The Waldorf Movement was inspired by Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), a universal humanist and scientist.
Steiner’s insight into child development places great importance on the mental, emotional, and physical nature of each age level, and insists that focusing too early on intellectual activities robs children of the growth forces they need to develop healthy physical bodies. Many researchers and child development theorists now agree that children need to develop basic physical, social and creative abilities before they encounter intellectual learning.
In the Beginning…
The first Waldorf school was opened in 1919 in Stuttgart, Germany. Since then, they have spread throughout the world, and number close to 1000. In North America, the number has grown to 150. The curriculum is based upon an understanding of the developing child. The arts are totally integrated into the curriculum, and are considered to enhance the academics. On a daily basis children are making and doing, creating beauty, and working with their hands- painting, drawing, woodworking and knitting. Music is integrated throughout the day. As one walks the halls of a Waldorf school, it is almost a certainty that you will hear children’s voices raised in song, or the sound of musical instruments.
Substantial Growth Sustains Today
Waldorf Education is the fastest growing, non-denominational school movement in the world. Nurturing and protecting childhood in a warm, homelike setting is a key element of the Waldorf early childhood program. The goal of Waldorf Education is the balanced growth of intellectual, emotional and moral capabilities of each child.
Today, nearly a thousand Waldorf schools around the world promote true self-discipline, sound development and solid learning through a head, heart and hands approach, striving to offer the right stimulus at the right time and to help each child’s abilities to fully unfold. The curriculum, begun in 1919, is a successful model for holistic education.
Right Here in St. Louis
The St. Louis Waldorf Association was formed as a not-for-profit corporation in 1993 with the mission of bringing the quality of Waldorf education to the St. Louis area. The SLWA embarked on a campaign of public education, sponsoring speakers, children’s activities, and providing educational print matter on the background of this educational alternative.