Waldorf School of Atlanta’s Permaculture Food Forest

A Permaculture Food Forest for WSA

Last year, the Grounds Committee, the body tasked with overseeing the care of our school’s outdoor spaces, began looking for a way to better manage our school property. Our goal was to build on our gardening program and sustainable initiatives such as school wide composting, animal care and rainwater harvesting. We wanted our grounds to further emphasize education, human development, and the values of land stewardship inherent in Waldorf communities. This search led us to a partnership with a local company, Shades of Green Permaculture Design, Inc. (SGPD) and together we have begun to form a new direction for our school’s practices that embody the permaculture design principles. Permaculture is a school of sustainable design that integrates human activity with natural surroundings and seeks to create efficient self-regenerating ecosystems. We have begun the permaculture journey by installing a new landscape design in the administration front yard and hosting a permaculture design course at our school.

The Administration front yard is the public face of our school and while we wanted it to be beautiful, we also wanted it to abound with educational opportunities and provide sanctuary to local animal life. We decided to work with SGPD to install an edible forest garden. Forest gardening is the practice of putting plants together in woodland-like patterns. The notion of a food forest guided our decisions to install rainwater catchment basins, use only native plants, and choose plants that feed both humans and local animals and insects. We also wanted to include intentional gathering and meeting spaces and clear footpaths. This project is in its first stage of construction and thanks to the generous donors at the WSA 2016 Benefit Auction, the Administration front yard will be fully installed this April. The installation process has provided an opportunity of involvement by students through the middle school Practical Arts curriculum; students have participated directly through basic stone masonry, plant propagation and other gardening skills.

Perma 827An additional ongoing project is the Permaculture Design Course hosted at WSA, which will result in a master design proposal for the entire school grounds. The plan will include new playground improvements that reflect kindergarten through eighth grade developmental stages and serve as pollinator sanctuaries and rainwater catchment areas.   The proposal also includes a restoration plan that will transform our woodland lots into healthy forests with an understory that nourishes native species and educational elements. It suggests efforts like labeling native trees and planting dye gardens for our handwork classes. The final plan for all the school grounds will be completed by the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year, and the initial designs will be presented in Spring 2016.

Many people are familiar with the Waldorf school farm model and often it is considered an ideal setting for Waldorf education. While this is a wonderful framework, in our time and place in Atlanta, a farm school is not necessarily the best answer for WSA. The school’s urban location allows us to serve a larger population and though we don’t have access to acres of food producing fields, we live in an extremely productive ecosystem. If managed properly, we can transform our school into a sustainable food forest that abounds with perennial fruit, herbs, nuts, and vegetables. It would allow us to teach our children the same crucial lessons of a farm – we have a responsibility to care for the Earth, the Earth provides what we need, and animals, plants, and humans working together in balance create an ecological system that is self-regenerative.

~Rebecca Johnson

Gardening Teacher

This article originally appeared in our 2016 Grandparents, Family & Friends Day issue of the Garden Breeze newsletter.  For more information about our school, please visit us in person or online.

 

Waldorf School of Atlanta – Inman Park Campus

The Inman Park Campus of WSA:

Planting Seeds In-Town

IMAG1691-1Sixteen wonderful children are enrolled in Inman Park, and there has been much growth in the seven months that we have been together. We are now in the “golden period” of the year, and we are reaping the benefits of repetition, healthy social interaction, and days filled with play! Friendships have formed between the children and the families are a joyful and harmonious group!

The children are excited about all that we do, and they especially love the songs, verses, and finger-plays throughout the day! They delve into the movement in our circles and are especially enjoying our verse about a cobbler. We repeat many of their favorite songs from our circle as we walk to and from the playground. Puppet shows and plays are taken in with gusto, and they are all eager for an opportunity to participate.

The class is enthusiastic about the daily activities like watercolor painting, soup and brIMAG2242_1ead making, and handwork and gardening, and it is difficult to pinpoint a favorite. Each day is filled with discovery and the children love trying anything new. They felted with their feet to complete our “free form” piece for the school auction, and the piece was then custom-framed by two of the parents in the class. Such an awesome accomplishment for this new group of parents who had yet to experience their first WSA auction.

I am so delighted to have many of the students returning to Inman for the 2016-2017 school year. Enrollment for this new class is experiencing steady growth with a sizeable group of new applicants. This is indeed an exciting time for the school and our Early Childhood department as we continue to flourish, sending our roots out into the community.

~Sondi Eugene

Preschool Teacher

 

This article originally appeared in our 2016 Grandparents, Family & Friends Day issue of the Garden Breeze newsletter.  For more information about our school, please visit us in person or online.

Literacy, language and the love of learning: The art of storytelling in Waldorf Education”

Gartland 4-1-16 GPFF presentationWaldorf School of Atlanta Grade 2 Teacher, Joshua Gartland made a presentation at WSA’s 2016 Grandparents, Family & Friends Day.  His talk is enclosed below:

 

From the dawn of human evolution, when humanity first crept out of the shadows and into the warmth, protection and comfort of the fire, nothing has been more central to our existence than the STORY and storytelling. Outside of our basic essential needs of food and shelter, the STORY has from the very beginning been key to our survival and growth not only as individuals but as a species. It is, essentially, this ability to live into our imagination and enliven factual happenstance that separates us as human beings from the rest of the animal kingdom.

Imagine the very first humans huddled around the first selfmade fire. The orange and golden light flickering off the primitive men, women and children dressed in animal furs……each crackle sending Linden Tree Photography 2011 Lantern Walk 023sparks into the air and causing the watchers to jump out of their own skins ………eyes blazing, unable to see anything other than this magical, otherworldly godlike something dance before them. I can just imagine the one who happened to strike the sparks that ignited it recounting exactly how s/he had done it while everyone else gathered around to hear for themselves. And how quickly that story must have traveled! Compared to the speed with which news travels today, it was almost literally snail mail, but for back then it was lifechanging, of course…..magical and monumental…..the story must have spread like lightning. Furthermore, the story of that fire itself was most likely retold in numerous ways: a magical gift from the gods……the work of the devil…..clever thinking and creativity…….dumb luck?! The story of what happened that night told by 20 different tellers has at least 40 different versions…..for each telling requires at least one speaker and one listener. That’s the beauty of storytelling…..it is a true sharing from one person to another.

Anthropologists know that the story and storytelling is a universally human experience, crossing all borders of time and culture. However, with the advent of the technological revolutions and pure scientific thinking over the past few hundred years, STORY has slowly given way to purely analytical and mechanistic type of thinking. Analysis has become King and the story, more infantile or trivial. Story has been relegated to the water cooler, the sitcom and bitesized tweets while analytics has become the foundation on which our entire civilization runs.

Organizations and corporations have learned to use social media and networking to transform individuals into numbers and consumers into data points to be mined like precious metals. Ironically, it is the STORY these giants use to lure the fish to their ever widening nets of commerce.

But the story has not died. It lives in the human heart and slowly and surely culture has brought the story to the forefront again. The PODCAST, for instance, has brought the art of storytelling into the 21st century with the ability to share thoughts and feelings around the globe personally with the tapping of a few key strokes. Traveling showcases like the MOTH project tour the country town by town inviting audience members onstage to share…”true stories told live.” The newspaper has essentially gone out of print and dried up, but the BLOG has given each individual his/her very own freedom of the press to spread their own opinions, personalities and insights. The story, like a weed in the sidewalk, cannot be contained. Even in silence, the story finds a way through.

Waldorf has been using the art of storytelling consistently since its inception nearly 100 years ago. You might even say storytelling is the Heart of Waldorf Education. As the children move from our Kindergartens and through the grades we teachers share fairy tales, folktales,fables, myths and legends, biographies and historical epics. These stories are gathered from around the world and shared aloud, reviewed, retold, and passed onto parents, siblings and other relatives and friends. Like ripples spreading outward from a single pebble, an effective story can impact the lives and loves of millions.

In Waldorf schools, stories are brought for a multitude of reasons. Firstly, because as teachers we are responsible for filling the landscape of their ever widening lives. It is through story that children often encounter many things for the very first time, whether it is a choo-choo train chugging down the tracks…..three great big bears going for a walk in the woods…..a wolf looking for a tasty snack all dressed in red. Stories provide children the opportunity to imagine a world of possibilities, things beyond themselves and their backyard –  A world where anything is possible.

At school we are also responsible for teaching your children and that can begin by modeling. Children of a young age first learn by imitating and so it is the teacher’s duty to provide an example of fine speech. The rich stories at our disposal certainly provide exemplary material from which to draw upon.

Additionally, the elocution of such tales provide us as instructors an astonishingly keen tool for developing and enhancing a healthy and robust vocabulary. In the Kindergarten and First grades, Waldorf teachers share the Grimm’s Fairy Tales. What we do not do, however, is “dumb down” the story. Rather, we keep true to the original telling and language and any unfamiliar words are quickly learned by the children through the context of the story itself. These stories in particular are so very rich just as they are that I tend to cringe whenever I see/hear a retelling of it in a “wacky, zany” way…updated to meet our more modern culture. Firstly, our children are smarter than that and don’t need us to dumb down the story. And secondly, they deserve more than that. The stories are classics for a reason. Let’s share it with them.

Telling stories by heart is also a key to Waldorf storytelling. When a story is known so well that the teller can actively engage with their audience, look into their eyes, the sharing becomes that much more powerful. A visceral connection is made allowing the story to delve even deeper into the listener. If I were up here simple reading this, unable to connect with you the audience at all, it would have a completely different feeling. But because I am able to glance back and forth I can relate to you, a fellow human being and create a connection….a bond. This bond is real and palpable. Experiencing this bond can be a powerful experience and an especially important skill for any child as they learn how to be a healthy human being and part of a family, community and world later in life.

AnotheIMG_3468r fascinating aspect to this art of storytelling has to do with something I mentioned early on and the 20 different versions of the first fire. The more specific the visual I give you, the less freedom you have in making it your own. If I read to you a picture book, even as wonderful and as charming as they can be, the pictures will be the only pictures each and every one of you will see and keep and hold onto. However, if I simply tell you the story, I allow you the gift of making, creating and imagining your own pictures. The skill of imagination is something we have begun to lose in our culture. And when creative thinking is so very important in a world with so many problems, how are we to dream up solutions when our imaginations are filled with other people’s pictures…if we do not have the ability to create our own?

Finally, I should say that here at the Waldorf School of Atlanta, we don’t just tell stories for the reasons I’ve already mentioned, nor just for the pleasure of it. Instead we understand that the STORY is the very best medium for presenting the academic material we are responsible for handing over to your children. As I mentioned the Fairy Tales in KG and First Grade are wonderfully imaginative and fantastical stories set in a very real and yet magical world where good overcomes evil. What a perfect way of introducing both numbers and letters to a child! In Grade Two we bring Legends of Saints and Good, Kind, Strong People to inspire the children. To balance this uprightness we also bring folktales and fables from around the world with clever and tricky animals…perfect for children trying to find their way in the world. In Grade Three we bring a Creation Story through the Old Testament… story that has Adam and Eve cast out of paradise and into a world where they must learn to care for themselves….much like themselves as they grow into older children and slowly move step by step away from the nurturing nest of home. In 4th grade the Norse Mythology that bookends the creation story with the story of Ragnarok and the end of the Norse world. In 5th grade we tell of myths of the ancient worlds of Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Greece. In grade 6, Rome…grade 7 the Renaissance, and in grade 8, REVOLUTION, as they come full circle back to their roots and are finally ready to move onto high school. An amazing curriculum of stories that meets each child at their own stage of development in order to prepare them for not only the academic challenges in front of them, but the trials by which they must eventually test their humanity.

In closing, I’d like to bring to you a quote from one of my favorite story characters of all time who said, “If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart, I’ll stay there forever.” Winnie certainly knew what he was talking about.

 

 To learn more about the Waldorf School of Atlanta, visit us online or in person!  

Waldorf School of Atlanta Parent Initiative for Media Lite Living – Teacher & Parent Share

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.

 

1. The following quote from our WSA Grade Three teacher may have you think twice about taking your child/ren to an upcoming holiday movie:

Teacher’s Corner:

All the movies this year and decades before are derived from stories that children will find in books already on the shelves in their homes. Why not go to the source in myth and fairy tales? Read the stories out loud, act them out, and allow children to become whatever each character is in their imagination, not the character one movie shows to millions of children.

That’s the joy of storytelling-unlocking the story in a child’s mind and making it special.
 –
The world of books and stories feed our children’s powerful imaginations. They ‘make the story their own.’  That may be a rare opportunity these days to allow them to create their own unique image of a character.   Do we really want them to hold in their mind’s eye the same character that millions of children are shown?
2. Parent Share
I felt especially inspired to have a go at having a media free day with my daughter, Zsofika, after attending the Living Media Lite Throughout the Holidays Workshop this past Monday. My daughter and I, along with a few other friends, had a very memorable day visiting a bakery where we played a board game and ate gingerbread, and then went on a long neighborhood walk to a hidden park in Inman Park where we played until sunset! Such a memorable day. The other parents and I had a wonderful discussion about exploring what the holidays mean to us, how we want to create holiday rituals for our children, and how we can really empower and support one another during the holidays and beyond to live more media-lite. As a parent, I find it challenging to be exclusively 100% media free. However, I am ready to stretch our comfort zones and get creative about how we spend our time together as a family and with our friends.  What this means to me as a parent is that I get to be alongside my daughter in her endless enthusiasm for being outside in nature playing with her friends, an opportunity to respond to each day more spontaneously, and being open to what is on offer in our Atlanta community. Being less inclined to automate our daily schedule with a thirty minute television show every afternoon is my new goal.  Attending the workshop with Sara and Emily helped me to realize how much support from other parents is necessary for me to creatively re-frame our day with other activities. All in all, I would like to be more connected to other parents on my parenting journey, and learn what works well for their families. The workshop was an eye opener and a game changer for us. Making progress day by day.  Many thanks!
-Amycla Webb, Media Lite Living workshop participant

Waldorf School of Atlanta Parent Initiative for Media Lite Living Workshop

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.

Media-Lite Living
 
2nd Annual Parent Workshop 
Sponsored by The WSA Parent Initiative for Media-Lite Living
What:   “Living Media-Lite Throughout the Holidays”
When:   Monday, December 7, 2015
Time:    8:30 a.m.-10:00 a.m.
Where:  WSA Hospitality Room
Who:     For all WSA parents and friends
Why:     How can our kids live with minimal screen time throughout the holidays?
             Looking to support their innate inventiveness and creativity through alternatives to electronic media?
Then:    Come!   Ask questions. Find answers. Offer practical solutions.
                             Bring a notebook and pen.
              RSVP     Emily Zdan:  ezdan@waldorfatlanta.org
Further description: this informative, conversational based workshop offers encouragement and insight for confronting common holiday challenges such as:
  • media and extended family-at their house and at yours
  • living media-lite while traveling
  • alternatives to media during family time at holidays
  • gift giving alternatives
  • conversations with extended family about living media-lite when together at the hoLinden Tree Photography 2014 Holiday Assembly_022lidays

We share a helpful list of tips to support Family Rhythm during the Holiday Season here.

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
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.

 

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.