What is Waldorf Education?

Waldorf Education is a world-wide independent school movement developed in Germany in 1919 by an Austrian philosopher, social reformer, and visionary named Rudolf Steiner. Among the fastest-growing educational movements in the world, Waldorf Education is based on the developmental stages of childhood. In a Waldorf school, each child is viewed as a whole being, with attention paid not only to the child’s intellectual capacities, but also to his or her physical, emotional, spiritual, and moral development. Waldorf Education is getting a lot of media coverage lately due to its rejection of high-stakes testing and its interest in developing individuality and creativity in an otherwise increasingly mechanized world.

How many Waldorf schools are there?

There are about 1000 Waldorf schools and nearly 2000 Waldorf early childhood programs located in 60 countries across five continents, including about 170 Waldorf schools and 250 Waldorf early childhood centers in North America. Waldorf methods are also being adopted by many US public and charter schools.

What does it take to become a Waldorf Teacher?

Waldorf teachers share an interest in the development of the human being, a desire to help young people develop their innate potential, and a wish to be of service to the world. The important thing to remember is that Waldorf teaching is not about being the best at everything, but about continually striving to become better.

What is the likelihood that I can find a job as a Waldorf school teacher?

The job market for Waldorf teachers is excellent.  Each year, the number of job openings for Waldorf teachers far exceeds the number of graduates from Waldorf teacher education programs. In US Waldorf schools alone, there are hundreds of job openings every year for qualified men and women. To get a sense of what is available now, take a look at online job boards such as WaldorfEducation.org or WaldorfToday.com.

How is teaching in a Waldorf school different than teaching in a conventional school?

Among the key differences are these:

  • The role of the Waldorf teacher, who serves as the child’s bridge to the world, changes in accordance with the child’s ever-changing stages.
  • As the young child has an innately imitative nature, Waldorf early childhood educators engage in meaningful activity in their classroom settings so as to be examples worthy of imitation. As the elementary-school-age child seeks the acceptance and authority of parental figures, Waldorf elementary teachers stay with the same class of students for a number of years, developing strong, familial connections with the children as they move through the grades together.
  • Understanding that young children learn best through play and direct experience, Waldorf early childhood educators create warm, loving environments that enable young children to explore the world around them and to engage in free, imaginative play that develops capacities for future academic learning. There is no formal academic instruction during these years.
  • All academic subjects in a Waldorf grades 1-8 elementary school are delivered with an artistic component, in an interdisciplinary manner. Class teachers begin each school day with the main lesson, a one-and-a-half to two-hour period focusing on a particular academic topic within the humanities, math, and science disciplines that changes every three to four weeks. The main lesson is presented without textbooks, in a personal exchange between teachers and students that is designed to engage head, heart, and hands.
  • Waldorf schools are self-governed, giving the same individuals who teach the children the authority to shape curriculum and school policy.
What Waldorf teacher education programs does Sunbridge offer?

At Sunbridge Institute, you can prepare to become a Waldorf early childhood educator (birth to age six) or a Waldorf elementary (or “class”) teacher (grades one-eight).  Each program has different admissions requirements. We also offer short-term intensives in specialized studies such as teaching grades 1-12 world language or grades 1-8 music (and the option to combine specialized studies with a full Elementary program).  You can also register for one of our Summer Series courses or workshops, or other year-round offerings, to become more familiar with Waldorf Education and see if it this teaching is right for you.

How long does it take to complete a Sunbridge teacher education program?

It varies by the program. Each is low-residency, designed to accommodate working adults, with on-campus intensives scheduled in June/July, November, and March. Our early childhood and elementary programs involve a total of 13 and 15 weeks of on-campus study, respectively. Our specialized studies intensives involve 3 weeks of summer on-campus study.

What does the teacher education curriculum include?

Sunbridge’s teacher education programs include a deep exploration of child and human development;  development of a teacher’s contemplative capacities; exploration of pedagogical approaches and skills; studies in the arts; instruction in how to work in a group of colleagues; and practical learning in the classroom with experienced teachers.

What do I receive at the end of the program?

Upon completion of either our Early Childhood or our Elementary Teacher Education program, students are awarded a diploma in Waldorf Teacher Education, a diploma recognized by the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA) and valued by Waldorf schools around the country. Our Waldorf Early Childhood Teacher Education program also meets the standards set forth by the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America (WECAN). Graduates of our specialized study intensives receive a certificate, also recognized by AWSNA.

What does it cost to enroll in Sunbridge?

Tuition for our Waldorf teacher education programs can be found here.

What kind of Financial Aid is available?

Each year we look for new and additional ways to support our program students in their studies. We want to help you make this work! Please have a look at the Financial Aid page for a listing of aid available this year. Also, please feel free to get in touch with our Finance Office to explore possibilities.

Where is Sunbridge Institute located?

We’re on the campus of the Threefold Educational Center in the village of Chestnut Ridge in Rockland County, NY, just 30 miles northwest of NYC.  Threefold’s bucolic campus includes woods, a pond, a working farm, and the first biodynamic garden in North America. The setting is both restorative and inspiring.

Is there housing available on campus?

Yes! Please see our Housing and Meals page to learn about living and dining options while studying at Sunbridge.

Can I bring my family with me to campus?

It depends. We are a family-friendly campus, and our students’ families do enjoy being here, especially during the summer months. It’s important to note, however, that children cannot accompany you to class. If you do bring your baby or child with you, you must also bring someone — a partner, grandparent, nanny — who can take care of them while you’re in class. This works quite well for some students (see our Campus and Community page for options of what your family can do in our neighborhood while you’re in class); other students, however, find they can focus more on their studies when they are here alone and that their children are happier staying with a caregiver in the familiar environment of their own home. We leave that up to you!

How can I find out more information?

Contact us!