All About Waldorf Preschools (page 2)
If you love the thought of your child surrounded by natural materials, such as wooden toys and wicker baskets, in an environment where plastics are banished, and art, dance, and fantasy life is nurtured, then a Waldorf preschool may be just the place for your child.
Basic Philosophy of Waldorf Schools
Founded in 1919 in Germany by the philosopher, mystic, and social thinker Rudolf Steiner, the Waldorf educational approach is now found worldwide in schools that offer a grade levels from preschool through high school.
Although Waldorf schools aren’t a part of any church and don’t teach religious doctrine, they’re based upon the mystical philosophy of Rudolf Steiner, who incorporated his belief in a spiritual dimension into the basic philosophy of his schools. The Waldorf method supplements this philosophy with instruction that develops an understanding of all world cultures and religions.
What Makes Waldorf Preschools Special?
Waldorf schools are dedicated to creating an enthusiasm for learning. Teachers strive to develop a sense of wonder in their students, with the goal of instilling a lifelong love of learning. Waldorf teachers start this process by allowing preschool children to fully immerse themselves in imaginative play.
The Waldorf system also aims to counterbalance the materialism of Western society by nurturing each child’s innate, non-materialistic qualities, such as:
- Social sensitivity
- Appreciation for beauty
- Will power
In the Waldorf system, nurturing these qualities means parents and teachers must limit electronic media in the daily life of the children, the concern being that TVs, computers, music players, and other devices dull the imagination. Also, Waldorf educators believe that much of the content found in popular media is detrimental to the goal of creating spiritual and social sensitivity. Media devices aren’t present in the Waldorf classroom, at least not until high school when computer technology is taught. Waldorf schools even ask parents to remove media devices from the home environment.
Rudolf Steiner believed that education should address the whole child and not focus on intellectual development alone. So Waldorf schools don’t track students according to intellectual abilities and don’t hold back or promote children who learn differently from their peers. This philosophy begins in preschool, where children are encouraged to be well-rounded emotionally, physically, and intellectually.
According to Patrice Maynard, spokesperson for the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America, “Temperaments in the Waldorf classroom provide the teacher with tools for forging an inner connection with each child, making the child feel that his or her teacher knows with wisdom what is behind each decision made in the classroom.”
A Typical Daily Routine
The preschool curriculum is designed to teach children according to developmental stages and introduces skills when appropriate to these stages. Art, dance, and handwork are important in the Waldorf learning process. Natural materials like pebbles, sticks, and cloth are provided as toys for the children, while plastics are avoided as much as possible.
Waldorf Preschools Are a Good Choice for Children Who …
A Waldorf preschool is a comfortable place for children who:
- Love craft activities and artistic expression.
- Are active. (Waldorf teaches a unique style of dance called eurythmy.)
- Are emotionally sensitive and find the nurturing Waldorf environment soothing.
Learn more about other types of preschools:
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