Waldorf education was founded in Germany in 1919 by scientist and philosopher Rudolf Steiner. The curriculum at City of Fountains School, inspired by Waldorf philosophy, was written to teach specifically what is appropriate in each of a child’s stages of development of his or her whole being, and to develop thinking, feeling and willing capacities. It is an educational experience that engages the growing child’s head, hands and heart. Rich in independent critical and creative thinking, community awareness and responsibility, cultural awareness, the arts, movement, purposeful work and foreign language, it employs methods very different from the traditional school, making it a unique option for education in Kansas City.
In the United States, there are approximately 150 Waldorf schools, 250 early childhood centers, and many more that are inspired by Waldorf education. Worldwide there are over 1,000 schools. Here in the midwest, City of Fountains School consists of pioneers answering a call to the quickly growing interest of families with school-aged children.
City of Fountains School was birthed from a community meeting in June 2011, which was called to evaluate the desire for Waldorf education in Kansas City. A large and eager group formed from that initial meeting. We met weekly to create a vision, choose our name and form a mission. We explored what we could make happen immediately – homeschool enrichment – and what we could continue to work towards: the first K-12 school based on the teachings of Rudolf Steiner in Kansas City. As we continued to meet weekly through 2011 and into 2012, COF’s leadership was honed into a small, focused group of multi-talented individuals who manifested a non-profit organization with a Board of Directors.
Our school is now in its eleventh full year of operation with classes near full enrollment, daily inquiries from new families about what we offer and a rich community and festival life for our families.
Our school is nonsectarian and nondenominational. Our program does not embrace any one particular religious doctrine but honors the spiritual dimension of the human being and of life. The truth and relevancy of all religions and beliefs are honored with the common ideal of bringing forth social renewal and wisdom.
At times, the words and imagery of angels and of God are used in poetry or stories in the classroom. This is a seeking for what is good, beautiful and true within the self and the world, not in a dogmatic way. In this same light, our school celebrates festivals within our community life. These celebrations are relevant to our culture and are a reflection of the current student body.
Our programs are holistic in nature, with respect and reverence for life, natural resources and human expression. Art is not seen as an extracurricular but as integral to all learning. Every day, students draw, paint, sculpt, sing or move to further explore and deepen their understanding of the academic material presented. Students make their own beautifully illustrated textbooks, rather than relying on printed textbooks for learning, bringing the material they have learned to life with their will.
Our curriculum is academically rigorous and holistically balanced so that both the left and right hemispheres of the brain are developed.
At City of Fountains, lead teachers stay with their students for all 5 to 6 years of their primary education. Close relationships are formed with the students giving them the security of forging a bond and growing with a teacher rather than the switching of teacher from year to year as most traditional schools do. This consistency of care is greatly needed for the youth of today.
Children who have an education inspired by Waldorf are often ahead of their peers in conventional schools in both core knowledge and comprehension, and are generally well-rounded and socially secure.
While there is a set academic curriculum, we also acknowledge the “teacher as curriculum” for the growing child, meaning that the teacher’s own being, their example, has a great influence upon the child.
At City of Fountains, we have a reverence for the oral tradition of telling fairy tales and stories throughout kindergarten and the early grades. The children begin to learn these stories, as well as verses and rhymes through repetition, thus creating a proficiency in oral communication. The alphabet is introduced within the context of stories and descriptions of how letters first came about in antiquity. The pictures or hieroglyphs that are student generated will then show the transition from drawing to letter, creating a deeper individual investment. The ability to read then evolves from this progression. The ideal age for these introductions is around age seven, depending on the child (which is why we include an assessment before placing a child in first grade). Studies have shown that although “early readers” have a short-term academic gain, the differences end by the end of elementary school.
The growth and strengthening of the child’s own image-making capacity and imagination is imperative. This allows for the healthy development of creative and critical thinking in adolescence. A child that is exposed to a lot of media (especially in early childhood, birth through 7 years) may experience difficulty in envisioning their own creative images from both the written word (when reading) and spoken word (stories, rhymes, songs), as well as in their own creative play.
In alignment with the philosophies of Waldorf, we recommend that media of all kinds (television, video games, radio, movies, computers, phones, tablets) be limited and censored appropriately for all students.
Seasonal festivals have been celebrated throughout history, across all cultures. Festivals served to bring communities together and to honor the shifting rhythms of nature. Over time, these festivals have evolved but they continue to carry a special significance. We rejoice in the artistry of festival preparation, the merriment of coming together as a community and seeing the wonder reflected in the children’s eyes as we all make memories together.
We are a small school and in order to grow we need our community’s help. This not only helps our school fulfill its needs, but also has a direct impact on the quality of the community that nurtures our children. Below is a list of some of the volunteer opportunities for this school year:
- Beautification: Preparation of classrooms for the coming school year and as needed throughout the year (cleaning, mopping, painting, repairs as needed), sweeping the walkways, hospitality at school meetings (setting up tables and chairs, providing snacks etc…).
- Community Outreach: Create and distribute general school flyers, posters or brochures, website improvements, school photography service and storage/organization.
- Fundraising: Plan and carry out two or more fundraisers for the school during the school year.
- Festivals: Assisting teachers and administrator with preparation and cleanup of festivals.