The Way of Waldorf

By: Spring Garden Waldorf Parent, Abby Boyce

DSC02358Becoming a parent directs you into a world of decisions and doubts.  You wish the best for your child and desire the path that will create a happy, healthy, and successful individual.  The onslaught of decisions come swaddled up next to your new infant: breastfeed or formula, cloth diapers or disposable, co-sleeping or cry it out, stay at home or continue in your career.  The decisions then mature into discipline measures, childcare, methods of potty training, and preschools.  Unfortunately, the decisions are often shackled with the heavy load of self-doubt.  It is natural to want to do the “right” thing for your child(ren), but the parent certificate of affirmation never seems to arrive to put your mind at ease.  Fortunately, we have received some of such coveted affirmation  by making the decision to have our children attend Spring Garden Waldorf School.

Spring Garden Waldorf School is an accredited Waldorf school in Copley, OH.  The Waldorf education movement was started in Stuttgart, Germany in 1919 by Austrian scientist and philosopher, Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925).  Rudolf Steiner aimed to create an independent educational experience where children emerged as creative, responsible, and free-thinking individuals.  His methodology has been implemented in over 600 Waldorf schools in 32 countries, and we are blessed to have one of these schools in Northeast Ohio.

The greatest gift of Waldorf education is the preservation of childhood.  The curriculum educates the whole child, addressing the intellectual, social, and creative development of the student.  The curriculum is rich and engaging, mindfully presenting material in diverse and fun ways, so that the child is absorbing knowledge without even realizing it.  For example, math is taught with stories, creating geometric shapes while learning multiplication tables, or throwing bean bags.  Art, Music, Physical Education, Foreign Language, and Handwork are essential arms complementing the traditional Language Arts and Mathematics.  They are not viewed as unnecessary electives, but rather crucial to fueling our children’s humanity, as well as their intellect.  The children are also taken outdoors three times daily, and encouraged to run, jump, and play.  They are given the opportunity to experiment with and manipulate natural materials, such as sticks, stumps, and mud.  They are immersed in the changing of the seasons through their experience outdoors, as well as festivals that mark the passage of time.  In this way, the Waldorf philosophy emphasizes respect and reverence for human existence and the natural world.

Many aspects of Waldorf philosophy are in stark contrast to our traditional educational system today.  Academics are not started in Waldorf education until age 7 or first grade.  The education is devoid of monotony, pressure, all-consuming  testing, and overwhelming homework.  Computers are absent from the classrooms.  In fact, watching television, computer, or gaming screens of any kind is discouraged, as it is thought to actually change the brain’s development in young children.  Children who watch hours of TV need entertained more and are less able to empathize, to recognize emotions in others.  Furthermore, frequent viewers are victimized by the relentless advertisements pervading children’s programming, whose sole purpose is to create “cradle to grave” consumers out of our children.  The main lesson teacher actually moves through first to eighth grade with the class.  It allows the teacher to really know each student and create a unique bond with each student and family, as well as providing continuity from year to year.  The teacher is unable to evade problem behaviors or situations, but must create solutions for each student within the realm of his/her classroom.  Attempts are made to address many personalities and learning styles, so that each child can feel some sense of success and confidence.

My children view the world around them with unadulterated wonder and curiosity.  They are engaged, and they love school.  In fact, last summer, when they were on vacation for a short two weeks, they were asking me “When do we get to go back to school?”  These moments, in addition to many others,  solidify for me that we made the “right” decision.  I realize we have many decisions and situations to maneuver ahead of us, involving driving, the internet, curfews, and colleges.  However, Waldorf education is helping us parent our children into happy, healthy, and successful individuals.  If it sounds like the right decision for your child(ren) and family, please learn more at http://sgws.org.

 

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