Waldorf is an educational philosophy founded by Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian philosopher, educator, scientist and artist. The first Waldorf school opened in September, 1919 in Stuttgart, Germany. Steiner designed the school’s curriculum around children’s natural course of development, incorporating their imaginations into their lessons and encouraging artistic mastery, as well as creative thinking and problem-solving skills.
Currently, Waldorf is the fastest growing independent educational movement in the private sector, with more than 800 Waldorf schools worldwide serving 120,000 students in 45 countries. Approximately 125 Waldorf schools operate in North America, and a growing number of Waldorf-inspired public and charter schools are beginning to sprout up across the country. There are currently 44 public Waldorf-inspired schools in the United States.
What makes the school, inspired by Waldorf education, unique? In addition to rigorous academics, methods used in a school inspired by Waldorf also address a child’s emotional growth, helping her learn valuable inter-personal skills and self-disciplined behavior. While artistic expression plays a central role in each grade, students master a variety of different disciplines, including mathematics, natural sciences, composition, foreign languages and handwork. Often, Waldorf is described as an education that includes the “head, heart and hands,” emphasizing growth mentally, emotionally and physically.
What is “Whole Child Education”? Whole child education focuses on educating children intellectually, emotionally, socially and physically. Lessons and activities blend cognitive, auditory and kinesthetic approaches to address the students’ various dominant learning styles. We will place a high priority on our students “learning how to learn”. Storytelling, language arts, arithmetic, the sciences, singing, art, music, drama and movement will be integrated to provide the students with opportunities to receive information through many modes of learning. The primary guiding principle will be to engage the whole child with the subject matter by incorporating multiple learning modalities into every learning experience.
What is a charter school? In Colorado, a charter school is a public school, administered independently from the public school district. Like public schools, a charter school receives state funding to operate, must articulate Colorado Academic Standards, and show continual growth on standardized testing. However, the curricular emphasis and school governance are specified in the school’s charter, which also serves as the school’s contract with the state. It is important to note that charter schools receive substantially less funding per child than public schools and receive no funds for the purchase or improvements of facilities.
How are publicly funded charter schools inspired by Waldorf education different than private, tuition-based Waldorf schools? We have the privilege of offering a curriculum inspired by Waldorf, at no cost to parents, while ensuring that our students and our school meets or exceed state standards. As a school inspired by Waldorf, Mountain Sage offers a program that understands the requirements of operating as a public school, and is dedicated toward developing the ‘heart’ toward responsibility, respect, and compassion.
How many students will there be in each class? How many students attend Mountain Sage? The typical maximum being 26 students. In the 2018-2019 school year, approximately 280 kindergarten through eighth grade as well as homeschool enrichment students in attendance at Mountain Sage.
Do you plan on having a high school? No. Mountain Sage Community School is dedicated to creating and growing our K-8 program. The school’s current administration and board have no plans to lead the effort to create a high school, and would only consider such a step once our original K-8 program is steadfast and thriving. Should the effort to create a high school appropriate for Mountain Sage graduates arise from a knowledgeable group within our community, we would happily show our support, sharing resources and contacts that may aid in such a development.
What does the school require for teacher qualifications?
Mountain Sage requires faculty to be highly qualified as defined by the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act. This criteria includes a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree and passage of a State test for competency. Teachers will be selected based on an evaluation of their ability to deliver the curriculum and vision as described in the school’s charter. A Waldorf teaching certification will not be required. However, if a teacher hired by the school does not have a background in Waldorf teaching methods, the school will require training in the teaching methods as part of the teacher’s professional development.
How can parents participate in the school?
As a community school, the active participation of parents both within and outside of the classroom is essential in supporting the school’s educational program. Parents are strongly encouraged to volunteer a a minimum of 25 hours per year. Parents’ professional, cultural and creative knowledge, talents, and abilities will help to make Mountain Sage a vibrant, dynamic learning environment. In addition to the classroom assistance, the school relies on parent volunteers to perform many non-classroom jobs such as school maintenance and improvement, clerical duties, fundraising and outreach. Parents will also be largely involved in seasonal school festivals. Please visit our volunteer page to find out what you can do.
Is there a dress code?
Yes. Waldorf educational philosophy places strong emphasis on the importance of cultivating the child’s imagination, or inner “picture-making” ability. As the child grows, this inner picturing gradually develops into the capacity for original and creative thinking. We are concerned with the question of how the quality and quantity of images in the environment may affect the development of the child’s imagination, and our recommendations regarding images on clothing arise from this concern. Mountain Sage Community School requests the active support and cooperation of all parents in encouraging moderate clothing and personal grooming for the sake of creating a student community focused on learning, rather than dress.
What is your cold weather policy?
At Mountain Sage, we value the outdoors and believe all children should spend time outdoors daily. On very cold mornings when the temperature is less than 18 degrees (including wind chill) or when it is raining heavily, students may enter the building at 8:00am. Students will report to their regular classroom and may visit quietly, read, or play a game while waiting for school to begin at 8:30am. During the school day, all children must go out when the temperature is greater than 18° (including wind chill). If the temperature is between 18° and 0°, the decision to go outside for recess will be the choice of the teacher, pending on the preparedness of the students and weather conditions. This recess may be shortened depending on conditions. When the temperature reaches 0°, all students will remain inside for recess and outdoor activities. Games class, nature walks and arrival/dismissal situations will follow the above guidelines. If it is above 18, we will begin the day outside on the playground as well. Please send your child prepared for cold weather conditions.
What are Multiple Intelligences?
Howard Gardner, a Harvard professor, put forth the idea that there are many types of intelligence and our educational system is catering to only one or two. By teaching in a way that appeals to a variety of different learning styles children can process information holistically and more effectively. The types of intelligence are:
Linguistic: word and language-based learning Logical: Mathematicalnumbers-based, logical, linear learning Visual-Spatial: visually oriented, artistic learning Body-Kinesthetic: physical movement and action oriented learning Musical: melody, pitch, and rhythm-based learning Interpersonal Intelligence: social-emotional, group interaction and relationship learning Intrapersonal Intelligence: inner reflection, self awareness and introspective learning Naturalist Intelligence: nature-based, environmental, scientific learning
We believe that every child is gifted in his or her own way. A holistic approach to education helps to develop the child’s unique gifts and talents while strengthening all intelligence areas.
How is reading taught at Mountain Sage?
At Mountain Sage reading is intimately woven into writing, and is a complete, well-rounded, artistic approach to literacy. The foundations are planted in Kindergarten by cultivating listening and speaking skills while learning songs, poetry, and vivid tales. These oral traditions are a mirror of human language evolution. In kindergarten we have begun to incorporate a letter of the week which appears made of a lovely, colorful painting. The name and sound of the letter are experienced throughout the week in playful and engaging ways.
Stories of imagination and archetypal imagery are continued by the first grade teacher. The story is literally, put to sleep overnight. When the children return to school the teacher guides them in remembering the significant details of the story, practicing linear memory. Through their recapitulation their memories are engaged and the pictures form anew in their creative minds. From there, the teacher leads the children in a guided drawing and ultimately a letter (or letters) to phonetically and pictorially bring the experience to life. This true learning is satisfactory for the young child who is in a developmental stage where they ‘think’ in pictures. This is substantially better than simply memorizing, for example, that 3 straight lines make an ‘A’. Through this beginning writing, with the added depth of story, art, and imagination, again we mirror human evolution in that our ancestors used hieroglyphs and pictographs at the early stages of writing. From the learning of letters comes many literacy skills-identification of lower and upper case letters, spelling of familiar sight words, recognizing digraphs (ie: th, ch, sh), making plural words, phonics (understanding letters have sounds associated with them), phonemic awareness (understanding ‘cat’ is made up of ‘c’ ‘a’ ‘t’ sounds), rhyming, consonant blends (fl, st, tw, etc.). From this rich foundational work come many games and activities to strengthen the skills and lots of writing of words and simple sentences. In first grade the teacher compiles favorite songs, poetry, the morning verse (spoken each day to begin the school day) and other verses that have been learned ‘by heart’. When the children follow along the printed page with their finger they are seeing what they have spoken or sung many times over. The moment of recognition that they “know” how to read this is a powerful one. This approach gives depth and meaning to the first reading experiences, and is not abstract. This transition from listening, speaking, writing, to reading is a natural one that supports child developmental phases.