Author: Alice Trembour
Parent-Child Sweet-Pea Teacher and Co-Director of Early Childhood Programs
One of the hallmarks of Waldorf education is the establishment of rhythmic times of “freedom” and “form” throughout the day in each class, so the children develop a healthy relationship to both qualities over the course of their education. Too much of one or the other won’t serve the developing human being over time, so teachers make an effort to provide a balance each day, each week, and each season, through the curriculum. In the Parent-Child classes we introduce the children to this balance.
At this very young age (18 months to 3-1/2) we hope to help establish the child’s imaginative play, and we also want to offer her or him a bit of what we call “form” in their young lives. In our classes there are three occasions in our morning that offer opportunities for our children to practice form: during circle, during snack, and during the story at the end of the morning. In circle and story we ask the children to focus and listen quietly or participate (not play) for a short period of time; at snack time we expect them to be able to sit in a chair at the table for ever longer periods of time as together we eat the snack we’ve all helped prepare earlier in the day. We hope that this first taste of form will serve both the child and its teachers as the child moves into the older pre-school classes, and beyond.
Of course, the heart of a Waldorf pre-school morning is the free playtime, both indoors and out. This period is characterized by freedom, which encourages imaginative play. Even so, playtime also offers opportunities to tune up “form,” as the teachers help the children navigate small disagreements and rivalries.
The children in our classes will be cooking lots of delicious meals, either for their parents, or for the babies whom they lovingly tend. We occasionally have royalty among us: perhaps a prince or a queen. Many of the children have been piling up the large wooden pieces in the room, using their whole bodies to move or roll them. Then they might move on to something else, or carefully try to balance on some parts of the pile, or create a scene inside a part of the pile, using animals or little wooden people. Several children will practice their diplomatic skills as they decide who may play with what. There is much joy in the room these days.