Preschool in a Waldorf school looks very different from mainstream preschool. It tends to look like your great-grandmother's garden, a piece of paradise on Earth where children can learn to be among other human beings besides family members, but still feel themselves to be with family. The preschool teacher is not only well-versed in child development as it's understood in the mainstream but also as it's understood in the Waldorf curriculum. The teacher sees the child as freshly set down upon the Earth, full of unconscious wisdom and ready to love all that presents itself. Because the children are indeed so open to the world and people around them, it is of utmost importance that the adult teaching them is worthy of imitation, speaking and behaving in ways that are able and worthy of imitattion.
The child will imitate all that comes within scope, as observant parents will readily acknowledge. This power of imitation is the child's strength, the means by which learning happens for the small child. Everything the teacher brings to the children must be full of goodness, for that is what will fill the children, nourish their spirits, souls, and bodies, and help them grow. This is why the teacher creates an environment that is both comfortable and beautiful, uses soft toys made of natural fibers for the classroom and blocks and furniture made of the wood of the beloved trees. The way the teacher welcomes the children into class each day, with soft singing speech, allows the children to feel carried by music into the safe and beautiful space of the classroom. There, they experience a gently rhythmical day with simple circle songs and movements with their teacher. The rhythmn of the day includes storytime, crafts, free-play as well as helping the teacher prepare food, and snack. Transitions from one activity to the next are managed through singing and story.
The Waldorf preschool is designed to build on the children's inner strength, love for the world, and curiosity about all things.
At Camellia, our preschoolers happily learn songs and stories, play with puppets, and dress up in capes and hats to enact imaginative scenarios of their own invention. They dig in the dirt, build worlds with blocks, "cook" in the play kitchen and help the teacher prepare snack, all the while discovering and practicing how to treat others kindly. The social lessons learned at this age will hold them in good stead throughout their lives at school and, indeed, throughout their lives.
“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.”
– Albert Einstein