The Waldorf Method is based on the philosophy of educating the whole child, defined as, “head, heart and hands”. Children may attend formal schools which espouse this method, and the approach may also be applied to the home education program, as well.
Waldorf education is in large part the manifestation of the work of Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian teacher and philosopher who lived in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Steiner’s work, though varied throughout his life, continually focused on the different aspects of what it takes to be human. He developed a philosophy called anthroposophy in which he recognized the relationship between the arts, the sciences, and spiritual life.
The Waldorf curriculum balances academic subjects with artistic and practical activities. No formal academic curriculum is taught in the early years and activities such as art, music, gardening, and foreign languages are central to the curriculum in the middle years, as well. Children create their own texts (Good Books) through writing, and it is only in the upper grades that textbooks are used to supplement daily work.
Waldorf schooling is thought to internally motivate students to learn, while eliminating the need for testing and grading. Because there are no textbooks in early learning and the emphasis throughout the school years is on literature, ancient history, science, movement, art, music, foreign languages and other experiences, it is thought to naturally promote learning in a non-competitive way.
Waldorf schooling is a rich, free and relaxed environment where children are thought to learn according to the stages of their lives, likes, and abilities.
There are Waldorf resources available in print and on the Internet. Some of these have been created for homeschoolers, while other seek to explain the philosophy and provide additional links for learning. Begin with these, and then find some on your own: