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. The process can also be initiated by parents contacting their child’s teacher.
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 support 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 ESG may suggest a choice of interventions. The earlier in the child’s development such issues can be addressed, the better.
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.
Therapeutic Eurythmy addresses a wide range of developmental, medical and constitutional issues, including chronic illnesses. In Eurythmy, an art of movement taught in all Waldorf schools, the tones and feelings in music and speech are expressed and made visible as gestures. The consonants echo the forces in nature, while the vowels express our inner response to the environment; consonant and vowel Eurythmy gestures can support the organic functions that reflect these forces, which in turn support cognitive abilities and academic progress. Relying largely on movements of the arms and legs, this therapy is intended to gently correct imbalances in the limb system, which helps the child connect with gravity and supports the ability to lift out of gravity. Moving a specific sequence of gestures repeatedly, in a rhythmical way, supports balance and harmony. Students are usually seen once a week for 6 weeks.
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.