Frequently asked questions


While we strive to meet each child’s social, emotional and intellectual needs, we do so while balancing the needs of the whole class. As a young and privately funded school, we unfortunately do not have the resources to provide an appropriate education for children with moderate to intense special educational needs.

If our faculty identifies the need for remedial or support services (beyond what is provided in our normal curriculum) in a student, we would discuss with his/her family different support strategies essential for his/her continued enrollment at our school. These services would often incur additional costs that are to be born by the student’s family.

IWS reserves the right to deny acceptance or continued enrollment at the school if the faculty does not believe the school can adequately meet a child’s needs.

While there may be some variance during early primary school, students from Island Waldorf School will have comparable academic skills by the time they enter high school and equal skills and outcomes by the end of their schooling. They will also have a greater depth of understanding, a more creative, independent outlook and greater resilience overall.

  • A 2012 study compared reading and math standardized test scores between public Waldorf schools in the US with scores of their districts. It concludes that test score results suggested the Waldorf experience provided a slower academic build-up resulting in lower test scores in the lower grades followed by higher levels of advanced performance in the 8th grade.
  • A 2012 study of Waldorf pupils in Germany concluded that, in comparison to state school pupils, Waldorf students are significantly more enthusiastic about learning, report having more fun and being less bored in school, more often feel individually met, and learn more from school about their personal academic strengths. 85% of the Waldorf students reported that their school environment was pleasant and supportive, compared to 60% of the state school students. More than twice as many Waldorf students report having good relationships with teachers. Waldorf pupils also have significantly less physical ailments such as headaches, stomach aches, or disrupted sleep. There was no statistically significant difference between the state and Waldorf pupils’ achievement on state examinations.
  • A 2009 study comparing Waldorf and public school students in New Zealand found that the Waldorf students, who received formal instruction in reading 2 years later than their peers, caught up in reading ability by around age 10, at which point there was “no difference in reading achievement between children who had been given early instruction in reading and those who had not.”
  • A 2006 PISA study in Austria found that, in addition to scoring above average, Waldorf students exhibited a level of enjoyment of and interest in natural sciences that were far above the average of Austria and OECD countries. The authors concluded, “The relatively high expertise in science among Waldorf students, in combination with their very high motivation and interest in these subjects, as well as the various pedagogical principles, suggest that regular schools can learn from the Waldorf schools, particularly with regard to concrete application to the sciences.”

A Waldorf teacher typically remains with the same class for five to eight years. This feature is also commonly found in Scandinavian schools, which rate among the highest performing of OECD education systems.

Rudolf Steiner believed that in order for children to grow into self-confident, authoritative adults, they must be exposed in childhood to the loving guidance of a respected authority – in this case the class teacher.

Waldorf teachers are expected to be authorities on their subject matter, as well as storytellers, musicians, artists, and actors. Most of them take summer courses that prepare them to teach the next grade’s curriculum in September. Waldorf teachers, as all good teachers, strive to continually develop their capacities to bring a strong education to their students.

The class teacher greets the students in the morning, teaches the first two-hour lesson block of the day, supervises transitions and lunch, and takes charge of students’ academic, moral, and social development. As a result of their long term relationship, the teacher is better able to assess each individual’s development, needs, and learning style, and the students feel more secure and comfortable in their learning environment.

Language learning is a vital component of the Waldorf curriculum. The aim of our Chinese language program is to equip our students with strong comprehension and communication skills in the Chinese language, so that they can truly savor the historical and vibrant heritage of the Chinese culture and be nourished by it.

Our Main Lessons will mostly be conducted in English by the Class Teacher. They will be complemented every day by a session conducted in Chinese, which may continue, complement, or revisit the Main Lesson topic, to support student’s learning in both languages.

The Chinese lessons are conducted in Cantonese using traditional Chinese characters. Mandarin is taught as a foreign language.

In the evolution of humanity, spoken language developed first. Then came written language, originally through symbols. Finally, once there was a written language, people learned to read. This is also the sequence in which children master language, and so is the sequence in which reading is taught in Waldorf education.

Our goal is to foster passionate readers who continue reading for pleasure throughout their lifetimes. To that end, we introduce reading in a developmentally appropriate way, when students are more comfortable with the written word and fully ready to engage with them.

During the Foundation Year, we would focus on allowing the child time to enjoy the immersive, dreamy world of early childhood. A simple yet rich range of experiences without academic stimulation strengthens children’s wellbeing and provides a strong foundation for physical health, future work and future thinking.

We commence formal reading in Class 1.

The first Waldorf school in Stuttgart was known for its exceptionally strong foreign language program. Waldorf students are exposed to foreign language from the very beginning of formal schooling.

At IWS, students will be learning both English, Cantonese, and Mandarin from the start.

There is an increasing amount of evidence from various bodies that the passivity inherent in watching television and using other electronic media is counterproductive to learning and healthy development in the young child.

Primary school students learn best through engaging, experiential, creative lessons. We value all possible time spent in tactile activities such as crafts, arts, music and movement and reading, writing and calculating using simple materials. These strengthen the physical health of children, their fine motor skills and sensory development, and nurture their feelings and imaginative life in rich yet subtle ways, leading to clarity of thinking later on. We strongly believe that a media-free environment supports learning and the development of strong social connections.

The use of computers and other technologies are usually reserved for the last year of primary school or high school years in a typical Waldorf curriculum.

In choosing a Waldorf school education, parents need to understand that they are choosing a philosophy that does not encourage the use of television and other electronic media in their junior years.

Waldorf schools are non-sectarian and unaffiliated with any particular religion. We do, however, honor the religious and cultural traditions of many faiths. The celebration of festivals, whether school-wide or within a given class, is a centerpiece of the Waldorf curriculum. A key goal is to develop students’ respect for the many religious and cultural traditions that comprise human history and contemporary society.

While not “religious,” it can be said that Waldorf education does have a spiritual component, in that students are viewed as intellectual, physical, emotional, and spiritual in nature.

School operation

Kindergarten class: Monday to Friday, 8:40 am – 12:00 pm or 8:40am – 3:00 pm.

Primary & middle school: Monday to Friday, 8:30am – 3:40 pm.

Optional after school activities are offered after 3:45 pm.

Primary grades: 15 – 18 students

Early childhood class: 15 – 20 students

We recognize the importance of nourishing not only our students’ minds but also their growing bodies, and that a communal meal experience can foster healthy eating habits. Therefore, we offer a hot meal program that utilizes whole, healthy, unprocessed ingredients, prepared on-site.

Kindergarten classes: Two meals are provided every day: Snacks, comprising a grain in addition to fruits; and lunch, for full day students. All foods provided at school are nutritiously balanced, delicious, and vegetarian.

Primary & middle school: Two meals are provided every day: Snacks, comprising a starchy food in addition to fruits, at recess; and lunch. All foods provided at school are nutritiously balanced, delicious, and vegetarian.

As our students may spend time outside of our campus, we do believe that a uniform would enhance our students’ safety.

Early childhood class: The uniform is an easy-to-wear cotton apron, to ready our children for any clean or messy activities of the day! A cotton canvas bag will also be provided for children to keep their spare clothes and water bottle.

Primary grades: The uniform consists of a white polo shirt (summer), a dark blue zipped shirt (winter), and a canvas school bag. Students are also required to change into simple “practice shoes” with a soft sole upon entering school. Research shows that shoeless learning improves academic standards and behavior besides contributing to a hygienic and relaxing classroom environment.

All can be purchased from our school office. Students are free to choose the rest of their outfit, subject to a dress code that aims to complement and enhance an environment that supports the emotional, social and physical well-being of the school community.

Waldorf schools thrive with the active support of the parents in different capacities depending on parents’ interests, skills, and availability. We are firmly committed to fostering a strong partnership between school and home. There are many ways to be involved, whether that means being an active participant in school activities, assisting as a classroom volunteer, acting as chaperones on field trips, planning educational lectures, or making handcrafts for various events.

Waldorf parents can also support the work of the teachers by creating a home life conducive to healthy growth. Regular parent evenings with the class teachers help to create a caring network of support for each child and for the class as a whole. Friendships between Waldorf families often continue for decades after the children graduate.