Below we have listed common questions and our answers for parents interested in Waldorf and Spring Garden.
What is Waldorf education, in brief?
There are many essential elements of a Waldorf education, but at its heart, the Waldorf method provides the right learning experience at the right time. This method works because it addresses the whole child—cognitive, social, and creative—and meets the needs of each individual through a challenging and multi-sensory environment.
I hear Waldorf is artsy. Are you an art school?
Children are taught reading, writing, science and math alongside music, art, movement, foreign languages and regular outdoor play. This “head-heart-hands” methodology educates the whole child – fostering the cognitive, the creative, and the social aspects of human nature. Multi-sensory teaching also gives children the opportunity to learn through a wide variety of experiences, increasing depth of understanding as well as intersecting with individual learning styles.
Are Waldorf and Montessori Similar?
Both education methods cater to a student’s individual learning style with reverence and respect for each child and their gifts. We would summarize it this way — Montessori focuses on self-led learning for students and believes children thrive most by teachers stepping aside and letting the child’s brilliance unfold. Waldorf pedagogy provides children more guidance, aiming to bring forth and foster their gifts, while still catering to their individual learning style. Learn more HERE.
What do you hope Spring Garden alumni will achieve / accomplish?
We believe Waldorf’s unique style of multidisciplinary teaching yields graduates with remarkable critical thinking skills, so that they can adapt to a wide variety of situations and contribute to the world in a meaningful way. It is our highest goal to teach children how to learn and to foster a love of learning.
What is the curriculum at Spring Garden?
Primary academic concepts – reading, writing, math, history and science — are taught by the block method of studying a particular theme for a number of weeks. Learning is the primary goal, not testing and grades. Special subject integration into main lesson material is key to the holistic academic experience. Special subjects include: Spanish and German; Arts including drama, painting, drawing, modeling, woodworking and movement; Music including singing, learning musical notation, performances, and instruction on multiple musical instruments; Physical education, and Handwork.
Is reading taught late in Waldorf Schools?
It is taught later than in U.S. public schools. When learning to read, we believe comprehension is key, not the ability to decode letters and form words. Waldorf schools have always waited to start teaching young children “formal” reading, but that doesn’t mean we’re not teaching them reading basics. This approach to delay rigorous phonics in young children is being reinforced now by research about early elementary education and we’re not surprised. Learn more here about our approach to teaching reading comprehension before phonics.
Does delaying early reading mean Waldorf children are behind their peers?
We believe education is not a race and studies confirm that our graduates often outperform their peers. According to a study published in 2011 in the Harvard Education Letter: “Waldorf students tend to score considerably below district peers in the early years of elementary education and equal to or… considerably above, district peers by eighth grade.” Our approach to academics mirrors the Finnish school system, whose student test scores currently ranked #3 in the world. Read More Here.
Why are there no computers in Waldorf Schools? Are you afraid the children will not learn technology in our very technological world?
This is a question of much debate, so we will point you towards the NYTimes article featuring the San Diego Waldorf School and the NPR article featuring Spring Garden for an in-depth look at this question. We believe computers are an essential tool for learning, but not a subject of study in grades 1-8.
Why one teacher? What if my child and the teacher do not get along?
Keeping the class together for eight years lends social and academic cohesion and helps keep the focus on learning. Children learn by respecting and modeling authority figures. Keeping the class teacher (by no means the child’s only teacher) as a steady authority in a child’s life is beneficial to social and intellectual learning. The question of conflict usually arises because of a parent’s experience with public school education where a teacher has little time to develop the deep human relationship with a student and difficult students are often marginalized and passed on for the greater good. In a Waldorf class, a teacher must learn to work with every child and best meet each child’s needs. If a Waldorf teacher and a student are in a difficult situation, the teacher must ask: “How can I change so that the relationship becomes more positive?” We never expect this burden to be the child’s. Learn more HERE.