DIFFERENT FOR A REASON
Singing Stones curriculum and approach is deeply grounded in the traditions of Waldorf Education. We are currently accredited by the ... We provide grades... future growth.
On first impression Waldorf can seem a little curious, or out of step with the times, especially in a hyper-driven culture that stresses academic achievement over a more rounded sense of well being. The truth is that Waldorf Education is more relevant than ever. The future you are leaving to your children will require more than book-smarts. It will call for courage, creativity and care. These are the precise qualities that Waldorf has nurtured for the past 100 years. Below is a selection of Waldorf ‘differences’ and the reasons they exist.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Why are there no textbooks in Waldorf early childhood education?
Instead of memorizing textbooks to take exams, our students internalize knowledge by hand writing and illustrating their own textbooks. This results in a library of beautiful, prideful work, and a vivid and integrated understanding of the subject matter.
Why do we take our time with reading?
It’s an unfortunate byproduct of our need for academic assessment, that reading ability has become a measure of how advanced a child is in their development. Reading is too important to be rushed. Our goal is to foster children who love to read. Ironically, like to Tortoise and The Hare, our graduates are often reading well ahead of their age group.
Why do we keep technology out of the classroom?
Technology has many advantages, and is a big part of everyone’s lives. But we believe the rush to place tablets in the hands of seven-year-olds is premature. The power and lure of technology drowns out other forms of connecting and absorbing information.
The Waldorf philosophy believes children need to directly connect with other children and adults — face to face. They need to connect with their environment and nature. They need to interact with the world of ideas, work with their hands, and participate in the arts, music, movement, and practical activities.
In this way children will develop healthy, robust bodies and well-integrated brains, social and emotional skills, confidence in their abilities, and strong executive function capabilities.
While it may seem counter-cultural, this is the “essence” of Waldorf education. There is a time and place for technology and Waldorf students have demonstrated that they have the skills to use media and technology when they are developmentally able.
Why Do we Knit?
Our students spend a lot of time making things with their hands, such as knitting, felting, sculpting. To take one example, knitting develops fine motor skills, effortlessly builds counting skills, and one’s perseverance. Your child also gains a sense of pride in their handmade scarves, socks and hats.
Why learning an instrument is mandatory?
Learning an instrument rewards perseverance, expression, and teamwork. Our students start with the recorder in first grade—learning to harmonize. In third grade, all students learn to play a string instrument. These instruments build strong listening skills as strings are adjusted and tuned. They also call for independent movement of both sides of the body, which helps develop neural pathways.
Why do we have movement and games instead of traditional competitive sports?
Sports that once taught children courage and teamwork are becoming so hyper competitive, they are driving much of the joy from play. In the early grades, we focus on physical movement, coordination and non-competitive teamwork. Only when the children have solidified their enjoyment of games do we add on extra-curricular team sports.
Why do we insist on free play?
In the pursuit of higher standardized test scores, some schools are eliminating or severely restricting the time dedicated to physical education and recess. But play is not expendable. It helps children learn important social skills, and develops the parts of the brain responsible for executive functioning, creative problem solving and self-control. Movement during recess helps children stay focused in class and helps them assimilate what they have learned. Plus it’s a lot of fun.
Is Waldorf a religious school?
Waldorf schools are multi-sectarian and are “spiritual” in the broadest sense of the word. While not “religious,” Waldorf education views students as intellectual, physical, emotional and spiritual in nature. We are not affiliated with any particular religion and welcome families from a diverse array of religious backgrounds. We honor the religious and cultural traditions of these faiths and celebrate seasonal festivals within our classes and as a school. Even people who are not “religious” have found comfort with this approach.
Why do children not start their formal education until they are over 6 years old?
In Waldorf education, we believe that early childhood is an important time where children need to develop their bodies and inner capacities. Starting school at age 6.5. or 7 is common in many areas of the world and despite current practices in the US, this summary by Cambridge University demonstrates the many benefits of waiting to begin formal education until children are truly ready.
How do new students adjust to Waldorf?
New students respond enthusiastically to our school and community. Our faculty is experienced in transitioning students from traditional school backgrounds. Close communication between parents and teachers is a key part of the transition.
How are students assessed?
While rigorous, learning is not competitive at Singing Stones, and instruction is introduced in a developmentally-appropriate way. Students do not receive letter grades or take traditional tests until Middle School (when they are required for High School admissions). Instead, assessment is formative, based on careful observation with an ongoing qualitative focus on what needs to be developed. Each teacher produces a comprehensive qualitative review for each child that is shared with the parents. This is in contrast to most schools where assessment is based on averages and is summative (delivered in the form of letter grades and test scores). The personal attention children receive at Singing Stones translates into a true evaluation that is far more comprehensive and useful than letter grades and “teaching to the test.”
How do Waldorf students fare in later education?
Waldorf students attend a wide array of high schools and colleges that reflect the diversity of their interests. In general, feedback on Waldorf students in higher education suggests that our students are able to take command of their education, show interest and engagement in their material and a confidence in the classroom. Because our students have been taught how to think, not just what to think, they are prepared to succeed in any academic course of their choosing after graduating.
Connecting the Dots
What does the future want from our children? A message from our Waldorf brethren in Minneapolis.
IN THE MEDIA
"Every kid starts out as a natural-born scientist, and then we beat it out of them. A few trickle through the system with their wonder and enthusiasm for science intact."
- Carl Sagan in Psychology Today
"Free play is nature’s means of teaching children that they are not helpless."
- Peter Grey,
Professor of Psychology at Boston University in The Atlantic
"Minds need rest and work. But the iWorld fails to supply the child-mind with either of these basic needs."
- David Gelernter,
Professor of Computer Science at Yale in The Wall Street Journal
We have to recognize that human flourishing is not a mechanical process; it's an organic process. All you can do, like a farmer, is create the conditions under which they will begin to flourish.
- Sir Ken Robinson
Do Schools Kill Creativity?
The most popular video on Ted.com
“The heightened pressure on child athletes to be, essentially, adult athletes, has fostered an epidemic of hyper-specialization that is both dangerous and counterproductive.”
- David Epstein, Author of
The Sports Gene in
The New York Times
“Creativity is essential to particle physics, cosmology, and to mathematics, and to other fields of science, just as it is to its more widely acknowledged beneficiaries- the arts and humanities.”
- Lisa Randall,
Theoretical Physicist at Harvard University
that they are not helpless.”
- Lisa Randall,
Theoretical Physicist at Harvard University