Preschool and Kindergarten in the Waldorf School
The early childhood teacher nurtures the children's power of imagination particular to the age.
The early childhood teacher in a Waldorf school works with the young child first by creating a warm, beautiful and loving home-like environment, which is protective and secure and where things happen in a predictable, regular manner. Here she responds to the developing child in two basic ways.
Firstly, the teacher engages in domestic, practical and artistic activities that the children can readily imitate (for example, baking, painting, gardening and handicrafts), adapting the work to the changing seasons and festivals of the year.
Secondly, the teacher nurtures the children's power of imagination particular to the age. 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. When toys are used, they are made of natural materials. Pine cones, wood, cotton, silk, shells, stones and other objects from nature that the children themselves have collected are used in play and to beautify the room.
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 Kindergarten. 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.
For further information about Waldorf early childhood education contact The Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America at www.waldorfearlychildhood.org
This article originally appeared in the AWSNA publication, Windows into Waldorf: An Introduction to Waldorf Education. Many thanks to the author David Mitchell who generously allowed for its use.
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