Waldorf Education

At the Washington Waldorf School we prepare young people for the future by developing their full capacities for creative imagination, critical thinking, and active engagement in the world.

Waldorf education is truly an education for "head, heart, and hands." Our purpose is to develop the whole human being in a healthy and nurturing environment.

WWS educates the whole child. By this we mean that our curriculum is designed to develop our students academically, emotionally, and physically. In practice, this means that, in addition to a strong grounding in core academic skills, WWS students have extensive opportunities to engage in the arts, music, and drama, as well as practical manual skills in textile arts, metalwork, woodwork, and more. Moreover, the arts aren't simply extra classes; they are woven throughout the curriculum. Waldorf students also receive extensive training in movement and spend a good deal of time outside.

The Waldorf curriculum is developmentally appropriate. Children have very different capacities at different ages, and our curriculum is tailored to meet students where they are. In practice, we believe young children, up until grade 1, need to spend much of their time in free play. This builds their capacities for imagination and goal setting, while also building social skills and small motor skills. Academics are introduced in the early grades, and gradually become more intense into the middle school years. At the same time, the Lower School curriculum is rich in the arts, storytelling, and drama, which cultivates the students' ability to be empathetic and compassionate. By High School, the curriculum is designed to cultivate the students' capacities for rigorous critical thinking, supplemented by continued, more advanced work in arts, music, and expressive movement.

We aim to create a safe and nurturing community for students and their families, while preparing our students for life beyond Waldorf. In a very real sense, WWS is an oasis, especially in the Childrens Garden and Lower School, where "children can be children." As children get older, we try to help them engage the larger world in a healthy way that allows them to develop their independence and good judgment. Our families face the same choices and dilemmas as many other other families, and ultimately our students will have to make their way in the larger world outside the Waldorf school. Our goal is to help our students know who they are so that when that time comes, they can go forward with confidence and assurance that they are equipped to thrive.

Although there is no typical Waldorf student, our students tend to be individualistic, creative, hard working, and open to new experiences and ways of learning. Many different kinds of students thrive at the Washington Waldorf School. Good students discover new facets of themselves. In many cases, bright students who have become stressed or indifferent in other settings blossom at the Waldorf School. WWS is not equipped to support students with severe learning or behavioral challenges, though many students with unusual learning styles do well here.

We do not "teach to the test." At the same time, students are evaluated regularly, and teachers are always available to parents to discuss a child's progress. Students typically begin getting letter grades in grade 6. Every subject is graded in subsequent grades. Although we do not administer any standardized tests, we recognize their importance, especially in the upper grades, and prepare our High School students for the SAT and other such tests. In fact, the average SAT scores for WWS students is above the average for Montgomery County Public Schools.

We delay the use of electronic technologies in education. This is an area where there are many misconceptions about Waldorf. We believe that young children benefit from little or no screen time. Moreover, we remain sceptical about the much-touted positive impacts of instructional technologies, especially for young children, though we recognize this field is changing rapidly and that such technologies are becoming more effective. We do introduce technology as children grow, and by the high school years, students are immersed in information technologies and communications. Otherwise we want our students to maximize their experience of the real world rather than the virtual world. Obviously contemporary life is saturated in technology, and every child must be prepared to thrive in a highly technological world. Above all, this requires a high degree of flexibility, adaptability, and creativity--precisely the qualities the Waldorf curriculum fosters. Finally it is worth noting that Waldorf graduates are very well represented in high technology fields and media, where their special brand of creativity is highly valued.

Our graduates are admitted to a wide range of colleges and universities, and most gain admission to their top choice. In fact, Waldorf graduates stand out in the admissions process, and our personal approach means that teachers are equipped to provide personal recommendations. Many of our graduates also receive substantial merit-based financial assistance. Beyond college, our graduates excel in a wide variety of careers. Our graduates are highly creative, entreprenurial, driven, socially minded, and grounded in who they are.

Other Waldorf Schools in our region:

Acorn Hill (Silver Spring, MD)

Potomac Crescent School (Arlington, VA)

Waldorf School of Baltimore

Charlottesville Waldorf School

Kimberton Waldorf School