Advent Spiral – A Community Gathering

What is Advent? What is an Advent Spiral?

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We have just entered into the season of Advent.  Traditionally celebrated the four Sundays before the winter solstice, it marks a time of introspection as we all await the return of the sun and lengthening days.  This seasonal remembrance of light takes place in many cultures across the globe.  At our Waldorf school, we mark this season with weekly Advent spiral walks.

Our local community is invited to participate in this weekly moment of reflection. Please park in the visitor lot and follow the candle-lit path into the forest where you can walk the Advent spiral and place your offering along the path. You may bring something from home or pick a natural trinket from the start of the path to add to the spiral. In this way our community comes together co-creating the garden spiral.

Examples of items are:
The first light of Advent honors the mineral world.  Small shells, gems or rocks are appropriate for this week.

The second light of Advent honors the plant world. Acorns, pine cones, a dried flower or holly sprig would be wonderful additions to the path this week.

The third light of Advent honors the animal world. Perhaps you might add a small feather you have found or a piece of beeswax in the shape of a favorite animal this week.

The fourth light of Advent honors the light of man. During this final week we are in the darkest days of our year and we bring the light within ourselves to the spiral. You are invited to carry a candle through the spiral and then leave your candle along the path. In this way, we are leaving our light to illuminate the path for all of us. Candles are provided at the start of the path on this evening.

advent_spiral_dusk_mwsAfter walking the path, families often take a short time to sit together quietly. Participating in our Advent spiral is a lovely way to model a quiet reverence of nature to our little ones. Often the youngest of our visitors take many turns walking the spiral, first holding a parent’s hand and then becoming brave enough to test their independence and walk the path alone.

By marking our seasonal journey out of darkness with the quiet contemplation of Advent, we make space in this hectic time of celebration and busyness to remember our connection to the earth and each other.

Advent Spiral Dates for 2015

The local community is invited to join us in this small act of contemplation that we hold each Sunday of Advent from 4-5 pm.

November 29th (Minerals)
December 6th (Plants)
December 13th (Animals)
December 20th   (Humans)

Advent Spiral Verse

The first light of Advent is the light of the stones that sparkle through seashells, crystals and bones.
The second light of Advent is the light of the plants that reach to the sun and in the breeze dance.
The third light of Advent is the light of the beasts that swim, crawl or fly, be they great, be they least.
The fourth light of Advent is the light of man, in love and in thought, to give and understand.

Chocolate, Cheese & Wine – with Books!

Our annual sale of gently used books is back with even more to offer this year. Don’t miss this fun night out!  There will be no used book room at the Holiday Faire this year so this event is your only chance to get some great previously-loved books for a bargain price while supporting Meadowbrook.

chocolate_wine_book_saleWhen:   Thursday, Nov 12  from 6-9 pm &
Friday, Nov 13 from 8:30-11 am
& 6 -9 pm  - Click here to RSVP!

Where:  Earth Care Farm (The Loft)
89A Country Drive
Charlestown, RI 02813

Suggested Donation: $10 (at door)

 

MWS parents Jill Dockray and Erica LePore have once again collected tons of amazing used books and are spending countless hours sorting them to make browsing easier for you. They will have chocolate, cheese, and wine to enjoy while you shop so come with your wish list or find something unexpected. As always, there will be hundreds of used books by fabulous authors in all genres for both children and adults and Jill and Erica will be on hand to help with book suggestions. If you love books, you’ll love this event.  Everyone loves chocolate, cheese and wine so you really can’t go wrong!

This year the event includes a book signing by local author, Jeanine Silversmith.  Pick up your copy of the Rhode Island Family Hiking Guide along with some other GREAT holiday gifts, including food gift baskets and simple DIY centerpieces to give to a friend or keep for yourself.

All proceeds benefit the Meadowbrook Waldorf School.  See you there!

This is part of our annual fundraising associated with the Holiday Faire coming up on November 21st.

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Holiday Faire 2015 – Come and See!

holiday_faire_2015It is almost time for our 17th Annual Holiday Faire! This is a wonderful, free family event with crafts for all ages, music, children’s activities, gently used toys and books, and a stunning array of handcrafted and natural gifts for purchase. Please bring your family and friends to enjoy a beautiful day welcoming the holiday season.

Friday, November 20,  6 – 10 pm for adults to enjoy warm hospitality by the bonfire. The holiday store will open at 7 pm Friday evening providing an opportunity to shop out of sight of ‘little eyes’ for a wide range of unique gifts including high quality children’s items.  View up close and bid early on items in our online auction. The live auction is back this year so be sure to stay and bid on the wonderful items created by each of the MWS classrooms.

Saturday November 21, 10 am – 4 pm for families. Saturday is a festive family celebration with music and marionette shows and craft activities.  The hugely popular Crystal Cave, filled with tiny gnomes and twinkling lights will enchant young visitors and outside will be pony rides on our beautiful woodland campus.

Mark your calendar on Facebook so you don’t forget!

Come and see! Holiday Faire Location 300 Kingstown Road West Kingston, RI

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Finding Balance: Honoring Childhood While Educating for the Future

Christine Martuscello, Admissions Coordinator of Meadowbrook Waldorf School

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A Waldorf School Offers A Child-Centered Education

A healthy education is one that balances the current needs of the child with future educational goals. The child, not the goal, should always be at the center of the process.

Waldorf Education, founded in 1919 and based on the philosophy of Rudolf Steiner, achieves a balanced education by offering a developmentally appropriate curriculum that both supports children where they are in the moment, and prepares them for their next phase of development.   This curriculum unites academics with the arts, movement, practical work, and a deep respect for the natural world.

The Waldorf Preschool Program

For children in a Waldorf preschool program, this means their days are spent engaged in purposeful play, social activity and exploration, both indoors and out. Rich stories are experienced through puppetry, songs are combined with movement, and curiosity, observation, and collaboration are encouraged during forest adventures. Although these important activities are considered “pre-academic”, they all build skills critical for the academic journey that begins in first grade.

A Classical Elementary School Curriculum

Once students enter elementary school they are formally introduced to a classic, liberal arts curriculum that includes music, fine arts, foreign language, and practical arts to create deeper, more meaningful learning. Desk time is balanced with movement, academics are balanced with the arts, and time indoors is balanced with time spent in nature. Since children at this age learn best through strong, memorable experiences, the curriculum is often offered in an experiential manner. In the early elementary grades, this means math facts are paired with clapping games and rhythmical movement, language arts studied through dramatic presentation, and history is experienced firsthand with field trips and biography. These activities meet many styles of learning and reflect the complex world the children will inherit. The skills learned in these early years provide a strong foundation for the challenging learning and growth that is still to come.

Waldorf Curriculum Meets the Child’s Developmental Stage
Elementary (Grades 1-5)

The later elementary curriculum broadens the experience of the child. In the early elementary years, children are still in a dreamy world of imitation, content and secure in their family. Adults are seen as all knowing, and children do not yet question the world around them. This begins to change during the mid-elementary years as the children become more aware of themselves as individuals, and more awake to the world around them. This “nine year change” challenges their sense of confidence in the world, and their place in it.  To reassure children that they will have what they need to meet the world as adults, the Waldorf curriculum turns to the practical. Units of measure and fractions are studied in math, with shelter building and farming as cornerstones of the curriculum at this age. The curriculum at this time is a conscious exploration of what directly surrounds the child: local ecology, government, animals, and plants.

It is this experience of the local and practical that helps children cross a threshold and see themselves as individuals capable of inhabiting a rich and complex world, and successfully meeting the future with knowledge, connection, and collaboration.

After this immersion in the local, the curriculum expands to include ancient cultures and creation stories including Judeo-Christian, Native American, Norse, Indian, Egyptian, Greek, and Roman mythology. Presented during the later elementary grades, these stories describe how humans have been long striving to understand and explain the world around them.

As the curriculum broadens to include that which is outside of the child’s view, the fine and practical art curriculum also broadens. Fourth grade students add a string instrument to their recorder studies, and woodworking is added to the handwork curriculum begun in first grade. Both of these additions serve to not only improve fine motor skills, but to strengthen the will and demonstrate to the child that with practice and perseverance difficult tasks can be mastered to a beautiful end.

Middle School (Grades 6-8)

Middle school is a time of great change: physical, emotional, and intellectual. The children begin to question what they previously accepted without issue when they were younger. This adolescent urge to question and test is the perfect time to introduce the rigorous science curriculum. Through deep observation, which has been encouraged since the early childhood years, the students explore the world sometimes hidden from view through chemistry, optics, physics, anatomy, physiology, and astronomy. Moving from the concrete calculations of decimals, geometry, and business math, to the more the abstract math of exponents, number bases, platonic solids, and algebra, challenges the middle schooler’s burgeoning ability to think in the abstract.

Mirroring their sometimes tumultuous internal changes, the students study tumultuous times of history. Roman law, the Dark Ages, the beauty of the Renaissance, and periods of revolution are explored through first hand experiences, drama, fine art, and biography.   The students are now introduced to individuals, rather than the myths and legends of elementary school, who worked to make positive change in the world, sometimes at great personal cost. By the study and example of these pivotal individuals, the seed is planted that they too can be instruments of change in the world.

Waldorf Education Offers A Balanced, Thoughtful Approach 

A Waldorf Education provides a balanced curriculum that honors childhood by meeting the child where they are developmentally. The nurturance of foundational skills and play in early childhood provides a strong basis for the academics of the elementary years.

The elementary grades offer a rich curriculum of language, math, foreign language, history, geography, music, fine, and practical arts. Time for outdoor play and projects allows the child to experience the natural world, encourages collaboration, and provides an opportunity to recharge.  Once in middle school, the rigorous curriculum expands further to include more sciences and complex math to challenge the children’s new abilities.

It is the thoughtfulness of this intricate curriculum that encourages student’s growing capacities while maintaining the reverence of childhood.

Related Links:
About Waldorf Education 
Meadowbrook Waldorf School Curriculum
Admissions Application