Each morning in third grade, “feelings” cards are laid on the floor and  the children pick one to express how they feel (i.e., happy, sad, anxious, excited, tired, scared). This daily activity not only helps the teacher gauge how everyone is feeling, it also helps the children build empathy for each other.

One morning a student chose the “scared” card because she had had nightmares. Before the teacher could respond, another child jumped off her chair and gave her friend a hug. Another morning, a student chose the “excited” card because it was her birthday and her mom and grandma were bringing in cupcakes. Every other student then chose the “excited” card, too. Some said that they were excited about the cupcakes; others said they were excited for Jasmine because it was her birthday.


At Camphill children are not grouped or defined by their disability, but rather grouped and defined by their age (all first graders together, all third graders together). Camphill is unique in the world of Special Education as the children stay together with their peers and teacher for eight years. In this and many other ways a class community is formed at Camphill Special School.


Along with this class community, there is also a school community. Every morning, third grader Josh holds the door open as everyone arrives at school. In this way he learns the names of other students in lower and middle school. There are sharing assemblies where the children see what other classes are learning and doing. As well as enjoying the fifth grade Olympics, seventh grade puppet show, and eighth grade play, third graders see where they are heading and what they will be able to do when they are 12, 13, or 14 years old.


Weaving into these class and school communities are our specialty teachers (music, eurythmy, handwork, and woodwork), therapists, house parents, and school doctor who help each student and their teacher come to a diagnostic and therapeutic picture of the child. By the time students graduate from twelfth grade, it really is true that they are helped by, and feel known and understood by, not only their parents, their teachers, house parents, and classmates, but also by nearly every member of our village community.

By Ginny Thimme, Faculty

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