Huffington Post Story on Waldorf Education

A great piece on one family’s journey to Waldorf education.  Originally published here. Knitting Is More Important Than Homework By MARA MENACHEM Two years ago on the front page of the New York Times Sunday Business section, an article ran entitled, “A Silicon Valley School That Doesn’t Compute” about the Waldorf School in Silicon Valley. I had already made the decision to enter my oldest son in a Waldorf school before the article came out, but I pathetically admit that this piece in the New York Times validated my intuition regarding a Waldorf education. Years ago when I was looking at preschools, I checked out a Waldorf School. At the time, despite my hippie pre-disposition, the environment seemed too “out there.” However, I trusted my intuition enough to send my kids to another somewhat alternative, small, liberal pre-school focusing on socialization, not academics. The kids were happy, as were we. My kids were little Huck Finns and I was comfortable as their pied piper as they explored their world, not competed in it. But when it came time for elementary school, going “alternative” seemed a little too “alternative.” Traditional private school didn’t do it for me as a kid. I went to private school and felt stifled. I wanted something different for my kids. In my mind, I saw my kids being raised with limitless imagination and access to never-ending creativity, even after pre-school. My perspective always seemed to be different from the majority. My intellectual buddies (although many sans kids) served as the great validators of my gut feelings regarding how I handled certain situations. Over time, I...

Handwork Year-In-Review

Here are some of the finished products from the school’s handwork program during the 2012-13 school year.  Thank you Mrs. Collis Puro and Mrs. Freysinger for helping the children to make such beautiful objects with their own...

Proud Craftsmen

Back in January, the 7th and 8th grades took a field trip to Jo Ann’s Fabric and picked out material for their next project. Now it is May and look what the material has turned into! Kevin and Aidan agree that the collars were the hardest part (“lots of steps”), the buttons were the easiest, and the sewing machine’s buttonhole attachment was fun to use (“it practically did it itself”). It’s wonderful seeing adolescent boys proud of something they’ve made with their own hands.  And it’s another example of why Middle School at Cape Ann Waldorf School is a great place to...

Penelope the Sheep

On an unusually warm December day, the Cape Ann Waldorf School third grade went outside to work on Penelope’s fleece.  Penelope is an English Leicester sheep from Cranberry Moon Farm whose fleece, over the course of the year, the class will turn into yarn for a project. Here’s Penelope, before she was shorn: This is part of a weekly fabric arts block taught the handwork teacher.  At Waldorf schools, children learn to knit, sew, crochet, and more, beginning in first grade and continuing up through high school.  More than just learning skills, they gain a sense of what it takes to make everyday items that we take for granted (knitting hats in second grade, socks in fifth).  They also get to experience the satisfaction of finishing a project that may last weeks or months. Below are photos of washing, rinsing, and setting the wool out to...

Natural Dye Workshop

Our fabulous handwork teacher, Heather Collis Puro, led a fascinating workshop on natural dyes on a recent Saturday morning.  Lindsay Miles, one of our equally fabulous kindergarten teachers and also a very experienced dyer, co-led the workshop. About 20 people from the community attended. Heather started by describing various materials that make up natural dyes.  Here, she’s holding a jar of cochineal (bugs!), famous for the crimson-colored dye they make. Heather and Lindsay straining the sandalwood dye. The dye pots Stirring the osage orange (left), black walnut (center), and cochineal (right). Stirring the alkanet (left) and sandalwood (right). Lindsay and Heather holding the various shades of yellow that have been made recently at school.  The silk capes are made every fall for the kindergartners. A detail of the yarns and silks that Lindsay Miles has dyed.  Aren’t they beautiful? Pulling the yarn from the cochineal pot. Amazing that these little critters produces such a beautiful color. The finished...