"They produce a book rather than learning from one."


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Review of: Waldorf Academy

Cindy Waldman - Parent    (Jun 22, 2020)

Student Experience

Our son has really enjoyed his time at Waldorf Academy. Waldorf Academy has a very warm, inviting, and community-based environment. What he likes best is the mix of Nature, Sciences and Arts he gets to experience throughout the year. There is music, singing, handwork, woodwork, fine arts, and movement. He enjoys the deep dive they do into monthly main lesson topics like Chemistry, History, the Renaissance, and Geometry to name a few. He likes the smaller class size and because of their size, the ability to get to interact with all of the kids in the school not just in his grade. The teachers are wonderful. He has gotten to know each of them very well over the years and we feel that they know all of the students equally well too.


School Leadership

The school administration is very responsive and easy to access. They are often found outside at drop off and pick up greeting parents and children. They are open to questions, comments, and concerns. They are on the front lines and not just behind closed doors. My son is very comfortable approaching them to ask questions or raise a concern. They communicate with monthly newsletters, email updates, and personal emails, phone calls, or meetings. Twice a year school report cards and parent-teacher interviews are held and can be very in-depth with a lot of personal comments and feedback. Discipline is handled fairly and on an individual basis. They have clear rules and guidelines that the children are aware of.


Teaching

The teachers at Waldorf Academy go above and beyond. The main lesson teachers are 100 percent engaged in your child's academic life at Waldorf Academy. The Waldorf philosophy follows kids through the grades and that results in a very special teaching relationship with each student. The teacher knows the strengths and the challenges each student faces and is well-prepared to help them. The specialty teachers are carefully chosen to enhance the curriculum and though they can change from year to year they often do not and also develop a close relationship with each child throughout their time at the school. You will see these qualities reflected in the comprehensive reports cards that are produced twice a year along with midterm updates.


Academics

Following the Waldorf philosophy, the curriculum is geared toward whole child development and follows the child's physical, emotional, and mental development. Though this can sound odd to those coming from a more traditional form of education, we can attest to the success of this in developing happy, healthy, and balanced children. At the same time, all educational requirements are met and surpassed by the end of grade 8. The students move on to a variety of high schools. The main lesson is an essential part of the curriculum. It is in this extended class that kids get to deeply explore a single topic, daily, over a month's period. The topics are varied from Geometry to Roman History. Children produce beautiful books of art, facts, and original works to solidify what they have learned. They produce a book rather than learning from one. My son is exceptionally proud of the main lesson books he has produced. Children also get to learn quality handwork, woodwork, outdoor education, physical and health education, math, and English studies. The grade 8 year has some very unique and valuable special projects. The first is a hero project. It culminates in a group presentation with each student highlighting their hero. The second is a year-long study of a topic of their choosing. It culminates in a presentation in front of a large portion of the student body, parent body, and Alumni. This intensive study sets them up well for what lies ahead in their educational journey.


Extracurriculars

As a smaller school, extracurriculars may not compare to large schools. However, there are ample opportunities in both sports and the arts to satisfy most. The school participates in competitive sports against other private schools. In addition, there are many arts programs (plays, musicals) during the year. There are also school trips and outdoor education (Pine) program throughout the year.


Students

The Waldorf Academy is not a big school and because of that there is a warm family feel. All of the students, regardless of grade get to know and interact with each other. We feel this helps develop good social skills and empathy towards younger children. Because of the whole school interaction, the kids do not feel like they are missing out socially. At the middle school level, there is a mixed grade choir, mixed grade sports teams, and a very popular school Halloween dance. Other mixed grade activities are reading buddies and grade 1 buddies. In both of these, children from the middle school buddy up with the younger students to facilitate learning and community. Another stand out quality of the Waldorf Academy students is there amazing ability to welcome newcomers into the community. When our son got there in grade 6 he was immediately accepted by his classmates like he had been there for years. We witnessed this again as a new student arrived in his later years with the same result.


School Life

Our son loved going to school each and every day. The warm and welcoming community accepts and encourages each child to become the best 'self' they can achieve. The children's unique qualities are celebrated. Each morning our child is welcomed by their main lesson teacher in a personal way to show that their presence is appreciated at the school. There is a consistent and comfortable rhythm to each day which the children come to learn and look forward to. Even though the school is located in the city center, they use the surrounding nature to our advantage. The kids look forward to recess in the park and time in the well-kept schoolyards. The kids are encouraged and supported to try activities outside their comfort zone. There are sports, plays, musical performances, and academic pursuits. Something to suit and challenge everyone.


Community

As a parent of a Waldorf Academy student you are welcome and encouraged to participate in the many of the schools activities. If you have a particular talent, you are often invited to share it either in the classroom, on the Community Council or on the Board of Directors. From field trips to school community activities like the Winter fair and May fair, parent volunteers are always welcome. You are encouraged to get involved in any way you can. With the smaller class sizes, most parents in each grade get to know each other quite well and as a result a lovely social dynamic develops. There are also opportunities for parents to participate in school run adult learning activities to help understand the Waldorf teaching philosophy.


School Location

The school is centrally located on a quiet street just south of Casa Loma. It is near the Dupont Subway. Despite being in an urban neighborhood, it is walking distance to a variety of parks and ravines. Nature is a big part of The Waldorf education and The Waldorf Academy uses its location to their advantage. They recess in local parks and use the TTC to go on field trips.


Admissions

We applied from out of town and from the start to the end the process was very smooth and very personal. I appreciated that there was no admission test. Because of where we were located, we did not get to tour the school. Though I highly recommend it. We had an online meeting between our son and his potential main lesson teacher and they asked us to send samples of his work/report cards. Upon arrival back in Canada, they asked to meet our son in person to make sure it was a good fit. For us, the teacher and administration felt it was not a perfect fit and the teacher recommended a different class. A week later he started school. It all worked out perfectly and we couldn't be happier. We feel they really know children and want them to be where they would fit in and best succeed.


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