Make sure to check out our Photo Gallery here.
Here are some of the core activities of the Waldorf Early Childhood Program and the significance of each in relationship to lifelong learning:
Creative Play Time
The children have a long period of time during which they are encouraged to imagine and play with a wide variety of natural materials and playthings, following their own initiative. During this time, the teacher is involved in preparing the snack, sewing, cleaning, making toys or any of a number of practical activities with which the children are welcome to participate. An atmosphere of work and play permeates the room. Within the activities of play, children integrate the world and practice their life skills such as movement and balance, sensory integration, speech and language capacity, social and emotional interactions, and imaginative and cognitive development.
Being able to follow a train of thought or carry a task to completion is very important to later schooling, such as solving complicated math problems or writing a report, as well as throughout life.
The class is brought together to sing songs and recite verses with the teacher. These may be connected with the seasons, a particular fairy tale or story, or just part of the general lore of childhood. Circle time also includes developmental movement activities with the songs and verses.
Repeating and remembering verses sets the stage for the more intense memory work that will be required in elementary school. Repetition is also recently lauded as a foundation for healthy brain development. Rhyming sounds and alliteration found in poems and songs educate the ear, forming the beginnings of spelling and phonics. Directed movement is a basis for healthy brain development.
Artistic and Craft Activity
Wet-on-wet watercolor painting, beeswax modeling, crayon drawing, as well as various forms of handwork such as finger knitting, simple sewing, and woodworking, are done as group activities or at the individual initiative of a child. High quality, organic materials are used for these activities.
These activities encourage the child’s natural sense of beauty, color, and form, as well as laying the groundwork for artistic techniques which will be needed later. They also aid in the development of fine motor skills.
Singing is woven throughout the day and is often used for transitioning from one activity to another. Sometimes simple instruments, such as chimes and kinder-harps, are also available for the children’s use. Simple singing games provide songs and rhymes for parents and children alike to enjoy. The children learn to mark the seasons, develop their sense of rhythm, and enhance their memory skills through the singing of specifically chosen songs.
Music lays the foundation for future math and engineering skills as well as a soothing influence throughout life.
This is another group activity where the children eat together family style with their teachers. It is likely that they have also helped to prepare the food and set the table. Afterwards, they clear the table and wash their dishes.
An emphasis on gratitude for the food and on table manners sets the stage for a lifelong social skill.
Similar to the indoor creative playtime, the group is taken outdoors to experience the natural world in all its different seasons. You will find our Kindergarten class outside in all but the most formidable weather.
A child who has had an experience of the year can enter very deeply and comfortably into later studies of plants and animals, the weather, geology, astronomy, and other natural sciences. Extensive outdoor experiences also hone the child’s observation skills.
During the course of the day, the children are gathered together to hear the teacher tell a special story.
The ability to sit and listen to an adult for a sustained period of time is a skill that is gradually developed. The oral tradition of language arts development in the Waldorf school and the content of the stories expose the children to the beauty of language and literacy.
Seasonal festivals are celebrated, establishing a connection to the natural rhythms that sustain us. The celebration of a festival is the culmination of some weeks of preparation and anticipation. As this picture slowly fades, preparations for the next festival slowly begin.
Celebrating together lays the groundwork for cultural and social diversity. The rhythmic experiences help parents as they seek to find their own balance with their children in home life.
Part of the daily experience is tending to the domestic life (cleaning, cooking, repairing) and self care (toileting, hair brushing, hand washing). It is a process-oriented approach. For example, the children may grind the flour that they will later mix into their flour for bread making. Involving the children in the practical activities and care of their materials, their environment, and themselves lays the groundwork for organizational skills needed in adult life.