Children learn in many different ways. That’s why it is so important for teachers to bring concepts through multiple senses. In Waldorf schools we teach science through stories as well as outdoors in nature and in the lab. We move, build, and even bake and eat our math. We teach literature through theater. We sing our history and languages. We teach this way so that our curriculum reaches more children, more deeply, in a way that they love and remember.
There are many things to consider when finding the right school for your child. Finding a learning environment that emphasizes multimodal learning and an experiential approach to teaching is often what draws a family to Waldorf education. It’s no secret that we believe that children need to engage their whole body to learn academics. This is why art and movement are integrated into core academic subjects, as well as taught as stand-alone topics. When we acknowledge and incorporate multi-sensory experiences into the curriculum, student engagement soars.
As an article in Edutopia.org, “How Multisensory Activities Enhance Reading Skills”, explains, “reading lessons can involve more than just our eyes and ears.” Further, the author explains that research reinforces the idea that multisensory learning supports all students, and “the key is to use more than one sense at a time in order to cement the concept.” As an example, in a Waldorf math lesson, you’ll see second graders working on their multiplication times tables through a variety of ways. You’ll hear students singing their 4 times tables to the tune of Frere Jacques. They’ll draw a 10-pointed star with numbers 0 to 10 at each point, and learn their 3 times tables by following the line. Hand clapping games are a common tool to bring the physical body into the intellectual concept. Their teacher may tell a story that further reinforces the relationship between these numbers. Through these exercises, concepts are being reinforced across modalities. With this, we have a much greater chance of supporting different learning styles to learn new skills, to think critically, and to use their creativity.
In Waldorf education, the multi-sensory approach to academics is part and parcel of our philosophy. Handwork classes begin in 1st grade, where students will learn to knit on needles, count their stitches, and follow a pattern. Cooking is regularly incorporated into world language classes to learn about different cultures. Furthermore, all students from PreK to 8th grade have biking classes. Class plays are an integral piece of the curriculum, bringing students together in a performance that is often connected to their core curriculum. There are many other examples of how all five senses are considered and honored at Richmond Waldorf School. We’d love to share more with an in-person visit.
As students move into the upper elementary and middle school, the multi-sensory learning continues to unfold in increasing complexity. Laboratory sciences with engaging experiments and demonstrations are commonplace to begin a new topic. Students may be asked to recount the demonstration by drawing an illustration of the experiment they witnessed. In addition to the integrated curriculum, Waldorf teachers bring subjects to life through field trips, being in and observing nature, and through a personal relationship with their students. We want to help students cultivate an interest in the world and its people through storytelling and multi-sensory experiences.
Want to Learn More?
We would love for you to explore the Waldorf approach! Sign up for a tour, or watch our school video where students talk about life at Richmond Waldorf School. Get to know us and see if RWS is right for your child.
At Richmond Waldorf School, we recognize that our student’s physical, social, and emotional well-being are a key part of their ability to learn and thrive. We look forward to meeting you and sharing more information about Waldorf education.
Richmond Waldorf School is a non-profit, private school in Richmond, Virginia offering Waldorf education for grades Pre-K – 8th grade.