A Love of Learning
A key focus in Steiner Waldorf education is age-appropriate learning. This means that from Kindergarten (ages 3 to 6) to the final year (Class 12; age 17/18), each curricular subject is linked to the child’s developmental along a series of progressive stages. This approach meets the child where they are developmentally and generate high levels of motivation and enthusiasm in the pupils. Steiner Waldorf school teachers understand child development in a unique way and decisions about the curriculum are based on exactly what is happening in the child’s physical and emotional development, as well as the developments in the child’s consciousness. Significant thresholds in child development recognised by Steiner Waldorf education are, 1. when the child’s milk teeth fall out (second dentition), this corresponds with the transition from Kindergarten to Class 1 and the beginning of formal learning. 2 The teenage years associated with the arrival of puberty. This corresponds to the transition from the Class Teacher-led years in the Lower School to subject-specific focus in the Upper School. 3. The age of 21, which although occurs some years after the student have left school, corresponds with the completion of physical development as evidenced by the absence of growth hormone in the endocrine system. Contrary to the erroneous assumption that the earlier a child starts on reading and arithmetic the better the long term academic outcome, Steiner Waldorf education focuses on supporting healthy brain development so that when the child is “ready” to learn a particular subject, it can be easily introduced and effectively consolidated in a relatively short period of time. More than this, working with that subject can be a direct support for the child’s development, providing enjoyable challenge, instead of the burden of early exposure and the pressure of a taxing difficult-to-succeed-in task
Developing Skills & Capacities for the Twenty-First Century
The Steiner Waldorf Teacher addresses the whole child and each lesson integrates academic work with fine arts and practical skills, so that a child is not only intellectually engaged, but also emotionally and aesthetically invested in their learning. By addressing intellectual capacities (thinking), artistic and emotional capacities (feeling), and practical skill-building capacities (willing), the Steiner Waldorf curriculum brings key attributes of the human being into balance; there are similarities here with approaches that aim to bring a more balanced demand on the the right and left hemispheres. The Steiner Waldorf develops analytical, logical and reasoning skills as education has always done, but also fosters social skills, cooperation, imagination, insight, creativity, memory capacity, and flexible big-picture-thinking; these are capacities that are highly prized in today’s society.
A Curriculum that Spans 15 years
The Kindergarten fosters the development of pre-literacy, pre-numeracy and social skills through play-based learning. Desk-based learning is delayed until the child is rising 7yrs, when pupils are ready to embrace formal learning, and enter the Lower School. Secondary education flows naturally from what has been taught before, and with the School located in the beautiful grounds of one single campus, the transition between the Lower School (rising 7 to rising 14; Classes 1 to 8) and Upper School (ages rising 15 to 18; Classes 9 to 12) has a natural continuity.
The Role of the Class Teacher, Tutor & Guardian
The Steiner Waldorf Teacher strives for a general understanding of the human being through all the stages of development as well as an understanding of each specific child, arrived at through conscious and careful observation-based study. During the Early Years, imitation is key and the Kindergarten teacher engages in domestic, practical and artistic activities the gestures of which that the children can readily imitate. When entering Lower School, the Class Teacher becomes the key authority and provides a secure basis from which to explore the world, ideally accompanying the child for the entire period between the “change of teeth” and the onset of puberty. In Upper School, the emerging capacity of the young adults to development well-reasoned judgement and clearly informed opinions leads to a new ‘tone’ of equality that colours the interactions between teachers and students. The adolescent looks to an inspiring mentor or expert for guidance, a role often filled by their chosen tutor, in addition to the more general support offered by the Class Guardian. Waldorf teachers are interested in the students as individuals and therefore in the following questions: How do we establish within each child his or her own high level of academic achievement? How do we call forth enthusiasm for learning and work, a healthy self-awareness, interest and concern for fellow human beings? How can a we encourage student to assimilate a broader context to this lives and develop a respect for the world and its sustainability? How can we help pupils find meaning in their lives?
“It's an alternative education based on a profound understanding of the child development. The education is beautifully multi-faceted and weaves core academic subjects together with art, music and craft in a way that is .very motivating and inspires creativity, independent thinking, collaboration and teamwork. I love the young lady our daughter is growing to be and am especially heartened to see her curiosity, creative problem solving, perseverance and resilience. Waldorf education has not only been the right choice for our child but it has had a formative Influence on our family life and approach to life and learning.”Teacher