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12 Things You May Not Know About Waldorf

Here are 12 things that make Waldorf education unique;

1) Non-profit, Government Subsidized, Volunteer Run

  • Nelson Waldorf School is fortunate enough to receive government subsidies as an Independent School in British Columbia.  For  each student registered at NWS we receive half the funds a public school in our district would receive for that student.  This helps us to keep tuitions for our school lower than any Waldorf School in North America.
  • Nelson Waldorf School is operated as a non-profit society under the auspices of The Nelson and Area Waldorf School Association.   The Board of Directors are volunteer parents, alumni parents and friends of the Nelson Waldorf School.  The school relies on volunteer efforts of the parent community to support this vibrant community.

2) Teachers Follow Students

  • for elementary school years (grades 1-8) the students have a class (or “main lesson”) teacher, who stays with the class for a number of consecutive years, and specialty teachers for handwork, French, woodwork, eurythmy, music and physical education

3) Students Create Their Own Textbooks

  • there are no “textbooks” as such in the first through eighth grades
  • all children have “main lesson books”, which are the textbooks they create from “main lesson” content.  
  • in some schools upper grades may use textbooks to supplement skills development, especially in math and grammar

4) Media Policy

  • no devices or computers are used in elementary Waldorf School classrooms and parents are encouraged to limit the use of technology in their children’s lives
  • clothing has no logos or branding
  • excessive makeup, jewelry, dyed hair is discouraged

5) The Importance of Relationship in Education

  • at the beginning and end of each day, children shake hands with their teacher, talk and make eye contact.  The
    relationship between teacher and student is central to Waldorf Education

6) Highly Structured Days

  • mornings begin with a two hour Main Lesson with the class teacher.  This is  followed by subject lessons of Music, Movement Education, Eurythmy, Woodwork, Handwork and French which are all taught by specialty teachers.

7) Main Lesson Is 2 Hours

  • uninterrupted 2-hour lesson at the beginning of each day is the cornerstone of the Steiner curriculum, when one topic is studied in depth for three to four weeks
  • main lesson begins with a routine of poetry, singing and rhythmical exercises suited to the particular age group, to bring about a mood of concentration and readiness for learning

8) Oral Tradition

  • Teachers are story tellers and tell stories from a specific Literature base each year – this oral tradition begins with the teacher telling the children fairy tales throughout kindergarten and first grade.

9) Writing First, Then Reading

  • A writing to reading approach is taken
  • During the first grade year the children explore how our alphabet came about, discovering, as the ancients did, how each letter’s form evolved out of a pictograph. Writing thus evolves out of the children’s art, and their ability to read likewise evolves as a natural and, indeed, comparatively effortless stage of their mastery of language.

10) No Memorization, No Grades

  • non-competitive environment without testing
  • despite lack of testing within the curriculum, Nelson Waldorf typically performs in the top percentiles of government standardized tests which are administered throughout the province in Grades Four and Seven.

11) Handwork, Woodwork and Art

  • all learning in younger grades is taught with an artistic medium
  • handwork such as knitting, crochet, sewing and cross stitch supports brain development needed for academic learning
  • woodwork develops precise and motor skills
  • art fosters creativity and self-expression

12) Teachers Have Waldorf Specific Training

  • Waldorf teachers come from varied backgrounds with bachelor degrees in varied specialties
  • In addition to bachelor degrees Waldorf teachers complete specific Waldorf Teacher training and train each summer in ‘intensives’ to prepare for the year ahead.

Related Articles

7 Benefits of Waldorf’s “Reading to Write” Approach
How Waldorf Overcomes Math Fear with Real World Problems

Book A Waldorf Tour!

Our tours provide a wonderful ‘window’ into our education as we begin in our Daycare and work our way through our campus and grade school. To sign up for a tour, please call 250-352-6919 or send an email to info@nelsonwaldorf.org.

Looking forward to seeing you on a tour!
Donna Switzer, Pedagogical Administrator