Waldorf Education offers a developmentally appropriate, balanced approach to education that integrates the arts and academics. It encourages the development of each child’s sense of truth, beauty, and goodness. The aim of the education is to inspire in all students a lifelong love of learning and to enable them to fully develop their unique capacities. Each student’s specific developmental needs are addressed in a structured, socially cooperative, and non-competitive environment. At the core of Waldorf philosophy is the belief that education is an artistic process.
The children’s day begins with a greeting and handshake from their teacher, followed by a two-hour period called the main lesson. Main lesson is devoted to the study of a particular academic discipline (such as math, writing, literature, science, geography, history, and drama) and is taught in blocks from three to four weeks in duration. This rotation of subjects allows for a concentrated in-depth study while recognizing the student's need for variety and time to experience/internalize the subject matter. In addition to the comprehensive language arts, math, science, and social studies of the main lesson, each student attends continuing classes in French, vocal and instrumental music, speech and drama, movement education, painting, drawing, modeling, and handwork. French, music and movement are taught by Subject Teachers, generally twice per week.
Waldorf teachers bring a creative approach to the curriculum that educates the whole child—the heart and hands, as well as the head. With Orchard Valley's Combined Class model, one class teacher will accompany the same class from grades 2/3 through 4/5, then a second class teacher will carry the same combined group of students through until all graduate from 8th grade. The class teacher teaches the core academic subjects in the Waldorf curriculum, providing a strong continuity for the children over three to four years of working together and developing a deep understanding, appreciation, and love for each child.
At the same time, parents and teachers are able to develop a similar relationship that supports the student’s learning process. Class teachers hold parent meetings throughout the school year. These meetings prove to be an integral part of school life as they build an important bridge between home and school and offer parents an opportunity to become familiar with the activities of the class and its relevance to the children’s stage of development throughout their growth.
Student Evaluation and Reporting
We do not follow a traditional grading system for student evaluation and students are not required to take standardized tests. Rather, students are evaluated through comprehensive written reports sent to parents twice a year. These reports include a characterization of the child and his/her work, attitude, effort, and accomplishments in relation to each subject. Formal parent/teacher conferences are held twice per year in October and February.
Homework is not given before the third grade, and is then introduced gradually. Establishing a homework rhythm can give parents an opportunity to connect with their child’s schoolwork and to develop strong study habits.
A core goal of Waldorf education is that our students learn how to learn. Waldorf education aims for students to experience the natural world and the human world through their senses and imaginations and to express what they are learning competently, comprehensively, and artistically. As a result, there are no computers in OVWS classrooms. While Waldorf early childhood and elementary school teachers do not "teach" their students to use computers, we live in a world of technology and have found Waldorf graduates have no difficulties mastering any and all technology they wish and need to utilize beyond the elementary classroom. Worldwide, Waldorf graduates reflect a wide diversity of professions and occupations including medicine, law, engineering, computer technology, the arts, social science, government, and teaching. Please check out the following news articles and the "Preparing for Life" video to learn more: