Admissions FAQ

Frequently Asked Admissions Questions

Below are a few of the most frequently asked questions related to the admissions process at HVWS. If you have other questions or would like additional information, please email or call (203-364-1113, x 102) our Enrollment Director, Therese Lederer.

Is my child ready for first grade?

The transition from early childhood to first grade is a major one. Therefore, each child’s potential readiness is evaluated individually. To be considered for the following September, children must turn six years old by April 30. The First Grade Readiness screening is conducted beginning in February for the students enrolled in our early childhood programs; applicants from other programs are screened separately.

The early childhood teachers carefully observe the students during the school day, and also during a series of enjoyable movement games and artistic exercises with an experienced grades teacher and/or educational support teacher. Unbeknownst to the children, this constitutes their screening for social, emotional, physical, and intellectual readiness. Behaviors that the teachers look for include the ability to play cooperatively with peers, express emotions and needs, self-regulate, throw and catch, skip, and exhibit coordination and balance; the ability to focus, listen to and follow a series of instructions, pay attention for a certain length of time, collaborate and cooperate, and demonstrate independence during transitions between lessons.

Following the screening process, all observations are reviewed and discussed by the First Grade Readiness Committee, consisting of the early childhood and educational support teachers, the Enrollment Director, and an experienced grades teacher. Each child is discussed in depth. After that, recommendations are made: some children are recommended for first grade, while others receive the gift of another year in the early childhood program to bring their developmental maturity to the optimal readiness level and allow further “ripening” of the basic capacities that will support their future academic success. We may also accept children on a conditional basis.

All students enrolled in the HVWS early childhood program must enroll as five-day students for the two years prior to first grade.

Do you accept children mid-year?

Yes, we have rolling admissions.

Children transferring to HVWS in the lower grades are usually up to grade in reading, math, and basic academic skills. However, they might experience a learning curve with bodily coordination skills, artistic activities, cursive handwriting, listening skills, and public speaking. Students entering the school at the 4th grade or above may be required to sign up for Spanish or German classes during summer vacation, in order to familiarize them with general aspects of the languages and facilitate their assimilation into these classes.

String ensembles and orchestra are a regular part of our music program from 3rd grade on. Private music lessons on a string instrument (violin, viola, cello) are required for all HVWS students beginning in the 3rd grade and continuing through 8th grade.

When should I submit my application?

As soon as you are ready to apply!

We look at applications on a rolling basis and do not have an admissions deadline. However, if you are applying for Variable Tuition, the earlier you apply for the following school year, the better. Our current families submit their Variable Tuition applications for the following school year by December 15. Our re-enrollment deadline for securing a space as a returning family is February 8

 

What is the school’s daily routine?

Our early childhood classes follow daily, weekly, and seasonal rhythms that offer structure and security to our youngest students. Each day includes time outside, an artistic activity, free play, practical work, circle time, a shared meal, and more time outdoors.

Our grade school students begin the day with a two-hour main lesson. Main lessons are taught in multi-week blocks so that classes can delve deeply into a subject. Specialty classes and skills practice periods round out the day, which also includes two recesses, snack and lunch. The grade school week also includes regular cleaning periods when our students learn to tend to our shared environment.

 

How do students fare when transferring to HVWS from a public school?

We have students transfer to HVWS in every grade–even 8th. In every grade and subject, teachers are prepared to support students in their adjustment to a new learning environment.

Children transferring to HVWS in the lower grades are usually up to grade in reading, math, and basic academic skills. However, they might experience a learning curve with bodily coordination skills, artistic activities, cursive handwriting, listening skills, and public speaking. Students entering the school at the 4th grade or above may be required to sign up for Spanish or German classes during summer vacation, in order to familiarize them with general aspects of the languages and facilitate their assimilation into these classes.

String ensembles and orchestra are a regular part of our music program from 3rd grade on. Private music lessons on a string instrument (violin, viola, cello) are required for all HVWS students beginning in the 3rd grade and continuing through 8th grade.

What is the school's policy on electronic media?

At Housatonic Valley Waldorf School we are dedicated to nurturing children’s capacities for creative imagination, healthy emotional development, independent critical thinking, and constructive work in the world. Mainstream society generally recognizes that many activities and tools that are useful and appropriate for adults can be unhealthy for the growing child. Research on child development increasingly demonstrates that spending time in front of a video screen and with other electronic media falls into this category. HVWS acknowledges the many published research reports showing the debilitating effects of electronic media (including but not limited to TV, radio, audiotapes, CDs, movies, video and virtual reality games, iPods) on the unfolding of these innate human capacities.

The childhood advocacy organizations listed below recommend play, movement, and sensorimotor development to support academic achievement in early childhood and elementary school years. Screen time and electronic media deprive the child of the physiological foundation upon which a successful school experience is built. Extensive brain research and practical experience from teachers, parents, and physicians have found that the effects of electronic media and screen time can show up academically and socially in the following ways:

  • children may be less able to concentrate, and listening skills may be diminished;
  • possibilities for creative expression in artwork may be limited;
  • social problem-solving in play may deteriorate;
  • the ability to participate fully in real-world activities going on around them may decrease;
  • the visual and auditory development needed for reading, writing, and math may be inhibited;
  • muscle tone and core strength may be weakened by lack of movement in these critical years of sensorimotor growth, affecting balance, spatial orientation, and overall physical coordination;
  • sleep may be disturbed, affecting overall health and immune function.

The foundations of Waldorf education rely on the richness of the child’s direct sensorimotor and social experience in the three-dimensional world. The Internet is developing a reality of its own within our culture, but one which is founded on abstraction and isolation in a two-dimensional screen world. In all the grades, handwriting and composition are emphasized in the curriculum. Premature use of a keyboard consists of a mechanical, multiple-choice (as opposed to creative) activity that undermines the skills and abilities being developed and nurtured in the classroom. The abstract, rapid, and cursory nature of email/texting also works against the fostering of grammar and composition skills so valued in the classroom. Chat rooms, Facebook, instant messaging, and texting simulate true human connection, remove the child from direct experience, and build a false social context (at best artificial, at worst dangerous), weakening our efforts to promote the real, meaningful social relationships necessary for success in adult life. In light of the above, HVWS has created the following recommendations:

Early Childhood classes through Grade 5:

  1. Visual: No exposure to screens/visual media (TV, computers, internet, movies, electronic toys, cell phones, cameras, video games, iPods, etc.).
  2. Auditory: No recorded music, no amplified live music, no audiobooks, no radio exposure.

Grades 6 through 8:

  1. Visual: No video games, social media, or news exposure (exception: monitored news exposure in Grade 8). Monitored access to TV, computers, the internet, movies, cell phones/texting, cameras.
  2. Auditory: No exposure to obscenities, violence, or pornographic content. No news exposure (exception: monitored news exposure in Grade 8). Limited earbud/headphone use. Monitored exposure to recorded music, cell phones, computers, internet.

We understand that there may be instances when you will be unable to follow the HVWS Media Policy. In such cases, we expect our community to be non-judgmental, compassionate, and supportive.

The HVWS staff is here to support the families in meeting the above expectations. We encourage you to reach out to your children’s teachers with your questions and concerns. HVWS is committed to keeping the dialogue open and fostering our ongoing research in this area so that we can develop and sustain a healthy relationship to media in our community. For example, could you recommend movies or TV programs appropriate for older students? Could you offer other parents ideas for alternatives to media use?

We encourage you to make your children’s other caregivers aware of your family’s media rules so that they can support your goals for your children.

Below are only a few of the multiple resources that list the research cited above and offer practical advice for parenting healthy children in a media age.

Here are some childhood advocacy organizations for more information:

Do you offer financial support for families?

Our aim is to make Waldorf education available to as many families as possible. We work on a Variable Tuition model so that finances are not an obstacle to attending HVWS. Additionally, parents may choose various payment plan options.

Are Waldorf Schools religious?

No. While we value the development of the soul and spirit of the child as well as the intellectual and physical capacities, we do not adhere to any religious belief system. Our students hear fairytales and myths from various cultures and go on to study many of the world’s religions.

Wondering if HVWS is the right place for your child?

 

Schedule a visit to learn more about the benefits of a Waldorf education at HVWS.