Importance of Early Childhood
A Waldorf early childhood environment is designed to support the gentle unfolding of a child’s development. During these early years, children learn through imitation. Carefully chosen activities in the preschool and kindergarten provide for modeling and direction. Movement is also essential to early learning. Both large motor and fine motor skills are encouraged through play and practical living activities.
Early childhood teachers prepare warm, loving environments that reflect as closely as possible the best elements of care found in a healthy family. Children experience a warm sense of security surrounded by predictable daily, weekly, and yearly rhythms.
Teachers deeply understand the young child and his/her devotion to learning through imitating everything he/she experiences. Serving as worthy role models, teachers engage in housekeeping and artistic activities (sanding, painting, sewing, repairing, dusting, baking, and so on…) that the children can imitate in their play.
By maintaining appropriate play spaces, teachers help children nurture their power of imagination. Toys are handmade using natural materials, or rocks, pinecones, stones, and pieces of wood are used for play. Carefully selected nature stories and fairy tales are told or presented through puppet shows to foster creativity in the children’s imaginative play.
Throughout the year, festivals mark the seasons with special stories, songs, verses, artistic activities, food, and treasures from nature. Many celebrations, including the child’s birthday, are tucked into the year. All the celebrations bring a sense of sharing, participation, fellowship, and gratitude for life.