Rudolf Steiner said, “The heart of the Waldorf method is that education is an art – it must speak to the child’s experience. To educate the whole child, his heart and his will must be reached, as well as the mind.”
Spring Garden Waldorf does not assess students in Grade 1-3 with standardized tests. We believe students at this young age are not ready for the pressure and anxiety often caused by such exams. Children are given time to learn individual concepts deeply in these first years of schooling. Although memorization of facts is not a priority, we actively teach mathematical concepts along with reading and writing; nature and science; music, art and foreign language.
But perhaps most importantly, we spend our first and second years of formal schooling helping children transition out of the play-focused family environment in Early Childhood. After the age of seven, children can begin to thrive in a more structured school environment as long as it still allows lots of time for play and physical experience. Our first and second grade students focus on getting along with peers, behaving without parental supervision, sitting quietly and listening to their teacher – all while they explore the basics of linguistic and mathematical academics.
By the end of Primary school, students are experiencing a major developmental shift in cognition. Our founder, Rudolf Steiner’s thoughts on this shift correspond with Piaget’s theory on pre-operational and concrete operational stages of cognitive development. In summation, children not yet in the concrete operational stage, use their bodies to think, and orient the world around their direct experience. This is why we focus on an active education in early elementary with lots of movement, art, and outdoor play.
Waldorf educators work to bring children through Primary school and into Intermediate school with their love of self and learning intact.