For Whānau

Inspiring Information

A Dominion piece about screen addiction

Radio New Zealand interview with Nathan Mikaere Wallis about early childhood education

An introduction to Waldorf education

A Dominion article about starting school at 7

Guardian article on Steiner Education and Technology

Recommended Reading

Waldorf Education, Christopher Clouder and Martyn Rawson : Floris Books

The Way of a Child, A C Harwood : Rudolf Steiner Press

Education Towards Freedom : Langthorn Press

Steiner Education in Theory and Practice,  Gilbert Childs : Floris Books

Kingdom of Childhood: Rudolf Steiner Press, London, 1982.

Educating Through Art, Agnes Noble : Floris Books

The Genius of Play. Celebrating the Spirit of Childhood, Sally Jenkinson : Hawthorm Press, 2001

Work and Play in Early Childhood, Freyja Jaffke

Te Rā School Dress Code

View the school dress code PDF

Emergency information

What we do in an emergency

Fire

The alarms will be triggered, and the school children will be escorted from all classes to the top field. Kindergarten and Playgroup will be taken to the area beside Playgroup. We check all rooms, conduct a roll call, and check for visitors. We then decide whether to evacuate the school.

Severe Earthquake

The children may be assembled once the shaking stops, and the buildings inspected for damage. We will carefully evaluate immediate safety requirements while keeping in mind weather conditions and the level of emotional stress.

Tsunami

In the event of a tsunami warning we will follow the advice of Civil Defence. We are not in a tsunami zone, being protected by 2 large sand dunes to the west.

School Evacuation

If we decide to evacuate the school, we will communicate with the listed caregivers by email, and text. In addition we will post messages on the Te Ra website and Facebook page. The children will assemble in the Hall and be released to caregivers at the main wooden gate

What you must do in an emergency:

  • Check your phone and emails and, the school website and Facebook page for messages.
  • If we ask you to collect your children, we will ensure they are ready to be released to you from the Hall
  • Please wait at the gate and your child will be called, signed out and released to you.
  • It is important you do not come into the school.
  • The steel gates may be closed so you will need to park across the road; this is to enable emergency vehicle access.
  • Please remember; It is essential that you keep the office to update with your contact details, especially email and cellphone numbers.

Emergency Lockdown

Communication with Whānau

When a lockdown is activated, whānau will be notified as soon as practicably possible, using the established emergency notification procedures.

We will request that whānau do not come to the school as children will not be released to them during lockdown.

Whānau will be asked not to call the school phones as that may tie up lines that need to be used to contact emergency services.

Once a lockdown has ended, whānau will be contacted immediately and asked to uplift their child or children. Depending on the situation the school and kindergarten may follow established civil defence emergency procedures for this process.

Read our Emergency Lockdown Procedure

Cellphone policy

Cell phones may not be used by children in the school grounds.

If a parent needs their child to have a cell phone for communication outside of the school grounds, and outside school hours, a letter requesting this must be given to the office or the class teacher. The cell phone needs to be left in the office or with the class teacher before school begins, and can be collected at 3.00pm.

Any cell phone not left at the office or class teacher will be confiscated and needs to be collected from the office by the student’s parent or a designated adult. At this point a verbal warning will be given to the child. A second confiscation will result in a written warning. After a third confiscation we will meet with parents to discuss these continued breaches of policy.

Te Ra Waldorf School strongly advises against cell phone use by children under 14, which it should be noted is also in accordance with cell phone companies’ guidelines.

Cell phone use has been shown to have adverse health effects on growing children, and can cause severe social problems amongst peers.

Video and internet capability, along with games which can be played on cell phones, means that their use may be in conflict with our ‘Special Character’ standpoint on screen exposure and electronic media.

TV, Screens, and electronic games position statement

Read ‘We Need To Talk – Screen Time in New Zealand’ by Dr Aric Sigman

Part 1

Te Ra Waldorf School asks that parents keep their children’s viewing of TV, movies and videos and electronic game playing to a minimum. In the case of younger children (< 9) it would be ideal if the regular possibility for such exposure is removed altogether. In the case of older children we ask that they do not watch teenage or adult-themed programmes or films.

We also ask that children do not have unsupervised access to the internet at any age during their primary schooling.

While we respect your autonomy it is important for us to help to develop and promote a consistent approach to this issue among the peer groups.

As a school we take the following approach:

Screens and other electronic aids are not normally used in the classroom. Any exceptions (e.g. projection) must be approved by the College of Teachers.
We will include in the annual plan a ‘screen-free month’ for the whole school (and including the kindergartens) at a time agreed on by the class and kindergarten teachers. This will be a voluntary exercise but naturally families will be warmly encouraged to participate.
Screen exposure and alternatives will be part of our annual parent education as well as our parent information meetings.
Our standpoint on screen exposure will be specifically mentioned in the enrolment process.
We appreciate your support with this issue. Please refer to Part 2 of this statement for further information about the aspects of this issue which are particularly relevant to us as a Waldorf school.

Part 2

Process

It is not generally recognised that the first issue around television viewing is not the content but the medium itself. The Emery report (Australian National University) established that no matter what the program is, human brain wave activity enters characteristic patterns. Data is ‘received’ at a rate nerve pathways cannot cope with; this is particularly true in the case of young children. There is a deadening of thought life. The viewer becomes relatively passive or ‘spaces out’. Active attention and the critical faculty are suppressed. After constant exposure to this process, the capacity of the organic system is dulled.

Content

1. Much modern TV and film content portrays violence (physical, emotional, social, racial, and verbal). This provides negative role modelling and a view of a world which is anything but ‘good’.

2. Children are burdened with a flood of images and facts beyond their capacity for healthy assimilation and inner transformation.

In this respect, selective viewing, discussion and training in discrimination are not able to fully eliminate difficulties. The young child lacks the critical faculty and inner detachment. It is not just a matter of training but of innate disposition. It is natural for children to be affected by the images they take in. The young child’s brain acts like a sponge.

3. Exposure to TV programmes, movies and advertising can raise unreal expectations and unnecessary social challenges.

Imagination, Fixed and Free

One of the key aims in our method of education is to help the child toward developing the faculty of free imagination. So, for example, we generally tell stories without offering printed pictures. Our words provide the raw materials; the child has to ‘clothe’ the story with their own images. Television hinders the development of free imagination. TV images for the young child are reality, they cannot yet separate what they see from what they internalise. The natural development of the child’s imagination, therefore, is being inhibited. This may have long term repercussions, for it is the imaginative child who, later in life, will become creative and develop individual initiative. (See Rudolph Steiner’s lecture 2 ‘Kingdom of Childhood’)

Curriculum Delivery

Our teaching involves a three-day rhythm: telling a story one day, recalling it the next and writing about it on the third (or a similar progression over three days in other subjects). Sleeping on what they have received during the day and returning to develop it can be fruitless if there has been screen interference.

Children first need to regurgitate screen images they have received in order to process them and this can be manifest through their artwork, movements, speech and deeds. As well as creating stumbling blocks for healthy physical development screen exposure can hamper children’s ability to live into what they have learned (experienced) at school.

Brain Hemispheres, left and right

The process of viewing interferes with the development of harmonious communication between the two brain hemispheres. The left hemisphere, which deals with conceptual and logical skills, is particularly weakened.

Time Robbery: Aberrations in Children’s Play: The Senses

Children’s play patterns have changed dramatically in recent years; children in general play less. Play is often chaotic and sometimes violent.

Play is a child’s ‘work’. Free play develops faculties of creativity, imagination, and initiative.

Play is the key factor in the development of the lower senses (i.e. touch, movement and balance). A sound development of the lower senses is required before the higher senses may healthily unfold.

Lack of play experience may cause organic dysfunction (senses underdeveloped, retained reflexes, neurological disorders between left and right hemispheres). Rhythmical movement, as exercised in healthy play, assists in the building of nerve myelination, essential for bodily and mental functioning. Play is an integrating process for the child, both bodily, psychologically and socially. TV, computer games, and video rob children of the time to play.

It is possible that a child’s behaviour and learning patterns are affected by screen time (viewing and playing). Children may be nervous, easily fatigued and have a low attention span.

There are of course social (family) circumstances involved in the TV issue; what can be done when a teenage sibling insists on viewing something inappropriate for the younger child? What happens when they visit friends and neighbours? These questions need to be considered in the light of the age of the child, the information here, and other factors affecting the child’s development.

We are able to help, provide support and suggest strategies if required.

Issues at School and in our School Community

Many parents have chosen a Waldorf education for their child because of the emphasis placed on recognising and working with child development in a health-giving way. Our whole curriculum and everything we do is specific to the needs of the child. Screen exposure not only has an adverse effect on the child, but indirectly on the other children in the class. Many parents endeavour to limit or avoid screen exposure and it can be disheartening when other children talk about their electronic experiences, or when screen-free children are inadvertently exposed to such media when playing with their friends.

Some useful references: (available from the Parents Library and Te Ra Wondershop)

Fools Gold –Alliance for Childhood

The Plug-in Drug – Marie Win

Endangered Minds – Jane Healey

Who’s bringing them up? – Martin Large

After the Death of Childhood – David Buckingham

Amusing ourselves to Death – Neil Postman