The Ages of Our Students For the 2020-21 school year we have five distinct groups. The Sapphires are our oldest class; they are working with the Waldorf 7th grade curriculum. Almost all of them were born in 2007. The Rubies are working with the Waldorf 6th grade curriculum; most were born in 2008. The Opals are working with the Waldorf 5th grade curriculum; they were born in 2009. The Emeralds are 4th graders; they were born between March 15, 2010 and June 1, 2011. The Topazes are a combined 1st/2nd grade group, born in 2013 or March of 2014. During the 2021-22 school year, these classes will be in 8th, 7th, 6th, 5th, and 2nd/3rd grades. We plan to add additional elementary grade levels as sufficient interest arises in the community, and as pandemic safety requirements allow. Physical distancing in the schoolhouse puts a limit on the number of students we can accept.
Daily Schedule The days and weeks are structured to provide both consistency and variety. Each day begins with vigorous physical movement, singing and recitation and then the 90 minute "main lesson". The remainder of each day is spent in academic practice periods, artistic classes, and recesses. The teachers work individually with students in the areas of skill development such as math and language arts. David and Susan draw on their Waldorf training and experience to develop main lesson topics that best meet each specific group of students. As is typical in a Waldorf classroom, each student makes books that provide a personal record of their learning process.
Morning Circle and Good-bye Circle are the official opening and closing moments of each day and it is a lovely thing to begin and end each day all together as a school. During the day there are two recesses which give opportunities for the students to eat a snack and a lunch and to engage in free play. Snacks and lunches are brought from home. Each child must bring a water bottle to school.
All students have chores they must complete at the end of the day, based on the needs of the schoolhouse and property. Chores include such activities as sweeping, erasing chalkboards, folding clean hand towels, washing dishes, emptying trash, recycling or compost, wiping down surfaces, and tidying their desks and cubbies.
Visiting the Lessons Covid-19 requirements have changed how and whether we welcome visitors into the classroom and onto campus. Please contact us for up to date information. We look forward to the post-pandemic days when once again we can warmly welcome any parent onto campus and into the classrooms at any time. We miss having parents simply be onsite during recesses or morning circle. We used to invite parents to sit in on a class, simply by letting that teacher know and we would have a chair waiting for them! Now things are different, but we hope for better days.
Assessment and Reporting Good communication between parents and teachers is crucial to ensure that each child’s educational needs are being met. Written reports describing a student’s progress and participation in a subject are emailed to parents after each main lesson block and at the end of each semester for the ongoing academic practice/skills subjects. Students are not graded on their work, but we often communicate informally with parents about a child's strengths, struggles, and experiences, and we are happy to schedule times to talk together as needed.
Towards a Healthy Social Life at School Enhancing the social experience of their children is one important reason why parents place their children in group learning activities. Cultivating a healthy social life is very difficult if parents have prejudices based on race, ethnicity, social background, gender identity, etc. We strongly believe that racism and all other prejudicial thoughts, statements, and actions deserve strong condemnation wherever we find them, and we ask that you as a parent only consider placing your child in this program if such prejudices are not part of your worldview.
We place a lot of emphasis on the quality of students’ interactions and will frequently have conversations with individuals or small groups of students to discuss social dynamics we observe or hear about. Social drama can be uncomfortable, and yet sometimes the air must be cleared. We give the children models for how to peacefully resolve differences and hold each other accountable. We encourage each student to speak their truth clearly and respectfully, to listen to others, and to think about appropriate next steps to make the situation right. This kind of social work takes time, patience, courage, and often a sense of humor. Growing into good and helpful people may be hard or uncomfortable work, and helping our friends and classmates be their best selves can also be difficult. We firmly believe these things are worth learning, so we spend time on it.
Being Prepared for Weather and Normal Risks in Nature We believe that normal risks and challenges are good for human development, so students are encouraged to explore all 8 acres of our rugged Texas property. There are natural dangers in the form of flora (e.g. stinging nettle and cacti), fauna (e.g. fire ants and wasps) and geology. Children will climb (and possibly fall from) trees, run and trip, and sometimes get scrapes, cuts, bumps, and bruises in the natural course of healthy play. All of this is part of growing up to be strong and resilient. Common sense, respect for all creatures, and care for one another are actively cultivated, and teachers and first aid kits are always nearby. In cases of emergency, we would call 911.
Students are expected to be outside for large parts of each day, so dressing appropriately for the weather, even if it is cold and/or rainy, is important. They will need gloves, hats, and coats for cold weather, and rain boots and rain jackets so they can play in the rain. They should have a change of clothes at school in case they get wet or muddy. They may bring umbrellas if they want them.
Fire safety is another part of this program, since there will be times when we have fires in the fireplaces in the schoolhouse (we have three!) or outside in the fire pit. Students will help gather wood, build and extinguish these fires.
Covid-19: In-Person and Distance Learning This pandemic has altered our reality. We are prepared to meet all requirements for the safety of our students, parents, and teachers for in-person learning. Fortunately, we have space indoors and plenty of outdoor classroom areas. We are small enough as a school community to work together and support each other in creating a low risk environment.
For the 2020-2021 school year, we offer a flexible indoor-outdoor program that includes physical distancing and masks while indoors, and physical distancing or masks outdoors. We have cultivated a committed group of teachers and parents who have each agreed to live their lives with limiting exposure to Covid-19 as a primary focus. In this way we unite and protect the longevity of the in-person school experience for the children.
We are prepared for episodes of at-home distance learning school. While we believe maintaining some consistent, predictable rhythm to the day is healthy and can provide comfort to the students in times of stress, we also want to be flexible and attentive to the students’ emotional needs as they arise. We are not inclined to try to cram normal academic schedules and expectations into a distance learning platform. Many hours in front of a screen are not healthy or always conducive to learning. During distance learning times, the daily school schedule will be adjusted in various ways for various reasons that we deem are in the best interest of the students under these unique circumstances. We will communicate all plans and expectations to the parents and the students as events happen. We have also upgraded the HVAC systems in the schoolhouse to include UV lights and germ killing hydrolyzed peroxide air disbursement. See the COVID-19 Safety menu for more information specific to our pandemic response for the 2020-2021 school year.
Respectful of Spirit, not Religious We believe that our work includes honoring and cultivating the natural childhood worldview of reverence for life and a desire to experience goodness, truth, and beauty. We may include songs and poems that use the word "God", however, there is no intention of indoctrinating the students with any specific beliefs. Similarly, one of the important aspects of the curriculum is the study of cultures, which often includes discussions of their religious beliefs. Our goal is to help the students appreciate and be comfortable in a world where they will interact with people from many cultures, some of whom will have very different beliefs from their own.
Technology in Our Lives The role of electronics in a child's life has changed dramatically in the many years that we have been teaching. Now most phones can access games, photographs, websites and videos. Although many aspects of society and technology have changed rapidly over the years, we believe that the nature of childhood is essentially the same as it was thousands of years ago. At a most basic level, children learn best from direct experiences and when they feel safe, rested, fed, and inspired.
We also want to cultivate in the students the stamina needed to persevere in building good habits for learning. These include being able to focus and pay attention, listen and comprehend, imagine and manipulate mental pictures and processes, memorize, stand tall and still, as well as to move with core strength, flexibility and rhythm. To learn, the mind and body must be available and receptive. Research shows that the overuse of technology and screen time erode a child’s ability to function in these critical ways. Of course, there are appropriate uses for the technological tools of our age, but the addictive qualities of video games and other electronic activities underscore the harm that can be done mentally, physically, and socially. We urge parents to be very cautious about allowing children to have significant time with electronics, especially unsupervised time.
Environmental Responsibility At School on the Rise we are attempting to use natural resources wisely. We have a small solar array installed on the roof and we open windows and doors when the weather is good and leave lights off when rooms are not being actively used to decrease our electrical energy needs. We actively encourage the students to compost food scraps, recycle paper goods, use reusable cups, plates, and utensils, and we try to limit our use of water by asking the students to delay flushing the toilets when they only pee. We encourage parents to consider adding environmentally responsible habits at home to support the students learning them at school. Ideas on ways we can demonstrate increasingly responsible operations are welcome.
Tuition and Fees For information about the cost for students to participate in the program, please see the “Admissions" page in the Admissions drop-down menu.
Still Have Questions? If you have questions about any aspect of this program, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We Would Love to Have You Visit Soon!
School on the Rise values and supports diversity in its many dimensions, including but not limited to each person’s unique combination of race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical ability, learning style, religious beliefs, political views, perspectives, and life experiences.
By embracing diversity, we expand our understanding of others. By reflecting on our inherent personal biases, we stimulate our own learning and growth. By doing both, we connect with one another and the world. We believe this is healthy and key to moving beyond simple tolerance, building a safe, positive, and nurturing environment that affirms each individual’s sense of belonging, dignity, and significance. [Thanks and Acknowledgment to High Meadow School for borrowing heavily from their Diversity Statement]