Frequently Asked Questions
How do children fare when transferring from a Steiner class to a mainstream class?
Generally, transitions are not difficult. This education releases capacities, keeps the mind and imagination fresh, and awakens life interests. Middle school teachers have conveyed that the children carry these qualities with them to middle school. Transitions in the lower grades, particularly between the first and third grades, can potentially be more of a problem because of the differences in the timing and approach to the curriculum. These issues can be discussed with the class teacher on an individual basis.
How does the Steiner approach challenge the children who enter Class 1 already knowing how to read? What will such children learn, won’t they be bored? How can we encourage a balanced development?
In working toward balanced development, it is necessary to consider more than intellectual achievements. What is the child like emotionally? Are they happy being a child? Do they relate well with other children, or almost exclusively with adults? Are they comfortable in their body and well-coordinated? The approach to writing and reading involves the child’s mind, body and feelings, which provides a meaningful connection with the work that maintains the interest, involvement and delight of even the most intellectual of children. Imaginative play and the arts can have a healing influence on the child’s life forces. Images from fairy tales are deeply nurturing to the unconscious elements of the young child. Early intellectual awakening can result in a weakening of the child’s vital forces, manifesting in frequent colds or other illnesses. The dreamy state of childhood is an essential element in the healthy formation of the physical body during the first seven years. Because the job of the intellect is to analyse and exercise critical judgement, very bright children may have difficulty relating emotionally with other children, a problem which can intensify as the child becomes older. If parents want a child’s power of imagination to be nourished and cultivated, if they have faith that not learning to read as quickly as a neighbour or relative expects is fine, the child will retain the openness necessary to enjoy and benefit from the Steiner approach.
Is Milkwood a religious school?
Classes in religious doctrine are not part of the curriculum. The Steiner curriculum is non-denominational and respects the individual beliefs of families. Students study many different cultures and beliefs throughout the course of their schooling. Seasonal festivals serve to connect humanity with the rhythms of nature and many festivals are celebrated, connecting us together as a community throughout the year. Through the study of various religious traditions and cultures, it is our intent to imbue students with reverence and wonder for life and nature.
- Baldwin, Rahima: You Are Your Child’s First Teacher. Celestial Arts, Berkeley, 1989.
- Barnes, Henry: An Introduction to Waldorf Education. Mercury Press, Chestnut Ridge, NY, 1985.
- Childs, Gilbert: Steiner Education in Theory and Practice. Floris Books, Edinburgh, 1991.
- Davy, Gudrun: Lifeways: Working with Family Questions. Hawthorne Press, Gloucestershire, 1983.
- Finser, Torin: School as a Journey. Anthroposophic Press, New York, 1994.
- Gorman, Margaret: Confessions of a Waldorf Parent. Rudolf Steiner College Publications, Fair Oaks, CA, 1990.
- Harwood, A. C.: Life of a Child. Rudolf Steiner Press, London, 1979.
- Querido, René: Creativity in Education: The Waldorf Approach. Dakin, San Francisco, 1982.
- Spock, Marjorie: Teaching as a Lively Art. Anthroposophic Press, New York, 1978.
- Steiner, Rudolf: Kingdom of Childhood. Rudolf Steiner Press, London, 1982.
- Steiner Education Australia http://steinereducation.edu.au/