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.

Summer Fun with SWS!

PeterPan_FinalSummer Fun with SWS!

I hope your summer is going well and if you are out and about the town you may notice that SWS is associated with lots of summertime family fun this year. As part of our freshly launched Our Moment is Now Capital Campaign, we have sponsored both the Prescott Park Arts Festival and the Cocheco Arts Festival Children’s Concert Series. Details are below. These sponsorships are designed to raise awareness of our school in general and also to aid the process of finding supportive donors in the larger community.

We have already received several donations as part of the Summer Match program where SWS can easily earn an additional $50,000 toward the Capital Campaign! For details on the Capital Campaign and Summer Match program click here. Please share our exciting project with friends and family who may wish to invest in the future of SWS!

Work is continuing throughout the summer with our architectural, engineering and landscape design team. Preliminary drawings are currently being reviewed by the faculty and board of trustees. When the ideas become more solidified we will share those with all of you. In the meantime, the preliminary concept sketches are on display in the school office – feel free to stop in and take a look!

CAF_Facebook_Announcement-2Dover Cocheco Arts Festival Free Children’s Concert Series

This summer Seacoast Waldorf School became a sponsor and member of the Dover Chamber of Commerce. The town of Dover will be offering a Children’s Series of performances at the Henry Law Park Rotary Arts Pavilion every Tuesday starting July 15th.

Mark your calendar for every Tuesday at 10:30am:

Rockin’ Ron the Friendly Pirate – July 14

Rick Goldin – children’s singer – July 21

Little Red Wagon – children’s theater tour group – July 28

Wayne from Maine – children’s singer – Aug 4

BJ Hickman – magician – Aug 11

Rob Duquette – multi-instrument musician of children’s music – Aug 18

Wednesdays in the Garden 9-11am

“Ladies and Gents, Ladies and Gents

Meet Me at the Garden Fence”

Calling all gardeners — beginners and master alike! We will be offering many opportunities for family gardening this summer with the SWS Faculty.

Watering & Weeding Wednesdays

9:00am – 11:00am

August 5, 12, 19

Bring your own snack.

Children are most welcome!

Seacoast birth mattersSeacoast Birth Matters Picnic
Wednesday, July 29th, 11am

SWS is proud to announce that we have recently partnered with Seacoast Birth Matters to offer them space for their non-profit programs supporting local families.  Their first event at SWS will be their annual community gathering in honor of World Breastfeeding Week… to support & promote breastfeeding & local breastfeeding resources. Bring your own picnic lunch if you’d like, desserts & drinks will be provided.  Come celebrate breastfeeding families. All are welcome!  For more information on the terrific services offered by Seacoast Birth Matters visit http://www.seacoastbirthmatters.com/

 

 

Annual Spring Fling Gala & Silent Auction May 30th, 7pm!

Spring Fling 2015Join us for the last community night of the school year! Fantastic food, summer libations, lively music and lawn games – all under the twinkle-lit trees in our very own Garden of Ale. Also featured will be a Silent Auction with over 75 items including: handmade lap quilt, youth ski package from Kittery Trading Post, restaurant gift certificates (Book & Bar, Friendly Toast, Kilwin’s and more!), custom made Irish knit sweater, granite garden bird bath, surfboard lessons and wet suit rental from Summer Sessions, spa treatment from Wingate Spa, custom built natural wooden furniture bench and so much more!!

The fun begins at 7pm. All welcome – parents, grandparents, relative, friends and neighbors!

Tickets available in the office or on-line below with PayPal or a credit card.


Submit

Community Design Charrette Sat. May 23rd 9am-12noon

Design CharretteYou are Invited! Come one, come all to a community design charrette hosted by our building and landscape architect team. Saturday, May 23rd from 9am -noon.  This will be a fun and lively brainstorming session. Come and share your thoughts, ideas and hopes about our exciting new expansion plans!  We want to hear from all of you.  Every school community member, alumni and their extended family are welcome.  Please note, this event is for adults only.  There will be childcare available by RSVP only, to register for childcare call the office at 207-686-3140.

For your browsing pleasure, here are some links to our design team’s websites:

http://www.rrennerarchitects.com/

http://www.richardsonassociates.com/

SWS Summer Camps 2015!

Seacoast Waldorf School hikeThe Seacoast Waldorf School will be offering seven different options for summer camp this July at our new campus with five acres of field, forest and natural playgrounds plus surrounding woods and miles of trails.  Seacoast Waldorf School summer camps are innovative nature based camps for children three years and older, our very popular Circus Arts camps returns for one week for children age 6 and up. Join us for one or more weeks of our Summer Programs! Summer openings go quickly, so we advise you to enroll early.

July 6th-10th  Big Top Circus Camp

8:30am – 3:00pm
Ages 6 and up

In the Big Top Circus Camp, children will explore the magic and wonder of “running away” with the circus! Each child will be introduced to specific skills in the circus arts, learn cooperation and teamwork while working in a company of performers and build individual self-confidence through instruction, practice and performance. Our Seacoast Waldorf School circus troupe will be trained in a safe, non competitive and exciting environment while developing valuable life skills. Thrilling circus arts like uni-cycling, juggling, plate spinning, joke telling, tumbling, balancing and clowning are not only fun, they also build hand/eye coordination, balance, right and left brain development, non-dominant hand integration and trust.  Above all, circus arts are a blast!  The week concludes with the troupe on stage presenting their Big Top Circus before a live audience of family, friends, siblings and neighbors.

>> Circus Arts Camp Register Now!

 

July 13th-17th  Kindercamp I

8:30am – 3:00pm / 8:30am-12noon

Ages 3-5

Our summer program for our youngest child has a daily rhythm of indoor and outdoor play, circle time, project time and rest time. Our school is a media-free space; we offer your child the opportunity to be in a child-centered environment that allows for an imaginative and healthy play experience. Songs , crafts and stories of the season will be shared daily and children will participate in activities which reflect the summer’s light and warmth. Each session is one week long. Children stay a full day and bring their own snack and lunch from home. Children should be potty trained.

 

 

 

July 20th -24th  Music in the Woods Camp

8:30am – 3:00pm
Ages 6-9 yrs

During this camp, we will learn about various musical instruments and explore their different sounds. We will build our own wind, string, and percussion instruments out of natural man-made products and items found out in the woods. We will create a stage and band to perform a live concert in our outdoor classroom on our last day!

>> Music in the Woods Camp Register Now!

 

July 20th-24th  Tree House Builders Camp

8:30am – 3:00pm
Ages 6 and up

Let’s build a tree house!  We will pick out the very best kind of tree for a tree house, design, and then build and decorate our tree house with natural materials.  We will learn about how to build, the different trees in our woods, and how to plant trees for future tree houses.   At the end of the week we will share our special place in the woods with parents and friends.

>> Tree House Builders Camp Register Now!

 

July 27th -31st  Kindercamp II

8:30am – 3:00pm / 8:30am-12noon
Ages 3-5

Our summer program for our youngest child has a daily rhythm of indoor and outdoor play, circle time, project time and rest time. Our school is a media-free space; we offer your child the opportunity to be in a child-centered environment that allows for an imaginative and healthy play experience. Songs, crafts and stories of the season will be shared daily and children will participate in activities which reflect the summer’s light and warmth.  Each session is one week long. Children stay a full day and bring their own snack and lunch from home. Children should be potty trained.

 

 

July 27th-31st  Exploratory Art

8:30am – 3:00pm / 8:30am-12noon
Ages 4-6 yrs

This camp will be all about exploring different art mediums, such as natural paints, pastels, clay, and yarn. We will use natural man-made products combined with items found in the woods to create abstract works of art. This camp is designed to give children an introduction into the world of making art!

>> Exploratory Art Camp Register Now!