Taos Waldorf School Weekly Update – September 27

 

Harvestfest is a great time to welcome the natural turning inward that comes for all of us as the days get brisker and shorter.  Celebrating together makes this one of the most special times of the year.

Newsflash!  Newsflash!!!  As of end of school today, we have an apple press for the Harvestfest.
 
Bring apples!  Bring apples!  Bring apples!!!

Bulb SaleBULB SALE!
Yes, it’s our fall fundraiser, and what a beautiful one it is. Flower bulbs!

With everything from King Alfred Daffodils to Grecian Wildflowers, we have it all.  Packages are $7 apiece, of which the school gets 52%.  Our goal is for each family to sell 10 packages.   

Pizza will appear in the classroom that sells the most!

Order forms available in your class or the office.

 

COPIER CONTEST CONTINUES……
We’re still looking for a winning idea.  Come on folks, let’s put those sustainability-minded brain cells to work.  

The problem:  a big, expensive coping machine with a lease that lasts until 2015

The goal:  a creative solution that a) saves money, b) maintains relationships, and c) cares for the Earth.

Get those creative juices flowing and send us your idea.

WINNING IDEA RESULTS IN $100 OFF ONE MONTH’S TUITION….AND A SPECIAL SURPRISE!

send your idea to twscoordinator@yahoo.com

 

ADVANCEMENT
Our Advancement Team is off to a great start, with a calendar of fantastic workshops, fundraisers, and community development offerings that few will be able to resist.  Keep any eye out in next week’s full newsletter for details.  Meanwhile, don’t forget:

www.taosstore.com

All purchases are at regular purchase price, and a portion of all proceeds go to the school

advancement

BULB SALE and BAKE SALE Details

Bulb Info:

We are having a bulb sale as a fun and easy fall fundraiser.  The bulbs are from the Dutch Mill Bulb Company.  
How does it work?
1.    The order forms will be distributed on Wednesday, September 26th
2.    The completed order forms and checks (payable to Taos Waldorf School) or cash will be returned to the school office by October 10th.
3.    Two weeks later (the week of October 29th) the bulbs will be delivered and distributed to the kids to be delivered to the costumers.

What are some of the details?
1.    We suggest each family try to sell 10 packages – or more!
2.    If we sell 1000 packages the school will receive 250 tulip bulbs!
3.    There is Pizza for the class that sells the most bulbs!
4.    Each package costs $7.00.   The school will get 52% of all sales
Please remember to talk about safety with your children — i.e. selling to people they know, people their parents work with, having a parent go for a fundraising walk with them around their neighborhoods.
There will be a Bake Sale at Cid’s on Wednesday, October 3rd where we will sell bulbs as well baked items—Please bring a yummy item for the bake sale and stay and sell some bulbs!
This is a great way to beautify our community plus it is fun!  Thanks for helping make this great fundraiser a success!

Letter from the Taos Waldorf School Board President

There have been a great deal of changes in the governing structure of the Taos Waldorf School over the last six months, and one of the major goals of the newly reorganized and re-energized Board of Trustees is that the entire governance of the school take place as transparently as possible. Since we, the parent body, essentially are the school, there is no reason that everything that takes place shouldn’t be knowable by all. And we really are the school. There’s no entity “over there” with which we are interacting as parents, like there is in a public school with its governance by the school board and the state. Instead, we, the TWS parents and teachers, volunteer to constitute the board, the parent council, and the school committees.

The well-being of Taos Waldorf school is attended to by three distinct but overlapping groups: The Board of Trustees, the College of Teachers, and the Parent Council.

The Board of Trustees primarily looks after the financial aspects of the school’s functioning. The College of Teachers is really the heart and soul of the school, and they make decisions regarding the pedagogy, school policy, and all of the factors that relate to the success of our children’s education. The Parent Council works to support the other two entities, and to serve as a sort of central nervous system, fostering communication between the parent body and all of the various parts of the school’s being.

You probably all already know the parent reps for your children’s classes, and it is these wonderful and dedicated folks whom you can turn to with any questions that you might have about any aspect of the school’s functioning. The parent reps are really the engine that keeps the school running. Without the parent reps, we wouldn’t have anyone to organize our events, to support the daily needs of our teachers, and to spread the word about the various requirements, happenings, and developments that arise throughout the school year.

This year, we are very fortunate to have co-chairs for the parent Council, Emily Cohen and Paymaneh Gfarri. Emily graciously served as the chair of the parent Council last year, and of course she was one of the authors, founders, and primary motivators behind the push to provide public Waldorf education to our community through the Taos Mountain Charter School initiative (more on that later!). Paymaneh has been involved in the school for many years and has served Taos Waldorf school in various capacities, including as a long time parent rep, and she’s also a former board member.

This year, the Board of Trustees also has a new makeup:

Andy Salamone – president
Sarah Beasley – vice president.
Jesus Hernandez – treasurer
Sandy Nelson – secretary (and former president)
Craig Simmons – facility and grounds chair
Elizabeth Hendricks – at-large member and Waldorf grandmother
Silke Markowski – leadership chair and advancement chair

The Board of Trustees has several committees that help attend to some of the basic functioning of the school: The finance committee, the facilities committee, the tuition assistance committee, the leadership council, and the advancement committee, which tends to outreach, marketing, and fundraising. The members of these committees are volunteers from among the parent body and faculty, and our school simply could not function without the hard work that these folks put in week in and week out.

As the board and the finance committee (along with the coordinator and the bookkeeper) continue to comb over the documents that were left to us by the previous administration, we continue to modify the budget and balance sheets, and the overall picture changes daily, sometimes by a large degree. If you as a community member ever want details about the current state of the school’s finances, or if you have useful information or suggestions, please contact me, Jesus Hernandez (our treasurer), or any other board member at any time.

Tying together the College of Teachers, the Parent Council, and the Board of Trustees is Allison Bradley, our Coordinator. The position of a Coordinator represents a shift in the structure of the school’s administration from last year and from previous years. The Coordinator is hired and overseen by the Board of Trustees, and her purpose is to essentially do everything necessary to keep the school running on a day-to-day basis, and this is exactly what Allison does.

Allison not only works in the office, but she also is a non-voting board member, a member of various committees, plus she attends both the Parent Council meetings and meetings of the College of Teachers. She also is the co-founder of the Taos Mountain Charter School initiative. Without going into it in great detail, I would suggest that every time you see Allison you give her a great big thanks for everything that she’s doing for the school, because what she is doing is so far and above the call of duty, so beyond the boundaries of her job description, and so ultimately essential to the school’s well-being that we all owe her a humongous debt of gratitude.

Just like all private schools and most, if not all, charter schools, the Taos Waldorf School relies on fundraising as a significant part of its annual budget. Last year, the school raised over $88,000 through the efforts of the parent community, as well as through a few small grants and various donations. This year, we have slightly smaller fundraising needs, but since we have fewer students, meeting this all-important goal is still going to require the enthusiasm of the entire parent body. When your parent reps ask if you can volunteer to staff an event or work on a fundraising drive, I would beg you to remember that the money that we raise through fundraising goes directly into the pockets of your teachers.

Each year the teachers sign contracts with the school, understanding that the only way that the school can fulfill the contracts is through the fundraising efforts of the parents. This shows the tremendous amount of faith that the teachers have in the commitment of the parent body, and I trust that we will not let them down, as we do our very best to think creatively and work diligently towards raising the necessary funds to meet our obligations toward our beloved teachers.

Unlike at other private schools where there are foundations that supply money to make up for tuition reductions, here at the Taos Waldorf School, when we grant tuition assistance, the money that is granted as “assistance” is simply not collected, and we must make up for this deficit through fundraising.

As I’m sure you know, parent participation is not an optional or auxiliary part of life at a Waldorf school, instead, the involvement of the parents in the day-to-day running of the school is part and parcel of Waldorf education. Not only is parent participation absolutely necessary for the survival of the school, but by visibly supporting and working hard to improve the quality of our school, we demonstrate to our children several very important things. On the one hand, we demonstrate the importance of Waldorf education to our children by working so hard to provide it to them. On the other hand, as we persevere, think creatively, and work together to overcome the challenges that inevitably arise, we model this approach to life for our children. We show them that when things are difficult or challenging we don’t simply turn away and find something easier, particularly when that for which we are fighting is something that is dear to our heart, and most certainly the Taos Waldorf school is dear to our hearts. One of the greatest gifts that we can give to our children is the opportunity to watch us succeed by applying diligence, perseverance, and loving attention.

I trust that by now you’re beginning to get the point of this letter: We need you to participate. If you have any type of skill, special talent, or hobby that you think might benefit the Taos Waldorf school in some way, please tell your parent rep! You never know how something that you do out of enjoyment or some random skill might end up benefitting the school, our children, and the community at large.

One thing that you can definitely do to help the school, and particularly its teachers, is to pay your tuition on time. We do not have a great stack of cash stashed away somewhere that we can draw upon when tuition doesn’t come in. We really need you to pay as soon as you get your bill, if it all possible. As you may know, this year one of the policies that the board instituted was to make sure that all families who enrolled in the 2012 – 2013 school year were completely up-to-date on any past due payments. This way, we were able to ensure that the members of our current parent body were a committed group, and we were able to start off the year with a clean slate.

That being said, as we continued to fine tune the tuition structure and organize some of the flotsam left over from previous years, we were a little bit late in getting the first few months’ billing out to you, and for this we apologize. By this point, you should have already received your bills for August, September, and October. The August bill was payable upon receipt, the September bill was due on 10th of September, and the October bill, as well as all of the rest of the bills for the remainder of the school year, will be due on the first of the month, and by this we mean that we wish the payments to be received prior to the due date. From now on, we will do our best to make sure that the bills get out by the 15th of the preceding month, but you always know that tuition is due on the first of each month, with the last payment for this school year being due on May 1st, 2013.

We understand that the rapid succession of billing for the first three months might be challenging, and so the school can grant some leeway in the timing of these payments. We also understand that these are challenging times, and we are able to be flexible, so if you anticipate that your tuition will be late for any of the first three months, just get in touch with our new and wonderful bookkeeper, Judith Cahill, at stemsandbranches@gmail.com

This year, we decided that we did not want to charge any families late fees if they were unable to pay their bill on time. Instead, we decided upon this policy: If a payment does not come in by the 5th of the month, the parents will get a friendly reminder call from a helpful board member, coordinator, or bookkeeper. Beginning with the bill due November 1st, if the 10th of the month comes and the bill has not been paid and you have not contacted the school to make special arrangements, we ask that you refrain from bringing your children to school until such time as the outstanding charges can be made current. The point here is that we will work with you when unforeseen circumstances arise, but we just need you to take the initiative to communicate and let the office know what’s going on.

As you probably know, the Taos Mountain Charter School initiative was begun last year with the intention of exploring the possibility of creating a new charter school on the site of the Taos Waldorf school. This school would be a public charter school, but the curriculum and policies would be deeply rooted in the traditions of Waldorf education.

This year, Emily Cohen and Allison Bradley have been working amazingly hard to move the Taos Mountain Charter School initiative forward. Alison’s husband, Scott, our esteemed orchestra teacher, donated his entire year’s salary so that we could hire an experienced consultant to help us with the process of moving towards the charter. On August 20, the first day of school, there was a public hearing here in Taos in front of an elected commission that would make a formal recommendation to the state as to whether or not this charter should be granted. For three days after that hearing, the commission received further information, updated budgets, and many letters of support from the community urging them grant this new charter. Since that point, no further public input was allowed, and our next step was a final decision which was scheduled to take place tomorrow, September 21st in Santa Fe.

Within the last few days, Emily and Allison received word from the commission that they were not going to recommend the approval of our charter at this point in time. There is a lengthy report connected with this recommendation, but the essence of it reflects that the state had questions about the Waldorf curriculum and how it might be properly measured against the state standards for education.

After the receipt of this news, an attorney who specializes in charter school issues in the state of New Mexico was consulted, and her strong recommendation was that we withdraw our application at this point, so that it does not get rejected, and that we apply anew in January. She noted that in her experience the second time is often the charm. Susan Olsen, the consultant who was hired to assist us with the application process, commented that the application that Emily and Allison prepared was the very best one that she had ever seen in her career. This excellent application is already being modified based on what we have learned, and everyone involved is optimistic about the way the second application will be received by the Department of Education.

In the meantime, we will continue to attend to the needs of our beloved Taos Waldorf School. We really are looking set up to have a fantastic year, and our sense of joy in the community seems to be constantly increasing. It’s important to remember that the charter school alternative is just one option that we have as a community. We are proving this year that we can continue and thrive as a private school. Many of you have stepped up to help out in so many ways, and if we all continue to contribute, we can create a truly wonderful experience for our children this year and in the future, no matter what form our school might take in that future.

Thank you all for giving so much to our sweet Waldorf community, and thank you for persevering through this very long letter. If you have any questions for me, you are welcome to email me at ajs3@me.com, or call me on my cell phone any time, at 831-295-1093.

Andy Salamone
President, Board of Trustees

Taos Waldorf School Weekly Update – September 20

Pick Your Team
One of the reasons our school community is so special is the high level of parent engagement.  Your class’s parent rep needs to know which team you will be volunteering for, so please let her know!  

The Parent Council and Advancement Team are working together to develop a FANTASTIC schedule of events for this year, full of workshops, concerts, and other fun things.  

Here’s a hint….cupcakes may be involved….

Stay tuned!!!

 

Effortless Fundraising
Please tell all your friends and relatives, near and far, about the following:

www.taosstore.com:  buy anything, at the regular Amazon price, and part of the proceeds go to TWS

and for locals:

Please get and/or update your Smith’s or Albertson’s cards.  Every time you buy groceries, they make a contribution to our school!  And don’t forget those handy little tokens at Cid’s…

 

Great Idea Contest
We have a problem, and need your help.  

We have a copier.  A big one.  With a lease that lasts until 2015.  Here’s the thing:  the school spends about $800/month on paper copies.  That’s way too much!!!   Breaking the lease is also costly.

What we need is creative genius!  Send your best idea (SEE BELOW) for reducing costs while maintaining relationships and caring for the earth.  

GRAND PRIZE WINNER WILL RECEIVE $100 OFF ONE MONTH’S TUITION….AND A SPECIAL SURPRISE!

send your idea to twscoordinator@yahoo.com

Taos Waldorf School Weekly Update – September 12

 

No Fee Credit Card Payments
Remember the 3% that the school used to charge for credit card payments?  It’s gone.  Please feel free to use your credit card in the office or online at the website to pay tuition or make donations with no associated fees.

Our Amazon Store:  Taosstore.com
Thanks to Andy Salamone, we have an online Amazon store that benefits the school!  When you buy something (most anything, really!) through the store, TWS gets a portion of the proceeds, and there is no extra charge to you.  It’s a great deal.  Please look up www.taosstore.com, and tell your friends.  It’s a great, “no effort” way to fundraise.

Thanks, and have a great weekend.  See you at the Farmer’s Market!

Good News from Taos Waldorf School

 

Remember – no school Monday, September 3!  It’s Labor Day!

Other calendar items of note:

THIS THURSDAY, SEP. 6:  ALL-COMMUNITY BACK-TO-SCHOOL GATHERING AND ICE CREAM SOCIAL! 5:00-7:00

Please bring a favorite dish, with recipe to share, for a potluck at 5:00pm.  Ice cream and school updates to follow at 5:30pm.  Need child care?  Register in advance by calling the office at 575.751.7750 or e-mailing at twscoordinator@yahoo.com.

September 27:  Michaelmas in-school celebration for students

September 28:  Havest Festival all-community celebration

 

Frequently Asked Questions

There is a lot going on these days….and often not enough opportunity to get caught up with everyone on everything.  So, with no further ado, here are answers to some frequently asked questions.

What is happening with the charter application process?

All application activities and community input have taken place.  The next step is to wait until September 19-21, when the official determinations are made as to which charters are approved.

What if the charter is approved?

Then we have one month to negotiate with the state charter division in order to come up with a contract that works for all concerned.  

If that happens, do we become a charter right away?

No.  Charter funding would begin as of July 2013.  That means we would continue to function as a private school this year.  At the same time, this would be a “planning year” for the charter school.  Regular updates would go out to the school community as to progress.  

 

Why do we not have aftercare this year?

Low demand.  With such a small staff this year, we need to make programming decisions that reflect what makes the most sense for the resources we have on hand.  We are encouraging parents to work together to come up with creative solutions for after-school and Friday care needs.

 
How often will be getting updates on all the things that are changing?  What kind of communication can we expect?

There will be one newsletter per month   The newsletter will be more substantive in nature, and often have articles, etc.   On all the other weeks, we will have a “Bulletin”:  a quick rundown of updates and reminders for all you busy folks.  Please let us know how this works – we’ll be refining as we go.

 

Kudos
That means “thanks”, “great work”, “we appreciate what your efforts”, “you are officially recognized”….or all of the above!

Kudos to….

New Board member Elizabeth Hendricksfor renting a carpet cleaning machine for two days to get the classrooms clean, fresh, and ready.

Jesus Hernandez, Andy Salamone, and Judith Cahillfor serving as our tireless, creative, and endlessly committed new finance team.

The Parent Council for pulling together a last-minute bake sale at Cid’s this weekend…..and thanks especially to everyone who baked!

Amanda Zamani and family for weeding and beautifying the front area of the school this weekend.

Emily Cohen, Jesus Henandez, Ted Dimond, and Elena Trujillofor speaking at the charter school hearing, and everyone who came, cheered, and wore fantastic purple t-shirts!

Erica Lannon for holding down the fort all summer with our school garden.  WOW!!!

The entire Hammond Family for setting up, managing, and yes….”striking the set” of the world’s most successul yard sale. 

 

 
 
UPDATES
Important information presented briefly.

 

Please note that TWS is NOT sponsoring an aftercare program this year due to low demand.  If you are interested in coordinating with others for aftercare/Friday care, please contact
Shauna Collins
(Eva’s mom – 1st grade) at 770.7874.
 
The Board of Trustees is growing!  Please welcome our new Board president
Andy Salamone
(Mila’s dad – 2nd grade)
Sarah Beasley
continuing as Vice President
Jesus Hernandez
as Treasurer
Sandy Nelson
as Secretary

Welcome also to members

Dr. Elizabeth Hendricks

 Silke Markowski

 and
Craig Simmons
(Elizabeth Ann’s dad – second grade)

 

We are updating our e-mail list.  Are you on it and want to be removed?  Please use the “unsubscribe” directions at the bottom of the page.  Know someone who wants to be on the list
 but isn’t?  Please forward them this newsletter and ask them to subscribe.  Thanks!
 

 


IMPORTANT REMINDERS FROM YOUR PARENT COUNCIL
This year’s parent council is co-led by Emily Cohen and Paymaneh Ghaffari.  Members are Guiditta O’Rourke, Lelia Salamone, and Jenny Kelly.  Here are some helpful reminders from them to get the year started:

1) Dropoff:
  please remember to park your car and walk your child to class and greet the teacher
2)  Drive slowly:
in the parking lot…there are many little ones going to and fro who move quickly – be mindful of safety
3)Committee Sign-Up:
  each parent is being asked tosign up for one helpful team this year.  We have the Grounds Team, the Festivals Team, the Advancement Team, and…yes, the BAKE SALE team.  Please see your parent council rep to sign up.
 
 
School Renewal Learning Circle
starting this fall.  Interested in learning more about what is behind and within Waldorf education?  A learning circle is forming.  Please contact the office at 575.751.7750 or e-mail at twscoordinator@yahoo.com.

“We often tend to limit our explorations of what’s possible by surrounding ourselves with large amounts of information that tell us nothing new.  We collect information from measures that tell us how we are doing – whether up to standard, whether we’re meeting our goals.  But these measures lock us into learning only about a predetermined world.  They keep us distracted from questioning our experience in a way that could create greater possibilities….they don’t ask us to notice what learning is available from all those things we decided not to measure….”  

 
-Margaret Wheatley

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION ………………………………………………………………………….. 5

Mission Statement of the Taos Waldorf School…………………………………………………………..6 Rudolf Steiner………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..6 Anthroposophy ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 6 A History of Taos Waldorf School ……………………………………………………………………………………6

SCHOOL POLICIES …………………………………………………………………………………..8

Application Process…………………………………………………………………………………………………………..8 Re-Enrollment …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 8 Guided Tours ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………8 Tuition …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….8 Tuition Assistance …………………………………………………………………………………………………………….8 Parent Volunteer Work……………………………………………………………………………………………………..9 School Schedule………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..9 Tardiness Policy ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….9 After School Care Program ……………………………………………………………………………………………….. 9 Absences ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….9 Child Abuse and Neglect……………………………………………………………………………………………………9 Confidentiality Policy………………………………………………………………………………………………………10 Video and Photography Release Policy…………………………………………………………………………….10 Discipline Policy and Conduct Guidelines ………………………………………………………………………… 10 Harassment Policy …………………………………………………………………………………………………………..11 Dress Code………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………11 Field Trip Policy ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………11 Health Policy …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 13

Emergency Contact Forms / Immunizations …………………………………………………………………. 13

Illness Guidelines ………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 13 Homework Policy …………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 13 Inclement Weather Policy ………………………………………………………………………………………………. 13 Nutrition ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 13 Parent Library ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 13 Pet Policy ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………13 School Store…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..13 Ski Program…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..13 Substance Abuse Policy ………………………………………………………………………………………………….14

2

TABLE OF CONTENTS continued

Summer Camp……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….14 Toys and Electronic Equipment ………………………………………………………………………………………14 Traffic Safety and Parking ………………………………………………………………………………………………14 Tutoring Services……………………………………………………………………………………………………………14

VOLUNTEERING ………………………………………………………………………………….. 15

Parent Participation in School Life ………………………………………………………………………………….15 Fundraising Events ………………………………………………………………………………………………………..15 Committees ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………16

SCHOOL COMMUNICATION ………………………………………………………………….. 17

Communication ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..17 Class Room Folders………………………………………………………………………………………………………..17 Newsletter ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..17 Phone Trees …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..17 Parent Meetings……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..17 Open Door Policy …………………………………………………………………………………………………………..17 Home Visits …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..18 Parent / Teacher Conference …………………………………………………………………………………………..18 All School Meetings………………………………………………………………………………………………………..18 New Family Guides ………………………………………………………………………………………………………..18

SCHOOL ORGANIZATION ……………………………………………………………………… 19

College of Teachers…………………………………………………………………………………………………………19 Board of Trustees …………………………………………………………………………………………………………..19 School Administrator ……………………………………………………………………………………………………..19 Parent Council ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….19

INTRODUCTION TO WALDORF EDUCATION …………………………………………… 20

Waldorf Curriculum ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….20 Reverence, Ritual, and Rhythm……………………………………………………………………………………….20 Curriculum in More Detail………………………………………………………………………………………………21 Kindergarten………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 21 Grades 1-8 ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 22 Art and Special Subjects………………………………………………………………………………………………… 25

3

TABLE OF CONTENTS continued

Eurythmy ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 25 Handwork …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 25 Movement Education and Games ……………………………………………………………………………….. 25 Foreign Language ………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 26 Music and Orchestra ………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 26 Class Plays…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 26

FESTIVALS…………………………………………………………………………………………. 27

Multi-cultural Festivals…………………………………………………………………………………………………. 27 Michaelmas………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 27 Martinmas …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 27 Advent Spiral ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 27 Saint Nicholas………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 27 Santa Lucia ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 27 May Day ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 27 Family Festivals……………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 27 The Role of Religion in the Waldorf School by Karen Rivers ……………………………………………. 28

SUPPORTING STUDENTS IN THE HOME ………………………………………………… 29

Media Policy ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 29 Toys…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 29 Seasonal Table……………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 29 Resources…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 29

4

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the Taos Waldorf School’s Parent Handbook. The purpose of this parent handbook is to provide you with a guide to finding your way into the life of the school. A Waldorf school differs from other educational institutions in a multitude of ways, and parent involvement is basic to the school’s success. This parent handbook will clarify school policy and structures, and provide information about Waldorf education. It is our hope that this handbook will also act as an invitation for you to ex- plore your own personal connection with the school, thereby deepening and enriching your life and the lives of your family members.

Contact information

Taos Waldorf School
PO Box 2276
El Prado, NM 87529 USA (575) 751-7750

admin@taoswaldorfschool.com

 

5

INTRODUCTION continued

Mission Statement of the Taos Waldorf School

Our mission is to provide a comprehensive education based on the philosophy of Rudolf Steiner that en- gages and nurtures the child physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

We seek to cultivate each student’s individual gifts, to encourage independent thinking and imagination, and to foster a life-long love of learning.

Our goal is to enable students to become balanced, vigorous, life-affirming, and compassionate individu- als who are able to meet the challenges of their lives and times.

We advocate respect and understanding of all cultures and the natural environment.

The school provides a non-competitive, physically and emotionally safe learning atmosphere that en- courages community involvement.

The need for imagination, a sense of truth, and a feeling of responsibility these are the three forces, which are the very nerve of education. —Rudolf Steiner in 1919 (Founder of Waldorf Education)

Rudolf Steiner. Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian-born philosopher and scientist (1864-1924), founded the first Waldorf school in Germany in 1919. His intention was to found a school movement based on spiri- tual wisdom to renew the art of education so that modern children could develop the full range of their capacities and become free, self-reliant individuals capable of contributing fresh insights and initiatives to the world.

Anthroposophy. Through the course of his life, Rudolf Steiner developed a body of knowledge and a paradigm of human development called Anthroposophy, meaning “the wisdom of mankind”. This world- view is based on centuries-old wisdom concerning the evolution of humankind and of the world, which Steiner reformulated in a manner accessible to our modern scientific consciousness. While Anthroposo- phy represents the philosophical foundation of the Waldorf approach to education, it is not taught in the classroom. Parents are welcome to study it if they wish.

 

6

INTRODUCTION continued

Core Values Statement

For the Taos Waldorf School

Out of our love of Humanity, in our striving to honor Spirit and Nature and the healthy development of our Children, we, the Faculty, Board, and Parent Council members of the Taos Waldorf School wish to affirm the following core values:

We uphold an educational excellence for our school – one that seeks to enliven the thinking, feeling and willing nature of our developing children.

To this end, we commit wholeheartedly to the artistic and academic processes of the Waldorf curriculum, which draws from the well-spring of Anthroposophy.

Through the wisdom of the Waldorf curriculum, we wish to cultivate initiative, crea- tivity, independent thinking, innovative problem solving, and other capacities in our children that might grow and evolve into abilities to manifest sustainability, in all its forms, and to nurture cultural renewal and well-being for all.

In this endeavor, we value the professional development of our teachers and the personal development of all community members, and we seek to enkindle a community spirit that might support all members – children, parents and teachers – to the best of our abilities through clear structures and process.

Through our efforts we shall strive for physical and emotional safety for our chil- dren and a deep connectedness within our community to the Earth, to Spirit and to each other.

We take up these tasks with Joy, Passion and Enthusiasm for service as we set our intentions that we might be led by our Hearts, clear in our Heads and active in our Hands as we continue to build and grow our school.

 

7

SCHOOL POLICIES

8

Application Process. Taos Waldorf School serves children with a mixed age preschool/ kindergarten, and Grades classes One through Eight. A student’s acceptance into the program is based on the school’s ability to meet the child’s needs, as well as the needs of the class. Children are eligible for the mixed age kindergarten at the age of 3 by February 15th of the admitting year. Exceptions may be granted to children previously enrolled in a Taos Waldorf School program. Pre- School readiness requires being potty trained, and having the ability to participate in a larger group activity. Children continue in the kindergarten program often for several years with additional activities geared toward the older Kindergarten child. Students enter 1st grade when they are 6 by June 15th of the admitting year. However, chil- dren with summer birthdays are evaluated on an individual basis for first grade readiness.

Admissions Procedures. The Tour: Families interested in finding out more about Taos Waldorf School are encouraged to contact the office to ar- range a tour of the school.

The Application and Fee: After a tour, prospective families must fill out an application and pay a non -refundable application fee.
The Interview: A meeting will be arranged be- tween the teacher, parents and child. This is an opportunity to discuss more fully the philosophy and methodology of our program. The curriculum can be explored in greater detail. Any special needs that the child might have should be dis- cussed at this time.

Class Visits: After the interview, a child may be invited to spend a day or two in the classroom. This will better help the teacher assess if it is a good fit for the child and the class.

Registration. Upon the successful agreement that indeed the school can meet the child’s needs and the parents understand and support the pro- gram, a space in the class is offered to the child. The child’s place is reserved in the class with the non-refundable payment of the registration fee.

Waiting Lists. Any child whose application is received after the class has reached maximum en- rollment will automatically be placed on a waiting list. The waiting list will be maintained for one year. If at the end of the year there is still no space in the class the family is responsible for requesting that their child should remain on the waiting list.

If a spot is offered to a child and the family de- clines, they lose their place on the waiting list. Al- though we try to honor the chronological order of the applicants, please understand that we do look at many factors when pulling from our waiting list including siblings, age ratios and boy/girl balance in a class. Special consideration is given to TAOS WALDORF SCHOOL siblings.

Re-Enrollment. Every year (in Spring) families currently enrolled in TAOS WALDORF SCHOOL are asked to fill out an application and pay a non- refundable registration fee to keep their child’s place in their class for the following year. If the re- enrollment deadline is not met, parents risk losing their child’s spot in the class.

Tuition. The tuition is set annually and an- nounced before the re-enrollment process starts. The annual tuition may be prepaid for the school year or paid in 10 monthly installments with the first installment due August 10 of the school year. Late fees apply. If payment is more than 30 days late on tuition or fees and a payment agreement has not been made, the student might be sus- pended or expelled.

Tuition Assistance. It is our intent to make Waldorf education available to any family that desires it, regardless of the family’s financial situa- tion. Families needing tuition assistance need to apply following the directions given in the applica- tion and enrollment documents.

Parent Volunteer Work. The school is able to thrive because of parent involvement. This can be realized in may ways: festivals, fundraising and building and grounds committees, field trips, work days and bake sales are just a few examples.

School Schedule

Kindergarten Classes: Early drop-off is at 8:30, and the school day officially begins at 9:00am. Please arrive early if you would like to play with or watch your child interact with friends in the morning or afternoon. Parents, please be sensitive to the play of the young child when you are socializing with other adults on the play yard.

SCHOOL POLICIES continued

9

Pick-up is between 2:45pm and 3:00pm.
Early Childhood After Care:
The After Care program will be held in the Early Childhood. Parents must sign up for After Care for the month in advance; the charge is $12 per afternoon (3:00pm to 5:00pm) with a snack in- cluded. Pick up is at 5:00pm. Parents who arrive later than 5:00pm will be responsible for a $1 per minute fee paid directly to the After Care teacher.

Additional Fees:
If your child in the Early Childhood program is not signed up for After Care, but has not been picked up by 3:00pm, he/she will be put in the After Care program. Late charges for this situation are as follows: If picked up by 3:15pm, a charge of $5 will be billed. After 3:15pm, if the child still remains in After Care, parents will be billed ac- cordingly.

Grade Classes: School begins at 8:30am. Arrival time is 8:15am. Pick-up is from 3:00 pm to 3:15pm. Grade School ends at 3:00pm and stu- dents must be picked up by 3:15pm. We expect that parents will help maintain their children’s punctual and regular attendance at school. From the model we provide, students learn reliability and respect for others. From their regular atten- dance and punctuality, they experience the strengthening of will that comes with consistent effort.

Grades After Care:
After Care will be provided for the Grades Classes two days per week. After Care begins at 3:15pm and ends at 5:00pm. Parents must sign their chil- dren up for After Care for the month in advance. The charge is $12 per afternoon, which includes a snack. Any late pick-ups will be charged $1 per minute paid directly to the After Care teacher.

Additional Fees:
If your child in the Grade Classes is not signed up for After Care, and he/she has not been picked up by 3:15pm, a charge of $5 will be billed. If the child remains at school past 3:15pm on a day when there is After Care scheduled, the child will be placed in After Care and parents will be billed accordingly. If the child remains at school past 3:15pm on a day without After Care, a $1 per min- ute fee will be assessed by the teacher remaining with your child, and you will be billed accordingly. Prior to these measures, every effort will be made to reach a parent or emergency contact for imme-

diate pick-up.

Tardiness Policy. Students who arrive late will be required to get a late slip from the office. The opening of each school day is a very special moment for the teachers and children. The morning greeting and opening exercises are an integral part of each day, bringing the class to- gether and preparing them for their day’s work. Support your child’s learning experience by punc- tual and regular attendance. Students arriving late to school need to obtain a late pass from the office with their parent/guardian and then wait together outside the classroom until invited in. Grades 4 through 8 do not need a guardian to escort them. 3 tardy notices will result in a teacher meeting.

Absences. If your child will be absent, please call the office so that the class teacher can be in- formed. You may leave a message on the answer- ing machine. Please inform the class teacher of any circumstances in the home that might affect a child’s attendance. If specific circumstances make a long absence necessary, it is essential to consult with the class teacher as early as possible. Plan- ning vacation time around the school calendar is our expectation. TAOS WALDORF SCHOOL will not be responsible for the child’s academic ad- vancement after 30 absences within one school year. The student’s enrollment will be considered after 20 consecutive absences. Parents are respon- sible for missed work and possible tutoring for missed work.

Child Abuse and Neglect. If members of the staff suspect possible abuse or neglect of children, it will be documented and kept on file. Teachers are required to sign a statement that informs them that it is mandatory to report suspected cases of child abuse to the Department of Social Services, Program Coordinator, Local Law enforcement, or the Office of the District Attorney. This includes the reporting of parents who appear to be im- paired by drugs or alcohol. If a staff/volunteer member is suspected of child abuse/neglect, the College of Teachers will evaluate the continued employability of any staff/volunteer involved in an incident of child abuse/neglect. We will ensure that the incident will not reoccur during the inves- tigation.

Confidentiality Policy. Confidentiality is a sa- cred agreement of trust between school personnel

SCHOOL POLICIES continued

10

in which intimate information regarding families, school business, and policies will be kept in confi- dence. It is understood and agreed between the faculty and TAOS WALDORF SCHOOL that confi- dential TAOS WALDORF SCHOOL or student information is not to be disclosed at any time, in- cluding after a person’s employment here, to peo- ple outside of TAOS WALDORF SCHOOL, or to other employees of TAOS WALDORF SCHOOL who do not have a legitimate need to know. File cabinets with confidential information are kept locked. Failure to follow this policy may result in an employee’s discharge and legal action. A confi- dentiality agreement will be signed by each faculty and staff member and filed in the office.

Video and Photography Release Policy.

Taos Waldorf School reserves the right to use video footage and photographs of the students as the school sees fit in the publications of educa- tional or promotional materials including but not limited to newsletters, press releases, websites, brochures, etc. and for any other lawful purposes. Parent(s)/guardian(s) of children enrolled at Taos Waldorf School agree that video footage and pho- tographs will be the property of the school and they waive all rights including the right to inspect and/or approve copy or voice commentary that may be used in conjunction with uses to which they may be applied.

Discipline Policy and Conduct Guidelines.

The teachers and staff of the Taos Waldorf School strive to help students understand what is appro- priate or inappropriate behavior in a given situa- tion, develop respect and reverence for all life, and learn how to act and react with compassion. Stu- dents are encouraged to develop those character traits that will support a positive learning and liv- ing environment for themselves as well as their classmates. Clearly defined and stated school rules offer a structure upon which children, teachers and parents can base their work together. Disci- pline is approached in a manner that is therapeu- tic rather than punitive, with the aim of helping each child find the ways and skills to act responsi- bly.

Kindergarten. In a Waldorf kindergarten, play, storytelling, movement, artistic experiences, and the room environment all positively affect chil- dren’s behavior. Teachers also use example, redi- rection, and statements of expectations appropri-

ate to children’s ages. When problematic behav- iors persist, teachers and parent(s) meet to find ways to support the child at home and at school.

Grades 1-3. The imitative capacity of the child and the effect of classroom form and structure continue to be factors in the cultivation of self- discipline during the first years of elementary school. Additionally, the curriculum itself and par- ticularly the role of story begin to play a more sig- nificant role in the nurturing of moral sensitivity in the child. The discipline measures for the chil- dren in grades 1- 3 primarily involve compassion- ately communicating what constitutes inappropri- ate behavior to the child or children, helping with communication that may identify feelings, clarify- ing what has happened and in some instances of- fering an activity, which may help the understand- ing and temperament of the child. In cases of chronic problematic behavior, the class teacher meets with the parent(s) to identify ways to sup- port the child at home and at school.

Grades 4-8. A high sense of personal responsi- bility and willingness to cooperate with teachers and fellow students is essential, as is a willingness to work towards the resolution of conflicts and differences. Clear and open communication be- tween the students themselves and with their teachers helps lessen discipline problems and compassionate communication is modeled and encouraged in the classroom. Again, in cases of chronic problematic behavior, the class teacher will use the following guidelines.

Unacceptable Behavior and Consequences.

Society recognizes certain behaviors to be unac- ceptable, and laws are enacted to protect every- one’s well-being. While each incident has its own circumstances, a policy of “No Tolerance” is in effect regarding the following list of behaviors.

Level One. Physical or verbal confrontation, dis- respectful/ disruptive behavior, use of profanity, damage to property through negligence.
Conflict resolution conversation with all con-

cerned. From this conversation, further steps may be taken.

Level Two. Repetition of the behaviors noted under Level One. In addition, stealing, threatening behavior (using anything as a weapon), bringing an imitation of a weapon to school which might

SCHOOL POLICIES continued

11

reasonably be mistaken for a weapon, physical abuse, use of profanity (such as swearing at an- other person), leaving school campus without per- mission.

  •   Conflict resolution conversation with all con- cerned.

  •   Parents will be informed immediately by phone.

  •   An incident report will be written for the stu- dent’s file, with a copy going to the parents.

  •   Parental conference mandatory.

  •   Suspension of student may be considered at

    this point. (College of Teachers will be con- sulted.)

    Level Three. Deliberate injury of another per- son, repetition of stealing, possession or use of drugs or inhalants at school (or school-related functions), sexual harassment, bringing a weapon to school, including all knives (unless requested by a teacher for school projects).

  •   Conflict resolution conversation with all con- cerned.

  •   Parents will be informed immediately by phone.

  •   An incident report will be written for the stu- dent’s file, with a copy going to the parents.

  •   Parental conference mandatory.

  •   Immediate 3-day suspension during which it

    will be decided what further action is needed. (In these cases, which involve immediate sus- pension, the College of Teachers and the Board of Trustees will be informed as a matter of urgency).

  •   The school is legally required to inform the police or social services or both, depending upon circumstances.

  •   The student will submit a Personal Improve- ment Report prior to returning to school.

  •   Expulsion may result from Level Three behav- ior.

    Harassment Policy. It is the policy of the Taos Waldorf School to establish and maintain for all students a learning environment which provides fair and equitable treatment, including freedom from all forms of harassment, including that re- lated to sex, race, religious creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, ancestry, physical handicap, medical condition, or any other basis protected by federal, state or local law or ordi- nance or regulation. All such harassment is unlaw-

ful. All students have the right to be treated with respect and are expected to conduct themselves with respect for the dignity of others.

Unlawful Harassment. Prohibited unlawful harassment because of sex, race, sexual orienta- tion, ancestry, physical handicap, mental condi- tion, or any other protected basis includes, but is not limited to, the following behavior:

Verbal conduct such as epithets, derogatory jokes or comments, slurs or unwanted sexual advances, invitations, or comments.

SCHOOL POLICIES continued

 

12

  •   Derogatory and/or sexual oriented posters, t- shirts, photography, cartoons, drawings, or gestures.

  •   Physical conduct such as assault, unwanted touching, blocking normal movement.

  •   Retaliation for having reported or threatened to report harassment.

    The Taos Waldorf School will investigate and document all formal and informal, verbal or writ- ten complaints of harassment brought to the at- tention of a teacher, staff member, College mem- ber or Board member. Complaints should include details of the incident, names of the individuals involved and names of witnesses.

    Grades 1-8 Dress Code Policy. We strive to have healthy esthetics in every aspect of our school life and ask children to dress neatly, cleanly and tastefully. Please ensure that clothing is warm

enough for outdoor play. In general, anything that might become a distraction to learning or is pro- vocative in any way should be avoided. Please observe the following dress code standards for all school activities for Grades 1-8:

1. Any designs on clothing should be non- distracting and minimal.

2. All clothing must be clean and neat. No tears are permitted unless patched. No pj’s are permit- ted.
3. Shorts, dresses and skirts must be at middle finger length. Mini-skirts must be worn with leg- gings or tights.

4. Hair should be combed, clean, neat and out of the eyes, and non-distracting. A teacher may re- quest a child’s bangs be cut or pulled back.
5. Shirts must be worn right side out. No exposed midriff, cleavage, or visible undergarments. Tank tops must have a shoulder width of 1 inch. No spa- ghetti straps unless worn under another shirt.

6. Wearing hats is not allowed inside the class- room. Winter hats may be permitted at the teacher’s discretion during winter months.
7. All clothing must fit appropriately. No baggy or sagging wear is permitted.

8. Very moderate use of cosmetics is permitted in Grade 8 only, at the teacher’s discretion. Lip gloss is permitted in Grades 6-8.
9. Hands should be clean with nails neatly trimmed. Polish is allowed in Grades 6-8. Fake nails are not permitted.

10. Shoes must be worn at all times while on cam- pus and be functional for school activities. High heels, flip-flops, crocs or shoes with open backs are not permitted. In winter weather, all children must have boots for outdoors and shoes for the classroom.

Field Trip Policy. The Taos Waldorf School staff believes that many important educational experi- ences occur outside of the physical boundaries of the school. To this end, we encourage teachers to support their classroom curriculum with a variety of field trips that enhance the physical, cultural, artistic and community service aspects of educa- tion. The following guidelines are to be followed:

Field Trip Planning: Local field trips will be researched and communicated to the office prior to departure. A plan including destinations, itin- erary, contact numbers, and travel arrangements will be communicated to the office. Field trips will consider and provide for the safety of the students

and chaperones at all times.

Field Trip Transportation: Students will be transported to and from school field trip destina- tions by legal, registered, and insured motor vehi- cles. Parent chaperones driving private vehicles must provide proof of insurance and their vehicle must be in safe working order. All drivers are re- quired to obey New Mexico traffic laws and stay within the speed limit at all times. All students and drivers will wear appropriate seat belts or re- straining devices including car seats as required by state laws. In cases where more than one vehi- cle is caravanning, all vehicles will remain within sight or cell phone communication distance. All vehicles will make stops at the same time and the class teacher will always be present.

Field Trip Communication: Communication is important any time a class is out in the field. Prior to departure each group will receive a briefing from the class teacher reminding the students and chaperones of school rules and protocol. During school hours the office will be the contact place regarding the trip. For longer trips that include after school hours, a communication coordinator will be agreed upon prior to departure and will field parent concerns, communication with the group, and receive updates. When possible, the group will carry a cell phone for emergencies and to receive messages. (The teacher and group will not be available on an “on call” basis but messages will be checked regularly.)

Field Trip Safety: Safety is the most important issue during a field trip. The group must always follow the instructions of the class teacher for their own safety, as well as others. For day trips there will be at least one teacher or chaperone with first aid and CPR training. Longer wilderness trips require at least two adults with this training. In the case of an extended wilderness trip all stu- dents will receive an introduction to wilderness first aid.

Field Trip Discipline: The school discipline policy will be followed on any field trip. The class teacher on the trip carries the responsibility for the students and any cases of misconduct will be referred to that teacher. The teacher knows each student’s temperament and appropriate responses and consequences shall be the responsibility of the teacher. Any student who does not follow the rules

SCHOOL POLICIES continued

 

13

may be asked to leave the group.

Health Policy/Emergency Contact Forms/ Immunizations. A completed immunization card or a notarized Certificate of Immunization Exemption and an Emergency Contact Form for each child must be filed in the school office by the first day of school. Any special health concerns should be clearly stated in writing on the emer- gency form. The information on this form is used to contact you and initiate medical care in the event of an emergency. All Emergency Contact Forms must be accurate. Please make sure that all information is updated during the year.

Health Policy/Illness Guidelines. Do not drop off sick children at school. If your child has a sore throat, heavy cough, headache, stomachache, nausea, or fever, please arrange to have the child stay home or to be cared for elsewhere. The child may return to school 24 hours after the last major symptoms subside. If a child has a lingering cough, or other ongoing health concerns, a doc- tor’s note will be needed to state that the child is not contagious. When a child becomes ill at school or is found to be ill when arriving at school, a par- ent will be called to pick up or arrange pick up of the child from the office. Children with parasitic infestation (head lice, pin worms, scabies, etc.) are not to be in school. The child may not return to school until treated. If the parents discover lice, they should notify the school as soon as possible. Parents can avoid the frustration of this occur- rence by making a section- by-section check of the whole head on a regular basis. If you are a working parent, we suggest that you create a back-up plan for your child’s care in case this situation arises. If your child requires medication during the school day, a parent must fill out a Medical Release form in the office. Otherwise the teacher will not be able to administer medicine and the child will be sent home. Medicine must be directly given to the teacher along with the release form. It is a com- munity effort to maintain the health of all our stu- dents, families and teachers. Please show your support by following the above guidelines.

Homework Policy. All homework shall be re- viewed and returned to students in a timely man- ner. A teacher may give warnings and arrange for parent conferences if a student repeatedly does not complete the assignments. Some reports stay

in the classroom and in that case, the teacher will write up a description of the work completed for the parents.

Inclement Weather Policy. School cancella- tion due to weather or power outages will be an- nounced on our local radio stations and via email. Please listen to KTAO (101.9) for school closures. In general, we will follow the public schools’ deci- sions.

Nutrition. We ask that each family create a healthy and well-balanced lunch for their child. Sodas, candy, and junk food affect a student’s abil- ity to concentrate and their behavior in the class- room. We encourage all children to eat a healthy diet. In school we bake with honey or maple syrup and whole-grain flour. If your child has a special diet please inform your class teacher. The Kinder- garten children make vegetable soup in class, bake bread and make seasonal salads. Through these activities the child has a better understanding of what it means to eat good, healthy food. All kin- dergarten children will receive snack at 10:30. Two major food components will be served daily. Snack lists are posted by the classroom door. If it is necessary due to allergies or food preferences to bring food from home please make arrangements with the teacher. Grade class students are re- quired to bring a healthy snack from home. A thermos is an easy way to send warm food as we are unable to heat up students’ food.

Parent Library. We have a small parent re- source library in the office. Please sign books out during office hours and return them when done. Donations to improve our library are most wel- come.

Pet Policy. No dogs or other animals are allowed on the school premises, unless prior arrangements have been made. Please keep your dog or other animals restrained in the car in the parking lot.

School Store. Our school store is located in the office. The store carries art supplies, wood toys, dolls, silks and books. All items made in the hand- work circle are for sale in the store including dolls, hats and mittens. There are catalogues with items that may be special ordered. All proceeds support the school’s operating budget.

Ski Program. There is an annual grade class Ski

SCHOOL POLICIES continued

14

SCHOOL POLICIES continued

15

SCHOOL POLICIES continued

 

16

VOLUNTEERING

Parent Participation in School Life. There lives in Waldorf Education a profound understanding of the importance of freedom, of help freely and lovingly given in the spirit of service. Such acts of devotion are part of the spiritual foundation on which a Waldorf school is built. Parents in our school have a unique opportunity for self-awareness, growth, and sharing through participation in a variety of school projects and endeavors. A real sense of community, new friendships, and a genuine sense of pride can be gained by working together toward a common goal. The successful operation of the school relies largely on the time and energy given by parent volunteers. There is a need for parent volunteers, on both an in- dividual class level and a school-wide level. A clear understanding of what is expected of parents throughout the school year is essential in allowing parents to participate in a way that works for them. We encourage families to perform a minimum of thirty hours of volunteer service to the school per year. In supporting your class teacher, both in-school and out-of-school time is needed. As- sisting with specialty classes or special classroom needs, sewing costumes or gathering props for plays, and organizing field trips are some of the kinds of help that are needed. Playground, garden, and site beautification are also important parent-supported tasks affecting the quality of classroom life. An- nouncement of classroom projects needing parent participation takes place at class meetings, by class phone trees, or via email. Contact your class teacher or Parent Council representatives for more informa- tion. Our school is blessed with many individuals who have volunteered far beyond the suggested hours per year. All contributions are appre-

ciated as they help in achieving our goal of providing a more complete Waldorf education for our children. We need our parents to be a strong and viable force in the life of the school.

Fundraising Events. Our school, like most Waldorf schools, requires an ongoing fundraising effort by the par- ent body to achieve a balanced budget; tuition fees alone are not enough to allow the school to operate. The bottom-line economic reality of the school is that its very existence is dependent on the ongoing financial support and work of the parents. The money that is spent on operating the school comes from both tuition and fundraising. Taos Waldorf School fundraising events may include; an Annual Giving Letter, Raffles, Mayfair Festival, other events, and donations. Parents’ sharing of skills and services contributes to the strength of the school and keeps tuition costs down.

 

17

VOLUNTEERING continued

 

Committees. A stable network of
long-time friends and extended family
is not always there to help families find
the tried and true, well-established tra-
ditions of raising a family. And so we
create relationships with kindred com-
munities to help us keep connected to
one another and to support develop-
ment of a nurturing family life. The
Taos Waldorf School offers us all an opportunity to become part of a com-
munity that has heart and purpose.
There are a number of ways to become
involved. Children who are supported
during the school year by parent and community participation feel better about being in school and do better in their school-work.

Please inquire about active committees and other ways on how to help; sometimes taking on a pro- ject either alone or with a group of people is just what is needed at any one time.

The Festivals throughout the year give us a chance to gather, and are at the heart of our com- munity. Many hands create the magic of each fes- tival. There are many tasks to each festival, details

of food, seating, and clean-up before and after the event. The teachers may also need help with costumes, props, or back- drops.

 

18

Communication. Effective communication among all of us is an important and vital element in the successful functioning of the Taos Waldorf School. How we work together as parents, teach- ers, committee members and colleagues is another way we teach our children the values that we be- lieve are important in our world. In an effort to make the communication process clear and more effective, we ask you to follow these guidelines. Please communicate as directly as possible with the individual teacher or parent in- volved. This allows the quickest and most effec- tive resolution and minimizes the negative effects of third party misunderstandings. Questions regarding your child or his or her class or teachers should be taken directly to the class teacher. Because the teacher is “on-duty” during the time parents drop off and pick up their children, it is best to call or write a note to arrange a specific time that is mutually convenient to dis- cuss questions and concerns.

It is understood that situations may arise that need immediate attention and arrangements will be made for a conference accordingly.
If you have additional concerns, please talk with any of the following:
College Chair– Sarah Beasley Coordinator– Allison Bradley
Faculty Chair– Beth Krieger-Fritch
Any of these staff members will help create a positive resolution.

Understood in its fullness, Waldorf Education seeks to offer more than an excellent education. It seeks to create community. A true community flourishes, develops, and ultimately supports the growth of each member, particularly the children, when there is open and honest communication and trust. Parents and teachers are a partnership, modeling what it means to live in such a commu- nity where we all seek to uphold the positive ideals of life. In order to foster community and in order to bring the education to life as fully as we can, we must all remember that a community is not just an amorphous collection of people in one place, but a group of caring individuals who can work to- gether, in good times and in times of stress, to fur- ther common goals. For our community to be healthy and vibrant, all members must feel safe in speaking to each other. This is abso- lutely fundamental within the relationship of par- ent and class teacher or the parent and any teacher or staff member.

Class Room Folders. Please check your child’s cubby in the classroom on a daily basis. This is an important way the school passes on information.

Newsletters and Email Announcements. It is very important to read the newsletter and the email announcements to have up-to-date informa- tion on events at school. Our newsletters contain information about the day-to-day plans and needs of specific classes and school-wide events as well as educational information, college or committee reports. Taos Waldorf School also uses parents’ email addresses to share class/school information.

Phone Trees. Each class has a phone tree that is made at the beginning of the year by the Parent Council class representative. The phone tree is often used to disseminate both class and school- wide information.

Parent Meetings. Please attend parent meet- ings. It is essential for the well being of your child, that parents and teachers communicate. These meetings are informative, social, and fun. If your child is having difficulties in school, we will ar- range private parent-teacher conferences to ad- dress the problems. Please approach us with any concerns that you may have.

Teachers will hold monthly class meetings with the parents of the class as a whole. These meetings may include an artistic activity, a look at the curriculum, discussion about developmental issues that come into play for children of that age, a look at the social dynamics of the class, and plans and information about field trips and activi- ties that will take place throughout the year. These meetings are also a time for parents to discuss general areas of concern and to get support from other parents for the challenges of parenting chil- dren of that age. They provide a significant way to understand your child’s education and a chance to connect with the parents of other children in the class. Through these meetings, you will not only be informed of the progress of the class but you will have an opportunity to share concerns and ideas vital to the healthy social life of the class. The social network of class parents creates an in- formed network that supports the class teacher’s work.

Open Door Policy. Parents are always welcome to visit a classroom. You may be asked to quietly

SCHOOL COMMUNICATION

19

SCHOOL COMMUNICATION continued

participate in the class rhythm. We ask that all parents respect the special environment of the classroom. Adult conversations belong outside of the classroom, thus ensuring that the children’s play is not interrupted.

Home Visits. The Early Childhood teachers may request a home visit in order to build a bridge be- tween school and home in an effort to assist a child in that transition into school. Any main class teacher may request a home visit if they feel that it will be in the best interest of the student.

Parent/Teacher Conference. Private confer- ences are held during the school year to provide an opportunity for parents and teachers to share their impressions and concerns about the child’s progress in the class, both academically and so- cially. Look for your teacher’s sign-up sheets, posted prior to the conferences, near your child’s

classroom. A meeting can be scheduled by the teacher or parent as needed. Each child receives a mid-year report and a full end of the year report.

All School Meetings. All School Meetings are an opportunity to learn more about the school structure and future projects. Reports will be pre- sented by the committees and governing groups in the school.

New Family Guides. Supporting new families at the school is also a role of the Parent Council. At the beginning of the school year, Parent Council representatives match returning parents with new families. These “guides” introduce the new fami- lies to other school families as well as to the “culture” of the school, and they continue to com- municate with the new families throughout the year.

 

20

The Taos Waldorf School functions through the joint efforts of the College of Teachers, the faculty, the Board of Trustees, and the parents. The com- position and responsibilities of these bodies are as follows.

The College of Teachers. The College of Teach- ers is responsible for all pedagogical concerns such as program development, curriculum stan- dards, teacher mentorship, peer evaluations, and child study. In addition, the College is responsible for teacher hiring, adult education, and maintain- ing our school’s relationship with the larger Wal- dorf community. The College of Teachers meets on a bi-weekly basis. College members are indi- viduals who are deeply committed to the health and well being of our school. Beyond tending to the above responsibilities, College members ac- tively study and strive to further develop their un- derstanding of the growing child.

The Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees is responsible for long range planning, master plan, vision of the school, broad policies setting and legal oversight.

The School Coordinator The School Adminis- trator attends to the administrative and business management tasks and has the essential role of facilitating communication and coordinating ad- ministrative activities among the College, Board, and Parent Council.

Parent Council. The Parent Council is com- posed of a representative from each class and the administrator. Its purpose is to inspire, inform, and organize the parent community and to en- hance the school’s social life through communica- tion and involvement.

Committees. The school has several committees who work on specific tasks supporting and under the guidance of the college of teachers (pedagogical realm), the administration (rights sphere) and the fundraising/development staff (community involvement).

SCHOOL ORGANIZATION

 

21

INTRODUCTION TO WALDORF EDUCATION

Through Waldorf Education, Rudolf Steiner hoped to cultivate in young people capacities of heart and mind and the strength of will that would enable them to meet the challenges of their own time and the future. He laid the foundation for an art of education in which the teacher, ever aware of the inherent dignity and individuality of each child, would strive to awaken and draw out the student’s individual gifts. This is in keeping with the true meaning of “educate,” from educere, “to draw out”, rather than to put in. The child is led to par- ticipate actively in all that is presented so that he or she will become a seeker of truth and knowl- edge, and a doer. The child is instilled with the capacity to change what is harmful in the world, to cultivate that which is good, and to discern the difference between the two.

The Waldorf Curriculum. The Waldorf cur- riculum is meant to unfold according to the stages of development of the growing child. Education proceeds in three major steps as the child’s con- sciousness develops. Up to age 12, it is largely a pictorial and imaginative consciousness; from then on it adds the element of reason. Until age 12, the Waldorf curriculum works with the child’s imagination, proceeding from fairy tales, legends, and fables through the Old Testament stories and ancient mythology. In the fifth and sixth grades, the transition is made to actual history and sci- ence. From then on, without losing its imaginative and artistic elements, the curriculum is presented in a more scientific manner, increasingly relying on direct observation, objective description, and reflection in all subjects. The arts– drama, paint- ing, music, drawing, modeling, etc.– are inte- grated into the entire academic curriculum, in- cluding mathematics and the sciences. The Wal- dorf method of education through the arts awak- ens imagination and creative powers, bringing vitality and wholeness to learning. There is no other educational movement that gives such a cen- tral role to the arts as does Waldorf education. Mathematics instruction begins when the young children first encounter numbers through stories, musical rhythms, and other artistic activities that engage their whole bodies. Upon this foundation, the arithmetical processes are introduced. Form drawing, begun in the first grade, sets the stage for geometry in the later grades. An extraordinary humanities curriculum, which begins in first grade with folk tales and fairy tales and continues in sec- ond and third grade with mythology and legends,

takes the children through the full sweep of their cultural heritage. The Old Testament in grade three, Norse mythology in grade four, and the an- cient cultures of India, Egypt, Persia, Mesopota- mia, and Greece in grade five provide the back- ground for the study of history and arts presented through excerpts from original texts. By living into these cultures though their legends and literature, the children gain an understanding of and an ap- preciation for the diversity of mankind. By the close of eighth grade, the students have journeyed from Greece and Rome to medieval history, the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Age of Explora- tion, and up to the present day. The sciences are taught experientially – – that is, the teacher sets up an experiment, calls upon the children to observe carefully, ponder, and discuss, and then allows them to discover the conclusion the law, for- mula, etc. Through this process rigorous, inde- pendent thinking and sound judgment are trained. Music permeates and harmonizes life in a Waldorf School through a curriculum designed to develop the innate musicality born into every child. Music is taught in a Waldorf school not only for its own sake and for the joy it engenders, but also because it brings a strong, harmonizing, and humanizing force into the child’s life, strengthening the will. Practical work, such as crafts and handwork, is an integral part of the required curriculum at a Wal- dorf school. Decades before brain research could confirm it, Rudolf Steiner recognized that brain function was founded on body function. Learning to knit and crochet in the early grades develops motor skills that metamorphose into lively think- ing and enhanced intellectual development later on. Coordination, patience, perseverance, and imagination are also schooled through practical work. Activities such as woodworking, house building, gardening, and shoe-making give the children an understanding of how things come into being and a respect for the creations of oth- ers. Spanish is taught beginning in grade one, giv- ing children insights into and facility with other cultures.

Reverence, Ritual, and Rhythm. Reverence, ritual, and rhythm are the three R’s of Waldorf education. When experienced in childhood they can lead to an experience of responsible freedom in adulthood. By creating rhythms in the class- room and marking them with simple rituals, we enhance all that supports health and life. Your children’s teachers go to great lengths to create

22

INTRODUCTION TO WALDORF EDUCATION continued

lessons and festivals that purposefully nurture feelings of reverence. Reducing distractions for your children gives them the space to experience reverence and will support the work of your chil- dren’s teachers. Reverent, wonder-filled occasions will help children to find meaning in their lives as adults and help them to love, respect, and care for other people, the earth, and themselves.

Child Development and The Curriculum.

The Waldorf curriculum is designed to work in rhythm with the natural stages of children’s devel- opment. Since these stages are reflective of the stages in the development of human civilization itself, the great stories of varied human cultures – – from fairy tales and fables to Old Testament sto- ries, from Nordic and Native American stories to Greek myths – – are the cornerstone of the curricu- lum. The subject matter, the way it is approached, and the assignments and activities asked of the children are specifically suited to the development of certain faculties and capacities at particular ages.

Pre-School/Kindergarten. In the early years, great emphasis is placed on the development of a strong and deeply rooted creative capacity. The overall environment, the unique play materials, and the chosen activities all contribute to fostering the children’s natural powers of wonder and fan- tasy. Play materials are chosen to allow the great- est amount of the children’s own imagination to come into play. The more possible uses for a sim- ple piece of wood, the better. When the children are encouraged to “clothe” their play materials with their own powers of imagination, the truly living forces within them become active.

Another important aspect in the develop- ment of a strong imaginative life is the use of fairy tales. The art of storytelling comes alive in the Kindergarten because the fairy tales are told, rather than read, by the teacher. The children’s imaginations are active because the pictures are allowed to be created inwardly as the story un- folds. Young children experience the world more pictorially than do adults, and fairy tales provide an inner nourishment because they contain arche- typal truths about the world in picture form.

Small children are beings of will and imi- tation, identifying themselves with each gesture, intonation, mood, and thought in their environ- ment, and imitating these in their play. It is the Kindergarten teacher’s task to create an environ-

ment worthy of a small child’s imitation and to educate the child’s unconscious through the warmth, clarity, rhythm, and harmony of the world he or she creates. Given the right environ- ment and encouragement, young children exhibit a fountain of creativity never again to be equaled in the course of their lives. Deepening this capac- ity prepares the proper ground for thinking to emerge.

Early Childhood Education At Taos Wal- dorf School
Our Early Childhood Program consists of one kin- dergarten class, the Gnomes, a mixed age class of three, four, five and six-year-olds. This is a two,three, or four-day program. The environment is home-like, calm,, and filled with nature’s beauty and variety. It is a space where the rhythm of the year and the gifts of each season are woven into children’s and adults’ lives. It nourishes the senses and is a true kingdom of childhood where children experience artistic and practical work, crafting, storytelling, puppetry, foreign languages, music, rhythm and movement, circle games, finger plays, baking, cooking, gardening, woodworking, weav- ing, and the great outdoors. Creative play with toys made of wood, stone, wool, beeswax, shell, and silk is encouraged. These daily activities lay a solid foundation for beginning academic learning in first grade as children build social skills, foster language development and physical coordination, preserve the life forces, and keep the wellsprings of wonder and reverence open.

We have a special play yard that was built by the school community in 2004 with equipment sized for this age group. It is a lovely space full of flowers, a tree house, a cassita and play equip- ment.

Meals: Kindergarten children gather around the table for snack and lunch every day. Meal times are a joyful way of forming commu- nity,by cooking together and then giving thanks, eating together,, serving each other, and practic- ing table manners. Lunch is provided by each child’s family individually. A mid-morning snack is provided by the school four times a week using wholesome organic ingredients whenever possi- ble. Dairy, wheat, and processed sugar are con- sciously limited at snack time and there are alter- natives for children with food sensitivities.

Clothing: Children need simple, comfort- able, sturdy clothes for play which suit the season and can take the dirt and wear that come from

23

INTRODUCTION TO WALDORF EDUCATION continued

play and work. Clothing that can be put on and taken off by your child fosters their sense of inde- pendence. Please avoid images on clothing with cartoon or media characters because of their over- stimulating nature and the influence that they can have on play and attentiveness in group settings. We do not wish to encourage interest in fashions or name brands.

All children need a bag of extra clothing at school (including socks, underwear, a light sun hat and a sweater please change the extra clothing with the seasons). Clothing made of natural fibers, such as cotton or wool is warmer in winter and cooler in summer than clothing made from syn- thetics such as nylon and polyester. Natural fibers allow the child’s body to breathe properly and help facilitate the development of the senses.The high altitude sun is intense. Please make sure to use sunscreen before school and to provide your child with a brimmed hat to wear outdoors every day. Children are highly active and need to be physi- cally grounded all day. Well-fitting sturdy shoes support, protect, and empower the children for running, jumping, swinging, climbing, etc. Experi- ence shows that flip-flops, cowboy boots, and clogs are not suitable for this purpose.

Please keep in mind that the school is not responsible for lost clothing or personal items. Labeling clothing makes retrieval from the Lost and Found basket easier. However, it is advisable to keep especially cherished and hard to replace items at home.

Sacred Space and Time. Arrival time for kin- dergarten children is between 8:30am and 9:00am. Because of teacher preparation work, the early childhood staff requires that children enter the room no earlier than 8:30am. Please note that children arriving after 9:30am may find it a chal- lenge to ease into the day’s rhythm without dis- comfort to the child and disruption to the group. Once your child is accustomed to saying “good- bye” to you in the morning, please make an effort to bring him/her in without much interruption to the other children. Parents are asked to socialize outside the classroom.

Please inform the office or the teacher if your child is going to be absent. The Early Child- hood Program pick-up time is between 2:45pm and 3:00pm. For your child’s welfare please be prompt for pick-up. A parent’s lateness invariably causes unnecessary stress and worry for the child. If you are unavoidably delayed, please leave a

message at the school office so we can reassure your child and make necessary arrangements. If your child is picked up by someone other than yourself, please let the teacher know and make sure the person has their ID with them.

Early Childhood Licensing. Taos Waldorf School is currently licensed for Star Level 2. Chil- dren aged three to six may attend between two and four days per week. School hours are between 8:30am and 3:00pm. After school care is offered from 3pm to 5:00pm.

Grades 1-8. The grade school curriculum in the Waldorf schools is amazingly rich and intricately coordinated with a deep understanding of the de- veloping child. What follows is a look at some of the main topics that are covered in each year as well as some detail about the insights underlying the curriculum. This list is only meant as a taste of what goes on in the curriculum, not as a compre- hensive outline. Attending class meetings is a wonderful opportunity to find out more about the specific curriculum that is being presented to your child. There are also many books your class teacher can recommend which provide more in- depth coverage of the curriculum.

The Class Teacher ideally takes the same class of children through eight years of elementary school (grades 1 through 8), teaching all the main subjects. For the teacher, this means time to know the children deeply and to help their gifts unfold. For the children this can mean stability and con- tinuing guidance.

A morning “main lesson”, a two-hour pe- riod in which the main substance of the day is pre- sented, begins each school day. The subject, be it algebra, Greek history, botany, or acoustics, is taught for a three-week or four-week block and then put aside, often to be continued later in the term. This approach allows for freshness, enthusi- asm, and concentrated, in-depth experience and gives the children time to “digest” what has been learned. Individual books are made by each child for each subject taught. The teacher creates the presentation and the children record and illustrate the substance of their lessons. These books, often artistic and beautiful, are an important way in which art is integrated into every subject.

THE FIRST GRADE year begins with the dis- covery that behind all forms lays two basic princi- ples: the straight and the curved line. The chil-

24

INTRODUCTION TO WALDORF EDUCATION continued

dren find these shapes in their own bodies, in the classroom, and in the world beyond. Straight and curved lines are then practiced through walking, drawing in the air and the sand, on the black- board, and finally on paper. These “form draw- ings” train motor skills, awaken the children’s powers of observation, and provide a foundation for the introduction of the alphabet. Through fairy tales and stories the children are introduced to each letter of the alphabet. Instead of abstract symbols, the letters become actual characters with which the children have a real relationship. “S” may be a fairy tale snake sinuously slithering through the grasses whispering secrets; the “W” may be hiding in the blackboard drawing of waves.

Reading begins with writing. Simple sen- tences about the children’s own experiences will be written and read. Children will also write and read familiar verses. In a similar way, the children first experience the qualities of numbers before learning addition or subtraction. For example, we ask, “What is Oneness?” “What is Two-ness?”, What is there only one of in the world? (“Me!”) The characteristics of one, two, three, etc. are ex- plored in the children’s inner experience and in nature. Counting is introduced through clapping, rhythmic movement, and the use of stones, acorns, or other natural objects. Only after consid- erable practical experience in adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing are written symbols for these operations introduced. Foreign language, eurythmy, knitting and the pentatonic flute are also introduced in the first grade.

THE SECOND GRADE brings many fables and Native American stories of animals, as well as sto- ries of saints, heroes, and heroines. Through the stories, the children begin to see the dual aspect of human nature. They practice writing by putting these stories into their Main Lesson books. Arith- metical work includes the memorization of the times tables from 1 to 12. Imaginative stories still form the basis of operations using the four mathe- matical processes. Grammar is introduced with liveliness and humor. The children may act out stories in which they can experience the contrast between “doing” words, “naming” words, and “describing” words. Nature study continues with nature walks, poetry, legends, and imaginative descriptions of natural processes. This year cro- cheting is introduced, and small projects of the children’s own creation continue to exemplify an important principle: that handwork can be useful

and functional as well as beautiful.

THE THIRD GRADE is often called a turning point of childhood. Nine-year olds feel themselves growing apart from the world of childhood, be- coming separate and independent, and beginning to question all that was previously taken for granted. This questioning is accompanied by a serious stream of interest in everything practical such as “How is a house built?” and “Where does my food come from?” In the third grade, children study Old Testament stories to learn about peo- ple’s struggles to live on the earth, to make shel- ters, and to work the land. They study house building while learning weights and measures, and they learn about gardening, farming, and cooking. These acquired skills are translated into their handwork as they make a “house for their heads” in creating knitted hats. There is much counting and measuring when adding patterns to their handwork. In the third grade, children begin a stringed instrument and play with the school orchestra.

THE FOURTH GRADE addresses the children’s inner experience of becoming separate selves through hearing and reading stories about heroes in Norse and other mythologies. The hero emerges as someone to look up to, emulate, laugh at, and respect. The characters’ human qualities, emo- tions, struggles, and confrontations are empha- sized. The theme of separateness is further re- flected in mathematics with the introduction of fractions. In handwork, cross-stitch is introduced, allowing children to experience a beautiful whole- ness that results from many different crossings. Geography, local history, grammar, composition writing, and a comparative study of the human being and animals are also introduced. Through activities such as map-making; children experi- ence the separation from nature that marks the developing intellect. In composition, narration of the children’s own real experiences is practiced, and the first report is written about an animal.

THE FIFTH GRADE leads children into a wider world, and they are encouraged to develop a broader perspective. They study American geogra- phy and botany, and in mathematics they continue with fractions and decimals. Building on the years of form drawing, freehand geometry is introduced. Choral singing and four-needle knitting are intro- duced as well. History has until now been only

25

INTRODUCTION TO WALDORF EDUCATION continued

pictorial or personal in nature, with no attempt made to introduce exact temporal concepts or to proceed in strict sequences. Now history becomes a special Main Lesson subject, as does geography. History, telling human beings’ deeds and strivings, stirs children to a more intense experience of their own humanness. Geography does exactly the op- posite: it leads children away from themselves out into the ever-wider spaces from the familiar to the unfamiliar. History brings the child to him or her- self; geography brings the child into the world. Every means is used to give the children a vivid impression of the ancient cultures. They read translations of poetry, study hieroglyphic symbols of the Egyptians, and try their hands at the arts and crafts of the various ancient peoples.

History in Fifth Grade is an education of the children’s feelings rather than of their memory for facts and figures. Through studies in art, sci- ence, government, and Olympic games, children have an opportunity to experience the balanced harmony and beauty of the Greeks. In the spring there is a Greek pentathlon where fifth grade stu- dents from Waldorf schools throughout the region come together to compete. Grace, beauty, form, and sportsmanship are lauded along with individ- ual achievements of speed and accuracy.

THE SIXTH GRADE studies the Roman Em- pire: its greatness, its vanity, and its collapse. Chil- dren of this age can begin to empathize with this time of struggle and growth in human history and can begin to experience a kinship with people from other times. Thus, they can begin to feel that they are not alone in their inward struggles. Phys- ics is introduced to study the natural world. As with all subjects, the approach is first through art. Acoustics and optical studies are begun. North American and South American geography are studied, and astronomy is introduced. As children approach twelve, changes begin in their physical bodies. One of the subtlest is the hardening of the bones, and at this time children become more aware of gravity and weight. With the increasing awareness of their physical bodies, the time is right for the study of the physical body of the earth. Geology turns to the structure of the earth and proceeds from the study of the flora and fauna of the geological ages to minerals, metals, and fi- nally gems and crystals, leading to the functions of mineral and metallic substances in the human organism. Mathematics continues to exercise the disciplines learned in previous classes and then

moves on to the study of percentage and ratio. All the years of circle movement and form drawing are brought into exact constructions using com- pass, rulers, and right angles in geometry. Whereas geometric shapes have in the prior grades been drawn freehand as artistic exercises, now families of geometric figures are constructed and studied for the numerical laws they embody. These designs are now done with the utmost accu- racy.

THE SEVENTH GRADE children are entering puberty. To help them cross this threshold, they are introduced to civilizations and people who share their mood of soul, leading them to a closer look at their own environment and inner being. Two subjects addressing these areas are English and history. The history block of the Renaissance and Reformation really begins modern times with a dauntless quest into the unknown that is also akin to the seventh graders’ soul mood. Allegiance to traditional authority no longer holds sway. In- dividualism overcomes feudalism, as personified by Joan of Arc. Human capacities are limitless as epitomized by Leonardo Da Vinci. The emphasis of history and geography is on Europe, the lives of the early explorers, and the colonization of many parts of the world. Mathematics introduces alge- bra, including negative numbers, venturing into mathematical thinking that has no relation to physical perceptions. This makes real demands on the children’s imaginative powers. Square and cube root and geometry are introduced. Mechan- ics begins in physics with the lever principle as found in the human arm. Children learn basic me- chanical concepts and their application in the ma- chinery of ancient and modern times. Inorganic chemistry is introduced as a study of the combus- tion process. From the beautiful legend of the bringing of fire to earth by Prometheus to a study of combustion in the human organism in the di- gestive processes, fire can be observed externally in the breaking down of substances by oxidation. Physiology is introduced as the study of life proc- esses in man: blood circulation, respiration, repro- duction, and nutrition in connection to digestion, health, and hygiene.

THE EIGHTH GRADE students are ready to study modern history and have the ability to see the wholeness of the globe. History becomes an intensive study of the period from the Industrial Revolution to the modern day, focusing as well on

26

INTRODUCTION TO WALDORF EDUCATION continued

outstanding individuals in American history. Ge- ography takes up the same theme, showing the role played by every part of the earth in modern industrial civilization. In science, lessons bring thermodynamics, mechanics, climate, electricity, magnetism, hydraulics, aerodynamics, meteorol- ogy, and ecology. Chemistry is also worked with in relation to industry. Mathematics also emphasizes the practical applications of arithmetic, algebra, and geometry. Human beings are again the sub- ject of nature study through physiology of the hu- man organism. Literature focuses on the theme of human freedom in the short story, letters, and Shakespearean drama. The task of elementary education is to give children an understanding of humanity and the world they live in, to offer them knowledge so rich and warm that it engages their hearts and wills as well as their minds. Such an understanding is the basis of all real learning in later years. With the completion of the eighth grade, the children should have a well-rounded general picture of human life and the universe. This last year of elementary school should not only bring all previous experiences to a new peak but should enable the children to enter fully and potently into the life of their own time.

Art and Special Subjects

Eurythmy. Eurythmy is an art of movement that originated in the beginning of the 20th century. It is a dance form that makes music and poetry visi- ble through gesture and aims to harmonize the child’s soul and spirit with the physical body. In eurythmy, people move together and experience the interconnectedness of all living things. This precise, coordinated group movement helps de- velop grace, listening skills and concentration.

Handwork. Knitting and other handwork pro- jects play an important role in the development of fine motor skills, inner calm, and intellectual clar- ity. The specific handwork taught in Waldorf schools “grows with the growing child”. In the first grade, the curriculum calls for learning the basic knit stitch and creating a practical and useful pro- ject in a warm textile such as wool. In second and third grades, this is continued with purling and crochet, which add new movements and require more focus on each row and stitch. Around age nine or ten the children undergo a change of con- sciousness: they are individuals within them-

selves, no longer as open. The hats that the third graders knit to cover their heads represent this developmental milestone. Third graders are also experiencing the beginning of critical thinking, and in knitting hats they are introduced to small patterns, thus engaging their new thinking skills. The cross stitch taught in fourth grade reflects this more elaborate stage in their development. The fifth grade begins woodworking and more compli- cated knitting such as socks. This is the age when they turn a corner in development on the road to themselves. They are perhaps less insecure than in fourth grade and are ready to start carving out and exploring this new individuality. Knitting socks requires using four needles instead of just two, and it is a task that requires much persever- ance, providing challenges and valuable lessons for the children. Developmentally, the sixth grad- ers are coming into form. The children sew ani- mals, which requires planning, patterns, cutting, basting, and other skills for children who are now more intellectual in their planning and thinking. The sewing the children undertake in seventh and eighth grades requires extensive forethought and mathematical skills. In seventh grade they make dolls by hand, and in the eighth grade, sewing ma- chines are used for various projects such as patch- work quilts, wall hangings, simple clothing and appliqués. Handwork offers many opportunities for reinforcing math skills in practical, challeng- ing, and enjoyable ways. Author and Waldorf teacher Eugene Schwartz says that “We cannot underestimate the self-esteem and joy that arises in the child as the result of having made some- thing practical and beautiful– something which has arisen as the result of a skill that has been learned. In an age when children are often passive consumers who, as Oscar Wilde once said, ‘know the price of everything and the value of nothing’, learning to knit can be a powerful way of bringing meaning into a child’s life.

Movement Education and Games. The deep understanding of a child’s development is also the basis of movement education and games classes. Each class has a rhythm of joining together and moving apart, alternating highly active games and quieter ones, work together as a group, and reflec- tion on one’s own body and movement. The move- ment curriculum tries to give the children basic coordination and movement skills that will help them if they decide to play organized sports or simply as a basis for good physical, social and

27

INTRODUCTION TO WALDORF EDUCATION continued

mental health. Depending on the grade, the chil- dren will play games or do relay races that serve to develop skills that are also required for conven- tional sports such as basketball. String games and jumping rope also develop dexterity and stamina which can be useful in many different activities. Not only does a movement class provide the op- portunity for the children to play games and have fun, it also works with their social interaction by teaching them to play with each other before they play against each other, to acknowledge each other, to play safely, and to gain an appreciation for all kinds of movement.

Foreign Language. We offer Spanish at our school. The spoken word is the key to learning languages in the early grades. Songs, poems, rhymes, tongue twisters, counting, puppetry, plays and group games all foster group knowledge of the language and appreciation of the folk soul of the peoples who speak that language. In the later grades, keeping a written record of all the oral work brings awareness of spelling and basic gram- mar in the language. Reading in the foreign lan- guage begins in fourth grade.

Music and Orchestra. There are many impor- tant inner skills to be learned in the study of mu- sic. The discipline of practicing with an instru- ment helps children find the inner discipline to face other challenges in life. Group music lessons offer a wonderful opportunity for children to prac-

tice the ability to listen to others and to work co- operatively. It is quite a challenge for a group of children to work completely in unison in any realm, be it social, academic, or physical. In trying to play their instruments as a group, with the same timing and pitch, the resulting harmonious sound allows them to directly experience the value of working well together. Playing an instrument is a wonderful means of self-exploration, self- expression, and creativity that allows the children to grow into well-rounded human beings. Begin- ning in the first grade, children are taught to play simple songs on the pentatonic flute. By the end of third grade or beginning in the fourth grade, they are ready to play a more difficult diatonic scale on the C Recorder. In third grade, beginning level strings classes begin. The children are responsible for renting or purchasing a violin. Singing is a regular part of the school week for all grades. In the lower grades, songs are based on seasonal themes. In first and second grades the children sing as a group, and in third grade children, with emerging consciousness about being separate, begin singing rounds. In fourth grade two-part songs are added, and the children learn about holding their own voices against others to create harmony.

Class Plays. The plays are an integral part of each class’ curriculum, beginning in kindergarten with fairy tales. They are unique for each class yet share distinct and common threads of educational

 

28

Throughout history in all civilizations there are rituals reflecting nature’s rhythms, important transitions, and significant moments in the life of the culture. For people today, who can so insulate their lives as to be unaware of the seasons, of reap- ing and sowing, of dark and light, and of birth and death, festivals can help provide a real touchstone with the cycles of the earth and the soul nurturing they provide. In Waldorf schools, the elements of festival light, food, song, and story – – permeate the weekly school rhythm, but the cadence of the year receives its form through festivals. Annual festivals of nature and humanity are celebrated in ways that foster wonder, reverence, and gratitude and which nourish the future capacity to respond: to be responsible for and among the human com- munity. Teachers, parents, and children work to- gether in anticipation and celebration to express the unique character and variety of major and mi- nor festivals appropriate to the children’s age and curriculum. Some of these festivals observed by the school are celebrated as family events with the whole school community, and we heartily urge your participation. Other festivals are observed with events or assemblies during school hours.

Multicultural Festivals. Taos Waldorf School strives to celebrate a variety of festivals from our tri-cultural community and other cultures in addi- tion to the standard Waldorf festivals. We cele- brate el Dia de los Muertos, Our Lady of Guada- lupe, Rosh Hashanah, Divali, Kwanza, Festival of Lights, Chanuka and others.

Michaelmas. In the autumn, at harvest season, we celebrate Michaelmas. Michaelmas is Septem- ber 29 and celebrates the forces of Archangel Mi- chael, the time-spirit of this epoch. As the season transition from the outer warmth of summer to the coolness of fall, we turn inward, toward our- selves and toward our community for inner warmth. The Michaelic forces imbue us with the confidence and courage to look to the spiritual world for strength and to renew the impulse to live our lives on the earth to the best of our abilities and to become a true community of human be- ings. In the Celtic tradition, St. Michael represents the unconquered hero, fighting against evil and the powers of darkness. He is a model for valor and courage. Dragons, iron, and color red pre- dominate. At our school it is traditional to cele- brate Michaelmas with a Harvest Festival.

Martinmas. The story of St. Martin has often inspired a Lantern Walk and the sharing of lan- tern songs, simple cookies or cake, and warmth with friends. The children make lanterns in their classrooms and join their families in an evening lantern walk where they sing with lanterns held high. For the children, the lanterns are symbols of their own individual light, and the walk into the cold, dark evening gives the children an experi- ence of sharing “their own light” as the darkness of winter approaches.

Advent Spiral. The festival that families of young children share at the beginning of the Ad- vent season is one of the most beautiful and memorable of the year. In a dark field lit by can- dles, smelling of evergreens, voices are lifted in song. Each child walks, one at a time, through the spiral of evergreens to the center, lights his or her candle, and then places it somewhere on the path- way to light the way for the next child. It is a re- minder of the journey inward each of us must make during the dark days ahead.

Saint Nicholas. Nicholas was the Bishop of Myra whose day is celebrated on December 6th. On the night before Saint Nicholas, children put out straw, a shoe, and some refreshments for Saint Nicholas and his horse. In the morning (if they have been good children) they find the shoe filled with surprises. In our school Saint Nicholas visits the classrooms.

Santa Lucia. At the darkest time of year, when nights are longest, comes a festival of light. It is almost the Winter Solstice. The oldest daughter dressed in white, wearing a crown of lights, awak- ens children of the family. She carries warm chocolate and warm buns. The family is reminded in the darkest night that the light will return again. In our school, the children may celebrate the feast with buns and a crown of lights.

May Day. May Day is an ancient festival (the po- lar opposite of Halloween) honoring the changing of the seasons from darkness to light. The tree of life was part of this ritual and is now represented by the Maypole. Our School’s May Fair is an an- nual event open to the whole community.

Family Festivals. Our school is interested in festivals from other cultures. If you or your family can help us to celebrate a festival that has mean-

FESTIVALS

29

ing in your life, please feel free to approach your class teacher. Because Waldorf education nurtures the whole child, including his or her spiritual na- ture, people often wonder about the expression of religion in the classroom. In an effort to answer some of these questions, we have included an arti- cle on the subject, which was first published in Main Lesson: Journal of the Marin Waldorf School.

The Role of Religion in the Waldorf School

(By Karen Rivers). The word “religion” is derived from the Latin word “re-lig-io” which means to reunite. It is an expression of the universal human quest for meaning, for our source and our destiny. Throughout human history, people from all cul- tures have asked, “Who am I?” “What am I doing here?” and “What does it mean to be human?” Throughout the world we share questions about creation, good and evil, and what exists beyond the starry cosmos and unknown dark matter. These soul questions live deeply within all human- ity. Through different periods of history, great men and women have shed light on these univer- sal questions. They have offered their wisdom to help each individual answer them, to reunite with the cosmic origin and the oneness of all existence. In our school, we seek to imbue all our lessons with questions of universal implication. We seek to explore mythology, literature, history, science and art in a way that evokes discussions or pon- dering about these universal questions. We wish our students to live in an atmosphere that is per- meated with (not devoid of) the quest for self- knowledge and the exploration of Life’s deepest mysteries. Do we teach religion? The Waldorf cur- riculum is designed to create the appropriate rela- tionship between a child and these immense ques- tions. Through art, a child builds a relationship with beauty, and in studying science, one seeks an understanding of truth. Out of beauty and truth, one develops a sense of morality and reverence for life, which leads to profound questions of exis- tence. Through the study of history our stu- dents journey through ancient civilizations, studying the Old Testament, Norse Mythol- ogy, Ancient India, Persia, Sumer, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. They enter the Middle Ages and the Renaisssance with burning ques- tions of morality, which grow out of their ear-

lier exploration. By the time students reach eighth grade, they have lived with many noble images, many fallen heroes and many search-

ing questions about the nature of humankind and our universe. These questions of great magnitude fill a child with the desire to explore the outer and inner realms of his/her life. In Waldorf schools throughout the world, we aim to celebrate the cy- cles of life, to address the essence of these soul questions as they speak to us through nature in the rhythm of the year and the festivals that have evolved through time. We all long to feel the joy and meaning of life through the recognition and celebration of cornerstone events. Because we live in a primarily Judeo-Christian culture, we empha- size those festivals at our school. Waldorf schools in Israel feature Jewish festivals; Waldorf schools in Japan feature Buddhist festivals; in India, Hindu festivals.

Ultimately, we are a school seeking to re- unite children with the universal knowledge of self through the study of art and science., cycles of Na- ture, and stories from all the cultures and religions of the world.

Underlying all of this, Waldorf Schools are founded on the philosophy of anthroposophy, the wisdom of humanity. Anthroposophy, offered to us by Rudolf Steiner, explores the evolution of human consciousness. Each historic epoch offers a significant contribution to the journey of human- ity from ancient times to the unknown future. Each prophet carried a message for his time and we seek to understand our age through the looking glass of the past. Neither anthroposophy nor relig- ion is taught at our school. They are the founda- tion under the building, which supports and de- fines the structure.

We seek to educate our students in love and immerse them in the world of great literature, art and science. We strive to awaken within them the longing to “Know Thyself.” We wish to send them forth into the world in freedom to explore and discover their own beliefs and destinies in the service of humankind. On this journey, each one finds meaning, joy and reverence for life, creating

FESTIVALS continued

 

30

SUPPORTING STUDENTS IN THE HOME

Because Waldorf education is an impulse toward wholeness, it does not end in the classroom. The teacher creates lessons that nurture learning as well as rhythm. Rudolf Steiner said that rhythm is the healer of life, which unites us and makes us whole.

We encourage you to support the work of your children’s teachers and the Waldorf curricu- lum in fostering reverence, ritual, and rhythm in your family life. In addition to the observation of the school’s festivals, a quiet time of blessing be- fore meals and bedtime can become a significant ritual within the home. Much less overtly spiritual events can also assume ritual form and mark the daily rhythm of life in meaningful ways: the light- ing of a candle at the evening meal, a special story or song to help the child pass from waking to sleeping, or creating a family tradition in the ob- servance of birthdays. Another way a healthy rhythm is established in the home is by serving meals at the same time each day and maintaining a consistent bedtime. The parent who by example shows reverence to the earth, respect to self and others, and follows healthy rhythms in his or her own life, gives a precious treasure to the child.

Media Policy. We appreciate the heartfelt care and dedication that parents put into raising their children, and we thank you for entrusting them to us. In order to preserve the quality of education at Taos Waldorf School, we are asking each parent to respectfully follow our Media Policy.

We ask that you consciously strive to re- strict the influence of TV, computer, and play stations in your child’s life. When your child does view electronic media, please be mindful of appropriate content. Therefore, we ask that your child does not view or play with electronic media from Sunday evening through the end of the school week.

The passivity inherent in watching televi- sion or computer screens is increasingly recog- nized by educators and parents as counterproduc- tive to the process of learning and growth in chil- dren. Growing evidence suggests that excessive and regular use of TV, computer and play stations produces harmful effects in children even beyond the content of the material absorbed. Through frequent exposure to electronic media, the imagi- native capacity of the young child is diminished, concentration skills become more difficult, and healthy brain development is affected in children of all ages. Childhood is a time to learn through

physical activity, to take in nature through all the senses, to play creatively and be engaged socially. Imaginative play, listening to stories, watching and creating puppet shows, dressing up, baking, building, crafts, games, sports and other activities foster in children an active participation with each other and the world.

BOOKS ON MEDIA: Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television, by Jerry Mander, The Plug-In Drug, by Marie Winn, Television: What is the Problem, by Linda G. Lombardi, Unplugging the Plug-in Drug, by Marie Winn, What to do Af- ter You Turn off the ,TV by Frances Moore Lappe

Toys. When children are at home, they project fantasy and imagination into their play and their toys. The ideal toy is one that imposes the least possible limitation on the child’s imagination. A good toy will also satisfy the sense of touch. Natu- ral materials, such as the ones used in the class- room, seem best suited for this. Limiting the num- ber of toys can help in creating a sense of order and appreciation.

Seasonal Table. Many Waldorf families create a small space in their homes for a seasonal table in order to support their children’s (and their own) connection with the cycle of the year. The first blossoms of spring, a fat pumpkin in autumn, a blue cloth backdrop with gold stars in winter, little gnomes and flower fairies, special crystals and stones, are all things that can be found on a sea- sonal table, depending on the time of the year. Children can participate in the adorning of the table by placing treasures they have collected from outdoors there or by helping to arrange items.

Resources. You Are Your Childs’ First Teacher, by Ra- hima Baldwin Dancy; Beyond the Rainbow Bridge: Nurtur- ing our children from birth to seven, by Barbara J. Patter- son; Waldorf Education: A Family Guide, by Pamela J. Fenner (Editor); Work and Play in Early Childhood, by Freya Jaff ke; A Childs’ Seasonal Treasury, by Betty Jones; Sing Trough the Seasons, by Marlys Swinger; Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon; A Guide to Child Health, by Michaela Glöckler and Wolfgang Goebel; The Plug-In Drug, by Marie Winn; Toymaking with Children, by Freya Jaffke; The Hurried Child, by David Elkind; Raising a Son: Parents and the Making of a Healthy Man, by Don and Jeanne Elium; Raising a Daughter: Parents and the Awak- ening of a Healthy Woman, by Don and Jeanne Elium; The wonder of Boys, by Michael Gurian; Uncommon Sense for Parents with Teenagers, by Michael Riera.

Internet: www.waldorfhomeschoolers.com www.steinerwaldorf.org.uk/early.htm www.bobnancy.com

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

31

 

32