What is the Waldorf Method of Teaching?

The Waldorf educational method is an educational strategy that aims to produce well-rounded learners through a broad curriculum, which includes academics, emotional and social education, physical education, and art and music education. In addition, the teaching method has the goal of producing individuals who can generate meaning into their lives.

The Waldorf teaching system was created by Austrian philosopher and scientist Rudolf Steiner nearly a century ago. Steiner was familiar with anthroposophy, a philosophical idea that children that consciously develop independent thinking will be more equipped to handle the significant spiritual and natural questions with which scientists and philosophers are concerned. The Waldorf education was designed to be responsive to childhood needs, including letting children set their own pace and exercise their creativity and imagination.

The unique teaching method promotes a broad curriculum. The teachers are urged to explore brand-new topics and be guided by the students’ exploration. This way of teaching promotes learning for the sake of learning rather than for scoring high on grading rubrics or passing an exam. Waldorf elementary schools don’t give out grades.

There are considerable differences between the Waldorf educational method and other traditional teaching methods. First, academic education is moderated. The education types that are regularly cut from the budgets of public schools are often the core of Waldorf education. These include education in foreign languages, art, and music. Children are urged to learn drawing, crocheting, playing musical instruments, and knitting. In addition, the Waldorf Method doesn’t use any textbooks until the sixth grade. Instead, children in elementary school keep a journal to document their experiences and what they learned.

Waldorf educators believe that forgoing academic education such as reading until the second grade to be an excellent idea. Instead of teaching children ages 5 or 6 how to read, teachers read stories and tell fairytales. Doing so encourages oral mastery before the beginning of reading education. The curriculum of Waldorf teaches children how to write before reading. The curriculum explores the alphabet as a method of conversing with others through pictures which allows writing to develop out of the children’s art and doodles instead of their reading abilities and their capacity to generate written content.

Waldorf educational institutions are nurturing and safe environments where children can relish in their childhood and be shielded from damaging influences of the broader society. Moreover, teachers mainly run Waldorf schools democratically instead of by administrators involved with political or economic motives. As a result, the schools are consistent in producing strong and independent thinkers.

Benefits of Waldorf Education

a stack of books

In-depth studying improves learning experiences

Waldorf education has long since recognized the benefits of block learning. During their daily morning lesson, first to twelfth-grade students from Waldorf spend up to two hours focusing on only one subject, which switches every 3-4 weeks amid the academic disciplines. Hence, students have a chance to study every subject from several vantage points thoroughly, contributing to their understanding and enjoyment of the subject matter.

Students discover how to assume an active role in their education. From learning the alphabet during the first grade to learning algebra, history, and anatomy during the eighth grade, and up through their high school studies, students from Waldorf partake in the learning process by creating their textbook journals, which contain lab descriptions, math equations, poems, essays, stories, and illustrations.

Learning is age-appropriate and hands-on

Waldorf education promotes experiential activity. It encourages introducing children to a new experience at the proper time of development. As a result, children develop self-awareness, knowledge, and problem-solving skills through years of hands-on learning.

Children savor an unrushed childhood

In Waldorf schools, children are free to live in the moment, explore nature, and go wherever they want to go. In a world where pressuring children to “accelerate or be left behind” has become a societal norm, Waldorf education believes that childhood is something to be enjoyed. Waldorf children savor rich and full childhoods by being free to evolve by their natural rhythms, obtaining the much-needed experiences to become solid and self-actualized individuals. 

Waldorf schools create balanced individuals

Waldorf education aims to bring out what lives in every student but is mindful not to over-emphasize a skill or a trait over another. All students study science, math, and foreign languages; they all learn handwork, take movement classes, and perform in class plays; they all learned how to play an instrument and sing in the chorus. The goal is to expose the children to an extensive range of experiences and grow many capabilities and interests. In turn, this leads to well-rounded young individuals with a high confidence level in their capacity to apply skills acquired in one area to another and understand that they can learn anything.

Educated individuals from Waldorf have a lifelong passion for education. At a Waldorf school, education isn’t measured by test scores and competition but is seen as a life-long journey.