Waldorf schools offer a developmentally appropriate, experiential approach to education. They integrate the arts and academics for children from preschool through twelfth grade. 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 address 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.
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.
Waldorf schools offer a developmentally appropriate, balanced approach to education that integrates the arts and academics for children from preschool through twelfth grade. It encourages the development of each child’s sense of truth, beauty, and goodness, and provides an antidote to violence, alienation, and cynicism. The aim of the education is to inspire in each student a lifelong love of learning, and to enable them to fully develop their unique capacities.
Renewal: A Journal for Waldorf Education : published twice yearly by the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America
by Rena Osmer, MA
In February 2007 the UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre released its latest “report card” on the well-being of children in 21 wealthy nations. (For the full report go to www.unicef. icdc.org.) The findings were sobering and surprising: The United States and United Kingdom were rated at the bottom of the list overall.
The Alliance for Childhood, a partnership organization of educators and health professionals in the US and UK, formed in 1999 to address this serious decline in children’ s health and well-being which they noted exists across all socio-economic groups, with steady increases seen in allergies and asthma, depressions and autism, learning disabilities and hyperactivity disorders, obesity and type 2 diabetes. “Multiple factors contribute to this predicament,” says Joan Almon, Alliance for Childhood U.S. Coordinator: “the growing pressures of developmentally inappropriate education for young children and high-stakes testing of children of all ages; far too much screen time and far too little time for child-initiated play; too little time spent outdoors in nature and in healthy physical activity; too few strong, consistent relationships with caring adults.”
Sea Star Initiative, a non-profit group in Boca Raton, is committed to bring Waldorf Education to the area as a healthy alternative for young children and their families. It is currently offering a morning arts enrichment program that aspires to allow children to blossom and grow without sacrificing the spirit of the child. The children are engaged through creative play indoors and outdoors, with artistic experiences including singing, storytelling, dramatizations, watercolor painting, beeswax modeling, crayoning, and crafting. Domestic arts such as gardening, simple woodworking, and cooking and baking with wholesome foods are also an essential element of the daily curriculum. In a truly natural, loving, and creative environment, children 3 1/2 – 7 years participate in a range of activities within a rhythmic structure that supports the best possible healthy development at this early stage in life.
Rena Osmer has been a Waldorf educator since 1985 and has been a trainer of Waldorf teachers for 17 years. She is the former director of the Early Childhood Department at Rudolf Steiner College and is one of the pioneers of the LifeWays program. Rena currently works with the children and families of Sea Star Initiative, a nonprofit organization committed to creating a Waldorf school in southern Palm Beach County. In addition to their Arts Enrichment program for 3 1/2 to 6 year olds, Sea Star offers weekly Parent/Child classes for younger children. Intentions for the fall include a program for children of first grade age.
Waldorf came to us at the perfect time, I had been home schooling my daughter for about a year. Olivia was no longer having a good time schooling, and seemed rather melancholy about the whole thing. She seemed to be losing her sparkle and zest for things.
Waldorf allowed her to develop more naturally, and creatively, to regain her sparkle. I now see why this is a more important foundation than strict curriculum. I now see nurturing a child’s spirit, being and creativity as a natural path to a happy, healthy, well developed child.
Sea Star has been a wonderfully nurturing community not only for Olivia, but also for our whole family. The loving energy that comes from both the teachers and the families of Sea Star has truly been a gift in our lives. We hope others can come and be a part of the truly wonderful spirit that lives in Sea Star.
— Maria Reposa