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Waldorf and Montessori: What’s the Difference?

Early Childhood Bridge Crossing 2013

Early Childhood Bridge Crossing 2013

A question we often hear from parents is: “What are the differences between Montessori and Waldorf eduction?”

These two educational philosophies actually started with a similar goal: to design a curriculum that was developmentally appropriate to the child and that addressed the child’s need to learn in multiple ways.

A fundamental difference between these two forms of schooling has to do with the role of the teacher. Montessori teachers act primarily as facilitators, intervening only when a child requests help with an independent learning activity that has been selected by the student. In a Waldorf classroom, on the other hand, the teacher is an authority who leads the class in a variety of teacher-directed activities. This means that Waldorf children participate in activities such as singing or acting or math games or juggling that they may not have chosen to do on their own. Balance, rather than specialization, is encouraged.

In the social realm, Montessori students are taught not to interrupt their peers while they are working, but are encouraged to help younger children complete a task with which they are unfamiliar. Waldorf education, on the other hand, puts particular emphasis on the development of the young child within a group. Barbara Shell, a teacher who worked in public, Montessori, and Waldorf schools, put it this way:

“Waldorf teachers orchestrate this [social] development by modeling good social behavior with their children, by getting the children to join together in movement activities, by introducing songs and games that develop group consciousness, and by helping children learn to work through disagreements.”

Read Barbara Shell’s article in its entirety by downloading the following PDF:

A Look at Waldorf and Montessori Education in the Early Childhood Programs.pdf

If you have any questions about Waldorf education, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 207-236-8021 or fill out our contact form. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Early Childhood Bridge Crossing 2013

At the end of each school year, the Early Childhood children, teachers, and families gather for the Bridge Crossing. In this joyful ceremony, first-grade ready children, wearing silken capes and golden crowns, cross over a wooden bridge festooned with fresh flowers. The crossing symbolizes their readiness to enter the Grade School. They are then followed by the younger children, who wear different colored capes and cross the bridge into “Summerland,” receiving a hug from their teacher on the other side.

Click on one of the photos below for a slideshow.

Parents Muse on Why We Were Late. Meh!

log bookThe Ashwood Waldorf School Log Book: It’s the battered tome where our hardworking parents have a chance to “confess” their  reasons for arriving late to school with their children. Once again this year, the Ashwood office staff has meticulously combed through the list and nominated a few of our favorites. These creative and quirky responses to a hectic situation remind us of what a great community of fun-loving and caring people we live and work amongst.

“Reason? You want a reason?”

“Who knows?”

“You know.”

“Family issues.”

“Time management.”

“Talking in hallway with Miss Leonore.”

“Unorganized.”

“Dead car battery.”

“Daylight came late.”

“Sleepy girl.”

“Never mind.”

“Four children!”

“Don’t. Even. Ask.”

“Gas + rain + life + poor decision-making.”

“Staying up too late for election results.”

“Goofing off. (Just kidding.)”

“Wrong time on clock!”

“Tired.”

“Oh… never mind.”

“Slow morning.”

“Slackin’ .”

“No good reason.”

“Meh!”

“Traffic. (Really!)”

“Truant again!”

“Lolly-gagging.”

“Hahahahahhaha….”

“Ha!”

Ashwood Alumni to Perform with Village Harmony

VHC2 on stageVillage Harmony, the Vermont-based youth world music singing ensemble will present five Maine concerts, and this year, our very own Chloe Isis ’13 and Jamie Oshima ’12 will be performing with the ensemble.

All concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. The complete schedule of Maine concerts is: Monday, July 1, Whitefield, Saint Denis Church (207-549-3820); Tuesday, July 2, Vienna, Union Hall (207- 495-2928); Wednesday, July 3, Belfast, First Congregational Church (207-899-8234); Thursday, July 4, Newcastle, Saint Andrews Episcopal Church (207-563-8440); and Friday, July 5, Starks, United in Christ Presbyterian Church (207- 578-8024). For a complete schedule of concerts visit the website at: www.northernharmony.pair.com/concerts.

The program features traditional music from Georgia, Bulgaria, South Africa, Corsica, Sardinia and the U.S. Suggested donation at the door is $10; $5 for students and seniors. For more information call 802-426-3210 or the local numbers listed above.

Surrounded by Music

web-violin

One of the great joys of teaching at Ashwood is being surrounded by music almost everywhere I turn.

Walking the halls of the Grade School building is often like taking a musical tour of the world. The younger children play soaring tunes on their flutes and recorders. Morning math games echo in the halls with rhythmic taps, claps and stomps. The 4th & 5th Grade Chorus makes a joyful sound, indeed–pure voices strong and true. And then there are the strings, fiddling their bouncy tunes. I’m might also hear an odd French Canadian folk song, a beguiling round, or a silly jingle.

I have had the pleasure of teaching Ashwood’s Middle School Chorus this year. We started with folk songs, ranging from classic Americana like the Carter Family, to contemporary songwriters like M. Ward, and we sprinkled in a few Beatles songs for fun.

These were sung first in unison, and we then worked on harmony and upped the complexity of the music bit by bit. Some of our singers have even added their own sophisticated harmonies to jazz up our arrangements.

We have sung pieces from Africa, France, Russia, and England. We’ve sung gospel music, Civil Rights music, classic rock and roll, and some songs simply beyond category. I wish everyone could experience those moments when the Chorus is truly feeling the music, filling up the room with their youthful voices.

Please join the Middle School Chorus, as well as the 4th & 5th Grade Chorus and our String Ensembles, on May 22, 6 p.m. at the Rockport Opera House for our Spring Concert!

If you have a child performing at the event, we ask that he or she arrives at 5:15 p.m. in assembly dress. Students should have an early supper before arriving for the concert.

The “Ultimate” Sport

web-ultimate-2013

It was not until I entered college that I heard of Ultimate Frisbee. I immediately fell in love with the game. It’s easy for beginners to learn and play. Yet, despite it’s accessibility, there’s no end to how skilled you can become at this extremely athletic game.

When I became a Waldorf teacher I began to fully appreciate another aspect of Ultimate. There are no referees, even in competitive tournament play. All officiating is done by the players on the field who make their decisions in light of the Spirit of the Game™ “a tradition of sportsmanship that places the responsibility for fair play on the players rather than referees.”

The benefits of self-officiating are clear to me as a someone who has taught games and sports to children for many years. Children need opportunities to work through disagreements and conflict in healthy ways. They need chances to learn and practice good sportsmanship.

Traditionally, team sports were an avenue for those opportunities. However, as we’ve moved away from sandlot baseball to televised Little League World Championships, in too many cases winning has become more important than interacting with the other team, and adults have taken over the officiating.

Ultimate provides players the opportunity to develop the healthy sportsmanship that is so needed in our sports crazed society.

This is the second year I have taught the afterschool Ultimate Club at Ashwood Waldorf School for grades four through seven. Even after a long day of teaching I’m excited to get out on the field and play Ultimate with these enthusiastic students.

I’ve been impressed with the conduct and skill level of this year’s club team. It’s truly a joy to coach them. Adults are always welcome to join in on the fun!

We have more Ultimate planned for the summer. I will be leading Ashwood’s new Ultimate Frisbee Summer Camp, from August 5-9, a weeklong experience for students in grades four through seven.

Sign up for the “Ultimate” Summer Camp!

There’s more information on the camp at www.ashwoodwaldorf.org/summer-camp/, as well as a link to download a brochure/registration form.

Want to know more about Ultimate?

www.usaultimate.org/about/ultimate/default.aspx

Thinking About Art

Eighth Grade Projects

Building a pedal-powered ice cream maker

Ashwood’s art program features prominently in Nancy Harris Frohlich’s May 7 blog Thinking About Art. In it she refers to her experiences with Ashwood students and families at the opening exhibition of the CMCA student art show as well as her impressions of the Eighth Grade Projects at our recent open house: “These young thinkers were solving authentic problems, and through this project they learned about the process of solving more complex and challenging problems – the kind they would face in adulthood.”

More: Eighth Grade Project Night

 

Ashwood Eighth Grader Directs and Stars in Musical

Gabe as Dr. Horrible

Gabe as Dr. Horrible

For his Eighth Grade Project, Gabe Ferrero decided that he would star in and direct the musical “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-along Blog.” After a year of planning and rehearsals, Gabe’s debut as a director will be at the Waldo Theater, 916 Main Street, Waldoboro. Show times are Friday, May 10 at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday May 11 at 1:00 p.m.

The show runs to about 50 minutes. (Please note that the very young might find some parts of the story too intense.)

Set in Dr. Horrible’s Lab, a city street, and a laundry mat, this musical weaves the sorrowful tale of superhero Dr. Horrible, played by Gabe. Horrible’s problem? He’s just not evil enough. To make matters worse, he accidentally introduces his love interest Penny (Ashwood Eighth Grader Chloe Isis) to his nemesis, “the too good and quite conceited“ Captain Hammer (Lincoln Academy senior Griffin Han-Lalime). But, not to worry! Horrible’s good friend Moist (Ashwood Eighth Grader Taliesin Peck) is by his side—along with a talented cast of actors and singers—to help Horrible reach his dream.

This weekend’s shows will benefit the Waldo Theatre as a thank-you for the many years of plays and friendships that have enriched the lives of the young people in the community. Many of the actors in this show first experienced the thrill of the stage while performing at the Waldo.

Gabe would like to thank Beth Preston, Linda Blanchard, and Griffin Han-Lalime for sharing their musical talents. Thanks also to Melissa Hearth for assisting with logistics and Cayleigh Hearth for lending her hand in tech support.

May Faire Memories

Ashwood friend, co-founder, alumna parent, and keeper-of-the-maypole Bridget Qualey sent this video clip of May Faire 2007, when her daughter Emily was a student here.

Watch it and enjoy that great May Faire vibe while you mark your calendar for the annual May Faire & Open House on Saturday, May 4 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Ashwood campus.

Click on the photo to see the video

ec-festivals

Animal Studies in the Fourth Grade

From Nature Stories to Natural ScienceP1040198

by Lesley Finlayson, Fourth Grade Teacher

The Fourth Grade spent the month of February immersed in its second “Human Being and Animal World” block. These two blocks are truly marvelous, for many reasons. The classroom is abuzz with enthusiasm, because the children are enormously interested in animals, and throw themselves into the subject with great curiosity and interest. But this interest has a new quality now, because the children are becoming more and more aware of the distance that separates them from the world of nature. As they lose their sense of oneness with nature, they become more interested in looking at the world in a new way. A division between their rational thought and their imaginative thought begins to occur, and the children want animals that are not part of fairy tales or fables but part of the world in which they find themselves. So the teacher brings descriptions and stories of real animals, which serves as an introduction to the world of science.

The Animal Project was the culmination of the “Human Being and Animal World” blocks. Each child chose an animal that makes its home here in the landscape in which we live—an animal of Maine. I was fascinated to see how each child chose an animal that seemed, in some way, like a reflection of that child. The children got books and magazines from the library, and learned how to write a research paper, taking notes, organizing ideas and facts, then writing an essay based on the material they had collected. This was a huge step in their academic learning, and they seemed to relish it. At the same time, they were modeling their animal in clay and beeswax and— for the first time in school—making numerous, very accurate drawings from photographs.

After the reports were written and the children had an understanding of the world of their animal, they each wrote a story, told from their animal’s point of view. Several children in the class told of brushes with death: the bear cub witnesses the death of a male bear, the fisher kills his first porcupine, the turtle is almost crushed by a wagon, the fox is killed by a farmer. Several told of an important moment on the journey from childhood to the independence of adulthood: the owlet learns to fly, the otter gets lost and then finds his way home, the beaver builds her own lodge, the moose grows his first antlers. And one story details a quest for a magical healing flower, which may well be a part of a baby hummingbird’s day!

The final step for the children was the construction of dioramas, showing their animal in its habitat, going about some aspect of its day. These were beautifully done, with careful attention to detail and novel solutions to showing the landscape of Maine (including eight different ways of showing water.) They were presented to the whole school, with the children standing by their dioramas and answering questions about their animal.

During this project, I saw the children make great strides in their ability to do academic work independently, and also form a deeper conscious connection to the natural world and its inhabitants. I was also delighted by the generosity of the adults and of all the other children in our school, who were so supportive of the class during their visits to see the children’s animal presentations.

See pictures of all of the Animal Dioramas at: Fourth Grade Animal Dioramas. When you get there, click on one of the photos for a very colorful slide show!