Bread baking Wednesday.
"Play is serious business for children, as important for them as work is for adults."
- Jack Petrash, Waldorf Educator
Helping children to grow into thoughtful, integrated and well-rounded adults begins in early childhood. Our approach honors the young child’s innocence and openness, and provides an early childhood experience that establishes a strong foundation for lifelong discovery and healthy development. Waldorf early childhood education values creative play, a nurturing environment, reliable and comforting rhythms, joyful song, story and movement, delight in the natural world, and working positively with children’s innate capacities for imitation, imagination and wonder.
Play is at the heart of our early childhood program. Through imaginative play, children learn to experience and integrate life’s possibilities. Self-initiated play fosters children’s abilities to think creatively, solve problems and develop social skills. Using the simplest of materials from nature to construct worlds, children have the opportunity to flex their imaginations, allowing them to grow strong and active. Open-ended playthings, rather than manufactured toys intended for a fixed purpose, can be endlessly transformed by the children as they set about imitating activities of everyday life or making up new scenarios. Participating in play also cultivates children’s comprehension and memory, and strengthens their growing bodies.
“As they master their world, play helps children develop new competencies that lead to enhanced confidence and the resiliency they will need to face future challenges. Undirected play allows children to learn how to work in groups, to share, to negotiate, to resolve conflicts, and to learn self-advocacy skills.” —Kenneth R. Ginsburg, MD, MSEd, Committee on Communications and Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health, Pediatrics Magazine
The physical environment that surrounds the children in our school is integral to the educational goals we hold for them. The classroom is a sanctuary where all of the child’s senses are protected and nurtured. In such a space, a child can breathe easily, relax and play according to the impulses of his or her heart.
Imitation, Innocence and Wonder
Waldorf education strives to preserve the innocence and inborn wonder of early childhood for the sake of healthy physical, intellectual and emotional development. The teacher works to create an aesthetically pleasing, comforting environment and to fill it with meaningful activities worthy of imitation by the young child.
Waldorf teachers work consciously with the idea of rhythm—the great rhythms of the seasons, as well as the smaller rhythms of the weeks and days. Through story, verse, song, and movement, teachers bring to life seasonal moods and help the children experience and notice subtle changes. The daily rhythm of early childhood activities includes time for free, imaginative play, preparation and sharing of nourishing snacks, artistic activities, stories and puppet plays told by the teacher, outdoor play, hikes, and gardening. Weekly rhythms include watercolor painting, eurythmy movement, bread baking, and soup making. Through these and other activities, a vessel of security and predictability is created in which each child can relax and grow with confidence.