What Makes Our School Unique

Jennifer Farrelly, the Meadowbrook Waldorf School Administrator has been a part of this community for many years in various capacities.  She has two children currently enrolled and is the mother of three alumni. 

cover (476x640) We are proud of our school and the quality of the education we offer here and it’s a pleasure to be able to share it with those who visit us to attend an Open House, Visitor Day and other community events.  Meadowbrook was recently granted accreditation by both AWSNA (Association of Waldorf Schools in North America) and NEASC (New England Association of Schools and Colleges).  AWSNA is the national affiliate of the worldwide Waldorf Education movement and NEASC is the oldest accrediting institution in this country.  We’ve always known by the quality and character of our graduates that we are doing a worthy job of educating children however it is very satisfying to have an independent group of educators and administrators validate our work.  In celebration of our school’s 35th birthday  I would like to share with you four things that I believe make us unique.

First of all, from the time I was a new parent in the school with a 3 year old in tow the school has been an incredible resource for me as a parent.   The teachers here consciously take up helping parents navigate the trials and tribulations of raising children.  Because the class teacher journeys with the children from grade to grade they get to know the child and the family quite well!  In a sense each one of my children gained a 3rd parent, luckily for them a parent who has been formally educated in child development.  This partnership between the families and the school creates a stable environment in which children can learn and make mistakes.  This partnership has meant that my children have

  • another adult in their lives who knows their strengths and weaknesses intimately,
  • another adult dedicated to helping them to overcome their daily challenges so they can reach their full potential as individuals,
  • someone actively setting an example that learning is a lifelong process,
  • someone who understands how important it is to be worthy of imitation because children need adults they can look up to and emulate.

Imagine the impact on society if all children had adults consciously holding them in this way.

SSim (640x506)The second thing I would like you to know is that the children are held in the center of every decision we make at Meadowbrook.  We work with a different management model from the typical top-down institutional hierarchy.  All work begins by considering “How will this benefit the children?”  “Is this what is best for the children?”  This practice encourages us to think creatively rather than defensively while identifying priorities.  Parents participate in shaping the life of the school through our active parents association that works with faculty and staff .  Our shared child-centered approach in all areas allows us to make extraordinary educational experiences available to the students.

The third thing you should be aware of is that Waldorf education is not meant to be a private education only available to the well to do.  Our mission statement says that we strive to offer this education to those who seek it here and invite a community which reflects the breadth and diversity of humanity.  We honor that portion of our mission statement by keeping our tuition as affordable as possible, currently at 50% of other RI independent schools.  We also have a tuition adjustment program that honors each family’s individual circumstances and ability to pay.  This can make annual budgeting challenging but we manage every year through the generous support of our community.

The last thing I would like you to know about us is that we are a learning community preparing to meet the future.  All of the adults that serve the mission of the Meadowbrook Waldorf School are committed to a path of self development and thoughtful engagement with the world.  With life becoming ever more complex we recognize that today’s children require more than intellectual training if they are to be successful.  We are a community that consciously strives to live the values that prepare children to meet the future as hopeful resilient individuals.

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Why Pre-School is Important

Joan Almon is the founding director of the U.S. Alliance for Childhood and an international consultant on early childhood education. She is also a former co-chair of the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America.

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Creativity, curiosity, play, and problem-solving are all intertwined in early childhood. Social negotiation is also frequently part of the mix. In this article Joan Almon explains how play-based education supports the healthy cognitive, social-emotional and physical development of children, preparing them for the 21st century workplace where creativity is highly valued. Click the link below for the full article.

Let Them Play by Joan Almon

Handwork is Meaningful Work in a Waldorf School

Why is handwork integrated in the curriculum at a Waldorf school?

Waldorf school handwork verse

As a third year parent at Meadowbrook Waldorf School, one of the first interesting things I observed was the use of handwork and other ‘meaningful work’ in the classroom.  When adults engage in meaningful work such as sweeping, cutting vegetables, or doing handwork crafts, it brings a sense of calmness to the space. It seems to possess an almost magical ability to settle the children.  One of two things often happen. The young child either imitates the work being modeled or s/he feels the security to go off and play nearby.  This is something that I witness at home and see weekly in the Parent-Child classroom.  In parent-child class, adults are given small handwork projects and the toddlers are happy to explore the selection of toys available to them.  In  early childhood grades of pre-school and kindergarten, the children are introduced to simple craft handwork projects such as finger knitting. Handwork is incorporated into the curriculum through all the grades and increases in complexity with the childrens’ advancing skills.  Learning these craft skills have the added bonus at home being a productive way to pass the time on a rainy day or a long car ride.

“Through beauty, color, and form, handwork and crafts help to lead the children from play to imaginative thinking as adults, forming a kind of bond between the two. “ from The Importance of Handwork in the Waldorf School by Patricia Linvingston published in Renewal, A Journal for Waldorf Education, Vol. 9#1, Spring 2000
A few ways handwork helps children develop. (Source: Angela Mobley)
  • Moves the child from play to meaningful work.
  • Nurtures sense of reverence and wonder.
  • Develop patience and perseverance.
  • Builds capacity to concentrate and focus
  • Builds capacity to solve problems.
  • Promotes capacities for thinking and judging.
Handwork Gift Items at the Meadowbrook Waldorf School Holiday Faire Store
Waldorf school handwork knitting needle bags

Felted wool knitting needle bags.

There will be a variety of handwork gifts at the Holiday Faire store this year.  You will find knitting, crocheting, felting, weaving  and sewing items available suitable for a range of age groups.  There are beautiful hand crafted knitting needles and handmade felted wool needle bags.  Also featured are lovely wooden beading looms with glass beads,  a natural alternative to the currently popular elastic band looms.  Shop Saturday 6-9 pm or Sunday 10-4.

Also be sure to visit the handwork display and visit with the handwork teacher to learn more about how handwork supports learning in a Waldorf school.

Waldorf school handwork item

Wooden beading loom, a natural alternative to the elastic band looms.

handwork items for waldorf school store

Various handwork projects will be offered.

 

Holiday Faire

10 Tips for Enjoying the Holiday Faire

Holiday Faire EntertainmentThe Meadowbrook Waldorf School Holiday Faire is an event not to be missed and is one that my family has looked forward to every year since we discovered it three years ago. Over time, we have learned a few tips and tricks to make the day more enjoyable and relaxing, especially with young children.

1. Arrive Early to the Holiday Faire

Parking is available in the school lot and next door at the antique barn, which is a 5-minute walk to the Faire entrance. A shuttle to and from the school is also available.

By afternoon, the lots will be quite full. If you have restless small children who will need an afternoon nap, try to arrive close to when the Faire opens at 10 am.

2. Plan your time at the Holiday Faire

Waldorf Preschool Puppet Show

There are so many things to see and do! If you plan to make your own beeswax candles, then start with this craft (more on this later).

The puppet show is delightful for adults and absolutely mesmerizing for the little ones. Scope out the show time you’d like upon your arrival so you can manage your shopping and craft-making around it.

If you have never participated in a drum circle, now is a great time to try it.  Simply sit and join in when a seat is vacated. There are also performances by the Ladies of the Rolling Pin and carolers that add to the festivities of the day; if you can catch them, it’s well worth it.

3. Spend the entire day at the Holiday Faire

Waldorf School Holiday Faire Drum Circle

It’s not that you can’t just pop in for an hour or two, but you won’t be able to experience all the Holiday Faire has to offer in a short amount of time. Some crafts are time-consuming (See Candle Dipping) and the general vibe is one that invites taking it all in without having to worry about racing out early. Three hours would probably cover it, though we personally make a whole day of it.

4. Get Around the Holiday Faire Easily with Baby

I highly recommend leaving the stroller in the car and carrying a small baby or toddler in a comfortable carrier. The hallways can get crowded at times, and the store has narrow aisles. Tuck a diaper and wipes in your bag or pocket to save a trip back to the car. There is one bathroom equipped with a changing table near the children’s crafts room.

5. Plan to start your beeswax candle dipping first.

If you plan to make your own hand-dipped beeswax candle, you may want to start that as soon as you arrive so that you can work on it throughout the day. This craft requires adding layers of wax and then waiting for each layer to cool before dipping again. Depending on the size candle you are aiming for (candles are paid for by weight), the process could take anywhere from 2 hours to all day. This is a great activity, as you’ll get to enjoy the candle with each dinner over the winter months.

6. Visit the Crystal Cave (Formerly known as the Gnome Cave)

Be sure to visit the Crystal Cave either right before or immediately after you begin the candle dipping craft. It is truly magical and not to be missed. The Crystal Cave often has long lines, particularly when the puppet show is over.

7. Make Time for Crafts

There are several crafts available for a range of skill levels. Most are suitable for young children. If you carved out the whole day, you’ll be able to get creative in the crafting rooms at a gentle pace. If you only have a little time, scope out the craft options and pick the one or two that most appeal to you.

8. Shop at the Holiday Faire Store

Waldorf Holiday Faire StoreMy best tip for visiting the beautiful school store on Sunday is to bring another adult. When it’s time to sit down and rest and give your smallest Faire enthusiasts a snack, one person can stay with them while the other sneaks away to the centrally-located market for a bit of shopping.  Of course, if you want to do some Holiday shopping without the children at all then I highly recommend going the night before to the adults only Holiday Faire event where you could enter to win a $25 gift certificate to spend at the store.

Don’t miss the used book room for lots of great reads at an even greater bargain.

9. Enjoy the Playroom

Waldorf preschool classroomNew this year is the playroom, which will offer the chance for your little ones to interact in a preschool/kindergarten or Early Childhood classroom. If you are interested in seeing what a typical day in the preschool or kindergarten program looks like and would like to speak with a staff member who can answer your questions about Waldorf education, inquire about the playroom when you arrive.

10. Peek into the Practical Arts

Waldorf handwork loom

Handwork is an essential element of a Waldorf education, and the practical art teachers will display a bit of what they do in one of the classrooms. Handwork is done in the classroom in a quiet and peaceful environment, and so it follows that this is often a quiet activity. We happened into this room unexpectedly last year and it was an welcome retreat from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the Faire.  While our son and niece happily weaved on a natural loom made of tree branches, we enjoyed a pleasant conversation with the lovely handwork teacher.

Finally, just take it all in.

Waldorf School Play Equipment OutdoorsIf you have never visited a Waldorf school before, be sure to spend some time enjoying the play areas outside. You’ll find gardens, climbing equipment, and rope swings, as well as many obstacles and forts that the children have built during their school days.

The essence of the school is evident from the moment you arrive. Every element is purposely chosen and intended to surround the children with beauty. The entire Faire is created and held by the parents working together. It is a testament to the sense of community that is built within the school. If you pay attention, you’ll feel the love that permeates every nuance of the school and the Faire. It is a magical event, not just for the children, but for everyone who comes and enjoys this special welcoming of the Holiday Season.

Have a wonderful time at Meadowbrook Waldorf School Holiday Faire!

mws faire logo

Come join in the festivities at the Meadowbrook Waldorf School Holiday Faire. Saturday, November 23rd from 6-9 PM (Adults’ Night)
Sunday, November 24th from 10-4 (Family Day)