You could learn a lot on the Waldorf education just by visiting one of the parents-teacher meetings.
Usually the meeting starts at 6pm and is conducted in your child’s classroom. You are allowed to bring your kids if you have nowhere to leave them and they could play in a small room on the same floor.
The teacher, in our case Baron(Mr) Arsen greets the parents with a smile and starts by introducing the topics for the meeting. At first he introduces where the program is at, what are the things that they are learning for the semester and shows some examples on the blackboard. He then introduces the program for the following semester by explaining in details why these topics are chosen and how it corresponds with the evolution, age and rhythm of the children. So by the end of this part you get to have a small lesson in pedagogy on the how and when of the functioning of the child mind and body and how each element of program done in the classroom has its own place in developing the child’s overall growth.
celebrating drntez at the school and students dancing with teachers under the wild rythms of the dhol
Then the second part starts where parents ask questions, voice their concerns on specific matters and look through teaching materials.
Now the last part is my favorite, I call it “ideas and tips for a better education”. This is when Mr. Arsen presents a specific topic related to education to give parents concrete tools on how to help out their children at home to become fully developed human beings. Some past discussions were: nutrition (what to feed your child depending on his character Active VS Passive), How TV affects children, choice of toys/craft materials, how to encourage reading, etc.
This week he gave us 7 keys for raising happy children – which he had heard of during one of his trainings/seminar from an invited guest teacher from Norway. We discussed each one of them and tried to see through our way of life.
Here are the 7 elements needed for a successful education (followed at the Waldorf school):
1- 1- Developing self-esteem / feeling of being capable among children- something we often forget to do.
2- 2- Faith in the world surrounding us
3- 3- Joy of life – here we discussed how it was important to express happiness as parents as well to teach through our example, which some parents argued that was difficult to do since every day life was not always a happy thing in Armenia.
4- 4- Curiosity – and encouraging it instead of stopping or saying no all the time.
5- 5- Being open to the world around us – tolerance towards all living creatures.
6- 6- Will / through responsibilities taught at a young age – to become independent later.
7- 7- Social abilities – taking care of others, respecting, communicating.
Although these simple principles seem quite obvious, it was nice to hear the teacher talking about them out loud to all the parents and engaging everyone in an open and honest discussion.
While parents and society often criticize Waldorf schools around the world and also in Armenia, I think it is an important method and approach to develop young ones to become responsible human beings. For a country, like ours where the need is greater, this is a sure way of developing future civil society and prepare aware citizens for a better democracy.
Story time - 2nd grade
The meetings usually last an hour and half and I leave the school happy, content and even more confident that this is the best environment where my kids could blossom.