• Place-Based Curriculum Design for a South Florida Waldorf School

      Bradley, Elizabeth; Domokos, Olga (2021-11)
      While there is a tendency to standardize curriculum to make it easier to assess progress and plan intervention, a more localized approach is better suited for reaching the educational goals that societies need. Place-based learning is essential for connecting students’ education to their natural environment, personal experiences, and the societal struggles of their place of living. By being independent of centrally mandated standards, Waldorf schools are excellent candidates for developing and implementing educational programs that make learning meaningful and relevant to the students’ lives and communities. This paper includes research into the theory of place-based education, a list of best practices, and finally, a place-based 6th-grade history curriculum piece. As I started to apply the concepts of this work, I learned that there is no grade level or academic subject that does not lend itself to a place-based approach. It is only a matter of time and effort to understand what local means and how it connects to learning goals. The positive feedback from my students and their increased level of engagement have confirmed the validity of this approach.
    • Supporting Self-Directed Play in Early Childhood Classrooms

      Bradley, Elizabeth; Dunlap, Kyle (2021-12)
      Public education has become increasingly standardized and academically focused in the past decade. As a result, traditional kindergartens which provided young children their first experiences out of the home have all but disappeared. Preschool programs have now replaced the kindergarten experience, but with an increased focus on academics. Children have less time to play, and early childhood educators are often not educated about the developmental significance of play or how to support play. The following is a critique of the highly standardize and scripted trend in education as developmentally inappropriate and detrimental to children’s development in the five essential domains of early childhood. Further, it proposes how early childhood classrooms should support self-directed play, why it is the correct cognitive approach to learning for young children, and how to assess if the classroom is organized in such a way that supports children in the essential domains: physical, social, emotional, language, and cognitive development through varied approaches to learning via self-directed play.