Does your school focus on standard academic subjects only, or do children get a well-rounded education that includes the arts, physical education and foreign languages?

Waldorf in well known for integrating arts into the classroom. Steiner developed an arts curriculum that is very effective at teaching a very high level of artistic skill. Perhaps more importantly, the arts are used to teach other subject areas at a deeper level. When music and art are a part of learning a subject, more areas of the brain are engaged, and the result is a fuller, richer understanding (see our FREE REPORT for more on this).

All children learn to play pentatonic flute (first and second grades), and diatonic flute or recorder and a string instrument (starting in the third grade). Children learn handwork such as sewing, crochet and knitting. They learn woodworking skills. They get a fantastic training in painting and drawing, and most importantly, in appreciating beauty. They learn a special dance/movement form called “eurhythmy”. They are all involved in school plays.

In fact, Waldorf is so effective at teaching arts that some people have a misconception that they do not also teach academics, or teach academics well. This is far from true. According to this survey of Waldorf graduates, 42% of Waldorf graduates who went to college majored in science or math. However, the arts background supports Waldorf graduates’ academic abilities, because the most brilliant people in any field can apply their imagination and creativity to their endeavor. There is research that shows students with a good education in music do significantly better at academic subjects.

My nephew who attended K-12 in Waldorf school is now at MIT getting his doctorate in chemistry on an NIH scholarship. We’ve heard from parents of Waldorf graduates that often their kids’ college teachers comment on how their child is more mature than usual, and has more problem-solving abilities and creativity. More about Waldorf graduates here.

In addition, Waldorf graduates tend to have a life-long love of the arts, and most would rather engage in an artistic activity than watch TV.

Physical development: Waldorf teachers pay more attention to assessing and guiding physical development than mainstream teachers generally do.

For young children, it is a part of Waldorf philosophy that a child needs to build a strong body, with balance, coordination, and both gross and fine motor skills, before they are ready to shift much of their energy into intense mental development. This is not only to have a good foundation for future learning, but also to have a good foundation for robust health throughout the person’s life. At first, I thought this idea was a little strange, but as I watched my child it made sense to me. He’s really little. He needs to get big and strong. I can look at grownups who put all their energy into mental activities, and they are often not physically healthy. It makes sense to me that this would be especially bad for a young, growing body. Not only the bones and muscles, but also the internal organs do a tremendous amount of developing in the early years.

In Kindergarten, at our school, they have a nature walk most days (depending on weather and other factors) that could be up to 60 or 90 minutes. Walking in nature is a great way to develop physical strength and body awareness. They spend some time playing outdoors in almost any weather. They also work with the parents to teach young children to tie their shoes, and they teach other activities to develop fine motor skills.

Foreign languages: Waldorf schools in the US include at least one foreign language, and often more, starting in the primary grades. We have two languages taught at our school. I consider foreign languages to be an indispensable part of a complete education, so I am glad they are included. The specific languages that are taught varies by regional differences; in Colorado, Spanish is generally taught as one of the languages.

In our FREE REPORT, we show evidence that learning foreign languages makes children smarter in other ways, too!

For a more detailed view of the curriculum for a particular grade, please contact your local Waldorf school.