by Amber Jensen
Nestled on Spokane’s lush Makagawa campus is a dreamy little school. If you’re near the Spokane River trails on any given Friday, you’ll see children from ages 3 to 12, geared up for our inland northwest weather, on their weekly hike down to the River. Rain or shine these children trek, guided by their teachers, to endure the weather and revel in the treasures our area and nature has to offer.
Most folks respond with curious surprise to hear that the Spokane area has anything close to Waldorf education and are even more surprised to discover it’s accessible to all incomes and lifestyles. Windsong School currently offers an Early Childhood program and Grades program inspired by Waldorf Education. Offering a whole child education with focus on head, heart and hands is their goal and they’re achieving it.
I was one of the folks surprised by this and now that I know what a gem the school is, and have witnessed several classes move out of their grades program, I believe in what they’re doing in the small classrooms filled with song, light, laughter, wood, story, wool, silks and watercolor.
As spring bursts forth all throughout Eastern Washington there’s a buzz in many private school communities as fundraising ramps up to a fever pitch to end the school year on a high note. Being a smaller school and offering affordability in tuition can present many challenges.
For many years this small school with a big heart has held an annual auction as their big fundraiser. This year, although everyone seemed to be craving a gathering, it wasn’t clear what would be available with so many protocols still in place. So what could this little school put their efforts toward that would have a big impact?
Windsong school saw its 10th year serving children and their families during the 2020 school year. The milestone came and went in the midst of things that felt bigger than all of us. Still this school persisted with the same resilience and hope they instill in the children they teach.
This year, instead of hosting an auction and asking the parent community to gather donations and sponsors they are trying something a little different. Something close to their roots and inclusive of the entire community. Windsong School is hosting a Knit-a-Thon.
To better understand why anyone would jump from auction to any a-thon, it helps to understand the Waldorf handwork philosophy a little more.
In Waldorf education children are taught to knit in first grade and they progress with applied focus, discipline and coordination. They are able to work through snags and troubles by developing their resilience and will. They learn the reward of hard work and build a sense of accomplishment and pride in creating with their own hands.
In Waldorf curriculums, handwork provides a connection and balance between movement activities and intellectual rigor. Knitting and handwork allows a space for students to express themselves, experience joy, struggle, and tenacity required during the process of creating. The rhythmic repetition of knitting and crocheting strengthens concentration and hand-eye coordination.
When hands are working on something we are able to quiet the mind leading to a natural way to de-stress, integrate experiences and process emotion.
What better activity to highlight as a new fundraising opportunity happening in the times we’re living in. The Windsong community has taken it’s head, heart, and hands philosophy of education into fundraising and upped the ante by opting to contribute their end results to a community partner.
Windsong School has partnered with Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital NICU to add community outreach to this heartwarming event. Tiny babies will be cuddled in the hand-made efforts of this small intentional community once the Knit-a-Thon is finished on April 15th.
Many hands at the school and in the extended school community (grandparents, friends, relatives and co-workers) will knit soft squares of then stitch them together to make one-of-a-kind blankets.
They grouped their community into eight teams and each team is tasked with making a whole blanket. The teams are seeking pledges to sponsor their squares and blankets to raise money for Windsong School. To ensure that this style of education is available to all who think it fits their family, the families of the school are working for a month to knit and stitch their own community together after almost two years of uncertainty in so many areas of life.
Many participants are learning to knit for the first time and children who learned to knit in first grade are working up squares alongside their parents. It is truly a beautiful thing to witness this community, nestled in the heart of Spokane, come together in such an effort of joyous contribution.
If you’re out and about and see a person knitting a small square or you are walking down by the river and see a line of children bundled up and smiling, remember that there’s a place in our area where hope lives in eager hearts, community is an action word and rain doesn’t stop smiles. Windsong School is winning hearts by pressing on and stitching their community together.
If you’re interested in learning more about Windsong School or the Knit-a-Thon check out Windsong School’s Facebook or Instagram pages or visit spokanewindsongschool.org.