Essentials of Waldorf Education

With more than 1,000 Waldorf schools in over 60 countries, Waldorf Education is truly global — not only in scope, but in its approach. Waldorf graduates are recognized for their academic strengths and intellectual curiosity, their highly developed interpersonal skills and their enthusiasm for confronting life’s opportunities and challenges.

Monadnock Waldorf School offers students rigorous academics in a developmentally appropriate environment. We aim to make learning enriching, relevant and meaningful to help students develop intrinsic motivation and to inspire a lifetime of learning. Our approach teaches to the student's mind, body and unique spirit, providing the lessons and environment that help students develop their full potential. 

Waldorf Education Is...

Developmentally Appropriate

We provide the right learning experience at the right time, meaning curriculum matches child development. In practice, this looks like play based learning in preschool and kindergarten, a creative, multi-disciplinary approach to early academics, and interrelated experiential curriculum for our older students. It means recess periods and many lessons outdoors and out of chairs. There are few worksheets and little homework before Grade 4. Child development research supports this model of learning. Education is not a race.

Hands On

We believe children learn by doing. This “hands on” learning is really full engagement learning — head, heart and hands — which is why Waldorf education engages children in a challenging and multi-sensory environment. All facets of curriculum seek to inspire cognitive, social, and creative engagement in our students. In practice, this looks like third graders learning measurement and geometry basics through a building project that serves to meet a need at the school. Many of our sheds, playhouses, benches and more have been built with the help of our engaged, intelligent third graders. Each grade engages in these types of meaningful lessons throughout the school year.


Relevancy inspires intrinsic motivation and deeper learning. In practice, a student learns botany while gardening, which helps them immediately see the reason why one must know how a seed develops and sprouts. The interconnectedness of subject matter and cross disciplinary studies related to real life experience are an integral part of the curriculum throughout the grades. When you try and lift a heavy desk in the easiest way possible, physics become relevant in a class-made pulley system in grade eight. All subjects are taught in this manner.

Intrinsically Motivating

We strive to help children learn to love learning and learn to do their best without accolades. We want them to learn, not for an external reward, but for the rewards inherent in learning — mastery, confidence, grit and pride.The feedback given is given not in comparison to peers, but to self. Students also are not subject to judgement based on standardized test results.  

Character Centric

Waldorf educators focus, starting in Early Childhood on developing the whole child — head, heart and hands. The heart is our character and emotional intelligence. Character education is not old-fashioned. Its elements — empathy, determination, cooperation and responsibility — are integral to success. In practice, our teachers help children and adolescents take their will, strong and determined, and apply it to others in a cooperative and respectful way. Teachers help students focus on community development and mutual respect between peers in the classroom community. Older students are asked to consider and discuss character development personally, and in society at large, as we take on personal, historical and modern day issues in class.  

Enjoyable and Meaningful

Your child spends 7 hours a day with us. School will not always be fun, but we believe it should be an overwhelmingly positive experience. In practice, we take care to cultivate a curriculum to integrate activities children naturally love and can express themselves through — physical activity, art, music, movement and the outdoors — with the academic essentials of science, math, reading, writing and foreign language.

Does It Work?

Yes! Waldorf’s unique style of multidisciplinary teaching yields graduates with remarkable critical thinking skills and character, so that they can adapt to a wide variety of situations and contribute to the world in a meaningful way.

The Harvard Education Letter addressed the effectiveness of Waldorf Education and found Waldorf methodology implemented by Bill & Melinda Gates in several public schools helped, “test scores rise dramatically.” The letter also noted that: “Waldorf students tend to score below district peers in the early grades and then catch up…by eighth grade 89% are proficient or advanced [compared to 56% of their public school peers].”

Waldorf students shine, even more, where it matters — outside the test bubble. A survey of character traits and emotional wellbeing in Waldorf Graduates shows: “The graduates surveyed demonstrated that they are capable of achieving what they want in life and are happy in the process of pursuing their goals. The majority consider lifelong learning as a significant part of their life journey. They are devoted to their families, both to their own parents as well as to the families they are part of creating. In short, they know how to make a living, but more importantly they know how to make a life.

Preparing for Life

2011 / Waldorf School of the Penninsula
The New York Times sparked national media coverage with its front page story on why Silicon Valley parents are turning to Waldorf education. This film picks up where that story left off. "Preparing for Life" takes viewers inside the Waldorf School of the Peninsula where the focus is on developing the capacities for creativity, resilience, innovative thinking, and social and emotional intelligence over rote learning.