Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. “For the mind does not require filling like a bottle, but rather, like wood, it only requires kindling to create in it an impulse to think independently and an ardent desire for the truth.” — Plutarch
The essence of Waldorf Education is founded on the understanding that every child goes through three distinct phases of development:
- Infancy and Early Childhood (0-7)
- Middle Childhood (7-14)
- Adolescence (14-21)
Each of these stages requires a different approach in order to meet and engage the intellectual, physical, emotional, and social needs of the growing child. Waldorf Education is based on three pillars: goodness, beauty, and truth.
During Early Childhood (Kindergarten), we help children hold on to the sense that the world is good. Learning occurs by facilitating self-initiated exploration through play.
In Elementary School and Middle School, we help children see the beauty in the world as part of holistic elementary school education. These years engage the vivid imaginative nature of the child through a program where academic learning is intertwined with and supported by storytelling, the arts, music, movement, and practical activity.
In the early years, an emphasis on coordinated bodies, strong imaginations, healthy social interactions, and a love of work and play lays the foundation for academic excellence as students experience the beauty of language arts and literature, the culture of the world's civilizations through history and language, and the empirical qualities of the scientific and mathematical disciplines through a lively and engaging curriculum that introduces increasingly complex and sophisticated subject matter as the students grow and mature.
When children learn in a way that honors their unfolding development (without trying to rush or speed up the process), they gain quiet confidence, mastery of skills, and sustained interest in the world around them. In short, Waldorf students can experience the journey of childhood without having that spark of curiosity and creativity extinguished.
Five Reasons Why Parents Choose a Waldorf Education for Their Child
(reposted, from our northern neighbors at Waldorf Canada)
As a parent you can be sure that choosing a Waldorf education for your child is a safe and smart choice. Your homework has already been done by millions of parents who’ve sent their own children to Waldorf schools across the globe. Here are 5 reasons why, over the past century, parents have made Waldorf one of the world’s largest independent schools systems:
1) Waldorf parents can be sure their child will be prepared and successful
Research shows that 94% of North American Waldorf graduates attend university and an incredible 50% attain a Masters or PhD. University professors speak very highly of the assertive and engaged Waldorf graduates in their classes. Yet, leaders and employers are not looking for people who can simply pass tests and follow orders. Waldorf graduates are successful because they are confident, creative thinking individuals with the courage to change the world. Our alumni go on to rewarding careers and continue to value learning, work, relationships and an ethical approach to their chosen path.
2) Waldorf teachers are personable, insightful and committed
Waldorf teachers are well trained professionals whom are experts at understanding what makes children tick. We know how to orchestrate a class of diverse learning styles and temperaments, using multiple methods of teaching to ensure that each child is warmed in their heart, skilled with their hands and sees clearly with their mind before advancing to the next thing. In the classroom Waldorf teachers interact with others with thoughtfulness and compassion, are capable and interested in many things and they make good decisions. They are like this so that every day your child has an exemplary role model working alongside of them. Waldorf teachers are continuously developing their skills, studying teaching practices, student learning styles and insight into the changing relationship between human beings, the world around us and how that effects student learning. Finally, our teachers make themselves available to parents as much as reasonably possible, hosting nearly monthly meetings with the parents of their class, regular parent-teacher interviews and crafting detailed, individualized reports on the progress of your child.
3) Waldorf teachers focus on the unique needs of your child
As every parent knows, each child learns and acts in their own unique way. Waldorf teachers work with your child according to their own gifts and challenges, nurturing and encouraging them just the right amount so that your child will want to be interested in and skilled at the many things they care about. Waldorf teachers know that education is not a competition and young students don’t need more pressure. Instead, we use the philosophy “the right thing at the right time,” meaning that we take the necessary time to discern how your child learns, what they need and when and we know how to draw out their desire to reach for and attain it themselves. Our teachers are ready when your child is, and when we let you know how your child is doing, it is relative primarily to their own development and expectations, not just to the other students.
4) Academic excellence is only the surface of Waldorf education
Waldorf teachers have a century of student observation at their disposal and they use proven learning techniques based on insight into brain and physical development, kinesthetic learning and emotional intelligence. By engaging their minds, emotions and bodies, students take in more, and they take it in much deeper. When Waldorf students excel at math, science and languages it is because they learn them experientially, integrated with physical education, music, arts, drama, woodwork, fiber arts and, yes, recess. Rather than simply teaching to the test, we make sure our students are happy, healthy, interested and motivated to create things as they learn, making sure they are not only prepared for university, but for life as well.
5) Waldorf schools are vibrant cultural communities
While Waldorf schools are largely independent from governments and therefore must charge tuition, they are not-for-profit and known for supporting many families that couldn’t otherwise afford to attend. This economic diversity, as well as gender, racial, religious diversity are the thread of the social fabric that Waldorf schools thrive on. Although Waldorf schools are not religious the movement was born out of a spiritual idea that humanity has evolved due to the dynamic between spiritual wisdom and earthly work and that each child will also develop on this path before having their own capacity to advance it themselves. We celebrate the changing seasons, rites of passage, diverse cultural festivities and more human ways of working together in order to show children that we are all equal under the sun, we all develop wisdom, have something to share and are part of a much larger whole…and that is something worth celebrating.
Through joyful engagement in the kindergarten, our children develop lifelong capacities for creative thinking, healthy foundational senses, self-confidence and awareness of others, and readiness and enthusiasm for academic learning.
The rewards of play-based entry to school become visible when children enter first grade and begin the academic journey through the grades. The children now have the visual, auditory, and kinesthetic readiness to explore the worlds of letters, numbers, writing, and arithmetic.
In two-hour main lesson blocks of three to four weeks each, children create their own subject books that reflect the diversity and breadth of the curriculum through essays, scientific observations, illustrations, wet-on-wet paintings, hand-drawn maps, and form drawings. Math and language arts practice are woven into the main lessons that focus on everything from botany to local geography to grammar.
Lessons are taught experientially, and the arts and storytelling are integral to all academic instruction. Students learn to find beauty in learning, in the world, and in each other.
Our middle school curriculum and programs are designed specifically to meet the unique emotional and social needs of young adolescents, while continuing to stimulate the feeling lives of students just as in the elementary school.
Students’ awakening intellects are ready for the beginnings of critical and objective thinking, knowledge of cause and effect, and more refined observation, which they experience in academic main lesson blocks, with themes such as the Renaissance, physics and the history of algebra. Their budding emotional lives blossom through positive and concrete modes of expression, which include the study and writing of poetry, literature and biographies. They experience a dynamic interplay of knowledge of self and the world as they engage in a wide variety of arts – from painting, sculpting, and song to the annual production of a class play.
Middle School Enrichment
This program is designed to offer students the opportunity to stretch their minds and bodies while they develop new skills and friendships.
We offer rolling enrollment for this program.
Homeschool students are encouraged to join the school for our various festivals throughout the year (see above) and other community-building activities we offer for students and their families to enjoy together.
The program runs Monday through Friday. Families will be asked to pick the same days each week for the whole year for consistency for the children and teachers. Space is limited for this special program. Contact our director at email@example.com for more details.
The alluring scents and sunny days of summer tempt us to trade work and routine in favor of time outdoors. Our teachers understand the young child’s desire to daydream and explore during the summer season. They consciously plan experiences that allow children to unwind from the school year into a new “holiday” mood and a sense of freedom and exploration.
Designed to complement our school year programs, summer offerings engage young children with a balance of summer activities that strengthen their developing skills and capacities.
City Garden School hosts six weeks of Summer Camp for both incoming and outgoing First through Sixth graders at Rockbridge State Park. In addition, we are holding spots for alumni of our camp who would like to come back as junior counselors. Katy Shaffer and Jody Frank, City Garden Faculty, will be lead teachers this summer along with assistance from other passionate adventurers. Campers are outside the entire morning exploring the woods and the creek. We love catching frogs and crayfish, hiking, observing the forest, exploring Connors Cave, singing songs, and playing games.
City Garden Summer Camp 2022 - Session 1, June 6-24. Session 2, July 5-22. 9:00 am - 1:00 pm Daily. Sign up weekly for $160/week, or sign up for a full 3 week sessions at a discounted rate of $455. Sibling discounts available. Limited to 20 students/week. Fill out the form HERE.
We also host one week of Summer Camp for Middle School Students separate from our camp weeks for younger children. Nicole Knapp-Weber, City Garden teacher, will be the lead teacher to facilitate learning, play, safety, and adventure throughout the park. We will have games, a morning lesson about the land, geology, plants, animals, creek, creatures, etc, and then time for exploring. Middle School Summer Camp is open to students in grades 6-8 (incoming/outgoing both welcome).
City Garden Middle School Summer Camp 2022 - June 13-17, 2022. 9:00 am - 2:00 pm Daily. $200 fee due at the time of registration. Limited to 20 students. Fill out the form HERE
After-Care (2:30 PM-5:30 PM): Have peace of mind knowing your child’s experience will extend throughout the day. A gentle rhythm guides the afternoon with more time outside and time set aside for older children to complete homework. Available to K-6th grade CGS students Monday-Friday. Not available on school-wide early dismissal days. Enrollment is limited.