Our Journey Starts in Malden, MA. with a Pioneering After School Initiative
During academic year 2012-2013, Cairn Hill collaborated with The Partnership for Community Schools in Malden (PCSM), to offer a two-day afterschool program for children in grades K-2 at the Salemwood School. Our program featured enriching, hands-on activities based on Waldorf principles of educating the whole child. The centerpiece of our offering was our storytelling curriculum, “The Art of Word Weaving.” Academically, the goal of our two- day program was to expand children’s vocabulary and support their English speaking skills. We used stories to teach key words/concepts presented in the school day curriculum. The children learned to retell these stories using the important words. This “pedagogical” storytelling was enriched using art activities to reinforce new vocabulary words and ideas the children were learning. Children enjoyed engaging songs, games, stories & activities while improving their English language skills.
Story Play at Somerville’s Healey School
In September, 2013 we began a partnership with the Somerville Community Schools to offer our curriculum, Story Play, as an afternoon club of arts, music, crafts and drumming built around story themes. Teachers Lily-Rakia Chandler and Brenda Behrends skillfully engaged the K-2nd graders in a series of arts enrichment activities based on our pilot curriculum, The Art of Word Weaving developed during our pilot year. The group of 12 children from different ethnicities not only learned new vocabulary words through our story content, but also how to find their own voice by telling or singing their own stories to each other. The puppets and drumming the teachers used to convey content carried the stories deep into the children’s consciousness, and the repertory of songs the children learned gave them joy.
Arts & Gardening at the Linden STEAM Academy
From 2014-17, Cairn Hill enjoyed a rich collaboration with the Linden STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) Academy in Malden. Our Arts Innovation programs introduced children to a full array of artistic projects accompanied by lively stories and vocabulary instruction, which were presented using Waldorf teaching methods. Themes of the natural world drawn from school day academic content formed the basis of the curriculum. For instance, the children were introduced to the concept of life cycles by building and planting a school garden. They experienced nature's sights and sounds with plenty of nature games and discoveries.
Cairn Hill Nature Preschool
I I In 2017, in an effort to increase our impact on children and families and grow deeper roots in a community -- and because we have always had a particular interest in the education of the very young, Cairn Hill established the Cairn Hill Nature Preschool in Lynn, MA. Early childhood is a key stage of development that shapes how children perceive and interact with the world around them. At Cairn Hill Nature Preschool we strive to provide a sensory-rich environment for young children to be able to safely discover that world. We allow ample time for exploration of nature to foster in our young students an appreciation for the earth and its creatures, and to delve into science at their own level. We believe that when children spend ample time outdoors, they develop a sense of place which in turn fosters a sense of belonging and a budding conviction that they have an impact on the world around them. Our time in nature is balanced by classroom time learning of pre-academic skills, which are presented artistically and creatively to assure kindergarten readiness. We interweave a Waldorf early childhood ‘wonder’ curriculum of arts, music, rhyme and storytelling with explicit and engaging learning in early literacy and math skills, satisfying the common core standards. We offer plenty of time for creative play to develop social skills, problem solving and imagination, the seat of creativity. Cairn Hill is committed to ensuring that this quality education is affordable and accessible to families of all income levels and backgrounds.