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Highland Hall Waldorf School

17100 Superior Street
Northridge, CA 91325

(818) 349-1394


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Highland Hall Waldorf School is situated on a beautifully landscaped and wooded 11 acre campus in Northridge, Founded in 1955, it is the oldest Waldorf school in the western United States and offers an independent alternative to public and other private schools, providing the Waldorf Curriculum from Early Childhood through High School graduation.

Philosophy & Approach

School Philosophy

General Approach to Learning: Play-Based, Waldorf

From the Director:

The Highland Hall Waldorf School views each child as a growing human being of body, soul, and spirit, all of which must be nurtured by education. The school places human development and art at the center of its work and curriculum. It prepares young people to meet the world with inner confidence, to trust in the value of each human being, and to think and work with initiative in their lives. Following the indications of Austrian scientist and philosopher Dr. Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), the children are taught in the context of their own stage of development with the understanding that subjects must be brought to them in different ways at different ages. The capacity for serious academic work and thinking in the high school is first prepared through healthy play and artistic learning in the nursery, kindergarten and lower grades. Children are not rushed, but encouraged. Between birth and age seven, the child learns mainly through imitation. The atmosphere surrounding the child is filled with beauty, morality, and role models worthy of imitation. At this age the children need warmth and protection to develop their capacities in a natural, supportive, non-competitive and free atmosphere for creative play and work. Children between the ages of seven and fourteen learn best from loving and consistent authorities who embrace the world with interest. At this age subjects are presented artistically in order to engage the children's feelings so that they will value the world and; want to master the basic academic, artistic, practical, and physical skills they will need for life. High school students learn best in an atmosphere of challenge and enthusiastic expertise in which they can exercise their independent thinking. At this age students deepen their understanding of the world through challenging intellectual study as they begin to develop real mastery of their artistic, scientific, literary, historical, and physical capabilities. The arts and practical work are the bedrock out of which Waldorf education nourishes creativity, thinking, feeling life, self-discipline and health in its students. At Highland Hall Waldorf School our deeply committed faculty works together to foster each child's sense of self-reliance, social responsibility and moral purpose. By educating the whole child in these rich and creative ways, we hope to encourage young people to bring the highest human capacities into their adult lives as they become citizens of the future.

Curriculum & Teaching Approach

Learning Philosophy & Tools

  Play- based mostly teacher led not formally in curriculum conducive environment
Language       more

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  • A well-stocked bookcase
Oral language  
Nursery rhymes, poems, songs  
Storybook reading  
Emerging literacy skills  
Cognitive development
Math & number sense
Time & space more

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  • Building blocks
Sci. reasoning/physical world more

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  • A place for science activities such as growing plants
Visual arts more

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  • Materials such as paint, ink, paintbrushes, crayons, markers, chalk, paper, etc.
Physical activity more

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  • A playground with climbing equipment
  • Bean bags, balls, and other objects that children can throw, kick, and play
  • Enough room for children to move around and play and a suitable indoor alternative to the outdoor playground on rainy days
  • Sandboxes and/or water stations for play
Other subjects taught Because of the learning philosophy of a Waldorf school, which you may find in the next section, none of the above subjects are taught directly to the child in an academic way. Instead, through the course of the day, each of those subjects is developed through imitation and through the activities. For example, a sense of time is developed through the steady and consistent rhythm of the day. A sense of color is developed through painting one color on top of another, such as blue over yellow to discover green as it emerges. What is very important at this age is the development of social skills, in other words, how to be together, how to take turns and to lead and to follow. Gross and fine motor skills crucial to higher learning later on are developed through finger crochet and running and leaping. And the will to initiate and follow through with meaningful activity.

From the Director:

Between birth and age seven, the child learns mainly through imitation. The atmosphere surrounding the child is filled with beauty, morality, and role models worthy of imitation. At this age the children need warmth and protection to develop their capacities in a natural, supportive, non-competitive and free atmosphere for creative play and work. Pre-literacy is developed through rich storytelling and puppet shows. Early math skills are fostered through doing meaningful tasks, such as setting the table, counting bean bags, etc. Current neuroscience points to movement as playing a crucial role in brain development and learning. This includes the building of fine and gross motor skills, which are the foundations for later learning through the grades. Through creative play, circle time with movement, and outdoor and indoor creative play, these skills are enhanced. The nursery or pre-school is a two-year program. This multi-aged approach helps develop a sense of leadership in the older children, and provides positive modeling for the younger ones. Above and beyond the social skills and neural and cognitive foundations for learning, the nursery is where the will of the child is first developed. Not to be confused with willful behavior, fostering of the will includes the drive to do the right thing, to initiate and complete tasks. This may well be one of the most important gifts of the Waldorf pre-school, for with a healthy, developed will, the child is prepared for success in his or her future education and beyond.

Quality of Teaching

Individualized Teaching: From the Director

Each student is viewed as an unfolding individual. Each is attentively observed by the teacher and her assistant in a nurturing environment. The teacher assesses where the child is socially and developmentally and seeks to support him or her where needed. Does the child need sensory integration support; is the child prone to always follow and never lead; does the child blossom once he or she wears a silk cape; could the willful child benefit from being given special helping jobs; does the parent need to ensure the child is getting more sleep, for example.

Day in the Life

General School Mission

As a Pre-K - 12th grade school, our mission is to guide students in the unique Waldorf curriculum, striving to endow each student with discernment in thought and action, a joy of learning, and a sense of wonder and reverence for life.

Our students graduate with a solid academic foundation, the ability to think creatively, a sympathetic interest in the world, self-confidence, and an abiding moral purpose. They are accepted at fine colleges and universities worldwide and go on to accomplished careers in their chosen fields.

A Typical Day

Children arrive between 8:00 and 8:20.

Once the children have put their lunches inside their classroom cubby and said goodbye to their parents, the day begins with outdoor play in our enchanting nursery school play yard. The children have access to trees, a beautiful, shaded sandbox, sturdy equipment for swinging and climbing and many "open-ended" toys that inspire the imagination of the child, such as wooden wheelbarrows, which become trains and dump trucks, and ropes, which can be jumped or turned into horse harnesses. There are grassy hills to run up and down, paths to follow and a vegetable garden to observe as their vegetables mature.

The teacher gathers the children for a walk. Two by two they join hands and sing, following over small logs, through the trees and over the grassy hills of our 11-acre campus. Sometimes they make a trip to our "Wooly Woods."

Next the children gather in a circle for circle time...usually with a song or a verse. Movement follows with a song and then a story.

Some children help prepare the day's snack: kneading the dough for freshly baked bread, chopping vegetables for soup, etc. While others enjoy indoor play with beautiful hand crafted, natural toys. They nurture soft dolls, climb up the tree house structure, build castles...whatever their imagination leads them to.

After snack time, the children will work on whatever the project of the day is. It may be painting, finger crocheting, sewing, modeling bees wax, etc...

This is followed by more outdoor play time, and lunch.

After lunch some children may return home with their parents. Others stay for the full day. For them this nap time. At nap, soft cots are placed around the nursery room and the children's own bedding is rolled out. A separate nap teacher gently reads one or two books to the children to help them settle into a restful nap. Some sleep; others rest.

Following nap, the children play outdoors again until pick up time at 3:00.

After care is provided on an as needed basis.

Home-School Connection

Home-School Connection: From the Director

We believe what happens at home directly affects how a child benefits from his or her experience. In a non-judgmental way, parents are encouraged to create healthy rhythms at home, serve nutritious meals and maintain healthy boundaries. We also encourage avoiding "big" experiences, such as theme parks and media for the young child, as they are not developmentally ready for these and early exposure hinders their natural development. Several parent meetings are scheduled throughout the year to provide parent education and a forum for parents to share their experiences at home. There are also two parent/teacher conferences during the year for each family to receive individual feedback on their child. Additionally, families are further supported by volunteer opportunities within and outside the classroom, as well as the rich community life at Highland Hall Waldorf School, which includes lovely fairs and other community activities.

Parents Say They are Encouraged to:

  • Hold social events at the school to build community
  • Fundraise
  • Are required to make donations ourselves
  • Are able to visit the school anytime we want
  • Receive newsletters

Modes of Communication

  • Phone Calls
  • Voice Mail
  • Email
  • Special Meetings
  • Two or More Regular Conferences
  • Drop-Off
  • Pick-Up


Separation is Handled through:

  • Home visits by teachers
  • Pre-entry meetings with parents at school
  • Parents in classroom early on

Handling Separation: From the Director

Some children gleefully spring from their parents' arms and run into the yard, while others cling, reluctantly let go or break down in tears. In some cases, the parent may be invited to stay, perhaps reading their child a book or pushing them on a swing until the child feels comfortable. Other times, it is best for the parent to leave, as the child will then feel comfortable joining in play. When a child becomes emotionally upset, the teacher or her assistant is at the ready with a reassuring smile, a hand to hold, an invitation for the child to help with a meaningful task. The child always feels nurtured within healthy social boundaries.