The Waldorf concept

Waldorf education (also known as Steiner education) is the largest independent holistic education movement in the world.

Waldorf education is based on anthroposophy, a spiritual philosophy developed by Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) which aims at the overall development of the child including her lively spirit.

Steiner described three seven-year stages of child development:

0-7 years in this first stage the child is primarily engaged in building his physical body and everything in the environment-sounds, colours, moods, gestures- is taken in, imitated and becomes the basis of his physical health. The physical organism provides the foundation for the will of the adult human being. A healthy physical body and a well developed will lead to experiencing and exercising freedom in oneself and in the world. 

7-14 years, during this second stage of life, the child’s world expands beyond the self, and with this expansion, children’s feelings dominate their world as they move between joy and sadness and learn to manage these different emotions. It is at this time that children are ready for academic instruction, as long as it continues to appeal to them physically and in the realm of feeling. Children during this stage learn through using their imagination and their heart. They care, they learn empathy and they explore their feelings. The experience of a wise authority, such as that of the class teacher or a parent is very important during this stage.

14-21 years, during this stage, children are ready to work with their thoughts and beliefs and these years are spent developing their thinking skills using cognitive reasoning. They are now ready to think critically and evaluate the world around them. Where they first learned to manage their will and then work with their feelings, they now learn to work with their thoughts. Steiner believed that, along with their search for knowledge, children at this age also search for truth as they work to make their lives their own. He believed that teaching through a sense of idealism and justice was essential for the health of the young adult, who, if not given role models of hope, would succumb to cynicism. This is why older children in Waldorf Education are often engaged in service to their community and encouraged to contribute their gifts to the world in a meaningful way.

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WALDORF AND CONVENTIONAL EARLY YREARS SCHOOLING:

WALDORF

CONVENTIONAL

FOR THE CHILDREN
Children are received with reverence. Each child is known. Generally children delivering best results are well known.
A loving and respectful relationship is developed when children are understood and respected for who they are. They are not pushed into competition. Several students may have very low self esteem due to fierce competitive environment in the class room.
Rhythm of the day
There is no ringing of the bell which tells you that we move on to the next period, children move on from one process to the other through singing and dancing. The ringing of the bell in specific intervals is more like a mechanical process, without consideration of the spirit of the child.
Setting of the Kindergarten
The setting of Kindergarten is like a home so that children feel comfortable from the first day. The place seems familiar to them. Natural light enter in the rooms with light colour curtains. Walls are painted in light colours and are left blank without any paintings or pictures. The setting or colours are not common to the secure home environment.
Toys, play-material and decision making
The toys are made from natural materials wood, wool, cloth etc. All of these toys are handmade. Children do not have fancy toys but toys which have no limitation. They have wood pieces cut into different shapes, which can be used to construct a house, a car, a phone etc. Different Cloth material helps them in dressing up, making a ship, boat, water etc. One has to really stop and watch these children and see what beauty comes out of this imagination.The children are encouraged to move freely, on their own initiative, using gross motor activities such as climbing, jumping, sliding, walking, running, pushing and pulling (as appropriate to the space and social situation). If a child is not able to do a certain activity and wants help from the parent or teacher, we wait and encourage the parents to wait, also, in order to give the child a chance to do it on her own. Generally plastic or stuffed toys are introduced to young children.
Learning through imitation
At this stage learning is not through instructions but through imitation. So the child has his teacher as a role model who does real life work in which children can participate. While the children are busy in their free play, teacher is observing them but doing her own work, knitting, craft work etc. The interaction between the teacher and child is mostly of a teacher giving instructions, rather than observer and observed.
How the day progresses
The day starts with a morning circle with singing and movements, most of these rhymes and songs are worked on by teachers. Morning assembly where children stand still for a long period of time.
Their day ends with storytelling when children sit close to the teacher and leave with imagination. Children wait for the day to end
Birthdays
Birthdays are special when the child’s parent come and tell about the child through a story and share homemade delights or fruits. Sweets and commercial gifts are distributed on Birthdays.
Emotional, Social, Spiritual Enrichment
Kindergarten is a place which has children from 2.5 years to 6 years of age. It gives them opportunity for social development. Older children help young ones which helps them build their self-esteem. All children are present in their respective classes. Older ones do not interact with younger ones.
The child enriches his language through songs, storytelling and enriches his experience by going for nature walks and doing painting, grinding activities and develops his physical being by active playing Enrichment of language is academic based.
Studies
Every aspect of education is provided in a way which appeals to head, heart and hands. For e.g. multiplication tables are taught through body movements, singing. The child thus enjoys and never forgets any lesson. The students sit and memorize which leads to forgetting the lessons over and over. They are not remembered for lifetime.
Childs readiness is a very important aspect looked into for teaching any subject. All children are taught simultaneously whether ready or not.
Children are encouraged to imagine and find their own answers. Answers are supplied, imagination is overpowered by the thoughts presented by the teacher.
Children’s creativity and imagination is fostered by children creating their own text books up to grade 4th. This creates a great impact on the overall development of the child.Thus children do not become consumers but creators. Text book are provided.
Each subject is interlinked with other subjects for e.g. if the child is learning about gravity in his physics class than he would experience gravity in his gymnastics class. Each subject is considered separate.
Children are taught about rules of grammar through stories. Many languages are also taught. Grammar is a separate subject for every language.
Self sufficient, contended, balanced
Every child emits qualities of high self-esteem, happiness and stability and wants to come back  to school every morning, again and again. Several children develop low self esteem and thus dislike for school starting even from Nursery classes.
Relationship with Teachers
Teachers here can use their own imagination and fill their subject with his/her own creativity Teachers have a set curriculum
Teacher continues with the same students upto class 8th which gives them flexibility to work with children at their pace. Teachers change every year. Children and teachers thus take a lot of time adjusting and knowing each other.
Teacher is given opportunity to observe children and work with their needs. The teachers have to work according to the time limit to cover the course.
Teachers help children compete with themselves but not with others and thus they bring out the best in them. There is generally a very fierce competition even amongst friends.
Working with children helps an individual to work on his own personality for one has to act consciously. The teachers become living examples of true human beings. Teachers only require academic excellence. Other qualities may be compromised.

 

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"Receive the children in reverence, educate them in love, send them forth in freedom."

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