Rose Ceremony marks new year at Seacoast Waldorf School

The school yard was filled with proud, smiling faces today as the new first graders of the Seacoast Waldorf School were welcomed with a rose!  Rose Ceremony at Seacoast Waldorf School

During this beautifully simple and heartfelt ceremony, the oldest students in the school greeted the first graders one by one, handing them each a rose as they began their journey through the grades.

Entering first grade is an enormous change for children, and the giving and receiving of the flower gives a special significance to their growth, and their transition out of early childhood and into the grades program.

The Rose Ceremony is a tradition that is performed on the first day of the school year at Waldorf schools all across the globe, and has been since the early 1900’s when Waldorf Education began.  It is just one of the many traditions performed at the Seacoast Waldorf School to celebrate and honor the children and their families as they experience important milestones in their lives.

Celebrating the Festival of Michaelmas

Earlier this month, the students, faculty and administration – joined by parents, grandparents, family and friends – gathered together to celebrate Michaelmas.

A little-known festival, Michaelmas is observed at Waldorf Schools across the globe and celebrates St. Michael, the protector of humanity, who according to fifth century tradition, in battle tames a dragon to save the kingdom. Because the celebration falls near the equinox, it is often associated with the beginning of autumn and the shortening of days.

First Graders Celebrating St Michelmas

Seacoast Waldorf School first graders celebrating St Michelmas in song

In keeping with tradition, this year’s Michaelmas celebration took place in Seacoast Waldorf School’s playgrounds and outdoor spaces and began with the grade school children and teachers reciting verses and singing as the nursery, preschool and kindergarten children and their families looked on. The stories and verse contained themes of courage, light conquering dark, inner strength, and deeds of goodness.

Families, students and faculty then gathered at picnic tables for a delicious outdoor feast of soup (made by the children), corn bread, cider and apple crisp and time together enjoying the beautiful sunny day before heading indoors to tour the children’s classrooms.

The Michaelmas festival reminds us to both summon and honor the courage displayed each and every day – in noble acts big and strong. It reminds us to be a champion for others, to look for the good in all and to always strive toward our fullest human potential.

Rose Ceremony Celebrates Seacoast Waldorf School’s First Day

DSC_0881The Seacoast Waldorf School 2015/2016 school year commenced Wednesday morning, September 9th, with the annual Rose Ceremony. Students, families and faculty gathered in the school’s veggie- and flower-filled gardens to welcome the new first grade class through the grade school.

Each first grader walked over a wooden bridge and was then greeted by a fifth or sixth grade student who presented the child with a red rose – a tradition repeated at Waldorf schools across the globe.

The grade school children then formed a sunflower bridge over the first grade class as the proceeded to their classroom to begin the new school year.

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Seacoast Waldorf School, founded in 1999, is one of over 1,000 Waldorf schools worldwide with over 90 years of experience offering inspired education. Waldorf education is one of the fastest growing independent school movements in the world.

Since opening its doors at its current location, 403 Route 236 in Eliot, Maine, Seacoast Waldorf School has nearly doubled enrollment. The school is now is the planning stages for a construction project in 2016 to add a middle school, community auditorium and more. Click here to learn more about our Capital Campaign and plans to expand the school.

 

Academics for preschoolers – at what cost?

A recent article from Angela Hanscom, occupational therapist and founder of  nature-based development program, TimberNook, draws connections between the decline of unorganized, self-directed free play for two, three and four year olds and troubling changes in these young children’s social and physical development.

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Preschoolers at play at Seacoast Waldorf School

In the article, The Decline of Play in Preschoolers – And the Rise in Sensory Issues, Hanscom explores the growing trend of preschools transitioning from play-based learning to becoming more academic in nature and the impact on those preschoolers.

“They are more likely to be clumsy, have difficulty paying attention, trouble controlling their emotions, utilize poor problem-solving methods, and demonstrate difficulties with social interactions. We are consistently seeing sensory, motor, and cognitive issues pop up more and more in later childhood, partly because of inadequate opportunities to move and play at an early age,” says Hanscom.

Similarly, an article by Peter Gray, featured in the Journal of Play, states: “Over the past half century, in the United States and other developed nations, children’s free play with other children has declined sharply. Over the same period, anxiety, depression, suicide, feelings of helplessness, and narcissism have increased sharply in children, adolescents, and young adults.

The Gray article highlights the benefits of free-play – which uniquely and organically allows children to:

  • develop intrinsic interests and competencies
  • learn how to make decisions, solve problems, exert self-control, and follow rules
  • learn to regulate their emotions
  • make friends, take turns and get along with others
  • experience joy

Hanscom argues that children under the age of seven “desperately need to have a multitude of whole-body sensory experiences on a daily basis in order to develop strong bodies and minds.”  She concludes “Children just need the time, the space, and the permission to be kids.”

At a time where increased time and weight are given to academics, parents are seeking alternatives to the results-driven, test-driven direction most preschools are headed.  Waldorf schools take a different approach – centering the early childhood curriculum around experiential learning, developing skills and confidence via self-directed free play, practical life skills, and artistic opportunities.

Learn more. Visit www.seacoastwaldorfschool.org or call 207-686-3140 to schedule a private tour of one of our beautiful early childhood classrooms.

Primed for Success: In Waldorf Schools, Kindergarteners Hone Critical Social Skills

Earlier this month, the American Journal of Public Health published an important study on the relationship between a 5-year old’s social competence and their ‘future wellness’ as adults. The study, which followed nearly 800 kindergarteners into adulthood, concludes: “”Kindergarten pro-social skills were significantly and uniquely predictive of whether participants graduated from high school on time, completed a college degree, obtained stable employment in young adulthood, and were employed full-time in young adulthood.”

In other words: Early childhood is the foundation of a healthy, productive life. Kids who developed social and emotional skills during their preschool years fared better in school, were more likely to stay gainfully employed, and were more likely to stay out of trouble as adults.

Michaelmas at TidewaterAs more and more schools focus on academics at younger and younger ages, Waldorf schools take a different approach – centering the early childhood curriculum around experiential learning, developing skills and confidence via imaginative play, practical life skills, and artistic opportunities.

“Traditionally, we’re focused much more on academic achievement and more and more we’re realizing through many studies that academic achievement is only one part of making somebody successful,” said Damon of Penn State University, lead researcher for the study Early Social-Emotional Functioning and Public Health: The Relationship Between Kindergarten Social Competence and Future Wellness.

In a Waldorf kindergarten classroom, the child becomes accustomed to working within a group, listening to stories, interacting with a teacher, and following a daily routine. Most importantly, a Waldorf kindergarten gives young children the gift of free play. Self-directed free play allows children to process what is happening in their own lives and helps children to self-regulate, to share and take turns, to collaborate, create and problem-solve. It is from these interactions that they develop open-hearted kindness and consideration and respect for others – all skills that are critical to a person’s long-term well-being.

Waldorf schools teach young children empathy with the goal of helping them develop into morally responsible, integrated individuals with a high degree of social-emotional intelligence.

A Waldorf early childhood education imbues a lifelong love of learning, social and emotional intelligence, the ability to think creatively and solve problems and an appreciation for a deeper connection to the world.

Learn more. Visit www.seacoastwaldorfschool.org or call 207-686-3140 to schedule a private tour of one of our beautiful early childhood classrooms.

Seacoast Waldorf School Celebrates Michelmas and Deeds of Goodness

Last week, Seacoast Waldorf School celebrated the harvest festival of Michelmas. First, with a re-enactment of St. Michael, the protector of humanity, battling the dragon to save the kingdom.

Then, grade school children and teachers gathered on the sunny slope of the early childhood playground to sing and recite verses as the nursery, preschool and kindergarten children and friends and families looked on. The stories and verse contained themes of courage, light conquering dark, inner strength, and deeds of goodness.

Families, students and faculty then moved to the grades playground for an outdoor feast of soup, corn bread, cider and apple crisp and time together enjoying the beautiful sunny day before heading indoors to tour the classrooms.

The Michelmas festival reminds us to both summon and honor the courage displayed each and every day – in noble acts big and strong. It reminds us to perform acts of kindness – to make good choices even when no one is looking and to seek the good in others.