Wishing Well School: Educating the Whole Child
Preschool, Kindergarten, and 1st-8th Grade
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.
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
Grades Program: 1st – 8th
Many teaching methods grow from the question: How can the student accumulate the most information at the earliest possible age? We ask a different question: How can we best engage students at each distinct age and inspire a lifelong love of learning?
Our deep and varied curriculum includes age-appropriate academic work, as well as rich artistic experiences that combine to make learning an adventure, not a chore. In the classroom and in our natural surroundings, a classical education — science, math, social studies, humanities and the arts — is integrated and taught in an active and stimulating way. Students learn through stories and experiences that feed their senses, foster their creativity and lend a global perspective to their thinking. Everything from the introduction of the alphabet to root numbers is taught with depth and relevancy to our world.
Aftercare is available until 5pm at an additional cost, $7/hour.
Curriculum by Grades 1-3:
The first, second and third grade child is so full of life and love of learning. We bring a rotation of enrichment lessons throughout the year that meet the growing changing needs of the child while taking into account each child’s learning pace.
Form Drawing: Form Drawing trains the thinking, feeling and will forces within a child. In this class, children move a form in many ways before putting it on paper. It trains hand-eye coordination, flexible thinking, aesthetic and spatial orientation. Closed forms, running forms, metamorphic forms and mirror forms are explored.
Spanish: This class is taught by a native Spanish speaker who immerses the students in storytelling, games, movement and art. The class is taught primarily in Spanish.
Handwork: In this class students in 1st, 2nd and 3rd grades learn to knit, purl, follow a pattern and crochet.
Movement/P.E./Games: Games class is a wonderful social opportunity to learn as a group. We meet the developmental changes in the 1st-3rd graders through non-competitive games and appropriate movement challenges that strengthen their four foundational senses (balance, touch, sense of life and self movement).
Music: We train the ear in the 1st-3rd grades by playing musical games and singing songs. In 1st and 2nd grade the students play the pentatonic flute and the 3rd grader starts reading music and playing the soprano recorder.
Painting: To give the students a true experience of color, a wet-on-wet watercolor method is used. Students explore complementary colors, blending, spatial orientation, following directions and self-control.
Nature Studies/Gardening: Sometimes the study of nature leads the class to the beautiful open space behind the school and the students hike and explore the dunes. Other times, our organic garden provides the classroom for learning more about the connection between food and place. These hands on classes give the students an experience of nature on which to base later scientific concepts.
Freehand Geometric Drawing: This class trains hand eye coordination, flexible thinking, aesthetic and spatial orientation as well as being the basis for the study of geometry. Divisions of a circle and other forms found in nature will be explored.
Spanish: This class is taught by a native Spanish speaker who immerses the students in storytelling, games, movement, art and writing. The class is taught primarily in Spanish. Handwork: Students in 4th grade work on a cross stitch project, 5th graders learn to knit with 4 needles and 6th graders learn embroidery.
Movement/P.E./Games: Games class is a wonderful social opportunity to learn as a group. We meet the developmental changes in the 4th-6th graders through noncompetitive and competitive games, appropriate movement challenges that strengthen their sense of balance and help them to pull out of the gravity of adolescence. Unicycling and track and field games are the focus.
Music: This is a group string instrument class. It is required in this class to be committed for the year to a string instrument (violin, viola or cello). Weekly private lessons outside of the group class are mandatory. Painting: To give the students a true experience of color, a wet-on-wet watercolor method is used. Students explore complementary colors, blending, spatial orientation, following directions and aspects of a composition.
Nature Studies/Gardening: Sometimes the study of nature leads the class to the beautiful open space behind the school and the students hike and explore the dunes. Other times, our organic garden provides the classroom for learning more about the connection between food and place. These hands on classes give the student an experience of nature on which to base later scientific concepts.
An in depth explanation of our curriculum:
In the first grade, we strengthen students’ foundation for literacy and numeracy. Letters are introduced in terms of both shape and sound through pictorial and phonetic techniques. Our first graders spend a lot of time writing and forming letter shapes while practicing the associated sounds — the basis for reading. The groundwork for math is also established as we introduce the four arithmetic processes — addition, subtraction, multiplication and division — most often through math games.
First grade is filled with fairy tales, folk tales and nature stories, as well as circle games, movement and mental math practice. Every activity is designed to spark imagination and interest. First grade is an important time as students adapt to the structure of an academic curriculum and develop self-discipline, while channeling curiosity and creativity in new ways. Students will also enjoy field trips with their school family — one tradition is to go apple picking together in the Autumn.
In the second grade, students continue to focus on reading and writing. As their work gains in complexity, so too do the stories that fill the second grade classroom. Legends, fables and multicultural folklore illustrate examples of moral conduct and parallel the more sophisticated social relationships that second graders form. Nature stories are also an important part of the second grade curriculum, and a foundation for science lessons and nature observations on and around our campus.
In math lesson blocks, second graders build on the numeracy skills learned in first grade. The focus now is on number patterns, forms and values. And, as always, art and movement are part of each learning opportunity. For example, multiplication tables are taught not with repetitive worksheets, but through active, rhythmic games to facilitate memorization and to help develop physical coordination and spatial awareness.
Third graders deepen their literacy skills and delve more deeply into the world of writing. Now is the time for a more intense focus on spelling, composition, grammar, punctuation and parts of speech. Cursive writing is also introduced this year, which recent studies indicate aids in reading, retention and even idea generation. Legends and stories from the Hebrew books of the Bible are the stories shared in the third grade. We also investigate ancient civilizations and their contributions to weights and measures. In math lesson blocks, we progress to multiplication of higher numbers and other more complex processes.
Third-grade students have a better capacity to understand their world, their relationship to the environment, and the natural rhythms that divide days, weeks and seasons. As a result, we introduce main lesson blocks that center on farming, housing and clothing, time and the calendar. There is also a special trip this year as the third grade spends a week together living on a beautiful farm, engaging in hands-on learning about agricultural practices, farm structures and, of course, farm animals.
The fourth-grade is filled with active learners and independent thinkers. Norse myths and sagas — stories of heroes, giants and brave adventurers who go out to explore the world — resonate with this group. Against the backdrop of these stories, the writing skills of composition, grammar and spelling are further honed.
Fourth-grade science blocks introduce zoology, allowing students to investigate the animal kingdom. We also introduce lesson blocks covering local history and geography with map studies and field trips to historical sites, including Sutter’s Fort . In math lessons, fractions are introduced, while previous concepts are continually practiced. The fourth grade typically joins together for a camping and bike trip with their teachers. Another important milestone in the fourth grade is that students begin learning a string instrument and start instruction in either the violin, viola or cello.
By the fifth grade, students are developmentally ready for more sophisticated work and greater academic rigor. The curriculum broadens to include the study of the ancient civilizations from India to Greece. Class teachers bring this work to life with stories and details that deepen students’ understanding while honing their research and library skills. Learning is enhanced with such class trips as the fine art museum, to view collections of art and artifacts from ancient civilizations. Students also are given a truly unique opportunity to experience the culture of Ancient Greece by training for and participating in the pentathlon, an Olympic competition that is held with area Waldorf schools.
Fifth grade math lesson blocks include work with fractions, decimals and freehand geometry. In science, we move from the animal kingdom to the plant kingdom with our study of botany. These lessons are enhanced by our ability to study out doors across the woodlands, wetlands and coastline of Los Osos. We also take short trips to study plant life in other ecosystems. Letter writing, composition and grammar are part of the curriculum, as well as physical and economic geography. Music lessons continue on a string instrument.
The sixth grader takes a firm step into the outer world and is aware of the changes in their body. Now armed with an understanding of cause and effect the curriculum meets the pubescent child as they embark on adolescence. The sixth grader transitions out of myth or ancient history with their study of Roman history. Writing and reading skills continue to develop especially through the assignment of a written research paper.
The sciences are now fully taken up. Geology, minerals, astronomy, physics and climate study are brought through engaging hands-on lessons. The study of geology and minerals are brought to life with a big overnight trip to Mt. Shasta. Sixth grade math lessons include work with percentages and business math. Music lessons continue on a string instrument. At the end of the year a dramatic production will be performed.