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By Jade Glen

Steiner education is growing in popularity across Australia.
Little Yarra Steiner School Education administrator John Stewart said Steiner offered an alternative option to mainstream schooling that was being increasingly sought by parents.
“Modern parents are much more informed on how they want to raise their children, and people are really looking for an educational approach that is consistent with their parenting choices.”
But what is Steiner?
“The easiest explanation is that instead of fitting a child in to a box, we create the box to fit the child,” John said.
“We carefully consider what they need at each developmental stage. By the end of Year 12 we want each student to leave as an amazingly well-rounded, self-confident, creative individual. We give our students a rich and diverse educational experience, so they can become the best versions of themselves.”
John said Little Yarra offered a broad, multifaceted learning curriculum in an environment that was consciously created for the child.
One of the most apparent contrasts to mainstream schooling is the students’ teacher. Students meet their Year 1 teacher and stay in the same group, ideally with the same teacher, all the way to Year 8.
“The benefit of this is the relationship that develops between the teacher and the children,” John said.
There is just one class per year level, so the students form strong relationships through their early schooling years.
“The students truly feel seen by their teachers and become almost like brothers and sisters. We have far fewer social issues such as poor behaviour or bullying than most other schools.”
Part of the emphasis on human interaction means the school is technology free until the secondary years, and the young children learn with natural materials in a calm, carefully planned environment.
The impact of music on brain development and learning are well known. The students in a Steiner school learn recorder in Class One, include a stringed instrument in Class 3 and brass or wind in Class 5. By the time they start secondary schooling, each student can sing, read music and play at least two instruments.
“The sorts of things you would expect to find as additional enrichment programmes in a high quality independent school in Melbourne are built in to our curriculum and available right here in the Yarra Valley,” John said.
The school offers two senior secondary steams. In addition to the Steiner curriculum, students can choose the traditional VCE model that results in an ATAR or do a one-year research project that includes a 10,000 word thesis and an oral presentation.
John said there were some misperceptions that Steiner education only benefited artistic students or presented a barrier to university entrance, but that this was not the case. The school offers a breadth of VCE subjects including all three mathematics and a range of science subjects.
“There’s been such a change over the last couple of years, and pathways to university are much more broad and diverse. We’ve always had success getting our students into tertiary pathways and even have a former student doing their PhD at Oxford,” John said.
John encouraged interested parents to look up the school’s web page or call the office to arrange a tour.
“We would love to have an opportunity to show you what Steiner education can do for your child,” he said.

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