What is Waldorf Education?

Waldorf schools offer a developmentally appropriate, experiential, and academically rigorous approach to education. They integrate the arts in all academic disciplines for children from preschool through twelfth grade to enhance and enrich learning. Waldorf Education aims to inspire life-long learning in all students and to enable them to fully develop their unique capacities.

Founded in the early 20th century, Waldorf Education is based on the insights, teachings and principles of education outlined by the world renowned artist, and scientist, philosopher, and innovator Rudolf Steiner. The principles of Waldorf Education evolve from an understanding of human development that address the needs of the growing child.

Music, dance and theater, writing, literature, legends and myths are not simply subjects to be read about and tested. They are experienced. Through these experiences, Waldorf students cultivate their intellectual, emotional, physical and spiritual capacities to be confident individuals, certain of their paths, and prepared to have a positive impact in today’s world. (Read more about Waldorf Education)


How many Waldorf schools are there?

There are about 1000 Waldorf schools and nearly 2000 Waldorf early childhood programs located in 60+ countries around the world, including about 170 schools and 250 early childhood centers in North America. Waldorf methods are also being adopted by many U.S. public and charter schools.


What does it take to become a Waldorf teacher?

Waldorf Schools require that their teachers have at least a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university and often prefer a candidate with a Master’s degree. Additionally, a Waldorf Teacher Education Diploma as offered by Alkion and other AWSNA affiliated or full member institutes is required in most cases.

Waldorf teachers share an interest in the unfolding capacities of the human being, a desire to help young people develop their individual, innate potential, and a wish to be of service to the world. The important thing to remember is that Waldorf teaching is not about being the best at everything, but about continually striving to learn and grow.


What is the likelihood that I can find a job as a Waldorf school teacher?

The job market for Waldorf teachers is excellent. Each year, the number of job openings for Waldorf educators far exceeds the number of graduates from Waldorf teacher education programs. In U.S. Waldorf schools alone, there are hundreds of job openings every year for qualified teachers. To get a sense of what is available now, take a look at online job boards such as WaldorfEducation.org or WaldorfToday.com.


How is teaching in a Waldorf school different than teaching in a conventional school?

Among the key differences are these:

The role of the Waldorf teacher, who serves as the child’s bridge to the world, changes in accordance with the child’s ever-changing stages of development.

Because young children have an innately imitative nature, Waldorf early childhood educators engage in meaningful activity in their classroom settings so as to be examples worthy of imitation. Knowing that young children learn best through play and direct experience, Waldorf parent-child, nursery, and kindergarten educators create warm, loving environments that enable young children to explore the world around them and engage in free, imaginative play that develops their capacities for future academic learning. There is no formal academic instruction during these years.

Because the elementary-age child seeks the acceptance and authority of parental figures, Waldorf class (grades 1-8) teachers stay with the same cohort of students for consecutive years, developing strong, familial connections with the children as they move through the grades together. Class teachers begin each school day with the “Main Lesson,” a one-and-a-half- to two-hour period focusing on a particular subjects within the humanities, math, and science disciplines, changing topics every three to four weeks. The main lesson is presented without textbooks, in a personal exchange between teachers and students that is designed to engage head, heart, and hands.

Waldorf schools are self-governed, giving the same individuals who teach the children the responsibility and authority to shape curriculum and school policy.


What Waldorf teacher education programs does Alkion offer?

At Alkion, you can prepare to become a Waldorf birth-to-age-seven educator through our Early Childhood Teacher Education Program, a Waldorf grades-1-8 class teacher through our Elementary Teacher Education Program, or a Waldorf special subject teacher – including for high school – by taking our Waldorf Grades 1-8 program, augmented by subject specific studies and internships at Waldorf Schools in your areas of expertise.


How long does it take to complete an Alkion teacher education program?

It is important to note that our program at the Alkion Center is year round, between September and May. It takes two years of commuting to our Hawthorne Valley Campus on Saturdays during the school year. We follow the school calendar of vacations and public holidays. In addition to our low residency Saturday year round program students are expected to attend two all day weeks in late June, preferably in succession over the two years of attendance.

Alkion’s teacher education programs include a deep exploration of child and human development, guidance in the cultivation of inner, contemplative capacities, exploration of pedagogical approaches and skills, practice in the arts, guidance in how to work within a group of colleagues, and practical learning in classrooms with experienced teachers.


What do I receive at the end of the program?

Upon completion of all classes, classroom observations, student teaching practicums, a research project/presentation/paper, and two summer weeks our students receive a diploma for Waldorf Teacher Education that enables them to teach at Waldorf Schools throughout the US. Many of our graduates have found employment at Waldorf Schools in this country and abroad.


Is Alkion accredited?

Alkion is an associate member of the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA) and the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America (WECAN).


What does it cost to enroll in Alkion?

Tuition can be found on each program’s page.


What kind of Financial Aid is available?

Financial aid is available in the form of grants and loans. Alkion is committed to helping make Waldorf teacher education possible, and each year we look for new and additional ways to support our program students in their studies.


Where is Alkion Institute located?

We are on the campus of Hawthorne Valley Association in the hamlet of Harlemville in Columbia County, NY, just 2 hours north of NYC. Our campus is home to a number of organizations and initiatives based on the work of Rudolf Steiner, including a 900-acre working Biodynamic farm, an organic health food and grocery store, a Waldorf school and more.


Is housing available on campus?

No, there is no housing available on campus, but rooms in private homes are available. Please go to our accommodations listing here.


Can I bring my family with me to campus?

Families find lots to do on our campus by visiting Hawthorne Valley Farm where self-guided tours are welcome. Fields behind the school invite play and nature-based renewal, and walks around campus will take you to wooded and open areas of natural beauty and interest. Especially during the summer months families enjoy their time on our campus. However, children should not accompany you to class and need to be cared for and supervised by an adult while on campus. Both Hawthorne Valley School and Farm offer summer camps and programs for children of different ages – see the Hawthorne Valley Association website.


How does the Application process work?

After you have determined that you have an interest in becoming a student at the Alkion Center, and after studying our website, you might find that you would like to have a phone conversation to clarify more personal questions. You can then give us a call and we will be happy to talk to you. If the website answers all your questions, fill out the application form and send it to us. We will then contact you to set up a visit/interview time. After a successful interview you will receive an admissions package with the appropriate paperwork in the mail, after which you will send in a tuition deposit to secure a space in our incoming class.


Can I come for a visit/interview?

A good number of incoming students like to come for a day visit to meet with faculty and to observe classes. We always welcome your interest and try to accommodate your schedule for a visit/interview and campus tour.


What are the surrounding communities and larger cities in the area?

The Alkion Center at Hawthorne Valley is six minutes by car from the village of Philmont. Philmont has a few businesses, but is mostly residential. Chatham is the next closest with restaurants, a supermarket, pharmacy, shops, and a good number of cultural offerings. Hudson is 25 minutes away and has everything you might need, as well as cultural offerings. The next closest large city with an airport is Albany, NY, roughly 50 minutes away. Just over the border in Massachusetts you have access to Great Barrington (30 minutes away) and the Berkshires with all their recreational and cultural possibilities. Check out the relocation page on Hawthorne Valley School’s site for more info and links.


How can I find out more information?

Contact us!