Schools across the country have becoming increasingly sedentary and test-focused learning environments that can limit a child's ability to thrive and develop properly. The pioneering Waldorf philosophy dispenses with many of the norms of traditional academic school to provide an environment that allows children to thrive.
An Alternative Understanding of Child Development
A cornerstone of the Waldorf philosophy is that the child is a spiritual being that will come into its own naturally rather than something to be molded by the influences of society. This understanding divides child development into three distinct stages. At each stage, the child is introduced to role-models that help them learn the important skills, and these role-models carry through their entire learning experience.
In the first stage, from birth to age 7, children are focused on their body. This includes development of basic physical skills like walking, talking and eating. In the second stage, from age 7 to 14, children are focused on emotional development and imagination. The third stage, age 14 to 21, children are at the spiritual and most abstract stage of development. They are also prepared for more formal studying and deeper research on given subjects.
Using Play as Learning
Central to the Waldorf philosophy is the idea of play, especially being outside. In traditional settings, play is often seen as the opposite of learning, but in Waldorf it is an integral part of academic school. This means that Waldorf classrooms are much less focused on traditional seatwork, and children may not even be introduced to reading and writing until much later. Instead of being a negative, this allows the child to develop naturally and learn the important skills they are supposed to learn in the younger years. This lays the proper foundation for advanced academics in the later years.
The Three Stages of Development in Waldorf Education. Fractal Enlightenment.
5 Unique Benefits of Waldorf Education. Root Parenting.