The coronavirus pandemic turned life upside down in the past year, and although most schools have now reopened and most children are able to participate again, we all, especially our children, are still feeling the waves of upheaval.
From masking up at school pickup and dropping off to home schooling and trying to balance the commitments we had before Covid, these are strange times and many kids don’t find the transition easy.
So while they are trying to keep up with schoolwork and are missing out on playing with their friends in this “new normal” how can we best help and support them?
Paul Hougham, Headmaster at Wynstones School in Gloucester, says he thinks holistic education is key:
“Our approach at Wynstones is deliberately holistic. This means a lot of time for your head, hand and heart every day. Early years and key phase 1 always involve a visible balance between active, academic and artistic.
“A typical class will have a lot of active exercise as a foundation for literacy and arithmetic,” says Paul. “This is an outdoor game whatever the weather, and proper management of equipment and rubber boots in wet weather will be a high priority for Wynstones classes and teachers when we open in September!”
Why is that important? How does this help our children navigate these strange times and our ever-changing world?
“It means that every student is actively encouraged to find something they enjoy, be it art, movement, writing, math, or language. Learning who you are, how you fit into the world and getting enough opportunity to build strong foundations is extremely useful and helps children deal with external insecurities by giving them a strong inner sense of self. ”
Wynstones is based on the principles of Steiner Waldorf Education, which is at the center of the “search” learning strategy. What does that mean? It means, “What an interesting question!”, “What do you think?”, “How about we find out?” are common expressions used to answer children’s questions about the world. Ongoing exploration is strongly recommended rather than just exchanging information. In later years this approach will become the foundation of research-based learning.
Given that children tend to rely heavily on the physical stimuli that are abundant in face-to-face learning, lessons at Zoom or Teams can be dense and inaccessible to them, and you may have been in the past year noticed a decrease in your children’s ability to concentrate.
Putting their natural curiosity at the center of their learning and harnessing their interests can keep children busy and stimulated longer, making it much easier for them to focus and then study.
Gambling is vital at Wynstones too.
“Playing is a great way to use our imaginations, learn, connect with others, and find joy in the world. Everyone knows that a good run outside can help a child let off steam. It can also model social situations and how to deal with them.
“Play is also a helpful basis for describing the world and then introducing topics that would otherwise be difficult for children to understand. We will look at these topics again after their first encounters in order to improve their knowledge and understanding. ”
The social aspect is also vital in holistic education and is probably something that children have missed most during their time outside the classroom. More than ever before, parents, teachers, and children are realizing the value of social interaction for our mental health, and the recent notable deficiency in our lives has made some of us anxious about going back to normal.
“As we near the Wynstones reopening on September 8th, we will be working with all families over the summer semester through informal and social induction events that create a gentle but focused welcome and roadmap for children attending school. There are evening and weekend slots available as needed, ”says Paul.
“It is the social aspect of the school that we value in addition to the academic one, and the orientation that many schools focus on as the basis of learning. Learn how to deal with it. Connection and resilience. Understanding and diversity. And community. ”
For more information about Wynstones and how Waldorf Education can help your child thrive, visit www.wynstones.com/holistic or call 01452 429220.
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