YARN - From the (shorter) Oxford English Dictionary:

Spun fibre of cotton, silk, wool, or flax.... fibre prepared for use in weaving, knitting...a fisherman's net...any of the strands of which a rope is composed...a (usually long or rambling) story or tale, especially an implausible, fanciful, or incredible one.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Waldorf Myths and Realities - Reading and Writing

- Waldorf kids don't learn how to read
- Waldorf kids are 'held back' or 'delayed' in acquiring core academic skills

The early childhood focus on stories that are expertly told by the teachers and often acted out with puppets or wooden or woollen toy props is not just a nice thing, it is the beginning of literacy in Waldorf education.   The children, through experience, learn what a good story sounds and feels like. They  know that there is a beginning, a middle and a conclusion. They learn how to introduce characters and develop plot. They learn by example the cadence and flow of a good story.  

For many days or even weeks the children hear a story and learn it effortlessly by heart.  Not through drills or rote memorization - through integration and interest.

In this way I have seen both of my children develop excellent (though still at times selective!) listening skills and attention spans. And now my son, in pre-kindergarten, can tell us at supper the stories he has learned at school. My daughter, in grade two will tell stories from her memory and her imagination. Now though she will also write and illustrate them in books.  

The experience of watching my daughter learn stories aurally in the Kinder and Morning Garden classes was tinged with the same fear that many parents have when they see other children of a similar age reading or using electronic devices aimed at developing literacy.  But to watch her, along with her friends and classmates, dive into literacy in grade one was a beautiful thing. They were ready and were strong out of the gates.  They learned to draw forms and structure their drawings, they learned the alphabet and began to write letters and words. Now they write sentences and paragraphs and read the stores they have written.  It all seems so effortless, so painless, so fun and natural. This speaks to the pedagogical progression and to the gifts of the teacher who gently lead the students along this path.

So, what have I learned?  I trust the process.  Waldorf kids learn to read and write for sure, but first they learn to listen and to see.  From the whole to the parts, rather than the other way around.

For your viewing pleasure I offer two videos by Eugene Schwartz on the subject of Writing and Reading in Waldorf Education.

This link will take you to another blog post on How reading is Taught in Waldorf School, from the perspective of a Waldorf trained teacher.

No comments:

Post a Comment