What is Waldorf Education?

by Kathryn King, Waldorf Educator for 30 years (minor adaptations specific to Early Childhood written by Great Oak staff)

Waldorf Early Childhood education is an extension of the home that preserves childhood.  At Great Oak School we see children as just that, children – not little adults. Focusing on intellectual prowess at too young an age causes the nerve-sense system to be over-active. When our physical health and general vitality are “short-changed” in the early years we diminish the forces that give us strength and longevity at the end of life. Waldorf education recognizes that creative play is the foundation to intellectual development. Therefore, our Early Childhood curriculum concentrates on stimulating the capacities of thinking, feeling, and willing through a rich variety of classroom activities.

In a Nutshell…1. Waldorf Education is based on a highly structured and “time-tested” curriculum that speaks to the child’s developing needs in a holistic way. Waldorf schools are part of an international system of schools with a history of 75 years in America.

2. The Waldorf curriculum is designed with an artistic approach to science and a scientific approach to art. The learning environment is experiential rather than experimental.

3. Waldorf Education is based on a view of child development that encourages human capacities to emerge in a wonderful, age-appropriate manner.

4. Waldorf Schools provide a learning environment that is both rich in academics and arts. Each child has the opportunity to excel according to his/her own timeline and his/her specific talents.

5. Waldorf Education has an understanding of childhood and age-appropriate curriculum that is unsurpassable. Children are equally nourished on physical, emotional and intellectual levels.

6. Waldorf Education is based on a unique perspective of the human being that considers arts to be an integral part of healthy development. Every child participates in visual, musical, and performing arts on some level every day while absorbing their academic lessons in intensive morning blocks.

7. Waldorf Education provides a disciplined and creative approach to learning that gives meaning and purpose to every school-related activity. The students have a strong sense of self and a healthy relationship to the world that carries them through life.

8. Waldorf Education fosters creative imagination and a thirst for knowledge that generates qualitative problem-solving skills in contrast to quantitative volumes of factual information.

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