Aarambh Waldorf is based on the research into child development conducted by Austrian educator and philosopher Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), the founder of anthroposophy. At its foundation lies an understanding of human development that addresses the needs of the growing child. We began in 2013 and currently serve children from early years to primary years.
Waldorf education nurtures three principal faculties in children: thinking, feeling and willing – often described as education for the “head, heart and hands”. “Head” refers to the ability to think clearly and independently. “Heart” refers to the capacity for feeling connected to one’s work and the world at large. “Hands” refers to the willingness to take action to achieve one’s goals and to contribute to the world.
Waldorf education nurtures balanced, humane individuals, with a curriculum that is both integrated and developmentally appropriate. By integrating academic learning, physical activity, appreciation for the arts and moral responsibility, it cultivates the body, mind and spirit of the child simultaneously. It is also cognizant of the various stages of children’s development, meeting and challenging students in ways most suited to the child’s particular age and experience.
We at Aarambh envision a space that will act as an agent of social renewal, and evolve education from where it stands today to encompass the essence and entirety of the human being. Waldorf inspired spaces are generally built by a collective community of like-minded people who come together to create a learning space for children, for their holistic learning. Such spaces are not built with a motive of profit, but with the pure intention of reaching out to as many children and families who would like to have health and well-being of the child at the core.
The teachers as role models worthy of imitation provide the children a holistic learning environment that develops empathy, oneness with nature and the will to learn. The child being at centre, both parents and teachers work together to ensure that the child’ environment is aligned in terms of daily rhythm, simplicity and being worthy of imitation.
What do we mean by developmentally appropriate education?
The Waldorf method of education is divided into 3 seven-year cycles, it is not what is taught, but how and when that makes this approach unique. The seven-year cycles are central to the Waldorf educational method. Each cycle has its own focus and primary way a student learns.
0-7 this first stage includes growing in a physical manner; there are a lot of changes going on in those first seven-years and a lot of learning too. Children in this cycle learn by imitation and hence living learning is emphasized in this stage.
7-14, during this second stage of life, children learn through using their imagination. Children during this stage learn through their heart. They care, they learn empathy and they explore their feelings.
14-21, The teen years are spent developing their thinking skills using cognitive reasoning. It is during these years, that we can help the young person to think well, to think in a wholesome way, to think deeply, to think in a moral way etc.
Throughout, the approach stresses the role of the imagination in learning and places a strong value on integrating intellectual, practical, and artistic themes, thus engaging the head, heart and hands of every child, therefore culminating in holistic individuals.
It is with this understanding of child development that Waldorf educators work to support and teach children. Incorporating and addressing these stages of development, every day and within every subject, allows teachers to educate the whole child by teaching the right subject matter at the right time, in the right way. Thus each phase/cycle has the right time for developing particular faculties. The child centred curriculum reflects the fact that at each stage specific subjects and activities encourage healthy development.
Waldorf education fosters a dialog with the self in a myriad ways, from honouring each child in the birthday celebrations of kindergarten to the handshake with the class teacher each morning; from the individually prepared notebooks for main lesson to the senior class projects. This leads Waldorf graduates to develop trust and confidence in themselves and a desire to actively and creatively engage in the world. Waldorf education encourages self-reflection in moments of quiet and this naturally leads to an inner knowing, insight and intuition.
Waldorf education nurtures our living connection to nature. The relationship to the seasons, to plants and animals and the natural world is so integrated into the curriculum through festivals, gardening, crafts and art that a bridge is built to the wisdom and beauty of the natural world.
Waldorf education is delivered through a curriculum that is rooted in the local culture. The curriculum is customized by the teachers to reflect the local traditions and culture as well as to meet the individual needs of each child. This comes alive in the many local festivals that are celebrated at Aarambh.
In the early grades, Waldorf does not make use of grading systems which usually have the effect of reinforcing what the student doesn’t know and what they have got wrong. In place of letter grades or percentage scores, teachers keep extensive notes and write a full narrative report on every student emphasizing their progress and development as well as any challenges. These reports, which are openly available for review by parents evaluate academic, artistic, and social development, providing a full, well-rounded picture of the child. As children grow, simple tests and quizzes are introduced and as the children awaken in their consciousness, such methods become more significant and frequent.
Origin of Waldorf education
“After its founding in Stuttgart in September 1919, the global spread of Steiner/Waldorf education, has continued until today. Interest in Waldorf teaching approaches is evident in about half of all the world’s nations (about 100 countries), independent of language, religious affiliation, or political situation. There are Waldorf kindergartens and schools, and teacher training facilities, on all continents. Parents across the globe are making an extraordinary commitment to support growth and strive towards a future in which humanity is attainable and healthy development and social participation is truly possible. The Waldorf education movement, with about 1,100 schools and over 2,000 kindergartens around the globe, has become the largest free school movement in the world”.
Waldorf began in India over 20 years ago. Today, there are various Waldorf inspired spaces in Hyderabad, Bangalore, Mumbai, and many other cities from Kindergarten till grade 12.