All children born into this world are different and unique beings, so it makes perfect sense that once they reach school age that the traditional public school system may not be the right fit for every child.
If you have ever wondered about an alternative education for your little one, here is some information on one of these methods called Steiner Education.
A typical Steiner Classroom Photo: Anonymous- Wikimedia Common
Steiner education is also referred to as Waldorf and is a learning practice based on the philosophies of Rudolph Steiner, who was an Austrian social reformist and architect.
This way of learning takes into account the academic, physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the child and they are encouraged to play creatively, and use their imaginations.
The Steiner Method is divided into the categories of early childhood and primary school. Some schools do provide a high school, but this option varies. The theory on this form of education is that while children are young the focal point should be on play and developing their feelings. As they get older, thinking is then introduced in the form of lessons. The idea of this style of learning is that it launches each child into adolescence with a balanced view of both feeling and thinking. It encourages self confidence and provides the inner resources to accept responsibility and become creative and motivated members of our community.
During the early childhood years which is from Kindy to Grade 3, the emphasis for children is very art based and hands on. They spend a great deal of time both indoors and out playing, as this ties in with Steiner's learning through play theology.
An Autumn nature table
Children are encouraged to spend time reflecting and enjoying nature, and there is likely to be a nature table in the school as well. A nature or seasonal table is a reflection of bringing the joy of being outdoors inside. A nature table can represent and be changed each season, and is designed for children to play with. Simple things like a fallen leaf, or smooth stick found on a walk can feature in the display.
Waldorf toys are predominantly made from natural materials like wood.
Students also learn handicrafts like weaving, sewing and knitting along with the standard kindy fare of painting and drawing. They also learn cooking, baking and self-care life skills from a young age. This also provides the necessary motor skills for their next learning stage. Generally only certain toys are recommended for this age group and these are based on natural objects and materials such as basic wooden toys and puzzles, dress ups, beeswax crayons and play silks. Such toys are said to inspire the child and stimulate their inner creativity. All furniture is also made from wood, with rounded edges.
In primary school, formal classes do not begin until age 7. It is at this stage when subjects like English (including reading and writing), Maths, History and Science are introduced. Children also learn Music, Drama, Woodwork and Art along with Gardening, Building and Farming.
Hands on activities like woodwork are a big part of the curriculum
To quote Rudolph Steiner: "If a child has been able in his play to give up his whole living being to the world around him, he will be able, in the serious tasks of later life, to devote himself with confidence and power to the service of the world".
I really love the idea of education providing more of an experiential way of learning. To find out more about a Steiner Education, you may enjoy the Steiner Education Australia website here.
Does your child have a Steiner Education? How does this style compare against the recent introduction of school readiness programs currently being initiated?
Steiner education has worked very well for us so far - it is such a nourishing, nurturing environment for children to learn and become emotionally intelligent. I am continously impressed by the confidence and caring nature of the older children and this gives me hope for the teenage years. I also love the Steiner quote you included in the article.