Waldorf Frequently Asked Questions
Is there a deadline to apply?
At Boulder Valley Waldorf School, we accept applications throughout the year, as space allows. To learn more about BVWS, please reach out to our Director of Advancement, Ruth Godberfforde, at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a phone call or schedule a tour.
How does BVWS select students for admission?
Above all, we are focused on making sure BVWS is a good fit for the student and their family. We want to be able to meet the needs of the individual, meaning we acknowledge the cases when BVWS can’t serve a student appropriately. The reality of being a private school without a large endowment and striving to provide affordable tuition means that, outside of our highly qualified faculty and well-rounded daily curriculum, our resources have their limitations and BVWS may not be what every family is looking for. As part of our application process, we invite prospective students to shadowing days in the grades, followed by a parent-teacher meeting to help determine if BVWS is a good fit.
Our child has not attended a Waldorf school before -- how easy it is to transfer in?
Waldorf schools are known for their welcoming and inclusive environment. Teachers are trained to recognize the unique individual and encourage each student to realize their full potential. However, any student starting in a new school will face an adjustment period. Here are some factors to consider to anticipate the transition experience:
New Classmates & New School Culture: Waldorf students tend to be very excited for a newcomer to join the class — a new student means a new friend; someone different and interesting that they get the chance to know! In the elementary years, the classroom is developed to become a small community with social-emotional learning embedded into the curriculum. Younger students transferring in may be relieved by the difference in handling classroom conflicts. Waldorf classrooms promote an environment of mutual respect and support through discipline that aims to awaken and educate rather than punish. Older students may be surprised at the ease of assimilation into such a tight-knit group.
The Individual: Consider your child’s uniqueness and how they deal with change in their lives when anticipating the experience of joining a new school. Don’t be afraid to reach out to us with questions. We encourage you to learn as much as possible about our school to help determine if BVWS is a good fit for your family. Joining a Waldorf school tends to be a wondrous experience for most families, with a vibrant community and comprehensive curriculum supporting each child.
The Grade: Typically, transferring into the Elementary School is a smooth transition with minor adjustments to the learning environment and more comprehensive curriculum. Children will make changes to approach their learning as non-competitive, embracing it in a personal way that makes the world truly meaningful to them. Children who transfer into a Waldorf school in the early grades usually are up to grade in reading, math, and basic academic skills. However, there is likely much to learn in bodily coordination skills, posture, artistic and social activities, cursive handwriting, and listening skills. Transferring into the Middle School may require some tutoring in musical instruments or world languages. Our experienced teachers will be able to recommend a thoughtful plan to help with the transition.
Technology & Media: A central aim of Waldorf Education is to stimulate the healthy development of the child’s own imagination. We believe children should be learning through movement and experiences. As with all things, using media should be limited and the balance of how much is appropriate depends on the age of the child. Waldorf values and emphasizes learning through direct interaction with one another as well as with teachers in exploring the world of ideas, participating in the creative process, and developing their knowledge, skills, abilities, and inner qualities. Technology as a tool begins in the Waldorf 9th grade curriculum.
One Waldorf Class Teacher: Waldorf teachers aim to connect deeply with their students, with the Class Teacher ideally remaining with the same students from First through Eighth Grade. Healthy social development is especially dependent on fostering strong personal connections. This deep connection also supports a basic need of children for genuine authority and appropriate boundaries. If a teacher has a class for several years, the teacher and the children come to know and understand each other in a deep way. The children, feeling secure in a long-term relationship, are better able to learn. The interaction of teacher and parents also can become more deep and meaningful over time, and they can cooperate in helping the child. Problems between teachers and children, and between teachers and parents, can and do arise. When this happens, the teacher, the mentor and the college of teachers studies the situation, involves the teacher and parents—and, if appropriate, the child—to resolve the conflict. A Waldorf class is something like a family. If a mother in a family does not get along with her son during a certain time, she does not consider resigning or replacing him with another child. Rather, she looks at the situation and sees what can be done to improve the relationship. In other words, the adult assumes responsibility and tries to change. This same approach is expected of the Waldorf teacher in a difficult situation. In almost every case she must ask herself: “How can I change so that the relationship becomes more positive?”
What qualifications do your teachers have?
All of our Early Childhood Lead Teachers and Grades Class Teachers have Bachelor’s Degrees as well as Waldorf Teacher Training from an accredited Waldorf education institution. Many of our teachers have further training, including Master’s of Education and various certifications in the realms of early childhood, play, therapy, eurythmy, story telling, and more. All of our teachers participate in ongoing training and development in Waldorf Education.
What accreditations does your school have?
Boulder Valley Waldorf School is accredited through its memberships with AWSNA (Association of Waldorf Schools of North America), BACIS (Boulder Area Consortium of Independent Schools), and WECAN (Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America).
How does BVWS handle conflicts?
Waldorf classrooms promote an environment of mutual respect and support through discipline that aims to awaken and educate rather than punish. Problems between teachers and children, and between teachers and parents, can and do occasionally arise. When this happens, we have a problem-solving approach. The teacher, the mentor and the college of teachers together with administration study the situation, involving the teacher and parents—and, if appropriate, the child—to resolve the conflict.
A Waldorf class is something like a family. If a mother in a family does not get along with her son during a certain time, she does not consider resigning or replacing him with another child. Rather, she looks at the situation and sees what can be done to improve the relationship. In other words, the adult assumes responsibility and tries to change. This same approach is expected of the Waldorf teacher in a difficult situation. In almost every case she must ask herself: “How can I change so that the relationship becomes more positive?”
Is Waldorf similar to Montessori?
These two educational approaches began with a similar goal: to design a curriculum that is developmentally appropriate for the children and includes tactile as well as intellectual learning. In Waldorf education, especially with the young child,the program focus is more on social-emotional collaborative and creative learning.
Are Waldorf schools religious?
Waldorf schools are based on a belief that there is a spiritual dimension to human beings and all life. Boulder Valley Waldorf School is a non-sectarian institution. Our families come from a broad spectrum of religious/spiritual and non-religious traditions and interests, and we strive to welcome everyone. While we do not teach religion, there is part of the grades curriculum that introduces ancient civilizations and includes create myths and human achievements from around the world.
Why do all the paintings look the same?
Because there are whole class exercises. Wet-on-wet watercolor painting provides an initial experience based on color. In their classes and through these artistic exercises students gradually learn to understand the way colors relate to each other. As the children mature and grow in skill they gain more freedom to create and experiment, and their artwork becomes both more individualized and more technically accomplished. Boulder Valley Waldorf students create in many artistic media during their years here.
BVWS only goes through 8th grade - where do students go after they graduate from BVWS Middle School?
After 8th grade graduation from BVWS, about 50% of students go on to another private school, whether it is Waldorf or other. About 50% of students go on to public school. From their new teachers, we so often hear that our “Waldorf graduates are an asset to their new class”; they elevate the level of discussion and are able to think critically and independently.
What about reading in Waldorf schools?
It is only recently that academics have been encouraged for pre-school age children. There is evidence that normal, healthy children who learn to read relatively later are not disadvantaged by this, but rather are able quickly to catch up with, and may overtake, children who have learned to read at an early age. Children are taught the foundations of reading: the essentials of language arts in pre-school. They are taught through rich language and the excitement of a tale, setting, character development, the problem and heroic resolution. These, not the mechanics, are the real aims of teaching reading, writing and literature for the very young child.
Is there technology in the classroom?
Waldorf values and emphasizes learning through direct interaction with one another as well as with teachers in exploring the world of ideas, participating in the creative process, and developing their knowledge, skills, abilities, and inner qualities. Technology as a tool begins in the Waldorf 9th grade curriculum. We do begin a cyber civics curriculum in middle school. And during Stay-at-home order BVWS classrooms moved to distance learning with Google Classroom.
Why do Waldorf schools recommend the limiting of television, video, and other media for young children?
A central aim of Waldorf Education is to stimulate the healthy development of the child’s own imagination. We believe children should be learning through movement and experiences. As with all things, using media should be limited and the balance of how much is appropriate depends on the age of the child.
Do Waldorf schools have a stance on vaccinations?
First and foremost, Waldorf schools are advocates of and for science and believe that scientific advancement is critical to a flourishing society. Our association is not anti-vaccine and our views do not align with the anti-vaccine movement. The majority of students in Waldorf schools across North America are immunized. Boulder Valley Waldorf School operates in accordance with applicable national, state, provincial, and local laws.
How do Waldorf students succeed after graduation?
According to a recent study of Waldorf graduates: 94% attended college or university. 47% chose humanities or arts as a major 42% chose sciences or math as a major. 89% are highly satisfied in choice of occupation. 91% are active in lifelong education. 92% placed a high value on critical thinking. 90% highly values tolerance of other viewpoints.
How can a Waldorf class teacher teach all the subjects through eight years of elementary schooling?
The class teacher is not the children’s only teacher! Each day, subject teachers teach the children eurythmy, handcrafts, foreign language, instrumental music, and so on. The class teacher, with significant Waldorf Teacher Education, is responsible for the daily “main lesson” and one or two other course subjects . She brings the main academics to the children, including language arts, science, history, and mathematics, as well as painting, music, clay modeling, and other subjects. In Waldorf methodology, it is vital that a teacher be adept at awakening capacities and fostering the ability of children to think clearly and critically, to empathetically experience and understand phenomena in the world, as well as to distinguish what is beautiful, good, and true. The class teacher walks a path of discovery with the children and guides them into an understanding of the world of meaning.
What is the Waldorf curriculum?
The Waldorf curriculum is designed to meet the various stages of child development. Waldorf teachers are dedicated to creating a genuine inner enthusiasm for learning that is essential for educational success. Preschool and Kindergarten children learn primarily through imitation and imagination. The goal of the kindergarten is to develop a sense of wonder in the young child and reverence for all living things. This creates an eagerness for the academics that follow in the grades. Activities include: storytelling, puppetry, creative play, singing, eurythmy (movement) games and finger plays, painting, drawing and beeswax modeling, baking and cooking, nature walks, foreign language, and circle time for festival and seasonal celebrations.
Elementary and Middle School children learn through the guidance of a class teacher who stays with the class ideally for eight years. The curriculum includes:
- English based on world literature, myths, and legends
- History that is chronological and inclusive of the world’s great civilizations
- Science that surveys geography, astronomy, meteorology, physical and life sciences
- Mathematics that develops competence in arithmetic, algebra, and geometry
- Foreign languages
- Physical education
- Arts including music, painting, sculpture, drama, eurythmy, and sketching
- Handwork such as knitting, weaving, and woodworking
What does parent involvement look like at BVWS?
The key to improving student achievement is the involvement of parents or other family members in education. Parents are the first teachers and most significant adults in children’s lives. We encourage parents to strive to understand the principles of Waldorf education, create a home environment that supports what is taking place at school, and keep regular communication with your child’s Class Teacher. Parent participation is the lifeblood of the school! Parent involvement may look different for everyone and depends on backgrounds, experience, skills, interests, and available time. Some examples of parent participation include: volunteering as a class parent or to assist with special activities and projects, as well as attending meetings including parent evenings, class meetings, all-school meetings, parent/teacher conferences, and parent association meetings.