Taking school online is a daunting task for any school, but Rivendell's unique individualized curriculum made it possible for our teachers to continue academically challenging every student at the appropriate level, even from a distance. Keeping one-on-one relationships and parent communication a top priority was the focus of our transition to remote learning. Of course, it's not how we would choose to make school happen, and we miss our Rivendell home so much, but it's good to know we can continue to provide individualized instruction, even though it has to look a little different right now.
Join us for a live stream concert with performances by Rivendell alumni and friends! Friday, May 8th at 6:00 p.m. on our YouTube channel.
This year’s annual Spring Event is moving online! Join us on May 6th, 7th, and 8th in a Virtual Wonderland, where you’ll have the chance to bid on amazing items including class art projects and more! All of the money raised from this auction will go directly to the school’s general fund. Click here to view the auction site: https://e.givesmart.com/events/ha1/
We are excited to announce Rivendell's Online Scholastic Book Fair!
Though we cannot hold our annual Scholastic Book Fair at school this year, we still want to give our families a chance to get great books to read with their kids.
Our Rivendell Online Scholastic Book Fair will be held from Friday, April 3rd - Thursday, April 16th. Books will ship directly to your home with free shipping on all orders over $25.
All purchases will also help benefit our school and the Rivendell Library!
To shop our online fair, click on this link: Rivendell Online Scholastic Book Fair, then click: Shop Now.
Would you like to purchase a book to donate to our Rivendell Library? See our Library Wishlist. If you purchase an item, please contact me so I can acknowledge your donation with a book plate and remove the item from the list. Thank you!
If you have any questions, please contact Kara at: email@example.com
Thank you so much for joining our online book fair!
By Lois Hunt, Rivendell Early Childhood Director and Teacher
Today at recess, I observed three children sitting in the sandbox shoveling sand into various size buckets and then placing the buckets on the wall next to them. When another child joined the group with a bucket of pinecones and twigs, they talked excitedly for a couple of minutes before all of the children began mixing the pinecones and twigs with the sand. To an onlooker, this interaction may seem like just a fun time when, in actuality, through these playful interactions, children are learning important lessons about the world around them.
Play is more than the passing of leisure time. It is fundamental to the process of learning. Children do not need to be taught to play. Play is how babies first learn about their world and as they get older, they learn communication and social skills, math, science, engineering, physics, art, creativity, and problem-solving. Plato, the ancient Greek philosopher, said, “The most effective kind of education is that a child should play amongst lovely things.”
It is important to allow your child time for unstructured play. Group play of all kinds helps children build important social skills. Children learn about interpreting tone of voice and reading facial cues. They build empathy, learn to share and take turns, lead and follow, and negotiate and resolve conflicts. Individual play brings children self-awareness (strengths and weaknesses), autonomy, a chance to explore, be creative, and take risks.
Play leads children to discovery. For example, the children I observed in the sandbox filled a giant bucket with sand and could not lift it to put it on the wall. They solved their dilemma by working together to lift the bucket and maybe next time, they won’t fill the bucket as high. Play also leads to the discovery of scraped knees, hurt feelings, and lost toys which is also important. It is important for children to experience trial and error and failures and successes and learn how to negotiate these times in a safe arena.
Next time you’re at the park, or watching your child play, give them a little extra time. While reading, writing and other academic subject learning is important, the process of play allows a child to discover, invent, apply previous learning, problem-solve, and build strong bodies and minds to become confident and competent individuals.
At Rivendell, we believe play is important for all ages, to learn more about all the opportunities our students have to play please visit our admissions page.
By Holly Warren, Principal
We're so lucky to live in an area with many school options. Sometimes it can be overwhelming to know what's right for your child. Should a school be play-based? Stringent in academics? Forty-three years ago, a group of parents asked these same questions. Their answer: start a brand new school and name it Rivendell.
Rivendell provides students with a strong academic foundation in a creative, nurturing environment. All students have personalized learning plans that allow us to teach to the whole child. Our students realize their potential to become well-educated, imaginative, responsible and engaged people.
Our students enjoy the benefits of multi-age classrooms. Our school has four grade levels: Preschool, Younger Kids, Middle Kids, and Older Kids. Below, I explain what happens at each level and why Rivendell is where students learn to grow.
Read more below or contact admissions now!
Rivendell Preschool (3 - 5 year olds): Instilled with Independence
Rivendell’s academic preschool is an immersive introduction to school. We focus on early literacy and numeracy skills through fun hands-on work jobs. Preschoolers take part in weekly "specials" including Spanish, art, music, science, and PE. Along with academics, students learn mindfulness and responsibility for their actions. Our teachers are there to help students work through challenges. This helps children become independent and take pride in their problem-solving abilities.
Rivendell is where preschoolers learn to grow.
Rivendell Younger Kids (PK - 1st Grade): Empowered to Explore
Our Younger Kids program stimulates the learner in every child. Students receive personal learning plans and individual instruction for reading, writing, and math. As part of their weekly specials, Younger Kids begin attending computer class. Responsibility, independence, self-esteem, and empathy develop through work and play. In our safe environment, children take risks and explore their creativity.
Rivendell is where Younger Kids learn to grow.
Rivendell Middle Kids (2nd - 3rd Grade): Motivated Toward Mastery
Persistent learning and mastery of skills and concepts is a focus for Middle Kids. Students move through the curriculum at their own pace and with appropriate challenges. Interpersonal skills, conflict resolution, self-responsibility, initiative, and independence are further developed. Middle Kids teachers encourage students to take risks and challenges in their learning.
Rivendell is where Middle Kids learn to grow.
Rivendell Older Kids: Prepared for Opportunity
Rivendell Older Kids have skills to take on the future - middle school, high school, and beyond. A growth mindset and love of learning enable students to do whatever they set out to do. The curriculum is challenging and includes new concepts to ensure Middle School readiness. Along with academics, teachers encourage self-advocacy and relationship building with teachers and peers.
Rivendell is where Older Kids learn to grow.
Rivendell Graduates: Prepared for What's Next
Rivendell graduates leave with lifelong friends and mentors. Our graduates are people who:
- Are active participants in their learning.
- Enjoy challenges because they aren’t afraid to fail.
- Work well independently and also as collaborators.
- Accept themselves and others for who they are and recognize that we are all unique.
Wherever your student is in their academic journey, Rivendell is where they can learn to grow. Enrollment is now open! Get started here.
By Madeline Cook, Rivendell School Admissions Specialist
As the admissions specialist at Rivendell School, I have the opportunity to speak with all of Rivendell’s new and prospective parents. Below are some of the most commonly asked questions. If you have a question about our school, please don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What makes Rivendell different from other schools?
Rivendell is Fort Collins' only independent school, which means we have the flexibility and resources to truly teach to the whole child. We have intentionally small classroom sizes, allowing teachers spend daily, one-on-one time with students to better understand their interests, backgrounds, strengths, struggles, and personalities.
Teachers use this information to enhance every child’s learning experience, ensuring their passions are intertwined with their academic experiences. Each student is challenged at their own level and encouraged to progress at a pace that will challenge them, while also allowing them to successfully reach their learning goals. Our teachers conscientiously guide students through each step of their learning journey toward success, building confidence along the way.
How will my student be challenged in a personalized learning environment?
Rivendell School has a philosophy of addressing each individual child's academic needs based on his or her skills, rather than adopting a one-size-fits-all approach of grade-level expectations, as seen in the public school system. When students are given appropriate challenge, at their individual skill level, they become more engaged with their learning experiences.
Our specially designed curriculum allows students to progress through reading, writing, and mathematics at their own pace. Teachers offer support in small group lessons, and during one-on-one sessions go deeper into concepts and understanding. Personalized learning focuses on the mastery of concepts as students progress. This approach keeps students motivated to take on challenges, so they are continually meeting milestones and taking steps forward.
What is the transition for Rivendell students like when they arrive at Middle School?
The move from elementary school to middle school is a significant step in every child’s life. We understand this can be a stressful time for students and parents, and we help prepare for this exciting milestone by having in-depth discussions about what to expect, sharing PSD middle school tours, and cultivating a community of support where students know they will always be cared about.
Rivendell students do very well with the academic challenges of middle school. Many of our students are placed in advanced courses. Interested 5th graders also have the opportunity to participate in the CogAt assessment, administered by PSD, to see if they qualify for the gifted and talented program in the public middle school they will attend.
Middle school teachers and administrators tell us that our graduates are effective communicators and know how to self-advocate. These crucial skills mean that our students are able to communicate confidently with adults and build friendships with their peers. Perhaps most importantly, we are told that our students love to learn and look forward to new challenges!
Overall, during the crucially important elementary years, we create an environment in which students are intrinsically motivated and driven by curiosity. We believe this sets our graduates up for success, not only in middle school, but for the rest of their lives.
What extracurricular activities do you offer?
At Rivendell, our goal is to introduce students to a variety of subjects, which we call specials. Specials include music, art, physical education, Spanish, science and engineering, and technology. Each specials teacher introduces various ways to solve problems, so students are able to use methods that engage their thinking in a productive and imaginative way. Our specials classes help students develop into well-rounded individuals who are curious about the world around them.
Through partnerships with local professionals, Rivendell also offers a variety of after school activities such as Odyssey of the Mind, yoga, dance, and music.
How do you handle students’ social-emotional conflicts?
Our goal is for students to be advocates for themselves and to understand that the choices they make affect others. To help with this, we embrace the Love and Logic approach, as well as our own unique program called True Colors. Love and Logic provides a loving, balanced approach to conflict resolution that is neither permissive nor punitive. This approach allows teachers the opportunity to use a common language to help students become practiced problem solvers when conflict arises.
The True Colors curriculum was developed by our school counselor and is a mindfulness-based approach in which students identify feelings using colors. The use of visuals helps our students build awareness, and practice taking control of their emotional experiences.
You can learn more about Rivendell by perusing our website or joining our Facebook and Instagram communities. If you'd like information on how to apply, visit our admissions page or contact email@example.com.
By Annie Carey, Rivendell Younger Kids Teacher
One of the first things parents notice as they tour Rivendell is that children of different ages are learning and socializing together happily, within each classroom. Our multi-age classrooms help create a strong feeling of family that we all love at Rivendell, and they also do a lot more to benefit our children.
Just what are some of the benefits of a multi-age classroom?
Emphasis is on the child, rather than the curriculum.
At Rivendell, children are viewed as unique individuals. Teachers focus on teaching each child according to their own strengths, unlike in same-grade classrooms, that often expect all children to be at the same place at the same time with regard to ability. Students learn at their own pace, rather than being taught skills that they are not ready for, or that they have already mastered. The focus becomes the child’s learning rather than the adult’s teaching. Children are invited to take charge of their learning and are given more opportunities to choose what they'll work on. This sense of “ownership” and self-direction is the foundation for lifelong learning.
Students benefit from peer learning.
Children often learn best from one another. Younger children watch the older ones enjoy advanced, challenging work, and this inspires them. They look to the older children for guidance, and the older children have the opportunity to serve as mentors and take on leadership roles. Leading, whether by modeling classroom procedures or helping a younger student add numbers, is a critical experience for a child. Integrating this leadership mindset into the classroom shifts teaching strategies. There is not so much lecturing as there is group work.
Children learn diverse social skills and tend to cooperate rather than compete.
Multi-age classrooms are caring communities that help children socially as well as academically. Students learn skills in an integrated, authentic context, rather than in isolation. In essence, multi-age classrooms better reflect the natural groupings in society - in our neighborhoods and communities - and provide more opportunities for the exchange of ideas and experiences. Children are more likely to cooperate than compete. The spirit of cooperation and caring makes it possible for children to help each other as individuals, rather than see each other as competitors.
Children tend to have a positive outlook toward themselves and school.
Research has shown that students in multi-age classrooms were found to have higher self-esteem, more positive self-concepts, less anti-social behavior, and better attitudes toward school than their peers in single-grade classes. When children observe different learning levels around them, they naturally develop a “growth mindset.” Having a growth mindset (the belief that you are in control of your own ability, and can learn and improve) is an important key to success.
As we watch children learn to grow at Rivendell, we see these benefits of our multi-age classrooms in action every day. We are happy to know that Rivendell kids are getting the foundation they need to become happy, well-adjusted individuals later in life.
Learn more about Rivendell at rivendell-school.org or visit our admissions pages to schedule a tour. Enrollment for the 2020-21 school year is open to the public on Monday, Feb. 3. We currently have spaces for preschool - 5th-grade students. Learn more at https://www.rivendell-school.org/admissions/.
I hope that you all are having a wonderful winter break full of family, fun, and laughter.
2019 was a busy year here at Rivendell full of activities, friendships, challenges, and successes. As I reflect on the past 12 months, I'm filled with gratitude for our school's community. Together, we are achieving, supporting, and growing. Our community is you and our moments are built at fun events like FunFest, the Art Show, and in moments of need. I feel so lucky to have the chance to get to know not only your children, but you, and that we can be on this journey together. I'm grateful to lead a dedicated and talented staff who put the interests of our students first and walk through the door every day with energy, compassion, and commitment to doing their best.
Thank you for trusting us with your child's education and for being part of our school. Your children make our school the special place that it is. On behalf of the Rivendell staff, cheers to the many adventures ahead and to 2020 being a great year!
Rivendell School of Northern Colorado
By Tina Wood, Rivendell Art & Music Teacher
“Imagination is the source of every form of human achievement. And it’s the one thing that I believe we are systematically jeopardizing in the way we educate our children and ourselves.” - Ken Robinson
With the art show coming up this week, I have been able to look closely at each students’ artwork, as I mount the pieces and get them ready to display. They honestly amaze me. Not because their work is technically superior, or astonishingly original (although some are that as well), but because within these pieces of art, I see little people who cared deeply about their choices, focused all their effort on an imagined outcome, took risks, thought creatively, and then plunged in and created something beautiful to put into the world.
A growing body of research shows myriad benefits to the inclusion of the arts in our children’s education. From increased academic and behavioral benefits to developing a future workforce capable of creative and innovative thought, we have known for many years that arts in elementary education is a necessity, and not just “fluff.” I feel very lucky to be at a school with an administration and parent body that so fully supports our art program, especially when there is both fear and frustration from my art teacher peers around the lack of funding and resources given to the arts in other schools.
Of course, when I asked our Rivendell kids why it’s important to have art as part of their education, they didn’t point to studies of improved test scores, or how the arts increases empathy and compassion in students. Their answers were, “I just love to make things.” And “Art is how we can show who we are,” and my favorite, “I can be creative and figure out how I want something to look, and it’s not wrong.” Their answers portrayed a sense of ownership, creative expression, emotional release, and personal belonging...which are all pretty great reasons in and of themselves!
I hope that as you peruse the galleries at the art show this Friday, and as you discuss your child’s artwork with them in the future, you’ll also reflect on what we, as adults, can learn from these kids. We need art too. If it’s been a while since you created something new, maybe it’s time to jump in, get a little messy, take some risks, and make some art!
Don’t forget, our 3rd Annual Art Show is on Friday, Dec. 6, from 6-8 p.m. See you there!
By Holly Warren, Principal, Rivendell School
What was once a required literacy skill is now being cut from school curriculums. This raises the question - is cursive writing still relevant?
During a visit to one of our Middle Kids classrooms this week a second-grader brought work up for me to check. As I looked down at the page, it was her name written three different times in cursive that caught my attention. Seeing this brought back memories of being a student and perfecting my “L” loop and making sure my “g” hung down and didn’t look like a “q.” I’m sure many of you can remember this time in your education and may wonder - are all students still doing this? Will students of the 21st century have similar memories? Is cursive writing still relevant?
A Closer Look
Rivendell’s Instructional Leadership Team is constantly evaluating the changing landscape of education and what skills our students will need to be successful in the future, a future we can not even imagine. As an independent school, we have the flexibility to include what we think is important in our curriculum. To ensure we were making the right investment in cursive writing, we rolled up our sleeves and dug into the research about what turned out to be a very relevant subject matter.
As our research continued it became apparent that cursive writing is not just about letter formation and communication. It also:
- Develops motor skills
- Increases memory and comprehension
- Leads to cognitive development, self-esteem, and academic success
With this knowledge, how could we not teach this skill that is quickly becoming a long, lost art? Read on for an explanation of the benefits our team discovered when we took a closer look at cursive writing.
Motor skill development
- Cursive writing requires a very different skillset from print writing. It involves using the hand muscles in a different way and activates a different part of the brain.
- Printing and typing do not stimulate the synchronicity between the brain’s right and left hemisphere, but cursive does.
- It is a good exercise in using kinesthetic skills.
- Cursive writing helps train the brain to integrate visual, and tactile information and fine motor dexterity.
- Students with learning disabilities, specifically dyslexia, can have a very hard time with writing in print, the connected letters and fluid motion of cursive handwriting are especially beneficial to students with disorders such as dyslexia and dysgraphia. It activates parts of the brain that lead to increased language fluency.
Memory and comprehension
- Researchers found that students who take notes by hand perform better on conceptual questions than students who take notes on laptops.
- Students who take notes by hand actually digest the content and reframe it in their own words -- a process that increases both understanding and recall.
- There is a connection between handwriting and composition quality. Lacking fluency in handwriting causes difficulty in higher-order thoughts and sequencing.
- Learning cursive develops fine motor skills and writing in longhand generally helps students retain more information and generate more ideas. Studies have shown that kids who learn cursive rather than simply manuscript writing score better on reading and spelling tests, perhaps because the linked-up cursive forces writers to think of words as wholes instead of parts.
- Writing letters improve letter recognition.
- Cursive writing acts as a grounding and sensory integration exercise for those with behavioral or sensory processing disorders. It likely even calms neuro-typical adults and children and can train self-control.
Cognitive development, self-esteem, academic success
- The brain has to develop “functional specialization,” integrating thinking, movement, and sensation.
- Cursive has the benefit of being both artistic and highly personal. It is an important step in developing a personal style and voice. Students are not automatons, and education should include tools that encourage individual personality.
- While certain gifted students may rise to the top again and again in the academic subjects, any student can aspire to have excellent handwriting and can achieve the goal with practice.
- When students write confidently and legibly, their academics as a whole seem to improve.
Do you have memories of learning cursive? What was the trickiest letter for you to master?
By Brenda Dyer, Spanish teacher and literacy specialist
As one of the most exciting days of the year nears, we reflect on the importance of learning a second language.
Hola! ¿Cuánto Cuesta? Our annual Mercado, or Latin Market, is November 19, and while it is my favorite time of the year, it also reminds me of the importance of learning a foreign language and embracing the customs of different cultures.
Our Mercado is a special time when the Older Kids take over the commons and sell crafts and goodies that they have made. The school comes alive as students from all grade levels walk through the Mercado looking for treasures and ways to spend their hard-earned Pesos. We have been practicing shopping phrases for weeks in anticipation of the market, and the excitement can be seen on all of the children’s faces.
At Rivendell School, Spanish is taught from preschool through fifth grade. While learning a second language doesn’t start until sometime between 5th and 10th grade in many public schools, we strongly believe students who receive language lessons at an early age have a much wider vocabulary and tend to pick up the language quicker. Additionally, young children tend to absorb a language through exposure and are more likely to eventually speak a new language like a native.
In fact, studies by the National Research Council suggest that foreign language study helps develop a child’s cognitive skills and improves the child’s learning of other subject matter. According to the National Academy of Science, researchers found improvements in the brain’s white matter structures when learning a second language was introduced at an early age.
Research corroborates additional benefits, including strengthening of literacy in students’ first language, reinforcing grammar, writing skills and comprehension, and developing comfort with cultural differences. The Committee for Economic Development states that international studies and foreign language education are a necessity in preparing today’s students to become tomorrow’s leaders.
Rivendell graduates are confident learners. They have great pronunciation skills and experience with vocabulary and grammar to grow their language skills. Students understand and appreciate other cultures and communities. They practice communication by speaking, reading, writing and listening in Spanish. Rivendell graduates are not fluent in Spanish, but, and perhaps more importantly, they possess skills and experiences to grow, learn and succeed.
Have you shopped in a Mercado? What was your favorite part?
Our Middle Kids are excited to perform their musical “Tales of the Chinese Zodiac” next week. Performances are Wednesday, November 13th at 2:15 p.m. and Friday, November 15th at noon. This musical is part of our school-wide topic study of Asia, and takes a humorous look at the animals of the Chinese Zodiac, as well as teaching a few facts about China's history.
Our annual Rivendell Halloween Costume Parade will be held at 2 p.m. on Thursday, October 31st on the Rivendell track. Classroom parties will start directly following the parade. Parents are welcome to join us!
Our Older Kids are excited to perform their musical “Hatshepsut, the Queen of Denial” this week. Performances are Wednesday, October 23rd at 2:15 p.m. and Friday, October 25th at noon.
If you'd like to volunteer for this year's Fun Fest, we are still in need of people! You can sign up here: https://bit.ly/33v9LeB
It’s Fun Fest time! Rivendell families past and present are invited to come in costume for Halloween themed games, treats, and fun on Friday, October 18th, 5:30 - 8:30 p.m. in the Rivendell commons.
Just a reminder, there will be no school on Friday, October 11th and Friday, October 18th due to Parent-Teacher Conferences. You’re welcome to register for our enrichment classes being held that day: https://www.rivendell-school.org/programs/enrichment-classes/
Stay on the lookout for communication from your teacher about scheduling your conference time.
Join us on Thursday, October 3rd from 5:15 - 6:45 p.m. for fun and food trucks! Families are welcome to bring a picnic, or purchase dinner from the food trucks. This year’s food trucks include Gyro truck, Blazing Pizza, Kona Ice, and Corn Doggies. See you there!
The Rivendell Fun Run is Friday, September 27 from 9-11:30 a.m.! Students have already received their Fun Run paperwork packets and are excited to start collecting sponsors! For more information, or to sponsor a student at a flat amount through an online payment, visit our Fun Run page at: https://www.rivendell-school.org/fun-run/
Thanks for your support!