How large is the typical Waldorf School of Princeton class? Early childhood classes range from 12-15 students with one lead teacher and one assistant. Grades 1-8 average 15 children in each class, with certain subjects or electives split in smaller groups beginning in fourth grade.
What kind of training do the teachers have? Virtually all of the teachers at the Waldorf School of Princeton have completed a rigorous Waldorf teacher-training program in addition to having a bachelor's degree or higher.
If my child has not been in a Waldorf school before, how easy is it to transfer in? The Waldorf School of Princeton classes are known for welcoming new students in a friendly and inclusive manner. Certainly it varies with each individual child and how well he or she adjusts to this school environment, but generally these transitions can be made smoothly with slight adjustments here and there, and support is available for those who need it.
My friend's child goes to a different Waldorf school. Is the program the same? How are Waldorf schools related? Each Waldorf school is independently operated, but all share a commitment to the same educational philosophy and methodology. Each school in the nearly 93 countries where they are located adapts its curriculum to its particular culture.
How do you measure a student's progress? Students are assessed through their knowledge and skill in recounting the content of the main lesson books (or portfolios) they create over the course of the year. They are assessed both as individuals and as a part of their work groups. In the lower grades they give an oral retelling of the previous day's lesson content. Beginning in fourth grade, spelling tests, math quizzes, and book reports are assigned and evaluated by the class teacher. From fourth grade on, the teacher assesses the students in the writing of their own compositions and, starting in sixth grade, in the integration of science experiment write-ups in their main lesson books. Letter grades are given beginning in seventh grade. Along with this, ongoing class participation and main lesson book/portfolio assessments provide an opportunity for evaluation. Parent evenings are held on a regular basis to discuss class progress. Additionally, two formal one-on-one parent-teacher conferences are held during the year to discuss individual student progress. Finally, a formal written assessment is sent home at the end of the year.
How do you work with giftedness? We value all expressions of humanity and we see every child as gifted in his or her own unique way, to be appreciated for both strengths and weaknesses. Our approach emphasizes balance in the three distinct ways that human beings relate to the world: through thinking, through the life of the emotions, and through physical activity. In the curriculum, all three aspects are cultivated. Although our methodology is such that all children are taught the same curriculum, a child who is gifted in certain areas, such as in science, music, or the arts, may go deeper or do more advanced work within the general classroom setting.
Do class teachers always remain with their classes and loop from grade to grade? If not, will my child get
less of an experience in a Waldorf school? In order to build the profound teacher/student relationship upon which Waldorf education depends, the Waldorf School of Princeton encourages class teachers to remain with their classes for grades 1 through 8. However, sometimes class teachers find the demands of this commitment unsustainable, or impossible due to life changes. Ultimately, the needs of the student are met by the Waldorf curriculum itself; in addition to the class teacher, the students experience continuity and expertise through involvement with subject teachers who teach handwork, movement and games, a world language, eurythmy, sculptural arts, gardening, music, and fine arts.
What help is available for remedial work? Waldorf classes work best when they are composed of diverse personalities, learning styles, and work paces. Waldorf schools use movement, art (color, form, and music), the care and cultivation of the senses, multifaceted approaches to learning, interdisciplinary integration, teacher and curriculum consistency, and individual pacing within a highly refined child development psychology. It is important to note that the central guiding principle of Waldorf education is that every child is a unique being with eternal spiritual and moral qualities. Thus individuality and social responsibility are recognized and honored. These and many other innovative means serve the variety of students found in the population today.
These approaches might serve the child with learning differences well, but only in a class with other learning styles and with a strong "center" of students who move the lessons forward academically and artistically. The Waldorf curriculum and its successful application can help all children, but Waldorf education alone is not a magic cure for learning difficulties. The teacher, working with colleagues and parents, must determine if any particular child can be well served. The Waldorf School of Princeton accepts students with a range of learning capacities, although it is not a school for children with extensive remedial needs. When a child's needs extend beyond that of the regular program, we might recommend or require outside tutoring or consultation.
Will my child be prepared for high school? Absolutely! The Waldorf School of Princeton provides a depth of learning and critical-thinking skills that are unparalleled. While the how and why of what we teach is uniquely Waldorf, the curriculum exceeds all state requirements for graduation. Click here to see some of the high schools our graduates attend.
How do you determine first grade readiness? Children who are six years old by June 1 are assessed for first grade readiness. Early childhood teachers and other experienced teachers carefully observe and interact with each child over the course of the last year of kindergarten and evaluate readiness based on a multiplicity of factors such as physical and emotional maturity, fine and gross motor skills, and hand-eye coordination. A formal evaluation occurs in January of each year.
What is the approach to homework? Research has shown that homework begins supporting a student's school performance in middle school. However, small homework assignments might begin in third grade so that students develop responsibility, organizational skills, and good habits. Homework is assigned for specific purposes: to review and reinforce class work; to assist in developing organizational skills and self-discipline; to allow the student to exercise inner creativity and deepen thought; and to bring subjects, such as music, into the home and daily life. Students only receive homework that they can do themselves.
How is discipline handled? Approaches to discipline are varied and relate directly to the age of the child and any unique needs that child has. Parents are often surprised at how cooperative and fluid our classes are because the age-appropriate curriculum, the artistic activities, and the amount of movement in the day all help to keep students engaged in their learning. When needed, a teacher meets with parents to discuss discipline issues and formulate a plan.
Is there a dress code? There are no uniforms required at the school; however, there is a dress code designed to support the learning environment. Please contact the school for more details.
Is the Waldorf School of Princeton affiliated with any religious denomination? Waldorf students come from a wide variety of religious and spiritual interests and backgrounds. The school does not embrace a specific religious doctrine, but the program is based on a belief that all humans - in fact, all living things - possess a spiritual dimension. We seek to educate students about cultures and religions from around the world.
What about diversity? While the school population reflects the different nationalities of a very diverse greater-Princeton community, the Waldorf curriculum embraces the unifying human elements across all cultures.
How are parents involved at the Waldorf School of Princeton? Parents are a vital part of our school. They participate on the Board of Trustees and Parent Council; help organize our May Fair, fundraising events, and class trips; support the teachers in communicating with other class parents; and participate in parent education classes. Opportunities abound for parents to contribute their unique skills and energy to the school community through volunteering.