We often hear from schools and educators that they use a “hands on” approach when teaching students, but what does that really mean? At Richmond Waldorf School, it means that students learn from creating, doing, and being instead of from rote memorization of facts.
Take our sixth graders’ study of Medieval history, for instance. First, the Class Teacher, Mrs. Amey, created beautiful imagery on her blackboard to introduce the topic. It is not just a pretty picture – there is content in the details. The font is a gothic script; the trees and ground give the impression of stained glass from a Medieval Cathedral; a knight stands in his armor and shield. We learn so much just from the drawing, and are drawn into the topic through art.
To begin their study, the students performed Hi Ho Robin Hood. The outlaw from Nottingham forest who steals from the rich to give to the poor is a classic tale and a perfect way for the students to get into the characters’ minds and experience what it might be like to live in the 12th or 13th century. The characters, plot, costumes, dialect, and scenery all help the students internalize what life was like in the Medieval era. By re-enacting and living the tale themselves, an innate curiosity grows in the students to learn more.
Next, Main Lesson time is used to dive into content and expand on what they have learned. The students write compositions, draw and paint, and read more stories. They study the Middle East and rise of Islam to understand what other cultures and countries were like during the time period. Representing minority and non-European viewpoints and experiences is an essential component to helping students think globally.
To wrap up the study, the Class Teacher with help from the parent community, coordinated a Medieval Games tournament with other Waldorf schools. Our visitors arrived and the games began. Students tried their hands at jousting, knife throwing, and archery — all sports that demonstrated a knight’s strength and skill. The students were entertained by a Jouster dressed in traditional garb, who gave an incredible and hilarious performance. The students shared a medieval feast of chicken, bread, and salad – without utensils, of course!
Through these experiences, the children internalize and master the themes, stories, and experiences of the topic. By using not only their heads, but also their hands and hearts to learn, a deep connection and natural curiosity is forged. And to us, that is experiential learning in the Middle School curriculum.
Waldorf educators foster a learning environment that is designed to meet the unique needs of each individual student in the class. In this environment, students cultivate a deep connection to learning and to their classmates. The Class Teacher takes an artistic and holistic approach to teaching. For instance, in the lower grades, subjects are blended so that it is hard to tell where math ends and music begins. We meet the needs of the whole child by building connections between subjects and by connecting academic learning to movement, social skills, and art.
In the image above, students are learning times tables. A student will touch her head and say “three”, cross her arms and say “times”, put her arms down and say “four”, then cross her legs and turn to meet her partner. The student will clap hands with her partner and say the answer. The class goes through the whole multiplication table in this way. They are working on movement and using their bodies to help memorize the table. The teacher will then present multiplication in several ways to reach the needs of each child. The class will sing them, move with them, clap to them, write them, jump to them, and make patterns with them. By presenting math in this way, the students form connections with music, movement, language, art, and each other.
As the founder of Waldorf Education, Rudolph Steiner said, “The heart of the Waldorf method is the conviction that education is an art – it must speak to the child’s experience. To educate the whole child, his heart and will must be reached as well as his mind.”
Learn more about the Waldorf approach by visiting our school. Our next interactive Open House, Windows Into Waldorf, is on Saturday, January 26, 2019 at 10:00 am. Join us to experience this unique approach to learning.
We all have values or core beliefs that are important to us, that define who we are and how we engage with the world around us. As human beings, we seek friends, leaders, jobs, and lifestyles that speak to our value system. As parents, we strive to instill strong values in our children, so that they too can grow up with a sense of purpose.
When the first Waldorf School opened a century ago, its founders sought to inspire peace, goodness, and humanity in the younger generation of a country that was bitterly divided and almost destroyed by war and suffering. Waldorf education still aspires to instill strong values in children who will grow into adults who can make a positive impact in the world.
Richmond Waldorf School’s values live in the hearts and minds of our faculty, staff, and community.
We believe that…
- Students thrive when exposed to a hands-on, integrated curriculum that is developmentally appropriate and grounded in artistic and practical work.
- Students must develop intellectual curiosity, social sensitivity, and physical stamina in order to meet their full potentials.
- Students who are exposed to world cultures through story and sensory experience will become thoughtful, clear-thinking adults who understand and take an interest in the world and its people.
- Schools must have a safe, inclusive learning environment where the interests and strengths of all students are honored and encouraged.
- Schools should awaken social responsibility, service to community, and stewardship of the earth.
- Open, clear, and direct communication is critical for maintaining a supportive and productive educational community.
- Effective teachers are committed to building long-term relationships with students, while demonstrating enthusiasm and honest striving in the world.
- Cooperation and collaboration between parents and teachers play a vital role in helping students meet their full potential.
- Strong schools rely on initiative and commitment from all members of the community.
- The human spirit has the power to invoke positive change in the world.
When the first Waldorf School opened in 1919, it pioneered a new way to educate children: one which could inspire humanity, peace, and goodness in an ever-changing and complex world. Over the last century, Waldorf Education has become the fastest growing education model across the world with more than 1,100 schools and 2,000 kindergartens in over 80 countries across the globe.
Waldorf100 arose from an international desire to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the inauguration of Waldorf Education and to deepen our connection with one another through a series of projects. The festivities will culminate with an Anniversary Celebration on September 19, 2019.
One of Waldorf100’s projects is the World-Wide Postcard Exchange, where every Waldorf School around the world will send personalized postcards to every other Waldorf School by the end of 2019. These postcards, decorated by students, show the receiver something about the author’s country, school, or self. Richmond Waldorf School students have begun creating postcards and receiving them from schools across the US, Europe, Asia, and even New Zealand!
To display the network of schools, each Waldorf School will create a world map on which the cards will be visible, showing where each card came from. Our World Map has been painted in the gymnasium — stop in next time you are here to take a closer look.
Want to help us make this possible? Mailing 1,100 postcards across the world is expensive. If you would like to support us with a donation for postage, please get in touch with .
Keep in touch with the Waldorf100 movement and all of the projects to celebrate the Centennial at https://www.waldorf-100.org/en/
The World Map in the RWS Gym will eventually display all the postcards we receive.
This April, Richmond Waldorf School celebrated the one-year anniversary of the purchase of our new building. With summer upon us, we are taking time to reflect, to dream, and to work. As we look back on how far we’ve come, we are inspired to dream about how far we have yet to go: to truly embody our mission as a school that provides an education that inspires peace and purpose.
Halfway through summer we can be proud of the progress we’re making: our first season of a full-fledged summer camp and early childhood program; a beautifully lazured rainbow hallway; a newly divided classroom; an inspiring Board-Faculty retreat. At every point we are encouraged by the vision and dedication of our faculty and volunteers.
On a larger scale, the Waldorf Education movement also continues to gain momentum and is actively celebrating the Centennial anniversary of Waldorf Education with ongoing projects to unite and connect the 1,100+ Waldorf Schools across the world. Stay tuned for later posts for how RWS is involved in Waldorf100 efforts.
There is much to share, so follow the blog this year for a closer look at the action and impact of Waldorf education, both here at home and across the world. We hope you will stay tuned for our journey. Until then….
Richmond Waldorf School is proud to welcome Spikenard Farm Honeybee Sanctuary to our campus on March 2 and 3 to lead our community and other interested individuals in exploring sustainable solutions to the Honeybee crisis.
The greater Richmond community has a wealth of clubs and resources for beekeepers, but the approach of the beekeepers at Spikenard Farm is unique. Gunther Hauk, the founder of the Spikenard Honeybee Sanctuary, has been teaching at Waldorf Schools and working with bees for almost 40 years. He co-founded the Biodynamic Pfeiffer Center in Spring Valley, NY in 1996 and has taught at Waldorf schools in Germany and the US.
As Waldorf education celebrates 100 years in 2019, the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA) has requested that Waldorf Schools celebrate next year’s important anniversary by creating gardens for pollinators and possibly having honeybees as part of our campuses. These events at RWS will help us join the nationwide Waldorf movement to support safe spaces for pollinators.
Spikenard Farm is a remarkable place which the fifth graders from RWS experienced during a fall trip there. The principles of Waldorf education, Anthroposophy, and biodynamics are at the heart of their work, and they are excited to bring their deep understanding of stewardship of the earth to the Richmond Waldorf community. The lecture and workshop are open to the public and will enhance everyone’s understanding of the honeybee while enriching our knowledge of Waldorf and Rudolf Steiner’s work.
Schedule of Events:
Friday, March 2, 7:00 – 9:00 – Lecture and Q&A led by Gunther Hauk and Alex Tuchman
$10 recommended donation
Saturday, March 3, 9:00 – 4:00 – Biodynamic Beekeeping Workshop
$45 – $60 sliding scale (payable in advance or the day of the event)
We hope you will join us. Anyone interested in participating in the lecture on March 2 or workshop on March 3 is encouraged to call Richmond Waldorf School at 804-377-8024.
Join us for Richmond Waldorf School’s Annual Spring Auction and Gala. Our festive evening celebrates St. Patrick’s Day with style while raising money to support the programming at Richmond Waldorf School. An Emerald Evening is open to the public and will be fun-filled party with:
• Music by E3Rocks
• Silent Auction
• Cash bar
Raffle – $10 per ticket
What: A five course gourmet dinner for 8, along with fine wines, poured and discussed by wine professional, Nancy Collie-Beard (WSET Level 3, Sommelier, VA, distributor for International Cellars, and Wine Whiz Kid writer).
Where: Right in the comfort of your own home!
When: Use before September 30, 2018 at a date mutually agreed upon by the winner and the chef, Deane Collie. Please allow 30 days lead time for planning and preparation.
Estimated value: over $1200
All proceeds from An Emerald Evening benefit Richmond Waldorf School, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Richmond Waldorf School provides a learning environment that promotes independent thinking, cultivates creativity, builds confidence, and develops practical skills. Our proven, holistic approach to education lays the foundation for a life full of meaning and purpose.
It’s that time of year where we emphasize giving rather than receiving and the meaning behind the holiday season. Regardless of how your family celebrates the holidays, the season offers an opportunity to be with the ones we love and to support the people and causes that are important to us. As we settle in for the last few days of the holiday season, we pause to reflect on why Waldorf education is worthy of the support of our community.
Simply put, we believe in Waldorf education because we believe the world needs truth, beauty, and goodness.
Now, more than ever, we believe in the positive impact of Waldorf education and the need for an expanded program in Richmond. We hope that you, too, believe in the mission and goals of Richmond Waldorf School and will join us in giving your support in whatever way you can. Volunteer with us, study with us, and if you are able, support us with a tax-deductible charitable donation. Every individual gift, no matter how small, helps make Waldorf education in Richmond possible. Learn more at RichmondWaldorf.com/annual-fund or YouCaring.com/RichmondWaldorf
Winter is upon us. As the weather changes, the days darken, the last of the leaves fall, and chilly winds abound. To cope, we warm ourselves with cozy sweaters, hot chocolate, or an extra blanket at night. While most people retreat to the indoors for the next few months, Waldorf communities find warmth in the cold.
Waldorf education believes in the importance in being outdoors and learning from nature. To continue exploring the outdoors in Winter, we must create and preserve warmth. Warmth in our clothing means dressing in extra layers of cotton, wool, and silks. We believe that there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing!
Waldorf holds onto warmth through festivals and celebrations that honor the season. For instance, on one of the darkest days in December we create a Spiral of Light. In this ceremony, each child will lay a candle on a spiral of pine boughs. As the candles are added, the spiral grows in brightness to symbolize the light and warmth of the coming spring.
Waldorf also develops warmth in our students by providing an education that fosters love and compassion towards the world. The students at a Waldorf school are socially responsible, kind, and intellectually bright. There is a natural curiosity and love of learning that exists in all of us, and children thrive from the hands-on approach of a Waldorf school.
The faculty and staff at Richmond Waldorf School recently spread a biodynamic preparation on our school’s grounds and fields. Biodynamic Farming was inspired by Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf education. It seeks to “awaken and enliven co-creative relationships between humans and the earth, transforming the practice and culture of agriculture to renew the vitality of the earth, the integrity of our food, and the health and wholeness of our communities” (https://www.biodynamics.com/about-the-bda).
We were delighted to have Jenny Dilworth, Visual Arts Teacher at RWS, give us some background and lead our staff in spreading a field preparation that will awaken our grounds and lay the framework for our future gardens.
This is the first step in a longer process to prepare the ground for gardening. Through this preparation, the ground begins to awaken. The preparation should improve the soil by bringing livestock material and crops together in the ecosystem, thereby balancing each other and increasing the biodiversity of the ground. It also brings awareness and intention to the ground which brings a cosmic force to the land.