I’d like to describe my approach to Merry Hearts curriculum in brief for those of you who don’t know me, are considering MH for your child or are just curious! I created Merry Hearts in 2010 with the primary goal of creating a space for children to be in nature as much as possible, based on my research of nature-based education and the work of Richard Louv, in addition to 16 years of reading, research and practice using Waldorf education methods. I love the heart of Waldorf pedagogy and have intensified my study of this method of education in the past 2.5 years with Transformational Teaching training under the direction of Dr. Mary Goral. Waldorf beautifully incorporates brain development and integration into a “whole person” education that I have fallen in love with as I deepen my understanding. Part of educating the whole child involves a strong approach to social emotional development. I believe strongly in fostering the virtues of gratitude, compassion, and self-awareness, paying special attention to each child’s ability to navigate their way in the world, feeling safe and finding their own sense of purpose and belonging. I draw from the work of Thich Nhat Hahn and the practices of yoga and intuitive story telling to provide a framework of meaningful support for this incredibly important area of growth in the young child.
Merry Hearts is an environment I created to intentionally nurture and challenge the young child in all ways. I delight in seeing children grow cognitively, emotionally, socially, physically and spiritually.
The following are very brief descriptions of my approach to the subjects of Language Arts, Mathematics and Science. I am largely drawing from the Tomorrow River Community Charter School Curriculum as well as other Waldorf curricula. I’d be happy to discuss these as well as the print resources I commonly draw from with anyone who is interested.
Literacy and Language Arts
Merry Hearts offers a rich language environment, using poetry, songs and verses within an imaginative context accompanied by gross and fine motor movements. As children sing and dance, they build their capacities for auditory processing, speech articulation and feeling for rhyme and rhythm. The focus is on allowing children to continue to see “the whole” as complete versus a sum of parts. Introducing the decoding process too early has been shown through research to actually be damaging and to result in lower comprehension later in childhood. To this end, we will save the introduction to the alphabet and reading for the latter half of Kindergarten for older students. The development of the imagination is an essential foundation for all future conceptual work. Merry Hearts offers a firm foundation to help ensure later success.
Ordering, sequencing, adding, subtracting and dividing is experienced by the direct manipulation of objects and in the experience of practical and social activities at Merry Hearts. Counting is explored through rhythm, most always using movement such as clapping, stomping and stepping. As the children move through the space, they develop spatial orientation, laying the foundation for a deep understanding of geometry. Mathematics is also experienced through nature every day such as counting and comparing the numbers of petals on a flower or comparing the shapes of leaves and rocks.
As children naturally explore the laws of physics through play, experimenting with the properties of materials they play with, they are encouraged to measure, make predictions, understand what objects are made of and describe them with detail. Experiences in the natural world heighten awareness, develop a sense of time, as well as encourage conservation and care for the earth. Observation and investigation are the hallmarks of the young child and meaningful questions are explored through peer interactions as well as student and teacher directed inquiries.