From preschool fairy tales to middle school Shakespeare, students are immersed in a literate environment that develops their love of language in all its forms. Beginning in the first grade, children learn to write what they have spoken and to read what they have written. This sequence – speaking, writing, and then reading – follows the historical development of reading. By utilizing both the whole word and the phonetic approach, we lay the foundation that children need to write, read, and spell with confidence.
Visual and performing arts are integral parts of our daily curriculum. Students draw, paint, sculpt, sing, play flute and recorder, and perform dramatic presentations as a part of their academic studies. In addition, all Waldorf students learn to knit, crochet, sew, work with wood, and play violin or cello.
Beginning in the first grade, our children are immersed in both Russian and Spanish language and native culture. In early elementary, stories, songs, and poems are taught through imitation. By fourth grade students begin to write and read the languages, and in Middle School students develop greater fluency in expression and translation. Middle School students also study Greek and Latin, which serves to extend their studies of Greek and Roman history.
In Waldorf tradition, learning is a truly human process. When children are young it is more important for them to interact with other students and teachers than to work with machines. By participating in the creative process with others, our students develop their knowledge, skills, and inner qualities.
Waldorf students have a love of learning, an ongoing curiosity, and an interest in life. As they mature, students quickly master all forms of technology. Our graduates have successfully met the technological demands of high school and college.
Preparation for life means to develop oneself as a well-rounded person. Waldorf Education has as its ideal a person who is knowledgeable about the world and human history and culture, who has varied practical and artistic abilities, who feels a deep reverence for and communion with the natural world, and who can act with initiative and freedom in the face of economic and political challenges.
We welcome students at every level, and they quickly find their place in their new community. Central to Waldorf education is the idea of community – the class forms a community, the parents of the class form a community, and the school as a whole form a community. Students in our school embrace new members of their community by supporting them through learning ‘the Waldorf way’ of doing things. Some students may need a little extra support to catch up in foreign language or music but most find their way during the first months. Most transfer students describe the transition as a relaxed experience where they are valued for being themselves.
Education is more than the transfer of information- it is the process by which we become ourselves. True education awakens capacities: the ability to think clearly and critically, to experience and understand other people and the world, and to distinguish what is beautiful, good, and true.
Waldorf teachers take a deep interest in each of their students and their families. Because teachers remain with their classes for years, they can take their time to develop their students’ skills, capacities, and character.
Our teachers’ success grows out of their love for their students and their ability to recognize and work with those inner faculties that are still in the bud, so that they can grow, develop, and open up in a beautiful, balanced, and wholesome way.
In today’s educational circles we often hear the new concept of the whole child approach. This is not a new concept in a Waldorf school; it is the foundation upon which the Waldorf philosophy was built in 1919. Our education supports a lifetime of learning by developing each student intellectually, socially, emotionally, artistically, and practically – an education of the head, heart and hands.
Waldorf education encourages a reverence for the world around us and a respect for the importance of a spiritual element within our lives. However, we do not teach or advocate any specific religion or philosophy. Our curriculum explores the mythology, traditions and stories of many cultures, and we celebrate festivals and holidays from all around the world. Richmond Waldorf School seeks to prepare our students to become world citizens, and welcomes families of every background, creed, and religion.
Anthroposophy is the philosophy developed by Rudolf Steiner, who characterized it as “a path of knowledge to guide the Spiritual in the human being to the Spiritual in the universe.” Anthroposophy is derived from the words anthropos (human being) and Sophia (wisdom). It is both a worldview and a path of inner development.
Waldorf teachers are students of anthroposophy, and they strive to bring this philosophy to fruition through their life and work. Anthroposophy aids teachers in their preparation and in their work with the students; it also illuminates and gives meaning to the subjects of the curriculum. Anthroposophy is not taught to the students in any way, for we have no wish to interfere with or influence our students’ background or religious orientation.