Frequently Asked Questions
About Our School
How would you describe the role of parents in their child’s WSNO education?
There are all sorts of wonderful ways to support the school and your child's education at WSNO. We have a rich festival life, ample opportunities for volunteering, and lots of ways to be involved in our community of parents. The school has a Parent Council and various committees (Finance, Outreach, Fundraising etc.) are always looking for new members. Class teachers are also always in need of class parents for various things, from helping out in the classroom, to chaperoning trips, and helping organize special projects or outings.
I know that some Waldorf schools are strict about digital media use at home. Would my child get in trouble if they talks about video games or television?
In general, discussion of media-related things is discouraged in the classroom. A child would not be "in trouble" per se, but all children are strongly encouraged to keep that kind of conversation for times outside of school. Additionally, it is part of the commitment of the family coming into Waldorf education to greatly limit the exposure to media as we work to nurture the children's capacities for creative imagination, independent thinking and positive action. However, in the digital age we live in, we are committed to fostering age-appropriate media/digital literacy in the Middle School years. There, students use electronic media as a tool after they've developed an experiential foundation. Read more about why and how our school values, Media Mindfulness HERE.
Do you serve lunch?
Our school does not serve or provide lunch. We encourage families to pack a healthy, hearty lunch that includes sufficient, wholesome protein for a full day of energy, one or more low-sugar snacks (no chocolate or candy please) and a reusable canteen for water.
How diverse is Waldorf School of New Orleans?
Our school is diverse and continuously strives for a student body that reflects the diversity of our city. WSNO currently is comprised of 24% children of color, and constantly strives to reflect the rich diversity of New Orleans. We consciously set tuition rates to both sustain the school and welcome as many families as possible. In addition, we offer tuition assistance as available.
About Our Curriculum
Is the curriculum that you teach completely distinct from the standards that public schools have? In looking at the information on the website, I feel like there are some things that my child will have already done and some subjects that he has never studied. I’m wondering how kids coming from public schools--or leaving Waldorf to go to public schools—generally fair in the transitions.
Yes, the Waldorf curriculum is distinct, separate from Common Core and traditional education techniques, although both Waldorf and Common Core focus on skills-based learning. Additionally, in the upper grades here at WSNO, there is specific classwork and specialty classes dedicated to preparing the students for high school and traditional education practices.
In general, we find that students transfer well both in and out of Waldorf schools. For instance while some may have had some of the curriculum already, taking up other subjects your child may not have had (foreign language, chorus, strings, handwork) would be invigorating. Because it is such a different approach to teaching and learning, it is most always very inspiring to the new student. All the lead teachers and subject teachers would work to bring your child up to speed where needed and it would not be expected that he or she already know things that are specific to the Waldorf curriculum.
How does the Waldorf School of New Orleans accommodate children with learning differences?
While we expect and assist children in learning at their own pace and individualize instruction for our students as much as possible, we cannot provide special education to help children with pronounced learning or behavioral difficulties.
When do Waldorf Schools introduce reading?
Our goal is to foster passionate readers who continue reading for pleasure throughout their lifetimes. To that end, we introduce reading in a developmentally appropriate way, when students are more comfortable with the written word and fully ready to engage with them.
Waldorf teachers begin teaching reading in the first couple months of first grade by teaching consonants and vowel names and sounds through an artistic approach of drawing, painting, movement, and speech. This artistic, deliberate process engages the children with great interest, and by the end of first grade, children are writing and reading sentences and short texts. Students typically begin reading printed readers with their teacher during the second half of second grade. This thorough and artistic approach to teaching literacy has been proven to build a solid base for advanced comprehension and vocabulary skills in later years.
Are Waldorf Schools art schools?
Waldorf schools are not art schools. The curriculum offers a classical education in all academic disciplines that fully integrates the arts into its teaching methodology. Why? Because research continues to show that the inclusion of the arts in academia increases aptitude and creative thinking in areas such as math and science, and has a positive effect on emotional development as well.
How does grading work?
A full assessment of each student’s progress is provided in the form of a narrative assessment in all subject areas. These assessments are supported by teacher conferences and class meetings throughout the year. They do not include letter or numbered grades. However, beginning in 5th grade, students begin to receive assessments of skills using a scale ranging from developing to mastery. When students are ready to move to high school, we will also translate the assessments for the schools to which our students apply.
How does the Waldorf School of New Orleans approach standardized tests?
We believe that standardized testing is not an accurate or complete reflection of a student’s knowledge, intellectual capacities, or ability to learn. Thus our curriculum does not regularly incorporate standardized test-taking. In preparation for high school, middle schools students begin study skill courses that prepare them for standardized tests and entrance exams. Interested students may pursue independent or external test preparation.
What high schools do your alumni attend?
We have had alumni accepted to Brother Martin, Ben Franklin High School, De La Salle, Lusher, Metairie Park Country Day, Isidore Newman, Sacred Heart, St. Augustine, St. Martin’s, Ursuline Academy, and more.
About Waldorf Education
Is Waldorf education religious in nature?
Waldorf philosophy holds that there is a spiritual dimension to all of life, and it honors that spirit in its curriculum. The Waldorf School of New Orleans, like all other Waldorf schools, is non-sectarian and non-denominational. Children from diverse cultures and religious and nonreligious backgrounds are present and welcome. The Waldorf curriculum teaches understanding of and respect for all world religions.
What are the age requirements for each program?
As a general rule, a child at least this old by the first day of school to enter the given program:
Nursery: 2 years and 8 months
Pre-Kindergarten/Kindergarten: 3 years and 8 months
1st Grade: 6 years old
2nd-8th Grade: No age requirement
Is the scheduling for interviews, play dates, and class visits flexible for out of state applicants?
The prospective class teacher is allowed to be flexible in an extenuating circumstance. This would be considered on a case by case basis.
Can students transfer mid-year? Can you accommodate short-term placements?
Each situation is handled individually, depending on family and school circumstances. We offer rolling admissions in each class, as space permits. For more information, please contact the Grade School at (504) 525-2420 or Early Childhood Center at (504) 325-2366.
May children attend school tours or open houses?
Children are encouraged to accompany parents during open houses. However, children are not permitted during tours, which take place during classes.