Frequently Asked Questions
What is looping and why is it valuable?
Looping is a common practice in Waldorf education where the teacher progresses with the students for a series of grades. In his Discussions with Teachers, Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf education, believed that a long-term relationship with the teacher was beneficial to children. Looping supports student learning by building a solid, long-term relationship between student, parent and teacher. Through looping, teachers are able to gain knowledge about their students’ personalities and intellectual strengths and weaknesses in a way that is not possible in a single year.
Where are BWS graduates accepted to high school?
Our graduates have been accepted to a variety of well-regarded schools. Please see the list here.
How rigorous are BWS academics?
BWS academics are strong, classical and rigorous in several ways that differ from other independent and private schools. Our graduates enjoy acceptance to a number of well-regarded high schools as a result.
The education world is buzzing with talk of Science, Engineering, Technology and Mathematics instruction, or STEM, which has come to stand for a marker of certain rigor for many in the education world. Education Weekly says that “STEM develops a set of thinking, reasoning, teamwork, investigative, and creative skills that students can use in all areas of their lives. STEM isn’t a standalone class—it’s a way to intentionally incorporate different subjects across an existing curriculum.” (“Six Characteristics of a Great STEM Lesson.” Education Week, 17 June 2014. Web.)
At BWS, our cohesive curriculum relates all subjects across all classes in a single year and between classes over time. We don’t limit subject integration to just math and science.
This matrix of subject inter-relationship is possible because all teachers work from a unified, integrated and interdisciplinary curriculum using only original source material instead of single-subject textbooks. Our unique approach to learning is immersive and multi-layered and BWS students acquire knowledge as they practice a variety of approaches to think about and solve problems.
Subjects emerge and flow from themes based in chronologically natural literary and historical contexts. A fifth grade ancient civilization study theme includes the study of geometry which transforms into an artistic experience of complex patterns and color. Ancient civilization and geometry reverberate through the other classes and learning modalities across the year.
BWS students are required to use and develop an unusual breadth of physical and cognitive attention, flexibility, focus, recall and application in this type of learning environment. Students are challenged, but skilled teachers maintain engagement levels that lead to high rates of knowledge absorption, comprehension and application.
How does the BWS curriculum compare to other schools?
The BWS curriculum content may be described as having a classical, liberal arts focus. Math, science, social studies, history and language arts are required academic subjects. All subjects are uniquely inter-related with each other and with compulsory specialty subjects. Read FAQ “How rigorous are BWS academics?” to learn more about the degree of subject integration. The Grades Main Lesson describes more about how the lesson content is related.
Though the content may be similar to that of other schools, the curriculum structure – timing, pacing, presentation and emphasis – is designed to match developmental arcs that may present points of subtle differences from other schools.
Progress assessments and homework volume also flow from this structure and may differ from other schools as well.
Why does each grade have only a single class teacher?
The BWS class teacher is expected to remain with a class from the first through the eighth grades, though reality may shorten this time.
Relationships are essential to learning. Students with greater continuity of support in these critical relationships and years have greater growth capacity as less time and energy is spent in transitions and more is spent in building trust through many interactions. The experience of such a long-term relationship process itself is an important model for healthy social life and for some students, this relationship can be transformative.
The class teacher is not the only teacher that grades students encounter in a given day. Every grade receives instruction from several different specialty teachers and this exposure is expanded again in the upper grades with the addition of specialty subject teachers.
Does BWS have a screen-time policy?
BWS families provide screen-free environments for their children, until technology is introduced and required in the upper grades.
This school-wide practice is aligned with and supportive of the BWS classroom and our overall philosophy of learning that prioritizes human capacity development. When students have attained a level of maturity and practice with their own capacities, they’re able to quickly master and wield powerful technological tools with greater and more beneficial effects. Introduced too early, these powerful tools can undermine important learning processes, interfere with the quality of classroom engagement and compromise learning.
The learning process doesn’t end at 3 p.m. and screen-free time provides a more neurologically restful environment for working memory refreshment and consolidation. Moreover, families and teachers continuously report that students demonstrate greater original, imaginative thought, empathetic social skills and deeper learning when screen-free environments are the norm.
How diverse is BWS?
BWS is diverse and continuously strives for a student body that reflects the diversity of our city, and the community in which our School is located, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, New York. We consciously set tuition rates to both sustain the school and welcome as many families as possible. In addition, we offer generous tuition assistance funded in part by 100% school-community giving.
Is BWS only for artistic children?
BWS is not an art school and all children are welcome regardless of talent. Our academic subjects integrate multiple art forms to provide a deep learning experience.
Where are the textbooks?
BWS students rely on original source materials instead of textbooks. Read FAQ “How rigorous are BWS academics?” for an idea of how this works.
Do you serve lunch?
BWS 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).