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Frequently Asked Questions

  1.  Why do children have the same teacher throughout classes 1-8 and what happens if teacher and child don't get on? Teachers are explicitly charged with the task of getting on with each child in their care; colleagues meet and share their teaching experiences at least once each week and if any teacher is struggling with a child, they are able to draw on their colleagues’ insights.
  2.  How do children adapt to mainstream education once they've been in the Steiner system? Most children adapt very easily.  Over the years, we have had many students move into mainstream education and very few concerns have arisen. On the contrary, many schools, parents and students have reported the tremendous gains they have taken from Steiner education.
  3. What sort of things do pupils do when they leave? Can they get into university with a Steiner education?  Steiner students go on to do all the things others go on to do – mechanics, doctors, bank clerks, lawyers, etc.  Steiner students have established pathways into University education, whether it be by NCEA qualifications or direct advocacy by their schools.
  4. My five year-old can already read and write. Won't she be bored at the Steiner school? The Steiner curriculum is so deep and broad that children who have already learned to read and write become absorbed in the curriculum presented to them.  Their days are full and rewarding and children have an enormous capacity for engaging in what their teachers offer them.
  5. TV/Movies/Video Games are part of modern life? Surely educational games and programmes are ok. Why do you discourage it for young children and to what age? Research shows that tv and similar electronic media damages the young human being, quite apart from the passivity entailed at a time when the child needs to be developing motor skills.  We encourage parents to keep their children free of this as long as possible and even in teenage years to limit time spent in this way – there are so many good ways to spend one’s time!
  6. How is reading taught in a Steiner school? Why do Steiner students wait until Class 2  to begin learning to read? Letters are introduced in a variety of ways from Class One and the young child is involved in literacy from kindergarten days through stories.  Once the child’s physiological development has progressed towards more intellectual engagement after the 7th year, so reading and writing are more formally introduced.  As is the experience in some European countries, most children are then ready to move easily through what for many younger children is can be a stressful time in their education.
  7. Are Steiner schools religious? Why are there religious pictures in the classrooms? At our school we celebrate the Christian festivals throughout the year. We endeavor to bring the festivals in a way that embraces all of humanity and honours the diverse cultural backgrounds in our community. Within the festivals live universal truths that play an important role in moral education. In addition the yearly rhythms give children and families a feeling for the changing seasons and world around us. Religion is not taught as a subject. Throughout the curriculum teachers bring stories, myths, histories and religions from different cultures and civilisations. We start and end each day with a verse and say a grace before eating our morning tea and lunches communally as an expression of gratitude and reverence for the natural world.
  8. We’re told that children are like a sponge when they’re young. Therefore, isn’t it better to start teaching them young. Doesn’t delaying the start of formal education miss this critical developmental opportunity? The young human being has a natural development path which involves physical and social growth as well as that of the imagination.  On the contrary, engaging with the intellect at a stage when other faculties must be developing, hampers those critical areas of development.  There is great deal of evidence to show that the intellect can take on information and skills at a later stage – the right stage.
  9. Isn’t it a school more for artistic and creative children rather than academic or sporty children? Art and creativity form part of all Steiner education, not as separate activities but rather woven together as a complete approach.  Successful academics require creativity to flourish and we often hear of wonderful athletes praised for being creative artists in their field!
  10. What are the criteria for acceptance into the school? A willingness to work supportively with the teachers so that the child enjoys consistency at home and at school.
  11. What parent involvement is encouraged? Parent involvement is encouraged through liaison with the class teacher, attendance at Community Meetings and working bees, participating in the Adult Education programme and working with groups such as fundraising, crafts and the monthly Titirangi Village Market.  There are many different opportunities and we need parent involvement.
  12. How does a play-oriented approach to the early years of schooling prepare children for the high-tech world in which we live? What about computer literacy? I want my child to have a competitive edge, not be behind the times. Play is something the human being needs to experience richly to develop fully – without this opportunity, creativity, will and social feeling is stunted and all adult tasks are harder and the adult is able to enter into them less fully.  If one sees the task in its full form (for example, computer work) to carry it out well, every human being needs this experience of healthy forming as a child.  If we miss out important stages of development to rush on to some other experience, we do so at great cost.
  13. Isn't the school full of problem children who can't cope in mainstream education? No, it is not.  Some children come because they have problems at another school, some because they are unhappy for particular reasons; most come through our kindergarten because their parents resonate with the educational philosophy.  We are very careful not to accept children into classes without a trial period so that we can be sure the children already in the class will be able to continue with their healthy learning.
  14. If the school does not test its pupils, how can parents know that standards are being met? The school does test children in literacy and numeracy and it assesses them regularly through the collegial work of the teachers.  Testing is seen as having a place but always in the context of the individual’s development path – which cannot be fixed by reference to a ‘norm’ without undermining the individual child.
  15. How does the Steiner curriculum fit into the New Zealand context? The kindergarten works with Te Whariki, the curriculum for Early Childhood in NZ, and as it is holistic, it fits totally with our view of the young child. We use natural NZ materials and incorporate Maoritanga (maori culture/practices) and te reo (maori language). In the Lower School, the curriculum addresses the development of the child and their environment and consequently meets the needs of the New Zealand child. Thus each class in each Steiner School is unique, yet universal.