Waldorf Students: International Math Champions

Waldorf mathCongratulations to Ithaca Waldorf School!

“Ithaca Waldorf School Math Olympiads Score Among Top Students Internationally”

Ithaca Waldorf School  6th and 7th grade students received a perfect score and scored in the top percentiles in this year’s International Math Olympiad, in which nearly 150,000 students participated from the United States and other countries.

Read more here

Lantern Walk

Seacoast Waldorf School’s

Lantern Walk at Seacoast Waldorf School

Monday, November 10

5:00 pm


Martinmas and the Lantern Walk

Young and old unite in song around a roaring bonfire under a dazzling starry sky

Young and old unite in song around a roaring bonfire under a dazzling starry sky

Martin of Tours was a Roman soldier in 4th century Gaul. It is told that while passing through the city gates at Amiens, he found a poor beggar shivering with cold. Martin shared his own cloak by tearing it in half and giving the poor man some warmth. St. Martin has since become the representative of brotherly kindness, sharing light and warmth with all those in need.  November 11th, his day of burial, has long been remembered as Martinmas.

 The story of St. Martin has inspired the tradition of a lantern walk, the sharing of lantern songs and warmth with friends. The younger students make lanterns in their classrooms and join their families in an evening lantern walk.

Lantern Walk at Seacoast Waldorf School

Lantern Walk at Seacoast Waldorf School

5:00-6 pm   Pot luck in the community room. Please bring a salad or main dish to share with your own plates, cups and utensils.

6:00 pm     The community packs up their dishes and brings everything to their cars. Then we gather around the bonfire for verse & singing.

6:30 pm     Children gather around their teachers to receive their lanterns. A designated adult will signal the lighting of the lanterns.  Once families have all their lanterns they may start on the path. It is helpful for each family to bring a “clicker” (long necked lighter) to light and relight lanterns.  As each family completes the walk, they are free to get in their cars and leave.

The Lantern Walk is meant to be experienced solemnly without the distraction of conversation.

If an older sibling accompanies the family we ask that they stay and walk with the family. Please wear appropriate footwear. We will be wandering over ‘meadow moor and dale’ and may find a puddle or two.

Preschooler displays her paper lantern

Preschooler displays her paper lantern

Seacoast Waldorf School Media Policy

I was giving a tour of the school the other day and as we entered each new classroom the parent kept saying “wow!” and as I described the nuances of Waldorf Education he was asking questions, very excited and impressed by what he was seeing and hearing. Then, as we left the building he turned to me and said “This is an amazing education. I just can’t imagine doing the no tv thing.” Needless to say, I was surprised at his candor, and his concerns which led into a conversation about Waldorf and media.  I fear many people dismiss Waldorf education for fear of being forced to give up their tvs!  image

Let me set the record straight. At Seacoast Waldorf School every family, along with the guidance of their child’s teacher, chooses how much media exposure (if any) their children are allowed to have. Waldorf Education is not anti-media, rather, it is pro-imagination.  The reasons we are very thoughtful about how much, what and when our students watch television, play video games or spend time on computers are very deliberate.

  1. The pace of television today is not what it was when we were children. One minute of Sponge Bob Square Pants has the same amount of scene changes as one hour of Mr. Rogers. Rapid scene changes stimulate the flight or flight response in children.
  2. The advertising on television today is designed to have rapid scene changes and create this same excited fight or flight response with the image of the product remaining on the screen for a solid 4 seconds so as to be the most memorable image to the child.  Using such insidious techniques, advertisers are deliberately planting consumer desires for their product(s) into your child’s awareness.
  3. TV, video games and online imagery are larger-than-life. When a child can see the intricate details of a frog’s eye on PBS Nature, eventually they lose interest in playing with just a plain old ordinary frog outside.
  4. When a child is spending hours watching tv, playing video games or staring at a computer screen, they are passively being influenced by someone else’s ideas. They are not creating their own. They are not engaged in imaginative play or cooperative play and are missing opportunities to be doing other developmentally important unstructured play activities.

At Seacoast Waldorf School we require a highly conscientious approach to media. We ask for no television during the school week or at the very least none before school so that when children play at school, their play is original and not a re-enactment of something they have seen.  We also ask that any media be age appropriate and preferably without advertisement such as G rated dvds or On Demand films, avoiding exposing the children to adult content such as news broadcasts or inappropriate television or even radio programming.

You will be amazed at the level of creative play that will blossom in your house when the television is off!  Often the less media a child is exposed to, the less they depend on it or ask for it. Please feel free to ask your teachers for ideas, advice and help if you wish to pursue a more more media-free family life!

Fall Hootenanny Festival!

Join us for a festive children’s morning with live music, crafts, apple pressing, puppet storytelling, sing-a-longs, harvest parade, snacks and more. A fun event for the whole family!

Open to the public and free of charge.


Saturday, October 18th






2014 Summer Camps!

Preschool and Kindergarten Children at Seacoast Waldorf School

The Seacoast Waldorf School is excited to offer six summer camps over three weeks,  July 7th-25th, 2014.All six week-long camps will take place on our school campus taking advantage of its many beautiful acres of surrounding forest, trails and ponds.  The camps serve children ranging in age from 3 years old to 12 years old.  Space is limited! To read details and register children for summer camp  click here



What is Anthroposophy?


I spent the weekend of March 21st-23rd in Freeport, Maine attending the AWSNA (Association of Waldorf Schools of North America) Northeast regional conference held at Merriconeag Waldorf School. The conference was attended by over one hundred and fifty people representing Waldorf schools from all six New England states as well as the province of Quebec.  The keynote speaker was Florian Oswald, the head of pedagogy at the Goetheanum in Switzerland. The Goetheanum is also the world headquarter of the General Anthropological Society. Hearing Mr. Oswald’s thought provoking and inspirational speeches got me thinking more about what exactly is Anthroposophy? As a parent in a Waldorf school (not to mention a Director) I felt compelled to learn more about this important underpinning of this highly effective form of education.

I feel fairly well versed in the benefits of a Waldorf Education for children: integrated free play, art and music which develop neural pathways, original thinking and executive function, handwork and form drawing to develop fine motor skills and higher ordered thinking, rhythmic teaching via a concentrated main lesson and four week blocks for true retention of information and fostering curiosity, early introduction of foreign languages, much active year-round time spent outdoors developing a reverence for the beauty of earth, etc…and that is just the tip of the iceberg!  I have no doubt that our children receive much freedom, inspiration and fortitude from their Waldorf Education everyday.

What I was not at all as familiar with, and sometimes wondered about, is the philosophical basis underlying this very creative yet deliberate system of teaching: Anthroposophy.  I share with you what I have learned in the hope of not only de-mystify Anthroposophy but also embracing it for what it is: a key component in Waldorf Education’s evolution into the fastest growing independent school movement in the world.  Anthroposophy is a broad philosophy founded by Rudolph Steiner that has been applied practically in Waldorf Education, biodynamic agriculture, medicine, ethical banking, special education (the Camphilll Movement) and organizational development. The term Anthroposophy comes from the Greek words for “human” and “wisdom”.

Generally speaking, Anthroposophy advocates inner development of the human being’s intuition or inspiration, in order to develop our abilities of perceptive imagination beyond just sensory experience. This is often done via meditation, reflection, sleep, envisioning etc.  Anthroposophy, as a study, strives to apply the precision of science to investigations of such intuition. The idea is that when we have a powerful experience of imagination or intuition it is supported by a spiritual source which exists to help us – some may call this source the realm of the whole of shared human consciousness, some may call it God, some may call it the spiritual world, some may call it angels;  the terminology is entirely a personal choice.  The point is that intuition on the level of genius comes from somewhere beyond our own personal experiences.

Please note,  Anthroposophy is the philosophical foundation of Waldorf Education, it is not taught to children! Teachers and staff study Anthroposophy and strive to use it’s techniques in their work. For example, if a student is having a difficult behavioral issue, the teacher might make observations of that child, meditate that evening on the concerns – holding the child in the highest regard – and then sleep on it and see what ideas or inspiration they awaken the following day. Another example are the highly creative, sometimes impromptu lessons Waldorf teachers are famous for — where did these brilliant, on-the-spot ideas come from that reach the children exactly where they need to be reached in that moment, in that lesson, on that day? Some would say they come from the teacher’s previous Anthropological practices of meditation and reflection leading to their heightened imagination and intuition in the moment.

It is important to also note that Anthroposophy is not a religion. As a philosopher and writer, Rudolph Steiner’s work touched upon elements of many organized religions including Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Muslim and Hindu faiths. According the U.S. Center for Anthroposophy, “Anthroposophy is a method of inquiry, a path of research, rather than a fixed set of ideas. Rudolf Steineronce characterized Anthroposophy as an upside-down plant, with its roots in the heavens (the world of the spirit) and its blossom and fruit in practical life on earth. This ‘growing down’ means that clear insights born of disciplined spiritual research can help us re-enliven the practice of education, health, farming, technology, and countless other areas of daily life.”

There are about 10,000 institutions around the world working on the basis of Anthroposophy today including sixteen Waldorf schools affiliated with the United Nations’ UNESCO Associated Schools Project Network, which “sponsors education projects that foster improved quality of education throughout the world, in particular in terms of its ethical, cultural, and international dimensions”.*   And many Waldorf schools receive full or partial governmental funding in European nations, Australia and in parts of the United States (as Waldorf Education charter schools).

Overall Athroposophy is a very optimistic philosophy advocating the spiritual dimension of all human beings and advocating our ability to use our spiritual abilities of intuition, imagination and inspiration to improve the work we do.  This conference was a truly enjoyable learning experience for me and I invite anyone interested in learning more about Waldorf Education, its teaching practices, history or underlying philosophy of Anthroposophy to attend an AWSNA conference.  If you are intrigued by this article and wish to discuss it or the study of Athroposophy as related to Waldorf Education,  I would welcome the opportunity to continue the conversation or even organize a study group.
* Agenda Fact Sheet, United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization dated 18 April 2001