Based on the Austrian philosopher, Rudolph Steiner, of the early 20th century. This education philosophy is based on anthroposophy which believes that a child’s development begins when the soul and the body become one. There are roughly 1,000 independent schools that teach by this philosophy as well as countess homeschoolers.
- Ages birth to 7 years – The child should experience as many things as possible in nature. Children should help at home with work that they can do as much as possible. The child should see the good in the world. The Waldorf approach and schools use a lot of guided free play in a cozy environment that is similar to a home. They believe children learn by imitating. They make believe productive behaviors and use a lot of natural materials for the children.
- Age 7 to puberty – The child learns to express feelings through different activities such as art, telling stories and other methods. The child’s developing mind can be easily influenced by certain things. Children do not enter “elementary” school until seven years old. They learn two foreign languages in elementary school and their education is arts focused. There is little use of textbooks as we know them. Concepts are taught by stories or other methods. Teachers are given a lot of room to develop their own curriculum and they are noted for being extremely dedicated to their students. Cooperation among students is fostered and competition is kept to a minimum. The thought is that children learn concepts when they are ready.
- About high school age – The last step is for the child to learn through living. They should be on the journey to new intellectual ideas and ultimately “the truth”. This age also learns ethical ideas like social responsibility. The structure of the high school age in Waldorf schools becomes much more academic minded. Each subject has a specialized teacher. Waldorf has a few subjects that are unique just to their philosophy of teaching. One of these is Eurythmy. This is a movement art that encompasses dances, music, spoken word and more. Computers are introduced in this phase of education but not sooner than high school. Arts remain the focus throughout.