Preschool and Kindergarten
When children, ages 2.9 and older, step into a Waldorf preschool or kindergarten, they enter a place of beauty and adventure. Furniture and toys are shaped from natural materials, and walls are painted in the warm colors of the dawning day. One side of the classroom holds large tables for work time and snack time; the other side is carpeted for imaginative play and storytelling.
Young children live in a world of wonder and imagination, at a time when their proper and most effective method of learning is through imaginative play. To encourage academic study at such a time would needlessly rush children through this crucial period of life. In the Waldorf kindergarten, the children's days are filled with both structured and unstructured activities that stimulate and exercise their powers of imagination.
Watercolor painting, drawing, handcrafts, beeswax modeling, cooking, baking, puppet shows, and other artistic activities reveal the wonders of creativity to the children. Circle games, movement activities, and outdoor play increase the children's physical strength, agility, and grace. A feeling of security is nurtured in the shaded, graceful beauty of the kindergarten surroundings, allowing the children to reach out and explore their environment, to let their curiosity develop, and to begin a lifelong process of learning and engagement with the world.
six Key elements of the waldorf early childhood education curriculum
Ample Time and Space
The first essential component of a Waldorf early childhood education is to provide time and space for joyful creative play and imagination.
The second crucial component of a Waldorf early childhood education is to create caring environments that nourish the senses.
The third essential component of Waldorf early childhood education is to establish consistent rhythms that promote health, security, and trust.
The fourth cornerstone of a Waldorf early childhood education is to engage children in real life activities that evoke reverence for the wonders of the world.
Relationships based on Love
The fifth essential element of a Waldorf early childhood education is to foster relationships based on love, respect, and care for each child as unique in body, soul, and spirit.
The sixth vital component of a Waldorf early childhood education is educators who are committed to self-development and collaboration in community with others.
This arrangement starts children on the path to becoming creative, resilient, and morally courageous enough to meet the challenges of the future. WECAN, Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America, has produced the following videos, filmed at Waldorf schools around the United States, to elaborate further on these important ideas.
Read more about the research done by Susan Howard, called "Essentials of Waldorf Early Childhood Education," at Essentials of Waldorf ECE Article.