Understanding Waldorf Education

This article offers some great information that corrects common misperceptions about Waldorf Education. 

In summary: 

Misconception #1. “It’s artistic.”
Yes, but it’s not just for artistic students. The art enhances all aspects of deeper learning and unites the hemispheres of the brain.

Misconception #2. “It’s unstructured.”
We are very structured in our daily rhythm, in core academics, and in the expectations of the teachers, among other things. We are very conscious of allowing the children “out breath” activities like movement to balance the “in breath” of focused academic work. Our daily, monthly, and yearly calendars follow a coherent and predictable structure.  

Misconception #3. “It’s for children with learning challenges.”
Most schools are able to meet a small number of children with challenges in any given class.

Misconception #4. “It’s non-academic” (especially the Kindergarten).
No. Not at all. The Early Childhood lays the foundation for future academic rigor with rich language, imaginative stories, and all kinds of skill-building. Lower School students (who begin learning two languages in First Grade and play in an orchestra beginning in Third Grade) are learning through their feelings to engage deeply with material presented by their teachers. Our High School curriculum is challenging and prepares students for college and career.

Misconception #5. “They don’t start reading until third grade.”
Reading is much more than the sum of its parts, so we use a holistic approach similar to today’s Whole Language teaching style. Our pace is different than mainstream schools, and the result of the way we teach is that Waldorf students emerge from school as lifelong learners. 

Misconception #6. “It’s way behind the times.”
Modern scientific research is bringing to light some astounding facts about human development in the first three decades of life – discoveries that are highly consistent with the academic progressions recommended a century ago by Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf Education. Much of what is considered cutting-edge today (teacher looping, block-style learning) has been integral to Waldorf Education for nearly 100 years.