Special to The Morning Star
Waldorf is an alternative education school which offers a balanced education for the whole child, emotionally, physically and intellectually. It teaches children how, not what, to think, so that young people will develop a love of learning and a natural curiosity for the world around them.
Programs are defined by predictable routine and dependable structure. Consistent daily and weekly schedules contribute to a nurturing and home-like atmosphere, often in a mixed-age classroom. Children become familiar with and secure in the rhythm of their daily activities.
Waldorf Early Childhood Education has been described as an “unhurried approach” to learning where children take in their surroundings and respond with imitation. Young children are strong imitators, and learn from not only actions but the mood with which the actions are performed. Waldorf ECE teachers strive to bring beauty, truth, goodness and joy to each day in the classroom, from which the children can learn.
More and more we hear that healthy movement plays an important role in the foundation for academic success. The Waldorf preschool/kindergarten consciously incorporates movement-based activities into its day.
Imagination and creative learning are the focus, and media (TV, movies, computers and electronics of any kind) are excluded in favor of activities such as play-acting, cooking and cooperative play. This promotes healthy emotional, physical and intellectual development.
What is a Waldorf preschool classroom like?
Parents’ first reaction to a Waldorf preschool is the wonderful homey feel of the classroom — the smell of fresh-baked bread, the wooden toys and the warm colours. We strive to create an environment that encourages meaningful play and is worthy of imitation.
The materials in the classroom are chosen to provide open-ended use. Dolls are expressionless so as to be free to express whatever mood the child is imagining. Rocks, shells, pine cones, silk cloths, building blocks and puppets are all waiting to participate in the child’s creative play. All materials are chosen to give the children a rich sensory experience.
At Cedar Bridge School, a Waldorf-inspired preschool in Lumby, a typical day begins with outside free play time. Then the children move inside to share a snack and circle time with singing and movement. After that, free play can include dress-up, building, singing, painting and more. Baking and other activities where the children create beautiful crafts are led by the teacher. During story time, the children enjoy rich language.
“They learn kind speech; learn to play together, and to resolve conflict in a harmonious manner,” says one parent. “They see the adults doing purposeful work such as gardening, preparing food or fixing toys, and often come wanting to help.
“And they learn not only the value of work, but of the value of their own contribution.”
The children participate in the care of the school’s garden and small chicken flock.
Rain, snow or shine, outdoor play is an essential part of the Waldorf preschool. It is part of not only the daily rhythm, but also works with the child’s inner rhythm for needing periods of activity and of calm.
Forest walks, visits to the neighboring organic farm and play in the school’s yard provide endless opportunities for learning and discovery. Teachers offer guidance through modeling of good behavior and calm speech. Children are not made conscious of the learning that is happening; it is simply part of their play.
Cedar Bridge School is taking enrolment for the following programs:
Parent and Child: 18 months to two years
Parent and Preschool: three to five years
Preschool / Kindergarten: three to six years
Grades 1 to 7 program
Homeschool Enrichment program: six to nine years.
To learn more about Cedar Bridge School and Waldorf Education inspired programs, visit their website at www.cedarbridgeschool.org
Or come to an open house on Saturday at 1 p.m. Bring your child (ages three to six) and experience a day in a Waldorf preschool/kindergarten. We will sing, move, bake bread and explore language and numbers. Learn more about Waldorf philosophy and how we meet the needs of early childhood.
Lorna Church is a Cedar Bridge School parent.