Why Waldorf Works - a website created by the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America to explain the benefits of Waldorf education.
Why should I send my child to a Waldorf school?
There are myriad reasons, mostly arising from individual or family biographies, but generally they have their root in one or more of the following features of Waldorf education:
- Every effort is made to assure Waldorf schools are safe, secure, and nurturing environments for children.
- Waldorf schools honor and protect the wonder of childhood as an essential foundation for successful adulthood.
- Waldorf education has a consistent philosophy of child development underlying the curriculum. All subjects are introduced in age-appropriate fashion.
- Waldorf schools produce graduates who are academically advantaged and who consistently gain admission to the college of their choice. Alternately, students who go from high school to a career have confidence in their own abilities to succeed.
Are students able to transition well into the Waldorf curriculum?
In many cases, the students take immediately to the new learning style and have no problems at all. Generally speaking, younger children trasition easily. As the children advance through the grades, they may need some support (tutoring) in the areas of music and languages to help get them “up to speed,” but the social and other academic work, with the help of the teachers and parents, is usually not overwhelming. In the case of teenagers, many find our curriculum which offers rich hands on experiences, deepens their connection to learning.
What happens if my child leaves a Waldorf school before graduation?
The key place where this question is important is in the first three grades, where the Waldorf approach alters the traditional arrangement of the basic approach to reading and writing. All students should be comfortable and on par with their classmates in any other school after the third grade.
Is this a religious school?
In the sense of subscribing to the beliefs of a particular religious denomination or sect, no. Classes in religious doctrine are not part of the Waldorf curriculum and children of all religious backgrounds attend Waldorf schools.
The intention is to awaken and support the child’s natural reverence for the wonder and beauty of life. Verses and songs are used daily and may, though not necessarily, use such words as God, soul, spirit, etc. Festivals honoring the season are celebrated throughout the year.
The Waldorf School of Saratoga Springs is striving to find the right balance, honoring its belief in the natural spirituality of the child with renewed sensitivity to family traditions and the need for a broader base of celebration.
Does my child have to play an instrument?
All students participate in one way or another in all the musical work of the school. If a child comes into the school at a later date, he/she will be encouraged to take up an instrument and join the class activities. All students are encouraged to take private instrumental lessons. In the high school, the same is true, but there is an alternative music program for those who are not able to take up an instrument.
How big are the classes?
The average size of the classes is 14-16 students, with some classes reaching as high as 24 (about the limit we will consider).
How is discipline handled?
This is an individual question and the answer depends on the situation. Policys have been established and can be found in our parent handbook.
Is tuition assistance available?
Each family regardless of its finacial situation is an important part of the Waldorf school of Sartoga Springs. Families who feel unable to pay full tuition are invited to submit a Tuition Assistance (TA) application. There is currently no limit placed on the amount of assistance that can be awarded to a family. However because the TA program is funded by the school and amounts available are therefore finite, families are asked to both apply for and receive their assistance with that understanding and in the spirit of cooperation
Can I see the classrooms in session?
Waldorf Weclomes are held on a monthly basis and include a tour of the classrooms guided by the Enrollment Director. We are happy to schedule individual tours by appointment. Please contact the Admisssions office to schedule a visit.
What about special needs children?
The faculty approaches this question on an individual basis. We are willing to consider applications for students with special needs. Please be aware that acceptance to the Waldorf School will be based upon a careful assessment by the faculty as to whether or not we can meet your child’s needs.
What are your admission standards and what about testing?
Our criteria for admissions include age appropriate placement and a strong desire for Waldorf education. In the early childhood classes, acceptances are made by the class teacher, usually in collaboration with a colleague.
In grades 1 through 12, a completed student application form is reviewed along with school records and interview with two teachers makes the basis for a decision about acceptance. Additionally, a math and writing assessment will be completed during the interview. For the specific admissions procedure, please go to the Admissions web page.
What if my child does not like his teacher? Isn’t eight years too long?
This is a very common concern among parents when they first hear about the class teacher approach. However, in practice, the situation seems to arise very rarely, especially when the teacher has been able to establish a relationship with the class from the first grade. Given the kind of person who is motivated to become a Waldorf teacher, incompatibility with a child is infrequent. Understanding a child’s needs and temperament is central to the teacher’s role and training. If problems should occur, the faculty as a whole would work with the teacher and the family to address concern.
How is reading taught?
Waldorf education is deeply connected with the oral tradition, typically beginning with teachers telling fairy tales in kindergarten and first grade. In a Waldorf school, writing is taught as a first step to reading. During the first grade year the children explore how the alphabet came about, discovering, as the ancients did, how each letter’s form evolved out of a pictograph. Writing thus evolves out of the childrens’ art, and their ability to read likewise evolves as a natural, and indeed, comparatively effortless stage of their mastery of language. Reading is well underway by the end of the first grade and confirmed and strengthened into the second.
How about media? How are computers used in the school?
Generally speaking, electronic media and children in early phases of development are not compatible. The Waldorf School is dedicated to the development of the imagination and the healthy physical and psychological aspects which will be the basis for a strong individuality to unfold. Any activity which would delay or stunt this development is naturally discouraged.
By the teen years, children who have a healthy beginning are able to keep media issues in balance and in perspective. They have fully developed certain capacities for imagination and critical thinking, which helps them sort things out for themselves. Computers and technology are a part of their lives and, ideally, they can understand the role they play in the world.
What kind of training do Waldorf teachers have?
As a rule, teachers have both a university degree and teaching certification from a recognized Waldorf teacher training center. Some Waldorf training programs offer a masters degree in Waldorf education. Typically the course of study is from two to three years and includes active teaching in a Waldorf school under the supervision of experienced Waldorf teachers. For all teachers, there are substantial ongoing education courses in the summer for renewal and for learning.