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Screen Time at The Waldorf School in Garden City

The Waldorf Schools of North America


Waldorf reports to be the fastest-growing independent educational movement in the world, with 123 schools in the United States serving 19,000 students and 1,000 schools in another 60 countries. All generally follow the "no-tech" approach in the elementary grades, said Beverly Amico of the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America.

Montessori schools, generally speaking, also have shunned the push to include technology, but there are few others. "It's hard to swim against the stream, and that's what we are doing," said Carol Proctor, associate director of admissions at the Garden City Waldorf school. "Modern culture is going one way, and we are saying, 'We need to think about this. "

Until sixth grade, there are no computers, Smartboards, iPads, laptops or televisions. Teachers and students stick with traditional, old-fashioned blackboards and chalk. The school encourages families to follow the "no-tech" philosophy at home and to introduce such gadgets in limited doses as children get older.

The school says it is getting results. Enrollment in the high school is at record levels, administrators said, and the school is attracting attention from as far away as China and Korea.

The founder of the movement, Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner, believed a new kind of comprehensive school was needed to address the "whole child" -- physical, intellectual, social and spiritual -- and teach them in developmentally appropriate stages. His first school broke conventions, allowing boys and girls to be in the same classroom and admitting children regardless of their family's economic status.

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