There are many examples of how Waldorf education introduces learning material in an age-appropriate manner. Most parents are concerned about how and at what age academics are introduced, but “age-appropriateness” in learning also encompasses considerations of when young minds are ready for formal music training, when children are socially able to grasp and relate to world history, or when Socratic inquiry in science can resonate within a curious adolescent.
Rich Edwards, father of two Spring Garden Waldorf alumni, says the age-appropriate curriculum was one of the most important factors in the decision to give his daughters a Waldorf education.
The question of age-appropriateness applies to foreign language, physical education training, even recess time. Here are some examples of age appropriate curriculum at SGWS:
- No standardized testing for young students (SGWS begins standardized testing in Grade Four)
- No homework for young students (homework typically begins, in small amounts, in Grade Three)
- Lots of outdoor and active time, in both learning and free play, for all students
- Teaching of reading and math concepts begins in Grade One (not Pre-K)
- Foreign language begins when children are young (Grade One)
- Music begins in Pre-K; Music training (pentatonic flute and choral) in Grade One
- Cooperative games begin in Grade One / Competitive sports begin in Grade Five
- Nature studies for science in Grade One / Science lab work in Grade Seven
See these resources for more information on age-appropriate curriculum:
Moving Through the Grades Curriculum Articles:
Many of our prospective parents wrestle with the decision of whether to send their children to a public school or to Spring Garden Waldorf School. There are many differences between public education and Waldorf education, though a general summary might be that Waldorf education places a high value on art, critical thinking, and creativity, and does not begin academic instruction before the age of seven. Public school, on the other hand, puts a high value on standardized and measurable academics, with a focus on math and reading starting at age five.
Watch this video to learn why one public school teacher chose to send her son to Spring Garden Waldorf School. Or for read this article more information about the differences between Waldorf and Public school.
If you have a young child who is advanced in academics, is an early reader, or seems ready for formal schooling at an early age, you may believe that Waldorf Education isn’t the right choice for you. You may worry that your bright child will be bored in a Waldorf classroom.
However, in this article, Dr. Richard House, a senior lecturer at Roehampton University’s Research Centre for Therapeutic Education, recommends delaying formal schooling for bright children. He says, “…gifted pupils from relatively affluent backgrounds suffered the most from being pushed ‘too far, too fast.’” He quoted a major U.S. study, carried out over eight decades, that demonstrated how “children’s ‘run-away intellect’ actually benefited from being slowed down in the early years, allowing them to develop naturally.”
The absence of worksheets and standardized testing in the early grades does not mean that Spring Garden does not introduce these young pupils to advanced concepts. Students in Grades One and Two are actively taught mathematical concepts along with reading and writing, nature and science, music, art and foreign language — all in a multi-sensory and engaged manner.
Joanna Caley, mother of a Spring Garden student, talks about the benefits her gifted daughter experienced when given a more balanced Waldorf education at Spring Garden.
Click to learn more about Waldorf Education:
In the Fall of 2013 and Spring of 2014, University of Akron Student Athletes participated in the freshman leadership program and chose to work with Spring Garden Waldorf School students. Athletes came to our school in two groups. In fall, the freshman spread 50 yards of new mulch on our playground. This was a big, difficult job, and mulching our play area is essential for the safety of our children. We are so grateful the students were willing to come do such hard work.
In the spring, the freshman athletes talked to our Grade Five class about what it means to be a college athlete. The college students spoke about the importance of sleep, nutrition, and good study habits, and the necessity for hours and hours of practice that might seem mundane, but is essential for competition. They also spoke to the importance of resilience — experiencing failure and getting up to try again. This message resonated with our fifth graders who, at the time of the discussion, were training for a multi-school Pentathlon competition.
At the end of their involvement, the UA students decided to donate $200 to SGWS. We were so moved and honored by this kind gesture after all they had already bestowed on our school. A heartfelt thanks to The University of Akron and their generous student athletes.
If you have a child between the ages of 3 and 4, and are interested in learning more about Waldorf preschool, please join us for a sample preschool morning on June 20th from 9 a.m.-11:30 a.m. On this day, you can join your child and walk through the rhythmic, warm, sensory filled experience of a Waldorf early childhood classroom The morning will include circle time, bread baking and story time lead by our Nursery Preschool teacher, Miss Kathy. This experience is offered to you at no cost, but you must register as space is limited. Please click below for more information or to register.
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Spring Garden Waldorf School is not required to give standardized tests and does not evaluate teachers based on scores; however, SGWS does administer the IOWA Test of Basic Skills once a year to students in Grades Four through Eight. We do not test children before Grade Four.
Administrative Team Leader, Tracy Edwards, explains:
“As a school, we use this test to compare individual and class progress from year to year as we move through our Waldorf Curriculum. Parents also appreciate having a quantitative measure of their child’s progress as compared with public education.”
And how does Waldorf, and Spring Garden, student performance compare to national averages?
The Nov/Dec 2011 Harvard Education Letter reports that “Waldorf students tend to score considerably below district peers in the early years of elementary education and equal to, or… considerably above, district peers by eighth grade.”
An independent five-year study of SGWS students’ IOWA test scores seems to confirm the results of Harvard’s national study. The 2014 study, conducted by the University of Akron Business Analytics department, found that test scores at Spring Garden rose as students rose in grade level, and that students’ national percentile ranks also increased as they moved through the grades. This means that by Grade Eight, SGWS students well outperformed their same-age and same-grade peers nationally who took the IOWA tests.
- 50% of SGWS Grade Eight students tested at a 13th grade equivalency, the grade level at which the IOWA test is capped.
- 75% of SGWS Grade Eight students performed significantly above 10th grade equivalency.
There was no significant difference in the performance of male vs. female students at Spring Garden Waldorf School.
In Grades Four, Five, and Six, the unique unfolding of the Waldorf curriculum creates some discrepancies between the areas being measured on the tests and our learning goals; therefore, we give the younger students only the Language Arts and Mathematics sections of the test. However, our Grade Seven and Eight students take all sections of the test and follow the test’s required time limits, so there were no outstanding variables in the study’s Eighth Grade comparison.