Some Common Questions
The answers below may provide some clarity to some of the questions you already have. If not, contact our dedicated staff who would be more than glad to answer your specific questions.
Founded in the early 20th century, Waldorf Education is based on the insights, teachings and principles of education outlined by the world renowned anthroposophist, artist, and scientist, Rudolf Steiner. The principles of Waldorf Education evolve from a profound understanding of human development that addresses the needs of the growing child. These principles inspire and guide teachers, administrators, trustees and parents throughout the worldwide Waldorf movement.
The Waldorf curriculum is broad and comprehensive. Structured to respond to the three developmental phases of childhood–birth to 6 or 7 years, 7 to 14 years and 14 to 21 years–Steiner stressed to teachers that the best way to provide meaningful support for the child is to comprehend these phases fully and to bring “age appropriate” content that nourishes healthy growth. Music, dance and theater, writing, literature, legends and myths are not simply subjects to be read about and tested. They are experienced. Through these experiences, Waldorf students cultivate their intellectual, emotional, physical and spiritual capacities to be individuals certain of their paths and to be of service to the world.
Teachers in Waldorf schools are dedicated to generating an inner enthusiasm for learning within every child. This eliminates the need for competitive testing, academic placement, and behavioral rewards to motivate learning, allowing motivation to arise from within. Waldorf Education is independent and inclusive. It upholds the principles of freedom in education and independent administration. Waldorf education truly offers inspired learning in hundreds of schools worldwide.
The first Waldorf school was created in 1919 in the aftermath of World War I. Anthrophosophist, scientist, artist and philosophical scholar Rudolf Steiner–a prolific lecturer of the time–had been asked if it was possible to create an educational model that could cultivate peace among humankind. He said, “Yes,” and the first Waldorf school was created for the children of the employees of the Waldorf-Astoria cigarette factory in Stuttgart, Germany. Now, 100 years later, Waldorf education is a world-wide movement with over 1000 schools in 62 countries and 2000 Early Childhood programs on five continents. An education of “head, heart and hands,” Waldorf education seeks to cultivate free individuals capable of deep and critical thought who are then empowered to participate in the world, creating better social forms than can benefit humanity as a whole.
Waldorf schools are non-sectarian and non-denominational. They educate all children, regardless of their cultural or religious backgrounds. The pedagogical method is comprehensive, and, as part of its task, seeks to bring about recognition and understanding of all the world cultures and religions. Waldorf schools are not part of any church. They espouse no particular religious doctrine but are based on a belief that there is a spiritual dimension to the human being and to all of life. Waldorf families come from a broad spectrum of religious traditions and interest.
Our goal is to foster passionate readers who continue reading for pleasure throughout their lifetimes. To that end, we introduce reading in a developmentally appropriate way, when students are more comfortable with the written word and fully ready to engage with them.
Waldorf teachers begin teaching reading in the first couple months of first grade by teaching consonants and vowel names and sounds through an artistic approach of drawing, painting, movement, and speech. This artistic, deliberate process engages the children with great interest, and by the end of first grade, children are writing and reading sentences and short texts. Students typically begin reading printed readers with their teacher during the second half of second grade. This thorough and artistic approach to teaching literacy has been proven to build a solid base for advanced comprehension and vocabulary skills in later year.
Waldorf schools are not art schools. The curriculum offers a classical education in all academic disciplines that fully integrates the arts into its teaching methodology. Why? Because research continues to show that the inclusion of the arts in academia increases aptitude and creative thinking in areas such as math and science, and has a positive effect on emotional development as well.
Eurythmy is the art of movement that attempts to make visible the tone and feeling of music and speech. Eurythmy helps to develop concentration, self-discipline, and a sense of beauty. This training of moving artistically with a group stimulates sensitivity to the other as well as individual mastery. Eurythmy lessons follow the themes of the curriculum, exploring rhyme, meter, story, and geometric forms.
All sciences begin with simple nature experiences in kindergarten and the early grades, and advance with the study of acoustics, heat, magnetism and electricity in Middle School to chemistry, biology, botany, zoology and modern physics in High School. The emphasis is on direct encounters with observable phenomena: “Describe what happened. Evaluate what you have observed. What are the conditions under which the phenomena appear? How does this relate to what you already know?” Then students are asked to think through the experiment and discover the natural law that stands behind and within the phenomena.
Assessment may vary slightly from school to school, but in most cases, a full assessment of each student’s progress is provided in the form of a year-end narrative assessment in all subject areas. These assessments are supported by teacher conferences and class meetings throughout the year. In high school, GPAs are included in unofficial transcripts to indicate a student’s academic standing to colleges and universities.