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Charter schools are independent public schools that are founded by teachers, parents or community members and which offer unique educational approaches. Woodland Star follows the same state testing mandates as other Sonoma Valley public schools and our teachers need to be California credentialed and highly qualified, as with any other public school teacher, and in alignment with federal requirements. Woodland Star, as a K-8, Public Waldorf charter school has additional training requirements whereby it is strongly recommended that teachers receive Waldorf training which is an additional 2-4 years beyond their teaching credential.
Woodland Star is chartered by Sonoma Valley Unified School District meaning that Superintendent Socorro Shiels and the school board oversee our budget and our curriculum. We adhere to the Common Core standards and state-wide testing but may follow a different timeline for delivery of certain content as well as different methodology for delivering the content. One of the many wonderful things about our district is the range of educational options available for students and our school, which provides an academic, arts-infused curriculum, offers something different than other district sites.
The Waldorf curriculum is a developmentally based curriculum meaning that we present content in alignment with a child’s development. For example, in kindergarten, we believe students learn best by having a lot of hands-on interaction with their environment and ample opportunity for imaginative play as they develop their capacities for being in a classroom, interacting with their peers and teachers and learning how to listen, pay attention and develop habits consistent with being a student. Therefore we offer a play-based, half-day kindergarten program. Our program is not a pre-school or playgroup; there is a very specific rhythm of the day filled with activities that lay the foundation for early literacy and developing the skills needed for students to succeed when they enter the rigor of the grades. We do a lot of language and speech work via stories and songs to expose students to vocabulary and work toward retention and comprehension of the spoken word. These are important pre-cursors to learning to read which begins in the first grade.
Once a student enters the grades we continue to deliver content in accordance with developmental timelines which, in the earlier grades, means that certain topics might be presented a bit later than in traditional public schools. We believe in teaching via experience first as a way to cement learning for students vs delivering abstract contents too early and when they may not have a relevant experience on which to interpret and assimilate the content. For example, a Waldorf-inspired third grade curriculum includes study of farming, cooking, and agriculture and students have cooking classes as a way to work with the concepts of fractions in a very tangible way i.e. Ω cup of flour when baking bread. Then, in fourth grade we introduce the idea of fractions, which as a concept, is very abstract and can be difficult for students to grasp. In fact, fractions, along with negative/positive numbers, are among the most challenging math concepts for students, even well into high school. We introduce fractions only after the students have worked with the concept thereby giving them a relevant reference point for the fraction concepts. This scaffolding of the concept makes the content more meaningful and more readily accessible thus the students learn it more easily and with a deeper understanding.
Research shows that students aged 7-14 years learn best by having an emotional connection to the content they are learning. We incorporate art on a daily basis in all academic areas as an important component of delivering academic content and as a way of building that emotional connection to the content. At Woodland Star we offer foreign language, music, movement, drama, rhythm, knitting, sewing and woodworking to fully engage the children, develop their many capacities and to strengthen their understanding of the academic content.
What we see is that when our students matriculate to high school, in addition to the full range of academic capacities they develop in their tenure at Woodland Star, they also have proficiency in a wide array of areas which makes for a more confident, accomplished and motivated student. This is exactly where we want students to be as they enter high school. Our graduates attend a multitude of high schools including: Sonoma Valley High School, Credo Waldorf-Charter High School, Maria Carillo, Justin-Sienna, Sonoma Academy, Marin School of the Arts, and Summerfield Waldorf School.
We were founded in 2000 and serve up to 260 students annually, kindergarten through 8th grade.
No, we are a public Waldorf, tuition-free school. Our charter is granted by the Sonoma Valley Unified School District and part of the district’s rich array of educational options. However, we operate as an independent Local Education Agency. Therefore, we have our own board of directors we refer to as the Charter Council. Our administrator is both a principal and a superintendent.
School tours take place regularly. Meet administrators, visit classrooms in session and see their curriculum in action, ask questions to learn more about the curriculum, community, and student life at Woodland Star Charter. Check our website for dates and times for school tours and/or contact our office at 707-996-3849 to set up a time to meet with our staff and visit our campus.
Woodland Star Kindergarten and Transitional Kindergarten
A child shall be eligible for regular kindergarten when they turn five years old by September 1.
A transitional kindergarten is the first year of a two-year kindergarten program that uses a modified kindergarten curriculum that is age and developmentally appropriate. A child is eligible for transitional kindergarten if a child will have his or her fifth birthday between September 2 and December 2.
A child turning 5 after February 2nd, cannot begin the school year in August. But, given our play-based kindergarten program, if we have room, we will consider a student for enrollment upon their 5th birthday, i.e. if a child turns 5 after February 2nd and we have space, we will consider placing them in the younger/Transitional kindergarten program in January. If we do not have space in the program then the child must wait until the next lottery for the opportunity to gain admission for the following fall.
Parents and guardians are currently not required to enroll children in transitional kindergarten or kindergarten (EC Section 48200). Transitional kindergarteners at Woodland Star will continue on to kindergarten the following school year.
Schools and districts have flexibility to determine how best to meet the curricular needs of each child. All of our kindergarten classrooms are combined kindergartens. Generally half are transitional kindergarteners.
The Woodland Star Kindergarten is a play-based, two-year program. In the Kindergarten, the teachers gently lead the child across the bridge from home to school, laying a strong, healthy foundation for the academic program that begins in First Grade. In a homelike environment, the Kindergarten program is rich in singing, seasonal activities, circle, painting, puppetry and storytelling. The teachers believe it is profoundly important that the child have time to develop their physical body, imagination, and will in a secure setting. Free play with simple natural toys draws out the imagination. Shells, seeds, homemade dolls, wooden toys, beeswax crayons and modeling wax are familiar and loved playthings in the Woodland Star Kindergarten.
Yes, once a child is enrolled in the kindergarten at Woodland Star they are guaranteed a placement for first grade as long as they have turned 6 years old by June 1st prior to first grade.
School tours take place regularly. Meet our school’s leadership. Visit classrooms in session and see their curriculum in action. Ask questions to learn more about the curriculum, community, and student life at Woodland Star. Check our website for dates and times for school tours and/or contact our office at 707-996-3849 to set up a time to meet with our staff and visit our campus.