In today’s busy public education environment, recess is typically shelved by Grade 4 for deeper dives into academics. Considering this, parents are often shocked to learn that Waldorf students not only continue to have three recess periods through Grade 8, they also take whole days off to experience non-academic learning. Or do they really take time off?
The connection between our minds and bodies is being more greatly understood as researchers take on the topic. What we eat, how we sleep, and how we play, move, and use sensory information all directly affect everyday learning. In other words, when our students are camping or ice skating, they are engaging their brains in purposeful ways that will enhance their academics.
This is due not only to the interrelation of movement and brain activity (such as arms crossing the midline helping brain hemispheres communicate), but also because intelligence and academics are multi-layered and dimensional subjects represented in different forms.
Howard Gardner, American developmental psychologist and Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, developed the theory of multiple intelligences and revolutionized the way educators think about learning. In his book Frames of Mind, Gardner outlines the types of intelligences, claiming that all people process information in several different, independent ways.
Gardner asserts that all eight of a person’s “intelligences” – verbal / linguistic, logical / mathematical, body / kinesthetic, visual / spatial, music / rhythmic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic – need to be stimulated and explored to best tap into a person’s academic talents and gifts.
When we take our students camping, we are helping them connect “real” experiences to learning and also are testing their growing abilities. Not only will the outdoor education experiences that occur during the trip help children learn courage, compassion, and cooperation, but they will also challenge and advance their different forms of intelligence. Children who participate in horseback riding, canoeing, climbing, and sports like archery and team building games are exercising their body/ kinesthetic, visual/ spatial, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic skill sets in ways that are not always as prevalent during class time.
So while the students may see ice skating or camping trips as fun days “off” from academics, Waldorf teachers understand that these immersive experiences offer a depth of experience and varied learning to students that directly benefit classroom time.
Want to learn more about how different types of movement support academics? Please visit: Movement for Childhood, which focuses on how movement programs, solidly based on the developmental needs of children, have school-wide benefit.
In Waldorf education, we celebrate Michaelmas — a traditional Christian celebration of the Archangel St. Michael — observed in the Northern Hemisphere since Roman times on September 29th and typically honored by a feast. Michaelmas is also held around the equinox and has been associated with the beginning of fall and the darker, colder days to come when all of mankind will need strength to survive.
St. Michael is a symbolic leader of the force of good over evil, courage over cowardice, and of watchfulness of languor. The celebration of Michaelmas teaches the importance of overcoming fear and strengthening resolve.
Spring Garden, and many other Waldorf schools, celebrate Michaelmas by performing a play in the saint’s honor. Our performance’s is a story of King George and how with St. Michael’s help he is able to save the town from an evil dragon. We also fly kites with dragons on them to symbolize taming the dragon and overcoming fear during this “festival of courage.”
The exact story of the play we perform for Michaelmas is not told the same way in biblical or legendary tradition, but it is a variation on a theme of Michael being a warrior saint. The Archangel St. Michael does fight a dragon, in heaven and not on earth, in Revelation 12: 7-9:
“And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels”
There is an earthly legend, however, of a dragon fighting saint, but it is the story of St. George. St. George was a Roman Soldier tortured and beheaded for his faith in 304 and declared a Saint in 494. He has had many fanciful stories told about him, but the most popular tells of St. George saving a village by slaying a dragon that makes ongoing demands for sheep and maidens.
But it is not the literal story that represents the importance of the day, but the idea behind the story of good triumphing over evil and light triumphing over darkness. Humankind has many battles over darkness to attend too, many dragons to slay, and this is an essential lesson for our students.
Each student must face their own difficulties in life, both internal and external, and Michaelmas both educates and empowers the children to find the courage to take on and defeat their personal dragons. And so, we celebrate Michaelmas in the Waldorf tradition to remind ourselves of the strength we need in the coming season and in our personal lives to defeat darkness and let hope prevail.
First Grade: Gnomes
Second Grade: Meteors
Third Grade: Peasants and Farmers.
Fourth Grade: Knights
Fifth Grade: Chorus, Voices for Meteors
Sixth Grade: Chorus
Seventh Grade: Chorus, Voices for Gnomes, Ringing of the Irons
Eighth Grade: The Dragon
Parents, families, and friends are welcome to join us for kite flying! Weather permitting, the play will be performed on the outside stage; otherwise it will be performed in the gym.
Tuesday, September 15
Miss Kathy’s 2-day students
Grades 1, 4 and 6
Wednesday, September 16
Grades 3, 5, 7, and 8
Thursday, September 17
Miss Kathy’s 3- and 5-day students
Nancy will be shooting beautiful studio portraits of each child, which will be available for purchase on a secure, password protected website. We will also be shooting class photos, which will be included with each package purchase or available for purchase without buying portraits.
We will have a scheduled re-shoot day Wednesday, September 30. We would be grateful for parent volunteers to assist in taking children to and from the photo shoot area. Please let Hazel know if you’re able to help.
What to wear: Solid colors work best, though black and white should be avoided. Patterns, wording, and pictures on clothing tend to be too distracting, and a bit too busy. Girls photograph best with their hair down, not in ponytails or braids. Headbands and clips or bows are fine, just try to avoid anything too large.
Information about online viewing and ordering photos will be distributed as soon as it is available.
Boredom is an uncomfortable, undesired, frustrating state of mind. As parents, we’ve been conditioned to alleviate these feelings in our little ones. We ask, “What do they need to reach a better state of mind?” So it’s really no wonder that a bored and whiny child makes a parent spout lists of fun ideas or break out a craft project. However, relieving the discomfort of boredom is one of those parenting instincts we should fight.
University of Louisville Professor and boredom expert Dr. Andreas Elpidorou, in his article The Bright Side of Boredom, defines the value of boredom this way: “…boredom motivates the pursuit of a new goal when the current goal ceases to be satisfactory, attractive, or meaningful to the agent. Boredom helps to restore the perception that one’s activities are meaningful or significant. It acts as a regulatory state that keeps one in line with one’s projects. In the absence of boredom, one would remain trapped in unfulfilling situations, and miss out on many emotionally, cognitively, and socially rewarding experiences. Boredom is both a warning that we are not doing what we want to be doing and a “push” that motivates us to switch goals and projects. Neither apathy, nor dislike, nor frustration can fulfill boredom’s function.”
Not only is it key for motivating one toward goals and meaningful activity, it is also the precursor of creativity. A paper presented at the Annual Conference at the British Psychological Society outlined two studies that revealed that boredom in subjects brought forth daydreaming and innovative connections that lead to more creativity.
In the first study, 40 people were asked to copy numbers out of a telephone directory for 15 minutes, and were then asked to come up with different uses for a pair of polystyrene cups. Those subjected to copying telephone numbers were more creative than a control group who had only been asked to come up with uses for the cups.
In the second study, researchers looked specifically at the influence of daydreaming. This time the control group was only given the cups, another group again copied the numbers as before, and a third group read the numbers instead of writing them, which left more time for daydreaming. Researchers found that people who had no boring task demonstrated the least creativity; those writing names showed more creativity, but those who had just read the names were more creative of all. This suggested the importance of passive boredom, the kind that allows for daydreaming and leads to creativity.
But it’s not just this one study confirming boredom’s role in creative living. This study from the Journal of Associative Psychology found boredom promoted “associative thought” – deeper connections between potentially unrelated ideas. And neuroscience is jumping into the boredom study game, finding that “a neural circuit called the default network, which is turned on when we’re not preoccupied with something in our external environment” – in other words, when we’re bored. At first glance, these boring moments might seem like a great time for the brain to go quiet, to reduce metabolic activity and save some glucose for later. But that isn’t what happens. The bored brain is actually incredibly active, as it generates daydreams and engages in mental time travel. In particular, there seems to be an elaborate electrical conversation between the front and rear parts of the mind, as the medial prefrontal cortex fires in sync with areas like the posterior cingulate and precuneus.”
So is boredom always good? Well, as it turns out, no. German researchers have identified four different types of boredom, and while three of them lead to creativity and focused goal pursuit, one of them does not. They call this bad boredom “reactant boredom,” and it is defined as boredom induced by an activity which requires attention in order to have meaning. You guessed it: this is classroom boredom, and it’s bad because “it prompts sufferers to leave the boredom-inducing situation and avoid responsibility and those responsible (teachers).”
Waldorf schools use multi-disciplinary teaching to avoid classroom boredom among our students. It’s hard to be apathetic and bored at your desk when you have to sing, draw, or catch a ball during a lecture.
Ultimately, however, boredom at home is a net gain for children. While it’s hard to watch children suffer and be uncomfortable, this trip out of their comfort zone and into the land of boredom leads to inspired, creative, and meaningful play. And that’s the work of the child.
If your child subsists on PBJ and granola bars, you may be a little panicked at the notion of a nut free school lunch and snack. But never fear! Here’s a comprehensive resource of nut-free lunch and snack ideas. A heartfelt thank you to Board member, Elaine Ristev, for this wonderful blog post contribution.
Lunch Main Dish
Vegetarian Main Dish
Hard Boiled Egg
Fruits & Vegetables
Check out the 7DayVegan website for Great Lunch and snack ideas such as Lentil Veggie Wraps, Marinated Tofu Sandwich Filling, Chickpea Salad Rolls, Apple Swirl Loaf,Maple Banana Bread, Creamy Hummus, Hemp-anola Chickpea Sensation Patties, Hide-the-Lentils Tomato Sauce (with pasta), Spicoli Burgers, and “Nice” Krispie Squares.
Hopefully these recipes will make packing lunches easier!
Whether you are new to the school or a veteran parent, it can sometimes be difficult knowing where to best spend your time volunteering. Many hands make light work, and everyone has a gift to offer. We look forward to spending time with you!
Below are some Frequently Asked Questions from parents about service hours.
Why are service hours important?
Service hours help reduce overall operating costs for the school while providing students with a positive role model of community service. They also build our community by providing opportunities for parents and teachers to become better acquainted in a supportive, informal setting. Our record of service hours is also meaningful to foundations and other community funders that offer grant support.
How many service hours are required?
The number of service hours required is based on the student’s enrollment status and is indicated in the contract. A buy-out option is available; contact the Finance Director for more information. The maximum service hour requirement for families with one or more full time students is 30 hours.
What are work days?
Work days hours are spent doing cleaning, maintenance and general upkeep of the building and grounds. Work Days are scheduled according to the season and to the building’s needs, and they are announced to the community by email. The Parent/Guardian Contract requires each family to complete 20% of their Contract Service Hours on scheduled work days. For most families, the work day commitment is six hours.
Where can I learn about service hour opportunities?
We communicate service opportunities on the website, in the Tuesday Note, and on the chalk board near the school store. If you have questions about how to fulfill your service hours, please ask a member of the Administrative Team.
What tasks count toward service hours?
Helping with the Annual Auction Benefit, the Children’s Festival, classroom laundry and other classroom tasks, baking for school events, work day hours, participation on a committee (Site, Festivals, Parent Council, School Store), office tasks, and grounds support are all ways to fulfill hours. Please let us know if you have a special skill or expertise. Our Board of Trustees is always interested in talking with volunteers with finance, legal, human resources, marketing, or development skills.
Where will my hours be most effective?
Of the 30 hours for most families, 6 hours are required to be work days. We recommend a minimum of 3 hours for the auction, 3 hours for the Children’s Festival, and 3 hours in support of classroom.
How do you track service hours?
Parents are responsible for keeping track of their service hours by documenting them in the Service Hours binder located in the school office. Record your activity as soon as possible to keep your record up-to-date.
What happens if I don’t complete service hours?
Parents are billed for unfulfilled service hours at a rate of $30 per hour.
At Spring Garden, like at all Waldorf schools around the world, The Rose Ceremony takes place on the first day for all students. But this traditional event is most influential for the incoming first grade and last year students at the school.
Our First and Eighth graders are embarking on milestones in their school careers and we mark this important transition with our annual Rose Ceremony. Pairing young incoming students with their responsible eighth grade buddies, is a milestone for both young people in the pairing. The young children are entering a new phase in life — where schooling and community, away from parents, will support their budding sense of self, learning and individuality. The older children are entering into young adulthood and are ready to be leaders and guides in their own life and in their community.
Eighth grade students will guide their first grade buddies throughout the year including helping the first grade during assembly, having a caregiving presence at other festivals and celebrations, and chaperoning and teaching the young children to ice skate during our spring field trip.
This reverent event is a reflection of the beauty, kindness and care given to all students, each year, at Spring Garden.
Here are some photos from this year’s event: