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The Secrets to Raising a Smarter Child
- By Inderbir Sandhu, Ph.D


Waldorf School Education - Learning the System

By Andrew Loh

Teachers who teach their children with Waldorf education system try hard to generate a deep motivation or enthusiasm for dedicated learning from within your children. Waldorf teachers use a number of methods to achieve these goals. One of the most beneficial methods of teaching is to make the most boring subjects lively, interesting, interactive and dynamic. A pictorial and demonstrative type of teaching will help reach their goals. Most traditional schools always rely on periodical competitive testing, academic placement and behavioral studies to make children comprehend lessons. However, Waldorf system avoids all these perceived pitfalls and weaknesses. On the other hand, this system allows children to enhance their motivational levels to increase the capacity for learning.

The Waldorf curriculum is very broad, comprehensive, result oriented, thematic and well structured to react and respond to three main developmental phases of children. These three phases are:

  • 6 or 7 years,

  • From 7 to 14 years and

  • From 14 to 18 years

Rudolf Steiner believed that the teachers should learn and understand these three age levels fully and later bring "age appropriate" curriculum content to the children that have the ability to develop and nourish healthy mental growth.

For example, pre-class children will have a number of colorful, fairy stories that match the dreamy or hidden state of self-consciousness. On the other hand, growing children in a class 4 classroom will study an interesting historical event to match their curiosity and enthusiasm of the age. Class 7 children may learn something that helps them develop their intellect and smartness. All these methods are age appropriate and they relate to the different stages of mental and brain development.

Most of the subjects related to arts, craft, history, science, math and geography would have about three to four hours of teaching every day. Each topic will last for about four to five weeks. It looks as if the whole system relies on a spiral model, where you will be coming back to the previous lesson to refresh and revitalize the learning process. However, each instance of these perceived "re-visits" would help the children have greater depth of understanding and enhance a keenness to study more.

A typical lower school subject pattern may look like:

Primary grade (age up to 7 years): This is the most sensitive age for children. At this age, children tend to develop their brain very quickly by trying to understand the subjects in a rapid manner though at a rudimentary level. Some of the subjects are:

  • Pictorial and thematic introduction to more common subjects like alphabets, writing, spelling, drama, arts and poetry.

  • Folk tales, historical and mythical stories narrated in a dancing and musical form.

  • Basic mathematical lessons by using colorful tables, models, and patterns.

  • Home building, practical gardening by using different tools and nature stories that involve trees, plants, animals, birds and soil.

Outcome: This will help your children to develop an enthusiasm for learning their lessons at a future stage. When your children develop an interest at an early age, they will be too keen to attend their classes with rapt attention.

Middle grade (age from 7 to 14 years): This stage is the formative age bracket for all children. Brain develops at a quicker pace with a perceptible enhancement in cognitive and other sensitive skills. They will also try to learn their lessons with a purpose.

  • Teaching how to write, read and spell will help the children to streamline their learning process towards absorbing the very essence of all lessons.

  • Advanced history lessons can include illustrated and graphical images and pictures.

  • At this age bracket, the children will need to learn the basics of math like fractions, percentages, and geometry.

  • Lessons about nature that includes elementary zoology, botany, chemistry, and basic physics

Outcome: This is a very critical phase in the child's young life. Most children develop their level of intellect and smartness in a remarkable manner. Children in this age tend to relate their lessons with the experiences they accumulate in their life.

Teaching methods always involve making children enhance their motivational levels. For example, the children may develop an urge to answer questions posed by their teachers. Learning may also include an interactive discussion along with a session of questions and answers.

The main goals of Waldorf system of education are:

  • Working with children first by creating a cozy, warm, hospitable, loving and affectionate ambience or environment that is both protective as well as secure.

  • Teaching children how to imitate the various activities taught in the class.

  • Enhance children's power imagination relating to the age.

  • Encouraging free play and dynamic activities.

  • Fantasy play that involves acting scenarios by imitating the action.

  • Using environmental or natural toys to help children understand the essence of nature.

  • Learning sequencing, sensory integration, eye-hand coordination, muscle skills and tracking natural events that occur around children.

In essence, Waldorf system of education plans to educate a wholesome child by training "head, heart and hands". Many schools in the world are trying to adapt to the dynamics of Waldorf education system, so that they can create wonderful human beings, who are capable of performing to the best of their abilities both in the classroom and out of it. [Click to find Waldorf school in USA/Canada and Worldwide] 

Featured Resource

Introduction to Steiner Education: The Waldorf School
By Francis Edmunds

Rudolf Steiner's educational system, long established and respected on the European continent, is gradually spreading around the world. Its radical principles, based on a view of the human being as composed of body, soul, and spirit, allows for a truly holistic and balanced education that nourishes the whole child. The author explains, in a clear and lively style, many aspects of Steiner's educational theories, especially the three stages of child development and how the Waldorf curriculum provides a healthy understanding, nurturing, and support for these phases.

This is an excellent introduction to the theory and practice of Steiner/Waldorf education, whether for teachers or anyone who would like to know more about Steiner's ideas. It is especially useful for parents who are looking for a holistic education for their children.


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