Frederick Law Olmsted

What does Moraine Farm have in common with Stanford University and New York City’s Central Park?  All are landscapes designed by Frederick Law Olmsted.

PBS is launching a new series on Olmsted tonight — here’s a trailer:

Visit Frederick Law Olmsted: Designing America Website

 

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Studying Virtue

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Perhaps you’ve noticed the sixth graders looking particularly noble and valiant lately. On Friday evening, May 30, 2014, a beautiful knighting ceremony was held for them to culminate their studies of the Early Middle Ages.

Each student carved a wooden sword and painted a shield in preparation for knighthood. They also learned about what virtue is, and how thinking about virtue has changed through the ages. They considered perspectives from the age of the Greeks and great philosophers like Aristotle, the Romans and what they valued, and how the concept of virtue changed in the Middle Ages, including the ideals of Saint Thomas Aquinas.

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During their preparation for knighthood as a modern rite of passage, the sixth graders were expected to help others. The students did more around the house to help in family life, and also sought places to assist those in need outside of family life. Some helped prepare or serve meals to the needy, one helped neighbors with young children, and others helped with spring cleaning in their neighborhoods.

I hope you got to see the symbols of knighthood that each child made – their swords and shields – while they were on display outside the sixth grade classroom and in the first floor hallway!

–Connie MacLeod, Sixth Grade Teacher

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A Case for Writing by Hand

This happens to be the most emailed story on the New York Times web site today. At Waldorf schools, handwriting is an integral part of how students learn to read and write.


What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades
WWW.NYTIMES.COM
Even as the emphasis shifts to the keyboard, experts say that learning to write by hand improves motor skills, memory and creativity.

Does handwriting matter?

Not very much, according to many educators. The Common Core standards, which have been adopted in most states, call for teaching legible writing, but only in kindergarten and first grade. After that, the emphasis quickly shifts to proficiency on the keyboard.

But psychologists and neuroscientists say it is far too soon to declare handwriting a relic of the past. New evidence suggests that the links between handwriting and broader educational development run deep.

Read more here:http://nyti.ms/1kyavGp

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Saturday Doll-Making Workshop in March and April

doll

Spots Still Available in Saturday Doll-Making Workshop

Saturdays March 15 through April 5, May 10 and 17.
Time: 9:30 am until 12:30 pm
Fee: $100 for all materials and fees.
Choice of skin color and hair colors available.
Class size is limited and basic sewing skills required.
Email heather@collispuro.net and return a $50 deposit.

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Annual Fund Success!

Annual Fund Challenge Met!  $10,000 Gift Spurs Success

Thanks to a wonderful response from the CAWS community, we met our challenge goal of 90% participation in this year’s annual fund! As a result, CAWS will receive an additional $10,000 gift from a generous, long-time donor.
This strong level of support resulted in our raising more than $55,000 for the 2013-14 annual fund. These gifts came from many sources, including:

    •  77 CAWS families
    •  100 percent of our Board of Trustees
    • 100 percent of our full-time faculty and staff
    • Grandparents, alumni parents and friends
    • A private foundation

All who contributed were automatically entered into a drawing for two free tickets on Cape Air, compliments of Stella Wolf, Goldenstar Teacher (see winners, below!).
We extend our deepest thanks to all who showed their support and found a way to contribute. The annual fund is the single greatest fundraising effort we undertake each year, and its success is crucial to the financial health of our school.
With appreciation,
Lori Etringer and the Development Committee

 

Fifth Grade Grandparents Win Cape Air Tickets
Robert and Dolores Lowe of West Virginia were selected as the winners of our annual fund drawing for two free tickets on Cape Air. Tickets are good anywhere Cape Air flies, including the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the Cape and the Islands, Maine and New York.
“We are thrilled. We’re not used to winning anything,” Robert said. The Lowes made their gift to the annual fund because of their grandson, Samuel (grade 5). “We think Sam is getting a good education, and we want to support the institution that is providing it,” Robert said, adding that they are eager to plan their trip on Cape Air.
Special thanks to Stella Wolf for arranging for the tickets and deep appreciation to the many parents, grandparents, alumni parents, faculty, staff, trustees and friends who contributed to the annual fund. Thanks to all of you, this year’s annual fund was a great success and will help our school meet core operating costs.
With thanks,
Lori Etringer

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Inside the Waldorf School of the Peninsula

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The New York Times sparked national media coverage with it’s front page story on why Silicon Valley parents are turning to Waldorf education. This film picks up where that story left off. “Preparing for Life” takes viewers inside the Waldorf School of the Peninsula where the focus is on developing the capacities for creativity, resilience, innovative thinking, and social and emotional intelligence over rote learning. Entrepreneurs, Stanford researchers, investment bankers, and parents who run some of the largest hi-tech companies in the world, weigh-in on what children need to navigate the challenges of the 21st Century in order to find success, purpose, and joy in their lives.

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See For Yourself Why Waldorf Education Works

 

See For Yourself Why Waldorf Education Works

Cape Ann Waldorf School, CAWS, Beverly MA Independent School Pre-k-8

On Saturday, October 19, from 10 a.m. to noon, families of students entering Pre-K through Grade Eight are invited to Cape Ann Waldorf School to learn more about Waldorf education.  Parents and children can speak with teachers, parents and students, and experience for themselves some of the activities that enliven a Waldorf classroom.

Kelly Hiselman, the school’s admissions director, is organizing the open house.

“At Cape Ann Waldorf School, and Waldorf schools all around the world, our goal is to ignite each child’s passion for learning,” Hiselman explained.  “We do this by focusing on how and when children develop, and tailoring the curriculum to the needs of the children in each grade level.  We also make sure the lessons are multi-sensory, and filled with opportunities for students to experience the material first hand.  In other schools children may read a story and write about it, and that’s it.  Our students may read and write about the same story, but they may also turn it into a play.  At many schools, music class is focused on listening to and appreciating music.  At our school, every student plays an instrument, so each of them can create their own music.  Through drama, movement, handwork and storytelling, we give our students continuous opportunities to directly experience what they are learning about.  This approach makes learning more fun, and more effective.  When you talk with our eighth graders, the results are impossible to miss—they love learning, they are self-aware and self-confident, they are creative, and they are completely engaged with the world around them.”

Parents at the school agree.  Jonathan Cosco is the parent of a current fourth grader.

“So many parents are focused on rigorous academics, because they want their kids to be ready to compete at the next level.  Waldorf students get great academics, but they get a lot more than that.  Parents here know that when our kids move on to high school and college, they will be prepared not only to compete, but to collaborate and to innovate—and these are the skills kids need to be successful today.”

The school’s approach to media and technology has been covered in recent years by national media outlets like the New York Times and CNN.

To learn more about Waldorf education, check out those sources, visit theschool’s website, and come to the Open House:

  • 10:00 a.m. – Live music from students, Classroom tours all morning
  • 10:30 a.m. – Puppet show from Early Childhood faculty
  • 10:45 a.m. – Lower Grades Watercolor Painting
  • 11:00 a.m. – Lower Grades Kinesthetic Mathematics Lesson
  • 11:30 a.m. – Puppet show from Early Childhood faculty
  • 11:45 a.m. – Middle School Science Experiment

Cape Ann Waldorf School has been serving children on the North Shore for 27 years and is part of an organization of Waldorf schools throughout the country. The school draws its students from more than twenty communities north of Boston.

The school’s 10-acre campus is located on Moraine Farm in Beverly—170 acres of protected forest, meadows and farmland.  The school’s non-profit neighbors at Moraine Farm include The Trustees of Reservations, who operate a community supported agriculture program, and Project Adventure, a leader in experiential adventure-based educational programs.

Visit CapeAnnWaldorf.org to learn more about the school, its curriculum, community, and partners.

When:

Saturday, October 19 at 10 a.m. to Noon

Phone:

978-927-1936

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A Grandmother’s Story about the Impact of Today’s Kindergarten on One Little Boy

reposted from the blog, “Defending the Early Years

A Grandmother’s Story about the Impact of Today’s Kindergarten on One Little Boy

Posted on 

This piece was written by our colleague Blakely Bundy. Bundy is the Outgoing Executive Director of The Alliance for Early Childhood, based on the North Shore of Chicago. We share her story here as an illustration of what is happening in too many kindergarten classrooms across our country.

A Grandmother’s Story about the Impact of Today’s Kindergarten on One Little Boy

I wanted to relate my “tale of woe” about my grandson’s experience in kindergarten this fall.   I will call him William. I know that it’s a common story now, but this is a first for me on a personal level.  Aside from being William’s grandmother, I am a former teacher and have been involved as an early childhood professional in several different capacities for my entire career.

Over the summer, my daughter and her family moved from Winnetka, IL, a progressive school district on the North Shore of Chicago, to a town on the East Coast. They chose that town after doing quite a bit of research on the schools and I even accompanied them and talked to teachers and administrators in three of the communities that they were considering.  We thought that the town they chose was the most similar to the school system they had just left.

William, a third child with two older sisters, had had a happy, fulfilling experience at  Willow Wood Preschool in Winnetka ,  a half-day (afternoon), play-based, NAEYC accredited program (where I had actually taught for 10 years in the 80s and early 90s).  He had eagerly looked forward to going to kindergarten at Hubbard Woods School, his sisters’ beloved elementary school, which has a half-day, play-based kindergarten, with a long history of a progressive, child-centered philosophy that has survived since it was put in place in the 1920s.  In our area, under the umbrella of The Alliance for Early Childhood, there are articulation meetings between the preschools and the area kindergartens each year and the message is loud and clear that the kindergartens have no academic expectations for their incoming students but hope for some social and emotional indications that children are ready for kindergarten (sitting still to hear a story, love of books, ability to wait and take turns, etc.).

The first clue that the new school was going to be different was when we learned that the first day of kindergarten would be a full day, 9 am to 3:15 pm, with no time or plans for transition beyond a reception for families in the kindergarten room two days before.  The second indication was the set-up of the classroom and, while there were blocks and a small housekeeping corner, there were also a lot of folders with the kids’ names of them for “reading,” “math,” and other academic indications and posted class schedules that indicated a lot of “work” and not much play.

My daughter expressed concern to the kindergarten teacher about the lack of a transition plan and the long first day (and the teacher completely agreed, but could do nothing about it).  William went off like a trooper.  After a long six and a quarter hours of waiting to see how it had gone, William and his classmates marched out to the pick-up spot at the front of the school (no parents allowed into the school) or, I should say, “dragged” out.  I’ve never seen so many exhausted kindergartners in my life (and all with the required large backpacks on their backs)!  The next two days, William went off to school somewhat reluctantly.  Though teary, the teacher emailed my daughter that he had recovered enough to participate in some of the activities, including some table work.  By the fourth day, William wasn’t sure that he wanted to go back to school.  There were emails from his teacher and the social worker and the social worker met us at the front door and escorted William to class.  (Again, no parents allowed in).

Later that day, my daughter and I met with William’s teacher and the school social worker to brainstorm how to proceed.  Calling on my many years as a teacher and early childhood professional, I suggested going back to transition procedures you might use with younger children, i.e., mom in the classroom and engaged with her child the first day; mom in the classroom but “busy” with a book or helping the teacher the second day; mom in and out of the classroom the 3rd day, etc.  Alas, both because of school procedures and the fact that they already knew that it was a challenging class with many crying children who would all want their mothers, that plan was vetoed, although, again, William’s teacher was sympathetic and truly wanted to do what was best for William.  We also learned that they had done an “informal” evaluation of William’s academic abilities and that he was “low.”  William reported that he hated the table tasks and said to us that he “couldn’t do them” and that they were “hard.”

By the way, this is a little boy who can spend hours creating elaborate block and Lego structures, inventing scenarios for his cars and trucks, which all have names and personalities.  Also, his fine motor skills are ahead of many five year old boys, as he observes and copies his sisters’ drawings.  On the other hand, he is not as interested in spending a great deal of time on art projects and drawing and has not indicated an interest in learning letters and numbers yet, although he adores being read to and has a long attention span for some fairly sophisticated books, including those of his sisters.

On the fifth day of kindergarten, William locked himself in his room and refused to go to school.  I raced over to their house to help my daughter.  I was able to get into William’s room, but, by then, he was hiding under his bed and refused to come out.  I tried to talk him out, but he wouldn’t budge.  The school’s social worker arrived downstairs but my daughter wisely decided that she needed to keep “school” out of William’s safe home and the social worker departed.  It’s then that we decided that we needed to find a different school for William.  We knew that this was not going to work!

My daughter had asked other moms and had learned that people have dealt with the highly academic kindergarten in this town in two ways.  Those who can afford it, send their children to an extra year of preschool.  Those who can’t send them to two years of (free) kindergarten.  At the open house that we attended, many of the boys were a head taller than William and, of course, had been “redshirted.”

We asked around and got some wise advice from a helpful early childhood colleague who happened to live in the town.  She knew all about the highly academic kindergarten and mentioned that she had stopped teaching kindergarten in a neighboring town for just that reason.  We eventually found a nearby preschool program with a young 5s class, which would help William with transition and also had room for him.  Although that school is play-based and child-centered in their philosophy, it introduces some more academic tasks during the school year to prepare children for what’s ahead when they enter the public kindergarten.

I often say that schools in Winnetka and surrounding communities are like an “island” in a “sea” of over-tested, push-down academics and this story certainly illustrates that fact.  I wanted to tell this story as one more indication of what is happening in kindergartens throughout the country.  We must keep fighting and educating and working on making changes!  And I understand more than ever– now on a personal level– how vitally important this work is and how many hundreds of thousands of “Williams” there are who are impacted by what’s going on in our nation’s too academic kindergartens –and who may not have families able advocate for them.

 

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Working Outdoors

Monday saw the whole school working outside, helping to weed and improve the kindergarten playground.  This was part of the annual Michaelmas celebration.  Unfamiliar to many, Michaelmas was celebrated in England on September 29 and marked the end (and beginning) of the farmer’s year.  At Cape Ann Waldorf School, it’s a time to work on school projects, as well as use one’s muscles in the annual all-school tug-of-war.

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Children working to improve the school grounds.

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Sixth graders help re-build the kindergarten sand box

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The third grade makes apple cider for everyone!

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The annual tug-of-war in the lower field.

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Trying hard to hold on…

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The first fire in the new clay oven. It was used to make rolls for the schools cross-country team after their afternoon practice.

 

 

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Oven Update

The school’s new oven is almost ready for baking.  The first step was making a sand dome of the proper proportions.  Yoko Yeaton, Daisy Nursery teacher, came out to help build the sand form.

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The next step was checking the shape against our template.  Still needs a little more sand on the sides.

A mixture of earth, sand and water was used to form the oven walls.  After the clay walls dried, the sand was dug out by 4th grade teacher Aria Nevin.

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Movement & Gym teacher Vanya Yoors lends a hand.  The wheelbarrow was full of sand before we were done.  Next steps — firing the oven to dry it, applying a layer of insulation, and putting a roof over the top.   (Top two photos by Anita Brewer Siljeholm)

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