Friday, October 30, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
- Spread the word about our blog - tweet our posts, share them by email or on Facebook, make a comment, let people know about us.
- Go onto GoodShop and type in Wellspring Community School (in the middle of the page). After that, you can go to the websites of hundreds of retailers (Amazon, department stores, all kinds) and Wellspring will receive a percentage of your purchase, no added fees, no funny business. Just you buying what you'd be buying anyway, and WCS gets a cut!
- Visit Greenraising, select Wellspring from the "Choose Your Affiliate" drop-down menu, and shop away!
- Join our Cause on Facebook
- Shop at Powell's online bookstore using the link in the left margin of our blog or the school's website and we will receive a portion of your purchase
Thanks for your support!
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
Halloween is just a week away! If you're looking for easy, fun and Earth-friendly ways to celebrate, check these out:
- Green Halloween is THE resource for all things green and Halloween, and includes costume ideas, alternatives to trick-or-treating, party ideas, a discussion board, and a list of community events
- How to Have a Handmade Halloween offers some great ideas for recycled Halloween crafts
- Crafting A Green World has some super cute Halloween decorating ideas - I personally like the detergent bottle jack-o-lantern, and the toilet paper roll boxes are something we will definitely be trying
- The Food Allergy and Anyphlaxis Network offers children the chance to raise food allergy awareness while trick-or-treating
- No list of Halloween options would be complete without mentioning UNICEF, right?
Thursday, October 22, 2009
The world is changing. Technology has connected continents like never before. Within seconds, we hear about triumphs or tragedies happening in faraway places. With this amazing knowledge comes a deep responsibility.
This is the world in which our children live. We have the privilege of introducing them to its beauties, its cultures, and even its challenges. Our kids can become the world’s problem solvers, providing they’ve developed a compassionate heart and an international mindset.
It’s easy for all of us – mothers and children alike – to be mostly concerned with ourselves, our needs, and our own countries. But a personal, intentional connection with the world broadens our horizons, keeps our problems in perspective, and supplies us with ideas to positively impact others.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Healthy Child, Healthy Planet recently posted this list of 20 Creative Ideas for Healthy School Lunches. Most of them are not vegetarian, but it's always helpful to have options for those who do include meat in their diets.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
Change.org reports that the Illinois Parent Information Resource Center has developed an arts-based, community centered approach to parent involvement in their children's education.
Parents are universally accepted as a child’s first teacher. It’s intuitive, and we usually know it from our own experience. Schools that embrace this reality and recognize the important role parents play in their child’s education are better able to create curriculum and build relationships with parents that have a profound effect on a child’s journey through school.Read more about the program here.
Friday, October 16, 2009
This is a confusing time in education. Public schools are driven into even further standardization and desperate competition by the so-called No Child Left Behind policy of the federal government. Conservative politicians call for privatization and voucher schemes. Some see charter schools (publicly funded but independently run) as the ideal model. And well over a million families are keeping their children out of school altogether, for all sorts of reasons. Until this generation, most parents simply sent their kids to the neighborhood school, but now we are faced with a dizzying array of choices, with little understanding of their philosophical differences. In this article I will provide a brief overview of the field of holistic education and list some of its distinctive examples.
Simply stated, holistic education is an effort to cultivate the development of the whole human being. Where conventional schooling views the child as a passive receiver of information and rules, or at most as a computer-like processor of information, a holistic approach recognizes that to become full person, a growing child needs to develop—in addition to intellectual skills—physical, psychological, emotional, interpersonal, moral and spiritual potentials. The child is not merely a future citizen or employee in training, but an intricate and delicate web of vital forces and environmental influences. Ultimately, holistic education reflects a spiritual rather than a mechanistic worldview; it recognizes that in the growth of every child, some mysterious life force is unfolding and seeking expression. This force might be understood in religious or quasi-religious terms, as in Waldorf education, or it can be seen in a more naturalistic sense, as a biological urge—a worldview that makes sense to many progressive and democratic educators. In any case, a holistic approach to education respects this life force and seeks to nourish it. Clearly this worldview is very closely aligned with the impulse behind organic agriculture, natural medicine, ecological awareness, and other areas of the emerging “green” society.
A holistic education is usually characterized by several core qualities. First, it encourages experiential learning. There is more discussion, questioning, experimentation, and active engagement in a holistic learning environment, and a noticeable absence of grading, testing, labeling, and comparing. Learning is more meaningful and relevant to students—it matters to their lives. Second, personal relationships are considered to be as important as academic subject matter. These learning environments strive to cultivate a sense of community and belonging, and qualities of safety, respect, caring, and even love.
Third, there is concern for the interior life, for the feelings, aspirations, ideas and questions that each student brings to the learning process. Education is no longer viewed as the transmission of information; instead it is a journey inward as well as outward into the world. Fourth, holistic education expresses an ecological consciousness; it recognizes that everything in the world exists in context, in relationship to inclusive communities. This involves a deep respect for the integrity of the biosphere, if not a sense of reverence for nature. It is a worldview that embraces diversity, both natural and cultural. Holistic education shuns ideology, categorization, and fixed answers, and instead appreciates the flowing interrelatedness of all life.
These core qualities are practiced in diverse ways. Montessori schools provide a carefully designed, multi age “prepared environment” that encourages children to explore and experiment according to their own pace and interests. Waldorf teachers lead classes through a curriculum meant to respond to the stage of soul development of each age group, using stories and arts. “Democratic” or “free” schools, and many homeschoolers, seek to remove all adult obstacles to children’s curiosity and spontaneous community. Progressive educators encourage young people to examine the world with a critical eye and a commitment to social justice. And there are a few holistic schools based on particular spiritual traditions (Quaker or yogic, for example) that bring centering practices such as meditation into their classrooms.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Today is Blog Action Day sponsored by Change.org, and the topic this year is Global Climate Change. Here at Wellspring, we try to do our part for the environment. We compost and minimize trash. We encourage parents to pack waste-free lunches. We provide wholesome, organic snacks for our students. Many of our families are vegetarian. We avoid the use of plastics in our classroom and other play areas. We encourage outdoor exploration and introduce our students to the beauty and wonder of nature.
What we do not do is engage our students in conversations about the nitty-gritty of global climate change - polar bears and melting ice caps, carbon dioxide versus methane, water shortages and food security, changing weather patterns.
According to environmental educator David Sobel in his book Beyond Ecophobia: Reclaiming the Heart in Nature Education, children go through three developmental stages as they bond with the Earth. The first stage, Empathy, is from ages four through seven. (Sobel is primarily concerned with teaching about the environment in schools; as a parent I would argue that the Empathy stage is really from birth to age seven.) The second stage, Exploration, is from ages eight to eleven, and the Social Action stage is from twelve to fifteen. In other words, it is not until adolescence that children possess the necessary level of emotional and intellectual sophistication to understand the complexity and abstraction of global issues and activism. Young children see things in black and white, but the big problems of our day are painted in many shades of gray. Therefore, it is best to spend the pre-adolescent years developing a deep bond between children and their environments and teaching by example so that they are motivated to take action when they are older.
If we introduce children to the huge problems of the adult world before they are ready, this can lead to a feeling of apathy and dissociation, similar to the way that children exposed to media violence become immune to all violence including that occurring in real life. "If we prematurely ask children to deal with problems beyond their understanding and control, prematurely recruit them to solve the mammoth problems of an adult world," says Sobel, "then I think we cut them off from the possible sources of their strength."
Think how fearful and hopeless you may sometimes feel when thinking about big global issues like climate change, and then try to imagine how hopeless a child would feel given the fact that their capacity for understanding and their power to effect change is in its infancy. This is not what we want for our children. What we want to do is empower our them to, in Sobel's words, "take a vested interest in healing the wounds of past generations while devising feasible, sustainable practices and policies for the future." The way to do this is to provide our children with "immersion, solitude, and interaction in a close, knowable world."
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
The growing charter school movement has many public schools starting to move away from the usual methods of educating students. 44 Waldorf-inspired public schools, mostly K-8 charter schools in the western part of the US, have sprung up and are having great success.
The Waldorf method suggests that teachers time their teaching to coincide with a child's readiness to learn. For instance, they teach writing before reading, which sometimes results in students starting to read as late as the third grade. "We hold back on intellectualizing the child until it's time," says sixth-grade teacher Chris Whetstone.
In "Learning from Rudolf Steiner: The Relevance of Waldorf Education for Urban Public School Reform," a study published in 2008 in the journal Encounter: Education for Meaning and Social Justice, researcher Ida Oberman concluded that the Waldorf approach successfully laid the groundwork for future academics by first
engaging students through integrated arts lessons and strong relationships instead of preparing them for standardized tests.
Read the whole story here.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby writes:
TV isn’t called the idiot box for nothing. Even at its best it replaces engaged and active thought with passive and sedentary spectating, while at its worst it destroys children’s innocence, inuring them to violence, mockery, and crude sexualization. Television is by definition a visual medium; it appeals not to the brain but to the eye. You don’t have to study hypnosis to understand how easily the eye can be exploited to undermine alertness, focus, and good judgment. Just look at the dazed and vacant expression on the face of a youngster watching TV. Most parents would be calling 911 if their child drank something that caused such a reaction. Why doesn’t the zoned-out oblivion induced by TV cause parents to panic? Is it because they’re hooked on it
Read the whole piece here.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Another easy one comes from Jessica Seinfeld's Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food. When making a grilled cheese sandwich, use a mixture of shredded cheddar, sweet potato or butternut squash puree, butter and salt as the filling instead of using a slice of American cheese. Yum!
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Welcome, welcome, we all join hands,
or make a bridge, together.
Earth who gives to us this food;
Sun who makes it ripe and good;
Dearest Earth and dearest Sun
We'll not forget what you have done.
Monday, October 5, 2009
Success is a function of persistence and doggedness and the willingness to work hard for twenty-two minutes to make sense of something that most people would give up on after thirty seconds. (page 246)
The reason, he says, for the correlation between hours in school and test scores is simple: the more time a child spends in school, the less rushed the teachers are, and the more time there is to actually explain and think about the material – in other words, there is time for students to learn persistence, doggedness, and the value of hard work.
My daughter has only been coming to Wellspring for a few short weeks, and already I've noticed a marked difference in her attention span. Before, my husband and I were concerned at her "inability" to sit still and concentrate on anything, to work hard and long to figure things out. She gave up and called for help or moved on to the next thing far too quickly for our comfort. But last weekend, she spent hours outside collecting sticks and acorns and pine cones to construct a (fairly complex and stable) fairy house under a tree in our back yard. She never would have done that two months ago.
Friday, October 2, 2009
At the heart of the Tools of the Mind methodology is a simple but surprising idea: that the key to developing self-regulation is play, and lots of it. But not just any play. The necessary ingredient is what Leong and Bodrova call “mature dramatic play”: complex, extended make-believe scenarios, involving multiple children and lasting for hours, even days. If you want to succeed in school and in life, they say, you first need to do what Abigail and Jocelyn and Henry have done every school day for the past two years: spend hour after hour dressing up in firefighter hats and wedding gowns, cooking make-believe hamburgers and pouring nonexistent tea, doing the hard, serious work of playing pretend.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Read the entire article here.
Anyone who has kids knows that any life with kids is going to be complicated, at least to some degree. From extra laundry to bathing and cooking and shopping and driving and school and chores and crises and sports and dance and toys and tantrums, there is no shortage of complications.
You won’t get to ultra-simple if your life includes children … but you can find ways to simplify, no matter how many kids you have.