The Bulletin

Kids In Nature; Why It Matters

Bill Bryson's A Walk In the Woods, and Robert Frost's iconic  poem "The Road Not Taken" are exemplars of a lonstanding tradition and appreciation for the restorative powers of nature and humans' deep conection to the natural environment. New studies, book authors and child psychologists are also asserting that this connection has psychological and developmental influence on children that are far deeper and more lasting in impact than the mere enjoyment of lesuire time outside. Outdoor experience, exploration and play engages the child and fosters critical experiences in learning and psychological development. It also broadens a child's perspective and their understanding of the world.

"kids today are becoming more and more removed from nature, at the expense of their own psychological and physical well being"

Lauren Knight writes in a new Washington Post article about the impact of nature on children and she offers a list as a parent's guide to engaging in experiences in nature. Her list includes:

  1. Inspire curiosity by being curious yourself
  2. Simply be in nature with no other distractions
  3. Limit electronic devices while commuting
  4. Seek out natural, untouched spaces and return often
  5. Make time for unstructured outdoor play
  6. Stop thinking about nature time as leisure time
  7. Read about nature with your child
  8. Plant a small garden
  9. Look at the stars
  10. Get organized

"Children who spend more time in nature develop better motor fitness and coordination, especially in balance and agility. And the benefits of the mind are not to be overlooked..."


Read the details of each guideline for parents (including a great reading list) in the Washingtopn Post article

Photosgraphs of "Milo and Oliver at the river" & " Milo at Graveyard Fields in North Carolina" by Lauren Knight

Media & The Child: Orland Bishop Speaks To Youth Experience

A Conversation about Media & the Child

PTO Topic Evening with Orland Bishop  (Public Welcome to Attend!)

Wednesday, November 5th / 7:00 pm, Auditorium

The PTO and Faculty of the Chicago Waldorf School are pleased to sponsor an ongoing discussion for parents about healthy approaches to technology.


- What are the effects of technology on human relationships and community?

Orland Bishop draws on coming-of-age rituals for modern urban youth and conversational strategies to negotiate building social relationships in our “digitally-influenced” age. His presentation will be useful to parents with children of all ages who are interacting with electronic and social media.

- What is a healthy relationship to media and technology in a child’s life?

Mr. Bishop is a native of Guyana, and the founder of Shade Tree Multicultural Foundation in Los Angeles. At Shade Tree, Mr. Bishop has pioneered approaches to urban truces and mentors at-risk youth. Shade Tree serves as an intentional community of mentors, elders, teachers, artists, healers, and advocates for the healthy development of children and youth. Orland's work in healing and human development is framed by an extensive study of medicine, naturopathy, psychology and indigenous cosmologies, primarily those of South and West Africa.

See Orland’s interview on Mutual Consent and more profiles and interviews at Global Oneness Project.


Please Join Us for the evening's presentation at:
Chicago Waldorf School
1300 W. Loyola Ave. in Rogers Park / event: free and open to the public

To reserve seats:  or call 773.465.2662

How We Learn

The October 6th New York Times ran an article entitled "Better Ways To Learn."

The article goes in-depth to explore How We Learn, and the author summed up many primary principles that mirror the way that Waldorf curriculum and classroom experiences approach learning. Learning is an actively engaging process of repetition, interpretation and reiterations.  Here are excerpted concepts from the article that are ALSO foundational principles in Waldorf education:


  1.  “Although a good grade may be achieved in the short term by cramming for an exam, chances are that most of the information will be quickly lost.”

  2.  “Long and focused study sessions may seem productive, but chances are you are spending most of your brainpower on trying to maintain your concentration for a long period of time. That doesn’t leave a lot of brain energy for learning.”

  3. “The brain wants variation,It wants to move, it wants to take periodic breaks.”

  4. “One way to signal to the brain that information is important is to talk about it.”

  5.  “Studies have shown that for a student to learn and retain information like historical events, vocabulary words or science definitions, it’s best to review the information one to two days after first studying it.”

  6.  “Not surprisingly, sleep is an important part of good studying. The first half of the sleep cycle helps with retaining facts; the second half is important for math skills.”


This gives insight into the Waldorf approach to storytelling, writing, taking dictation, lesson review, all processes of repetition and reinterpretation of core concepts across verbal, written, and physical demonstrations key to learning.

Read the full NYTimes article here.
Written by Tara Parker-Pope for the New York Times / the "Well Column"  /  Illustration by Stuart Bradford

The Pen is Mightier Than The….Keyboard!

Here is a new article about the value of manual inscription (i.e. writing) over keyboard typing as a valuable learnig tool. The slower, focused, intentional process of handwriting supports the Waldorf way that has students learning penmanship, writing with fountain pens, learning cursive in grade school and manually writing and illustrating their block books every day until the end of Middle School (and Waldorf High School students often continue the tradition of manual writing in their work even as they incorporate keyboarding and computers into their research and writing methods). Why? Because "handwriting is important for brain development and cognition."

Here is an excerpt from the full article:

The Benefits Of Writing
With Good Old Fashioned Pen And Paper

Do students learn better by typing on a keyboard or writing with pen and paper?

In 2013 Patricia Ann Wade, a learning specialist with Indiana University's School of Medicine, found herself investigating this question, one she had been asked by time-crunched medical students again and again. The answer, she found, was not simple.

"If they were in a lecture, where the professor talked so quickly that even if they were typing they couldn't get down everything said, I would say, 'Go with typing as opposed to handwriting,'" Wade told The Huffington Post. "If all you're doing is acting as a scribe, there are clear benefits to typing." But there were also strong arguments to be made for old fashioned pen and paper, she discovered. Ultimately, "when it comes to learning and remembering course material, the pen is mightier than the keyboard," she wrote in a blog post on the topic, for the medical school's website.

For tech-phobes and writing purists, here are just a few of the benefits of writing with a pen and paper. (And yes, we acknowledge you're reading this story -- which was written on a laptop -- online.)

It fires up the brain in different ways.

In a small study published this spring, researchers had college students listen to various TED lectures and then take notes -- either longhand or on their computers. Students who typed were more likely to take notes verbatim, which "hurts learning," the researchers concluded. And indeed, those students scored worse overall when tested on their grasp of the facts and their conceptual understanding.

"Study after study suggests that handwriting is important for brain development and cognition," argued a 2010 article from The Week, citing work from University of Wisconsin psychologist Virginia Berninger, who has tested school-age children and found they tend to generate more ideas when composing essays by hand, rather than on the computer. "Writing entails using the hand and fingers to form letters ... the sequential finger movements activate multiple regions of the brain associated with processing and remembering information," echoed Wade.

It slows you down. In a good way.

The average person types between 38 and 40 words per minute, which has clear benefits when speed is the primary objective. Writing with a pen and paper, on the other hand, "requires more mental energy and engages more areas of the brain than pressing keys on a computer keyboard," Wade wrote. And because it is slower, handwriting can be particularly useful during goal setting, brainstorming and the so-called "retrieval phase of studying," she argues -- all pursuits that require time and deliberation.

"When you're writing out something, the natural inclination is to do it as quickly as possible so you can get it over with," echoed Thorin Klosowski, in a LifeHacker post on simplifying one's life through the use of pen and paper. "Paper slows me down and forces me to think a little bit longer about what I'm doing."....


“The tried and true tool of choice for generations of monks, philosophers, and scribes, pen and paper are still a valid choice when you need to focus.”
                                                          - Dustin Wax

It sparks creativity.

This last one is impossible to quantify, of course, but as writer Lee Rourke explained in a post for The Guardian (called, appropriately, "Why Creative Writing Is Better With The Pen"): "For me, writing longhand is an utterly personal task where the outer world is closed off, just my thoughts and the movement of my hand across the page to keep me company. The whole process keeps me in touch with the craft of writing. It's a deep-felt, uninterrupted connection between thought and language which technology seems to short circuit once I begin to use it."

The legion of famous writers who purport to use only pen and paper suggests there might be something to the notion that it somehow boosts creative output: Quentin Tarantino claims to write all of his scripts longhand, telling Reuters, "I used red and black [pens]. One of the great things about being a writer is it gives you complete license to have whatever strange rituals make you happy and productive." Joyce Carol Oates now writes the first draft of all of her novels on pen and paper, as does Jhumpa Lahiri, according to Mashable.

By Catherine Pearson for Huffington Post  ●  Posted: 09/12/2014  (Photo by Adrian Samson)