Sharing my Love of Waldorf Education
I had never really paid attention to education until I had kids myself. I had gone through school myself, and did fairly well, so I didn’t think much about it. When I became pregnant with my first child, the kind of school we wanted her to attend suddenly became an interesting topic of conversation. Mothering Magazine published an article on Spirituality and Waldorf Education . I received a religious education, but not necessarily a spiritual one. I wrote tothe Anthroposophic Society asking if there was a Waldorf School in Mexico. There wasn’t one at the time, but to make a long story short, a friend who owned and was the director of a Montessori Preschool became interested in Waldorf, did the training and turned her school into a Waldorf School. By the time my daughter started school, it had already become a Waldorf School and had been up and running for a few years. If there had been no Waldorf School, my kids would have attended a Montessori School.
I’m a Mexican, I grew up in Mexico. Even though there is a public school system in Mexico, the norm is sending your children to private schools. Private schools are not as expensive in Mexico as they are, say in Canada or the US. I know nothing about British Education. My then husband is a Zen Buddhist, I was a Naqshbandi (but had not embraced Islam yet), we were vegetarians; this is to say we were very odd.
Any educational system is only as good as teachers in it. I fell in love with Waldorf, but it may not be the best schooling for someone else. God is Beautiful and loves Beauty. Beauty is very much part of Waldorf Education. Even the colours on the classroom walls and the way teachers paint them is important. Art is an important part of the curriculum, and I love that: Children create their own school books, they learn how to play musical instruments, learn a second and sometimes a third language; they watercolour, knit, weave, bake, do carpentry as part of their classes and it is all tied in to their main class.
There is much emphasis on rhythm: a rhythm to the day, the week, the season and the year. Rituals and celebrations are important; festivals mark the transitions of seasons and birthdays are very happy occasions. Plays, poetry, singing, planting and cooking were also very much a part of school. Crayons were wax crayons with natural colours; watercolours made use of only red, blue and yellow, the young artists would then go on to develop all other shades and combinations. Children used pencils and colour pencils to write their class books, and later on –5th grade I believe—they write with fountain pens. I’m sorry I have no example of their books or watercolours with me, but you can see many examples online.
At first I wondered about the child having the same teacher for all of grade school. In practice, it worked well. My kids were young in the “BG” years, “Before Google.” We did not have a computer in the house, we did not watch television, there were no cell phones, let alone smart phones, cameras were not digital. In that sense, Waldorf and my family were a good fit. I love reading, and read to my kids up until their teen years. Yes, they do know how to read and can read on their own. I also love movies, and carefully screened the movies I allowed my children to watch. Waldorf does not encourage media usage (computers, TV, cells, etc) before High School. I do wonder how Waldorf parents manage today.
Basically, we were all happy with the school. Our Waldorf School only went up to 6th grade. My kids then transferred to a traditional school where they did very well. They have also done well at University. They talk fondly about their Waldorf school years; they would like their children to attend a Waldorf school. They really appreciate not having had homework and having had to develop inner resources when “there was nothing to do.”
I’m happy to keep on sharing about more specific topics of Waldorf education in future posts.