Waldorf Schools, Explained

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One of the biggest reasons why we send our kids to school instead of homeschooling them is that we want them to be exposed to environments that they wouldn’t be able to properly experience at home. We want them to make friends on their own. We want them to become independent. And, most of all, we want them to be outside and truly experience the world around them. If they stay at home with us, then they will be forever sheltered.

But, sometimes, we find that regular schools aren’t enough. We see that classrooms can be too confining. For example, yes, they can learn about the environment through their science classes. But how could we expect them to form a deep appreciation for it when they don’t get to be surrounded by nature on a daily basis?

Fortunately, there is a type of school that specializes in this. And that is the Waldorf schools. In these schools, children and teenagers will be exposed to a system of education that is designed to value creativity, apply practical skills, be in constant exposure to nature, and, overall, develop a holistic education for our kids. In a Waldorf school, creativity, imagination, wellness, and empathy are held in the highest regard. Here’s everything that you need to know about a Waldorf school.

A Brief History

A Waldorf school is based on the philosophy of Rudolf Steiner. He’s an educator, researcher, artist, scientist, and philosopher from Austria who gained prominence in the early 20th century. He pioneered anthroposophy, a branch of philosophy that believes in the deep connection of human intellect and spiritual worlds.

In 1919, Steiner opened his first school in Struttgart, Germany. This school was built for the children of the employees of the Waldorf-Astoria Company. Thus, his schools thereafter are named “Waldorf Schools.” About 20 years later, more Waldorf schools opened in other countries such as Great Britain, Hungary, the Netherlands, the United States, Norway, and his home, Austria. Today, there are thousands of Waldorf schools in over 75 countries.

The Philosophy of a Waldorf School

The arts, wellness, and empathy, are in the heart of every Waldorf school. Steiner’s education philosophy is developed in response to the rigorous and rigid education system in Germany during his time. He had seen schools that were too focused on the teachers’ prerogative, basic literacy training, arithmetics, history, and religion. He found that children needed to learn beyond these academic pursuits. He believed that they wouldn’t be able to develop a holistic approach to learning if they’re not honing their creativity, being exposed to nature, and learning practical skills.

Steiner believed that students shouldn’t have to wait until college to find their passion and hone it. Thus, in a Waldorf school, they are encouraged to pursue their interests. They devote much time and energy to visual and dramatic arts, music, dance, and even foreign languages. This is how students’ agency is valued in a Waldorf school.

class in session

The Programs in a Waldorf School

As said, students in a Waldorf school get exposed to different types of learning beyond literacy, arithmetics, etc. Each Waldorf school’s programs are different. But, more often than not, they may offer classes ranging from Shakespeare dramas and modern dance to the basics of vegetable farming and woodworking.

What sets a Waldorf school further apart from regular schools is that students engage in practical activities such as cleaning, gardening, and even baking. This may seem like red flags to other parents. But the rationale behind this is that by learning such practical skills, students would grow up to be more humble, empathetic, hardworking, and disciplined. It would also help them understand the importance of health and wellness by growing and cooking their food and cleaning up after them.

Distance Learning in a Waldorf School

Because a Waldorf school is very much devoted to applying students’ learning to practical skills, distance learning certainly has been a challenge for it. But because of the dangers of COVID-19, the top priority is, and always has been, the health safety of the students. But distance learning has been possible for them.

Science experiments, performance art pieces, and other hands-on activities are still conducted at home, with teachers guiding students through video calls. Students are encouraged to apply their studies to games that they can play at home. All you will need to know is the K to 12 online school admissions process and you can let Waldorf school teachers take it from there.

At the end of the day, our main goal for our children’s education is to train them for the real world, encourage them to value imagination and wellness, and, essentially, make them better people. A Waldorf school would be very much ideal for this goal.

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