Waldorf Education 101

Waldorf schools offer a developmentally appropriate, experiential, and academically rigorous approach to education. They integrate the arts in all academic disciplines for children from preschool through twelfth grade to enhance and enrich learning. Waldorf Education aims to inspire life-long learning in all students and to enable them to fully develop their unique capacities..

Founded in the early 20th century, Waldorf Education is based on the insights, teachings and principles of education outlined by the world renowned artist, and scientist, Rudolf Steiner. The principles of Waldorf Education evolve from an understanding of human development that addresses the needs of the growing child.

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.

Professors who have taught Waldorf students across many academic disciplines and across a wide range of campuses—from State Universities to Ivy League—note that Waldorf graduates have the ability to integrate thinking; to assimilate information as opposed to memorizing isolated facts; to be flexible, creative and willing to take intellectual risks; and are leaders with high ethical and moral standards who take initiative and are passionate to reach their goals. Waldorf graduates are highly sought after in higher education.

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 rewards to motivate learning and allows motivation to arise from within. It helps engender the capacity for joyful life-long learning.

Waldorf Education is independent and inclusive. It upholds the principles of freedom in education and engages independent administration locally, continentally and internationally. It is regionally appropriate education with hundreds of schools worldwide today. Waldorf Education is truly Inspired Learning.

Preparing for Life

Why Waldorf Education Works

Waldorf schools offer a developmentally appropriate, experiential approach to education. They integrate the arts and academics for children of all ages. Waldorf ® Education aims to inspire life-long learning in all students and to enable them to fully develop their unique capacities. 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 today.

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 – Rudolf 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 for the Waldorf student. 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 and academic skills to be individuals certain of their paths and to be of service to the world.

Waldorf based programs and schools may differ according to geography, culture, group size, age-range, and individual teaching approach. Granting these differences, Waldorf programs share certain fundamental characteristics:

  • Loving interest in and acceptance of each child
  • Opportunities for self-initiated play with simple play materials as the essential activity for young children.
  • This is the young child’s work and makes it possible for them to digest and understand their experiences.
  • Awareness that young children learn through imitation, through the experience of diverse sensory impressions, and through movement. Their natural inclination is to actively explore their physical and social environment. The surroundings offer limits, structure, and protection, as well as the possibility to take risks and meet challenges.
  • A focus on real rather than virtual experiences to support the child in forming a healthy relationship to the world.
  • Artistic activities such as storytelling, music, drawing and painting, rhythmic games, and modeling that foster the healthy development of imagination and creativity.
  • Meaningful practical work such as cooking, baking, gardening, handwork and domestic activity that provide opportunities to develop unfolding human capacities. Here the emphasis is on the processes of life rather than on learning outcomes.
  • Predictable rhythms through the day, week and year that provide security and a sense of the interrelationships and wholeness of life. Seasonal and other festivals are celebrated according to the cultural and geographical surroundings.

We recognize that healthy child development unfolds most fully in the context of a community with healthy social relationships among parents, teachers, and children. Waldorf educators strive to create such conscious, collaborative communities around the children in their care and see their activity as part of a worldwide cultural impulse.  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 behavioristic rewards to motivate learning and allows motivation to arise from within. It helps engender the capacity for joyful life-long learning.

Waldorf Education is independent and inclusive. It upholds the principles of freedom in education and engages independent administration locally, continentally and internationally. It is regionally appropriate education with hundreds of schools worldwide today.

Waldorf Education is truly Inspired Learning.

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. By engaging in thoughtful and deeply felt discussions with their teachers and peers, the students are offered guidance and inspiration in pursuit of their emerging ideas.
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 takes of sustaining a community.

Rhythms

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.

Schedule a tour of the Waldorf School of Louisville today.