The first Waldorf School started in Stuttgart, Germany in the year 1919 by an Austrian philosopher Dr. Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925). There are about 1100 schools in 6 continents and 64 countries worldwide, following the Steiner or Waldorf pedagogy. The learning process integrates the arts, sciences and humanities , in an age appropriate manner, during the three major stages of child development – Early Childhood, Primary years and Adolescence to young adulthood. In Steiner Kindergarten classes, teachers focus on practical work with the hands, play and following the rhythms of the week, month and year. The arts underpin the teaching in primary school from grades 1 to 7, which help the child develop academic and social skills. In High school (grades 8-12) an understanding which is based on logical and objective thinking is taught across all subjects, enabling students develop moral capacities and become responsible contributors to their communities. Individual teachers and schools have varying degrees of autonomy in determining curriculum content, teaching methodology and governance, based on the local regulations, social/cultural environments and economic statuses of different countries.
At Abhaya teachers believe and teach a curriculum that fosters learning experiences that is an integral part of the natural environment, in which they live and study. A commitment to deliver multi disciplinary learning that is underpinned by Waldorf pedagogy and the CBSE curriculum in later years, is central to the core belief of our school. Lessons in Drama, Land surveying, Farming and Crafts integrate mainstream subjects such as Languages, Trigonometry, Geography, Natural and Physical sciences, holistically and allow students to connect with real life situations, in a dynamic and responsible way. They are also taught science, math, art, craft and the humanities in an age appropriate manner, enabling a natural curiosity about the world in which they live.
Abhaya has some well constructed learning spaces in a beautiful three acre campus surrounded by rice fields, green house gardens and residential villas and apartments. In the open expanse of Kompally, our school building stands facing the east and is built in such a way that all rooms get ample sunlight. The windows of all the rooms of our two storied building bring in the south west and north east winds. The school has a lovely courtyard all along the building with a lotus pond and a wooden bridge. It has the Kindergartens and class 1 to 5 on the ground floor along with the two language rooms. The older classes, laboratories, library and the auditorium (for music practice) are on the upper floor. It has a large covered playground space which has a basketball court and additional spaces for various school activities such as festivals and whole school meetings. The school kitchen, dining hall, office, guest houses are in the adjacent building. Guests, visitors and teachers who may wish to spend weekends on working holidays in serene and sylvan surroundings, also have access to compact kitchen and pantry which are equipped with refrigerators, toasters, ovens, electric kettles etc.
Abhaya, as the name suggests is about freedom from fear. Fear about an increasingly questionable education system, fear about the choices we make in the interest of our children. It is for all among us who understand that excellence has more to do with self-motivation than killer instinct; intelligence has more to do with the harmonious working of the hands, heart and head than learning by rote. Abhaya aims to educate children towards freedom, through creativity. The Waldorf or Steiner curriculum, on which the school’s pedagogy is based, is age appropriate and comprehensive in its understanding of the child development, from early years to a young adult. The focus is to create a non-competitive environment where children learn with joy, not under the psychological pressure of having to prove that they have “learnt”. Children learn as easily as birds fly, naturally competing with themselves during their formative years.
Early childhood stage (3 to 6 years)
is crucial for the child to develop its physicality. Fine internal organ growth as well as neurological processes that have to be established need this period for ripening. Any formal learning during this stage of development is bound to deplete the energies of the child from ‘body building’ (building health). Middle childhood (7 to 13 years) -
The second Phase of childhood sees a physical and psychological shift in the child’s growth. The organs of the body are formed – the last symptom of which is the fall of milk teeth and the beginning of the second dentition. At this stage the child has a psychological yearning to look up to adults and learn from them. This is met by the ‘class teacher years’ a practice where the class is accompanied by a particular teacher for a period of 7-8 years. Our High School (14 to 16 years)
has the high school has the CBSE syllabus and the follows the text books recommended by the NCERT board, the teachers use the challenge to incorporate the latest teaching techniques into their subject teaching. Importance is given to art, dramatics, sport, craft and projects, as they are an integral part of high school curriculum.
All parents who have registered for enrollment of their children will be called for orientation which are conducted on the third Saturday of November, December and January, every year.
After the orientation parents who wish to enroll their children in the school will have to submit a hard copy of the registration form, which should be downloaded, printed, filled in, signed and submitted in person to the office.
The office will process the application and then ask you to personally visit the school to fill in an Admission form and pay the tuition fees.
Abhaya was founded by a group of parents and teachers who had serious questions about the nature of education that is presently prevalent. The group found its inspiration in the Waldorf curriculum. Their hope and inspiration was to help children grow into free, strong and integrated individuals. From a small school with 7 children in one Kindergarten class and a single teacher in the city, it has now grown into a large school with 35 teachers and 300 children from Kindergarten to class 10, in a 3 acre campus in the suburbs of Hyderabad.
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The Abhayan community is a vibrant and eclectic group of parents, teachers and friends, who have come together to make the fabric of the school shine with the rainbow colors. The school parents come from diverse religious, economic and professional backgrounds with a common vision to support their children's education, in a liberal and multi dimensional educational environment.
Olympics at Abhaya - For Class 5 Waldorf Schools 2/3rd Feb 2018 .
The Olympics has returned to Abhaya with the Class 5s’ of many Waldorf Schools across the country participating from 2-3rd Feb 2018. It be will as usual a colourful and fun filled event with athletic competitions among the students. Parents are welcome to attend and watch their children compete in a healthy environment, recreating the spirit of the ancient Greek event, in a modern setting.
The parent group in Abhaya meet regularly every month and have a study circle being conducted by some of the the teachers in the school. This helps in bringing about a general awareness about Steiner Education in the community. Some of the programs are conducted on the 2nd or 4th Saturday's of every month when the school has a holiday.
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Abhaya Teachers attend professional development programs across the world and in India, on a regular basis. They have attended the World Teachers Conference in Dornach, Switzerland, Asia Pacific Teacher's Conference and many other training programs, conducted in India. This enables them to stay in touch with the latest pedagogic aspects of Waldorf Education on a continuous basis. In school training is also a part of the professional development program, at Abhaya.
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A collection of photos of the school across the years encapsulates the history of the school in educating children from early childhood to adolescence. The photographs are a colourful ensemble of emotions, memories and experiences of the children and adults in a free and enquiring environment in the modern world.
It is an established fact that the myelination of the brain is a prerequisite for any work demanding intellectual participation. This is activated by natural movements of the child during the early phase of growth. The more we allow for such movements in growing children, through play and informal ways of socializing and learning, the more contributive we are towards establishing fine neurological processes.
The Abhaya kindergarten acts as a bridge between a child’s life at home and his later years in the grade school.
If you visit our kindergarten, you will notice that it looks a little different from other traditional kindergartens you’ve seen. The toys in the classroom are simple and made from natural materials – knitted or hand-sewn dolls, wooden blocks and planks, long play cloths made of cotton or silk, a set of copper or ceramic cups and bowls. Nothing, in fact, that would look out of place in a traditional household. There are no worksheets, posters, or calendars hanging on the walls - No books, no computers.
Our kindergarten is designed to respond to the developmental needs of two age groups -
The 3 to 5 year old children (nursery group) and
the 5 to 6 year old children ( kindergarten group).
The key elements in the program are:
Regular daily rhythms
Learning through practical activities
Singing, movement, and storytelling in groups
Free play, both indoors and outdoors
Middle Childhood – 7 to 14 years
Just as the early childhood phase is committed to the building of the physical body, the middle childhood phase is committed to the emotional development of the child. Hence all subjects are taught in a way that appeals to their feeling life. Art has a direct impact on our feelings – Subjects during this period are introduced in a manner that enriches their feelings, thus awakening creative thinking in the growing child. These are taught using Rhythm, Movement, Concentration exercises, Speech verses, Music, Drawing and Painting.
At the end of the class teacher years the students are handed over to the high school teachers – Specialists in their subjects, who then gradually help the transition towards preparation for the board exams of the CBSE.
At Abhaya we distinguish between parroting a ‘thought’ and ‘thinking’ actively. The earliest form of thinking in the child is its capacity for ‘imagination’. Imagination is allowed to flower in the young child. As they turn into adolescents the movement towards critical thinking develops. Our endeavor is to support the students to grow into clear- thinking, sensitive, initiative filled adults.
Our High School is based on the CBSE syllabus and follow the text books recommended by the NCERT board. The teachers incorporate the latest teaching techniques and integrate a multi disciplinary modality into their teaching. Emphasis is placed on teaching math, science, art, drama, music and craft in a holistic manner. Our laboratory has excellent facilities for student demonstrations and for practical work.
We encourage a lot of field work and outdoor project assignment work which gives students a practical understanding of various subjects. The library has excellent resource material for the high school students.
Experential Education – Programs
The global challenges that children will face in coming decades will be intense and multi-dimensional - the task therefore, for Waldorf educators working with the Steiner pedagogy, will be to ensure that the next generation can form a social order with capacities developed from experiences that are formed from living pictures within them.
Interest in the world helps and gives us strength for the tasks of our time. Using inventions of the human mind, without a basic understanding of how they work, is the beginning of anti-social behavior in human relationships.
Teachers in Waldorf/Steiner schools try to awaken a feeling of mobility and imagination in the learning process and thereby balance the inner and outer experiences of the student, in an increasingly digitally-enhanced world.
At Abhaya an experiential education program that incorporates multiple geographic and cultural learning environments is provided on an optional basis for our high school students.
Some main lessons, which are currently running are given below:
Abhaya high school students have excelled in various disciplines and have been awarded many prizes in science exhibitions, art festivals and on the sporting field, across the years. One of the recent prestigious awards was a second prize with a cheque for 300,000 INR, received by the students at the Teenovators contest conducted by Manipal University.
Students from Abhaya school from the city won the second prize for their project V-Watch, at Teenovators-2016 held by Manipal University in association with INK at Bengaluru on Monday. V-Watch is a wearable device that seeks to help retailers by scanning barcode and adding to the bill.
I was charmed into my time at Abhaya school when it was first established by the bougainvillea creeper and the badaam tree on the grounds. Over time I came to love this space – the location of much of my primary schooling and a site of learning and experience. In hindsight, this is where I first encountered new ways of learning that I remember fondly through house building, practicing for the Greek Olympics, preparing our own eco-friendly Holi colours and learning about places, both near and far. As I transitioned into High School this place also came to signify strong and trusting relationships with both my classmates and my teachers. It also made me stick my guns to what I believed in and made me an independent (if not sometimes stubborn) thinker! One of the most satisfying memories of school is the effort and the time I put into all of the different areas of learning, as I think of them now (back then they were all just part of school) such as knitting, math, languages, carpentry, painting, physics, surveying, astronomy, biology, chemistry and so on and so forth. I like to think that I tried my hand at a lot of things before I decided what I enjoy and what I don’t.
I visited this beautiful country of India for the first time spending six weeks in Abhaya Waldorf School and ten days helping to establish a Eurythmy Training.
I have enjoyed myself very much here. Such a friendly warm hearted community where Steiner Waldorf education is practiced to a very high standard. Dedicated teachers, happy children, good facilities in a country setting away from the main city of Hyderabad.
I taught Eurythmy, Form Drawing and Music and also helped some student teachers with curriculum studies.
Thank you Abhaya for the wonderful time I spent here, I hope to see you all again in the future!
To contain my journey at Abhaya in a few lines is indeed a challenge for me. Teaching as we all know is not a job, it is an experience of one’s lifetime. At Abhaya, it comes across most resolutely. Here, each day is a day of learning, learning to be a better human and even more, a better teacher. Teaching is also not only about closing gaps in knowledge transfer. To me it also means to extend a part of myself to my students, a part that one has cherished only to be shared with the dearest.
At Abhaya, there is never a dull moment in the classroom. The best thing about teaching is if you understand where a child is, what they know, then you can scaffold them to move on to the next level. At Abhaya as a teacher, one gets to do just this and much more. To get an opportunity to move with the pace of the child and be able to provide ample support is what makes Abhaya special for me.
Abhaya gave me bountiful occasions to hear and to be heard. And the dialogue continues…
Abhaya is an essential aspect of my life and who I am as a person. It’s been a space where I have learnt invaluable lessons, developed a curious and open mind, explored myself and challenged my inhibitions. The school has always been home to me, a place full of liveliness, warmth and unconditional support.
In Abhaya teachers see the spirit of each child and their individuality . My child has fun learning because the curriculum is age appropriate. There is a unique emphasis in finding strength within oneself to accomplish the day’s work and my child feels connected through a valuable nurturing community and a level of love and care which is empathetic .The excellent curriculum the handwork, music , language is wonderful .The values imparted to the children help them to live fulfilling lives. But there is still room for improvement where discipline and good manners are concerned.
Sunandhinie - Parent 2016
As a new parent in the Waldorf system, joining the reading group helped me to understand the philosophy behind the Waldorf education.
Every session is an eye opener where I rediscover my SELF