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Founded in Europe in 1919, Waldorf education includes schools on every continent and has grown to become the world’s largest independent, non-denominational school movement. Today, there are over 1,000 Waldorf Schools in 93 countries.
Waldorf education recognizes and meets the need for strong development of the intellect, and is committed to excellence in all academic areas. It provides a comprehensive academic education enlivened by the arts, music, movement, foreign language, and community festivals. This approach fosters independent, imaginative thinking, healthy social interaction, and a love for learning that prepares students for high school and ultimately college and university admission—and for life.
The pedagogy of Waldorf education embodies many educational principles that are now being recognized as crucial for healthy, effective learning:
- A developmentally-based curriculum (When a subject is taught is just as important as what is taught.)
- Guided imaginative play
- Music and the arts for all students every day
- Cross-disciplinary approach with block scheduling
- Academic excellence without high-stakes testing
- Multi-sensory and experiential learning
Waldorf Education is designed to provide the right stimulus at the right time to allow each child’s abilities to fully unfold. Each stage of the curriculum recognizes that children pass through distinctive developmental stages. This approach can be described generally as follows:
In the first seven years the child seeks to see that the world is a place of goodness, and will learn primarily through imitation and direct activity. This is why Waldorf nursery and kindergarten classes emphasize creative play as a vital early foundation for creative thinking. In the next developmental stage the child searches for beauty, and most naturally learns through imagination from adults who merit being authorities. This is why storytelling and art are employed as vehicles throughout the elementary curriculum. Finally, entering the third developmental stage, the adolescent begins a quest for truth and is ready for true independent thinking.
To learn more about Waldorf education, we invite you to explore Why Waldorf Works.
“When the intellect travels on wings of goodness, beauty, and truth it can soar to new heights.” —Rudolf Steiner
“I was particularly uneasy about the late reading—“whenever you’re ready”—approach since I was reading well at five … but since I have seen the really excellent results that occurred with my two nephews [and now granddaughter] … I’m sold!” —Gerald C., former WSP grandparent
“The importance of storytelling, of the natural rhythms of daily life, of the evolutionary changes in the child, of art as the necessary underpinning of learning, and of the aesthetic environment as a whole—all basic to Waldorf education for the past 70 years—are being ‘discovered’ and verified by researchers unconnected to the Waldorf movement.” —Paul Bayers, professor, Columbia Teachers’ College