The stated goals of the schooling: “to produce individuals who are able, in and of themselves, to impart meaning to their lives”. The aim of Waldorf schooling is to educate the whole child, “head, heart and hands”. Teachers are dedicated to creating a genuine love of learning within each child.
By freely using arts and activities in the service of teaching academics, an internal motivation to learn is developed in the students, doing away with the need for competitive testing and grading.
Some distinctive features of Waldorf education include the following:
- Academics are de-emphasized in the early years of schooling. There is no academic content in the Waldorf kindergarten experience (although there is a good deal of cultivation of pre-academic skills).
- During the elementary school years (grades 1-8) the students have a class (or “main lesson”) teacher, who stays with the class for a number of consecutive years.
- Certain activities which are often considered “frills” at mainstream schools are central at Waldorf schools: art, music, gardening, and foreign languages (usually two in elementary grades), to name a few. In the younger grades, all subjects are introduced through artistic mediums, use the children respond better to this medium than to dry lecturing and rote learning. All children learn to play recorder and to knit.
- There are no “textbooks” as such in the first through fifth grades. All children have “main lesson books”, which are their own workbooks which they fill in during the course of the year. They essentially produce their own “textbooks” which record their experiences and what they’ve learned. Upper grades may use textbooks to supplement skills development, especially in math and grammar.
- Learning in a Waldorf school is a noncompetitive activity. There are no grades given at the elementary level; the teacher writes a detailed evaluation of the child at the end of each school year.*