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What Is a Waldorf School?

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Rudolf Steiner

Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925)

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Question: What Is a Waldorf School?
Waldorf schools are the creation of Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian writer and philosopher. Steiner was born in Kraljevec in what was then Croatia on February 27, 1861. Steiner was a prolific writer who penned over 330 works.
Answer: A Waldorf school follows the teachings and educational philosophy of Rudolf Steiner. Steiner developed a philosophy known as anthroposophy. This philosophy believes that in order to understand the workings of the universe, people must first have an understanding of humanity.

Waldorf Methodology

Waldorf schools cover infant education through matriculation from high school. The emphasis in the primary grades is on artistic expression. As the child matures, the process of scientific inquiry and discovery becomes the focus in upper school studies.

A Waldorf teacher moves with her students through the primary grades creating a sense of stability and security. She gets to know her students very well. She understands how they learn and respond to the world around them.

Music and art are central components in a Waldorf education. Learning how to express thought and emotion is taught through art and music. Children are taught not only how to play various instruments but also how to write music. Another unique feature of Waldorf schools is the use of eurythmy. Eurythmy is an art of movement devised by Rudolf Steiner. He described eurythmy as the art of the soul.

Waldorf vs Traditional Primary Education

The main difference between Waldorf and a traditional primary education is Waldorf's use of anthroposophy as the philosophical backdrop for everything which is taught, and, indeed, the manner in which it is taught. Children are encouraged to use their imaginations as part of their process of discovery and learning. In a traditional school the child will be given objects and toys to play with. The Steiner method expects the child to create her own toys and other objects.

Another essential difference is that Waldorf teachers do not grade your child's work. The teacher will evaluate your child's progress and discuss areas of concern with you at regular parent-teacher conferences.

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