The school week begins with an all-school Morning Circle that includes a candle-lighting ceremony, singing, meditation, small performances, our virtues program and general announcements. Parents often attend these uplifting gatherings and are always welcome to take part.
Meditation and Yoga
This is our daily Quiet Time. Children benefit from early use of their imagination and intuition in creative visualisation and meditation exercises. Yoga exercises help children stretch and relax, meditation centres them, and discussions at this time focus on the virtues and other introspective topics.
We teach meditation at the River School to:
▪ Help children utilise their full potential
▪ Give our minds a “rest”
▪ Help children find happiness and contentment within, so they don’t feel only material objects can fulfil them
▪ Change ourselves, change the world
▪ Create peace and relaxation to enhance the ability to learn
▪ Create an environment so that children may have a genuine taste of spiritual bliss and peace at least once, and ideally often, in their school experience. Such deep experiences will never be forgotten
Scientific research has shown many benefits of meditation in education, health and general wellbeing.
Our Neohumanist Virtues program is based on ten virtues that are central to our Neohumanist philosophy: Love, Compassion, Service, Respect, Honesty, Responsibility, Courage, Simple Living, Contentment and Creativity. Each week we focus on the essence of one of those virtues, emphasising its importance and exploring its various aspects. Each class prepares a presentation (play, song, story, picture, video, poem, etc.) on one of the virtues each term, which they present in Morning Circle the following week.
Throughout the year the River School has different accents on physical activity and development. In preparation for our Olympics Day, all primary children participate in a body awareness program which incorporates a variety of activities such as body warm-ups and stretches, brain gym, cooperative games, sports, sports integrity, and specific training for our annual non-competitive Olympics.
Our music program began in 2004 with each primary class having one music session a week. We have developed a program with fun and feeling, giving children a broad range of instrumental and vocal experiences. This leads to opportunities for individual tuition, group ensembles and performances throughout the school year. Additionally, songs that reflect our themes of universalism, ecology and other positive concepts are an important part of everyday learning, especially in the lower primary. We also offer small group tuition in violin and cello with teacher Sue Moxon.
Art and Cultural Studies
Art classes are a highlight at the River School. Our Art programme compliments the individual class programmes. Art is integrated into many different learning areas, from Maths to English, plus special art classes. Projects have included batik, cubby-building, sewing and candle-making, print-making, and much more. On occasion, local artists come in to teach specific techniques and children have the opportunity to do more in-depth projects. Every year we display some of the children’s art work at the local Maleny Show. Our Arts and Cultural Studies teacher works with children to instill an appreciation for the arts and an inherent sense of respect for all cultures and peoples, including the first peoples of this country.
Children plan, design, direct and participate in performances at different levels including role-plays to explore different virtues, busking in town to raise money in support of good causes, skits at school camps, class speeches and presentations, musicals, plays and puppet shows, debates, and full-scale stage performances such as our 2003 Joyful Things CD launch for over 300 people at the Maleny Community Centre, our 2004 10th year celebration at the Showgrounds Pavilion, participation in the 2008 Maple Street Co-op’s 30-year celebrations, and our stunning 2009 performance of The Lorax.
Some of the languages studied in past years have been Indonesian, Japanese and French. Currently French is taught in Years 2-6.
Our whole-school elective program gives children a chance to study a wide range of subjects in depth, such as video-making, lead-lighting, puppetry, cooking, outdoor adventures and dance. There are two rounds of electives each term, with a mixing together of different age groups. Teachers, parents and local experts are invited to teach subjects of interest.
Part of the ethos of Neohumanist Education at the River School is helping others in need through social service. This opens children’s hearts to the joy of giving, shifting the focus from individual gratification to the contentment, sense of wellbeing and self-empowerment that comes from meaningful acts of kindness toward others.
In 2011, for example, a Busking for Romania day was held to raise funds for kindergarten construction in Romania. Our students got out on Maple Street on a Saturday afternoon and raised over $700 for a much-needed renovation of the Ananda Marga kindergarten in Bucharest, Romania. In 2012, we raised money for the Ananda Marga Academy school in the Huruma slum of Nairobi, Kenya, with a year-end Concert for Africa. From 2013 our students have been cooking and serving vegetarian food at the fortnightly Maleny Neighbourhood Centre community lunch.
Each class goes on school camp once a year. In the third term the lower primary students traditionally spend 2-3 days at the House of Happiness on Bribie Island to enjoy water sports, relaxation and go on excursions to learn about local history, indigenous culture and local wildlife.
Family members are welcome and encouraged to attend. As part of our energy levy scheme (see Funding and Fees), parents may opt to help with the supervision of the children during the day activities and nights in the dormitories for all or part of each camp. At a different time in the third or fourth term, the upper primary students will either have their camp at Bribie Island or at another location.
In addition, every year the Year 4-7 students attend a Warrior Within / Girl Power camp in order to build self-confidence, develop personal leadership, foster emotional literacy, and develop team work.
In 2009, the first trip to Canberra was supported by fundraising with the first Red Cedars voucher book, enabling the whole class with staff and some parents to participate in a camp that included visits to educational and national landmarks as well as a trip to the snow. In 2013, the Red Cedars fundraised for their Canberra trip by compiling and selling a Vegetarian Cookbook with great success.
Excursions are also an active and integral part of our learning. We have explored many parts of our local environment, from hikes up the creek, to examination of the town rubbish bins to learn about recycling, to visits to the beach and local waterfalls, museums, zoos and more.
River School Olympics
Each year in Term 3 we hold our full-day River School Olympics. The children train hard in various events, including obstacle courses, hammer and javelin throw, long jump and sprints, and then compete to beat their own scores from earlier in the term. Parents and families turn out for the day of fun and competition, which begins with an Olympic march around the oval and ends with fun races.
River School Spring Festival
2011 was our inaugural Spring Festival. This is now an annual festival which celebrates and showcases our River School community in its various hues. The Spring Festival is held in Term 3 and all are welcome!