The Waldorf Method
The Waldorf method was founded by Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) based on Anthroposophy. According to Steiner, Anthroposophy is "a path of knowledge which leads the spiritual in the human being to the spiritual in the universe.” While Anthroposophy is not a religion, there is also no specific “body of teaching.”(Waldorf Family Network). “Foremost amongst his discoveries was his direct experience of the reality of the Christ, which soon took a central place in his whole teaching.”(Wilson) Individuals are to listen to their own inner nature and to their outer world. They do this through study and practical observation asking the question “What is a human being?”

The Waldorf method of education cycles through seven-year periods, it is not what is taught, but how and when that makes this approach unique. The seven-year cycles are central to the Waldorf educational method. Each cycle has its own focus and primary way a student learns. These seven-year cycles can go on through adulthood if one chooses. Also important to understand is this method approaches education in a more oral tradition, less electronics, more celebrations and festivities. Living learning is emphasized in this approach.

The Cycles (Birth-21)

Birth to 7 years

This is the first cycle in which all people go through according to the Waldorf approach. This first stage includes growing in a physical manner; there are a lot of changes going on in those first seven-years and a lot of learning too. Children in this cycle learn by the monkey see-monkey do method. That’s correct, children learn by imitating their parents and other caregivers. In order to bring them up properly they need to have the best of the best to imitate. This is also when children learn the virtue of goodness. Again, it is important to have the best examples set for them. Children learn through doing, touching, feeling a physical item in this stage. Concrete learning examples are best.

7 Years to 14 Years
During this second stage of life, children learn through using their imagination. They write and make up stories, plays, and other imaginative creations. They learn what beauty is, not how a person looks, but the inner beauty of a person, or the inherent beauty of a plant, animal, etc. Children during this stage learn through their heart. They care, they learn empathy and they explore their feelings. Setting good examples of this is just as important as in their first seven years.

14 Years to 21 Years

The teen years are spent developing their thinking skills using cognitive reasoning. Students in this age group learn how good truth is, and how to inspire, and be inspired by a person, or thing they have seen. Teens and young adults learn through their head. They read, they do, they listen, they think.

21 Years and up

As young adults reach adulthood, they continue their personal development, and transformation from a youngling to an adult. This is when they learn true moral responsibility, to listen to their intuition, and how wonderful wisdom truly is. They continue to learn, now in an integrated nature.

Further Reading:
Waldorf Education: A Family Guideby Pamela J. Fenner
The Christopherus Waldorf Curriculum Overview for Homeschoolersby Donna Simmons
The Parents' Guide to Alternatives in Education by Ronald Koetzsch Ph.D.

Steiner, Rudolf (1924). Anthroposophical Leading Thoughts
Waldorf Family Network
Wilson, Michael.
(1964) Introduction to The Philosophy of Freedom

Home Educators Resource Directory (HERD) is owned, managed, and maintained by parents passionate about giving their children the best education. The Directory’s mission is to provide resources, support, and information helpful to the diverse community of educators around the globe. Along with offering a rich store of varied resources, the Directory maintains a catalog of local and global support groups and calendars highlighting local events.

The HERD monthly newsletter keeps educators apprised of current homeschool events and supplies informational articles for both the new and experienced.
We invite you to stay informed with your own newsletter subscription, explore our many resources by visiting the Directory and check out all the information to be found on our blog.

Permission to reproduce this article granted only with the entire article, bio and all links included.