From the first day of preschool through 8th grade graduation, the HVWS faculty is dedicated to maximizing each student’s capacity to become their best self. In order to accommodate all different learning styles, the teachers incorporate a wide variety of activities into their lessons. Movement, recitation, painting and drawing, crafts, sculpting, games, singing, playing instruments — all help to supplement and complement the academic aspects of the curriculum, so there are usually areas in which each and every student can excel. It may happen, however, that a student experiences difficulties: physical, academic, cognitive, behavioral, or emotional. When a student is struggling, the teachers may call on the Educational Support Group (ESG) for extra assistance in helping the student work through issues standing in the way of progress.
HVWS offers several different therapies, each of which addresses a different area of the child’s experience, with the common goal of supporting the educational process – the child’s ability to learn successfully – by strengthening the foundations of thinking, feeling and willing, on which higher learning capacities are based. The areas addressed include physical coordination and balance, healthy neurological development, self-confidence, physical and emotional health, and cognitive and academic skills. The therapies we offer are:
Language Arts Support
Language Arts instruction may be indicated when a teacher notices that a child is having difficulty rhyming, recognizing shapes of letters or numbers, matching sounds to letters or letters to sounds, sounding out words, reading fluently or comprehending what they have read, spelling, or expressing themself in writing. The teacher may ask an ESG member to observe the student and, if warranted and if the parents agree, to offer language arts instruction. The earlier in the child’s development such issues can be addressed, the better. At our school language arts instruction is offered to children in grades 1 through 8
The Extra Lesson & Early Movement Integration Therapy
The Extra Lesson is a program of assessment and activities designed to support and reinforce the developmental stages of the first seven years, some of which may not have been successfully completed. It may be likened to an enhanced type of Occupational Therapy. Immature developmental foundations can later manifest as academic or movement challenges. The basis for higher learning is strengthened by supporting the child’s neurological and physical development through conscious movement, speech, and artistic activity. Originally developed in the 1970s by Waldorf educator Audrey McAllen, the Extra Lesson continues to develop, as recent research strongly supports the connection between early development, movement, and learning. The Extra Lesson is available to HVWS students in weekly sessions for 6 weeks. In the Early Childhood program, it takes the form of Early Movement Integration Therapy. Integrating early movement patterns and working with retained reflexes helps resolve difficulties with spatial orientation, eye-hand coordination, movement delays, motor patterns, visual perception, language, conceptualization and academic functioning. This service is appropriate for children ages 4 to 7 years.
There is a modest fee for each ESG service, billed through FACTS. Students receive services prioritized according to the teachers’ and ESG’s estimates of relative need, with the youngest students given priority because early identification of needs is so important. Additional services from ESG specialists and other approved specialists such as speech-language pathologists, academic tutors, etc. are available at parents’ expense. The Educational Support Group maintains a resource list of such specialists. Currently HVWS does not offer in-house math tutoring.
If a student enrolled at HVWS is suspected of having a learning difference or disability, a developmental delay, or another condition requiring special education and related services, they are entitled to a free psychoeducational evaluation by Newtown school personnel. The ESG can help to facilitate this process. If a student is identified as having a learning disability as a result of that evaluation, or if the presence of a learning disability is evident without an evaluation, it may not be possible for the disability to be addressed in the classroom, or even by our existing ESG services. In such cases, if it is deemed advisable for the student to remain at HVWS, parents are required to pay privately for all additional services that may be indicated.
For further information on any aspect of the HVWS Educational Support program, please contact Educational Support Co-coordinators Melissa Merkling or Laura McDonald at 203-364-1113 or via email.