Being outdoors helps children develop the curiosity that is the essence of science later in life. Time in nature helps students cultivate their independence, imagination and sense of wonder, while helping them feel less stressed and more confident in themselves. That’s one reason why outdoor education and play are core components of Waldorf education.
At Richmond Waldorf School, outdoor time is a priority for every enrolled student, from age 3 through 8th grade. We understand that to develop free-thinking, balanced, and curious human beings, educators should value the robust learning opportunities that occur when children are allowed to be outdoors in both structured and unstructured times. As a recent article from CNN argues, time outside “helps kindle curiosity that is the essence of science.” “If you are fascinated by clouds or the spots on a ladybug’s back; if you like to split open rocks and see what’s inside, then you’re already an outdoor scientist,” Grandin wrote.
The child’s school environment can also play an important role in helping spark and nurture that curiosity. Waldorf education is known for a holistic approach that emphasizes integrating the natural world into the curriculum. Our preschoolers and Kindergarteners spend at least two hours outdoors every day, in all weather and seasons. You’ll see children bundled up and playing elaborate games, exploring, working, and even eating meals outside through all types of weather – rain, snow, or shine! This actively builds resilience as they learn how to work together to stay warm on cold or wet days, or to develop a curiosity in the changing seasons and the insects, birds, and other animals that live amongst us, and also learning how that there is no such thing as bad weather since wearing the right clothing makes all the difference. We firmly believe that these outdoor experiences are building a foundation of scientific curiosity, honing observational skills, and giving children a space where there is joy and fun throughout the school day.
As students enter the lower elementary grades, Waldorf students continue to have ample unstructured outdoor times through recess, movement classes, biking class, and even through the course of their academic studies. Waldorf education uses observation of nature as a way to unfold the science curriculum. Regular field trips to local farms, orchards, and parks allow students to deepen their love and appreciation of nature. They also have regular classes in bicycling, movement and games, and will draw, paint, sculpt, and write about all the academic subjects.
As they move into upper elementary and middle school, students study botany, geology, astronomy, chemistry, physics, and anatomy. Our teachers plan adventurous field trips to the mountains for camping, caving, kayaking, and truly experiencing the natural world as a way to teach and provide a sense of wonder. This translates into stewardship of the earth and a strong sense of environmentalism in Waldorf students. The Waldorf students deeply appreciate the beauty of nature, and as the students progress through adolescence, graduate Richmond Waldorf and move into high school and college, we see that these experiences often bloom into a strong sense to protect and preserve nature, as well as a desire to continue to have outdoor time throughout their adulthood.
To learn more about the Waldorf approach to science education, and how we bring meaning and inspiration to the learning environment, submit an online inquiry here.
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. Our holistic approach to education prioritizes critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity to prepare students for the challenges of the 21st century.
We would love you to explore if the Waldorf approach is right for your child! Join an information session or meet with our Enrollment Administrator to learn more about Richmond Waldorf School.
Choosing a school is a very important decision in a family’s life. Our admissions process is designed to give you as much information as you need to make an informed decision about enrolling your children. Whenever possible, we encourage all families to book a visit when considering Richmond Waldorf School. We want to meet you! It is just as important for us to know who you are and what you are looking for in a school, as it is for you to know who we are and what Waldorf education is about.