The love of Gaia…

Dear Parents and Friends of Gaia

Whenever I come back to school after the long summer holidays I am always amazed once again at the special gifts our school and the children who enjoy it have to share.

I was about to start my year with the children as I normally do, by asking them what their aspirations are for their school work and the relationships they have with the children around them, however, this year I decided to add something a little bit different. I asked the children what it was about this school that they thought was different or special and what they like about it.

Here are some of the affirmations I discovered:

The children appreciate having the opportunity to learn through play.

“What’s different about this school is that I know that I won’t be sitting on a chair the whole day. I’ll actually get to go outside, go on walks and play games.”

They feel welcome, safe and happy at the school, enjoy the atmosphere and all the festivities. They treasure the opportunity to explore their own creativity.

“There are so many wonderful cultures here.”

“Gaia is a wonderful young little school.”

“It has an amazing atmosphere.”

“I like swimming and games.”

“When I come to school I am always greeted with a smile by a teacher.”

“The school is special because it is friendly.”

“What makes Gaia different is pretty much everything. I was excited to come back to school because I have fun in and out of class.”

“I think Gaia is special because of the annual celebrations, festivals and school events.”

“I like Gaia because you don’t have to wear uniforms and you get to have a lot of fun.”

“The teachers are nice and the children are funny and energetic.”

“At Gaia you do not have to wear a uniform because it is quite hard to keep clothes clean here.”

“What I love about Gaia is that we get to draw. In our main lesson books we draw colourful pictures, patterns and headings.”

“I am excited about the Greek Olympics and learning about the world.”

“At this school you feel equal to others and you get to have a wonderful teacher the whole way through primary school.”

“The teachers are kind and special with me.”

I often tell people that I teach in a Waldorf school, and for the most part they roll their eyes and think that we, as an educational system, allow children to do whatever they like and that classes are unstructured. They seldom truly realise that the wonderful way in which we teach gives the children the nourishing gifts of loving school and loving learning. So after trying to explain myself many times to Waldorf ‘virgins’, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to find out how the children felt on the ground level.

The children feel understood and held by the teachers. Not only do they enjoy coming to school to see their friends, but also the teachers. They find the lessons exciting and appreciate the teachers pushing them to try their best.

“I like Gaia, the teachers understand you and can always help you. The teachers are also very good at explaining things. This makes it easy to work and play.”

“The teachers are kinder than at my old school. They are like a second family. They always push you to do your best, they never quit on you, and they help you with everything.”

“I’ve been at Gaia almost all my whole life and it’s helped me become who I am today, and achieve what I have. But the person who has helped me and my fellow classmates the most is my teacher.”

“What I like about Gaia is the wonderful education and all the helpful children and teachers. Also the wonderful lessons that I enjoy.”

So often parents come to me in the morning, explaining that their child is not feeling well, but that they insisted on being allowed to come to school, because they could not bear to miss class. How different this is to my days at school, when I would try to invent any excuse not to go to school.

Often children come from other schools, where they did not feel content. Here at Gaia they often find a home, where they feel understood and lifted.

“I am a lot happier at Gaia.”

“Let Gaia change your life, like it changed mine.”

After posing my question to the children in my class, I felt gladdened and affirmed by their responses. They showed me that we as a school and teaching body really are on the right track, when it comes to offering the children a happy, healthy and nurturing environment in which to learn about the world and themselves.

And so if Gaia has changed your life in a meaningful way, I invite you to share your experiences for a future editorial.

With light and love

Janine Rios

Class 6 Teacher