Waldorf School of the Peninsula Garden for Grades 1-5, designed by Carolyn Brown

Waldorf School of the Peninsula Garden for Grades 1-5, designed by Carolyn Brown

Waldorf Schools were developed a century ago in Europe. Farming, gardening and practical arts have been an integral part of the curriculum since the beginning. Many Waldorf schools today are founded on farms, but others are more urban and integrate the environmental-based studies in creative ways.
Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf education, biodynamic agriculture, and anthroposophical medicine, indicated gardening classes from grade 6 through 10. The curriculum developed out of his work gives suggestions for activities and lessons during these years. Because of the urbanization of our society and the growing disconnection from nature many students experience, there has been a recent movement at Waldorf schools in the Bay Area and beyond to expand the garden curriculum to the early grades and even the 11th and 12th grade students in some capacities.

Although projects and curriculum are site-specific (one garden might allow collection of chicken eggs in grade 1 and another might provide a shady area for building fairy houses) there are developmental considerations as well as practical considerations. The gardening teacher should always keep in mind the lessons the students are learning in Main Lesson as well as in other subjects. In the early years gardening classes tend to be supportive of work done in other classes, with garden related craft projects through the year. In middle school and high school, some classes become more self-contained. The gardening teacher has constant opportunities to integrate cross-disciplinary lessons to illuminate and support the Main Lesson class teachers.

By Anastasia Sinclair, Gardening Teacher at Waldorf School of the Peninsula

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