Moorland Waldorf School

Here come the summer holidays!

Here come the summer holidays …… and as always, the end of term is a busy time for us here at Moorland Waldorf and especially this year, when we’ve been trying to pack in more than ever to make up for lost time during the winter lockdown.  
The children have spent a lot of time in the great outdoors, with opportunities for all ages to enjoy – and learn from – the wonderful surroundings we have here in Danby Dale and further afield on the moors and the coast.   Local geography has been one of the themes for our main class this term, so the children have been out and about to learn more about the geography and wildlife of our area.  They’ve walked, camped and whittled their way through the last weeks of term. 
The younger children in kindergarten don’t miss out.  They’ve walked to the ‘magical’ woods and lake at the back of the dale, visited a local farm (where the horse, Cracker, is the regular recipient of our school scrap bucket) and run on the beach at Sandsend.  
We have to thank our hard-working teachers, assistants and volunteers for making these trips possible and thank the children for making them all such fun.  
Sadly, we say goodbye to some of our older children at the end of term.  They move on to different destinations,  locally, in the county, and in one case abroad.  We send them on their way with our love and wish them the very best in their next educational adventures. 

What is form drawing?

Moorland Waldorf School and Kindergarten in Botton Village is an independent primary school which offers Steiner Waldorf education.  This alternative to mainstream education is one the fastest growing educational movements in the world, with over 1,000 schools in 64 countries, and 1,857 kindergartens (nurseries) in more than 70 countries.  

Our philosophy is very much centred on the happiness, wellbeing and all-round educational progress of the individual child.   There is a strong emphasis on the arts, languages and music although all national curriculum subjects are to be found in our curriculum.  

Some subjects are unique to Steiner Waldorf. Form drawing is one of them. This is a subject that you would see on a timetable in every Steiner Waldorf School from classes 1-5 and Moorland Waldorf School is no exception. But what is form drawing?

Form drawing consists essentially of freehand drawing of non-representational forms. It was entirely new when introduced in the first Waldorf school in 1919. Today it is still new, in the sense that we are still discovering fresh aspects of it, and different applications.

When you look at form drawings – the rhythmically repeated patterns, reflections, rotations, geometric figures and intricate interlaced designs, such as Celtic knots- you are seeing an outcome on the page.  It looks beautiful and can be quite impressive, but what is far more important, yet what it is impossible to see, is just how much the process of creating these forms furthers a child’s development.

 In fact, form drawing is all about the process and not the product.  It is the act of drawing that educates, not the result. 

The weekly form drawing lesson begins with whole body movements.  We walk and run the shapes.  We trace them in the air, using large arm movements.  Once the child begins to draw the pattern or shape, they are learning how to translate the large three-dimensional experience into a much smaller, two-dimensional form on paper.  Observing a form minutely, understanding how it is drawn, identifying patterns and recreating it requires many skills beyond those of observation, orientation and the fine motor skills of the fingers. 

Each experience of form drawing adds to a child’s knowledge and skills, increases independence and confidence in their own abilities. Identifying patterns is a particularly transferable skill and gives a good visual foundation for mathematics. Form drawings which have been mastered are revisited as the pupils are challenged to reverse them or draw the negative space. Tasks like this demand huge flexibility of thought, increasing cognitive abilities especially problem solving. 

Form drawing is also used as a barometer to observe how a child is feeling within their learning journey and their stage of development. By observing how a child approaches the task and the effort they are able to maintain throughout, the teacher can learn a lot about the child, their sense of self and feelings, in a way which is not expressed during other lessons or even in conversation with the child.  Form drawing can affect mood deeply.  The forms can be uplifting or calming.  They can help to overcome anxiety or stress and promote wellbeing.  As such it has been an extremely beneficial therapy for the children during the recent challenging times. 

May Pole Dancing!

We will have our usual Stay and Play session of seasonal activities this Friday from 10am- 12pm. And we invite you to join us for maypole dancing at 11.30am! This session is for children from birth to six years old. Healthy snack included. The Moorland Waldorf School is located at the Village College, Botton Village, YO21 2NJ.

Our Big News!

Moorland Waldorf School and Kindergarten has reopened!  

After another long period in lockdown, in which children were once again taught from home, isolated from their classmates and teachers, and many parents faced the challenge of doing the day job and at the same time helping to support their children’s learning, everyone is relishing the chance for a bit more normality – and routine – in their lives.  The teachers are really looking forwards to being with their pupils again and we’re sure the children will be pleased to see them too. 

While restrictions continue, we do our best to keep the children’s experience of school as close as possible to our usual ways of working.  There are inevitably some changes – but lots of time outdoors and plenty of fresh air can only be a good thing! – and most of these changes are things that parents will be more aware of than the children.

In the first days back, we’ve celebrated World Book Day and the power and positivity of books, which have been a lifeline for so many during periods of lockdown.  The children have risen to the occasion with some brilliant costumes and ideas.

We have several bits of other good news for our ‘new start’.

First this new website, which has been developed over the last months. We worked with a former pupil of Botton School, Ryan Joiner, on the design and content of the site. His knowledge of both the school and the area have been invaluable in helping to create what we think is a really beautiful online environment.  We love the new look, especially the logo which, with its nurturing mother sheep, tells a story about both our school and our location.  We hope you’ll find the site useful and interesting and welcome all feedback on content and how we might best use it.

We’re very proud of our small school and believe that we have a great deal to offer in the region.  So, from now on, we’ll be using social media more to promote Moorland Waldorf and let people know we’re here and what we have to offer local families.  Please do follow us on Facebook and Instagram and share with others. 

As we come out of lockdown into a world where we can do more all together again, watch out for new Moorland Waldorf initiatives.  We want to be part of our wider community – and we’re keen to know any ideas that you may have to help us do that.

A wintery project

In January and February, we had a lot of snow and ice on the Moors.  It was lockdown and the school was temporarily closed, so being able to get outside and enjoy the winter weather was much welcomed by both the children and their parents. 

It was also a lucky coincidence that one of the topics for this term is Norse mythology – it was certainly the weather for it!    As part of the topic, the children were told the story of Iduna in which the goddess Iduna is taken by a frost giant and held captive. 

The children were asked to imagine where the frost giant might have taken Iduna and to create an ice castle or palace.  You can see by our photos just how amazing the results were!  The children were encouraged to build a fire too, so that they could use all of their senses to experience the two elements of fire and ice. 

Wild challenge with the RSPB

The children at Moorland Waldorf are taking part in the award scheme called Wild Challenge with the RSPB. As soon as I read the tag line – Get up, get out and get wild! – I knew the award scheme would suit us at Moorland Waldorf School.

It’s vital for the future that today’s young people grow up closer to and more in-tune with wildlife and wild places. Wild Challenge is about forging a lasting friendship with the natural world around us and helping it to thrive and survive – it’s a fun first step towards a ‘wilder’ life which fits in perfectly with the Waldorf philosophy and curriculum.

The wide range of activities can take place throughout the year and we’re encouraged to get outside in nature no matter what the weather. During lockdown, when the children are at home, it helps them to become better acquainted with their local area and the nature which they can experience and enjoy on their doorsteps. We enjoy sharing our discoveries with each other on Zoom.

There are bronze, silver and gold awards to achieve depending on how many activities we complete.

So far, we have made bird feeders and learnt to identify the birds we see in our gardens for our first challenge. We then took part in the Big Garden Bird Watch. Both of these activities go towards us achieving our bronze award.

The activities are divided into two sections:

Help Nature – making our gardens brilliant homes for nature and our outdoor spaces wonderfully wildlife-friendly!

Experience Nature – getting up close and personal with wildlife and exploring the world of amazing nature right under our noses!

Three activities from each section must be completed to earn the award.

Once we’ve completed each award level, we will receive an exclusive Wild Challenge award certificate and sticker sheet as a little thank you from nature. We can’t wait!

Christmas and New Year holidays 2020-21

The Autumn Term will end on Friday 18th December 2020 (Thursday 17th December for Kindergarten) and Spring Term will begin for all on Wednesday 7th January 2021.

We’d like to thank parents for all their support this term and the children for their hard work and cheerfulness in somewhat strange circumstances due to the coronavirus restrictions.  

The trustees of the Eskdale Community Trust for Education would also like to say a very special thank you to all our staff and volunteers who have worked so tirelessly in this last term (and indeed in this last year) to keep the school safe and to give the children the very best educational experience in difficult times.  

We wish our whole school community a very Happy Christmas and look forward with you to a what we hope will eventually be a more normal year in 2021!

Advent 2020

In Waldorf schools, Advent, the period of four weeks before Christmas, is an important festival. 

The Advent Spiral is held on the first Sunday of Advent.  The ‘spiral’ in question is a huge spiral made from branches of evergreens and set out on the floor. It leads to a central candle. 

In darkness and with soft music playing, each child, carrying an unlit candle placed in an apple, follows the path of the spiral to light their candle from the central one.  On their return they place their candle on the green spiral, gradually illuminating the path. 

It is a magical and beautiful experience usually attended by family, teachers and children. 

Unfortunately, our Advent celebrations have to be a little different this year due to Covid 19 and it’s very sad that we can’t include families in the usual way.

On Monday 30th November the children, dressed in their best clothes, took part in the Advent Spiral.  The audience this year was teachers, volunteers who come regularly into the school and the children.  As well as the spiral walk, there was traditional music and Christmas Carols.

Each Monday and Wednesday during Advent at 8.50am, we will meet in the foyer to sing carols. All teachers and helpers who are already in our school “bubble”, or “Christmas bauble”, as the children suggested we call it, are invited to join us. Please bring your singing voices.

Back to school!

The return to school this year was a very special one as Moorland Waldorf has been closed since last March. Children and teachers hadn’t seen one another properly since before Easter, although we did take the unprecedented step of using some technology to help support the pupils through such very long period. It was a challenge for everyone – parents, teachers, children – to stay focussed and optimistic, to try to keep up with schoolwork, to stay fit and happy. We all learnt things about ourselves, our environment and what’s important in our lives. But September saw us reopen our doors, albeit in rather different ways, and look forward to being together in School again. We must abide by strict coronavirus safety rules and the arrangements we have in place are working well. We’re fortunate that our entire school is just one ‘bubble’ and the children can all be together. We’ve embraced the great outdoors even more than usual – open-air activities are the new normal.

If parents have any questions about our coronavirus precautions or any anxieties about the health and safety of their children, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

We hope to get through to Christmas without too much disruption!