Header image courtesy of Garden House Waldorf School
Waldorf-style education is an independent schooling movement that has been adopted by 1,100 schools and up to 2,000 kindergartens all over the world. Founded by Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner, the learning system is based on a process that nurtures students through the progression of thinking to feeling and eventually doing. Giving us a glimpse into how children can thrive through this experience-based learning, Garden House Waldorf School walks us through the unique benefits to glean from a Waldorf education.
Founded in 1919, the Waldorf system—also known as the Steiner School system—has since been propagated into an international network that can be found in around up to 100 countries. In Hong Kong especially, the standard academic stance prioritises rankings and results, often at the cost of the inner spiritual and intellectual potential of students.
A Waldorf education, in fact, sets a precedent by showing an emphasis on these latter elements. As Steiner once said, “Education is an art—it must speak to the child’s experience. To educate the whole child, the heart and the will must be reached as well as the mind.”
Waldorf teaching requires a lot of experience-based instruction, which treats every living day as a chance for students to immerse themselves into something new. It helps to sharpen the tendency for inquisitiveness, which is a crucial force that drives lifelong discovery.
Experiential learning takes on an active approach, honing in on the natural intuition of young minds and turning it into a powerful tool. Childhood is the perfect time for kids to be curious about the world, so why not encourage that interest?
Garden House adopts these important lessons into the core components of its studies by establishing main pillars of education, which underpin every one of its lessons.
At the heart of Garden House, teachers and students share a passion for life, spread across a multi-disciplinary artistic experience of learning. Instructors take the initiative with leadership grounded in high ethical standards, taking into account differing needs and backgrounds. Its curriculum strives towards building solid physical, emotional, intellectual and social foundations that equip students with tools for a better future.
As with any Waldorf school, children are allowed to let their ambitions and desires run free. Believing in the inherent ability in everyone, the school is a place for potential to become unlocked and enriched. No matter if a child wants to become an artist, a scientist, a gardener, a carpenter, a mathematician, or all of the above, each individual is given the space to explore, flourish at their own pace, and work towards their own goals.
Doing away with rigid definitions of “intelligence,” Waldorf schooling recognises that within everyone exists a differing set of strengths and areas requiring growth. For Waldorf educators, the student is the one who determines the way the curriculum unfolds. In fact, there aren’t even standardised textbooks to follow, but rather a deeply personal journal that students fill with knowledge and findings throughout their time at a Waldorf school.
Merging personal experiences with knowledge and skills gained through real-life action, kids have the chance to dive deeper into actualising who they are and really come into their own. This impact of first-person, hands-on participation proves to be irreplaceable, and much more rewarding than rote memorisation or frantic note-taking in front of a screen.
At Garden House, student-centric learning comes in the form of lessons that have been broken up into blocks. Children are dedicated to engaging lessons that rotate through a diverse roster of academic disciplines. Due to the variety that covers everything from the arts to hard sciences, everyone can encounter a wide-reaching range of disciplines.
Guiding children aged pre-school to primary along an immersive learning journey, Garden House firmly believes that the little ones have the right to an “unhurried” childhood. As this is the era where children get to be fully present, strengthening their own identities and learning to develop their natural patterns of cognition is of the utmost importance, and enriching their capabilities with their own passions is a priority that’s placed front and centre.
Reframing the traditional classroom by bringing freeform Waldorf education within the walls of a centralised school, Garden House is a progressive institution that has carved out a unique space amongst the centres for learning in Hong Kong. Retaining the core principles of the interdisciplinary, experientially-based education special to the Waldorf system, Garden House shows a vibrant programme infused throughout with creativity and innovation.
Founders Cannie Bennett and Jane Song are enthusiastic and deeply involved in ensuring that the Waldorf vision is realised in the curriculum presented by Garden House. With over 25 years of experience in managing schools and kindergartens, their team is one that leads and supports with intuitive insight and seasoned expertise. What’s more, each class is led by the same teacher from the first stages to the final year, lending to a tight-knit and closely connected understanding between students and teachers.
With this dynamic and versatile approach to learning, a Waldorf-style education is one that greatly departs from the typical cut-and-dry classroom experience. Garden House makes use of its 10,000-square-feet space within the beautiful natural surroundings of Clear Water Bay to give students an exceptional environment to embrace the joys of learning. Start your child’s Waldorf learning journey and learn more about Garden House Waldorf School here.