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Student Experience

At da Vinci, we value respect, courtesy, persistence, tolerance, understanding and responsibility.

a day in the life of a da vinci student

Da Vinci students are met each day by a smile and a handshake from their teacher. Students then begin the morning circle either outside or in their classrooms. Morning circles are a time for social, academic, physical and spiritual development. Students learn class and school songs and rhymes, practice moving in rhythm with their classmates, play number games and get their hearts pumping and enthusiasm growing for the day ahead.

The morning is generally a time where students focus on academics. Core language, reading, math and other TDSB curriculum is followed. When it can add to the learning experience, these subjects are explored creatively through art and storytelling and integrated with themes from other subjects being explored. Students are then given the opportunity to apply their knowledge through individual, paired and group activities, often recording their understanding in learning journals they call ‘main lesson books’.

After the academic focus of the morning activities, students are encouraged to develop their physical and social skills during the afternoons. Each week students will participate gym, music, drama, and other more interpersonal, hands-on subjects. When suitable, science and other subjects are learned outdoors with inspiration from the natural world. science and other subjects take place outdoors, directly observing and investigating the natural world. Students often visit the local library, go on nature walks to local parks and receive visits from community members and experts. The end of the day is often when arts & crafts and “handwork” such as knitting, weaving and sculpting take place. A time to reflect and absorb the day’s learning.

The school day is from 8:40am – 3:00pm. Supervision begins at 8:25am before the day and ends at 3:15pm at the end of the day.

HIGHLIGHTS THROUGHOUT THE SCHOOL YEAR

ROSE CEREMONY (Grade 1)

A tradition in Waldorf schools around the world, the Rose Ceremony welcomes the students entering grade one and celebrates this important childhood transition. The grade one teacher shares a story about transformation and growth through effort and learning, then each new grade one student walks across a bench or a log, representing this exciting new journey they are undertaking. Once they reach the other side, a grade six student offers them a rose in welcome. As a community, we sings our school song to celebrate our new “gradeschoolers”.

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LANTERN WALK

The lantern walk is a celebration between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. We band together as a community to create light and warmth as the cold and darkness set in for the season. Each class makes lanterns and we gather in the yard to sing traditional school songs we have learned, then set off together along some neighbourhood streets to share the light and music. It’s a time to appreciate the light shining within ourselves, to recognize it in each other, and to remember that this light needs to be fed and protected just like the light in our lanterns.

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WINTER CONCERT & FAIR

The school community comes together to enjoy a concert with poems and songs accompanied by musical instruments. Then we celebrate together with a Winter Fair potluck with crafts, face painting, games and more music. A highlight is the traditional “Fairy Market”. Each student is given a bag with three stones and enter a magically decorated market where they can exchange the stones for small handmade gifts they might want to give to family members over the break. The grade six students run the market - a “kids only” space!

Plays

Class plays are a favourite part of the school year. This teacher-led initiative can involve reinterpreting a book the students have read together or creating their own story based on interests and subjects they are investigating in class. Students make their own sets, props and costumes. Plays are presented to other classes and families. It’s an exciting and creative way to apply newly acquired skills and to cultivate teamwork and self-confidence.

SPRING CONCERT & Fair

After the school spring concert where each grade performs poems, songs and plays instruments for the community, we gather outside for a potluck picnic with games, music and a maypole dance.

GRADUATION

The school community celebrates our graduates as the grade one students offer roses to the grade 6 students. We share memories and stories and well wishes for wonderful middle school adventures.

STUDENT ASSESSMENT

da Vinci follows the TDSB curriculum and guidelines, while offering a Waldorf lens to learning. The school is committed to enabling all students to reach their potential by offering them opportunities to explore the work through their own unique perspectives and interests while ensuring they have a solid educational base in accordance with provincial mandates. 

Teachers are in regular contact with parents about their child’s social, emotional and intellectual growth, through personal contact, phone calls and meetings. Teachers write a Progress Report in November, and two Provincial Report cards, one in January and one in June, as required by the Ministry of Education. However the school has minimal homework, especially in the younger grades, and students do not receive letter grades on their progress reports.

TECHNOLOGY AND COMMERCIAL-FREE ENVIRONMENT

da Vinci teaches through hands-on experience, and face-to-face play and storytelling, avoiding the use of technology when possible. For example, there are no screens in the K-3 classrooms. One important exception is for students who use screens to support their particular learning needs. The Waldorf approach discourages the overuse of technology with young children, believing it leads to passivity and disengagement from authentic connections with others, particularly at a young age. in this spirit, families are asked to limit computer games, video-watching and TV on school nights as much as possible.

da Vinci is a commercial-free school – supporting the rights of children to grow up in an environment sheltered from the pressures of consumerism. Students are encouraged to choose clothing and accessories that don’t feature large logos, when possible.