The First Eight Grades
The Waldorf method is based on three stages, preschool from birth to 7, elementary education from age 7 to 14, and secondary education from 14 until graduation. During the preschool years, children are taught through guided free play. They are encouraged to imitate by example. The goal is to teach the child in the most natural setting possible, encouraging them to take part in a productive manner in all activities. Parents are advised to restrict preschooler’s exposure to television, gaming systems, computers, and other media influences that could stifle the child’s creativity and intellectual growth.
Children begin their formal education around the age of six or seven. During early education, curriculum is arts-based, encouraging children to learn through drama, dance, art, music, and crafts. Foreign language studies begin almost immediately. Subjects are taught through storytelling, reading, artwork, and other forms of artistic expression and exposure.
Rather than textbooks or formulated curriculum, parents use themed lessons that change monthly. Children track their learning through a main course book they create and illustrate themselves. This approach is consistent through the eighth grade, when children advance to secondary education. Secondary education presents a more academic focus, with creative thinking, intellectual understanding, and social responsibility taking primary focus.