The first Steiner/Waldorf School was founded by Rudolf Steiner for children of factory employees in Stuttgart (Germany) in 1919.
The Steiner/Waldorf school movement is a highly respected international educational movement with over 1020 schools in over 65 countries and nearly 2000 Steiner Waldorf early childhood centres. Steiner education is future-orientated, and the holistic style underpinning this unique pedagogy supports the healthy well-being of children around the world.
Steiner education is an integrated and holistic education, designed to provide for the balanced development of human intellectual and cognitive faculties, artistic and imaginative capacities and practical life skills. The contribution of Steiner education is recognised by national and international bodies.
The main lessons incorporate different learning styles and disciplines, with the aim of balancing cognitive, aesthetic and experiential learning and embedding values. Specialist subject lessons in the arts, languages and practical crafts, and Practice Lessons which build on literacy and numeracy skills, and other aspects of the content and skills covered in the morning classes, supplement the main lesson.
The prime purpose of Steiner Education is to support and educate children such that their own innate and unique human qualities may come to greater fulfillment.
Students are encouraged to find identity, meaning and purpose in life by forming connections with community, the natural world and with values such as compassion and peace. The holistic approach includes the nurturing of a sense of reverence for life, feelings of wonder and awe and a passionate love of learning.
To raise student awareness of the greater rhythms in nature, society and the world, the seasons and cultural festivals are celebrated. Teaching methods favour multi-modal arts learning, real life experiences, and ‘lively sources of knowledge’ that include gymnastics, dance-movement, and the dramatic arts.
The continuing relationship between the child and the Class teacher, as well as the regular communications with parents, enables the teacher to continuously assess the child’s work in a discreet and accurate way, and to understand individual strengths and weaknesses. The teacher is able to monitor the child’s progress along a continuum, covering academic, developmental and social aspects, rather than relying heavily on formal testing.
Preschool (0-7 years) is characterised by children actively learning through imitation and their own creative experience, in a safe, natural and loving environment. The child’s imagination and sense of wonder is fostered, without intellectual abstraction, through stories, songs, creative play, interaction with nature and involvement in everyday human activity.
Childhood (7-14) is the optimal stage for nurturing imagination. Curriculum content, cognitive development and skill-building are approached through pictorial and imaginative presentation, embodying narrative, creative writing, the visual arts, music, drama and movement. This fostering of the feeling life enables the students to live into and engage more fully with the academic material. The timing of curriculum content and lessons is carefully matched to meet the children’s developmental and emotional needs. (Steiner Education Australia SEA 2010)