Frequently Asked Questions

Is Eastside Community School a Waldorf School?

Not currently, but Eastside Community School is working to renew our affiliation with the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America. Visit the About Us section of this website to learn more about our story and mission to create a fully functioning Waldorf school on the Eastside.

Is Eastside Community School an art school?

Eastside Community School is not an art school, but our educational approach does integrate each subject with the practical and fine arts. In additional to teaching children to draw, paint, sing, play instruments, and a wide variety of other arts and crafts, our teachers bring material to life through music, storytelling, and a rhythmical structure. The result is that students develop a lifelong sense of wonder and joy in learning. Learn more about our approach to Academics.

How strong are math and science at Eastside Community School?

Our Waldorf-inspired math and science curriculum is challenging and comprehensive. We engage students in a way that is practical and applicable in the real world. Students emerge from our math and science foundation prepared for higher education or to apply what they’ve learned in related fields. At Eastside Community School we are insured by Waldorf Education. A 2007 research study found that, compared to their non-Waldorf educated peers, up to twice as many Waldorf students go on to study science in college. Learn more about our approach to Academics.

Does Eastside Community School have a dress code?

At Eastside Community School, the most important consideration for student clothing is function. Students participate in a wide variety of indoor and outdoor activities throughout the day—rain or shine—and proper clothing is essential. We provide a full list of necessary and suggested types of clothing in our student handbook. If there is ever a need for special clothing for a performance or outing, parents will be notified well in advance.

Our general requirements for school dress are based on considerations of health, warmth, neatness, cleanliness, and respect. Helping students develop good judgment about appropriate attire is part of our work as a school. Because we strive to create a healthy mood devoid of commercial or fashion concerns, we ask that students refrain from wearing the following:

  • Clothing which includes commercial logos, media images, or slogans
  • Clothing that is torn or ripped, excessively baggy, tight, or revealing
  • Spaghetti straps, halter tops, visible undergarments, exposed mid-riffs, low-riding pants
  • Sports uniforms or uniform-type styles
  • Shorts and skirts shorter than three inches above the knee, even when worn with leggings
  • Piercings (other than one hole per ear), ear-stretching, tattoos
  • Make-up, dyed hair, gel, or hair spray, nail polish (permitted in grades seven and eight when natural looking)
  • Dangling jewelry and earrings for safety reasons
  • Flip-flops or other types of unsecured shoes

Is Eastside Community School accredited?

Not currently, but Eastside Community School is working to renew our affiliation with the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America. Visit the About Us section of this website to learn more about our story and mission to create a fully functioning Waldorf school on the Eastside.

What is Waldorf Education?

What is Waldorf Education?

Developed by anthroposophist, artist, and scientist Rudolf Steiner Rudolf Steiner in 1919, Waldorf Education is based on a developmental approach that addresses the needs of the growing child and maturing adolescent. In many ways, Waldorf Education turns learning into an art. Subjects are taught in a very hands-on way, with art and music used to help them better comprehend subjects such as math, science and history. Waldorf Education educates the whole child: the heart and the hands as well as the head.

Are Waldorf schools religious?

Waldorf schools are non-sectarian and non-denominational, educating all children regardless of cultural or religious background. Though their belief is that there is a spiritual dimension to humans and all of life, they foster increased recognition and understanding of all world cultures and religions.

How is Waldorf Education different from conventional teaching methods?

Waldorf educators believe that practical and artistic subjects play as important a role in preparing a child for the “real” world as the full spectrum of the traditional academic subjects we also offer. Their goal is to balance and engage all of their students’ developing faculties. Rather than just accumulating facts, Waldorf students are taught to think, reason, examine, and question, while an equally high value is placed on creativity and imagination. The child’s natural idealism is protected and valued in part because it is a great source of future possibility and enrichment for our society.

Waldorf Education recognizes and honors the full range of human potential. Children learn to read, write, and do math; they study history, geography, and the sciences. And all of also learn to sing, play a musical instrument, draw, paint, model clay, work with wood, speak clearly and act in a play, think independently, and work harmoniously and respectfully with others.

Is Waldorf Education similar to Montessori?

Though both Waldorf and Montessori curriculums were designed to be developmentally appropriate to the child and to address the child’s need to learn in a hands-on way, the philosophies are otherwise very different.

How is reading taught in a Waldorf school?

Waldorf Education undertakes reading instruction in almost the opposite way that it is introduced in most schools across the U.S., where the mainstream approach begins with memorizing the alphabet and its corresponding sounds through repetitive drills, then moving on to simple words and sentences. Because Waldorf Education approaches instruction in synchrony with the development of children, teaching reading is much more than recognizing sound/symbol relationships.

The rich life of the imagination is most potent in during kindergarten and early elementary years, and present at the same time that a child’s sense for the sound and rhythm of language is at its peak. Waldorf educators use the rich language of fairy tales, the pictorial imagery of songs and poems, and the desire of the young child to listen to stories and repeat rhymes and sing songs in a language arts curriculum through which a child comes to love “the word.” Rather than practicing reading exceedingly simple and uninteresting words, they help the child form a complex, imaginative relationship with words and the world.

Once Waldorf students have a strong foundation in comprehension, vocabulary, and in the sounds and meanings of their native tongue, they are introduced to writing and spelling the letters and words that are part of their stories. As a final step, students read from their own texts, describing the stories that they have heard. In this way, they develop all of the skills that needed for reading at the time when it is most appropriate for them to do so. When reading is approached in this way, children become voracious readers who love and understand what they choose to read.

Reprinted with kind permission from the Detroit Waldorf School

Do Waldorf students have homework?

Homework is typically introduced in fourth grade, gradually teaching students to develop good work habits and organizational skills. Research has shown homework’s impact on achievement increases as students move through the grades; by middle school, homework loads are comparable to other schools.

A Waldorf class teacher often stays with the same group of children from first through eighth grade. What if my child does not get along with the teacher?

If a teacher has a class for several years, teacher and children come to know and understand each other. Children feel secure in a long-term relationship, and are better able to learn. Interaction between teacher and parents can also become more deep and meaningful over time, and they can cooperate in helping the child.

Problems between teachers and children, and between teachers and parents, can and do arise. If this happens, the college of teachers studies the situation, involves the teacher and parents—and, if appropriate, the child—and tries to resolve the conflict. If the differences are irreconcilable, the parents might be asked to withdraw the child, or the teacher might be replaced.

In reality, these measures very rarely need to be taken. A Waldorf class is something like a family, where a family member would assess the situation and sees what can be done to improve the relationship. In other words, the adult assumes responsibility and tries to change. With the support of the parents, the teacher concerned can make the necessary changes and restore the relationship to a healthy and productive state.

From “Five Frequently Asked Questions” by Colin Price; Renewal Magazine, Spring/Summer 2003

How can a Waldorf class teacher teach all the subjects through eight years of elementary schooling?

Children learn from more than the class teacher: each day, they learn subjects such as handcrafts, music, and eurythmy from a specialty subject teacher. The class teacher is, however, responsible for the two-hour “main lesson” every morning, and usually for one or two lessons later in the day. The main lesson includes main academic subjects such as language arts, the sciences, history, and mathematics, as well as artistic subjects like painting and music. So the question is a valid one—the class teacher does in fact deal with a wide range of subjects.

From the Waldorf point of view, true education is not merely a transfer of information; instead, it involves the awakening of capacities—the ability to think clearly and critically, to experience and understand phenomena in the world, to distinguish what is beautiful, good, and true. The class teacher walks a path of discovery with the children and guides them into an understanding of the world of meaning, rather than the world of cause and effect.

Waldorf class teachers work very hard to master the content of the various subjects that they teach. But the teacher’s ultimate success lies in the ability to work with children’s inner faculties that are still “in the bud,” helping them grow, develop, and open up in a beautiful, balanced, and wholesome way, and truly preparing them for the real world.

From “Five Frequently Asked Questions” by Colin Price; Renewal Magazine, Spring/Summer 2003

How do students fare when transferring from a conventional school to a Waldorf school?

Children who transfer to a Waldorf school in the first four grades are usually up to grade in reading, math, and basic academic skills. However, they often have much to learn in bodily coordination skills, posture, artistic and social activities, cursive handwriting, and listening skills. Listening well is particularly important, because most of the curriculum is presented orally in the classroom by the teacher.

Children who enter a Waldorf school in the middle grades often bring much information about the world a contribution that should be recognized and received with interest by the class. However, these children often have to unlearn some social habits, such as the tendency to experience learning as a competitive activity. They have to learn to approach the arts in a more objective way, not simply as a means for personal expression. In contrast, in their study of nature, history, and the world, they need to relate what they learn to their own life and being.

Children who transfer out of a Waldorf school into a public school during the earlier grades may need to upgrade their reading ability and to approach science lessons differently, as science in a Waldorf school emphasizes the observation of natural phenomena rather than the formulation of abstract concepts and laws. On the other hand, Waldorf transferees are usually well prepared for social studies, practical and artistic activities, and mathematics. Children moving during the middle grades should experience no problems. In fact, in most cases, transferring students of this age group find themselves ahead of their classmates.

From “Five Frequently Asked Questions” by Colin Price; Renewal Magazine, Spring/Summer 2003

Why do Waldorf schools recommend limited media exposure for young children?

One of the main goals of Waldorf Education is to stimulate the healthy development of a child’s own imagination. Therefore, Waldorf educators recommend limiting electronic media that may hamper the development of a child’s imagination as well as his or her physical development. For information on research that substantiates these concerns, please see:

  • Endangered Minds: Why Our Children Don’t Think by Jane Healy
  • Failure To Connect: How Computers Affect Our Children’s Minds For Better and Worse by Jane Healy
  • Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television by Jerry Mander
  • The Plug-In Drug by Marie Winn
  • Evolution’s End: Claiming The Potential of Our Intelligence by Joseph Chilton Pearce

How do computers play a role in Waldorf Education?

Waldorf educators feel the appropriate age for computer use in the classroom and by students is in high school. In Waldorf Education, it is more important for students to interact with one another and with teachers in exploring the world of ideas, participating in the creative process, and developing their knowledge, skills, abilities, and inner qualities. Their older students quickly master computer technology—many graduates have successful careers in the computer industry.

For additional reading, please see Fools Gold, a special report from the Alliance For Childhood.

What is eurythmy?

Eurythmy is a physical art where the tone and feeling of music and speech are demonstrated through movement. Eurythmy helps chidren develop concentration, self-discipline, and a sense of beauty, while moving artistically with a group stimulates sensitivity to others. Eurythmy lessons follow the themes of the curriculum, exploring rhyme, meter, story, and geometric forms.

How do Waldorf students do after graduation from high school?

Waldorf students have been accepted to and graduated from a broad spectrum of colleges and universities including Stanford, UC Berkeley, Harvard, Yale, and Brown. Graduates reflect a wide diversity of professions and occupations including medicine, law, science, engineering, computer technology, the arts, social science, government, and teaching at all levels.

According to a recent study* of Waldorf graduates:

  • 94% attended college or university
  • 47% chose humanities or arts as a major
  • 42% chose sciences or math as a major
  • 89% are highly satisfied in choice of occupation
  • 91% are active in lifelong education
  • 92% placed a high value on critical thinking
  • 90% highly values tolerance of other viewpoints
  • Download the full Survey of Waldorf Graduates

Learn more about Waldorf graduates in this article by longtime Waldorf parent Abraham Enten


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