Media and Waldorf Education

Our Vision

Waldorf education is committed foremost to the values of personal encounter and direct experience. Concepts and skills, including the use of digital technologies, are introduced to students over time when they are ready to learn and benefit from them to build confidence and capacity for initiative and action. As a school, we place an emphasis on direct human interaction and authentic experience. Studies show that a direct experience, as opposed to a virtual one, has a measurable positive impact on brain development throughout childhood and adolescence.

For many, digital technologies and social media play essential roles in the lives of adults and in some instances children. There is a range of digital tools used within our community. Some families use these tools, and some have chosen to limit or avoid their use altogether. We acknowledge that families have been stretched tremendously through the pandemic, and media/technology use may have increased in our homes out of necessity. Wherever you are in your relationship with technology and media, we invite you to reflect on how it is being used within your family and to be aware of the constantly changing landscape that technology presents us with and the effects that it has on all of us.

Teaching Tech as a Tool

Faculty and staff are here to support your families as you need resources, guidelines, or tips for navigating the digital world. Digital tools are ever-evolving, but we can offer support in exploring healthy choices as you create your own family’s goals towards conscious and purposeful use of digital technologies. Faculty do this in parent evenings and in-service workshops and the Family Association sponsors parent education workshops where conversations are facilitated to explore these complex matters and to collaborate on ways to support each other in service to our children.  Here is the Hartsbrook resource site.

Media and Digital Technologies Approach throughout the Grades

Media Statement


The rhythm and simplicity of the school day nurture healthy development processes through the children’s wide-open and unfettered senses. In the Waldorf approach, the developmental needs of the youngest children are met through free movement, imaginative play; participation in practical work; and ongoing encounters with a predictable and straightforward environment that focuses on social connection with each other and the natural world. In the early childhood years Hartsbrook advocates for a media and device-free environment to allow these critical, foundational processes to unfold free of the influence of digital media. While we understand the challenge involved in providing a daily experience for the young child that does not include exposure to media use, we consider the benefits are worth the effort involved. We also trust families to negotiate the delicate balance between following this request and families’ digital technologies practices and needs.

Media Statement


In elementary school, teachers work with the children to cultivate an empathetic relationship with each other and the world through imaginative stories, drama, artistic work, and movement. The same principles of favoring real-time experiences apply as these experiences promote social and essential foundational practices for creative and critical engagement. 

Media Statement

MIDDLE SCHOOL: Deepening Social Interaction

In the Middle School grades, we focus on human connection and experiential, creative learning, which enhances the adolescent’s ability to navigate the complexities of this age. A solid grounding in the practices of collaboration, inclusion, and self-knowledge is found through participation and presence.

It is important at this age when the students can be particularly vulnerable to negative social experiences, to understand how social media can undermine confidence and connection. Teachers ask families to limit students’ exposure to powerful media images and messages and to make a conscious and conscientious approach to limit digital technology use at home so we can together, in an age-appropriate manner, teach children toward fluency in the healthy and purposeful use of digital technologies as powerful tools.

Grades 1-8: School Practices

  • Cell phones and electronic devices are only permitted at school with teacher approval.
  • If a student has possession of such a device during school hours, it must be communicated to the class teacher by the parent.
  • If brought to school, the device must be turned off completely and left in the student’s backpack from arrival until departure.
  • The Policy on Cell Phones and Other Personal Devices in the elementary school is outlined in the Community Handbook.
  • There are medical exemptions when having a cell phone is necessary.
  • We recommend students under the age of 13 not have any social media accounts, which is supported by the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
  • Conscious use and parental guidance are highly recommended if a student has or has access to technological devices.
  • Engaging in ongoing conversations with your children about the appropriate use of digital technologies and communicating with other families about expectations for playdates will help in avoiding exclusion.
  • We suggest you familiarize yourself with parental controls for time and content limits and continue to plan for media-free, family-time activities even as your children begin to engage with media.
Media Statement


Nurturing Conscious and Self-Diciplined Use

High School teachers strive to awaken engaged thinking and discernment of social issues and their complexities, through experiential academics, interdisciplinary arts, practical arts, and movement in high school. Hartsbrook asks families to join us in educating our students on the value of discernment and self-discipline concerning digital technologies. We educate toward fluency in the healthy and purposeful use of digital technologies as powerful tools through comprehensive computer science and health and wellness curricula. 

The orientation to digital-media-and-technologies use in high school is threefold: 

1) To foster conscious and intentional choice in the student and family’s use of and exposure to digital media and technologies; 

2) To determine expectations for digital-media-and-technologies use at school that align with our values and account for the current realities of digital technologies; and 

3) To prepare students to make the best use of digital media and technologies as tools for their learning and social interactions and participation. 

Media Statement

Teaching Use of Digital Media and Technologies as Tools

The high school’s approach to the teaching and use of digital technologies is to do so in a developmentally appropriate and coordinated fashion across the grades. 

  • Our research curriculum guides students year by year through the introduction of digital tools in their research-based activities.
  • Our goal is to prepare students by grade 12 for the complexities and rigor of post-high-school academic study and research, both through experiential education and by making the best use of the digital tools they will ultimately have to master in the present-day world.
  • The high school strives to scaffold students towards these understandings and practices with appropriate digital technologies use in each grade and to provide guidance for moderation over the course of their high school experiences.

HIGH SCHOOL: Best Practices

  • During the school day, high school students stow their personal devices for the day.
  • Devices may be brought out and used with permission.
  • Policy for Cell Phone Use and for Communication with Students during the day is detailed in the High School Handbook
  • The students’ needs for modifications of expectations for digital technologies use as described in individual courses, are considered on an individual basis.