With all the different forms of early childhood education present today, it can be quite daunting to research each one to figure out what is best for your child. Keep reading to learn about the basics of one of the prominent educational methods, Waldorf Education.
What are the main points of Waldorf Education?
Based on developmental stages. Waldorf education introduces concepts, subjects, and technology at the appropriate developmental stage. For example, reading and writing are not introduced until after age 7, because they are not considered to be age appropriate. Instead, language development comes from activities like oral storytelling. Meanwhile, activities like music and dance are required from a very early age.
Focused on Play. The Waldorf theory follows the idea that little children learn through play, and each child approaches play in a unique and individual way according to their experience of the surrounding world. Because of this, a Waldorf classroom is an environment that lends itself to play through both the physical materials and layout, as well as the activities that take place in the classroom. In addition to this, the Waldorf classroom is not only indoors, but also outdoors, as children have long periods of outdoor play and activity time.
Centered around a structured routine blended with creativity. Every Waldorf school will be structured in a way that children will know what to expect in their routine. For example, certain days of the week may be for a set activity, like gardening. Children are often in a class with the same teacher for multiple years, so that the teacher can better assess each student’s learning needs and so that children are more comfortable in their learning environment.
What makes Waldorf Education different from the rest?
No media. Because Waldorf is based on developmental stages, digital technology is not introduced into the child’s education until around the age of 14. According to the Waldorf education website, this is because by this age, a young person will have “reached the intellectual maturity to reason abstractly and process concretely on his or her own.”
This is not to say that young children are not capable of using technology. Rather, for a younger child, their developmental stage will lend itself to relating to the world in a natural, creative, curious way that may be inhibited by the use of technology in their learning environment.
Non-academic. Waldorf schools do not have homework or tests, and there is no importance placed on memorization. There are not even desks in the classroom, to make it feel more warm and friendly like a home. In this kind of environment, learning is able to be individualized for each student through various teaching methods, all within the student’s predictable routine.
Lots of time spent outdoors. Nature is a big part of children’s learning, so students spend a fair amount of time outdoors, regardless of the season.
Overall, Waldorf education inspires individualism in children and allows their education to be customized to their learning needs. By learning through play and apart from media, children are able to learn according to where they are developmentally and build a solid foundation for their academic learning later on.