Antiracist essayist, author, and educator Tim Wise recently spoke at Walden School as part of the school’s Parent Guild Parent Education Series. Open to the Pasadena community, the free event quickly sold out with over 100 people in attendance.

wise-speaking-picTogether with Director of Studies Terra Toscano and Diversity Coordinator Billy Christian, Wise also helmed a teacher workshop where he gave Walden faculty some new tools and resources to skillfully navigate an anti-bias curriculum. He will return later this spring to do more work with teachers, as well as visit students in Walden classrooms.

Distinguished Professor of Urban Studies, Queens College & the Graduate Center, CUNY Stephen Steinberg says, “Tim Wise is a spellbinding herald of anti-racism. His voice resonates especially with young people of all races who represent a generational shift away from the racial toxins and taboos that have been a blot on American democracy.”

 

At Walden School, we believe in building intentional communities in our classrooms. We experience the power of collective wisdom when teachers and parents work together to support our students. At each of Walden’s three Back-to-School Nights, teachers presented an overview of expectations for the upcoming school year, shared some curriculum highlights, and answered parents’ questions.

At each Back-to-School Night, Director Matt Allio welcomed parents in the Toby Hayward Community Room, before parents visited classrooms. Read Matt’s Director’s Note published earlier this week to learn more about his address on finding our way.

Matt often talks about creating safe and predictable environments for Walden students, in order that the children may thrive. Part of that predictability comes from parents understanding the routines and rhythms of their child’s classroom. Back-to-School Night is one way for Walden teachers to share with parents what goes on in the life of a Walden student each day.

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Do you ever sit under a tree just listening to the sounds of nature around you? For how long? A few minutes? An hour? A whole afternoon?

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In 2005, author Richard Louv in his book “Last Child In The Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder” hypothesized negative consequences to people and to society as we spend less time outdoors in the natural world. In 2007, the Society for Conservation Biology published research that draws a connection between children’s increasing consumption of electronic media and declining visits to National Parks.

Without romanticizing history, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says, “free and unstructured play is healthy and – in fact – essential for helping children reach important social, emotional, and cognitive developmental milestones as well as helping them manage stress and become resilient.”

Spring in the Northern Hemisphere is recognized as a time of re-birth and new beginnings in many cultures. From Pesach and Easter to Nowruz and Higan, images in nature represent these holidays connected to the spring equinox.

Submit your photos of time in nature with your family on our FB page or write to us in the comments below!

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
-Henry David Thoreau

Specialty Core Night

February 19, 2015

Walden School parents gathered recently for Spanish tapas, stories, group games, science experiments, and musical instruments while learning about their child’s experience with each of the Walden Specialty teachers. Specialty Core Night is an interactive and informative evening hosted by the Walden Specialists.

Nurturing a child’s natural wonder, Walden’s curriculum is full of opportunities for exploration. The program is dedicated to broadening each child’s learning experience through authentic exposure by offering a variety of Specialty classes at each grade level. These classes include Art, Music, Storytelling, Spanish, Science, Dance, P.E., and Library Skills.

Rooted in a commitment to Renaissance learning, Specialty classes provide an opportunity for depth in content and for relationships with Walden’s experienced Specialist faculty. Walden believes a student’s insight into their own personhood is enhanced through this education — as are language acquisition, cognitive development, critical thinking ability, and social skills.

A Specialist teacher serves as a role model in their field of expertise, embodying what it means for students to live their passion. Capitalizing on the unique opportunity to engage with students throughout their entire developmental trajectory (nine years) at Walden, Specialist classrooms offer a safe exploration of the various disciplines, resulting in an integrated and sequenced program specifically designed to meet the needs of students from Pre-K to 6th grade.

Over time, Specialty classes often become a home or “hub” for Walden students. This continuity of content and relationship nurtures creativity and risk-taking, and allows students to gain a sense of their place in the world and what they offer to it.

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Competition and Sports

February 5, 2015

How do we teach competition during sporting events at Walden School? PE Teacher Billy Christian talks to students about what it feels like to win and what it feels like to lose. Is it okay for a winning team to gloat? How do we express pride in our victory without gloating?

Conversely, is it okay for a losing team to pout? How do we help our students reflect on the moments in the game that went wrong and how do we persevere and practice our skills to improve over time?

Lower Core teachers see the innate competition that flares up during impromptu soccer games at recess. The North Yard is home to several simultaneous games being played competitively by many different groups before school and at lunchtime. How do we talk to students about navigating these intense emotions that come up during competitive games?

Practicing respect and teamwork, along with technical skills, helps build good sports conduct. At the end of the day, Billy reminds us that games are just that – games! Games are supposed to be fun!

Resources to talk to your children about competition:

http://life.familyeducation.com/sports/parenting/36484.html?

http://www.parents.com/toddlers-preschoolers/development/social/teaching-child-sportsmanship/

http://www.sylviarimm.com/article_healthcomp.html

http://kidshealth.org/parent/emotions/feelings/sports_competition.html#

http://www.womenssportsfoundation.org/home/about-us/faq

Family Game Night

January 29, 2015

Walden School families brought their favorite board games to share with other families in the Toby Hayward Community Room. This annual free event is fun for all ages, and included dinner sponsored by Walden School Parent Guild.

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Educators and parents know that important life lessons are learned and practiced while playing board games. From learning to take turns, to analyzing upcoming options, to respectfully and gracefully winning and losing – many habits valued in society can be instilled in children through board games.

DSC_0494Often, a board game reinforces math and reading skills, too. Old standards like Scrabble and chess have been enjoyed for generations, while new games like Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride are challenging and entertaining at the same time.

Special thanks to this year’s organizers, Mark and Kristin!

Mark and Kristin organized Walden School's 2015 Family Game Night!

Mark and Kristin organized Walden School’s 2015 Family Game Night!

Walden School hosted Neuropsychologist Dana Chidekel, PhD to talk with parents last night about raising children with Emotional Intelligence (EI). As parents recognize that the success and happiness to which they aspire for their children depends on their children’s ability to navigate successfully in the world with others, Dr. Dana focused on how parents influence their children’s brains.

“Parents, you must tolerate your child struggling. Develop resilience in your parenting and you will be okay,” said Dr. Dana. “There is empowerment in saying ‘no’ and your child’s creativity will not be squelched. Tolerate your own struggle and teach appropriate Emotional Intelligence to children as citizens of the world.” Along with an overview of how emotions are processed in the brain, Dr. Dana talked about setting healthy, loving boundaries to create a consistent environment for children AND parents.

Earlier in the afternoon, Dr. Dana gave a professional development lecture to faculty and staff.

Dr. Dana shared her definition of EI as an ability to use emotions as a guide for thinking and behavior. Her book, “Parents In Charge” highlights how parenting casts light on the parent’s childhood memories and experiences, and it explains the differences between the cultures of early childhood and adulthood. Vivid examples of the differences in how children and adults experience time, language, and consequences kept both audiences chuckling in recognition and relief.

For more information about Walden School Parent Education, please visit www.waldenschool.net/parenteducation

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