Why is Waldorf math education unique and powerful?

Waldorf education lays the foundation for each individual to experience the internalization of mathematical thinking.  Like all Waldorf curricula math lessons are carefully planned to meet the needs of the developing child. Math lessons are brought through many subjects and modalities, while mindfully educating and experiencing math through the hands, heart and head.  Waldorf math education involves movement, music, rhythm, art, form drawing, language, creativity, curiosity and wonder, creating a truly multi-sensory approach to mathematics. As a result, Waldorf students acquire a deep mathematical understanding that they carry throughout their lives. Below is a brief overview of how math progresses through the grades. Math Through the Grades The rhythm of the day, of nursery rhymes and poems, and the social considerations of how many friends need a place setting or a swing are all integral parts of the youngest child’s day in a Waldorf early childhood classroom. In first grade, students learn that numbers exist everywhere in the world, especially in nature. Through this holistic approach to learning math, the special significance of the number one is discovered (as in one universe, one human being) and students explore the numbers that are found within each being (each person has two eyes and two ears, four limbs, and so on). In this way, the mystery of numbers is introduced and is further explored through the grades. In first grade, the four math processes are taught simultaneously because they reinforce each other (multiplication is fast addition, division is fast subtraction) and while learning math facts we begin to develop a general number sense which is so important for subsequent work in...

Waldorf School at Moraine Farm Alumni Stand Out in Science

Earlier this year, a graduate of our class of 2011 was selected as a finalist for this year’s Massachusetts State Science and Engineering Fair for her research on the Effects of BPA on the Regeneration Rate of Lumbriculus Variegatus (Effect of plastics on worm reproduction).  She presented her findings at MIT in early May. A member of our class of 2014 was one of 5 students recently selected to represent his high school in the New England 1:1 Summit in Burlington, Massachusetts. This is a regional education summit where schools leading the way in technology-based education systems share their successes and challenges. Students are selected to represent the school based on their mastery of the technology and their clear perspective on its educational value. Well done Waldorf School at Moraine Farm...

Waldorf School at Moraine Farm Alumni Stand Out in Science

Earlier this year, one of our class of 2011 students was selected as a finalist in the Massachusetts State Science and Engineering Fair for her research on the Effects of BPA on the Regeneration Rate of Lumbriculus Variegatus (Effect of plastics on worm reproduction).  She presented with other finalists at MIT in early May. From the class of 2014, we had a student selected to represent his high school in the New England 1:1 Summit in Burlington, Massachusetts. This is a regional education summit where schools leading the way in technology-based education systems share their successes and challenges. Students are selected to represent the school based on their mastery of the technology and their clear perspective on its educational value. Well done Waldorf School at Moraine Farm graduates!...

Middle School Brings Math Outdoors on Pi Day

Last week the seventh and eighth grades celebrated Pi Day, marking the once-in-a-century 3-14-15, with some scientific, artistic, and culinary experiences.  Our main activity was a project to estimate the age of trees on part of our campus. Armed with tape measures and field guides, we went outside to record the DBH, “diameter at breast height,” for a range of trees on the property. Of course, we did not want to cut down the trees to measure the diameter of their trunks, so we measured the circumference and divided by pi to get the diameter. We then multiplied the diameter by a species-specific growth factor to get an approximate age of each tree.  In the process, we needed to solve several challenges we encountered, especially given the extensive snow cover—measuring the circumference at 4.5 feet (the standard for “breast height”) while standing on several feet of snow, and identifying the tree species without leaves and cones to examine. We resolved to return again in the spring to verify and augment our data!   Back in the classroom, we explored properties of irrational numbers in general, and we heard music based on pi (which some of the students played for us) and looked at some creative data visualization techniques, also based on the digits of pi. And, of course, we ate some pie—chocolate cream and apple, to be exact. Thanks to Daniel Foster (not only our Spanish teacher but also an environmental educator) for suggesting the idea of measuring DBH, and to Mrs. Babcock for baking the pies! —Mrs. McGaunn and Ms....

Huffington Post Story on Waldorf Education

A great piece on one family’s journey to Waldorf education.  Originally published here. Knitting Is More Important Than Homework By MARA MENACHEM Two years ago on the front page of the New York Times Sunday Business section, an article ran entitled, “A Silicon Valley School That Doesn’t Compute” about the Waldorf School in Silicon Valley. I had already made the decision to enter my oldest son in a Waldorf school before the article came out, but I pathetically admit that this piece in the New York Times validated my intuition regarding a Waldorf education. Years ago when I was looking at preschools, I checked out a Waldorf School. At the time, despite my hippie pre-disposition, the environment seemed too “out there.” However, I trusted my intuition enough to send my kids to another somewhat alternative, small, liberal pre-school focusing on socialization, not academics. The kids were happy, as were we. My kids were little Huck Finns and I was comfortable as their pied piper as they explored their world, not competed in it. But when it came time for elementary school, going “alternative” seemed a little too “alternative.” Traditional private school didn’t do it for me as a kid. I went to private school and felt stifled. I wanted something different for my kids. In my mind, I saw my kids being raised with limitless imagination and access to never-ending creativity, even after pre-school. My perspective always seemed to be different from the majority. My intellectual buddies (although many sans kids) served as the great validators of my gut feelings regarding how I handled certain situations. Over time, I...