- Is based on an understanding of the relevance of the different phases of child development
- Sees artistic activity and the development of the imagination as integral to learning
- Develops a love of learning and an enthusiasm for school
- Is built around the whole child – accounting for their academic, physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
How we teach
Calder Valley Steiner School is one of more than one thousand schools across more than sixty countries teaching children through the educational principles first established by Rudolf Steiner.
Steiner Education (also known as Waldorf Education) and the Steiner Waldorf Curriculum grew out of Rudolf Steiner’s insights into the nature of the human being, and specifically the growing child in their developing relationship to the world. The essential aim of the Steiner Waldorf Curriculum is to establish good rhythm and balance in all aspects of the child’s development. The curriculum, and the teaching methods which flow from it, take account of the growing child’s physical and emotional needs, as well as their intellectual needs. Every aspect of the teaching, whatever the subject, aims to balance these needs at each stage of the child’s development. The Steiner Waldorf curriculum provides the child with educational challenges at such a time that they can meet them, in a way that their interest in the actual process of learning (whatever the subject) is continually renewed. It is the task of the Steiner Waldorf teacher to foster this positive relationship to learning across all subjects, thereby laying the foundations for life-long learning.
In Kindergarten the child learns mainly through play and imitation. Play is vital to a child’s healthy development and to establishing the best possible grounding for formal learning in Class 1. The young child’s innate sense of wonder is nurtured throughout their time at kindergarten, alongside trust and co-operation. Three of the principal pillars of the Steiner Waldorf Kindergarten by which the kindergarten teacher achieves this are: the establishment of good rhythm throughout the day, week and year; repetition, by which the child has the chance to learn through imitation; and reverence, by which the child establishes for themselves a secure and trust-filled place in the world.
The Steiner Waldorf method for school-age children is characterized by whole-class teaching (which from the child’s perspective equates to whole-class learning). A mixed ability class gives opportunities for children to improve and exercise their social skills through listening and communicating to the class as a whole. In fact, the class in a Steiner Waldorf School is always viewed as a microcosm of society, where helping, and being helped by others is seen as a model for community. Extra help for individual pupils in specific subjects is always an option. However, whenever differentiation is called for (such as in numeracy or literacy), new material is always presented to the class as a whole, which may then divide into groups, but which are re-integrated into the whole at the end of the lesson.
All children learn and grow in their understanding of socially appropriate and desirable behaviour. In the kindergarten the teachers continually work with social behaviour by endeavouring to be role models worthy of imitation. The variety and sequencing of our daily activities build a rhythm into our mornings that provides a comfortable knowing of what to expect that further contributes to our intention to support positive behaviour. As children work and play, the teachers will always seek to encourage reverence, respect and care of self, others, and the environment.
Everything we do in the Early Years (and indeed throughout the school) is embedded in rhythm. This is because we know that rhythm brings strength to all types of growth and development. We all know how young children love rhythm and how they thrive from an appropriate rhythm of eating and sleeping. So our pedagogy is embedded in bringing to the children a healthy rhythm of activity and rest which is repeated each day. Even though in the Kindergarten there are different activities on the days of the week this becomes a rhythm in itself (e.g. Tuesday painting, Wednesday baking etc.) which is immersed in the breathing rhythm of play, ring time, outside time and story time. All of this helps to build strong healthy bodies and socially coherent groups. The children gain more and more stamina for both mental and physical activity. They begin to own the space which is their classroom and feel completely at home so that they can unfold their imaginative faculties unhindered in relationship with one another.