Waldorf School of Atlanta Parent Initiative for Media-Lite Living – article recommendation

In September 2014, parents at the Waldorf School of Atlanta began a Media-Lite Living initiative.  The WSA Family Handbook holds recommendations about limiting media.  This initiative is designed to support parents on this road.  We are archiving the articles, stories and testimonials from this initiative on the WSA blog.  Posts from the 2015-16 school year are found here.


The WSA Parent Initiative for Media-Lite living would like to share a link to this pertinent article from Time:

Why Access to Screens Is Lowering Kids’ Social Skills  – Aug. 21, 2014  Kids read emotions better after being deprived of electronic media

Waldorf School of Atlanta Parent Initiative for Media-Lite Living – article recommendation

In September 2014, parents at the Waldorf School of Atlanta began a Media-Lite Living initiative.  The WSA Family Handbook holds recommendations about limiting media.  This initiative is designed to support parents on this road.  We are archiving the articles, stories and testimonials from this initiative on the WSA blog.  Posts from the 2015-16 school year are found here.


The WSA Parent Initiative for Media-Lite living would like to share this pertinent article from Psychology Today:

Screentime Is Making Kids Moody, Crazy and Lazy

6 Ways electronic screen time makes kids angry, depressed and unmotivated.  Posted Aug 18, 2015



Michaelmas Season in the Kindergarten & Grades at the Waldorf School of Atlanta

Michaelmas Season in the Kindergarten

The threads of Michaelmas are woven in and out of our days in the kindergarten classes between mid-September and early October. Part of a Waldorf celebration is experiencing the process of preparation, which takes time to develop. All of the kindergarten children hear stories of people who dig deep within themselves for strength and courage to help others. As the children hear these stories they form images and feelings of courage and strength within themselves. They also have the experience of gathering onion skins and dried marigold tops to make a beautiful golden dye. This dye is used to create a special Michaelmas project that has its origins in our stories, symbolizing light to give strength and courage to do good deeds. These threads of courage, community and accomplishment can also be found in our circle time, in baking a harvest loaf, or dragon bread, modeling the golden beeswax into elements from the story, a picnic with friends, or sharing a puppet show with another class! This season is filled with activities that exercise the will, symbolizing inner strength that manifests itself in good deeds.

The experience of Michaelmas in Kindergarten is very rich. For those in the 5-day Kindergarten, Michaelmas is celebrated on the same day that the grades are celebrating. The 3-day Kindergarten class celebrates on a school day close to that time. Our celebrations are part of our school day.

We suggest that the K children not participate in the grades’ event for Michaelmas, since we have our own separate celebration that is appropriate for this age group. We recommend a restful afternoon for the Kindergarten children, allowing the images and feelings of our celebration to be kept alive in each child.

The grades’ celebration with the dragon chase and larger groups of children is something for your children to anticipate as they enter the grade school in the future. How wonderful it is for young children to experience an expanding world as they get older! This gradual movement into activities gives them time to be little, grow, anticipate, and then participate.
Facing the Dragon – Michaelmas in the Grades
Grades 1-8 Celebrate Michaelmas
Friday, September 27

Michaelmas is a symbolic, ancient tradition celebrated in autumn. As the days grow shorter and the sun wanes, human beings often feel called to sleepiness. The strength of our will seems sapped, and we feel pulled towards complacency. To conquer this lethargic “dragon,” we must look inward to find strength and an “inner light” to guide us through the darkness of winter. We cannot sleep like many of the plants underground or hibernate like some of the animals. We have work to do, we must awake!

WSA grades students will celebrate Michaelmas with a day of games, drumming, festive songs, and a visit from St. Michael and the dragon!

Parents are invited to join us for this celebration. (Look for the schedule next week!) As stated in the article above, we strongly suggest that parents with children of kindergarten age allow their child to enjoy their class celebrations and anticipate participating in the grades’ celebration with the older students when they are older children themselves.

Information on Kids and Allergic Reactions from our friends at Georgia CPR

This article is posted with permission from our friends at Georgia CPR.  Follow them on Facebook  for more information.

9-4-15 Crucial New Information on Kids and Allergic Reactions

The number of kids who can have a severe allergic reaction to food, bites and stings has exponentially grown. No one knows for sure why.

Mistakes in the treatment of the allergic reaction is also staggeringly high. While some readers are aware of these potential mistakes, this is new information to most.

The culprits are Doctors and pharmacist who don’t take the 30 seconds to give you this information.

Let’s fix that – right now.

When I use the term allergic reaction, I’m not talking about subtle allergies to pollen or other slight allergies. I am referring to an allergic reaction where the tongue and throat swell up closing air passageways resulting in death. This kind of allergic reaction is called an anaphylactic reaction or anaphylaxis.

It is life threatening.

The only way to stop anaphylaxis is through the use of Epinephrine (same as adrenaline), an injectable drug. This drug is commonly carried in an auto-injector “pen” called an Epi-Pen.
An Epi-Pen looks like a fat magic marker that is stuck onto the outer thigh to activate. When activated it injects a dose of epinephrine to the patient suffering from an allergic reaction. Epinephrine is a prescription drug so anyone with an Epi-pen should have been made aware of everything in this article. Sadly, most are unaware by no fault of their own.

epi pens
There are three really important mistakes regarding allergic reaction treatments.

Here are the three big mistakes:
Delaying a call to 911 to “wait and see”
Trying to use Benadryl to stop a severe allergic reaction
Not having two Epi-Pen’s on hand, i.e. Have one Epi-Pen at work or school with the patient and keep the other one at home

Here is why the above are mistakes.

Delay In Calling 911

Don’t “wait and see”, when for example, someone who knows they are allergic to peanuts, eats something that has peanuts in it. It is recommended to call 911 before symptoms occur. 911 is called even and especially when an Epi-pen is used (Epi-pens are discussed below). A delay in calling 911 can delay life saving treatment. All severe allergic reactions get a 911 call.

No one wants to waste EMS’s time, an allergic reaction isn’t a waste of their time. Paramedics will help you make the right decision, on the scene, as to whether you need their transport help or not. Make the error on the side of safety and survival.
Call 911 and use that Epi-pen – fast.

Benadryl won’t stop a severe allergic reaction.
Benadryl can help with sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, minor symptoms of allergies. It is not sufficient to stop an anaphylactic reaction. It says so right on the manufacturer’s website and packaging.
Even in the emergency room, injected Benadryl is only an adjunct to epinephrine. It is not a stand alone drug used in severe allergic reactions.

If someone is experiencing an anaphylactic allergic reaction, immediately call 911 and use the Epi-Pen injector. The quicker the better. Many studies indicate a delay in epinephrine can hurt it’s chances of working. Again, call 911 and use that Epi-pen right away in the case of a severe allergic reaction. Forget about the Benadryl.

Keeping Only One Epi-Pen On Hand Is A Mistake – Keep Both With The Patient
With good intention, some will have one Epi-Pen at home and only one with the person who has the severe allergies; at school, work etc.
This seems reasonable but it’s a mistake.

Epi-pens are only sold in sets of two. You can’t buy a single Epi-Pen. That is because 50% of the time, for one reason or the other, that second dose is desperately needed.

Here are the two main reasons that second Epi-pen should be on hand:
The allergic reaction comes back before the ambulance arrives – Biphasic reaction
The epinephrine injector malfunctions

Biphasic Reactions
The effects of epinephrine is short. The wait for the ambulance is long. That math even I can understand.
This is a Biphasic allergic reaction where the patient recovers and then gets bad again or even worse than they originally were. Biphasic reactions can happen in up to a third of anaphylactic reactions.
If a biphasic reaction happens without that second dose of epinephrine, the patient is in trouble.

Epi-Pen Malfunction
Over my years of teaching CPR classes, I have heard no less than 11 stories where the patient pointed an Epi-Pen the wrong way and shot the needle through their thumb. Not good.
I have also heard stories where an Epi-pen needle gets stuck into a weld on a patient’s jeans, or something in their pocket. The user of the Epi-Pen sometimes pulls the needle out too soon spraying the drug on the ground instead of into the patient.

Just carry both Epi-pens. Two doesn’t take up more room than one. It’s worth it.

Most of us don’t know, really, the right way to treat anaphylaxis. This knowledge can save many lives, and is fairly simple. When you take a CPR class, hopefully your instructor will cover this information. We certainly do in our classes.

In the case of a severe allergic reaction:
Call 911
Use the Epi-pen
Be ready to start CPR

This article is written in memory of those who didn’t survive their allergic reaction. Visit this site dedicated to the memory of allergic reaction victims.


Waldorf School of Atlanta Initiative on Media-Lite Living – parent story

In September 2014, parents at the Waldorf School of Atlanta began a Media-Lite Living initiative.  The WSA Family Handbook holds recommendations about limiting media.  This initiative is designed to support parents on this road.  We are archiving the articles, stories and testimonials from this initiative on the WSA blog.  School Year 2015-16 articles will be listed here.


From a WSA parent, on her family’s journey of living media-lite.

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to edit and resubmit something I wrote in the Breeze a year ago about my family and media. Many things were dated about the entry and I decided against it. Then it appeared here in the Breeze anyway. I’ve been encouraged to provide a Part II.

A year later we still struggle and celebrate keeping our children’s media to a minimum. The effort is often messy and I’m tempted to change the subject even as I write this.

While I wonder if we can claim liteness in our media, my near-six-year-old whooshes by, pretending to surf away from sharks. Why does that boogie board feature the larger-than-life Looney Tunes’ Tazmanian Devil?

There’s the hawk-sized Buzz Lightyear who keeps reappearing from the bag of toys set aside for the cousins. Not aside exactly; he keeps falling with style from the closet shelf. He twirls and speaks Spanish and cracks up my kids. In Toy Story, he grins in earnest at us. He’s so caught up in his own commercial hype that he’s crushed to learn he’s only a toy and not a real space ranger. But his original belief that he can fly is what saves him and his band of once-washed up toys in the end. Childhood imagination trumps limitations. I better put Buzz in the shed.

So what’s working? How do we keep their brains fluid and less media-mushed? Chores, longer baths, Uno, new costume stuff and my mom’s kiln in the mountains help.

Expecting these guys to do anything they can do for themselves keeps them busy. A late bloomer in general, I didn’t grasp this until recently. Early to bed, early to rise has also caused an unexpected shift around here. Seismic, really. Now they have plenty of time to pick out clothes, make beds, help with breakfast and pack one public school backpack and one Waldorf basket – things we rushed to do for them a year ago. With these new abilities at work throughout the day, they have less time to whine about what media they’re missing.

I wish I did more to encourage crafting, game inventing, fort building but I’m busy so why dwell.

It’s Warbird Weekend at Peachtree-DeKalb Airport. Come out, maybe we’ll see you there. They’re taking people up in the old planes and we’re hoping to fly over our house.

New perspectives indeed, space rangers.

Waldorf School of Atlanta Parent Initiative for Media-Lite Living 2015-16

WSA Parent Initiative for Media-Lite Living  (updated 08/31/2015)

Articles from 2015-16 school year: 1 ,  , 3,

(Article collection from 2014-2015 school year is HERE.)

How do I compete with Disney?

Will my child be behind if he doesn’t have Minecraft with breakfast?

Are iPads the right answer to “Mom, I’m bored”?

 Examine these questions – and discover the answers – 

through Media-Lite Living

 Twenty-First Century Parenting

The 21st century has seen a dramatic increase of electronic media in the lives of our children and families.

To counter the “new normal” of our times, we founded the WSA Parent Initiative for Media-Lite Living in September 2014. Our goals are to:

  • Protect childhood
  • Nurture children’s ability to thrive with low (or no) technology
  • Support fellow parents with alternatives to electronic media
  • Articulate the adverse effects of electronic media, especially on children


We believe that children have an inherent aptitude for self-reliance, resourcefulness, and creativity. Remember when you spent hours roaming parks and forests with friends? The endless games you created? Playing solitaire with a real deck of cards? Drifting off while reading a captivating novel?


We’re parents who believe we can create that safety zone for our children. We’ve seen first-hand how their imagination thrives when they experience – and we help keep – childhood first.


Our Guiding Principles

  1. Respect and Openness
  • We respect each family’s unique journey in creating a media-lite living lifestyle.
  • We recognize cultural pressures for families to frequently use electronic media.
  • We are a “no-blame” zone and a safe, accessible place for parents to work through challenges with media-lite living.
  1. Collaboration
  • We inspire each other by sharing success stories of alternatives to media at home.
  • We endorse the benefits of media-lite living for our children and families.
  • We recommend reviewing Media Guidelines-Overview in the WSA Family Handbook.
  • We report current research on the benefits of media-lite living.
  1. Action
  • Take the initiative to create a media-lite lifestyle at home.
  • Pair up with a media-lite mentor (fellow parent) for encouragement and support.
  • Keep playdates free of electronic media and screen time, both at home and in the car.
  • Facilitate and support conversations by sharing successes and challenges of how to navigate media-lite living.
  • Read and contribute articles to the ongoing Media-Lite Living column in the WSA online Breeze Bulletin newsletter.
  • Voice questions and concerns about media-lite living with WSA teachers.

 Prominent publications like The New York Times continue to report the growing research on electronic media’s adverse effects on children’s development and, more broadly, our lives.    Despite these studies, it’s getting harder to swim against the current and limit our children’s exposure to media.   At WSA, The Initiative for Media-Lite Living is our ongoing dialogue exploring this vital subject.

Join us on this journey and experience the beauty that rises when media subsides

Less Media – More Living



 Sara Michelson, WSA Parent

Emily Zdan, WSA Community Chair

Ally Delpino, WSA Parent Association Co-Leader

Summer ideas from the Waldorf School of Atlanta

from our friends at Georgia CPR:

Poison Ivy: Don’t Let It Ruin Your Child’s Summer!

I remember being a kid, tromping through the woods in the glorious summer. Hide and go seek and any number of military games no longer PC were staples of childhood play in the outdoors. The green of the trees, cool breezes and the smell of fireworks on July 4th color nostalgic memories for me. And then there was always the Poison Ivy.

Bouts of Poison Ivy were a commonplace occurrence during my childhood. Several precious summers were marred with weeks of being covered with the itchy rash. I could never seem to recognize that awful plant that brought me such agony. Poison Ivy is just plain old fashioned bad. I feel itchy even writing this!

Georgia CPR teaches first aid topics in our CPR and First Aid classes, but we don’t usually cover information on Poison Ivy. I want to give you information to help you avoid Poison Ivy and treat it with the best stuff I know available on the market.

Recognizing Poison Ivy

Recognizing Poison Ivy isn’t hard once you get the hang of it. Poison Ivy, and Poison Oak look similar. Poison Ivy has pointier leaves and Poison Oak leaves are a bit more, well – dumpy. Just not as pointy. Be wary of both.

Poison Ivy can be of any color, from bright green to bright red, yellow, brownish and anywhere in between. But it’s the shape that will give it away.

Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, Poison Sumac

Here’s a nice list for recognizing Poison Ivy:

  • Sets of 3 leaves
  • Leaves have large jags on them
  • Can be any color that a plant would be – (haven’t seen blue yet)
  • Any part of the plant will ruin your day!

What makes Poison Ivy “poisonous” is an irritating oil called Urushiol. It is a toxic oil that is present in live or dead Poison Ivy leaves, stems or vines. Yes, you can get Poison Ivy in the winter too. No fair.

Recognize Poison Ivy and Poison Oak and avoid touching it even with your shoes or clothing. That nasty Urushiol will get onto your clothing and will continue to give you the rash until you wash it off. Leather will hold that oil even longer, which is an unfortunate downside to leather boots.

If you or your child, or your pet comes into contact with Poison Ivy, IMMEDIATELY wash thoroughly with soap and COLD water. Warmer water opens pores leaving skin more vulnerable to Urushiol penetration and irritation. Washing with plain old soap and cold water can be really effective in stopping a bad case of poison ivy before it starts. But the treatment I recommend below works better.

Poison Ivy Treatment

In my experience with safety, I come across products that I love and then promote them. Sometimes I even sell them. Georgia CPR doesn’t sell Poison Ivy treatment, nor are we paid to endorse one. We will simply recommend a treatment that simply works.

The brand is called Tecnu. Their original product is my favorite. I would describe their product as a urushiol remover. It removes the toxin from your skin before a rash appears and in my experience, stops the rash from getting any worse once its already there.

No – I haven’t completed a scientific study. I did work for a tree service for years and we would order this product in really big bottles by the case. It works better than a charm in that it actually works.

Heres’ the basic Tecnu instructions

Before a rash appears:

  • Put the Tecnu on the area of skin that contacted poison ivy
  • Rub it vigorously for about 2 minutes – don’t forget to cover all possible exposed parts
  • Rinse it off with cool running water
  • Repeat

If you already have a Poison Ivy Rash:

  • Put the Tecnu directly onto the rash as well as on the skin around it
  • Rub for 2 minutes – which feels great – but don’t break the skin or blisters!
  • Rinse if off with cool water
  • Pat dry with a clean towel
  • If you are still itchy – repeat the process except then rinse in a very warm shower.
  • Don’t do this in a bath silly – they you would be steeping in urushiol!

If you can recognize and avoid Poison Ivy – that’s the best.

If you can’t and end up with a rash – use the Tecnu

Save that awesome summer and send the specter of poison ivy to bed without dinner!


Linden Tree Photography B. Karp 005 The article above is posted with permission from Georgia CPR.

Kindergarten at the Waldorf School of Atlanta

The learning before the learningLinden Tree Photography 2015-1-09 WSA_011

Reflections of the Waldorf Kindergarten

 With both of my children now in the grades at WSA, I often reflect on the kindergarten experience that both were so fortunate to receive.

In Waldorf kindergartens, there’s a conscious effort to preserve childhood for as long as possible, but preserving childhood doesn’t conflate with delayed learning. On the contrary, the Waldorf kindergartner experience reaches beyond the mainstream study of letters and numbers, and instead focuses on a far more fundamental and formative curriculum: the precursors of learning itself.

The children learn to be together, to work together. Setting the table, sweeping the floor, shoulder to shoulder, hand in hand, they’re developing cooperation, appreciation, and responsibility – the values necessary for the life each child is growing into.

Handwork projects require dexterity of hand, the learning of new skills, and – increasingly rare in our world of instant gratification – the notion of “one step at a time.” Allowing children to move through each step at their own pace culminates in an accomplishment that is entirely their own. Stories, songs and rhymes encourage an awakening of children’s senses and memory to come to life as well as an appreciation for learning that will continue to flourish.

Not too long ago I was satisfied with the notion that Waldorf kindergartens offered a haven to prolong childhood, encouraged children to live into their imaginations, and crafted the space and time for them to explore the world. I didn’t query much further.

In looking backLinden Tree Photography 2015-1-09 WSA_022, I clearly see a rich multi-layered curriculum, and am deeply respectful of the meaningful activities that happily engaged the children.  The foundational aspects of working together, completing a project, taking care of a shared space – along with language acquisition, number sense, and body geography – were always there at the heart of each rhythmic yet magical day.

Now that my children have transitioned to the grades, they’ve embarked on a more intellectual journey. I may pine for the smells wafting from the kindergarten on bread day. I might miss the beeswax bunnies they once molded with little fingers. But as I watch my children embrace their learning with eagerness and delight, I am filled with gratitude knowing that they were soundly prepared for this next stage of learning.

~Brooke Fraser

This article was written for the Waldorf School of Atlanta‘s 2015 Garden Breeze Special Edition.  For more information about our school, please visit www.waldorfatlanta.org.

Gardening at the Waldorf School of Atlanta

A classroom without wallsLinden Tree_WSA0316__007

The role of gardening in Waldorf education

 Through your own experience or stories told by your children, you probably know that being outside is large part of the Waldorf curriculum from Kindergarten on up. What’s not readily apparent is the significance of the children’s activities outside. From watering seeds to feeding chickens to pulling English Ivy off trees, children are moving with purpose.

A conversation with our Gardening Teacher Rebecca Johnson and Grade 4 Teacher and Grounds Committee member Jenny Dilworth revealed how engrained gardening is at WSA, and how it contributes to the children’s education. Fundamentally, gardening is one way we prepare our children for the future.

Growing cucumbers and careers

We’re in an age in which careers as we know them may well be obsolete when our students are of age to begin their own professions. The garden teaches fundamental skills that will help children navigate such uncertainty: flexibility, responsiveness, tolerance, and adaptability.

Teaching them these things through nature serves another purpose; namely, they’re a part of things – connected with the world around them. Accordingly, they gain an understanding that their decisions affect others. And they learn these lessons often without having to be expressly taught. For example, if they don’t water seedlings enough, then the seeds won’t grow so well.

On this and other levels, the children are developing their connection with the world by being in it and interacting with it. “Most fundamentally,” says Rebecca, “They’re learning that you are needed in this world. And what you do really matters.”

Grade by grade, row by row

The classroom learning throughout the WSA curriculum echoes clearly in the garden. Rebecca, working with the classes and their teachers, leads the learning through the grades.

  • Grades 1 and 2 abound in natural wonder. Stories and garden games fittingly fill gardening time as does exploration. When students are ready, they’re given jobs along with guidance on how to behave in the garden – how you walk, talk, and interact.
  • Grade 3 finds the children ready for more work-based relationships with garden. They become responsible for a majority of planting and maintenance. Connections with the natural world are strengthened by growing, harvesting, and cooking crops. “It’s very real for them,” says Jenny, “and their actions in the garden teach them what they’re capable of doing.”
  • Grades 4 and 5 cover many natural classroom connections with the garden. Through study of local geography, flora and fauna, and botany, gardening takes on an added dimension. The children expand on their jobs, taking on more responsibility and exercising greater independence through campus-wide activities like removing English Ivy and clearing space for the bees.

Linden Tree_WSA0316__009“In the world, there are vacuums,” shares Rebecca. “The students learn that they’re capable of filling them by using their skills and by simply being who they are. The sooner we can teach children the beautiful relationship we have with the natural world, the better off we’ll be.”

The bees are coming – everybody, look buzzy!

This spring, WSA will welcome bees to our community. When exactly? The bees are expected mid to late April. “It’s a matter of bringing them in when they’re ready according to their natural cycle, not unlike a pregnancy,” says Jenny with a smile. “We just have to be flexible – and that’s one of the lessons we learn from nature.”

The apiaries will strengthen kids’ connections to nature. And the new residents will provide parallels to the classroom curriculum – ancient Egypt, honey, history, and ecosystems to name a few.

~Derek Hambrick

This article was written for the Waldorf School of Atlanta‘s 2015 Garden Breeze Special Edition.  For more information about our school, please visit www.waldorfatlanta.org.

2015 Pentathlon at the Waldorf School of Atlanta

Pentathlon: a Waldorf rite of passageDSC_0108

For all Waldorf students, spring is a very special time, even more so for our Grade 5 as they prepare for the annual Waldorf Pentathlon! During the 3-day gathering, more than 115 fifth-graders from Waldorf Schools throughout the Southeast compete in five different events: running, discus, javelin, long jump, and wrestling. Our school is honored to serve as host city for the 2015 event, taking place at Camp Twin Lakes in April.

Francisco Moreno, our Movement Teacher, who spent the year working with and preparing the students, explains the significance of the Pentathlon. “In the Waldorf philosophy, this event is a ceremony – and the children are not necessarily aware of this – of saying goodbye to the baby years and honoring the coming of the teenage years.”

The event is the perfect c4 city states at pentathlon - from amberulmination of their studies of ancient civilizations, and more specifically, ancient Greece. In that context, the students compete in the Pentathlon not as schools but as Greek city-states. Participants are divided among Athens, Sparta, Corinth, and Thebes. “The forming of each city-state allows them to leave their protective cocoon or circle of home,” adds Mr. Moreno, “and be in a place where they bring something new, the unique gift of themselves to each group.”

Like most Waldorf traditions, each event carries a significant metaphor for life. For example, the jumping event represents life moving forward, while wrestling mirrors the need to face and overcome life’s challenges.

The Pentathlon culminates with an awards ceremony on the final day, when the judges present each child with a medal, wreath and an acknowledgement of that student’s highest moment – some unique way that they contributed to their city-state or the event overall. The children leave the event happy, confident and better equipped to thrive in their teen years.

~by Price Jones

This article was written for the Spring 2015 issue of the Garden Breeze newsletter for the Waldorf School of Atlanta.   For more information about our school, please visit us at www.waldorfatlanta.org .