Integrating Waldorf Education

by on April 26, 2008 at 12:00 pm

My Tel Aviv friends Hagai and Anot are sending their kids to a Waldorf School. I had heard about the Waldorf philosophy over the years, but don’t know anyone in the states who has gone that route. Alas, not only did I learn the pros through their eyes, but by also watching their children in action.

Waldorf Education integrates the arts and academics for children from preschool through twelfth grade. It encourages the development of each child’s sense of truth, beauty, and goodness, and provides an antidote to violence, alienation, and cynicism.

Apparently from ages 7-14, you focus on emotional development, including the basics, like how you treat others. Ages 14-21 are key for developing your physical body. Children are encouraged to physically act out what they learn. One example they gave me was ‘walking the letter B before and after saying it and writing it.’

Instead of reading through an entire novel or a chapter on the History of Ancient Greece, children are encouraged to draw what they hear and learn. I saw notebooks from third and fourth grades that showed the Waldorf approach to mathematics. Their kids did their multiplication exercises on artistic pads using pastels and brightly colored crayons. One of the kids encircled his homework with a creative colorful jagged edge.

Here are a few examples:

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