Developmentally appropriate preschool curricula with an emphasis on movement and sensory-integration. Through love and warmth, beauty and play, the teacher and children together create a family – a small wonder within the larger universe.
Waldorf Early Childhood education surrounds children with a “mantle of warmth,” incorporating rhythm, truth, beauty and harmony in the child’s environment in ways that support the child’s healthy development. We believe that young children should be afforded a nurturing environment that protects and shelters childhood, allowing children to grow at their own pace. Recognizing the developmental needs of the young child, our early childhood curriculum also focuses on the environment: providing a physical space that is beautiful and engaging yet not over-stimulating; and providing a social environment that contains adults and adult activities worthy of imitation.
Upon entering a Waldorf Early Childhood classroom for the first time, many parents experience a sudden sigh of relief, a deep sense of relaxation and security, and a feeling that “oh yes, this is childhood as it should be.”
Movement, Physical Development, & Health
Circle games, free play with equipment in classrooms, specific activities for proprioceptive development, gardening, vigorous outdoor play on both flat and hilly play yard.
Imagination & Development
Free play with open-ended toys and play equipment.
Rhythmic games, singing, rich language modeled by teachers, story telling.
Eurythmy in Kindergarten, painting and coloring, open-ended toys and activities.
Foundations of Math & Science Education
Eurythmy, rhythmic games, counting games, building.
Formation of Social Skills
Free play, collaboration in food prep, imaginative play, group dynamics.
Organic & local foods, no sugar, responsive to dietary restrictions.
Daily outdoor play, gardening, farming.
Imagination & Play
The teacher nurtures the children’s power of imagination in a developmentally appropriate way. She does so by telling carefully selected stories and by encouraging free play. This free or fantasy play, in which children act out scenarios of their own creation, helps them to experience many aspects of life more deeply. This creative play is taken very seriously in a Waldorf preschool class. It is a time when the child’s imagination can flourish and when social activity, initiated by the children, can take place. The materials for the creative play are varied and beautiful: silks, large cloths, stones, pine cones, shells, logs, capes, and crowns. These materials are unformed and non-specific and offer the children an unlimited, unrestricted canvas for play. One day the children may set sail on a ship, the next day the same toys may become a castle or a restaurant. In their simplicity, the materials serve the free flow of a child’s mind so that the child’s imaginative qualities flourish and create a strong foundation for creative thinking in later life.
Time in Nature
The morning begins with the teacher’s warm and loving welcome. Vigorous and energetic outside play in the large and rolling play yard is always part of the preschool morning. The teachers understand the importance for the young child to have the opportunity for joyful physical movement and purposeful play as well as the opportunity for their senses to unfold. After unstructured free play outside, the class departs for a walk around the land to awaken their bodies and senses for the day. Teachers and children together observe the natural world around them, cultivating a sense of wonder throughout the seasonal changes.
Upon returning to the classroom, the teacher leads the children into Circle Activities, which include development of large and small motor skills through integrated movement with poems, plays, songs and fingerplays drawn from the festivals and rhythmic elements of the year. From the abundant autumn harvest to winter’s darkness and anticipation of the light through spring’s bright new birth of green and summer’s ripening fruits, the children reflect and celebrate the seasonal cycle around them. Once a week the children move to poems and songs in Eurythmy class. Eurythmy is an art of movement to speech and tones developed by Rudolf Steiner and is found in Waldorf Schools over the globe. Eurythmy is especially suited to young children and their natural musical nature.
Modeling Adults in Purposeful Work
Many of the preschool activities are extensions of home life. Depending on which day of the week, the children may grind grain for the bread they bake for snack, do simple finger knitting, or engage in gardening, mending, or housekeeping. They learn to love and care for their things in their “classroom” home. Painting with watercolors, sewing, woodworking, forming beeswax into delightful shapes, and preparation for the festivals are just a few items that guide the flow of the day. We strive to provide an environment that stimulates and is worthy of a child’s imitation in which each child can be physically active in a meaningful way. Following the morning work and play, the room is always tidied to be ready for another day. The mixed-age preschool/kindergarten classrooms all provide an organic whole grain snack every day. Snack time is of great importance in the preschool classes as the children have participated in the preparation of the food by helping to chop the vegetables for Vegetable Soup Day, by rolling the oats for Oat Day, grinding the wheat for the bread, and even churning the butter or grating or grinding cinnamon or sesame.
Foundations of Math, Science, and Language Arts
Sequencing, sensory integration, eye-hand coordination tracking, appreciating the beauty of language and other basic skills necessary for the foundation of academic excellence are fostered in the preschool and kindergarten programs. In this truly natural, loving and creative environment, the children are given a range of activities and the structure that help them prepare for the next phase of school life. Each day, the children come together for a Fairy Tale, nature or multicultural story or puppet show. The telling and retelling of the Fairy Tales and other stories opens a world into which each child may enter and be filled with rich imagination. The morning closes with a verse and a warm, loving farewell from the teacher to each child. Through love and warmth, beauty and play, the teacher and children together create a family – a small world of wonder within the larger universe.