What is Waldorf?
WHAT IS WALDORF?
Founded in 1919 in Germany by Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian scientist and philosopher, the Waldorf educational approach is now found worldwide in schools that offer grade levels from preschool through high school. Steiner believed in a unity of spirit, soul, and body, and Waldorf schools reflect that in their common theme of nurturing the heart, head, and hands. Waldorf is a lifestyle choice that encompasses education, health, and a vision for the greater good of humanity. It has the power to change the entire world!
A Waldorf institution strives to offer a warm, beautiful and loving home-like environment, which is protective and secure and where things happen in a predictable, regular manner. The structure that the schedule provides for the children reinforces the safe environment that stimulates their creativity and exploration. Social interactions and transitions are learning opportunities. Even the routine tasks of living and how the school implements them are incorporated into the program as a means of furthering children’s learning, self-help, and social skills. Teachers also develop a sense of wonder in their students, with the goal of instilling a lifelong love of learning, by allowing preschool children to fully explore their imagination and fantasy world. Steiner said that Waldorf Education is not a pedagogical system, but the art of awakening what is actually there within the human being. This is why adults can also benefit so much from many of the aspects of Waldorf. An emphasis on practical skills, such as children once experienced in a home environment, allows the child’s cognitive skills to unfold naturally. Along with vigorous, healthy play, these are the kinds of things that provide the nerve activity needed for higher learning in the areas of language development, dexterity, math skills, social skills, and creative thinking. Steiner advised against a “merely” intellectual education, firmly believing in the importance of play for child development. Art is taught not to make children into artists, but to expose them to the healing influence of color, to exercise their creative wills, and to counteract the tendency of our time to set the imagination apart from learning. Music and drama are an integral part of the curriculum from the earliest years; thus the children learn that artistic expression is just as important a part of being human as knowing the Pythagorean Theorum or the major rivers of Europe.
At Heart and Hands, true to the Waldorf philosophy, we honor the child’s and parent’s innate capacities for play, work, and imagination. They are not only crucial to a child’s sense of well-being but also the path to envisioning possibilities and discovering new ideas. Perhaps it is part of the genius of childhood to weave play, work, and imagination into one seamless activity—a way in which our minds, bodies and spirits are integrated and in dialog with each other.