Our initiative is growing strong!
Wishing Well School: Educating the Whole Child
2015-2016: Preschool, Mixed-age Kindergarten and 1st/2nd and 3rd/4th Grade combination classes
Open to children 3 though 10 years old/fourth grade
Now accepting applications
Who we are: We are a community of parents and teachers who provide an educational environment that engages the whole child by integrating academic excellence, artistic expression and practical life-skills. We seek to stimulate a love of learning, guide idealism and deepen a sense of social and global responsibility. Our goal is to enable students to become self- motivated, lifelong learners, heartfelt human beings and responsible citizens of society.
Our teachers nurture the imagination in the early years in order to build a foundation for later abstract thinking and then throughout the grades challenge the intellect. This developmental approach equally emphasizes a strong academic program, creative artistic expression, social development and attention to the inner life and natural rhythms of the child.
We believe in cultivating a deep appreciation for the diversity of life. Through an integrated, project based, approach to learning, and the celebration of multicultural seasonal festivals, the child develops a relationship to the earth and humanity. This relationship fosters respect and responsibility for the natural world and humankind.
For more information please email us at: email@example.com
Preschool/Kindergarten Program Description
Young children learn about the world through imitation and example. Together as teachers and parents we will take care that our actions, the environment and the activities are worthy of imitation. A carefully selected rhythm of alternating structured and unstructured activities throughout the day include, imaginative play, artistic activities, singing games/circle time, storytelling & puppetry, nature experiences and multicultural holidays and festivals. The activities are planned and designed to help the child develop their fine and gross motor movements, their language acquisition and their relationships with other children and adults. The rhythmical nature of the day and the activities themselves form the foundation for discipline in the preschool/kindergarten. The teacher guides the child to help develop social skills that involve cooperation and nonaggression. Circle time, activities and celebrations follow a yearly rhythm based on the natural progression of the seasons.
In short, the preschool/ kindergarten curriculum forms the basis for later academic learning. The foundations of written language and literacy are laid with an emphasis on the oral traditions of storytelling, puppetry, and song. The foundations of mathematics are nurtured through rhythmic movement, music and the practical activities of cooking, sewing, gardening, and carpentry. Attention to, and care of, the natural world and its beauty lay a healthy foundation for more precise scientific explorations in the later years.
The Preschool/Kindergarten will offer a joyful, nurturing setting that inspires the imagination, respects nature and honors play. The “magic” of childhood will be preserved through an atmosphere of beauty and wonder. The classroom is set up to encourage imaginative play and allow the child full reign of creative and individualistic expression. Open-ended toys and equipment of natural materials are provided to best stimulate the child’s senses and imagination. They include basic blocks, things gathered from nature (shells, acorns, stones, etc.) wooden toys (play kitchen, boat, animals), soft knit animals, cloth dolls, play silks and dress-ups. These simple materials are chosen to allow the small and large motor skills to develop organically, thus laying the foundation for later academic learning.
Play is the basis of experiential learning. Through play children interact and explore the world around them and this brings pleasure. With pleasure comes the drive to repeat the pleasurable activity and with repetition comes mastery. The more comfortable children feel with the world, the more likely they will learn and discover new things, conquer their fears, and have enhanced confidence toward challenges. It is through the “experiments” of play that a structure of knowledge of themselves, others around them and the world is built.
Play is essential to healthy development because it contributes to the cognitive, social, physical and emotional well-being of the child. Through imaginative play the child explores the use of symbols, and this symbolic thinking forms the foundation for later academic learning. When a child pretends a shell is breakfast for his/her baby or stones are a present, or a ticket, the child is engaging in symbolic thinking to transform items found in nature into fantasy play. Social and communication skills are developed when children create, for example, a birthday party scene where they work together to prepare for the party. Imaginative play most often requires the use of problem solving, strategizing, planning to achieve a goal, making choices and negotiating skills. Play builds the physical body. Climbing a tree or rolling down a hill sharpens reflexes, develops strength, coordination and balance. Play also meets the child emotionally. Through their imaginations they are able to make sense of the world around them.
Participation in an artistic process engages the child on many different levels. Fine and gross motor skills are developed as are decision making, problem solving and exploring their own creativity. Artistic activities include music, simple nature crafts, cooking and baking, handwork (sewing, finger knitting, felting), modeling/sculpture, woodworking and visual arts (painting, crayoning, etc.).
Music can be heard throughout the day during circle time, transitions, and preparing for and cleaning-up from activities. Through music and rhythm the foundations for later mathematical concepts are laid. The domestic arts – crafts, cooking and baking, handwork, sculpting and woodwork, are developing fine and gross motors skills thereby building a platform for later academic learning such as concentration, speech and thinking. Wet on wet watercolor painting is an excellent example of how artistic activities work on the child in a threefold manner. It is an exploration of the medium, exploring colors and how they mix. It involves discovering the emotional quality or nature of the color,which in turn then becomes an emotional expression for the child. And it requires inner control that they can dip a brush in the paint pot without spilling their water jar in the process, fine and gross motor skills.
Circle and Story Time
Fairy tales, classical stories, puppet shows, verses, nursery rhymes, finger plays, singing games and circle time expose children to rich language, develop listening skills and help children recognize sounds and rhythm in words and rhyming schemes in verses. All of this lays the basis for the understanding of phonics, the beginnings of reading and writing. Oral listening skills build language, competence in grammar, memory, attention and visualization. These are crucial skills in developing literacy. Oral storytelling and oral history provide an opportunity to tap the richness of cultural traditions outside the mainstream.
Each day the child will have the opportunity to experience the natural world through nature walks, “backyard” experiences and gardening/outdoor work. The child will learn about the natural world by exploring nature firsthand and it is these observations, discoveries and explorations that will be the foundation for later scientific discovery. They give the child the whole picture so that later they can have a connection to all the details.
The young child is so new to the world that is seems appropriate that their “classroom” be the natural world. They are uniquely in harmony with seasonal changes and outdoor life, for example the little bugs under a log. Seasonal songs, stories and crafts introduce different aspects of nature into the child’s imagination awakening the child’s senses to the world around them. Planting in a school garden teaches about the seasons, plant growth (seed/bulb to vegetable/flower) and soils. General tending to the school community space gives the child an opportunity to engage in purposeful work as well as, being responsible toward themselves and others,an important part of the whole. The outdoor space with a multitude of different natural materials, sand, dirt, wood chips, grass, rocks, trees, plants, flowers, bugs, butterflies, birds and much much more, provide a healthy setting from which to explore and build upon their understanding of themselves and the natural world.
Multicultural Holidays and Festivals
The seasonal rhythm of the year serves as a common ground for all cultures. The natural world is acknowledged and celebrated in a variety of ways so that the child may develop a reverence and sense of stewardship for the earth and all its inhabitants. School festivals are an opportunity to participate in multicultural based celebrations of the changing seasons. For the young child, festivals represent a tangible way to mark the passing of time. Most festival celebrations are simple – a craft, songs, or stories. A few others are celebrated outside of school time allowing for parents and other family members to join. Celebrating festivals together provides a way to build a community of parents, teachers and children.
Overview of Preschool/Kindergarten Curriculum
This is a breakdown of how an arts, movement and music curriculum inspired by Waldorf relates to traditional academic disciplines.
Math: Qualities of numbers; sorting and ordering; rhythm counting with movement and song; measuring in baking and cooking; woodworking; introduction of the four operations in arithmetic through practical application
Language Arts: fairy tales from around the world; singing; poetry recitation; with emphasis on the oral tradition
Science: Cooking; baking; nature stories; nature walks; observations; gardening
History & Social Studies: Multicultural stories; festivals; foods
Handwork: Finger knitting; sewing; cutting; pasting; drawing; seasonal crafts; woodworking (fine motor skills, foundation for concentration, speech and thinking)
Foreign Language: Introduction to Spanish through songs and rhymes
Visual & Performing Arts: Drawing; painting; beeswax modeling; drama; singing; percussion instruments; puppetry
Movement/Physical Education/Games: Circle games; finger games; Eurythmy; jumping rope; climbing; outdoor imaginative play