Distinguishing Features of a Waldorf School Classroom

by Scott Dorwart and P.J. Long

There are more than 500 independent Waldorf schools in 32 countries. Though each one is unique, a visitor would observe several common characteristics which distinguish the Waldorf approach to learning. Most notable among these would be how the curriculum directly responds to each phase of child development.

During the elementary years, it is the educator’s task to transform all that the child needs to know about the world into the language of the imagination—encouraging wonder, curiosity, reverence, and a love of learning. This principle lies at the heart of the most common features which distinguish Waldorf from other forms of education:

  1. All learning proceeds from a wholistic vision of the child.
  2. Lessons derive from an arts-based, integrated curriculum.
  3. Expectations for learning are developmentally appropriate.
  4. The teacher remains with the class as the children grow.
  5. No grades are assigned to students’ work.
  6. Behavior is managed through creative, positive discipline.
  7. The classroom provides a cooperative social environment.

Scott Dorwart is a carpenter and father of two children who attend the Green Mountain Waldorf School. P.J. Long is a psychotherapist and mother of two.
Head, Heart, Hands: A Waldorf Family Newsletter
Published by The Green Mountain Waldorf School