Why Waldorf Works


Please visit the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America for an abundance of information about Waldorf Education.

Waldorf Education — A Family Guide

Waldorf teachers believe that the human being is not just a brain – but a being with heart and limbs – a being of will and feeling, as well as of intellect. To ensure that education does not produce one-sided individuals, crippled in emotional health and volition, these less conscious aspects of our human nature must constantly be exercised, nourished, and guided. Here the arts and practical skills make their essential contribution, educating not only heart and hand but, in very real ways, the brain as well.

This excerpt from the article Learning that Grows with the Learner by Henry Barnes was published in Waldorf Education — A Family Guide. Copies of the book are available at the Waldorf School of Louisville

A growing movement

Waldorf is the largest and fastest growing independent school system in the world, with 2,000 schools in 83 countries. The Waldorf School of Louisville is part of the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America, joining over 200 schools on this continent in creating the highest quality education for children by providing a creative, supportive learning environment based on the philosophical and pedagogical indications of Dr. Rudolf Steiner.

Waldorf philosophies

Children play on the tire swing in the playground.

Waldorf education is based on the research into child development conducted by Austrian scientist, educator and philosopher Dr. Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925). The Waldorf School of Louisville offers a time-tested curriculum based on the philosophical and pedagogical indications Steiner designed to bring interdisciplinary and multi-sensory learning to all children. It offers a rich blend of academics and arts that provides a comprehensive education in response to the needs of the child at each stage of development.

The principles of Waldorf education aid the unfolding of each child’s physical, emotional, and intellectual capabilities. The faculty and staff, with the support of parents, strive to help students develop their inherent talents and abilities so as to become balanced adults able to fulfill their own destinies and to contribute to the world out of their own initiative.

Waldorf schools are nonsectarian. Values such as respect for self and others, universal to all religious and spiritual traditions, are upheld in the classrooms. Spiritual leaders of many cultures are studied through the history of world civilizations. The question of religion is left strictly to the family.

Believing that a healthy community life is created by a diversity of sharing, the Waldorf School of Louisville welcomes children and families of any race, color, creed, religion, ethnic origin, and family structure.

Components of a Waldorf Education

Teaching Methods

When you visit the Waldorf School of Louisville you’ll find it abuzz with activity – students and teachers actively engaged together in the learning process both in the classroom and outdoors.  A great emphasis is placed on experiential learning. Teachers are able to integrate this into virtually every discipline, enlivening the learning process and providing students with skills and knowledge relevant to the world outside school. Teachers are able to tailor the material to the learning styles and needs of the students and are able to use alternative assessments that truly evaluate their work and abilities. A major advantage of Waldorf education is that the teachers remain with their classes for years – working, growing and learning together for a rigorous and joyful educational experience.

The Arts

Art is not an “extra” but is integral to the Waldorf curriculum. Through art, students develop a more sensory understanding of the subject at hand. Drawing, painting, singing and beeswax modeling are part of the daily lessons. Students also create their main lesson books which feature what they have learned as well as their artistic expression of it.

Personal relationships

Personal Relationships: Perhaps the most important characteristic of a Waldorf school is the personal relationship established between teacher and student. Children remain with their class teacher for years. The teachers get to know their students well, to understand their backgrounds, interests, abilities and challenges. Each student can receive the personal attention he or she needs. Through engaging in thoughtful and deeply felt discussions with their teachers and peers, the students are offered guidance and inspiration in pursuit of their emerging ideals.
Personal relationships among the students are also important. Strong relationships are formed and each class has a strong identity as a group. Important learning comes through the daily give and take of sustaining a community.


Daily rhythms are an important part of the school day and provide a consistency that allows for both structure and spontaneity. Seasonal rhythms and festivals bring children closer to earth and natural cycles. Celebrations of festivals also bring us together as a community.