Waldorf Schools and Kindergarten
Waldorf education, also known as Steiner education, strives to develop children’s intellectual, artistic, and practical skills in a holistic manner. The cultivation of imagination and creativity is the central focus. The following overview will hopefully help you understand Waldorf Education in case you choose to enroll your child in a kindergarten or school that follows the principles of Rudolf Steiner.
The History of Waldorf Education
Waldorf education is based on the principles of Anthroposophy by Rudolf Steiner. Rudolf Steiner founded the first school in 1919 Stuttgart Germany to educate the children of the factory workers from the Waldorf Astoria Zigaretten Fabrik – hence the name. All kids, independent of social status or talent received the same instruction, which made the school a pioneer of social justice in education.
The Goal of Waldorf School Education
The goal of Waldorf education is to develop free, but morally responsible individuals equipped with a high degree of social competence and creative capabilities. Factual knowledge, homework and tests scores receive less attention. Storytelling and experimentation are the main methods of instruction, textbooks are being avoided.
The Waldorf Curriculum
Over the twelve-year curriculum, students learn math, literature, history, and science as well as a wide variety of arts and hands-on skills. Elementary students paint, knit, weave and sculpt with wax. Older ones make patterns, books, pottery and sculpt in stone. Everybody learns to do music. First all play the flute, then some play string instruments and others join the choir.
Activities and Grades
Students play non-competitive games and learn to dance eurhythmy. They do organic farming and learn two foreign languages, which in the first years are taught through songs, storytelling, and conversations. In grades 8 and 12, the entire class develops a classical drama that they perform in front of their parents and friends.
Projects in Regular Intervals
Waldorf uses a unique project-based approach to almost all main academic subjects. Instead of repetitive schedules, a specific subject, such as history, math, science or even gardening dominates the first two hours in the morning for a period of 4-6 weeks. After that, a new subject gets the main focus.
Steiner also invented an experiential approach to science whereby students observe and later describe scientific concepts in their own words and drawings rather than learning about them in a textbook first. Waldorf schools, therefore, consider computers useful to children only in their teens, after they have mastered fundamental, time-honored ways of discovering information and learning.
Individual Feedback Replaces Grades
In the spirit of personal development and empathy, competition and grades are being avoided. Teachers instead assess the student’s individual growth of character. Test scores and grades are only slowly introduced to older students as they prepare for college and entrance exams.
Waldorf Schools Worldwide and in Thailand
Today there are over a thousand Waldorf schools and in 60 countries, making it one of the largest independent school movements. Waldorf has become a recognized educational theory in Europe, and its schools have received state funding. In Bangkok and other parts of Thailand are only very few kindergartens that follow the Waldorf pedagogy. And when we checked last time, there was also only one single Waldorf school that offers the full 12-year program. We recommend you visit each school before enrolling your child. After all the skills and passion of the teachers are usually more important than even the best philosophy.
Sprouts we apply many elements of Waldorf, but do not consider ourselves a Waldorf kindergarten.
Waldorf School Video