A young child is a wellspring of imagination and activity, filled with wonder and receptive to the whole world. Thus we strive to surround the child with beauty, simplicity, and the marvels of the changing seasons. There are handmade toys made of wood and cotton, fairy tales and puppet shows, songs and verses. We cook and bake and sweep, build houses, saw and sand wood. We tend doll-babies and little gardens, and we play in the meadows and woods. Interwoven are watercolor painting, beeswax modeling, coloring and handcrafts. Always there is ample time for the children to play – for play is the work of childhood, and the foundation for creative and flexible thinking as adults.
“The need for imagination, a sense of truth and a feeling of responsibility – these are the three forces which are the very nerve of education.”
— Rudolf Steiner
Each day the teachers guide the children through a gentle rhythm. Our day begins with a special activity – wet-on-wet watercolor painting, drawing with beeswax crayons, modeling with colored beeswax or other seasonal crafts such as lantern-making in the fall. Other activities during the week may include bread-making, chopping vegetables on soup day, caring for the Kindergarten hens and tending our various flower and vegetable gardens.
Free play is a time of imaginative exploration. The classroom is filled with toys of natural, simple materials such as wood, polished shells, colorful silks and hand-made fiber dolls. As the children engage in healthy, imaginative play, the teacher works deliberately and consciously on her own work. She may be working on a sewing project or working on seasonal crafts. Some of the children are drawn to her work and are given materials to join in the activity. As the time for free play draws to a close, the teacher will sing a soft verse indicating it is time to for the children to clean up. The teacher and children clean up together.
Following clean-up, the children come together for morning circle. Morning circle is a gathering time in which the children join in song, finger plays and verses which inspire a love of language and promote gross motor skills. After circle, it is time for snack. Each day the teachers provide the students with a nutritious and hearty snack. The children assist the teacher in preparing the table for the meal. Everyone gathers together for the blessing on the meal and the shared snack. After snack, the children gather in the main room for a story or puppet show which concludes the morning. Stories are told from memory and great care is taken in choosing language which enriches and engages the children’s imagination. This is a time for quiet reflection.
Every day, the children play outdoors. They may play in the sandbox, dig in the gardens, swing or slide on the play structures, feed the chickens and, of course, sled in the winter. Respect for our natural surroundings and each other is emphasized. The practical activities of the day provide children with meaningful actions to imitate. Waldorf teachers are mindful of the fact that everything they do will be imitated and they strive to be worthy models for the children.
“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder without any such gift from the fairies,
he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it,
rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.”
- Rachel Carson