Waldorf School of Atlanta Pedagogical Overviews

jim mcclurkin

Waldorf School of Atlanta teacher – Jim McClurkin

This essay was written by Jim McClurkin, a teacher at WSA since 1999.

Pedagogical Overviews

The Waldorf School of Atlanta provides a proven educational program that nurtures students along a continuous developmental path that results in young adults who are confident, poised and have a strong inner focus for life and work.

Early Childhood (Explore Early Childhood)

Our Waldorf preschool and kindergartens nurture a sense of wonder and curiosity in the young child, while encouraging reverence and joy for the goodness of life. The warmth and beauty of the classrooms and the mixed age groupings provide an opportunity for children to play and learn in a home-like atmosphere. The 3-year olds (participating in a 4 hour/day program) and the 4-year olds are engaged according to their age and abilities, while imitating the mood, gestures and work of the classroom teachers (and their older friends). The 5 and 6-year olds develop the independence and sense of responsibility necessary to become leaders in the class. In the loving and creative atmosphere of the kindergarten, these young children acquire the confidence and discipline they will need for the challenging academic work of grade school. The kindergarten experience is rich in storytelling, puppetry, song, poetry, cooking, and artistic activities. Crafts, handwork, games, and regular outdoor play encourage the healthy growth of the child’s body. Toys, art materials, and classroom aesthetics emphasize natural, simple materials, encouraging the child’s imagination. Through play, each child learns a broad range of cognitive, social, and linguistic skills. As in all Waldorf classes, parents are encouraged to minimize exposure to television, videos, and other media that might hinder the free and harmonious growth of the child.

Grade One (Explore Grade One)

First Grade is the commencement of formal schooling marked by the child’s awakening capacities of memory and thinking. The seven-year-old retains a feeling of oneness with the world, and is more able to bring broad awareness than focused concentration to learning situations. Much learning therefore involves the presentation of an image to the child, ensuring her understanding through her own mental picturing. This leads to a pictorial approach in the teaching of all subjects. The rhythm of working together as a class is established during this year, and the students are introduced to all areas of school life. The students are eager to learn together and take their place within the large whole. As new habits are formed, a foundation is being laid for healthy social interaction. Through the teacher’s authority and presence, a sense of reverence, respect, and wonder permeates the mood in the classroom. Throughout the first grade year, the academic tasks of reading, writing and arithmetic are embedded in the rich world of fairy tales. The archetypal pictures found within the fairy tales engage the child’s fantasy in the subject matter that they encounter throughout the year. Through these richly crafted stories, the children are introduced to speaking, writing, reading, and mathematics. All skills are reinforced with practice involving rhythmical movement, recitation and music. Bookwork is illustrated with pictures that reinforce the concepts being developed. Each lesson aims to incorporate a three-fold structure, which fosters the development of the children’s feelings, thinking abilities, and will forces.

Grade Two (Explore Grade Two)

In Grade Two, the familiar routines and observances of the previous year are maintained. This strengthens the rhythm of the class working together, and builds confidence and a sense of belonging in the children. The students continue to learn best when pictorial thought content is presented. Much time is spent consolidating all that was first learned in Grade One. Students continue to familiarize themselves with the fundamentals of arithmetic and language arts, and they also develop a wide range of skills in gross and fine motor movements such as jump rope, knitting, and flute playing. The children’s thinking is thus balanced and reinforced by their experience in physical and artistic activity. While in Grade One a mood of wholeness develops in the children, in Grade Two this mood can differentiate into contrasts, with a reverential mood on the one hand, and a temptation for mischief on the other. During this year, the children develop greater interest in the unique qualities of one another and become curious about individual differences. To meet this growing social awareness, teachers introduce stories where contrasting human qualities are portrayed. Wonder tales and legends of Saints from around the world show lofty striving and highlight noble human qualities, while animal fables and trickster tales satisfy the child’s interest in mischief. While the morals of these tales are never explicitly stated, the students derive direction and form from the images they are given.

Grade Three (Explore Grade Three)

Grade Three is marked by the physiological, psychological, and cognitive changes taking place during the ninth year. The child’s walk is firmer and more balanced, and the constitution is substantially stronger. Growth begins to focus more on the limbs and metabolism, and there is an increase in the breadth of the trunk. At the same time, a significant step in self-awareness occurs during this year. The children are developing a strong sense of being separate from their surroundings, perhaps for the first time. A feeling of being alone can contrast with a sense of wonder at seeing the world in a new way. These mixed feelings often lead to confusion and insecurity as questions of purpose and identity begin to emerge. There is a longing for increased independence and autonomy as the child moves into this new phase of childhood. They have a tendency to criticize and question authority as they seek to define themselves as individuals. The images from Hebrew stories, with their laws and guidance, foster inner security during this unsettled period. Practical activities such as farming and house building help ground the children in the physical world. When the whole group works together on these activities, feelings of separateness can be transformed into feelings of responsibility for the whole. With their new interest in the practical, material world, the children can now apply the skills learned in the first two grades to a wide range of everyday situations like measuring, weighing, and cooking.

Grade Four (Explore Grade Four)

In Grade Four, the transition from early childhood is complete. The children emerge with greater awareness, expressed in new confidence and great vigor. They want to experience the world from an individual standpoint, to find their particular place in the world. They develop a sense of where they are in relation to their environment, in both a social and geographical sense. The fourth grade student is eager to learn more about their world, and they embrace new challenges with curiosity and enthusiasm. During the fourth grade year, students are challenged to extend themselves in every aspect of their work. Their growing interest in concrete knowledge is met through natural science, in a study of the animal kingdom in relation to the human being. The children also take up a thorough study of their surroundings in a Local Geography block, in which mapmaking skills are developed. Norse stories, meanwhile, present the children with images of diverse, strong-willed personalities all contributing to the social whole. Throughout this year, students are encouraged to take greater responsibility for their own learning. They complete several independent projects, and give their first formal presentations to the class.

Grade Five (Explore Grade Five)

In the first four years of school there is a strong emphasis on form, both of the class as a whole, and of each child’s habits. In the next four years, there is a subtle and gradual shift in emphasis toward content, in lessons and in the world at large. This shift in emphasis, of course, follows the child’s own lead, responding to his or her changing consciousness. By age eleven, children reach a kind of balance and regular alternation between their awareness of the world and of their own inner lives. There is balance, too, in their mental, emotional, and physical growth. The fifth grade curriculum seeks to extend the children both outwardly and inwardly. Outwardly, in terms of space, they expand their horizons of the earth and the plants that cover it. In terms of time, they experience five civilizations spanning thousands of years. Inwardly, they extend their awareness of the math processes they perform, and also of the words they speak and the sentences they write. As their intellectual faculties become stronger, students are able to approach their cognitive work in a more realistic and reasoning manner. By the fifth grade, students have generally attained a certain ease and grace of physical movement intrinsic to their age. The celebration of their unique abilities at this time culminates in their participation in a Greek Olympiad, a pentathlon event with other regional Waldorf schools.

Grade Six (Explore Grade Six)

The twelfth year is the gateway to pre-adolescence and idealism, and although the sixth grader is increasingly able to experience internal logic, their sense impressions can often be clouded by emotion and whimsy. Throughout this year, students are encouraged to develop strong powers of observation, and precision and accuracy in their thinking. As they awaken to the intricacies of human thought and action, they readily embrace the biographies of individuals from ancient Rome and the Middle Ages. In order to ground students in the surrounding world while fostering their fascination with the unknown, sixth graders are provided with their first formal study of natural phenomena. Mineralogy, geography, and physics lessons provide opportunity for in-depth encounters with the physical world while strengthening powers of sense-observation. In addition to being grounded by the lawfulness of the earth, students are also encouraged to develop expansiveness in their imaginative thinking. Astronomy draws students towards the heavens and provides opportunities for them to explore the mysteries of the cosmos. In an effort to recreate the experience of early astronomers, Astronomy is taught exclusively through observation of the unaided eye.

Grade Seven (Explore Grade Seven)

As students move into adolescence, they need increased opportunity to feel the strength of their own initiative. The grade seven curriculum serves to ground the students, to inspire them to venture out toward the unknown, and to offer an introduction to their quest in life. Through their own engagement and striving in the world, students are able to develop strong feelings of sympathy and antipathy in relation to their surroundings. These feelings help shape their own perceptions and allow them to stand on their own with increased confidence. Through the exploration of an unknown world, the seventh grade curriculum challenges the thought process of the young adolescent, leading them to discovery, understanding, and discernment. They learn, as the explorers did, that going one’s own way means leaving behind the security and stability of familiar territory.

Grade Eight (Explore Grade Eight)

A Waldorf eighth grade experiences a gradual but significant shift from the presentation of a subject solely from the teacher to the class, to the mutual consideration of a subject by teacher and class together. A sense of community develops in which speaking becomes more thoughtful and listening more attentive. With the awakening capacity for logical thinking and free, independent judgment, the eighth grader now wants to be in the world more than ever before. They want to do, to discover, to know, and to find relevance in their studies by finding connections with the outside world. Throughout this year, the students continue to expand their sense of place in the world. They plunge into the Age of Revolution, and embark on a study of noteworthy individuals who have found the courage to follow their passions in revolt against the status quo. In addition to their continued inquiry into scientific phenomena and experimentation, students study the lives and struggles of scientists and inventors who first discovered chemical and electrical laws. These studies ground students in the human aspect of scientific thought, while providing a picture of the profound effects of modern technology upon society and culture. The eighth grade year marks the students’ final year with their Class Teacher, and culminates in the completion of their Waldorf grade school experience. Given the huge step these students are about to take in the world, the curriculum is designed to inspire passion and highlight the incredible potential of the human mind and soul. It is our hope that our students will graduate with compelling questions that will continue to fuel their love of learning for years to come.

Childhood First.

 

Santa Lucia Day at the Waldorf School of Atlanta

Santa Lucia at the Waldorf School of Atlanta

Santa Lucia at the Waldorf School of Atlanta

At the Waldorf School of Atlanta,  Grade 2 teachers introduce stories where contrasting human qualities are portrayed. Wonder tales and legends of Saints from around the world show lofty striving and highlight noble human qualities, while animal fables and trickster tales satisfy the child’s interest in mischief.   The study of Saints is brought to life beautifully in this letter from a Grade 2 teacher to the parents of her class about Santa Lucia Day.

This season brings many beautiful events to the school, classroom and community. In addition to the Advent Spiral, enjoying a visit from Saint Nicholas, and the school assembly, the second grade is working on the yearly Santa Lucia celebration for the school.  The story of Santa Lucia dates back to the Middle Ages.  She is known for bringing food and care to the people of Sweden during a harsh time of famine.  She wore a wreath of candles on her head so that she had her hands free to offer food and lingonberries to symbolize new life in winter.  The children are practicing their Santa Lucia song as they prepare to walk through the school with their own lights and song to share with all of the classes.

Sophia Szombathy, Grade 2 teacher

st lucia in grade 2 IMG_4651

Through silent winter gloom
thy song comes winging to
Waken the earth anew.
Glad carols bringing.
Come thou O Queen of
Night wearing thy crown so
bright.  Santa Lucia. Santa Lucia.
st lucia on the way to kindergarten IMG_4659

Handwork at the Waldorf School of Atlanta

As human beings, we use our hands regularly in our daily lives. At Waldorf, the Handwork curriculum is broad and includes skills such as knitting, crocheting, hand sewing, embroidery, felting, paper crafts, pattern design, and machine sewing.

Many of the benefits of the Handwork program are obvious: hand-eye coordination; basic math skills such as counting, the four math processes, and basic geometry; the ability to understand and follow a process from concept to completion; and the ability to focus on a project for an extended period of time.

There are also more subtle rewards that complement these obvious benefits. Students must prepare and care for materials. Many of the created items have a practical use – a case for a flute, a needle book, a pair of socks. Design and color choice allow for individual creative expression. One of the most far-reaching benefits of Handwork class is the social aspect. While there are times when quiet is needed, such as when you are learning a new stitch, most of the time the atmosphere in the classroom is social and conversational, not unlike a quilting bee. Students learn to speak politely to one another. Throughout the process, respect is fostered.

At the Waldorf School of Atlanta all first graders learn how to knit. This basic skill uses both right and left hands, and brings a steady, calming rhythm to the younger child. Crocheting, which emphasizes the right or left hand, almost always follows in the second or third grade. Cross-stitch is paramount to fourth grade as the children begin crossing over from childhood to adolescence. In fifth grade, knitting in the round, used to make hats, mittens, and socks, is a three dimensional, mathematical activity leading up to critical thinking in the middle school. Long-term hand-sewing projects involving concepts, patterns, and mathematical computations are usually found in sixth or seventh grade. The eighth grade Handwork curriculum often involves machine sewing, which perfectly integrates the student’s study of American History and the Industrial Revolution.

We hope you enjoy the Handwork series on our blog:

Grade 1 handwork

Grade 2 handwork

Grade 3 handwork

Grade 4 handwork

Grade 5 handwork

Grade 6 handwork

Grade 7 handwork

Grade 8 handwork

Our Handwork Teacher is Lisa Roggow.

lroggow photo

 

 

 

Spanish Language program at the Waldorf School of Atlanta – Grade 2

The Spanish Language program at the Waldorf School of Atlanta is led by Catalina De Luna Garza.  A review of the Language Program can be found on our website and specific insights into teaching each grade are found in these letters to the parents.

sra de luna headshot

Dear Second Grade Parents,

Second grade Spanish class will be on Tuesdays and Thursdays this year. We started with a brief review of the songs and some of the games from last year and pretty quickly new songs and poems had to be included.

In the first three grades the children are totally immersed in the spoken foreign language. They learn through their innate ability to imitate and memorize. At this time their speech organs are more flexible and it is possible to learn more accurate pronunciation as well as the natural cadences of the language.

Just as in every grade, rhythmical organization of the lesson is essential. Previous activities are continued and enlarged upon. Students will learn verses and songs involving movement or finger games; they also learn to follow simple commands. Vocabulary is based on learning about themselves and their immediate surroundings, such as: body parts, colors, counting, the classroom, animals in nature and pets, simple conversation about themselves and their needs. In addition to relevant songs and verses, story telling and crafts accompany the celebration of seasons and festivals to bring a sense of the culture of the country.

The children learn intuitively through the mood and the visual context of the class. They have developed strong abilities to memorize and repeat and many of the children will be ready to speak by themselves. Towards the end of second grade most of them will be able to answer questions in simple, short sentences. The main grammar concepts in the second grade are nouns, adjectives and action verbs. Perhaps the greatest change in this year lies in the child’s growing awareness that language has a social function that allows communication.  They realize that there are other people who communicate in a different way.

The world of nature reflects the mood of the second grade main lesson with nature stories. The Language class content closely follows the main lesson: fables, legends, and stories of saints. As mentioned above, children are beginning to “wake up” and notice that there are differences among human beings. Fables provide the opportunity of looking at these human characteristics embodied by animals in a humorous way. In Spanish we have important writers of fables. Outstanding ones are Iriarte, Samaniego, and Lope de Vega.

If you have any questions or concerns please contact me by e-mail.

Sincerely,

Catalina De Luna, Spanish Teacher at WSA

sra de luna grade 2

Handwork at the Waldorf School of Atlanta – Grade 2

 The Handwork Curriculum at the Waldorf School of Atlanta is led by Lisa Roggow.    Her loving care of the children is evident in these letters to parents of each grade.  

grade 2 lamb

Dear Second Grade Parents:

Welcome back!  I wanted to update you about the work your children will be doing in Handwork class this year.  Our second grade handwork classes are all about knitting.   We will be sharpening our skills with a variety of challenges.  During our first few classes we will roll yarn to be used throughout the year.  This is a team building activity which helps to warm up the hands for the work we have to do and improves coordination.  After this work is completed, we will begin the knitting curriculum for the year.  Please bear in mind that second grade children do not know what they will be making ahead of time – we like to keep the element of surprise alive as long as possible.  So please don’t tell your children what lies ahead!

Our first project will be rainbow balls.  In this work we will learn to change colors.   In addition, both this project and the one following help to reinforce mathematical operations in knitting.  Each “ridge” in knitting takes two rows to make.  Our rainbow ball will have four ridges of each color.  We will practice counting these rows over and over again to ensure that our rainbow ball has a beautiful round shape.  Once the ball is knitted we will have a great deal of work in sewing up, with 24 ends to hide.  We will learn to gather and make square knots as well. Next we will embark on a gnome project, which reinforces the skills above and adds in the challenge of decreasing.  Later in the year we will work with more complex projects involving shaping.  Finally, we will complete our second grade work by bringing in the purl stitch, which is a mirror image of the knit.

Most of the projects the children will make this year are toys: animals and fairy tale creatures supplement and reinforce the work the children are doing with Ms. Wright in Main Lesson.

In addition, we will present the children an opportunity to give back: extra projects that will eventually become gifts for the kindergarten teachers will be brought in for students who are ahead in their work or who are waiting for help.

Ms. Bulmer and I are looking forward to a year filled with growth and possibility, as we help the children’s hands to fly!  If you have any questions about this year’s curriculum, feel free to contact me.

Thank you,

Lisa RoggowHandwork Teacher 

 Grade 2 knitted gnome

MATHEMATICAL THINKING IN WSA HANDWORK PROGRAM

A flourishing handwork program is one of the unique hallmarks of Waldorf education. Dr. Rudolf Steiner, the creator of this educational system, identified handwork as an important component, famously remarking that “knitting is cosmic thinking.” But how are we to interpret this concept, and what relevance does handwork have today? Remarkably, recent research, such as Frank R. Wilson’s The Hand: How Its Use Shapes the Brain, Language, and Human Culture, elucidates Dr. Steiner’s observation, and begins to show why working with the hands supports the development of logical and mathematical thinking.

At WSA, our handwork program covers a variety of crafting knowledge including knitting, crochet, cross stitch, hand sewing, wet felting and machine sewing. Each of these areas facilitates the development of coordination and fine motor skills through the wide variety of techniques presented and mastered as the children move through the grades. In addition, these activities support the acquisition of new math skills as they are presented by the class teachers and stimulate thinking through awakening the hands.

grade 1 knitted chickGrade 2 knitted gnome

At WSA, we begin our handwork journey in first and second grades with knitting. In The Recovery of Man in Childhood, Steiner remarks “…both boys and girls should learn to knit. This is good training for the fingers in skillfulness, but it is far more than that. The rhythmical thinking with the fingers which knitting demands grows with the child, and when he grows up the man will think more cogently and more harmoniously because the child practiced this skill just at a time when his first independent thinking was born.”

During these first two years in handwork class, we are overtly working with basic math facts and number sense. We are continually counting our stitches, and discovering what happens when we lose one or gain two. Later we learn that “ridges” are made by knitting two rows, and the children delightfully calculate that two ridges are equal to four rows. Ambitious second grade mathematicians might discover that their rainbow ball, which is made of four ridges each of six colors, has a total of 48 rows or 24 ridges. They will continue to progress through several patterns which provide questions in applied mathematics. For instance, our washcloth begins with three stitches and adds one lace stitch per row. It continues to grow until 30 stitches are reached. But how to maintain the lace pattern and make the washcloth shrink back to 3 stitches again, thus creating a serviceable square? The answer is to take away one stitch, (-1) add the lace stitch (+1) and finally take away one stitch more (-1).

As the second graders knit their way through this question, their nimble fingers are, as Steiner indicates, absorbing much more than how to make a washcloth. They are developing number sense in a practical, meaningful way, and they are learning how to think.

Conversely, sensory integration researchers have shown that children with certain arithmetic challenges show a high incidence of finger agnosia – they are unable to identify the position of their fingers in space. Knitting in Waldorf schools provides regular “rhythmical thinking with the fingers” that awakens motor control and brings the children’s awareness to their hands.

 grade 3 mug mat, pencil case and hat

After two years of knitting, the children are generally quite dexterous with their needles, and are ready to move on to another challenge. In third grade we bring crochet. Third graders are increasingly aware of themselves as individuals, and as they are stepping into the world we present a form of handwork that relies on the dominant hand. However you knit, both hands will have to work the needles to some degree. But crochet works with one hook. With that hook our third graders work to create a variety of useful everyday objects which all have a practical purpose in the real world.

In this pragmatic tone, we do not forget our math skills. Third graders have to learn to “read” their crochet. First they identify their own stitches, and then they move on to working with patterns of stitches. For instance, circular items begin with a 10 stitch round. If they are to stay circular, we must add stitches as the project grows, or it will begin to curve up and make a bowl shape quite quickly. The practical exploration of this concept resulted first in a flute case, which started with 10 stitches, grew to 20 and stayed there. As a result, the base curved up into a pouch shape, which was elongated to a tube.

Next we are ready to try a more complex sequence. Our rainbow circle mats deepen the concept of the circumference – we are trying to make a large flat piece, and so we must go from 10 stitches to 20. Soon this will not be enough, and we again work to increase the circumference by doubling our stitches. This is accomplished by identifying each stitch in the circle and placing two stitches into it on the next round. And so we have 40. From here third graders begin to work with the individual nature of their own creation, using their observation to determine when and how to add stitches in order to expand the circumference of their work evenly. This provides an opportunity for working in patterns: 2 stitches in each stitch doubles, but a pattern of increasing every other stitch will work differently, as will increasing in every third stitch. And so our third grade handwork classes continue to strengthen fine motor skills and reinforce basic math skills such as counting, addition and subtraction, but they also add number patterns and a smattering of practical geometry and fractions.

 grade 4 pincushion

Fourth grade brings greater intensity to our work with dexterity and fine motor skills. Now we take up small needles and cross stitch. Waldorf cross stitch is unique in that there are no patterns to follow except those which the children create themselves. In main lesson, the class teacher is bringing the leap of faith that is fractions. In handwork we support this work by making bookmarks and pin cushions. The bookmark consists of a canvas that is divided into two equal halves. The children are set the task of filling every hole in their canvas with a color of their choosing – but they must mirror the design exactly on both halves of the canvas. This is a real world image of the concept of “one half ”. The children rise to the challenge of creating one thing which is exactly like another. Next, they move on to pincushions, which have a midline and four quarters. Here there is nothing for it but to plot a point in space – I have put one yellow stitch four steps over from the center and two steps in – and to plot its coordinating point in three other areas. The result is a design which is mirrored horizontally, vertically and diagonally, all four sections exactly alike; the representation of one quarter.

 Grade 5 socks

Fifth grade sock knitting is perhaps the culmination of our mathematical handwork experience. The children work on three needles at once, wielding a fourth to knit in a circle. By now most Waldorf children are so dexterous that they have very little difficulty adapting to this challenge. However, it is still a magical moment when, having worked a few rows back and forth in order to begin, they divide their work onto three different needles, bend it into a triangular shape and join it together so that they are suddenly working in the round. Even more interesting is the fact that once they are knitting in the round, they no longer have to alternate knitted and purled rows in order to create a smooth surface – now knitting alone will suffice because they are only working on one side of the surface. There are so many instances of flexible thinking and fascinating cases of applied mathematics in sock making that it would be impractical to address them all here, but suffice it to say that we work with percentages of our stitches and decrease using ratios (sets of 10, 20, 10 stitches become sets of 9, 18, 9).

All of the work mentioned above is encased in a form that is enticing to the children. Items the children have created with their own hands become so precious that they inspire a sense of reverence, and rightly so. In the creation of each of these projects we find experiences in applied mathematics and flexible thinking, in addition to a world of information about color and texture to stimulate other types of thinking and knowing. In this context, knitting is truly an experience in cosmic thinking.

In the larger world, researchers are continuing to discover connections between how we use our hands and how we learn to think. Meanwhile, young knitters in Waldorf schools develop number sense and work their way through problems in applied mathematics while they labor to create toys and practical items to enjoy.

~Lisa Roggow

Handwork Teacher

This article was originally printed in the March 2012 issue of the Garden Breeze of the Waldorf School of Atlanta.

Thoughts for Summer from the Waldorf School of Atlanta

butterfly painting

Kindergarten:

As the school year ends the children are delighted with their new freedom. Life is filled with the warm sun shining down on us all. It is as if a burden of dark and cold has been lifted. It is time to be out, to shed clothes and shoes…to really feel the earth and grass on bare feet and connect with the light of the sun and stars. It is summer. Children have all the time in the world!

We parents are delighted when our children are happy and resilient. Children are more patient, tolerant, flexible, and happy when their life flows rhythmically. Rhythm isn’t a schedule. Schedules are goal oriented. Rhythm is life oriented. It is ebb and flow, again and again and again… with little variations on the way.

Follow this recipe to create your summer rhythm: repeating days, weeks, and traditions to make the summer season full, rich, and memorable. Even those of us who work can create days and weeks that have that summer feel.

*Take a few activities you love and that make it feel like summer such as:

Rolling in the grass, riding bikes, jump rope, swinging…

Swimming, grilling, working in the garden, blowing bubbles…

Walking to the park/lake/pool/creek, natural places to wade/play/build a dam

Concert in the park, camping in the back yard, hiking, making/eating popsicles…

Camping trip, hiking, visiting Grandma and Grandpa for a week, some summer camp days

 

Decide if these are daily, weekly, or seasonal activities…

*Add in daily/weekly activities such as chores that need to be done, grocery shopping, laundry, food prep, cleaning house, … Your children are such capable human beings. It is healthy for them to participate in the life of the family. It can even be a disservice to a child to always have things done for them.

* Downtime to do nothing! …Find beautiful stones and four-leaf clovers, Give your children time to breathe (and yourself too)! Give them the gift of time to get “bored”. It is actually healthy for your child to not know what to do. It takes an inner strength of will to pull one’s self out of that seemingly empty place. What a gift when the creative juices start flowing! How empowering!

*Combine and Alternate

Inside time/ outside time

Loud times /quiet times

Silly times/focused times = breathing in and out…breathing is healthy!

Regular meal times!

Sleep time: Kinder children still need to get those same 10-12 hours sleep each night and a nap/quiet time in the afternoon. Even on vacations children (young and old) need rhythm and sleep… and the adults too!

So, give your children time to feel the warmth of the sun on their skin, see the dust sparkle in the sunlight, smell new mown grass, hear the insects hum as they work…and breathe your days in and out… enjoy your summertime.

 

~Annamay Keeney

Kindergarten Teacher

bicycle

Grades 1-5:

As the summer months approach, the long days of summer seem like a dream come true. But after the first few weeks, many families struggle to find rewarding things to do with their children.  Of course there are wide range of camps available both at WSA and throughout the community but what else is there to do? Here are some fun, easy, and inexpensive ways to keep busy.

1. Become an investigative reporter – with a camera, students can take pictures of the world around them and make up stories to go with their pictures.

2. Gather up old greeting cards and create puzzles or collages.

3. Have your child make an obstacle course in the backyard and have the family take turns going through it. Who can complete the course in the fastest time?

4. Make a terrarium.

5. Find a place to volunteer with your child.

6. Invent board games

7. Explore making paper airplanes.

8. Create a sculpture with recyclable materials

9. Stargazing & story telling

10. Skip stones at the river

11. See a Shakespeare Play

12. Learn how to paddle a canoe

13. Hang and monitor a bird feeder

14. Celebrate a summer holiday (even if you make up your own)

15. Make Homemade Ice Cream!

Grades 6-8:

1. Encourage children to take on responsibility in areas of interest to them. (Volunteer at a veterinarian’s office, senior center or theatre.)

2. Physically challenge your children with activities like Outward Bound, hiking, white water rafting, rock climbing, water skiing or horseback riding.

3. Take them on an adventure with a purpose, i.e., not just a hike, but a hike to find the perfect camp site; not just a bike ride, but a bike ride to a lake for a swim.

4. Give them a job that will teach them to master a new skill (knot tying, bike repair, planning, shopping and preparing for a weekly dinner, building a camp fire, laying a stone path, tending a garden). Practical work will help them feel more competent.

5. Build a fort, shelter or tree house with your child.

6. Visit or volunteer on a farm (interactions with large animals help children learn how to adapt to another being’s needs).

7. Allow time for boredom. Let your child arrive at their own ideas for an activity, using imagination and initiative.

Often children have issues with focus and persistence in the face of obstacles. Encourage your child with activities such as these to help build their will, patience, motor skills, and sense of discipline.

 

This article originally appeared in the June 2011 issue of the Garden Breeze Newsletter of the Waldorf School of Atlanta.

bench and flower pot

Grade 2 Valentines

This week Grade 2 has made Valentine cards for students in Grade 6. These classes were paired for the recent MLK celebration, and the older and younger children have enjoyed the connections they are forming. With many saint stories told in second grade, St. Valentine‘s Day is a wonderful celebration for this class. The cards are beautiful, and you can view more on second grade parent Rhonda Wildman’s blog, Joy Grows.

Grade Two and the Tales of Tiptoes Lightly

Second grade parent, Rhonda Wildman, recently made some puppets for Ms. Crowley to use with the Tiptoes stories. Author Reg Down has featured her work on his website along with the lovely thank you cards she received from the children.  You can view all of the cards in his Children’s Art Album. See Rhonda’s blog, Joy Grows, to read more.

What fun to see our school featured on the site of this wonderful author, teacher, and eurythmist!