The school is non-denominational. We believe that all young children are naturally reverent, and this quality is nurtured rather than neglected or distorted by dogmatism. Waldorf education fosters an attitude of wonder and reverence for life and an attention to the beauty in all things, which we believe provides a firm basis for confidence in later life.
The curriculum embraces all major religions, and through the studies of mythology and history, children explore and penetrate different religions without bias. The school respects all creeds and provides a supportive base for children of every faith.
Why is so much emphasis put on festivals and ceremonies? What are Michaelmas and St. John's Festival?
Seasonal festivals serve to connect humanity with the rhythms of nature and of the cosmos. The festivals originated in ancient cultures and have been adapted over time. To join the seasonal moods of the year, in a festive way, benefits the inner life of the soul. Celebrating is an art. There is joy in the anticipation, the preparation, the celebration itself, and the memories thereof.
The four seasonal festivals in the Southern hemisphere are Easter (autumn), St. John (winter), Michaelmas (spring) and Christmas (summer).
Easter is celebrated as a time of rebirth and harvesting.
St. John – June 24 – An ancient festival; celebrated when the sun sends the least power to the earth, as a festival which awakens in the human being an inkling of the very wellsprings of existence, of an eternal reality. It is a time when the soul withdraws into the innermost depths to experience within itself the inner spiritual light.
Michaelmas, September 29: St. Michael is known as the conqueror of the dragon, the heavenly hero with his starry sword (cosmic iron) who gives strength to people.
Christmas – It is a time when the cosmos brings the spiritual to man – a time when the spiritual, which animates and weaves through everything in nature, is revealed. It is a time for compassion, love and gratitude.
Rudolph Steiner developed Waldorf education almost a century ago in 1919. It is a deeply insightful application of learning based on the study of humanity that helps develop consciousness of self and of the surrounding world. It was Steiner’s perception that although external conditions in our time constantly change, the essential nature of humanity remains; in particular, the stages of human development through childhood follow a natural pattern unaffected by social change.
The task of educators remains to prepare children for an unpredictable future by nurturing healthy development from the inside, to provide the right nourishment at each stage of physical, emotional and spiritual growth. Steiner developed a flexible curriculum that has evolved with time and has been adapted to local conditions in the various countries where Waldorf schools are found.
Although Waldorf education has already stood the test of time, many believe it will show its full promise in the 21st century. The significance of its rapid growth around the world indicates that it may well be an education coming into its own because it fosters a thinking appropriate for our age.
How does the Waldorf approach challenge the children who enter first grade already knowing how to read? What will such children learn, won’t they be bored?
Children within the Waldorf system balance intellectual achievements with emotional and social skills. A child who can read in class one may still need to develop their emotional and social skills or become more comfortable and co-ordinated within their bodies. The Waldorf curriculum is rich and nourishes the imagination. The approach to writing and reading involves the child’s mind, body and feelings and maintains the interest, involvement and delight of even the most intellectual of children.
In the case that a child’s intellect has been awakened too early, the holistic Waldorf curriculum can have a healing influence on a child’s life forces. Images from fairytales are deeply nurturing to the unconscious elements of the young child.
How does a play-oriented approach to the early years of schooling prepare children for the high-tech world in which we live? What about computer literacy? I want my child to have a competitive edge, not be behind the times?
Computers are vehicles for logical thinking and are best suited to the realm of the adolescent and therefore technology is introduced as a subject in high school. The job of the intellect is to analyse and exercise critical judgement, but if this is awakened too early then a child can be disadvantaged. In the first seven years the internal system uses a lot of its energy in growing and developing itself. A demand for intellectual development at too young an age can result in a weakening of the child’s vital forces, manifesting in frequent colds or other illnesses. In Waldorf education free play is highly valued as a powerful instrument in developing creative thinking and problem solving, a reverence for nature and a love of learning. These skills are necessary pre-requisites for later intellectual development and they help Waldorf learners integrate very well into the adult world.
The fantasy and play of the young child transforms into the artistic imagination of the primary school child, the questioning of the teenager and the rational thinking of the young adult. We have confidence that fantasy and imagination, which are natural to the young child, form a better foundation for later creative thinking than early learning.
Generally, transitions are not difficult. Waldorf education develops creative and imaginative capacities and awakens life interests. Learners take these qualities with them and it often distinguishes them as good students.
Transitions in the lower grades, particularly between the first and third grade, are not advised due to the differences in the timing and approach to the curriculum and specifically with respect to reading and writing. If transition to a mainstream school is being considered it should be before Class 1 or after Class 3.
Waldorf education is child-centered. The uniqueness of each child and their potential and gift to the world is constantly considered. The developmental age of the child underlies the entire curriculum. Everything in a Waldorf school is there with consciousness and purpose and has the child at heart.
Waldorf schools honour and protect the wonder of childhood. Every effort is expended to make Waldorf schools safe, secure and nurturing environments that protect childhood from harmful influences of the broader society.
Waldorf schools are full of rich, holsitic, imaginative and creative activities, which are specifically designed to develop a love of learning in each child. Children are internally motivated to come to school because it is interesting and they enjoy it, rather than out of a sense of obligation.
Waldorf schools produce graduates who are academically advantaged and who consistently gain admission to top universities.