6 to 12 years old.
Elementary courses focus on a multidisciplinary curriculum strongly supported by the arts, including visual arts, artistic movement (eurythmy), vocal and instrumental music, and manual work. Concepts are first introduced through stories and images, and academic learning is integrated with visual and plastic arts, music, and movement. Initially, textbooks are not used; instead, each student independently composes, draws, and writes their own notebook for each subject in book format.
The school day typically begins with an academic lesson lasting between an hour and a half or two, called a PERIOD, which is based on immersion in the chosen subject and whose content extends for approximately a month. It usually starts with an introduction that may include singing, instrumental music, poetry recitation, and the practice of mathematics and artistic language. The group tutor remains the same throughout the elementary stage and teaches, at a minimum, the main subjects.
The educational approach allows for individual variations in the pace of learning, the child’s individuality and interests, and their autonomous and individual desire to learn. Additionally, cooperation is prioritized over competition. This approach also extends to physical education; competitive team sports are reserved for higher grades.
Overall, Waldorf school teachers focus on generating internal enthusiasm for learning in each child. This eliminates the need for competitive tests and rewards to motivate learning, allowing motivation to arise from within. It helps foster the ability for voluntary and motivated lifelong learning. This type of teaching promotes learning for the sake of learning, rather than for passing an exam.
EXPECTATIONS AND LEARNING OUTCOMES
Education in a Waldorf school is characterized by a holistic and student-centered approach to integral development. This unique approach is reflected in a set of expectations and learning outcomes that distinguish graduates from our school.
- Personality and Self-Esteem Development: In our Waldorf school, students experience education free from the pressure of competitiveness and grades. During their time in school, they feel more motivated and happier. This results in a solid self-esteem and strong personality development. Students learn to value themselves and respect others, laying the foundation for healthy and successful relationships in the future.
- Improved Academic Performance: Despite the lack of competitive grades and standardized assessments, Waldorf students transitioning to high school achieve good academic results. The exams they take show that our graduates can surpass their peers from other types of schools without any issues. The education focused on individuality and curiosity fosters a love for learning, translating into overall high academic performance.
- Social Responsibility: Our graduates develop a high level of social responsibility. Community education and emphasis on empathy and understanding towards others prepare them to be engaged and supportive citizens. They value their school as a place where a community is built and will strive to do the same in their future communities.
- Practical Skills and Creativity: Waldorf education places immense value on the development of practical skills and creativity. Our graduates excel in areas such as visual arts, music, and manual skills. They learn to weave, sew, sculpt, and acquire other practical skills that foster patience and attention to detail. Additionally, their ability to think imaginatively helps them solve problems and approach situations creatively.
- Focus on Skill Development: Acquiring skills is fundamental in a Waldorf school. Students learn that constant practice is essential for developing and mastering skills. Each acquired skill reflects personal commitment and dedication, teaching the importance of perseverance, values that will accompany them throughout their academic development, knowing they can develop any skills they set out to acquire.
- Class as a Community: During their elementary stage, generally spanning from first to sixth grade, students experience the class as a community. This continuity provides them with a strong sense of identity and self-esteem. The absence of competitive evaluations reduces pressure on students and allows them to learn for the love of knowledge, not just to achieve high grades.
- Adaptability and Respect for Individual Rhythms: The late introduction to literacy reflects Waldorf education’s adaptability to students’ individual rhythms of development. Although most of our students learn to read later than in traditional schools, this does not translate to a delay. Graduates from our center generally show a deep interest in reading and become avid readers.
- Personality Development: Waldorf school graduates stand out for their strong personality development. Waldorf education fosters a sense of identity and self-esteem, resulting in students’ confidence and self-acceptance. Furthermore, they learn to respect and value others.
- Personalized Approach: The personalized approach in smaller groups allows students to better understand their limitations and develop the confidence to overcome challenges. This adaptability and knowledge of their own capabilities are proving in graduates from our center skills to integrate into larger groups.
- Research Supporting Results: The Waldorf International School Madreselva is participating in research conducted in collaboration with the University of Castilla La Mancha, the Complutense University of Madrid, and the Autonomous University of Madrid on alternative schools. The aim of this project is to explore different aspects of social, cognitive, and emotional development in children aged 4 to 12 attending schools with different curricular projects. This research examines the impact of the school context on the development of executive functions, socioemotional competence, quality of life, divergent thinking, and academic performance. Preliminary results support the benefits we observe in graduates from our center and align with what we observe in their academic and personal development.
- Strong Personality Development: Waldorf education fosters a strong sense of identity and self-esteem in students. Spending several years together as a community, children deeply understand each other and learn to respect differences and celebrate individual successes.
- Comprehensive Education: Waldorf education focuses on developing the whole person, not just academic aspects. Students also develop socially, emotionally, and morally, preparing them to face real-life challenges.
- Emphasis on Arts and Practical Skills: Students acquire valuable skills in areas such as visual arts, music, and manual skills, fostering creativity and dexterity. Learning to weave, sew, or sculpt helps them develop patience and attention to detail.
- Education without Competitive Evaluations: The absence of competitive exams and grades reduces pressure on students, allowing them to learn for the love of knowledge rather than the need to obtain high grades.
- Child-Centered Education: Waldorf education adapts to each child’s development pace, allowing for a deeper and lasting understanding of the material. This personalization promotes curiosity and a love for learning.
Challenges and Considerations:
- Transition to Larger Groups: Moving to larger schools after Waldorf education, some students may face initial challenges adapting to larger groups. However, this gradual process also offers opportunities to develop social skills, which 12-year-olds can address with greater assurance.
- Late Introduction to Literacy: The late introduction to literacy may raise certain concerns, but results show there is no delay compared to children who learned to read earlier. This reflects adaptability and respect for individual rhythms.
- Personalized Approach: The personalized approach in smaller groups has allowed a better understanding of students’ limitations, providing them with the confidence to overcome challenges. Working with numerous teachers, changing subjects, methodologies, and ways of working every hour can be a challenge, but their adaptability allows them to adjust to this new way of working in a few months.
Conclusion: Our school offers a unique and valuable experience that shapes students into self-sufficient, creative individuals with a deep respect for themselves and others. By celebrating each student’s identity, it fosters academic and social excellence in an enriching and supportive environment. These graduates stand out for their curiosity, creativity, and practical skills, preparing them to face future challenges with confidence and success.