Key factors of Waldorf distance education
Waldorf education around the world, as at BVWS, has converted to distance education from home. While this may be surprising, it’s important to remember our pedagogical philosophies. Waldorf education focuses on developmentally appropriate and meaningful experiences for children.
Distance learning remains true to this educational approach. Teaching (and learning) is relationship based. Waldorf distance learning is more about how our educators remain available and connected with students and parents.
It might be overwhelming for parents to consider what to do about their child’s education when school is closed. How can I fit six or seven hours of school into the day, from home? The answer is, you don’t.
Our teachers are preparing lessons for school-aged children to engage independently, from home. There isn’t a need to worry about maintaining precise school schedules. Our relationship-based teaching approach focuses more on staying connected with your child. We are keeping the lines of communication open through thoughtful use of technology. For the younger child, bringing that connection to your child’s kindergarten daily rhythm may be supportive and enjoyable for the whole family.
The online component of teaching is more focused on feedback for existing content. Our teachers are not focused on introducing new material through online instruction. New material is introduced by experiences, observations, or reading interesting material.
The pandemic as a learning opportunity
This isn’t the school year that you expected. Your child is home, so how can they remain practically active in education? The pandemic offers practical learning opportunities at home. Your child can remain actively learning by taking on household tasks and reflecting on observations in nature. Children can engage in handcraft and musical activities at home.
Incorporate rhythm by creating a daily structure with specific space for teaching and free play. Thomas Stöckli, co-director of the Academy for Anthroposophical Pedagogy in Dornach, Switzerland, encourages parents to create balance and opportunities for personal regeneration.
Again, we emphasize that the goal is not to fill a school day at home. Rather, work education into your daily rhythm at home.
Technology offers new learning experiences
Technology is not a normal part of the traditional Waldorf curriculum, where we instead emphasize concrete creative physical tasks as developmentally appropriate for the younger child. However, technology is a human coping mechanism during this time of social distancing. We use it to stay connected with our vital communities. Your child’s teacher is using technology to deliver tangible school content and keep feedback and classroom relationships open.
Personal concerns can also be discussed in a conversation using internet tools. The exchange of results between students supports relationships via tangible school content. Modern technology prevents feelings of isolation and keeps us connected with our communities.
Practical suggestions for distance learning at home
From a Waldorf perspective, there are number of factors that influence learning. This includes feeling supported and having the tools needed to learn as well as being able to participate in a learning community.
The Goetheanum Institute has a number of practical suggestions for conducting Waldorf distance education from home. Additionally, for parents, Boulder Valley Waldorf School has put together a blog post of practical suggestions for setting up a distance learning space at home: