From the first day of preschool through 8th grade graduation, the HVWS faculty is dedicated to maximizing each student’s capacity to become his or her 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 is usually at least one area in which each 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:
Therapeutic Eurythmy (Eurythmy Movement Therapy)
Therapeutic Eurythmy, or Eurythmy Movement Therapy, addresses a wide range of developmental, medical and constitutional issues, including chronic illnesses. Eurythmy is an art of movement taught in all Waldorf schools, in which the tones and feelings in music and speech are expressed and made visible as gestures. The consonants in speech echo the forces at work 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. Sessions usually take place weekly for 30-45 minutes, for a six-week series.
When Therapeutic Eurythmy may be indicated:
When a teacher notices that a child has difficulty imitating gestures or sounds, has rhythm or sequencing issues, or appears not to be inhabiting his/her body comfortably, the teacher may ask an ESG member to observe the student and, if warranted and if the parents agree, to offer Therapeutic Eurythmy. The earlier in the child’s development such issues can be addressed, the better. These exercises facilitate any additional direct instruction offered to the child by teachers and therapists. Therapeutic Eurythmy is usually offered to children ages 3 and up.
Language Arts Support
The approach to academic tutoring in reading, spelling, and written expression is multisensory and introduces the elements of the language systematically, through direct and explicit instruction which is sequential and cumulative. Sessions take place for 45 minutes for a designated number of weekly sessions throughout the course of the school year, or as indicated.
When Language Arts instruction may be indicated: When a teacher notices that a child is having difficulty recognizing shapes of letters or numbers, matching sounds to letters or letters to sounds, sounding out words, reading fluently or comprehending what s/he has read, spelling or expressing him/herself 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 usually offered to children ages 8 and up.
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 all 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 (also known as retained reflexes) helps resolve difficulties with spatial orientation, eye-hand coordination, or movement delays. This service is available to children ages 3 ½ to 7 years.
The Educational Support Group maintains a Resource List of other therapists. There is a modest fee for each ESG service, billed through TADS. Students receive services prioritized according to the teachers’ and ESG’s estimates of relative need. Additional services from ESG specialists and other approved specialists and tutors are available at parents’ expense. For further information on any aspect of the HVWS Educational Support program, please contact Educational Support Coordinator Melissa Merkling at 203-364-1113 or via email.
An anthroposophically trained, licensed naturopathic physician and registered nurse, Dr. Tamara Potselueva contributes her consulting services to the Educational Support Group. She is available to see patients privately. Appointments can be made by calling 860-664-3651 or by email.