“Learning is the key to human development, but it is not a simple, homogenous process. What to learn, when to learn, and how to learn are arrived at through a conscious and careful study of children as well as a comprehensive understanding of the human being through all stages of human development. Teachers strive to help each child eventually to become a clear-thinking, sensitive and well-centred adult.” — Rudolf Steiner
The curriculum in a Waldorf/Steiner school reflects the developmental understanding of the whole child, on physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual levels. At each stage of development, the curriculum consciously engages specific aspects of the growing child. It has proved to be a relevant and contemporary curriculum for almost 100 years, largely because it appeals strongly to children. It is a fully integrated curriculum which engages the child’s imagination and strengthens her or his will through learning, which is carefully balanced between physically active, artistic and academic elements.
The Class Teacher
Our class teachers care deeply about the children. She or he fosters a conductive learning environment, where the needs of each individual child is taken into account and positive behaviours are modelled. Our class teachers develop good communication and collaboration not just with children but also with parents, families and with other staff. Our teachers endeavour to be trustworthy and moral representatives of humanity and in this way become a natural figure of authority for the children. A strong class community is built through the conscious, loving care from the class teacher and relationships formed, which often continue into adult life. The development of social skills are actively modelled and fostered, based on empathy, compassion and collaboration.
Each morning starts with a main lesson followed by a practice lesson after a short break and concludes with the afternoon lesson after lunch. The focus in the main lesson is on teaching the whole class, then moving into differentiation and back again to the whole. Main lessons are generally presented as a block of three to four weeks and alternate between numeracy, literacy, science and the humanities. Specialist-teachers deliver foreign languages, music, craft, games, sport and eurythmy at various times.
The Waldorf/Steiner curriculum is deeply intuitive to the growth of consciousness in a child. Hence the sequence of the main lessons beginning with fairy stories in class 1, and moving through fables, mythology and the history of various epochs and cultures up to the present day technological era by class 6. Farming and building, for example, are introduced in class three when the children have more interest in their surrounding world.
Rhythm in Learning
The Waldorf/Steiner school day is structured in an organic way, establishing a healthy balance between concentration and relaxation, mental and practical work, movement and rest, and listening and participating. Through the integrated curriculum each lesson engages the child’s thinking, feeling and willing, or in other words learning with head, heart and hands, or on cognitive, creative and practical levels. The celebration of seasonal festivals brings a sense of continuity and strengthens the healthy life of the community.
Waldorf/Steiner education seeks to make human values the central element of the curriculum. The in depth study of diverse cultures, combined with students coming from different ethnic and religious backgrounds, provide the children with a living microcosm of society, where they learn to understand, respect and celebrate each other’s differences.