YARN - From the (shorter) Oxford English Dictionary:

Spun fibre of cotton, silk, wool, or flax.... fibre prepared for use in weaving, knitting...a fisherman's net...any of the strands of which a rope is composed...a (usually long or rambling) story or tale, especially an implausible, fanciful, or incredible one.

Monday, December 5, 2011


If you live in Kingston you know what this means.
It means that we are part of the vibrant community around Skeleton Park.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Waldorf and Computers - More high-tech Low-tech

By Rehema Ellis
NBC News

From the moment you walk into the Waldorf School of the Peninsula there are clear signs that something different is happening.

Allysun Sokolowski, a third-grade teacher,  greets each one of her 29 students by name and shakes their hand as they enter the classroom. It's easy for her because she's known these kids at the Los Altos, Calif., school for a while.

"I've been teaching the same children from first grade, second grade and now we're in third grade. And I will teach these children all the way through eighth grade," she said.

It's the Waldorf way.

Teachers establish a strong bond with students. As a result, Waldorf teachers quickly point out there's no need for tests or grades.

"I don't need grades to know how well they're doing," said Sokolowski. "I know their strengths, I know their weaknesses. I know what will be hard for them and where they will shine. I'm their teacher with a capital 't.'"

The intense student-teacher connection might help explain why students from elementary to high school are thriving. The school boasts a nearly perfect graduation rate.

Despite being in the heart of Silicon Valley, Waldorf students are not caught up in the gadget frenzy that has consumed so many other school children nationwide. Computers are not used in the elementary school and they are used sparingly at the high school level. Teachers say they're not anti-technology, but, as they put it, they're just in favor of healthy education.

"I'm concerned that if we say we need technology to engage students we're missing the fact that what engages students is good teachers and good teaching," said Lisa Babinet, a Waldorf math teacher.

I asked a group of high school students if they misssed having computers and iPads as part of their lessons they all emphatically said "No."

The San Antonio Elementary School focuses on technology and feels it helps close the achievement gap in under-served communities by getting students ready for the digital age.

"I don't think we're gonna be left behind at all because it's not like we're not a part of technology at all," said sophomore Isabelle Senteno. "We are a part of it, we just don't incorporate it in the lessons."

Jack Pelose, a freshman who transferred to Waldorf from a school that used a lot of technology, said he noticed the benefits of not using computers in class. "My cursive has gotten a lot better since I've been here," he said.

"Everything about technology is so easy to pick up and use nowadays," added senior Zach Wurtz added. "The companies design it so anyone can use it when they choose to."

The students talked about being annoyed sometimes when they hang out with friends who are not Waldorf students, who spend a lot of time on social networking sites and texting.

One Waldorf student said he sometimes has to ask his friends to put down the gadgets so they can just talk.

And if you're wondering, like I did, how the Waldorf education translates in the outside world, Laila Waheed, a graduate now in her first year of college, offered some insight.

Waheed, 18, has a laptop but never takes it to lectures. She takes notes by hand -- like she did at Waldorf -- and she later transfers her notes into her computer. It's a form of studying, she said.

"If you stood at the back of the classroom and looked at every screen, at least half of them would be on Facebook," Waheed said of all the other students who are typing away on their laptops during lectures.

"A Waldorf education gives you a foundation to say, 'OK, I can put my phone in my bag. I can have a half-an-hour conversation with a person. I don't need to be totally connected all the time,'" Waheed said. "And that's more valuable for making personal connections that will last longer than the next text you're going to get."

It sounds like something a Waldorf student would say. But it’s also a sentiment echoed by her father, an engineer manager at Cisco.

"I don't think anyone is debating the value of technology and the use of computers," Muneer Waheed said. "There is no going back. This is the future."

But he and his wife have been clear about wanting the mostly technology-free zone that Waldorf provides for their two children.

"They need the environment and the foundation to develop and get their core values -- the love of education and their own passion," he said. "That's what's going to stay with them. The computer is just a tool."

all fo this from MSNBC

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Lantern Walk 2011

The Story of St. Martin
Once upon a time there was a young man named Martin. He was kind and gentle. One day he was going to the city of Amien. As he walked along the country road he rejoiced at seeing the tall trees with their branches swaying in the breezes and flowers of many colours growing from the ground and at hearing birds chirping and singing.
He said, “The world is good” and felt happy to see the trees and flowers and hear the birds.
The sun shone down on him and he felt its warmth on his shoulders.
Soon he came to the gate of the city of Amien. He walked through a large archway. The sun was fading and it began to get dark so he lit his lantern. As he walked along he came upon a man crouched on the ground shivering and cold with hardly any clothes on. Martin took off his cloak, tore it in two and laid one half over the shivering man and gave him his lantern so he would have warmth and light.
Then he went on until he came to his place of rest and lay down on his bed and went to sleep. While he slept he had a dream. In his dream there was an angel who said, “Thank you for giving part of your coat to the shivering man and your lamp so he could have warmth and light. Your name shall be St. Martin.  Again and again St. Martin gave clothing to those who were cold and food to the hungry and light to those in need.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Waldorf Myths and Realities - Reading and Writing

- Waldorf kids don't learn how to read
- Waldorf kids are 'held back' or 'delayed' in acquiring core academic skills

The early childhood focus on stories that are expertly told by the teachers and often acted out with puppets or wooden or woollen toy props is not just a nice thing, it is the beginning of literacy in Waldorf education.   The children, through experience, learn what a good story sounds and feels like. They  know that there is a beginning, a middle and a conclusion. They learn how to introduce characters and develop plot. They learn by example the cadence and flow of a good story.  

For many days or even weeks the children hear a story and learn it effortlessly by heart.  Not through drills or rote memorization - through integration and interest.

In this way I have seen both of my children develop excellent (though still at times selective!) listening skills and attention spans. And now my son, in pre-kindergarten, can tell us at supper the stories he has learned at school. My daughter, in grade two will tell stories from her memory and her imagination. Now though she will also write and illustrate them in books.  

The experience of watching my daughter learn stories aurally in the Kinder and Morning Garden classes was tinged with the same fear that many parents have when they see other children of a similar age reading or using electronic devices aimed at developing literacy.  But to watch her, along with her friends and classmates, dive into literacy in grade one was a beautiful thing. They were ready and were strong out of the gates.  They learned to draw forms and structure their drawings, they learned the alphabet and began to write letters and words. Now they write sentences and paragraphs and read the stores they have written.  It all seems so effortless, so painless, so fun and natural. This speaks to the pedagogical progression and to the gifts of the teacher who gently lead the students along this path.

So, what have I learned?  I trust the process.  Waldorf kids learn to read and write for sure, but first they learn to listen and to see.  From the whole to the parts, rather than the other way around.

For your viewing pleasure I offer two videos by Eugene Schwartz on the subject of Writing and Reading in Waldorf Education.

This link will take you to another blog post on How reading is Taught in Waldorf School, from the perspective of a Waldorf trained teacher.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Low-tech High-tech - Waldorf and computers - 1

One afternoon I came into the school yard to collect my daughter and above the din I heard one of the older boys bellowing; I turned to see him racing across the yard, chasing someone and calling out "he's got my laptop!"

It was the mention of a computer that made this one comment stand out above all of the excited chatter and play. I though "How very un-Waldorf". A few seconds later I saw him running back across the yard with his "laptop" under his arm - and I realized it was two pieces of wood! I could only think - "How very Waldorf!"

A few months later my daughter set up a workspace in our backyard. She has made other places of work, stores for selling stones she has cracked, or play food made from sand and things found in the garden, she has made art galleries and theatres. This time it was an office, complete with a computer - another wooden computer!

Computers are not part of the classroom at our school.  The classrooms contain blackboards, wooden desks and the children learn to draw and print and then to write - cursive writing.

Is this a quaint anachronism? Are we a bunch of Luddites?
Won't our children lag behind?  What will happen if they don't learn to use a mouse before they enter the grade school? Are the wooden computers an expression of need or a sign of profound deprivation?

I see technology changing so rapidly that it makes no sense to learn anything other than for immediate application. The interface with all things technical is becoming more seamless and intuitive all the time, it is not something that needs to be practiced. People don't need extra lessons in video games, or wasting time on the internet, that is the easy stuff. We should not kid ourselves that anything we could teach children now about computers will be applicable in 5 years.  We need to help them to maintain their sense of wonder and imagination, to foster their creativity and to acquire the cognitive skills and sense of historical context and give them access to the great stories of humanity so that they are prepared for a future that we cannot even imagine. It's about thinking, the technology is just a tool.

It turns out that some of the folks who are actually creating these technologies, the earliest of early adopters of technology, the geekiest of the geeky, the disciples of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, the dwellers of Silicon Valley agree! And they send their kids to Waldorf Schools!

The New York Times, in a series called Grading the Digital School, looks at the results of the push for technology in the classroom. The third article in the series, A Silicon Valley School That Doesn't Compute, focuses on Waldorf education.

Maybe they have wooden laptops there too.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The First Day of School

Last year I wrote about Ritual and Reverence and included the first day of school as both a ritual and an act of reverence:
As my daughter entered grade 1 this year I was moved to be standing in the circle of the school community with other parents, children and teachers all of whom had gathered to welcome the children to the grade school in word and song.  Each child was given a flower by a student in the graduating class with whom they had been paired, a gift that will be returned at the end of the year when those same students prepare to leave for high school.  On that first day my daughter and her classmates crossed the threshold into their formal education by passing under an arch of boughs held by their teachers from Kindergarten and in turn they each leaped joyfully into their education.

I was moved by this simple ceremony again this year.  Joining us were new children and new families. Missing from the circle were families that had moved away.  As I looked around the circle I saw all of standing there together and I thought of all that had happened within this community of people in the last year, the multiple ways in which we come to know each other by sharing the experience of being a school community.  Some had suffered losses that touched us all.  We had also acknowledged and celebrated the successes and joys, big and small. These events happened in the context of the school community and connected us further - as friends. 

The school year began with parents and children joining with teachers and staff to mark the beginning of the year, to welcome new students and teachers, to hear what the work of each class will be over the year and to celebrate the teachers who will create the magic that is learning. We also gathered to shine a special light on the children entering into the grade school.  Under an arch of sunflowers, the students and teachers passed from the communal space of the yard, into their classroom homes. New students were welcomed with a potted plant to care for. My daughter returning to a new grade but to  her classroom with her teacher - the same as last year. She was carrying the plant she had been given to care for at the beginning of last year; returning to her desk where her coloured pencils and crayons waiting for her, her knitting project was also waiting in the classroom.  

Ready for the new but eased and comforted by the familiar, there had been very little anxiety or nervousness associated with the beginning of the school year, my daughter knew what to expect. We parents, left in the yard, paused for a few moments to let the emotion runs its course, and to share with each other how surprisingly moving it all is every year.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Nature's Classroom

Let Nature be your teacher. 
William Wordsworth

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. 
Rachel Carson

What do parents owe their young that is more important than a warm and trusting connection to the Earth…?
Theodore Roszak, The Voice of the Earth

Teaching children about the natural world should be treated as one of the most important events in their lives.
Thomas Berry

Yes, yes, yes and yes!
So what is happening in education to support this?  What is a forest school?  How close is Waldorf to some of these initiatives?   Below are some of the things I found while sitting inside trolling around looking for exciting things happening outside. There are lots of exiting things, things that can and should act as encouragement for us to spend more time outside - during school and away from school. How can we argue with that?

The Coombes School was covered in The Globe and Mail, November 12, 2010 and the article tells us: "Studies suggest that interacting with nature can help children pay attention, motivate them to learn and improve both classroom behaviour and scores on standardized tests. Neuroscientists and psychologists are investigating why nature is good for young brains and how being around trees and shrubs helps recharge the circuitry that children use to focus on a page of fractions or a spelling test." All of this makes sense to me, I have not yet found the research papers, but would love to see them for confirmation of what I already believe to be true!

But what of the actual 'forest schools', what are they?
"A forest kindergarten is a type of preschool education for children between the ages of three and six that is held almost exclusively outdoors. " Forest Kindergarten, (wikipedia).  This article gives a bit out background and arguments in favour of Forest Schools. There are also links to some existing programmes in Scotland, England, Germany and Scandanavian countries.  It sounds like a lot of the things I value at our school, and makes me wonder if we could push the amount of outdoor time even more.

Closer to home, CBC profiles a Forest Pre-school on the Carp Ridge outside Ottawa, at the Carp Ridge Learning Centre.

Outside Thunder Bay is The Forest School:

I'm a teacher, get me OUTSIDE here! is a blog from the perspective of a teacher and outdoor education consultant.

Outdoor play and learning, an online resource about just that.

All of this makes me wonder how we, as a family,  can spend more time outdoors and can help the school to move more education outdoors, to expand our definition of classroom.  May an awareness of variety and options be the beginning of this discussion!

"Must we always teach our children with books? Let them look at the mountains and
the stars up above. Let them look at the beauty of the waters and the trees and
flowers on earth. They will then begin to think, and to think is the beginning of a real
David Polis

top of page quotes from Nature for Kids blog

Thursday, June 9, 2011

ad-free blog

By using this icon on my website I am stating...
1. That I am opposed to the use of corporate advertising on blogs.
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3. That I do not accept money in return for advertising space on my blog.

More on ad-free blogging and comments from the creator of this widget can be found here.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Educational Influences, Educational Choices

Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons. It is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.

Walt WhitmanSong of the Open Road

Discussion and decisions about school are both simple and confusingly complicated. It makes sense that our present thoughts and actions are reactions to our own past experiences and can be influenced by what sort of schooling options our friends and family have chosen for their children.  While trying to clarify thoughts about how much we base our decisions on wanting to recreate for our children what we valued in our own childhoods, or trying to give them what we wished we had experienced as children the discussion can easily move into politics and economics.

Wanting what is best for our children is in part about wanting to spare them some of life's harsh realities, or at least postpone them. But it can also be about feeling the need to help them confront life's pressures by giving them a head-start in life.  Next thing you know the discussion is about supporting our community, elitism, anti-elitism and class.  Complicated!

Most of my school life was spent in pretty run-of-the-mill middle class suburban institutions. I have been fortunate to have had a few rich and transformative learning experiences, or experiences in rich and transformative environments.  These have shaped my life and my understanding of what education can be. Each raised the bar a bit higher.

I attended an elementary school that was modern in the late 60s and early 70s - it was an open concept school and bright and alive, freeing. My switch in grade 5 to an old school with individual classes and long institutional corridors was harsh; the teachers felt as old as the building and the approach to learning was as oppressive as the architecture. I had no vocabulary for it at the time.

My most formative education occurred outdoors, where our motivation to learn was real and intrinsic.  We learned together in what educators might now call a community of practice, but it was summer camp. It was it's own little world and the generations were 4 or 5 years between campers and counsellors so the history of the place developed rapidly and the stories have been told and retold on canoe trips ever since.  

Since that time, after each of my too-many-to-count moves, this book On The Loose has been given a place of honour on my book shelves.  It's status speaks to the book itself, but also to the time of my life when it validated the experinces I was having - learning independence, competence, interdependence, doing things that had real consequences, feeling the weight and the thrill of responsibility. " Crazy kids on the loose; but on the loose in the wilderness. That mades all the difference."

My professional education was a complete immersion in the group experience. The assessment strategies were primarily formative, focused on direct feedback, group work, honest self-assesment and skill development.  The evaluation scheme was satisfactory/unsatisfactory.  The freedom that came from this is hard to describe.  It made me realize how difficult it had been to write all those essays to try and please the marker and how I cowered in the face of competition.  I experienced how the traditional approach to marking and exams had hindered my learning, how my focus had been on passing and not on learning. 

There was an anxiety with this new way of learning, a fear of not knowing enough, a fear that other students elsewhere were learning more and that we would all be publically humiliated when we entered work life.  But mostly we learned because we wanted to and because we felt the responsibility for our own educations - we were actually able to seize the experience as a great opportunity to learn from one another and from the faculty who dedicated such a large part of themselves to the school and our learning. Unfortunately it was indoors.

Having had good experiences in education I am looking for these elements for my children - nature, intrinsic motivation rather than external evaluation, a grounding in some sort of community and real learning situations with real consequences.

I see many people wanting to make sure their children have the skills to get ahead, to stay with the pack and eventually to be able to excel. This is a time of enrichment and remediation outside the school, of families devoted to an exacting schedule of extracurricular activities.  I, too want life to be as rich and as pleasant as possible for my children. I want to give them all the help I can.   The educational enrichment I seek for my children can be found outdoors.

From time outdoors will come:
  • a sense of peace and connection with the earth and ones classmates
  • the experience of adventure and the development of competence
  • independence and interdependence

"It feels good to say "I know the Sierra" or "I know Point Reyes". But of course you don't - what you know better is yourself, and Point Reyes and the Sierra have helped." On the Loose

So, what's happening outside in education?  Next post will be: Forest Schools and Outdoor Classrooms!

Walt Whitman image from: 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Parenting is Political

Parenting is political - how we choose to raise our children, the values we instil in the ways we live our lives, the toys we buy or make, the schools we send our children to, the way we spend our family time are all political actions.

Parenting focuses ones attention on the state of the world in new ways and can call us to actions at times like this Canadian Federal Election.

It is not the party but the action that matters.
Here is an offering from a group of moms in our community:

Parenting is Political!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Walt-dorf - Crossing the Waldorf-Disney Divide

When my sister-in-law opened the conversation with "I know it's not your thing, but..."  I knew I was going to say yes to something that was going to stretch me.  I figured it was going to be about crossing a divide between my life and the world of popular culture.

I walked home for lunch for my first few years of elementary school and the Flintstones were as much a part of my day as grilled cheese. I can place my babysitting years by the shows on TV (Love Boat and Fantasy Island), I have the Partridge Family on my ipod (should I really admit that??). I am a product of my times.

We are not super orthodox Waldorfians, but we don't have a TV (somewhere around the time of my english degree TV left my life and I embraced my inner geek).  Dora has entered our home in book form, we have been to see theatre productions of Franklin and Sesame Street, we have read Winnie the Pooh - the pre-Disney Winnie.  I think of it as 'popular culture light'.

So when the topic of a family trip to Disney came up what was I to do?

I do what I always do - I made it more complicated and flooded my brain with questions and tried to look at it from a 1000 angles!

How to be of both worlds? 
How to take the best of one and not alienate oneself from the other?
To what extent has the school become the keeper of my values?  my moral compass?  the ideal against which I measure myself?
How can we not accept this invitation?
Will a week of Disney undo years of Waldorf?
How can I not give my parents the gift of us all being together?
Will my children come home with expectations that I cannot/don't want to meet?
Did I not go to Disney as a child - and like it?  I wonder if that Mickey Mouse t-shirt is still at my parents...
Will a week of rides and sensory overload ruin my children's ability to embrace the simple pleases of play at school?
What could be more fun that the 5 cousins together for a week?
Wouldn't it be nice to go without a coat for a bit before hunkering down to snowsuit season?
Why would I avoid something that could be beneficial for all of the relationships in the family?
Will we have to buy a TV when we got home?
Would it really be a form of deprivation to not take my children to Disney?
Why do I make everything so complicated?

My sister-in-law is familiar with the ins and outs of planning a trip to the BIG D and all I had to do was say yes and she would find the deals and tell us when to book and where to show up, it could not be easier.

So we went. We went to spend time with the cousins and grandparents, and it happened to be to Disney. Well that is what I told myself.  But as we made the plans I was looking forward to seeing the room stretch at the Haunted Mansion and was pretty sure I did not need to go on Space Mountain as an adult. I looked forward to my daughter going on the Small World world ride with her grandmother.  Even thinking that thought implanted that song in my head.

In my mind I joked about getting kicked out of the school. I told people our plans like it was a minor misdemeanor.  The issues were all mine. It turns out that lots of other people struggle with these issues and ask similar questions.  Questions about where to draw the line, how firm to make the line and when the line actually interferes with other aspects of life and extended family.  It would be nice to not get noisy plastic toys, but sometimes they come despite polite suggestions and you just have to smile and say thank you.

I didn't give the children much warning that we were going, there was no big hype lead up, it was pretty low key, the excitement was about spending a week with the cousins.

It was a fast education in Disney. My daughter did not know the names of the princesses so in true Waldorf fashion she made a song with all of the names (Ariel, Belle, Jasmin, Cinderella.....) and wandered around singing it to herself until she could rattle them off like an old pro!

And maybe the two, Disney and Waldorf,  fit together like two sides of a coin, both seeking to indulge the spirit and childhood and make a kind of magic.

Waldorf has - gnomes
Disney has - dwarfs

Waldorf has - golden silence
Disney has - a soundtrack

Waldorf has - rhythm
Disney has - beat

Waldorf has - a progression of learning
Disney has - serial peak experiences

Waldorf has - coherence
Disney has - cross marketing

Waldorf has - calm
Disney has - hype

Waldorf has - natural materials
Disney has - materials made to look natural

Waldorf has - a lantern walk
Disney has - an electric light parade

Waldorf is - authentic
Disney is - created reality

Waldorf is - grounded
Disney is - ready for lift-off

Waldorf has - knights
Disney has - princesses!

We had character meals, lunch at The Castle with The Princesses, sparkly shoes, late nights, carousel rides, spinning tea cups, soarin', turtle talk with crush, 3-d sensorama movies, a 2 week safari in under 1/2 hour, parades and more parades, magic wands and wishing stars, fireworks, multiple rides in the doom buggies of the haunted mansion, and roller coaster rides.  We came home with Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse tucked under our arms and thousands of pictures on the hard drive.

The first day back at school my son and some of his friends took the lid off the sand table in the Morning Garden - they made a slide and played with absolute concentration and abandon for 45 minutes.

It was all fine!

I still kinda want to see the Harry Potter park.....

Monday, January 17, 2011

Grade One Readiness

Grade one entry might be considered one of the markers that differentiates a Waldorf education from other schools - the somewhat delayed timing of it, the unique assessment of readiness and the commitment to a curriculum that is different from other schools. It is also a source of mystery and confusion for parents new to Waldorf.

I am one of those parents.

My daughter has a birthday just after the age cut off for our school and in some ways could jump over the line if I pushed.  The issue of whether to push her ahead first occurred when she was still in Morning Garden. When her cohort split and the bulk of them moved ahead from Morning Garden to Kindergarten I was surprised to find myself feeling uneasy and that maybe nobody had bothered to tell us that we had failed Morning Garden. An inner hockey mom was unleashed and I was feeling like the ref had made a bad call against my child.  My rational sane self was well aware the it was not in my daughter's best interest to be rushed into Kindergarten and I was as surprised by this inner hockey mom as anyone could be.  I sat with it and thought about it and talked with the teacher about it, not about her decision but, about my response to the situation.  It made me realize how many issues about school are deep within me and need to be brought to consciousness so as not to cloud my thinking when it comes to what is best for my child/ren.

The situation repeated itself around the transition between the first and second year in Kindergarten. This time it was a bit easier because she clearly did not meet the 'turning 7 in grade one' criteria. The teachers were very willing to consider her grade one readiness if I had wished.  I made jokes about cramming for grade one readiness at home, doing crossing the mid-line drills and checking for deciduous teeth, but the jokes were just a veneer over my uncertainty about whether to push her forward or not.  I was pressured, actually I pressured myself, by thinking about cousins who had started reading at 4 and others who were the same age but already a grade ahead. It was my fear of her falling behind some externally created measure that was getting in the way.  But really it came down to thinking about whether it was better for her to struggle to keep up as the youngest in a 1/2 split or to enjoy another year in Kindergarten and to reap the benefits in terms of sense of self, responsibility and pride by being one of the older children in the class.

When I led myself back to what matters to me educationally I reaffirmed that all I really want is for her to feel good about herself, to be able to enjoy herself at school and to continue to love learning. I am convinced the rest will take care of itself.

I have not regretted not pushing her.

Half way through grade one I am so pleased that I was able to listen to the wisdom of the teachers and other parents. It involved quieting that competitive hockey mom and being aware of my sideways glances to other children of similar age to make sure we were keeping up.  It takes a conscious effort to stay focused on what is best for my daughter and our family, so programmed are we as a culture to compete and think about getting ahead. I am not proud of this aspect of my character, of that hockey mom within, but as an over-educated professional I guess I should not be surprised.

Watching my daughter embrace grade one and absorb the whole experience has been enriching, heart warming and wonderful.  She loves school and does not want to miss anything.  She loves all of it and is ready for it.  She has been playing at writing letters for a couple of years now and I understand what the teachers meant when they said that this was not real readiness, but a stop on the way. Indeed it was merely preparation for where she is now in terms of her ability to write and thirst to read.  She is excited to repeat aspects of her day and make mini main lessons for her younger brother, who is now convinced that he, too, is in grade one.

I cannot speak to the specifics of the readiness assessment though I think of it as a developmental screening test. It is not something that can be prepared for, it just is.  Any maybe this is where my hockey mom was right to put her bum back on the seat and take a deep breath, this is not about skill, or a prediction of future performance it is about children being ready for their next step, as they were for their first step - each at their own time when THEY were ready.

This segues into a  whole other discussion about why we are so intent on rushing things. Life is short, childhood shorter, let us all savour the magic while we can.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Thinking About Education

From the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA):