It is a school in which art, music and handcrafts are as
important as reading, writing and math;
in which each day includes activities for the hands,
body and heart as well as for the head;
in which there is a strong moral and spiritual element.
-Ronald E. Koetzsh, PhD.

From the Faculty

Autumn 2011

Dear Friends,

We wanted to update you about the first week of school. We have five new children this year, for a total of 10 children. On Monday we had a parent and child workday--everyone was busy preparing the classroom for the year: cutting coloring paper, making portfolios for the children's art work, dusting, organizing, preparing bread for the following day's snack, etc. It was a truly joyous time for bonding among the children and adults alike and very harmonious!

Before leaving, each new child was presented with the symbol or picture which stands for his/her name. They each put it on their cubby space. Then they put their extra set of clothing in a special cubby bag. Finally, they placed their indoor shoes in their cubby. The clothes and shoes stay at school. It strikes me that shoes and how we set our feet on the earth represent the state of consciousness or understanding, and placing their shoes into their very own cubby space is meaningful for giving the children a sense that they have established their own individual "home" in the kindergarten.

The day after this ceremony was the first official drop off day and the children all felt comfortable and again played very harmoniously as a group. It was as if they have always known each other.

We marked this first week of school with a potluck brunch held in the home of one of the families on Saturday. It was again a picture of harmony and wonderful bonding for children and grown ups alike. The parents are creating a strong social fabric among themselves, which is exactly what we would wish for as a school. The brunch was so enjoyable that two families offered to host similar events in their homes later in the year and the host of the brunch offered to make it an annual event.

We are truly blessed for all the help that sustains our school--Our special group of volunteers, the parents, and many many invisible hands.

Thank you so much for your warm care of our little school!

For the faculty,
Daphna


Summer 2011

This Spring several questions were raised among the parents at The Clover Hill School.

  • What is Anthroposophy?
  • How did The Clover Hill School come to be?
  • Who are the individuals who govern the school?

Click Here to read our response.


Spring/Summer 2011

(Reproduced from our newsletter: Click here to download a copy for yourself!)

Dear Parents and Friends,

We are proud and pleased to offer you the Spring/Summer edition of The Bee! We would like to express special gratitude to Lindsay Evermore, a parent-child program participant who shaped this newsletter into its present form.

This is the second year that The Clover Hill kindergarten has been in full operation, and we have much to be thankful for! It has been a year marked by much work taken on by so many of you out of our common vision for the children. Here are some of the fruits of this past year.

Your marketing know-how yielded a range of successful projects, including hosting the screening of Race to Nowhere, featuring Waldorf handwork for sale at the Westport farmer's market, and placing articles about Waldorf education on parenting-oriented blogs and Web sites.

This year, handwork efforts have gained ground in our school. A group of talented moms led by Chelsea Danburg has created the items for sale at the farmer's market and crafted a one-of-a-kind masterpiece for auction at our June fundraiser.

Dancing around the Maypole at Clover Hill

There is of course the fundraiser itself, an undertaking that has been spearheaded, planned, and organized by the parents, with the venue and comestibles donated by parents as well. Tried-and-true recipes were collected for a Clover Hill cookbook- a real community treasure!

We are deeply heartened by everyone's generous donations of time, materials, funds, encouragement, and support- by your willingness to join us in building not only a school but a new community for our children!

The Clover Hill Faculty


Spring Equinox 2011

Dear Friends,

Here is an article from a colleague on how to protect and work with our children during difficult and uncertain times in the world. With the events in Japan uppermost in our minds, I thought these thoughts would be very timely.

How Do I Create an Atmosphere of Goodness for My Children?

Warmly,
Daphna


Winter 2011, Update

As Waldorf teachers we are seeing an abundance of recent information about the merits of not rushing children into early reading and writing. Here is an article on how some educators are coming to the same conclusions and how independent schools are catching up with insights that Waldorf Educations has held for decades.

Reading at Some Private Schools is Delayed


Winter 2011

Winter Fun at Clover Hill

Dear Parents,

With the record number of snow days this winter, we thought we would offer some ideas on how to make unscheduled days at home a little easier. These ideas are applicable to vacation times as well.

Children find a sense of comfort in knowing what to expect and what comes next. Having a basic plan for your day ready ahead of time-- even if you are interrupted or have to make some changes to the plan-- creates predictability and gives everyone a place to stand.

You can capitalize on existing rhythms on a "no school day." Perhaps you do certain typical things on the weekend, like having a special breakfast, or doing a particular activity with your child. Doing your chosen activity around the same time each day is an "anchor" for the whole day. It can be a touchstone and something wonderful to look forward to.

Winter Fun at Clover Hill

You can make use of the basic daily kindergarten rhythm; it has breathing in/ breathing out quality which is very reassuring, and your child is already so familiar with it. Here is a refresher on our rhythm which may be helpful: After free outdoor movement we go inside for more structured activities-- circle, rest, and snack. The children have a big hearty snack at 10 O'clock. Keeping the snack close to this timeframe could be key to having a successful morning. After snack the children have lots of stamina for free indoor play and the day's domestic or artistic activity: coloring, painting, making seasonal crafts, cutting vegetables for soup, or making bread. We clean up and have a puppet show or story before dismissal outdoors.

When the weather doesn't allow for outdoor play, you can do movement games inside: The children love, The Farmer in the Dell if you have a few family members around, or clapping games like Peas Porridge Hot: your child can teach you! The littlest ones have just learned and if they do not remember, let me know. Another way to bring much-needed movement is to do domestic work that takes some effort such as filling up a bucket of water and watering the plants or washing dishes. Have any smudges on your wall? A damp rag and set them to work right along side of you. The children are very familiar with making bread and peeling or (for the older ones) cutting soup vegetables and love to do it! We pre-cut the vegetables into matchstick pieces for better knife control. We can send the class bread recipe if you don't already have it. A simple puppet show is a joy to the children: Perhaps you can base one on a favorite story or nursery rhyme with the help of toys in your child's room?

You can keep the kindergarten rhythm very very simple while retaining all the essentials: some form of gross and fine motor activity, lots of food and warm tea before blood sugar levels drop, a good story. We hope this is helpful!

Daphna,
For the faculty


Autumn 2010

Dear Parents and Friends,

There are many newsworthy items to relate, many of which were shared in our parent evening on November 10. The turnout was great and we focused on quite a few topics: changes in the curriculum this year, a presentation about how to support the young child in light of Waldorf educational insights, and the subject of early childhood and the media (see page 2), which was brought by Anna Silber, our guest speaker.

On the change in curriculum front, we are happy to report that the nutritional enhancements to snack and the addition of lunch are proving very worthwhile! The children are eager eaters, and many have multiple favorite food days: "My favorite day is bread day, soup day, porridge day, and pancake day . . ." The children are also very excited to bring lunches and especially newfangled lunch boxes from home! They are building up that good, healthy appetite by spending the first hour of the day in vigorous play outside. We have found that having outside play at the beginning rather than the end of the day truly helps the children focus on circle time, which we do right after we come inside. After the exertion of outdoor time, rest has been extremely enjoyable for the children as well.

Finally, everyone is acclimating nicely to eurythmy. Even the little ones under four have gone from huddling in a corner during eurythmy (which is very true to form for such young ones) to fully participating. It is a joy to see! We are hoping that many of you will experience eurythmy at some point; it is such a unique art form.

We ended the evening by working on a craft project, our Martinmas lanterns, and hopefully giving parents a window into the "hands-on" and joy-filled learning style we strive to foster in the Waldorf kindergarten.

We value your involvement in the Clover Hill community, and you are invited to send your thoughts and comments on these topics or any others to Daphna.

Thank you all,

The Faculty of the Clover Hill School


May Day 2010

Dear Parents and Friends,

We wanted to share news of our first-ever kindergarten May Pole celebration with all of you. This celebration of the burgeoning and flowering beauty of spring is a beloved Waldorf tradition. On the morning of the event, the parents brought in a great abundance of flowers from their gardens. They were given wreaths which the children braided in the days before, and then set to work lovingly weaving the flowers into the wreaths.

May Day Fun at Clover Hill

The children carefully placed the wreaths on their heads, wearing them with pride in a processional walk from the classroom to the May Pole in the play yard. Then, as they danced, singing the May Pole song with their flowery crowns, the children were like flowers themselves. Here are the words to our song:

We're dancing, we're dancing
Around the May Pole high
With colors of the rainbow
Our ribbons do fly...
Dear children take a ribbon please,
Today May flowers all are we
Around, around, around
A garland we do weave...

After trial and error and much practicing of the May Pole dance in the days leading to the event, the children more than rose to the occasion. After this wonderful effort, they were free to run around the play yard in pursuit of their favorite activity-- catching frogs. For a number of weeks frogs had taken up residence in our sandbox and play yard and every day the children find them. This day topped it all for sheer numbers caught; it seemed as if there was a frog for every child! They made little shelters for the frogs in pails padded with grass and clover and then reluctantly though graciously released them to Mother Nature when it was time to go home.

It was a truly joyous day!

Daphna, Sarah, Donna, and Linda


Spring 2010

Dear Parents and Friends,

The Bee Newsletter

We are so pleased to share with you our first edition of "The Bee," a seasonal newsletter. We want to express our deepest appreciation to Kate Schwartz for her willingness and initiative in helping to carry forward this idea into a reality. Thank you, Kate!

As you will see from this edition, the newsletter will include regular "peeks" into daily life in the kindergarten, Waldorf educational topics, and among other things a community bulletin-board listing help needed requests for the school. We welcome your help and contributions of articles, write- ups on events, recipes, or anything else that you think would be of interest to our growing community.

Click here to download a .pdf version of the newsletter.

Please send your thoughts and comments to Daphna and Kate, so the newsletter can be a service to everyone.

Thank you all,
The Faculty of The Clover Hill School


Winter 2009

Dear Parents and Friends,

Linda, Sarah and I wanted to update you about some recent events in the kindergarten. First we have wonderful news for the New Year: Zoe Schwartz has joined our kindergarten. Some of you already know Zoe and her family, so in a way Zoe's joining our group is very much a re-union, and we are thrilled! We would like to announce another addition: Donna Mayo will be joining us on Tuesdays. Donna is a dear friend to many of us and a long-time colleague. She is a trained Waldorf teacher and has taught grades 1 to 3 at Housatonic Valley School as well as parent/child classes at Clover Hill. Welcome Zoe! Welcome Donna!

Thanks to the wintry weather, the children returned from the long Christmas/Holiday break to a snowy scene in the play yard. They are spending most of outdoor playtime taking turns sledding and pulling the sled on the snow. As many of you know, our play yard has been enhanced in another way. In the fall we installed a two-level wooden play structure. It has served as a place where scouts can spy pirate ships, as a jailhouse, a café, and a shower, among other things. The older children love to jump off the second level landing onto the padded clearing below, while the younger ones have enjoyed squeezing into a newly-discovered crawl-through space on the bottom level and balancing up-side-down on a beam. The addition has spawned many new opportunities for imaginative and vigorous play. We are reminded time and again of the children's innate, self-healing wisdom as they pick games where they can practice those physical skills that they need the most.

Indoors, we have a brand-new, elaborate winter circle, which the children have taken to with curiosity and appreciation. Here is a little sampling. Imagine every phrase accompanied by the appropriate gesture, which the children vigorously imitate, including jumping, galloping, and falling to the ground.

In the morn, the rooster true
Cried "Awake, awake cock-a-doodle-do....!"

The children woke up, arose and got dressed:
With coats, hats, and gloves on, snug as can be
We step through the door, and what do we see?

Up above the sun is shining bright...
Fresh new snow is sparkling all about...
On a day like today what shall we do?
On a day like today what shall we do?

Let's take our good pony and go for a ride
To the snowy woods our path we'll find...

Singing:
Galloping, galloping, here we go...
Off to the woods now, don't be slow...
Galloping, galloping, here we go...
Off to the woods now, don't be slow...

Here's a cleaning right this way...
Let's tie our pony to a tree
So he won't run away!

The snow feels right and perfect now
Let's build a snowman,
Here is how:

Roll him, and roll him, and roll him around
Plant him firmly on the ground (big jump)
Give him a tall, black, shiny hat
And a carrot nose like that...

To the tune of I'm a Little Teapot:
Here's a little snowman
Short and stout
Here is his carrot
Here is his hat
When the sun come up
He'll melt away...
Down...down...down...and Oops!
... He's a puddle!

We've just added a new movement where the children each get to roll across the floor. Because it's so important for overall healthy development, incorporating a large a variety of movements into the circle and into the day is very much a part of our curriculum. We will carry our circle theme into our next handwork project-- a felted snowman with a carrot nose and finger-knitted scarf. The children are eager handworkers, filled with anticipation as they build up their snowman with layers of soft, unspun wool and get it ready for its bath.

With warm greetings,
Daphna


Autumn 2009

Dear Clover Hill Families and Friends,

Sarah, Linda and I wanted to share some stories about the first few weeks of kindergarten life with you. After the eventful first day of school when the Health Department made its surprise inspection visit (we got great feedback), we all breathed a lot easier and were ready for the true beginning of our life together as a kindergarten class. The first month or so of school is always a time of great transition, with the children adjusting to a whole new rhythm, new teachers and new-found friends. The blessings of a mixed-age kindergarten became readily apparent. During those first days when the littlest ones missed their mothers at rest time, there were always older children who were spurred by compassion and volunteered to take them under their wings and comfort them. The feeling of being one family with younger and older siblings is a unique gift.

We take seriously the development of moral social relationships and strive to cultivate in the child a sense of concern for others in everything we do. The first thing the children see each morning when they arrive is a table arranged with a candle and snuffer on a beautiful silk, surrounded by a ring made of nine pairs of little shoes. The children often help each other put on their shoes, and they always note when someone's shoes have remained at the table, which means they will not be in school that day. (We put a special star in their spot at the snack table and make sure we include them in our blessing.) After arrival, the older children have regular morning chores such as carrying water in a bucket and pouring it into a dishpan or filling a pitcher for snack. After that, everyone is welcome to participate in the work of the day, which may be cutting vegetables for soup, grinding grain, kneading bread, coloring, or making crafts. As soon as our butter churn arrives, we will be making butter too! This physical, purposeful work helps ground the children as they transition into self-directed play-perhaps the most important part of the kindergarten morning.

Play time has blossomed and transformed since the first days of school. The two older boys have been occupied with building astonishing multi-level structures out of wooden stumps, blocks and weighted bags, as the younger boys look on with fascination and try to find ways to join in. The doll corner, which is a roofed area, has been calling the children to test what sorts of weight they can throw on top before the silk covering falls in. Recently some children using long knitted play ties created wind effects and "tornadoes" over the roof. When the two three-year-old boys wanted to join in the fun and asked to be given "tomatoes" of their own, a conversation on the question of "tomatoes" vs. "tornadoes" ensued. In the end, the older ones and younger ones collaborated on moving the doll house people and their furniture out of the danger zone and onto safer ground on a moving truck.

Another favorite game is for a group of girls to create little dwellings and sheltered places with long cloths, wooden clips and play stands. The boys often come over and ask to be let in. Sometimes when they are not let in, the boys like to try making their way in by force. They are then reminded by their teachers that neighbors need to knock politely before they can expect to be let in. The girls are in turn reminded to be neighborly when polite company arrives. Snack time in particular is a time for working on our "social graces." During the first week of school there was need for a pedagogical story about golden manners. A little mouse joined the snack table and shared a tale of having tea with the Queen and how her wise grandmother helped her polish her manners until they were truly golden. Now the children are regularly reminded of this tale with the help of a little verse:

Little mouse, little mouse
Where have you been?
I have been to London
To visit the Queen.
Little mouse, little mouse
What did you do there?
I sat up most politely
And I spoke with care.
The Queen smiled kindly
And she said to me:
Little mouse, little mouse
Come again for tea!

In other news: Our outdoor space continues to transform and evolve into a magical spot for the children to play in. Natural reed fencing now covers the chain-link fence and provides a more sheltered feeling to the whole space. We have a lovely new sign at the gate proclaiming that this as the play yard of the Clover Hill school. The children have been busy planting bulbs, and thanks to a donation by one of our families and to many busy little hands, there is a layer of mulch in the flower bed. We are striving to have the play yard develop as organically as we can, out of our observations of the flow of play and in keeping with a natural esthetic. We are actively looking at sources for new play structures.

Finally, this week we have reached a special milestone as a class by celebrating our first birthday together. The children reverently took in a puppet story depicting a child coming down from heaven to earth over a rainbow bridge. It marked another joyous beginning!

With warmest greetings,
Daphna, Sarah and Linda