FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Why does the same teacher stay with the class for several years?
At Waldorf schools, a teacher is chosen for a first grade class and often journeys with
this class for a full eight years. In the elementary grades, the class is, in many ways,
a substitute family with the teacher in a role analogous to a parent. As at home,
continuity is strived for in the class. This creates a sense of security for children and an
important stable relationship with an authority figure that is not a parent. This said, at
the end of each school year, the entire faculty evaluates the needs of each class and
determines whether to continue with the same teacher or to change.
Are Waldorf teachers specially trained?
All teachers at HVWS are Waldorf-trained and most have a teaching certification from a
recognized Waldorf teacher training center. Their commitment to children, education
and moral/ethical standards is at the highest level.
In 1922, Dr. Rudolf Steiner spoke at Oxford about the "three golden rules" which a
teacher must embrace fully, and which should shape his/her fundamental attitude:
"to receive the child in gratitude from the world it comes from; to educate the child
with love; and to lead the child into the true freedom which belongs to man."
What is the school's policy on television?
The aim of Waldorf education is to help children become as inwardly strong, resourceful
and creative as possible, and everything in the curriculum is carefully crafted toward
this end. Your child’s chances of success in school are maximized when his/her home
habits support these same ideals. Teachers have found that the effects of watching
television, movies and videos, playing video games, and using a computer at home
tend to sap inner strength and counteract your child’s school progress. For these
reasons, the teachers ask that such media exposure for children at HVWS be limited
as much as possible, and ideally to zero.
What is a Main Lesson?
The Main Lesson takes place in the first two hours of the grade school day, when
children are at their most alert and focused. Academic subjects, such as history,
literature, mathematics and science, are taught in blocks of three to five weeks.
Most Main Lessons begin with teachers presenting the material; a review and discussion
follow; and then time is provided for students to develop their own work on a related
project. The Main Lesson may also be approached through the arts: drama, music,
drawing and sculpture. It is an integrated and multi-faceted approach that supports
intense engagement and fosters deep understanding.
How is class work assessed?
Number and letter grades are not given at our school. At the end of the school year,
the grade school teachers write a progress report, which gives a picture of the child’s
academic, artistic and personal development as well as a description of the material
covered in each subject. Generally, the report is written for the parents alone. All
specialty teachers contribute to the end-of-the-year report as well. Conferences are
scheduled twice a year to provide parents and teachers an opportunity to share their
impressions and concerns. Additional conferences may be scheduled at any time
when parents have a special concern about their child.
How do Waldorf-educated children fare in non-Waldorf schools?
It is difficult to generalize, but children who transfer out of Waldorf schools before the
third grade level may be ahead of their non-Waldorf peers in terms of mathematical
skills, and behind in terms of reading skills. Whatever their new environment and
whatever the grade, these children tend to be able to adapt well, and relatively quickly,
because the time they've spent in the Waldorf school has strengthened their inner
resourcefulness, interpersonal skills, and self-confidence.
How is the school administered?
Waldorf schools do not have the traditional hierarchical structure of many other school
systems. There is no principal, and the administration does not "run" the school. The
faculty, board of trustees, administrators and Parent Community Organization (PCO)
are all jointly responsible for the running of the school. The faculty has jurisdiction
over all pedagogical matters. The Board of Trustees is a volunteer body responsible
for the school’s physical, legal, and financial matters. The Administration mediates
and facilitates among the other bodies, and also handles day-to-day operations.
The PCO supports the staff and students, the school as a whole, and each other. This
structure reflects the school’s commitment to cooperation and consensus. With these
as operating principles, it is incumbent upon all members of the HVS community to
communicate with each other, respectfully and honestly.
Where can I find more information on Waldorf Education?
Here are some resources for more information about Waldorf Education: