Figuring out Waldorf Education

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If any of you are like me and unsure what Waldorf Education is all about, here is a little explination. I have been hearing quite a lot about this “Waldorf Education” and had no idea what it was all about, and to be honest, I felt like a real dunce when people discussed it. I eventually got round to asking what it was all about and one fabulous homeschooling mom on the Homeschool Moms Hangout group on Facebook was kind enough to share a TON of information with us. Thanks Meaghan!

The following explanation was taken from the Waldorf Canada website:

What is Waldorf Education?

Our children will inherit a rapidly changing and surprising world. The best preparation we can give them is to provide a multi-dimensional schooling that develops the full range of their human potential. This is Waldorf Education.

To contribute fully in tomorrow’s world our children will need to be dynamic, resilient individuals who never stop learning. To be both successful and self-fulfilled they will need the following attributes:

Creative thinking permeated with imagination, flexibility, and focus
Emotional intelligence, empathy, and self-esteem
Physical vitality, stamina, and perseverance
Spiritual depth borne out of an abiding appreciation and responsibility for nature, for work, and for their fellow human beings
All children come into the world with these attributes as potential within them. The whole focus of Waldorf Education is to awaken these capacities and draw them forth within the framework of a sound academic school experience.

The entire academic program, including the teaching of math and science, is purposefully integrated with art, movement, and music. These rich curricular experiences enhance the schoolwork, insuring that the students are always engaged in three essential ways: actively, emotionally, and thoughtfully. This comprehensive, three-dimensional focus helps to develop the mastery of skills and the essential capacities that children need for their future. in school and find success and fulfillment in life.

Physical Vitality
Our children will be the leaders of tomorrow. They need an education that preserves and strengthens precious assets like their youthful energy and vitality. In the Harvard Business School publication, Geeks and Geezers: How Era, Values, and Defining Moments Shape Leaders, Warren Bennis and Robert Thomas point out that one of the most significant characteristics of influential leaders is their ability to maintain youthfulness in old age. Active, resilient, creative individuals who are able to reinvent themselves continually, become leaders and mentors who never stop learning and growing. Developing lifelong learners is a goal of Waldorf Education.

A school should not squander the vitality of young children before the long race of life is run. Students should be actively engaged in hands-on, experiential learning. This active participation supports healthy physical development – indeed, promotes health on many levels. Pallor, nervousness, and lethargy are noticeably absent in a Waldorf School where learning is a joyful, adventurous undertaking.

Emotional Intelligence
What can we change to help our children fare better in life? What factors are at play, for example, when people of high IQ flounder and those of modest IQ do surprisingly well. The difference quite often lies in the abilities called emotional intelligence, and these skills can be taught.” (Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence)

The Waldorf way of teaching is consciously designed to foster emotional intelligence. Through a program that is rich in both affective and cognitive experiences, all Waldorf students acquire the ability to express themselves through painting, drama, music, crafts, movement, and writing. All lessons are reinforced through the learning community that is established around each class where one teacher, one group of children, and their parents remain together for eight or more years. But most of all emotional health comes from an education that fosters self-esteem by recognizing that each child brings gifts above and beyond the ones that can be measured on an exam. By developing emotional intelligence and fostering lasting self-esteem, Waldorf Education prepares children for their most important tests, the ones they face after they leave school.

Creative Thinking
In addition to physical vitality and stamina, in addition to emotional health and resilience, our young people need a creative intelligence that will enable them to be successful problem solvers. Original thinking, permeated with flexibility and imagination, will help individuals face the challenges of the future and imagine the important questions that have yet to be asked.

In order to meet the demands of our complex and problematic world, our children need clear, focused thinking supported by good habits of mind. The book, Habits of Mind, published by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, relates a series of attributes that describe what intelligent people do when they are confronted with problems that are seemingly unsolvable. These attributes, such as: Persisting, Managing Impulsivity, Listening with Understanding and Empathy, Thinking Flexibly, Gathering Data Through All Senses, and Responding with Wonderment and Awe, are woven into the Waldorf approach to education.

A commitment to the physical, emotional, academic, and spiritual well being of each child is the core of the Waldorf philosophy. This commitment is realized through an educational program that engages students actively in hands-on learning, connects them emotionally and meaningfully with their subjects, their teachers and their fellow students, and thoughtfully fosters attentiveness and receptivity. By promoting this healthy, well-rounded development, Waldorf Schools encourage children to flourish in school and find success and fulfillment in life.

I’ve come the the conclusion that we are very eclectic in our schooling. Yes we used a boxed curriculum, but I also suppliment a lot of their education with additional resources and activities. We use both the Montessori as well as the Waldorf methods on a daily basis and that without even realising it!


Useful Waldorf Education links:
Why Waldorf Works
Waldorf Guideline Table (online PDF File)
Waldorf Essentials
Waldorf Canada
Christopherus Homeschool
Homeschooling Waldorf Support Group – Facebook
Waldorf Early Childhood & Kindergarten – Facebook