Educating Head, Heart and Hands
Northern Lights Initiative has grown from a committed group of parents looking for an alternative form of education into a Waldorf-inspired school. Our mission is to ‘Reimagine education in Thunder Bay’.
In September 2017 we opened with a Kindergarten. In September 2018 we began a Grade One and each year we have developed the school grade by grade.
In 2022/23 we are offering programs from kindergarten to Grade 5. In the COVID years of uncertainty we offered our programs in homes. This year we made a big step into Redwood Park Church. The building was once a school and it has classrooms that we rent from the church. It is next to Cappeles Park and some green spaces. Moving into town has been good. Out school now feels grounded and we are growing.
We are excited to be growing the Tapiola Nature Centre and its programs. We have offered the Friday Nature program there for a number of years. in 2023/24 we will grow Tapiola’s offerings.
Our teachers are committed to becoming Waldorf trained teachers. We welcome teachers who would like to join us and take up a path of personal and professional development though Waldorf inspired education.
Waldorf education is a world-wide movement that began in 1919 and celebrated it’s 100th year in 2019. Healthy child development is at the centre of a Waldorf-inspired program. Waldorf education honours the whole child – body, soul and spirit that goes beyond the narrow focus of the intellect. Waldorf education aims to inspire life-long learning in all students and to enable them to fully develop their unique capacities. https://www.waldorfeducation.org/waldorf-education
Our kindergarten is a place where nature-based imaginative and creative free play is enriched by the life skills, crafts, stories, music and festivals. The child from Birth to 7 is building a healthy of their will and body as a foundation for life. Students ages 7-14 in the grades connect to the wisdom offered by the class teacher and deepen ‘learning through the arts’. The arts enrich their heart connections and inner social/emotional intelligence in themselves and with others. The child is developing inner flexibility and residency for a balanced and matured relationship soul life. The adolescent from 14-21 longs for their place in the world, develops intellectual critical thinking and meets themself through a matured experiential, artistic, intellectual and individualized path. The education, stage by stage, leads to a maturity and freedom in the willing, feeling and thinking.
We are an independent school, which gives us freedom from government educational standards and the Ministry of Education curriculum. Waldorf education has a curriculum that has been developing over 100 years and stands behind a Waldorf teacher. The school is tuition based as we do not receive government funding. We are a not-for-profit incorporated school with a volunteer Board of Directors.
The school is a community of parents, teachers and friends who, through their interest, dedication and offers of energy and gifts, create the chalice for the unfolding of each child. We welcome you in becoming part of our community.
Why Northern Lights School?
Northern Lights School is developmentally appropriate, holistic, creative and relevant. We have chosen a Waldorf-inspired curriculum to help students reach their potential by educating the head, heart and hands.
When parents tell a friend about the school and discuss how their children are thriving, what do they say?
Here’s what they tell us:
The children love their teachers and the teachers love the children. Guided by the philosophy, understanding of the stages of human development and practices of Waldorf education, teachers are freed to teach a child-centered program. They meet the children through their own understanding, imagination, compassion and creativity. They become ‘Artists of the Education’ freed from the burdens of the Ministry curriculum and standardized tests.
Parents sense an enthusiasm in the teachers that builds in the child a love for learning, their teacher and being at school.
The teachers are trained on inner practices of teaching. Waldorf-inspired teachers seek guidance through the spirit; work on their work/life balance, relationships with the children and community and their own search for meaning and purpose. They regularly continue their professional training through weekly study and inner development, attend summer courses and yearly conferences.
Did we mention that the Waldorf teachers stay with their class over multiple years building deep, personal connections with each student and family?
The research is in! Move to learn, go outside in nature and it will improve test scores and increase wellbeing. But what we really LOVE is the pure joy being outside in nature brings to the students.
We can talk about how it improves academics, but what it really improves is the daily lives and health of the children. It makes school fun because children are given the time and space to be kids!
Parents know that smaller class sizes make a difference. Large classes are stressful not only for the children but also the teacher!
Each child is seen and cared for by teachers that are able to cultivate a relationship with them as unique in body, soul and spirit.
In such an environment the child can ‘breath’ into their own being and live into the unfolding of their own inner light.
Woodwork, knitting, drawing, painting, and play are just a few examples of how the education moves from the experience through the arts to understanding.
Learning is fun FUN and relevant to LIFE! Learning fractions by cutting a pizza, makes fractions something you come home excited about having learned. Waldorf-inspired curriculum is delivered through stories on the ‘wings of imagination’. Who doesn’t love a good story? The stories mirror the child’s evolving development and move from fairy and folk tales in the early grades to Norse mythologies in Grade 4 to Rome, Greece in Grade 5&6 and the Age of Exploration and Revolution in Grades 7&8.
Students listen intently to the stories and then work in their lesson books to draw a picture of the story, at first with the teacher’s guidance. The arts develop one’s inner relationship to life and learning that grows the child’s social/emotional intelligence.
The other arts such as music, drama and movement are also part of the education. This approach makes learning exciting and engaging.
Caring, Engaged Community
We offer an education that is created from the teachers and parents working together. Each individual brings unique gifts and challenges that we share with one another each day. Waldorf education’s mission is social renewal. We invite you to be a part of our school and our striving to be and live in a shared learning community.