Waldorf education

Senior Projects: May 2019

In early May 2019, every 12th grader at Green Meadow Waldorf School presented a Senior Project. These presentations were the culmination of a year-long inquiry into a particular topic, chosen by the students themselves.

Senior Projects are a beloved tradition at Green Meadow and take place every year. The projects offer students a chance, during a busy and often stressful senior year, to work on a project of their own choosing, to get outside the world of homework and college applications and do something, often with their hands or bodies.

Students find that Senior Projects are an “out-breath” for them; this aligns with the rhythms of a Waldorf school where, throughout their day and the school year, students are used to a balance of focused academic work (in-breath) and artistic work or movement (out-breath).

No matter the age of the child, a typical day for a Waldorf student follows a rhythm that breathes. From quietly and attentively listening to a story in the Nursery or Kindergarten to participating in a critical discussion of Dante’s Inferno in the High School, there are moments during the day where students will be applying deep focus and concentration, or breathing in. Those moments will balance to breathe out in activities like open-ended play, recess, games, and artistic classes like handwork, woodwork, metalwork, drawing, and painting. This balance optimizes learning, diminishes stress and fatigue, and allows the students to move through their day in a healthy way. 

At a Waldorf school, during Early Childhood (preschool, Nursery, and Kindergarten), learning occurs by facilitating self-initiated exploration through play. The Lower School engages the vivid imaginative nature of the child through a program where academic learning is intertwined with and supported by storytelling, the arts, music, movement, and practical activity. And the High School delivers a rigorous curriculum that fosters critical, independent thinking, artistic expression, and hands-on experience.

In the early years, an emphasis on coordinated bodies, strong imaginations, healthy social interactions, and a love of work and play lays the foundation for academic excellence as students experience the beauty of language arts and literature, the culture of the world's civilizations through history and language, and the empirical qualities of the scientific and mathematical disciplines through a lively and engaging curriculum that introduces increasingly complex and sophisticated subject matter as the students grow and mature.

When children learn in a way that honors their unfolding development (without trying to rush or speed up the process), they gain a quiet confidence, a mastery of skills, and a sustained interest in the world around them. Waldorf students experience the journey of childhood without having their curiosity and creativity extinguished. Senior projects are the capstone on this experience, and showcase the well-rounded people that a Green Meadow Waldorf School education helps produce.

This year, students presented the following projects:

Motorcycle Restoration

Digital Photography

Game Design

Writing a Novel

Building a Tiny House on Wheels

Rebuilding a Jeep

Research Paper: feminism

Reimagining Flight

Standup Comedy

Being Human: self-care and self-knowledge

Photography

Bicycle Mechanics

Biodynamic Farming

Tumbling

Dollhouse Design & Build

Kickboxing

Woodturning

Pottery on the Wheel

Poetry Book

Geneology

Meditation & Yoga

Videos of each project will be available soon; watch our blog for links!

Photo by Jordan Dyniewski: The Class of 2019 performing their class play.

Curious about the Waldorf curriculum?

Our new curriculum map shows what students learn when. A clear picture organized by subject, this allows parents and prospective parents to see how our developmentally appropriate education unfolds, from grades 1-12.

Learn more about the Waldorf difference here.
 

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Generations: an alumnus teaching the children of fellow alumni

For us at Green Meadow, one signal that we are successfully living out our mission is the fact that many of our alumni return here when it is time to choose a school for their own children. They see the value of the Waldorf Education they received and want to offer the same for their children. 

Our current first grade, the Class of 2029, tells an even more special story: the teacher of this class that includes so many children of alumni (more on that later) is himself a graduate of Green Meadow.

Daniel Bieber graduated from Green Meadow in 2003. After attending Bard College and helping run the family business (The Nature Place Day Camp), among other things, he decided to begin his Waldorf teacher training at Sunbridge Institute. He then served for two years as a Lower School Assistant at GMWS while in his teacher training. Daniel applied last year for the First Grade position and, having gotten to know him as an adult in his role as Classroom Assistant, we were thrilled to offer him this opportunity to take a class at his alma mater.

We will be writing in the coming weeks about the many alumni who are now parents in Daniel's class (six GMWS alumni and two alumni from other Waldorf schools), sharing their stories of why they decided to return to GMWS and send their children to the school they attended. Stay tuned.

 

Daniel Bieber '03 with his First Grade, the Class of 2029, on the first day of school, 9/6/17

Daniel Bieber '03 with his First Grade, the Class of 2029, on the first day of school, 9/6/17

Meet our Alumni: Isaiah Thron, Class of 2015

Isaiah started at Green Meadow in Nursery school. He says, "I was at GMWS for 15 years. Only missed out on Parent & Child." 

Green Meadow: Can you say a little bit about where you go to college and what you are studying?

Isaiah Thron: I am studying at SUNY Binghamton University. I am majoring in Electrical Engineering and minoring in Sustainable Engineering. 

GM: How did Green Meadow prepare you for college? What were the best aspects of your time at Green Meadow? What do you think makes Green Meadow most unique or special?

IT: I'm going to answer those questions in reverse order. I feel like Green Meadow truly educates their students. Going to the roots of the word "educate," it means "to draw out." My experience at Green Meadow is that teachers make you really think about the material, come to your own conclusions, and "draw out" the knowledge from yourself. I think this is one of the things that makes Green Meadow unique, along with plenty of other things (only some of which have to do with fairies and gnomes). 

Green Meadow allowed me to have a rich and joyful childhood, full of imagination and nature. In the Lower School, everything was taught through a story. Even Math, with Prince Addition and Princess Subtraction, was introduced to us in first grade through the medium of a story. That is one way that we had to use our imagination, but also outside of the classroom, with the no media policy. This made us be creative: go outside, be our own superheros, and build castles and grand rivers out of sticks and the hose. Green Meadow created the opportunity for us to connect with nature, bringing us on nature walks and having us play outside no matter the weather, rain or shine, allowing us to build a relationship with the world we live in. 

The other thing that I love about Green Meadow is the teachers. Lower School through High School, they all care. I have always felt like the teachers were there for me and that they saw me as an individual, not just another student. 

Now, how did Green Meadow prepare me for college? Honestly, I feel like it's a little bit silly that everything is about getting into the best college, then getting the best job, and so on. As someone who has just finished the first two years of engineering school, I'm not sure anything can really prepare you for college. But Green Meadow did prepare me, in a few ways. I learned how to take in the material and understand the concept. This is very useful for any kind of learning, but it especially helped me in a Chemistry course my first semester (which was both Chem 1 and 2 in one semester). I came to understand the material and was also able to explain it to my friends who were struggling.

The material at Green Meadow is expansive enough that everyone can choose different directions to go in their lives, but deep enough that even now in Calculus 3, I am still learning things that we covered in High School (in the upper math group). I've had that experience in many of my general science classes.

Green Meadow prepared me for more than just succeeding in college; it prepared me to succeed in life. I graduated with the ability to learn and with at least a little bit of knowledge in many fields. 

GM: What advice would you give to a parent or student considering GMWS, especially someone who thinks they might want to study STEM?

IT: Green Meadow fosters creativity, which is imperative in all subjects but especially, as some might not know, in STEM. In the STEM fields, creativity is needed to come up with solutions and design projects.

If you want to learn more about a field that you are interested in, join a club or do outside work that will teach you about the subject. Green Meadow builds you up so you will be able to absorb the material and make it part of you.

Also, have fun and don't let the work stress you out!

 

Isaiah in 2015, doing his Senior Project on Modern Dance. Photo courtesy of  Dyana van Campen .

Isaiah in 2015, doing his Senior Project on Modern Dance. Photo courtesy of Dyana van Campen.

Summer Blog Series: Principles of Waldorf Education

We wrote last week that every child goes through three developmental phases: birth to 7, 7 to 14, and 14 to 21. In this third post in our Summer blog series, we want to talk about the way that Waldorf Education offers a developmentally appropriate curriculum. Here are some of the ways that we engage students at each stage:

Birth to 7
In the period known as Early Childhood, children learn best through play, exploration, and imitation. Our approach to education meets students with a balance of activities that challenge their emerging skills and capacities. In warm, home-like classrooms and nature’s bountiful wooded play spaces, children at Green Meadow are welcomed into learning environments that nourish their senses. Our instructors invite their innate desire for self-initiated exploration and movement, and inspire their budding imaginations. These are the seeds for a lifelong love of learning, and they provide the foundation that every young child needs for self-confidence, resilience, and future academic excellence.

7 to 14
Green Meadow’s integrated Lower School curriculum is designed to engage the vivid imaginative nature of the child from ages 7-11, weaving together storytelling, creativity, and engagement in every academic and specialty subject. By helping children connect their experiences with their education, we help deepen their understanding of the subject matter while planting seeds for future creative and analytic thinking.

The curriculum broadens in Middle School, where students are engaged in a new way, appropriate for this developmental stage filled with rapid growth and transformation. Designed to engage the tumultuous, questioning inner life of the young person aged 12-14, our middle-school curriculum helps students connect their experiences with their education and begin to develop analytic thinking.

14 to 21
Green Meadow’s High School is a place that inspires a true engagement in learning: where rigorous academics are brought to life through exploration, inquiry, and experience in order to promote critical, independent thinking. Our academic curriculum is inspired by opportunities in the arts, music, drama, movement, and real-word experiences. Students become part of a cohort of dynamic peers, supported by an engaged and accessible faculty, to create a strong community that values integrity, honesty, and empathy for and understanding of others. As a result, Waldorf graduates can look at the world from multiple perspectives and chart their own path in life with confidence.

GMWS Teacher Presents in Argentina on Waldorf Education

GMWS Eighth Grade Teacher Elizabeth Hall returned on September 4 from a short trip to Argentina, where she traveled (at the invitation of the country's Ministry of Education) to present about Waldorf Education to educators from across Argentina. Stay tuned: we will be featuring an article by Elizabeth about her trip in the November/December issue of The Bulletin

Here are a few photos from Elizabeth's trip:

Evita Peron's grave

Evita Peron's grave

Teatro Colon

Teatro Colon

Buenos Aires Cityscape

Buenos Aires Cityscape


Why Young Kids Learn Through Movement

Read up on this terrific article from The Atlantic discussing children and learning through movementOne of our favorite quotes: "Research has shown time and again that children need opportunities to move in class. Memory and movement are linked, and the body is a tool of learning, not a roadblock to or a detour away from it."