Waldorf Education Foundation Phase, Grade 1-3

Teach children mathematics with imagination and inspiration!

‘The greatest scientists are artists as well.’ Albert Einstein

Euclid and his Students, Raphael. School of Athens, 1509-1511
Image: Stephen Zucker

Without dreams or imagination, mathematics is impoverished; it is lifeless.” The Man Who Counted, Malba Tahan

Why Waldorf Education?

The holistic approach of Waldorf Education to teaching is one of the many reasons why it is one of the fastest growing movements in the world today. What makes it so special is that it takes into account the body, soul and spirit of the child. Children are encouraged to grow and awaken each according to their own individual ability.

Another aspect that makes Waldorf Education unique is that all teaching is immersed in the Seven Lively Arts. In Waldorf the Seven Lively Arts refer to the following: Drama, Drawing, Movement, Music, Modeling, Painting and Speech. The benefits of this approach are wonderful and manifold. Not only does it develop imagination and creative thought, it also strengthens resilience and will (the doing aspect of the child). Content is not presented as lifeless facts but imbued with qualities such as wonder, reverence, emotion, beauty and movement. A deep appreciation for the bigger picture and how everything forms part of the whole, is cultivated. This approach awakens and inspires deeper soul capacities such as social connection, observation, emotional intelligence and deductive and creative thinking skills. It enables a human being to live a deeper quality life imbued with meaning, purpose and love.

Another important aspect in Waldorf Education is that the curriculum takes the developmental phases of children into account. Children go through various stages of development when they grow up. It is important to know what children need in each developmental phase in order to teach them effectively. (Read more about this on my WordPress Blog.) The curriculum complements, reflects and meets children where they are at – physically, emotionally and spiritually. Learning happens naturally and becomes a time of inspiration and joy for both the teacher and the child.

History has shown that the Waldorf approach has been particularly successful in teaching mathematics to children. Teachers use stories, drawing, painting, modeling, movement, rhythm and music to introduce and teach numbers to young children. They just love this approach! Learning about numbers becomes a fascinating and inspiring journey and forms the basis of a lifelong love for mathematics.

Unfortunately, in our present day most schools and teachers present math to young children intellectually. The children are expected to memorize processes and sums without any child friendly reference point. Interest and enthusiasm wane and often result in the child being forced to do math. As a result many negative associations start here and can escalate in some cases to the point, where children who otherwise would have been good at math, become completely unable to do math at all. The reason not being their ability but their aversion towards numbers. This is nothing less than a tragedy since mathematics is one of the most beautiful languages the Creator has given us to comprehend the underlying harmony and perfection of this beautiful world we call our home.

Click to read more about Rudolf Steiner Austrian-German scientist, philosopher and the founder of Waldorf Education.

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An Overview of the Waldorf Arithmetic Curriculum – Foundation Phase, Grade 1-3