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Waldorf Preschools Encourage Creativity

by Margot F. | July 15th, 2014 | Preschool, School

waldorf school pdWelcome to Waldorf Preschool. Notice the cozy homelike environment complete with curtains, carpets, and lots of natural lighting. The furniture is comfortable and the classroom is well organized. The atmosphere is peaceful, helping the child feel relaxed and free to learn in a supportive environment. The teachers are caring and will remain with your child until Kindergarten at about age seven, when academic instruction will begin. During preschool, emphasis is placed on free play, learning through exploration, and letting children be children.

The Waldorf system is based on the humanistic approach to education designed by Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925). Steiner gave many public lectures and attracted the attention of the owner of the Waldorf Astoria cigarette factory in Stuttgart, Germany. In 1919, Steiner visited the factory and agreed to teach the children of the employees. After the devastation of World War I, Steiner hoped to educate children to a new way of thinking. The new school would be open to all children, coeducational, a unified 12-year program, and with teachers making major decisions regarding the school without state interference. These ideas were radical at the time, but in September 1919, the first independent Waldorf School was opened, named after the cigarette company. Almost 100 years later, Waldorf schools can be found all over the world.

The teachers at a Waldorf Preschool take the time and have the patience to let children explore their environment at their own pace. Routines are established which mimic those in many homes.

At the beginning of each day, the children engage in free play. When it seems appropriate, the next activity is introduced. One day per week is set aside for specific activities. For example, Mondays could be for baking where children help get out the utensils, bowls, and ingredients. Next the dough is formed and placed in the oven. While the goody is baking, the children help wash, dry and put away the materials used for the activity. Smelling the treat bake in the oven, children realize it is time to set the table and wash their hands. When the goody is cooked, then cooled, children sit at the table waiting to be served. Everyone eats together enjoying pleasant conversation.

Later children will go outside, regardless of the weather, and explore nature. Souvenirs such as pine cones, leaves, and rocks might be brought back to the center for the children to study or play with. Craft activities and displays will be created according to the season.

Near the end of school day, the teacher tells a story to help stimulate the children’s imagination and encourage further educational pursuits. While direct academic instruction is absent in the preschool program, creativity and imaginative play is encouraged. Although the Waldorf philosophy is not anti-technology, in the preschool years, screen time, including television, is discouraged. Play and direct human interaction is considered the best way to help young children learn and feel safe in the world.

The Waldorf preschool is child centered emphasizing creativity and imaginative play. Is it suitable for your child?

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