discussion, review, and recall the second day; and doing something physical with the information the third day, such as expressing the information through writing or art. What is the commonality in this three day approach?  The importance of sleep.

Why poor sleep leads to poor academic performance

We all know sleep is important, especially for our children’s emotional well-being, but what about their academic well-being? Research shows that good sleep is essential to learning, especially influencing specific types of memory, high level cognitive functioning, and achievement motivation.

Children need, according to

  • 12-14 hours for children between 1 and 3.
  • 11-13 hours for children between 3 and 5.
  • 10-11 hours for children between 5 and 12.
  • 8.5 -10 hours for teens.


The Research

Numerous studies on sleep and academics have found that sleep deprivation and low sleep quality leads to lagging achievement. Two such studies were summarized in this news article, Improve Your Child’s School Performance with a Good Night’s Sleep. In one quoted study, researchers found that children who had difficulty falling asleep and woke up at least once a night were significantly more likely to have school achievement difficulties. A different study of high school students noted that those with higher grades slept around 30 minutes longer per night, went to bed earlier, and had less variation in their weekend schedules.

In a study of Dutch school children between the ages of nine and fourteen, Time in bed, quality of sleep and school functioning of children (Journal of Sleep Research 9:I2, p145), researchers found that children with better sleep quality (those who felt rested and had regular bedtimes) performed better in school, and perhaps most interestingly, were more open to the teacher’s influence and more motivated to do well.

This University of Pittsburgh study, The impact of inadequate sleep on children’s daytime cognitive function, published in Seminar of Pediatric Neurology (March 1996, Volume 1, p.44) found that inadequate sleep in school children resulted in difficulty focusing, irritability, emotional instability, and a lower threshold for frustration.


The Reason

Two Harvard Education articles review Harvard research to best answer the question, “Why does sleep affect learning?” They each point to the affect poor sleep has on both memory and higher level cognitive functioning.

HMSlogoIn this article, Sleep, Learning and Memory, from the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, researchers declare that, “the general consensus is that consolidated sleep throughout a whole night is optimal for learning and memory.” More specifically, they look at a function called memory consolidation, which takes place during sleep, which seems to help students to process what they learned the previous day. The current hypothesis is “that slow-wave sleep (SWS), which is deep, restorative sleep, also plays a significant role in declarative memory by processing and consolidating newly acquired information.”

This is particularly interesting to Waldorf Educators, who adhere to a main lesson block learning style that taps into a rhythm of learning a topic, stepping away from it, and returning to it a day later – a concept Rudolph Steiner believed allowed children to absorb and process the information more thoroughly.

Good sleep is essential not only for memory but also for higher cognition. In this article from the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard, Sleep, Performance, and Public Safety, researchers also found that sleep deprivation led to a decline in the subjects’ ability to access higher-level cognitive functions. “After a period of sleep deprivation, there are noticeable changes in brain activity, as measured by an electroencephalogram (EEG).”

Researchers found, in particular, that the prefrontal cortex, responsible for many higher-level thinking was particularly vulnerable to a lack of sleep. “As a result, people who are sleep deprived will begin to show deficits in many tasks that require logical reasoning or complex thought. … In addition to the feeling of sleepiness and changes in brain activity that accompany a night without sleep, other measures of performance are noticeably altered. Concentration, working memory, mathematical capacity, and logical reasoning are all aspects of cognitive function compromised by sleep deprivation.”


What to do?

First and foremost, consider eliminating screen time before bed. Waldorf parents limit screen time more so than most, but it is important to remember that screen time around bedtime is potentially the most detrimental.

As recently reported on in Businessweek’s article, Kids Who Sleep Near Their Smartphones Get Less Shuteye, a study published in Journal of Pediatrics, joins many others in reporting that televisions, phones and tablets in children’s rooms and beds negatively impact sleep.

Next to consider is consistent bedtimes. Organizations like the are going so far as to label it “Sleep Hygiene,” recognizing that the habituation of a sleep routine is as important in maintaining children’s physical health as bathing or brushing their teeth. As the studies above have noted, children who go to bed at an earlier time and consistently (weekdays and weekends), get more sleep, wake feeling rested and do better in school.

And finally, consider educating older children about the importance of sleep. With third party evidence and scientific research supporting your family’s bedtime “hygiene,” a teenager may be more willing to comply and adopt healthy sleep habits once outside the home.

Get a good night’s rest for better learning tomorrow!