Frequently Asked Questions
- IS WALDORF SIMILAR TO MONTESSORI? ››
These two educational approaches began with a similar goal: to design a curriculum that is developmentally appropriate for the children and includes tactile as well as intellectual learning. Waldorf increases a child’s artistic immersion in all subjects.
- ARE WALDORF SCHOOLS RELIGIOUS? ››
Waldorf schools are based on a belief that there is a spiritual dimension to human beings and all life.
Shepherd Valley families come from a broad spectrum of religious/spiritual and non-religious traditions and interests.
- WHY DO ALL THE PAINTINGS LOOK THE SAME? ››
Wet-on-wet watercolor painting provides an initial experience based on color. As the children grow in skill, they HAVE more freedom to create and experiment, and form is increasingly applied to their paintings.
Students also create in many other artistic media.
- HOW IS THE TRANSITION FROM PUBLIC SCHOOL TO A WALDORF SCHOOL OR FROM A WALDORF SCHOOL TO A PUBLIC SCHOOL? ››
Children who transfer into a Waldorf school in the first four grades usually are up to grade in reading, math, and basic academic skills. However, they usually have much to learn in bodily coordination skills, posture, artistic and social activities, cursive handwriting, and listening skills. They may have to learn to approach leaning in a non-competitive, personal way that makes the world truly meaningful to them.
Children who transfer out of a Waldorf school into a public school during the earlier grades probably have to upgrade their reading ability and to approach the science lessons differently. They possess different skills. From their new teachers, we so often hear that our “Waldorf graduates are an asset to their new class”; they elevate the level of discussion and are able to think critically and independently.
Children moving during the middle grades should experience no problems. In fact, in most cases, trans
- WHAT ABOUT READING IN WALDORF SCHOOLS? ››
It is only recently that academics have been encouraged for pre-school age children. There is evidence that normal, healthy children who learn to read relatively later are not disadvantaged by this, but rather are able quickly to catch up with, and may overtake, children who have learned to read at an early age.
Children are taught the foundations of reading: the essentials of language arts in pre-school. They are taught through rich language and the excitement of a tale, setting, character development, the problem and heroic resolution. These, not the mechanics, are the real aims of teaching reading, writing and literature for the very young child.
- WHY DO WALDORF SCHOOLS RECOMMEND THE LIMITING OF TELEVISION, VIDEO AND COMPUTERS FOR YOUNG CHILDREN? ››
A central aim of Waldorf Education is to stimulate the healthy development of the child's own imagination. We believe children should be learning though movement and experiences. As with all things, using media should be limited and the balance of how much is appropriate depends on the age of the child.
- IS THERE TECHNOLOGY IN THE CLASSROOM? ››
Waldorf values and emphasizes learning through direct interaction with one another as well as with teachers in exploring the world of ideas, participating in the creative process, and developing their knowledge, skills, abilities, and inner qualities.
- HOW DO WALDORF STUDENTS SUCCEED AFTER GRADUATION? ››
According to a recent study of Waldorf graduates:
- 94% attended college or university
- 47% chose humanities or arts as a major
- 42% chose sciences or math as a major
- 89% are highly satisfied in choice of occupation
- 91% are active in lifelong education
- 92% placed a high value on critical thinking
- 90% highly values tolerance of other viewpoints
- A WALDORF CLASS TEACHER IDEALLY STAYS WITH A GROUP OF CHILDREN THROUGH THE EIGHT ELEMENTARY SCHOOL YEARS. WHAT IF MY CHILD DOES NOT GET ALONG WITH THE TEACHER? ››
A Waldorf class is something like a family. If a mother in a family does not get along with her son during a certain time, she does not consider resigning or replacing him with another child. Rather, she looks at the situation and sees what can be done to improve the relationship. In other words, the adult assumes responsibility and tries to change. This same approach is expected of the Waldorf teacher in a difficult situation. In almost every case she must ask herself: "How can I change so that the relationship becomes more positive?"
This question often arises because of the experience of public school. If a teacher has a class for several years, the teacher and the children come to know and understand each other in a deep way. The children, feeling secure in a long-term relationship, are better able to learn. The interaction of teacher and parents also can become more deep and meaningful over time, and they can cooperate in helping the child.
Problems between teachers and children, and between teachers and parents, can and do arise. When this happens, the teacher, the mentor and the college of teachers studies the situation, involves the teacher and parents—and, if appropriate, the child—to resolve the conflict.
- HOW CAN A WALDORF CLASS TEACHER TEACH ALL THE SUBJECTS THROUGH THE EIGHT YEARS OF ELEMENTARY SCHOOLING? ››
The class teacher is not the children’s only teacher! Each day, subject teachers teach the children eurythmy, handcrafts, foreign language, instrumental music, and so on.
The class teacher, with significant Waldorf Teacher Education, is responsible for the daily "main lesson" and one or two other course subjects . She brings the main academics to the children, including language arts, science, history, and mathematics, as well as painting, music, clay modeling, and other subjects.
In Waldorf methodology, it is vital that a teacher be adept at awakening capacities and fostering the ability of children to think clearly and critically, to empathetically experience and understand phenomena in the world, as well as to distinguish what is beautiful, good, and true. The class teacher walks a path of discovery with the children and guides them into an understanding of the world of meaning.
- WHAT IS THE WALDORF CURRICULUM? ››
The Waldorf curriculum is designed to meet the various stages of child development. Waldorf teachers are dedicated to creating a genuine inner enthusiasm for learning that is essential for educational success.
Preschool and Kindergarten children learn primarily through imitation and imagination. The goal of the kindergarten is to develop a sense of wonder in the young child and reverence for all living things. This creates an eagerness for the academics that follow in the grades. Activities include:
- storytelling, puppetry, creative play
- singing, eurythmy (movement)
- games and finger plays
- painting, drawing and beeswax modeling
- baking and cooking, nature walks
- foreign language and circle time for festival and seasonal celebrations
Elementary and Middle School children learn through the guidance of a class teacher who stays with the class ideally for eight years. The curriculum includes:
- English based on world literature, myths, and legends
- history that is chronological and inclusive of the world's great civilizations
- science that surveys geography, astronomy, meteorology, physical and life sciences
- mathematics that develops competence in arithmetic, algebra, and geometry
- foreign languages; physical education; gardening
- arts including music, painting, sculpture, drama, eurythmy, sketching
- handwork such as knitting, weaving, and woodworking