Here is an educational alternative that nurtures and empowers beautifully! Let’s follow-up on last month’s article about balancing nurturing and empowering for children, in a world where the education system pushes so hard on both children and parents. Waldorf Schools, sometimes called, Steiner Schools are exceptional in every way. Although some might think that a school which engages the heart and hands as well as the mind can’t be good academically, I have heard a college professor say that he would take a Waldorf School graduate any day. Below are some of the reasons that Waldorf is the fastest growing private school system in the world!
The goal of Waldorf education is twofold: first to teach children to independently think, not just memorize, and second to strengthen the unity of mind, soul, and spirit so they grow up whole.
To achieve these goals, Waldorf teachers engage their students in creative activities which help them learn with their whole self. For every teaching unit, a student creates their own textbook, putting down by hand in both words and pictures the lessons they are learning. With math, the early grades go to the gym and through rhythm, movement, and song they learn the multiplication tables. In this way, the lessons stay with them deeply; the same way we remember advertising jingles or the words to our favorite songs. Algebra is taught by giving them the answer and having them come up with several formulas which would result in that answer! Brilliant!
I enrolled my daughter in a Waldorf School after the pressures in public school first grade sent her into a depression. She didn’t have a learning disability, but they insisted she needed the reading recovery program which was oppressive and didn’t work for her. After a week at Waldorf first grade, she joyfully opened her arms and said, “I love this school!”
This was an essential investment for my very creative and independent daughter, though circumstances required her to re-enter the public school system in middle school. She is an avid and passionate reader and continues to learn faster and be more creative than just about anyone I know, even in her mid-twenties. She created the Qabalah art for my book, Riding the Wave of Change, and it was phenomenal, the way she not only grasped the concept of what I wanted but the spirit of it as well.
Children emerge from the Waldorf School poised and self-confident. They can communicate comfortably and brilliantly with people of all ages. They are individual and independent in their expression and attitudes, and extremely intelligent. They love to learn.
We are fortunate to have three Waldorf Schools in Southern Michigan. In Ann Arbor, we have the Rudolf Steiner School which goes all the way through high school – a rarity. Founded in 1980, it is well-established with a great reputation. In lovely and elegant Indian Village we have The Detroit Waldorf School, founded in 1966. This is where we attended. The building and environment were beautiful and the well-established program and supportive community a joy! In Oakland County, we have the Oakland Steiner School as well. All three schools offer preschool and kindergarten, I believe.
A week in a Waldorf elementary classroom might include mythology, math — perhaps in the gym! –, readings by students in front of the classroom which they seem to amazingly enjoy, art, music both vocal and instrumental, creative movement and drama, outdoor creative play, gardening and creating their textbooks. Homework is moderate in quantity and interestingly creative, involving independent thought and expression.
Teachers in the Waldorf School System begin with a class in first grade and stay with them through middle school. This allows them to understand each student and help nurture them uniquely to develop their whole self in a balanced way. Students have other teachers for special classes such as art, music, and higher-level math. The teachers work together cooperatively to oversee the school and each student’s needs. Classes have yearly campouts, concerts, dramatic presentations and more.
The Waldorf School environment tends to have soft edges, and an artistic, beautiful and comfortable feel. You will have to visit one to see what I mean! Scholarships are available, and some parents work in the school to pay their children’s way through.
The Waldorf Institute is a teacher training for Waldorf Teachers. I believe it offers both a traditional Teacher’s Certificate and the Waldorf Teacher’s Certificate.
All of these schools can be found by doing an online search for Waldorf Schools.
As a parent, I found the Waldorf School Community to be a kind of home for me; both humanly and spiritually lovely and nurturing. I will always be grateful that we had those years both for my daughter and for myself.