|Waldorf Education on a Farm|
“When I first open my eyes upon the morning meadows and look out upon the beautiful world, I thank God I am alive.”
Sunfield is committed to a holistic education for the growing child. Our early childhood and grade-school programs foster healthy development of the whole child through an innovative and richly artistic Waldorf curriculum. Creatively integrated into the curriculum are the practical learning experiences that take place on a farm. Children who come to Sunfield are nourished deeply and take joy in the wonder of learning.
Integrating Farm and School
The benefits of integrating farm and school are many. A working farm provides healthy outdoor activity for children and brings balance to the activities that take place in the classroom. A sense of compassion and responsibility for all living beings is developed when working with animals, and tending the land deepens each child’s connection with nature and understanding of earth stewardship.
Hands-on agricultural and environmental learning experiences that take place on the fields, in the forests, and around the wetlands of our eighty-one acres bring deeper meaning and comprehension to many of our studies in the sciences, including zoology, botany, ecology, geology, physical science, and chemistry. All of the practical lessons learned on a farm prepare children for many diverse tasks in life by contributing to the development of a well-balanced individual: guiding, nourishing, and educating the whole human being – hands, heart, and mind.
The Waldorf School Movement
Waldorf education is an independent and inclusive form of education based on the insight and teaching of the early twentieth-century Austrian philosopher and scientist Rudolf Steiner. Evolving from a deep understanding of the human spirit and human development, the Waldorf curriculum honors all spiritual and cultural traditions and embraces the diversity of humanity.
The Waldorf movement is one of the fastest growing independent school movements in the world. Currently there are approximately 870 Waldorf schools worldwide, and we are excited to be part of this important movement towards more holistic education for our children.
Goodness, Beauty, and Truth
All Waldorf schools strive to bring the ideals of goodness, beauty, and truth into the world of childhood and the maturing adolescent. These ideals permeate all aspects of a Waldorf education at Sunfield – from the creativity of our integrated curriculum and the close relationship between teacher and students to the aesthetic furnishings of the classroom – allowing students to cultivate all of their inherent capacities: physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual.
Learning in this nurturing environment, each student is provided with the tools to become an individual with imaginative thought, an empathetic heart, and the confidence to positively shape his or her world.
Education for the Whole Child
“The heart of the Waldorf method is the conviction that education is an art – it must speak to the child’s experience. To educate the whole child, the heart must be reached, as well as the mind.”
Waldorf education offers a developmentally appropriate, experiential approach to education that engages all aspects of a child’s being: the hands, the heart, and the mind. Rudolf Steiner believed that all learning must be balanced in these three realms to enable each child to fully develop physical will and artistic sensibility alongside intellectual capacity. To achieve this balance, the arts and practical skills are integrated into every element of the academic curriculum, and at Sunfield, the curriculum is enhanced with practical work on the farm.
In the classroom, drawing, painting, modeling with beeswax or clay, singing, poetry, movement, and drama engage the children’s active and creative participation. In addition, a broad range of crafts and handwork are included in the comprehensive curriculum. Younger students develop manual dexterity with knitting and weaving, and as they progress through the grades, their artistry is developed further with more advanced skills in crafts and handwork, including basketry, woodworking, and sculpting.
Outside the classroom, children at Sunfield engage in farm chores and physical activities that balance the school day. Younger children awaken to the wonder of nature on their daily explorations through the fields and forest. They visit the farm animals, and they discover the joy of caring for the land as they develop a small garden plot. Older children learn invaluable life skills as they are given more responsibility for taking care of animals and cultivating plants.
Meeting the Needs of the Growing Child
Waldorf education respects the unique qualities of each child while recognizing that all children pass through naturally unfolding stages of development. Rudolf Steiner developed the Waldorf curriculum based on his perception that children have distinct physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual needs as they progress through these developmental stages. He stressed to teachers that the best way to provide meaningful support for the child is to comprehend these phases fully and provide age-appropriate content that nurtures healthy growth. At Sunfield, this includes integrating age-appropriate farm responsibilities and learning experiences into the academic content of each day.
The first seven years: