Minnesota Waldorf School: Progressive education for children Pre-K through eighth grade

You might not be aware but near the intersection of Rice Street and Highway 36 there is a unique educational opportunity waiting to be discovered. The Minnesota Waldorf School is nestled on eight acres near the crossroads of St. Paul, Roseville, and Maplewood and unless you’ve driven by you might not even know it’s there. During its 35 years of operation, the Minnesota Waldorf School has become increasingly well known as an alternative to mainstream education. Founded in 1919, Waldorf Education was a pioneer in the play-based, nature-focused early childhood curriculum that is becoming more and more popular in today’s world. With its calm, nurturing classrooms and multiple hours of outside time per day, their mixed-age early childhood/kindergarten program doesn’t look like your typical kindergarten. But that’s what parents come looking for, an alternative to the increase in testing, worksheets and desk time that have come to be the norm in many school models. “We know that the most important skills to nurture in young children are their creative/imaginative and social/emotional skills. More and more studies support this approach, something that Waldorf Educators have known for almost 100 years,” Enrollment Director Vaara Ostrin says In grades one through eight, academics are introduced in ways that are engaging and meaningful. Math and science come alive through music and art; geography is modeled and history is acted out. Regarding his recent chemistry block, eighth-grade teacher Gideon Weick says, “We don’t want them to take our word for it; we want them to discover it on their own, like it’s new.” This approach is evident in the enthusiasm and curiosity of the students who go on to a wide variety of high schools. Whether it’s a local public, exclusive prep, or one of the many charter schools, the feedback is the same. “We hear that our kids arrive with the attitude that learning is their responsibility, that they want to be there,” Ostrin says. “What we want most for them is to leave knowing how to learn and loving to learn, we think that is just as important as what they learn.” Minnesota Waldorf School families come from all over the Minneapolis and St. Paul metro area to take advantage of this unique opportunity to “have it all.” “We haven’t sacrificed handwriting, recess, music, art, foreign language, or gym, and yet our students continue to succeed academically!” Ostrin says with a smile, “But you’ll have to visit us to find out more!”

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