At Indradhanu Waldorf School, physical growth and not exam results is the assessment tool, finds K. Sarumathi
No tests, no home assignments, no textbook, no writing and no teachers; wondering what kind of a school this is? It is definitely a new kind in the city. Free from slogging, cramming and carrying huge burden on their slender shoulders, a handful of children at Indradhanu Waldorf School find study time to be just play time.
Based on the model propounded by Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner, the school focuses more on physical growth until the age of seven rather than intellectual development. “Academics start only after a child turns seven. Until then we concentrate on developing their fine motor skills. Treated as kindergarten kids, they are let to explore the world for themselves. We believe that a child with flexible, fine-tuned fingers will have a flexible and fine-tuned brain,” says Dr. John Miller, a paediatric occupational therapist and founder of the school.
Curriculum is divided into three age groups: 3 to 7 years is kindergarten level, where children learn pre-academic skills. They are indirectly introduced to alphabets and numbers through songs, stories and activities. From 7 to 14 years, focus is on emotional development of the kids, with formal writing and reading beginning from this level, and from 14 to 20 on academics is given priority.
“The distinguishing thing about this school is that it needs a medical practitioner, who accesses a child at every stage. We take the falling of first tooth as a sign that a child is ready to leave kindergarten to enter the next level. Also, teachers here are one among the students. It is a watch, emulate and learn method that we follow,” he adds.
The play-way method encourages children to learn through exploration and to give a free reign to imagination. “The conventional structured system restricts such freedom. A school should create interest to learn and not pressurise children,” says Sharadha, specila educator and co-partner of the school.
But can children studying under this system manage when they move to a mainstream school? John says they are much more capable of coping up in a conventional school after being trained under the Waldorf system. “Some parents pull their children out of our schools fearing they will lag behind academically. These children fare quite well in regular schools too.”
So confident is John about the system that he has put both his children in the school. “I will never put them in a conventional school. They love coming here for it offers a happy environment to learn with no compulsion to be a highflyer. That is what a school should be about.”
At present, Indradhanu has classes till standard V.
They two-year old school plans to increase have classes till standard X in the coming years. It is located at 148, Valluvar Kottam High Road, Nungambakkam. For details, call 9952969466/43117333.