About our Coop
Greenwood Tree provides a dynamic, rhythmic, and holistic learning environment in which children and adults are guided in their exploration by the framework of gentle daily rhythms, and the awareness of the inherent cycles of nature. The arts, humanities, and sciences are interwoven with one another to inspire a passion for life-long learning, and to encourage the discovery of joy in and through all of the senses. We respect and encourage physical, mental and spiritual balance by bringing together kinesthetic, academic, and artistic activities. The children are surrounded by the moral qualities of truth, beauty and goodness, in the way the classroom and school is built and cared for, in the actions of the adults around them, and in the content of the lessons.
Who We Are
Greenwood Tree began as a group of mothers meeting around the kitchen table, looking for an alternative education option for their children. Informal gatherings of children and parents took place in the home of a founding member in 2009 and the first official classes started in the Autumn of 2010 at the Unitarian Fellowship in Mount Vernon. GWT has grown from about 22 children in two classes in its first year, to nearly 70 students in five different classes in 2014-2015. GWT officially became a federally recognized 501(c)(3) in the summer of 2012. Since then we have grown to offer a full ECE Program and programs for Grades 1-8 and stand as a leader in education in Skagit Valley.
What We Do
Our aim is to assist in the development of free-thinking, socially and environmentally responsible, high integrity individuals who can navigate any field they come across and still maintain the outlook that the world is an interesting and good place to live in. The goal of our education is to enable students as fully as possible to choose and, in freedom, to realize their individual path through life as adults.
What is Waldorf?
Waldorf education is based on the philosophy of Rudolf Steiner who founded the first Waldorf school in Germany around the turn of the century. Steiner believed that education needed to address the WHOLE child and not to leave out the SPIRITUAL, or FEELING part of a child’s development. Waldorf education strives to educate the WHOLE child through engaging the HANDS (doing), HEAD (thinking) and HEART (feeling) in every learning endeavor. Children are taught to appreciate BEAUTY, TRUTH, and GOODNESS– in themselves, other people, in the world around them, and in the relationships they have with others and the earth.
Please note that Greenwood Tree itself is not a Waldorf accredited entity, though many of our teachers are. Teachers and staff will have an understanding of Waldorf education and whenever possible, will have formal training.
What does “Waldorf Inspired” mean to Greenwood Tree?
Greenwood Tree is a Waldorf-inspired cooperative. Much of our curriculum is based on the principles of Waldorf and what is found in traditional Waldorf schools while leaving room for interpretation and flexibility of the needs of the community, especially in the homeschooling enrichment classes. The richness and quality of Waldorf education can be found at GWT in many ways:
Materials – Waldorf education emphasizes an appreciation for what is beautiful and natural, hence our commitment to using natural materials in toys, art, and crafts. We also strive to use foods in their organic, natural state.
Rhythm – Emphasis on consistent rhythms that provide balance between periods of BREATHING OUT (outdoor play, free play) with BREATHING IN (circle time, story telling and puppetry, main lesson, crafts).
Arts – Appreciation for ART and NATURE– outdoor nature walks, nature table, art instruction, music (flutes and other instruments), and foreign language.
Community Celebrations – Greenwood Tree celebrates and recognizes many of the typical Waldorf seasonal festivals that mark the seasons and provide an opportunity for community building and celebration.
What does it mean to be in a homeschool community as opposed to a school?
Greenwood Tree is a learning community for homeschooling families. This reflects our philosophy that people are learning all the time, everywhere. It is the responsibility and joy of all the adults in a child’s life to enrich a child’s learning opportunities. We challenge the conditioning that says “children’s most important learning happens only at school, where they are taught by certified teachers.” We recognize and honor that in a child’s family, immense learning has been happening from the time of birth and does not suddenly stop when a child reaches school age. Being a homeschool family doesn’t mean that parents have to wear the formal teacher hat for children to get their needs met. Children already learn so much from their families both about life and practical skills. Every time parents read to their children, every time they answer a child’s ‘why,’ every time they play a game, every time they engage in the tasks of managing a household, children are learning. Additionally, in being a homeschool community, Greenwood Tree does not require children to attend 5 days per week. For some, the self-directed learning environment is one piece of the larger learning plan for their children.
What does it mean to be in a cooperative?
An Educational Cooperative cannot exist without its members. Coop member families are responsible for the many jobs it takes for our programs to run effectively. Not only does being volunteer powered keep the cost of our programs down, but by bringing families together outside of the classroom, it creates a network of trust, responsibility, and care between all of our families.
What is required?
All grades-level GWT families will be required to serve on at least one committee and play a role in getting that scope of work done as a team as well as attending committee meetings.
Classroom volunteer hours are required of all Early Childhood Families and are often requested in Grades classes as well.
Each family is also asked to offer support to at least one festival a year.
All families must participate in school wide fundraisers.
Is there a Media Policy at GWT?
In an effort to preserve a simple, beautiful and natural environment where the imagination can fully grow, it is the policy of GWT that:
be kept out of the classroom, unless previously arranged with the board and/or teacher (e.g.,for
Cell phone use by adults is limited in front of children to only as needed and not in the classroom during class time.
games, MP3 players, etc. should be left at home.
general, the use of any media, like television, computers, and electronic games, is discouraged in Waldorf pedagogy for the developmental health of children under 14.
Teachers encourage families to limit screen time before class due to its direct impact on the student's day