Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Waldorf Education

Receive the children in reverence; educate them in love; let them go forth in freedom
- Rudolf Steiner

I believe in a Waldorf education for many reasons. For starters, I was educated in a Steiner school from grades 1-8. I believe it fostered in me and my fellow students a true, fundamental love of learning, one I hope to replicate in my students today. In a Waldorf classroom students engage with the building blocks of education in a holistic way. Children don't just learn about Greece through a textbook but study (and replicate) the ways of the ancient world through drawings, plays, readings and activities. How do you think a child will feel visiting the acropolis when they can call on not only textbook education but real-life experience? When learning becomes fun and we feel engaged in the process we want to continue, it's really that simple. I believe firmly that the right environment (from the beginning) is essential for the lifespan of a student's academic career.

Another thing I value so much about the Waldorf experience is the opportunity for another human being to profoundly influence your child. A Waldorf teacher stays with your children through the duration of their education and can be a huge, powerful force in their development. A child spends more waking hours at school than he or she does
at home and wonderful teachers, the ones we all remember, really know that. They understand that the little lives they have in their classrooms are just that, lives. Not simply heads or brains but hearts and souls.

Some people have trepidations about Waldorf education, saying that it doesn't stress academia early on. This is true. For young children, creativity is the most important thing, not mathematics or reading. But wait, you say, you're all about early literacy, how can you support Waldorf education? I believe in early literacy, yes, but I believe in supporting a child to read through joy. I believe that story, narrative and fun come first and that words follow in their own time. My mother likes to tell the story of how I did not read until the third grade. "The third grade? What kind of education is your child receiving?" friends would ask her. Today I admit I am a bit horrified at the thought. Certainly I wouldn't be as calm and cool as my mother if my students were on the same time plan. But, my mother was not phased. She knew, as Waldorf does, that it would come in my own time. It did, indeed. I'd say I learned to read, and then some. By the time I made my
way to the page I was so excited to be there no one could tear me away.

The world, as we all know, is changing rapidly. I don't pretend that growing up is the same now as it was when I did it simply fifteen years ago. It's not. Things are faster, cruder. There is more that can affect your child, more that you have to be cautious of as a parent. The thing I wish to express and acknowledge is the sacred nature of childhood, that precious time where there is a certain magic to the world. I was blessed to be a part of Waldorf and whether you are a Walorf parent, considering a Waldorf education, or simply want to learn how you can use some of their techniques to support your child, we can all benefit from Rudolf Steiner's approach to education.

To find out about a Waldorf school near you or to learn more about Walorf Education visit:

Have a wonderful week,


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