“One of the strengths of the Waldorf curriculum is its balance and depth: the emphasis on the arts… the rich use of the spoken word through poetry and storytelling… Above all, the way the lessons integrate traditional subject matter is, to my knowledge, unparalleled.”
– Ernest Boyer, President, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
Perhaps more than in any other approach to education, an understanding of the developing child informs all aspects of the Waldorf curriculum and methodology. If we understand this model of human development, depicted as a series of stages, we can build a coherent road map of both the developing human being and the corresponding Waldorf educational system. Using the common core state standards, our teachers guide their students through project and theme based units. This enables the teachers to meet each child and differentiate their teaching to the meet each of their students’ needs.
A developmental approach is not unique to Waldorf education. Within the last century, Piaget, Montessori, and Gesell are just three of a large body of educators who have acknowledged the importance of human development in education. Waldorf education is, however, unique in the comprehensive nature of its view. More than a product of heredity or environment, an essential core of the way that the unique gifts of the child can find optimal expression.
It is often referred to as a spiral: subjects occur and reoccur as the child matures and his capacities develop. This repetition of subjects, with increasing complexity, allows for continuous review that in turn leads to a strengthening of understanding and independent thinking, a steady acquisition of knowledge, and the formation of living connections between subjects as the extended period of time devoted to a subject every day over a period of several weeks, makes this spiraling and repetition possible.
Willow Tree’s common core standards-based, arts-integrated curriculum recognizes how much children change from year to year.
Our program ensures that the material presented by the teacher—and how it is presented—follows the common core state standards and is developmentally attuned to the appropriate age at every grade level. The learning process is not rushed and is differentiated in order to meet the needs of each individual student. Our students are provided with imagery, narrative and activities to nurture their imagination and sense of wonder.
Through the extent of the grades, the curriculum at Willow Tree remains attuned to the cognitive, psychosocial, and kinesthetic phases of the spiral of child development.