Saltwater Tides: April 2016
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Wake up
Wake up
All you little children
Sunlight, sky bright
Spring is coming now
Gusty winds are blowing
Daffodils are growing
Birds sing
Bells ring
There's blossoms on the bough!

Image: Marjan Van Zeyl; Verse: Traditional

Having just been through Winter report writing has got me thinking about how we assess our students and thus what makes Waldorf unique.  Usually we think of schooling as a three stage process where Pre-school and Kindergarten are the first stage, Lower school is the second stage and High school is the third.  We certainly divide schooling in this way within Waldorf knowing that at each stage the child is developing in ever expanding ways.  

The Pre-school and Kindergarten serves the children in our community who are typically between three and six or seven.  The emphasis in this first stage is on developing the physical aspect of the child through the will forces.  This is done through a focus on creative play in an environment which counteracts the disruptive, over-stimulating effects of modern technology and brings a more natural stimulus to the child's developing sense organs.  The Early Childhood Teachers aim to convey moral qualities of goodness, truth and gratitude through storytelling, rhythm of the day and seasonal festivals.  These lessons provide the qualities for the foundation on which the children will, in their future schooling, find that the world in which they live is both beautiful and deserving of their care.

The lower school typically serves the children from age seven to fourteen.  The focus during these years is on developing the etheric, or life body, of the child through the realm of feeling.  This is done through a focus on experience and investigation using the arts and rhythm as a vehicle for every subject.  The teachers of the Lower School have the task of presenting the subject matter at the time when it best compliments the children's physiological and psychological development.  When the subjects of the curriculum are taught in accord with the child's inner development, they have the power to enhance the child's faculties, skills and abilities.  The child will assimilate what has to be learned, primarily with feeling, and should be fully engaged with warmth and enthusiasm with the subject matter.  

At Saltwater we do not currently offer High School curriculum.  No matter where a child goes to school the development of the fourteen to eighteen year old is focused on the development of the astral, or the feeling body, through a focus on thinking.  When a child of this age is met at their stage of growth, schooling can support the development of creative capacities, awaken responsibility toward the earth and humanity, and strengthen the will to carry through decisions. 

When we assess the students of Saltwater we consider the whole child:  the stage of development, the personality or temperament, the personal progress, the curriculum standards of Waldorf Education and the curriculum standards of the Province of BC.  Teachers at Saltwater typically sit with a vision of each child being assessed for at least one to two hours, sometimes more.  Assessment brings so much to the teacher and the child in building a relationship where teachers, with the support of parents, can really know and understand the full picture of a child and how to support them on their life path.  

ECE reporting is in the form of Parent/Teacher conferences in the Fall, an optional second conference in the Spring for Pre-school and written assessment at the end of the year for Kindergarten.  Grade School assessments are in written form as well as conferences in the Fall, progress reports in the early Spring and final reports at the end of the year. Teachers are always available to meet with parents who wish to check in at other times in the year.  I am always available through appointment to meet with parents who want to talk more about Waldorf curriculum or philosophy.  

Reference: Audrey McAllen, Teaching Children Handwriting

IMPORTANT DATES on the horizon:
APRIL 18: 
PAC Meeting
2:00-3:00 in the Preschool classroom

APRIL 16, 30:
Saltwater Open Houses
10:00-11:30 at the Cedar Schoolhouse
MAY 15
Mid Island Baby & Kids Market
9:30-4:30 at Native Sons Hall

MAY - Date TBA
Spring Family Dance
Follow Saltwater School on Facebook for event updates! Click on this button to visit the page.

Class 4-5 has been studying Ancient Egypt. Did you guess who got mummified? The mystery mummy's identity is...
Zoe Milligan! 
Our school is located in a busy traffic area, and we want to keep our kids safe. The Parent Council would like to station volunteer crossing guards at the busiest crossing (outside the Hemlock Schoolhouse) after school each day. Guards would be there to stop children, not cars - to keep an eye out for our kids' safety, not to control traffic. We tried this out before the break but need more parent volunteers to make it a regular thing. 
Will you volunteer? We need YOU! 
Total time commitment would be 15-20 minutes after school, 2-4 days per month (depending on how many volunteers we have). 
A signup sheet is posted outside Marussia's office in the Cedar Schoolhouse. Please see her for more details! 
Some weeks ago, I was gifted a new T-shirt.  Burgundy red with a gold, silver and black owl artistically printed on the front.  I mechanically dressed the next morning, put it on under my warm grey sweater and headed off to school.  At 8:40, as I stood in front of twelve eager students, wishing them a good morning, I pulled off my sweater and immediately had a very abrupt realization that I had made a mistake with my attire.  In unison, 24 eyes traveled from 
my face to the front of my shirt and our review-of-the-day conversation was interrupted with comments “ooh!  nice shirt, Ms. Wells”, “I like your owl” and “hoot hoot”.  The back row followed that up with creating an owl mask with their hands and placing it onto their faces, which was a huge hit for the observing students in the front two rows.  It took quite a few minutes to settle down after the jokes and laughs, but the stage was set for the reminder of the day.  My owl and I worked twice as hard that day to keep the focus and attention on the tasks at hand!
I’ve been reflecting on my experience since that humourous day, and on our school policies around clothing.  As a faculty, we have had many conversations around logos, media characters and various images on clothing, and the effect it has in our classrooms.  There seems to be a spectrum of comfort with the images that are popular among children’s clothing, rather than a unanimous consensus among the teachers.  However, the distraction caused by visuals on a shirt is acknowledged and agreed upon by all.
These past conversations have come flooding back to me and have become colorful and alive since the day with my owl.  I’ve recalled days in the classroom when children have sported Star Wars T-shirts and how many divergent paths arose, carrying the students away from their purposeful work.  Seemingly innocent animal images, like owls, is just another layer to sift through to find that place of focus and commitment within a world of stimulation.
Distraction is an obvious reason for encouraging plain clothing in the classrooms, but there are others.  There seems to be more pressure than ever to strive for a prescribed appearance, determined primarily by pop culture idols.  I, personally feel so grateful that my children spend the majority of their day in a place that attempts to protect a child’s modesty and innocence.  
There is tremendous value in providing a child with an environment safe for creating wee folk villages or obstacle courses, rather than a venue for a fashion show.  There is ample space for self consciousness in this lifetime and relatively little time when it is not your responsibility.
In our home, we have a ‘school clothes’ drawer and a ‘weekend clothes’ drawer.  My owl shirt, albeit artistic and creative, has become my favourite Saturday attire!
                                                  ~Amy Wells (Class 2/3)
The school will be hosting a table at this market, May 15 at the Native Sons Hall. Our goal is to offer information about the school and offer a selection of handmade Waldorf-friendly toys and supplies. 
We are seeking help in making/donating small items for the market! We will have a crafting get-together or two, and little projects that could be completed at home. Please get in touch with Marussia for more information!

Experience a morning in our Early Childhood programs - for families with children aged 0-6. This is a wonderful way for new families to test-drive our school - please spread the word to anyone you know who may be interested!

The Saltwater School
Virtue of the Month:


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