This mama’s soul was set on fire a few days ago! Personally, I’m not a fan of conventional education systems. Too much value is placed on achievement, grades, and collective progress. Not enough value is placed on developing strategies and providing tools that will serve kids as they get older. Kids are taught with the intention of passing standardized tests. As a parent, I’m more interested in my children learning to utilize tools, come up with strategies, and work through processes in ways they can apply to any area of their lives. It’s my belief that school should be a place that helps children develop as individuals and supports their development to adapt to the real world. What I see in school is a place where children are generally expected to conform, do things the same way, and are measured by the results.
I’ve been in search of an option that worked better for my family. I homeschooled in the past and was considering it again. A friend of mine mentioned she heard of a local school that was more hands-on and did things in a different way. We took a tour on Thursday and I was amazed by what I saw. The school is within a hacienda that has several dozen beautiful buildings. When I first walked in I was overwhelmed with a sense of peace and tranquility. There were flowers, trees, grass, and fountains spread throughout the grounds. Visually, the grounds is breathtaking. I took my family back on Saturday for a visit and they all fell in love.
How beautiful is this? It was so inviting, warm, and beautiful!
The school is taught using Waldorf education methods. I could immediately tell this was different than the public schools I was used to. There were clay figures sitting in the sun to dry. Not one of them was the same, they didn’t just look different, they were all of something each child chose to make. There were little shoes lined up on the top of an outdoor shower where the kids washed up and got changed after swimming in the pool. The classroom for the children of my daughter’s age was a beautiful cave to take advantage of the rock the room was built in. It reminded me of a small scale agora where ancient Greek philosophers gathered. My daughters absolutely loved it! The natural light, the big open room, the colors on the walls. I had a hard time getting my littlest one to leave!
My oldest was telling me that the sounds reminded her of being at her grandma’s house and hearing all of the birds chirping.
There are common areas all over the hacienda grounds with tables and chairs, flowers, and patios. One thing I noticed is the way the natural habitat was preserved when constructing. Everything was built taking advantage of what nature had to offer. Instead of getting rid of the huge rocks protruding from the ground, they were used to be solid walls and the building was made around it, or in it as is the case of the classroom. All of the furniture is handmade as the textiles are as well. There’s such history and simplicity in the hacienda itself that amazed me.
I couldn’t get over how beautiful this place is!
Children aren’t separated by grade level but by developmental age. They all have snacks and recess together and the older group often does activities with the younger groups. This helps the older kids feel responsible by teaching the younger ones and the younger groups pick up on things by observing the older kids. Even meal time is a learning opportunity. Each child clears their eating area and washes their own dishes. Everyone at the table has a job from cleaning the table off to taking out the trash. A sense of community is fostered and the focus is on making sure kids feel like they are in a safe, loving, and secure environment.
Children are encouraged to explore during the free play times. From running and playing on the large grassy grounds to swimming on sunny days, and caring for the animals. There’s a garden where the kids are taught to cultivate plants. They each plant seeds and nurture and care for their own pumpkin to take home once it matures. There are sheep, chicken, and ducks the kids can interact with from a distance. The fountains have turtles and there are animals like birds and rabbits the classes are for.
The beautiful pool the older kids can swim in on sunny days. One of many gardens the kids are encouraged to explore during free play.
I really enjoyed the tour and couldn’t help but think this is what all schools should be like. A place where kids go to learn but most of all have fun. Kids learn through play, songs, stories, and hands-on activities. Learning in this way makes learning fun and something they want to do. This particular method doesn’t give homework because kids are provided with a rich learning environment. This takes the pressure off and allows kids to enjoy the time they have after school to be with their family. This is a much better fit for my family especially because I don’t believe conventional schools properly prepare kids for life after school. I like the idea of developing the whole being- mentally, emotionally, and physically. This is an excellent approach and an environment I’m sure my daughters would love!
Here’s a great video I found that gives a great introduction to the Waldorf approach.
What are your thoughts on children and education? Are you happy with conventional education? Do you like the idea of schools incorporating Waldorf-inspired methods? Would you want your kids to attend a school like this? I’d love to hear your thoughts, feel free to share in the comments!