Monday, June 11, 2012

Do all children thrive in a Waldorf school?

“I look into the
world to discover myself;
I look into myself and find the world.”

                                                                                        —Rudolf Steiner 

Q U E S T I O N: When does a child not thrive in a Waldorf school? 

The beauty of the Waldorf method is how the curriculum meets the child at each stage of development, which is reflected in the historical development of consciousness of humanity. It is a rich education, based on the liberal arts that educate the whole person in intellectual, physical, and moral development. The child learns from the world of literature, myths, fables, and legends, before lessons turn to  history; the child learns by experiencing numbers and processes qualitatively before learning to compute; and the child learns by speaking, moving, and writing, before learning the more abstract task of reading. Each child is allowed to blossom in his or her own time, with all the encouragement and support from parents and teachers, who together hold the long-range objective of educating free-thinking independent individuals.

The philosophy behind Waldorf is based on the wisdom of the human being, with capacities of thinking, feeling, and willing. Thus we educate head, heart, and hands! The young child learns through doing; experiential learning continues during elementary school, as art, music, movement imbue every subject and good study habits are cultivated; this is the groundwork that becomes the foundation for higher learning, abstract thinking and reasoning to be developed at the high school level.

In my experience of Waldorf education, I have observed that Waldorf teachers are dedicated, idealistic people. When a difficult stumbling block become evident, parents and teachers work together to best serve the child. If the parents feel confident in the teacher and the methodology, it will usually be a good experience for all. This is a group effort between parents and teachers, with the child in the center. The child best thrives when there is a harmonious transition from home to school and when the school experience comes home! Parent education is essential, perhaps as often as every six weeks. It is a commitment.

—Maria Ver Eecke

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