Why is Waldorf math education unique and powerful?

Waldorf education lays the foundation for each individual to experience the internalization of mathematical thinking.  Like all Waldorf curricula math lessons are carefully planned to meet the needs of the developing child. Math lessons are brought through many subjects and modalities, while mindfully educating and experiencing math through the hands, heart and head.  Waldorf math education involves movement, music, rhythm, art, form drawing, language, creativity, curiosity and wonder, creating a truly multi-sensory approach to mathematics. As a result, Waldorf students acquire a deep mathematical understanding that they carry throughout their lives. Below is a brief overview of how math progresses through the grades. Math Through the Grades The rhythm of the day, of nursery rhymes and poems, and the social considerations of how many friends need a place setting or a swing are all integral parts of the youngest child’s day in a Waldorf early childhood classroom. In first grade, students learn that numbers exist everywhere in the world, especially in nature. Through this holistic approach to learning math, the special significance of the number one is discovered (as in one universe, one human being) and students explore the numbers that are found within each being (each person has two eyes and two ears, four limbs, and so on). In this way, the mystery of numbers is introduced and is further explored through the grades. In first grade, the four math processes are taught simultaneously because they reinforce each other (multiplication is fast addition, division is fast subtraction) and while learning math facts we begin to develop a general number sense which is so important for subsequent work in...

An Inspiring Visit

The  7th and 8th grades were visited today by Shabana Basij-Rasikh.  Shabana shared that as a young girl in Kabul, Afghanistan, her parents, strong advocates for education for girls, dressed her as a boy in order for her to walk freely in the streets and secretly attend a school for girls. This was at great risk of death by the Taliban, which controlled the city. Shabana spoke to the students about her passion for education: “When you educate girls, you educate boys, too. For those girls become mothers who then have sons and share with them a passion for learning for all.”  She spoke passionately about students as leaders and told our students that they need to know that their work can change the world. Eventually, Shabana came to the United States to attend Middlebury College. On returning to Afghanistan,  she founded the SOLA (School of Leadership Afghanistan), a boarding school for girls.  Students are taught in English and many find sponsorships to help continue their education in Europe and the United States. We were happy to host Shabana today and her message served as an incredible reminder of the freedoms we enjoy in the United States — both in terms of educational opportunities and opportunities for girls and women.  She encouraged the students to travel and begin to get a perspective on their own lives by building their relationship to the whole world, and not just their town or country. The following shares some of the stories from the young women at SOLA –...

2015 Screen-Free Week Activities May 4 – 8

Waldorf School at Moraine Farm invites you to participate in Screen Free Week with us. We’re offering a variety of activities that are FREE and open to the public that encourage us all to disconnect from our screens, reconnect with nature, get outside and have some fun! For more information, or to register for any of these events, please contact Erin Milner at 978-927-1936.     Our Week of FREE Activities Includes –  Monday, May 4th: Fairy House Building, 1:00 – 3:00 pm & Family Pot Luck Dinner, 5:30-7:30 pm Tuesday, May 5th: Kids’ Yoga with Kara Harris at 4 pm Wednesday, May 6th: Wet-on-Wet Watercolor Painting, 4:30-6:00 pm Thursday, May 7th: Nature Journaling, 10:00 am-12 pm Friday, May 8th: Invertebrate Scooping, 3:00-5:00 pm (Grade 2 and up, limit...

Torin Finser on Parent-Teacher Relationships this Tuesday

Please join us on Tuesday evening, March 17, to hear Torin Finser speak about his latest book, “A Second Classroom: Parent-Teacher Relationships in a Waldorf School.” Torin Finser, PhD., is Chair of the Education Department at Antioch University New England.  He has written extensively on Waldorf Education and consulted world-wide. More information on the event is here: http://waldorfmoraine.org/event/adult-speaker-series-3/   BOOK REVIEW: A Second Classroom: Parent-Teacher Relationships in a Waldorf School|by Kathy McElveen, Austin Waldorf School The doorway to a classroom is a threshold where teacher and student meet. There is another kind of meeting at this threshold, that between the child’s parents and teacher. This important relationship receives thorough attention and its just due in Torin Finser’s book, The Second Classroom. “How adults work together can be as important as the curriculum on any given day.”  This is true at all levels of work in a school, in what the children learn as they watch adults interacting, in the effective working of the school community, and in the success of addressing the needs of a particular child.  Consciously and carefully cultivating relationships is the hard work of community building and this book is a treasure trove of practical advice, diverse experiences, and a call for action. There is value here for new and experienced parents, teachers, and school administrators or anyone interested in education.  There are practical tips for improving parent conferences and class meetings, strategies for “hard to handle parents”, as well as chapters on parent volunteers and the value of effective administration. Parents are challenged to be “co-responsible for the social health” of the class and encouraged to become part of an active...

Middle School Brings Math Outdoors on Pi Day

Last week the seventh and eighth grades celebrated Pi Day, marking the once-in-a-century 3-14-15, with some scientific, artistic, and culinary experiences.  Our main activity was a project to estimate the age of trees on part of our campus. Armed with tape measures and field guides, we went outside to record the DBH, “diameter at breast height,” for a range of trees on the property. Of course, we did not want to cut down the trees to measure the diameter of their trunks, so we measured the circumference and divided by pi to get the diameter. We then multiplied the diameter by a species-specific growth factor to get an approximate age of each tree.  In the process, we needed to solve several challenges we encountered, especially given the extensive snow cover—measuring the circumference at 4.5 feet (the standard for “breast height”) while standing on several feet of snow, and identifying the tree species without leaves and cones to examine. We resolved to return again in the spring to verify and augment our data!   Back in the classroom, we explored properties of irrational numbers in general, and we heard music based on pi (which some of the students played for us) and looked at some creative data visualization techniques, also based on the digits of pi. And, of course, we ate some pie—chocolate cream and apple, to be exact. Thanks to Daniel Foster (not only our Spanish teacher but also an environmental educator) for suggesting the idea of measuring DBH, and to Mrs. Babcock for baking the pies! —Mrs. McGaunn and Ms....

Studying Virtue

Perhaps you’ve noticed the sixth graders looking particularly noble and valiant lately. On Friday evening, May 30, 2014, a beautiful knighting ceremony was held for them to culminate their studies of the Early Middle Ages. Each student carved a wooden sword and painted a shield in preparation for knighthood. They also learned about what virtue is, and how thinking about virtue has changed through the ages. They considered perspectives from the age of the Greeks and great philosophers like Aristotle, the Romans and what they valued, and how the concept of virtue changed in the Middle Ages, including the ideals of Saint Thomas Aquinas. During their preparation for knighthood as a modern rite of passage, the sixth graders were expected to help others. The students did more around the house to help in family life, and also sought places to assist those in need outside of family life. Some helped prepare or serve meals to the needy, one helped neighbors with young children, and others helped with spring cleaning in their neighborhoods.

I hope you got to see the symbols of knighthood that each child made – their swords and shields – while they were on display outside the sixth grade classroom and in the first floor hallway! –Connie MacLeod, Sixth Grade...