What is Waldorf Education? Waldorf Education is an international independent school movement developed in Europe nearly 100 years ago by Austrian philosopher, social reformer, and visionary, Rudolf Steiner. Today, Waldorf Education is represented around the World, with about 1000 schools and nearly 2000 early childhood programs in over 60 countries. In Waldorf Education, the learning process is essentially threefold, engaging head, heart, and hands—or thinking, feeling, and doing. This is the basis out of which Waldorf teachers work to nurture and engage each child through a curriculum and methodology that integrates academics, arts, and practical skills.
How are we Waldorf inspired? Zaya Early Learning uses a Waldorf curriculum, and employs Waldorf trained teachers from around the World. Our programs are founded on the Steiner educational ethos, primarily engaging the HEAD, HEART and HANDS. However, we also realize that The UAE is a transient country and we need to ensure our students are prepared for whatever their educational journey may be once they leave Zaya Early Learning. Therefore we have made some adaptations to our program which would differ from the setting in a typical Waldorf environment. -Our children do not stay with their teacher for more than 1 academic year. -Our children are introduced to pre-academic skills at age 3, and are introduced to numeracy, language and reading skills at age 5. -We use an assessment program which allows us to monitor our children's progress throughout the academic year, and works towards school readiness. This is called an Independent Report (IR) and, despite being a qualitative assessment tool, thoroughly analyzes whether there are any learning, cognitive or developmental deficits, and easily highlight strengths in certain skill sets.
What is taught in the Early Years? Steiner Education, albeit it inspired, approaches education and academics with the whole child in mind. Therefore, our understanding of the young child's need to move, imagine, query, challenge, explore and experience, is at the forefront of how we present our lessons. Life Skills - every day life skills are taught to our children, and are integrated into daily lessons and activities. Activities such as food preparation, table setting, cleaning up, self care, cooking, baking, gardening are all a regular part of the children's daily rhythm. Numeracy - there are numerical concepts everywhere we look, and children are taught to understand mathematical concepts through various experiential activities. Language Arts - vocabulary, poetry, singing, and general language eloquence are all deeply routed in the Steiner curriculum. Children learn to use imaginative language throughout their day, and are guided towards appropriate use of language through stories, drama, singing, poetry, social interactions on a daily basis. Social Skills - children learn how to interact socially through various means of trial and error. A Steiner Education focuses on allowing children to refine their social skills through genuine interactions with peers, and does not encourage adult interference unless absolutely necessary. Therefore a child learning to understand conflict resolution; resilience, flexibility, transitions etc, would be given the freedom to experience their emotions and try to find ways to resolve matters, with very minimal interference from a teacher, unless the matter required support and guidance. Children are allowed to explore various situations in the safety of knowing an adult is present, but also with confidence that they may explore their situation with independence and trust.