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Learn more about Waldorf Education
Below are links to specific articles, some of these articles are written by authors not related to the Waldorf movement, others are written for official Waldorf publications.
- The Waldorf method. by Gabriella Boston, The Washington Times, June 2, 2003. A balanced and informative piece on Waldorf education, with specific focus on the Washington Waldorf School in Bethesda.
- The wisdom of Waldorf: Education for the future. by Rahima Baldwin Dancy, Mothering Magazine, Issue 123, March/April 2004. Waldorf education is extremely interested in the type of person that will emerge from the educational system. This article, from Mothering Magazine, discusses the roots of Waldorf education and how it prepares children for the future.
- Schooling the imagination. by Todd Oppenheimer, The Atlantic Monthly, September 1999. For a balanced and readable overview of Waldorf schooling we recommend this article from The Atlantic Monthly. The author visits a number of schools, gives an overview of the education and talks to educators not affiliated with Waldorf.
- Introduction to Waldorf (one page overview) from The Association of Waldorf Schools of North America.
- Waldorf Education: Grades 1-8 (a brief overview)from The Association of Waldorf Schools of North America. For a fuller listing of the elementary curriculum please look at our curriculum listing .
- A Look at Waldorf and Montessori Education in the Early Childhood Programs. Parents often wonder about the differences between a Waldorf Education and one based on the Montessori philosophy; this article describes some of the differences in the curriculum of Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten programs.
Outdoor time, unstructured play and recess
- For Forest Kindergartners, Class Is Back to Nature, Rain or Shine. by Liz Leyden, The New York Times, November 29, 2009 (The New York Times requires readers login to their website to read articles. It is free to register with The Times.) An article describing the importance of unstructured play for young children and a school that offers extended outdoor time in all seasons (as all Waldorf schools do).
- Lessons in life at the forest school by Rosemary Bennett, The Times [London], October 6, 2009. Thousands of pupils in Denmark learn tree climbing not times tables. But this carefree life for the under-7s is under threat.
Evaluation and testing
- How is my child doing? Student evaluation in Waldorf schools by Jan-Kees Saltet, Journal for Waldorf Education, Fall/Winter 2001. Standardized testing seeks to improve education, but often it undermines learning. As a mostly private school movement, Waldorf schools do not have to comply with federal standardized testing requirements. In the early grades in Waldorf schools testing is not a major component of the curriculum and grades are not assigned. Teachers write personalized evaluations of each student each year.
- Assessing Without Testing, by Eugene Schwartz. “No Child Left Behind” has solidified the ranks of those who believe that high-stakes testing is the only way to advance education. The author examines the innovative Waldorf approach to assessment in which learning outcomes are judged in myriad ways — all of them child-friendly, and all of them effective.
- What Is the Purpose of School? by Douglas Gerwin and David Mitchell. Redefining Education, Spring 2009, Issue #55, Vol 14. This article first looks at what the purpose of education is and then discusses appropriate assessment strategies. A short, readable and inspiring article.
Reading and writing
- Teaching our children to write, read and spell: A developmental approach. (By Susan R. Johnson, MD. Published on the website, www.youandyourchildshealth.org) This article discusses the necessity of allowing children’s brains to develop capacities on both the right and left hemispheres (and the connections between the sides of the brain) prior to the introduction of formal reading and writing instruction. Children who are taught to read too young will be utilizing only the right side of their brain and will, therefore, be able to decode words easily but will have problems with comprehension (which happens on the left side of the brain).
- The Push for early childhood literacy: A view from Europe, by Christopher Clouder, The Research Bulletin. A number of studies have come out lately describing the negative effects on pushing children too early into the realm of academics. Waldorf pedagogy is based on developmentally appropriate curriculum and instruction. The view from Europe is somewhat different than what we have here in the US, many countries start their formal educational systems as the ages of six or seven (so no academic instruction in the earlier years).
- Literacy, not just reading. by Arthur M. Pittis. This article first appeared in Leading Forth in 1988. A lovely overview of the place and pace of language arts education in the Waldorf pedagogical system, focusing on reading and writing in the early elementary grades.
- The Push for Early Childhood Literacy: Critical Issues and Concerns, by Nancy Carlsson-Paige. Research Bulletin. There has long been a debate over the best way to teach reading: should students learn to decode words first or should they learn the meaning of words first. This article offers an overview of the political landscape of this debate and briefly details the negative effects on early instruction on children’s capacity to fully comprehend the written word.
- There is more to reading than meets the eye by Barbara Sokolov. Renewal: Journal for Waldorf Education. Spring/Summer 2000. A wonderful article written by a Waldorf parent and teacher describing the hard-to-describe approach to reading that Waldorf schools employ. She argues for deep learning over surface decoding.
- Is Waldorf education Christian? by William Ward, Journal for Waldorf Education, Spring/Summer 2001. The author talks about educating the three parts of a person, the heart, the will and the mind; for Waldorf pedagogy understands all people to have a spiritual portion of their personality.
Topics specific to Waldorf curriculum
- Knitting and Intellectual Development by Eugene Schwartz. Knitting has recently become remarkably popular among college students and celebrities — but it has been a pillar of the Waldorf school curriculum for ninety years. We examine the many ways in which knitting and other handwork activities stimulate intellectual development and instill a sense of achievement in the child.
- The cry for myth, by Eugene Schwartz. Stories, which offer some of the richest and multifarious ways of explaining phenomena, are underutilized in today’s schools. The article explores the ways in which Waldorf education works with narrative content to meet the “cry for myth” that lives in today’s child.
- How Eurythmy Works in the Curriculum Eurythmy is a movement and recitation program taught in Waldorf schools. As with all things in a Waldorf school, eurythmy is one facet of a complete education program. This article describes the importance of eurythmy and how it supports academic learning, personal control and helps with classroom dynamics.
What the future holds for Waldorf graduates
- Survey of Waldorf high school graduates from The Association of Waldorf Schools of North America.
- What will today’s children need for financial success in tomorrow’s economy? by Judy Lubin Research Bulletin. The author argues that the economy of the future will be a creative economy and that to succeed in this marketplace individuals will need to be creative, have the ability to solve problems, have self knowledge and the confidence to think outside of the box. A well written article that should be read by all parents of young children.
- Learning To Learn: Essays Written By Waldorf Graduates. In 2003, Waldorf Education celebrated its 75th anniversary in North America. To help commemorate the occasion, AWSNA published Learning to Learn, a collection of essays written by 26 Waldorf graduates reflecting upon their education. Excerpted here are four of those essays.
A number of companies specialize in books about Waldorf education, Rudolf Steiner and Anthroposophy. We have listed some of our favorite titles below however the following websites have large selections:
- Understanding Waldorf Education: Teaching from the Inside Out. Jack Petrash. Beltsville, MD: Gryphon House, 2002.
- Waldorf Education: A Family Guide. Edited by Pamela J. Fenner. Amesbury, MA: Michaelmas Press, 1999.
- School As a Journey: The Eight-Year Odyssey of a Waldorf Teacher and His Class. Torin M. Finser. Great Barrington, MA: Steiner Books, 1995.
- Rhythms of Learning : What Waldorf Education Offers Children, Parents & Teachers. Roberto Trostli.Great Barrington, MA: Steiner Books, 1998.
- Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder. Richard Louv. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books, 2008.
- The most complete website for information about Waldorf education is the site,Why Waldorf Works, the website for the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America. This organization is the accrediting group for Waldorf elementary and high schools in North America.
- Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America – WECAN. This group is the umbrella organization for early childhood programs. In Waldorf education these programs, for ages 2 or 3 to 6, is called kindergarten.
- The Alliance for Childhood. This organization, “…promotes policies and practices that support children’s healthy development, love of learning, and joy in living.” The Alliance is not related to Waldorf education but the philosophy is extremely compatible with Waldorf early education.
- Americans for Waldorf Education (AWE) is a group of current and past Waldorf parents and teachers. We seek to support Waldorf education by providing general information on it (articles, experiences, research), by answering questions from the press and the public, and by correcting myths, misunderstandings and misinformation about Waldorf education which sometimes appear in the media and on the Internet.
- The Research Institute for Waldorf Education was founded in 1996 in order to deepen and enhance the quality of Waldorf education, to engage in serious and sustained dialogue with the wider educational-cultural community.
- Multiple Intelligences: A wonderful description of Howard Gardner’s theory and practice of Multiple Intelligences in education. Waldorf education was developed long before Dr. Gardner’s famous work but the two understandings dovetail wonderfully.
- Wikipedia article on Waldorf education: This Wikipedia article is informative and balanced. The authors discuss the history, curriculum, social mission and reception of Waldorf education. The nature of Wikipedia (anyone can edit pages) means that this source can change from time to time, at this point we recommend this page as a good resource for information.
- Bob and Nancy’s Services: This website has links to Steiner lectures, commentary on lectures, homeschooling information and much more.
- Online Waldorf Library: A good clearing house for Waldorf articles and research. The search engine is a bit clunky, but some good article citations can be found on this site.
Waldorf schools strive to surround students with beautiful objects and quality supplies. Children use crayons made from beeswax; they knit with wool yarn; they learn their lessons in nicely bound ‘main lesson books;’their wooden instruments are handcrafted; the toys that are found in the early childhood classes are made from natural materials.
- Children begin learning to play the pentatonic lyre in first grade. We had our lyres handmade for the school by an expert craftsman in New Mexico, Harps of Lorien.
- In the first grade children begin to learn to play the pentatonic flute. We use Choroi flutes, made from pearwood. The tone of these flutes is beautiful, the wood is rich and warm to the touch. These are available from a number of online stores, the best price is available at A Toy Garden.
- Drawing is an integral part of the Waldorf curriculum. Children are given their own crayons, one or two at a time, as they need the color and as they become responsible enough to care for their own tools. We use Stockmar brand for both paint and crayons. We recommend the store, Paper, Scissors, Stone.
- The work of a young child is to play, to pretend, to move their bodies and their minds. There are numerous websites offering wonderful wooden toys, we are listing some of our favorite online stores below: