The Waldorf methods follow children’s developmental rhythm; kindergarten experience emphasizes a good deal of cultivation of pre-academic skills, and minimal academics in first grade. Reading is not taught until second or third grade, though the letters are introduced carefully in first and second.
During the elementary school years (grades 1-8) the students have a class (or “main lesson”) teacher who stays with the same class for (ideally) the entire eight years of elementary school.
Art Integration – Certain activities which are often considered “frills” at mainstream schools are central at Waldorf schools: art, music, gardening, and foreign languages, to name a few. In the younger grades, all subjects are introduced through artistic mediums, because the children respond better to this medium than to dry lecturing and rote learning. All children learn to play recorder and to knit.
There are no “textbooks” as such in the first through fifth grades. All children have “main lesson books”, which are their own workbooks which they fill in during the course of the year. They essentially produce their own “textbooks” which record their experiences and what they’ve learned. Upper grades use textbooks to supplement their main lesson work.
Learning in a Waldorf school is a non-competitive activity. There are no grades given at the elementary level; the teacher writes a detailed evaluation of the child at the end of each school year.
The use of electronic media, particularly television, by young children is strongly discouraged in Waldorf schools.