Browsing Tag

schools

Featured Video Play Icon
Archives, Childhood, Education, Parenting, Reading, Storytelling, Sunday With Sarah, Waldorf Education

Are Waldorf Schools Anti-Reading?

One of the biggest misconceptions about Waldorf education is that children can’t read and that Waldorf schools are anti-books.

In this week’s Sunday with Sarah , I try to dispel some of the myths and describe how reading is approached in Waldorf education.

I’m sure this topic will raise lots of questions, so please a comment below, and I will do my best to answer them all!

And if you want to be sure to catch all future videos, be sure to visit my Sunday with Sarah YouTube channel and SUBSCRIBE!

Warmly,

sarah-signature-blue-125x64

 

 

 

TRANSCRIPTION:

Today I’d like to dispel one of the biggest myths you may have heard about Waldorf education: that Waldorf kids can’t read. I’m here to tell you that is not true and to share with you some information about how reading is approached in Waldorf education.

Now, it’s true that Waldorf kindergartens and nurseries don’t formally teach reading, writing, and other academic subjects, but that doesn’t mean that the children aren’t gaining valuable development in those areas. In the early years, they’re developing so many pre-reading skills and language skills. Children in a Waldorf preschool environment—nursery or kindergarten—are hearing verses, they’re learning songs, they’re hearing stories and fairy tales. They’re hearing rich language and they’re hearing it repeated over and over. They might hear the same story every day for a week or two weeks or repeating a circle play with the same songs and verses until they really memorize them and learn them by heart.

They’re building mature vocabularies. If you meet a Waldorf kindergarten student, who might not be reading any words yet, you may notice that they have a very advanced vocabulary and spoken language skills.

One of the reasons Waldorf schools don’t push reading at a young age is that children’s brains are all wired differently and some children are predisposed to read early while others are not. Other children might be developing their physical skills first, and the decoding ability necessary to read will come later. Most children under the age of seven will be more advanced in some developmental areas than others.

Some children can get really frustrated when reading is introduced too early, before they’re ready. It can turn them off to reading for a lifetime, convincing them that reading is a chore and not inherently rewarding or fun. In Waldorf we choose to allow these skills to develop naturally at the individual child’s own pace. It’s similar to walking: kids learn how to do it on their own, at different ages, without us having to teach them how!

I always give the example of my two children. My older son, Harper, didn’t start to read fluently until the middle of 3rd grade. My younger son, William, taught himself in kindergarten. Nobody taught him, he just started reading one day. I, like a lot of parents, was really worried when their cousins were their age and reading way ahead of them, but both boys grew into very voracious readers with excellent literary skills. When it happens, it happens.

Around the age of seven, all those different developmental areas should be more or less caught up. Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf education, believed around seven, or the year the child is turning seven, is the ideal time to start first grade and academic learning.

When they do get to first grade, letters are introduced in a very imaginative and living way through stories and art. For example, the letter “M” might be introduced as a drawing of a Mountain in the shape of the letter.

By third grade, most children in a Waldorf school should be reading competently. Some children do develop learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, so when they do get to grade school it’s important to keep an eye on them and to be in touch with a child’s teacher. If by third grade they’re still struggling, you may want to consult with a learning or reading specialist for analysis because the earlier a problem like dyslexia is diagnosed the more can be done to help the child.

I can assure you that Waldorf schools are not anti-reading and they’re not anti-books. Being concerned that your child is falling behind can be a natural reaction, but I’m here to tell you to relax and let it happen when it happens.

Wishing you a day full of play!

Sarah

You Might Also Like

Waldorf Storytelling Circle Time
Homeschooling, Storytelling, Waldorf Education

Storytelling: The Heart of Waldorf Education

From a Parent-Toddler class through the grades, children in a Waldorf school are immersed in stories.

Starting with simple nature stories in the early childhood, children will hear many stories through the years: fairy tales, folk tales, fables, myths, legends, biographies, and stories from history, spoken aloud by the teacher and transmitted heart-to-heart.

In addition, academic subjects throughout the grades−from math to science to history to art to handwork—are all introduced through storytelling.

For example, in a past video blog post on Waldorf watercolor painting, I demonstrated how a kindergarten teacher might introduce painting with a story about “Tippy Brush,” who dips his toes into the water for a foot bath before inviting the other colors to come and play with him.

A first-grade teacher who is introducing the four processes of basic arithmetic may tell an imaginative story about Princess Plus, Duke Division, or Emperor Equal.

Teaching math through storytelling. Used with permission of the Bright Water School.

Teaching math through storytelling. Used with permission of the Bright Water School.

Introducing subjects through stories engages children’s imaginations and strengthens their inner picturing capabilities–their ability to create a picture in their “mind’s eye,” an essential skill for creative thinking later in life. Continue Reading

You Might Also Like

Featured Video Play Icon
Art

Filana Organic Beeswax Crayons vs.
 Stockmar Crayons: A Comparison

Have you heard about new Filana Organic Beeswax Crayons? I am so excited to introduce them at the beginning of this new year at Bella Luna Toys!

Click on the video link above to learn more about Filana Crayons, how they are different from the Stockmar Wax Crayons that we also carry, and see a comparison of the color quality.

TRANSCRIPT:

Stockmar is a German company, that originally produced beeswax candles. More than 50 years ago, they began producing crayons containing beeswax for use in Waldorf schools. Stockmar crayons have been used widely in Waldorf schools around the world since then, and have become known for their rich pigments and quality of color, and for the warmth and scent that the beeswax lends.

What I and many other Waldorf educators were not aware of until recently, is that Stockmar crayons are made from a base of paraffin and contain only 10% beeswax.

Continue Reading

You Might Also Like