Source: Grosse Pointe News Online

Layering helps students reflect on lessons

by Detroit Waldorf School staff members

July 11, 2013

Q. If my child is not reading or writing by the time they are in preschool, will they be able to attain high academic achievement?

A. In our nationwide effort to reinforce the future success of an educated workforce and nation, we tend to teach our young students too much, too fast, and we, in turn, miss the opportunity to provide them with a strong foundation of knowledge that’s rich with tools and techniques, not just facts and statistics.

Some schools begin teaching literacy and numeracy on the student’s first day, using a layered environment that affords students time to reflect on their lessons. Before students are introduced to sound and word recognition, teachers focus on reinforcing the child’s love for language by immersing them in a classroom filled with storytelling, poems and foreign languages. Students first develop the foundations and building blocks that provide a basis for above average literacy, numeracy, and comprehension skills. When a child is ready to connect their ecosystem of knowledge, comprehension and their love of language, not only are they able to read, but they explode with proficiency and the desire to read and write.

“The English Language: listening, speaking, writing, reading, visually representing and viewing are all engaged in a Waldorf preschool — just in authentic experiences that arise out of focused play and invention, as well as part of the artistic work of the teacher,” says Eastern Michigan University education professor and researcher Linda Williams.

Layered teaching methods used by some private schools are so effective public schools are beginning to adopt them.

“The importance of storytelling, of the natural rhythms of daily life, of the evolutionary changes in the child, of art as the necessary underpinning of learning, and of the aesthetic environment as a whole — all basic to Waldorf education for the past 70 years — are being ‘discovered’ and verified by researchers unconnected to the Waldorf movement,” said Paul Bayers, a professor at Columbia Teachers’ College

Said Barbara Warren, a fourth-grade teacher in Sacramento, Calif., two years after these type of methods were introduced in her class of mostly minority children, the number of students who could actually read at grade level rose from 45 to 85 percent.

“I didn’t start by making them read more,” she said in Schooling the Imagination. “I started telling stories, and getting them to recite poetry that they learned by listening, not by reading. They became incredible listeners.”

She says many private school parents worry their children are behind public-school students in reading proficiency, but their concerns are calmed when by mid-elementary school their students routinely catch up and often even surpass their peers in reading proficiency.

David Elkind, a child psychologist at Tufts University, supports Warren’s claim and said late readers typically become better at reading and other subjects than early readers in the long run anyway.

The Detroit Waldorf School is a private school that offers creative educational methods as mentioned in this article. For more information on their programs, visitdetroitwal

The Family Center, a 501(c)(3), non-profit organization, serves as the community’s centralized hub for information, resources and referral for families and professionals. The Family Center is enriching our community through stronger families.

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