The Benefits of Waldorf Education
Children enjoy an unhurried childhood.
Visit a Waldorf school and watch the students at play. You’ll see children who delight in being allowed to live in the moment, who are free to explore nature and to go where their wide-eyed sense of wonder and imagination takes them. In our frenetic world, where pushing children to “hurry up or fall behind” has become the norm, Waldorf Education takes the point of view that childhood is something to be savored. By being free to develop according to their own natural rhythms, Waldorf-educated children enjoy full and rich childhoods, gaining the experiences they need to become healthy, self-actualized individuals.
Learning is hands-on and age-appropriate.
In Waldorf Education, learning is an experiential activity. It’s not a matter of doing without certain experiences, it’s a matter of introducing children to each experience at the right time in their development. When it’s time to teach the merits, uses, and hows of technology, Waldorf school teachers do so. And the knowledge, self-awareness, and problem-solving skills children develop through years of hands-on inquiry is of far greater value to them as learners and as human beings than anything they could have picked up by sitting at a screen.
In-depth study enriches learning experiences.
The advantages of block learning have long been recognized in Waldorf Education. In their daily morning (or “main”) lesson, Waldorf students from first through twelfth grade spend up to two hours concentrating on one subject which rotates every 3–4 weeks among the academic disciplines. Students have the chance to study each subject thoroughly and from a number of vantage points, which contributes to their enjoyment—and their understanding — of the subject matter.
Students learn how to take an active role in their own education.
From discovering the alphabet in the first grade to discovering anatomy, algebra, and U.S. history in the eighth grade, and all the way up through their high school studies, Waldorf students take part in the learning process by creating their own textbooks — beautifully-drawn journals containing stories, essays, poems, maps, illustrations, lab descriptions, and math equations. Rather than relying on pre-digested material presented to them in conventional textbooks, the act of creating their “main lesson” books allows children to absorb the lessons their teachers bring them and to make learning their own.
Waldorf schools produce well-rounded individuals.
Waldorf educators strive to bring out what lives in each student, but are careful not to over-emphasize one trait or skill over another. All students study math and science and learn foreign languages; they all play an instrument and sing in the chorus; they all learn handwork and take movement classes and perform in the class play. The goal in Waldorf Education is to expose children to a wide range of experiences and to develop within them many interests and capabilities. This, in turn, leads to well-balanced young people with high levels of confidence in their ability to apply skills developed in one area to another, and the knowledge that they can master anything.
Waldorf-educated individuals have a lifelong passion for learning.
At a Waldorf school, education is not measured by competition and test scores, but is viewed as a life-long journey. And an educational approach that appropriately responds to a child’s natural interest in the world cannot help but result in an intrinsic desire to find out more. Waldorf schools are sometimes erroneously seen as “art schools” because of the depth of the fine, practical, and performing arts curriculum you’ll find here, woven in an interdisciplinary fashion among all the subjects. Interestingly, however, it’s actually the sciences that become a career choice for many Waldorf school alumni — an interest developed through years of exploration, invention, and discovery.
What is the central role of a Waldorf teacher?
While Waldorf Education places children at the heart of its pedagogy, Waldorf schools depend on the teacher as a fulcrum for the educational process. The individual who chooses to teach in a Waldorf school brings his or her full self to the development of others, providing mentoring, development, and affection that sustain the students for life.
From Sunbridge Institute