Learning Together

In this time of unprecedented change, we are tasked with the challenge of finding new ways to foster human connection.

Our Campus is Closed | Our Learning Continues

With flexibility, creativity, and heart, our teachers and parents are working together to provide consistency and support for our children during a time of uncertainty. Each foray into the use of technology to maintain these connections has been taken deliberately at the discretion of the teachers with an eye to the specific needs of each class.

Click to download a PDF overview Distance Learning Guidelines. Visit our Current Parents page for updates related to COVID-19.

EARLY CHILDHOOD

Our Early Childhood Teachers support parents in creating rhythm and routine for their children. In their weekly e-mails, teachers might include articles, stories, songs, recommended chores, and of course encouragement to spend plenty of time outdoors! Teachers are available to answer questions and provide guidance.

Early Childhood

Bluebell Nursery Lead Teacher, Annette Previti, apreviti@waldorfct.org
Dandelion Kindergarten Lead Teacher, Marcela Kapsaoff, mkapsaroff@waldorfct.org
Rose Kindergarten Lead Teacher, Carrie Reilly, creilly@waldorfct.org
Sunflower Kindergarten Lead Teacher, Isabel Gandara, igandara@waldorfct.org

We are here to support you as parents, and are fully aware that each family is holding their child in the best way they are able. You are all managing a difficult workload and we respect everything you need to do to step up to this challenge. We want everyone to return healthy, happy, and whole to school as soon as possible and we are here to support you and your child in holding in their hearts the beauty and wholeness that is our special school!

In Early Childhood, children are learning new skills and reinforcing existing skills within the rhythm of the day. Our first take-home packet emphasized creating a daily and weekly rhythm. Within this rhythm parents can introduce activities from our weekly Monday resource e-mails. Repetition of songs, poems, nursery rhymes, and stories will help children learn and develop valuable early literacy skills such as word usage, new vocabulary words, and rhyming words. Daily and weekly rhythms provide your children with a sense of security and trust. The Early Childhood Teachers would like parents to try to create a home rhythm that includes morning songs, meal time blessings, shared stories, a weekly craft, gross motor movement, ample free play time, and nursery rhyme activities. These activities help your children gain confidence in using their bodies and their hands. This time can be viewed as an opportunity for parents to mirror our classroom rhythm in home life. We hope that our weekly e-mails can supply parents with meaningful resources to engage their children in their learning and physical development during this time away from the classroom. It is more important at the moment for your child to play, do practical work, and deepen new skills than it is to recreate our “circle time” in your home.

Class Rhythm

  • We sent home a packet containing examples of our daily and weekly rhythm, materials to make a spring basket, beeswax and wool for crafts, crayons, and ingredients for cooking millet. While we may organize subsequent pickups with additional materials, we aim to recommend crafts that can be created with materials parents may have on hand.
  • Each Monday we will send parents a resource e-mail which might include an article about a topic that can support parents in bringing activities to their children at home (i.e. Storytelling and Importance of Nursery Rhymes), a song with a link for the melody, a poem, a finger game with gestures, a nursery rhyme with a link to a video, instructions for a craft, and a story.
  • We will check in with families once a week by e-mail or phone (days vary by class).
  • On Tuesdays, we will send a weekly video from the teachers singing transitional songs, reciting a finger game, or telling a story. Audio and video resources will allow the children to hear their teachers, recall songs or poems that live very much in their memories, and add new ones that you can learn together.

We still favor a focus on direct rather than mediated experiences to support the young child in forming a healthy relationship to the world. Our hope is that in having the children hear songs, stories, verses, or poems from their teachers, it may inspire an organic recall from their own memory. We wish to inspire movements or gestures that come from the children rather than asking them to mimic gestures from a screen. For our Spring Celebration on Wednesday April 8, we will put together a compilation video of all of us participating in a production of our traditional Spring Puppet Show. We are aware that the need to modify the media policy in your home right now is a personal decision and one that can only be decided by you in your home. We are not here to judge if you have already downloaded the whole Disney playlist!

We strongly encourage practical work and chores. Your children are strong and capable. Sample chores suitable for young children include: cutting vegetables; setting and clearing the table; spraying (spray bottle filled with water) and wiping surfaces; sweeping the floor with a brush and dustpan; carrying small baskets of laundry; and folding washcloths and napkins. Having regular chores is particularly important for children who are in the five to six age range. Children who are five and six are beginning to recognize how they fit into the family structure and how they can contribute to a healthy home life routine by having regular chores and practical duties at home.

We also strongly recommend time outside each morning and afternoon. This serves many purposes, from allowing children to notice ever-changing nature to providing them with the opportunity to run freely and engage in gross motor movement that cannot be experienced inside most homes. Gross motor movement such as running, jumping, hopping, climbing, crawling, rolling, leaping, hanging, skipping, and balancing is crucial to forming the physical body during the first seven years. In addition to inspiring wonder in your children and kindling hope in the future, nature walks with your young children can also be stress-reducing for parents!

We would love to see pictures and receive anecdotes of your children as they live into the rhythms you have created for them with the resources we have shared with you in our weekly packets. We miss them!

GRADES 1-3

In the early elementary grades, our teachers continue a focus on developing rhythm and routine at home, with the addition of daily and weekly assignments. Schoolwork at this stage is designed to engage the children but also refine and reinforce critical math, spelling, writing, and reading skills. Teachers may send stories, art projects, songs, or movement games. Social check-ins with classmates are a great way to stay connected and even practice math facts! During this time at home, specialty teachers are also working to connect with students and some students might engage in weekly Spanish or Music calls, or try out Eurythmy assignments, for example. The third graders also have project-based work in the form of their Shelters block.

GRADES 4-5

First Grade

Lead Teacher, Laura Wittmer, lwittmer@waldorfct.org

The most important thing is that everyone feels safe and loved. Social connection is paramount and academics are secondary.

All first graders should have a suitable space to work and store the materials they brought home from school. Parents are encouraged to make sure their child is sitting properly when writing or doing main lesson book work. Many of the recommended tasks can be done with minimal support from parents. Most topics are review and the students have already developed good habits about how to work fairly independently. Some tasks may require parental support. Parents are not required to teach, but rather support their children in completing assigned or recommended tasks. If work becomes frustrating, parents are encouraged to do something else! It is also recommended that the students participate in being helpful around the house.

The students are mostly reinforcing existing skills, but we will add a few new skills that we have not yet covered, such as digraphs (sh, ch, wh, th). We will also add new sight words weekly. Math practice is gently progressive and will cover concepts we have already discussed in class.

All families have different rhythms and responsibilities at home, so they are encouraged to create a schedule that works for them.

Class Rhythm

  • Parents will receive assignments between 6pm and 9pm for the following day.
  • Daily assignments include 15-20 minutes each of math, reading, writing, story and/or artistic activity.
  • It is recommended that first graders complete 1-2 hours of work per day in 15-20 minute intervals, with breaks in between for movement, walks, and snacks or meals.
  • Academics are best addressed in the morning hours, between 8:30-10:00am and story, art projects, nature walks, and outdoor play are best for after lunch.
  • Parents are asked to send photos of the children doing the assignments at least weekly. I will include a selection of these photos in our daily e-mail so the first graders can “see” each other completing assignments.

Technology is neither required or forbidden. I plan to institute an optional show-and-tell once per week via video call to stay connected. I will also record myself telling stories and will send these audio recordings once per week. Parents are asked to be aware of how much screen time their children are getting as they are still very young.

Second Grade

Lead Teacher, Emily Remensperger, eremensperger@waldorfct.org

Parents should begin by providing a good routine that balances quiet work and time outdoors, as well as opportunities to do things together, like cooking, crafts, household chores etc. Once a realistic daily routine is established, parents should attempt to designate a space that is free of distractions and can be used for their child’s daily schoolwork. Each child’s materials and lesson content is provided by the teacher, but parents should be prepared to get the child started on their work, and should be on hand to answer questions, or refocus their child on the tasks at hand. Parents will not be expected to teach any new skills that their child has not had some previous experience with in school.

Ideally, second graders are still enthusiastic about their learning and find satisfaction and enjoyment in doing schoolwork, and these activities should be mostly child-led. If there is immense resistance to schoolwork, parents are encouraged to adjust the work/activity to meet the needs of the child. Second graders should be able to do approximately 30min-1hour of work independently if their space is distraction-free. Other work may require parental oversight.

Assignments should be followed as closely as possible, but they do not need to be followed every single day, and families should feel free to take breaks, or rest days/times, when they are needed. Parents should also engage their children in practical work. Class assignments will be designed to reinforce existing skills and are meant to do three things:

  1. support the parents’ need to maintain routine and create a structured family “working time,”
  2. continue to nourish the child’s curiosity and innate desire to learn and be challenged mentally, physically and creatively,
  3. assist in a smoother transition back to school when we reopen our classrooms.

Class Rhythm

Each student has a binder containing printed work that could cover school at home from now until June, if necessary. Students also have beeswax, some handwork supplies, and their school flutes. Parents have a link to a shared online folder containing a daily Newsletter and associated materials— videos and audio of stories, songs, movement; images of drawings, beeswax, and form drawing instructions; and music from Mrs. O’Neil—a class list, and class photos. Each day there are new activities, stories, and riddles to do.

  • Parents will receive an e-mail each night alerting them that their Newsletter for the following day has been posted.
  • During our daily 9am “study hall” we will go over daily assignments.
  • Second graders should do between 1 and 2 hours daily of schoolwork, plus art, music, languages, or practical activities.
  • I will check in with students and parents weekly to assess how the work is going. I will not be keeping records of the students’ work at home, nor will I be using it to assess their progress.
  • Students do not need to return their completed work, but parents are encouraged to share images of their child’s work with me. I will share class pictures in the Newsletter and in our shared folder.

Technology is our main means of contact and connection at this time. Because we all yearn for and need to be in contact with each other, we will use the technology available to us in a careful and conscientious way. Second graders may use video call platforms at their parents’ discretion. In addition to our daily 1-hour video “Study Hall” we will hold a weekly show-and-tell on Fridays. Please help your children reach out to their classmates to make phone or video connections.

Third Grade

Lead Teacher, Chandrika Patalia, cpatalia@waldorfct.org

Parents should strive to maintain a regular daily rhythm, help their children stay organized in terms of their dedicated work space, support their children in taking care of their school supplies, and bring the work sent by the teachers to the children. Parents are not expected to teach, but to support their children’s independent work as needed.

The assignments sent home are guidelines and the majority of the work will be reinforcing skills. In fact, this is a great opportunity for students to deepen their mastery of skills.

Class Rhythm

  • Third graders should spend 2 – 3 hours per day on school work.
  • Children should have chores at home and spend time outside observing nature.
  • We are in our Shelters block, and thrice weekly families receive a lesson on a new shelter. The lesson has three parts:
    1. an audio recording of my voice speaking to the students about the shelter,
    2. a write-up on the shelter—written at a third grade reading comprehension level—along with two pictures of the shelter,
    3. a detailed drawing of the shelter showing the construction, special features, and the shelter as a whole.
  • Students do not need to return schoolwork.
  • Students receive a regular phone call check-in.

The third graders are creating a social chain letter in which they take turns building a funny story. Each day one child adds two to three sentences and a drawing to go with it and each night, parents share the addition with the class and the story continues. We began with one story and will add additional stories.

In our class we are using technology sparingly and I ask that parents remain the bridge that handles technology between the teacher and students. Hand-written letters, telephone calls, voice recordings, chain letters used to pass on a story or joke, and sharing images of student work are great ways to stay connected!

In addition to skills-based schoolwork, students in 4th and 5th grade might be assigned more project-based lessons (5th grade State Projects, for example). Establishing a daily and weekly routine helps students better work independently. Teachers support parents in working to maintain their children’s social connections. Specialty classes such as Spanish or Music may continue at home in these grades, and students are expected to continue their stringed-instrument practice and lessons.

Fourth Grade
Lead Teacher, Allison Washington, awashington@waldorfct.org

Parents should help their children find a dedicated work space and a place for materials to stay organized and in good condition. I understand that many parents are working and unable to attend to their children’s schoolwork efforts. I have suggested a daily rhythm for fourth grade families which I hope should help set the students up for success to work independently. Parents are not expected to teach nor are they responsible for ensuring their children are completing their work. This can be encouraged but not forced.

Class Rhythm

  • The students have been assigned skills work to be reinforced.
  • At times students will be asked to send back photographs of in-progress and completed work.
  • The fourth grade has two class video meetings per week on Mondays and Fridays.
  • On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, I am meeting with them one-on-one on various video platforms. Families may also reach out via phone with questions.

I encourage parents to keep their children’s social connections strong by scheduling phone and/or video calls with their friends at their leisure.

Fifth Grade

Lead Teacher, Leslie Lew, llew@waldorfct.org

The fifth graders need a dedicated work space including a place to keep their supplies (work, books, pencils) where they are easy to access and use. Parents are not expected to teach but it is helpful to support the creation of a schedule which will keep the students on task and support them in getting their work done. Assignments are designed to allow students to work independently. When the students have questions they may call me for support or sign up for one-on-one sessions to receive help.

Assignments are required. Having said that, I understand that some days may be more productive than others and I am flexible in the fifth grader working at their own speed. In order to retain skills learned this year, it is imperative that students work on the assignments that I send home each week. Schoolwork also strengthens students’ sense of routine and rhythm, which is so needed at a time when they have been taken out of the routine of school. Assignments may be daily or weekly and I will provide guidelines on how much time I expect the students to work on a given subject. Many families are challenged at this time and I am making modifications to these guidelines with input from parents as needed, sometimes in conjunction with a student’s tutor. At the moment we are using and reviewing existing skills, although this may change after April break.

Class Rhythm

  • Each Sunday I will send the week’s assignments in one e-mail. If refinements or modifications are needed, I will follow up with an additional e-mail.
  • Generally students will have 3.5 – 4 hours of work daily.
  • Parents are asked to send pictures of student work.
  • I am holding individual sessions with each student each week to go over their writing for their state projects and provide support in general.

We are taking each step into the realm of technology with deep thought and seeing what works for parents, for students, and for me as a teacher. Fifth grade has twice-weekly video calls that serve to let us check in, say hello, and share written work or drawings from the week. I am reading Greek stories to them so that we can finish our work on Greek Culture, but I do not consider this time a teaching tool.

This is an opportunity for your child to work on chores at home. Practical work also reinforces the children’s sense of routine. Fifth graders are capable of making lunch—or even dinner—for example!

GRADES 6-8

In Middle School, our teachers are using Google Classroom to assign and assess student work. The Middle School day is fairly rigorous and students are expected to maintain an orderly work area and daily schedule, turning assignments in on time. Video calls and Google Classroom allow students to check in with each other and share questions with their class teachers and each other. Students will have regular calls with specialty teachers–i.e. Spanish or Music–and are expected to continue their Orchestra practice. In addition to Main Lesson work, students will receive regular assignments in Cyber Civics, Language Arts, and Math. The 8th graders are sharing their 8th Grade Graduation Projects online.

Sixth and Seventh Grades

Lead Teacher, Laura Hayes, lhayes@waldorfct.org

To the best of their ability, parents should provide students with a dedicated work space for school work and access to a computer with an internet connection, a printer, and a camera. Parents are not expected to teach, but they may be needed as tech support in accessing online resources and uploading or scanning images of student work. Middle School students are expected to work on their own but some may need prompting from parents to begin their work. Most learning will happen between teacher and student. However, it is nice when parents can check in once in a while and see how much their child is getting done and how hard they are all working. We are using Google Classroom, which provides immediate and clear feedback to the students if assignments are missing. Students will receive feedback on completed work within 48 hours, if not sooner.

Class Rhythm

  • 6th grade students are expected to be available for schoolwork from 8:30 to 3pm.
  • 7th grade students are expected to be available for school work from 9:15 to 3:30.
  • Students are required to join morning and afternoon class calls.
  • We have daily assignments with clear due dates posted on Google Classroom.

Students are learning new material and practicing existing skills. Students are all given written feedback and receive points for their assignments. Seventh grade students will receive a final grade. Some of the classwork involves time outside and practical work in the house. For example, during their Physiology block, the students are tracking their daily exercise and were assigned to cook a meal for their family. They are encouraged to spend time outside and move, as well as spending time on hobbies.

In the Middle School, we are embracing technology as a tool and means to stay connected and to keep learning. Technology is allowing teachers to introduce new content and we are grateful that the transition has gone smoothly and parents have been extremely supportive. At the same time, we are using these tools to reinforce online etiquette as well as working on staying focused on a call.

Eighth Grade

Lead Teacher, Marleen DeGrande, mdegrande@waldorfct.org

It is important that the 8th grade student has a quiet, uncluttered, dedicated working space. It is also good to plan dedicated work, meal, and relaxation times, keeping to a daily/weekly rhythm that works for all involved.

Parents are not required to teach. Older students should be able to work without their parents’ guidance. If students have questions, they may contact their teacher. Most assignments are requirements. We are learning new material and reinforcing existing skills. If you know that turning in assignments on time was a struggle for your child before we switched to a distance learning mode, please let them know that you are keeping an eye on them and whenever possible, check in at the end of the day. What were your assignments for the day? Did you complete them?

Class Rhythm

  • Our day includes a daily e-mail to parents and a daily video call with students at 9am.
  • Assignments are posted on Google Classroom each morning and I check their work daily.
  • Students will have Main Lesson work daily, Math 3x per week, Language Arts 1x per week, as well as work in other specially classes such as Spanish, Music, and Cyber Civics.
  • Students are expected to continue their Orchestra work.
  • Generally, specialty class work should last around 45 minutes.
  • Students will not generally have work assigned over the weekend unless they are catching up on a missed assignment.

If an assignment is completed on paper rather than submitted electronically, we will review the work during our daily video call. When working on compositions, students will read their work to each other, as well as share drawings and other work. Students presented their 8th Grade Graduation Projects to each other, and their families, via video call. Videos of these presentations are now available on our website.

Using technology is a part of this process for the older students, but we should also make an effort to sign off of our devices as much as possible! We strive to maintain a balance of work that does and does not require the use of a computer.

Grade School parents should e-mail office@waldorfct.org if they have misplaced a Google Classroom class code, specialty teacher sign-up sheet, or ShareSync classroom folder link. Last updated on April 7, 2020.